Hostgator – is it the best hosting provider?

There are many hosting providers out there that offer a wide range of services whether your website is big or small. I believe if you are starting out with a website or blog, the best hosting provider…is definitely no longer Hostgator.

I thought rather than delete this article I would update it with clarifications based on my own personal experience of HostGator. I have left the original [very positive] article as is, but added amendments where necessary in bold red text. I think this helps to highlight how things can change over time, both with the rapid acquisitions of companies that are now commonplace, and changing personal experience over time.

Hostgators interface is simple and intuitive

The administration panel in hostgator uses cpanel, which is an open source and commonly used interface. This means that you will find a wealth of support and tutorials not only on Hostgator’s website, but throughout the internet. This still holds true cPanel is still a pretty good interface, and it is a big hosting provider so tutorials abound

Hostgator provides 1-click installs on the main platforms

The first thing you will likely have to do once you have bought hosting is install the CMS software you intend to use (for example WordPress or Magento). Hostgator provides a simplified 1-click install process for various popular CMS platforms including:

OK, so now we start to get to the meat! It is still true that there are many one-click installs available. I haven’t actually used any, but that is far from the point as I will now explain.

One website I am involved in maintaining needs a major upgrade, and will likely use Magento as it will eventually be a reasonabley large e-commerce website (something Magento is specifically designed for). Magento CMS software has *recently* taken a step change in software, effectively a major release from v1.9 to v2.x. The change in software is so significant that in some cases it will require expert advise for some companies to make the transition. One of the requirements for installation of Magento v2.x is MySQL database 5.6 or greater. As of today (11th October 2017) my current hosting with hostgator “business plan” shared hosting for this particular website includes MySQL version 5.5.51-38.2 (i.e. less than v5.6 that is required).

Let me put this in context for you. Magento upgraded to v2.x around January 2016!

Now you may be thinking, I will never use Magento so I don’t care. Well what about WordPress, THE most popular CMS in the world. Granted it is not an absolute requirement like Magento, but their minimum recommendation for MySQL is v5.6 or greater.

I think this is totally unacceptable. I understand that shared hosting is cheap and you should not expect the latest and greatest. However, there is a BIG difference between being up to date and being so far behind it is limiting to the point of uselessness. Further to that it is inhernetly insecure to run such old software. 

I did reach out to hostgator via messages and phone calls to try and resolve the problem, but was met with a wall of unwillingness to help and incompetence that was simply frustrating. I will get to that shortly…

1-click install websites hostgator

I should note that although these options are available it is usually good practice to install the software properly yourself. It is usually not that difficult, and it gives you the advantage of more flexibility further down the line, as well as a better knowledge. This should allow you to fix problems should they arise. This is still a solid recommendation, keep yourself in the know wherever you can! Just to further make the point, as of today (11th October 2017) the current latest version of Magento free version is v2.2.0 released 26th September 2017. What version do you think the one click install on my current hostgator account will install? Well apparantly v1.8.1.0 released 11th December 2013?! Only nearly 4 years out of date then!

For WordPress I have a tutorial (click here) that will guide you through the install process should you need it.

Hostgator has multiple support options available

There is nothing worse than having a problem with your hosting and then spending hours trying to get a response from support. Haha

Hostgator has three forms of support available:

  1. Raising a ticket (i.e. email)
  2. Live chat
  3. Phone

I have, as it happens, used all three. Ultimately, it is quite a good set of options if you use it correctly.

Ticket

In my experience it can take up to 3 days to get a response to a ticket, which is slow. However, you will get a response, so this is the option to use if you are not in a rush.

Live Chat

Live chat is perfectly ok but I have waited up to 30-40mins to actually get someone on the other end. Again, this is a little slow if you ask me, but you will get an answer.

Phone

By phone is easily the quickest and most productive form of communication, and you will speak to a native English speaker, not a remote and unrelated call centre somewhere random. I have never waited more than 6-7mins to connect to a person at Hostgator by phone. This is actually quite impressive given the length of time some companies keep you hanging.

Time for an update here. I have waited for a long time waiting to connect (easily 40mins although I can’t remember exactly). I have also been disconnected multiple times. When you do get through, unless your problem is very straight forward you will likely hit a huge wall of incompetence. At this point I would like to state that this is MY personal experience, and there may well be some great people working at Hostgator support, but I have yet to speak to one. Polite, yes, compitent, no.

I have been in situations where I have been lied to. I have had conversations where I have had to correct them, as (through lack of interest?) they couldn’t even provide the correct information regarding my site. I have asked for them to suggest a solution to problems, and then they tried to upsell rather than give a solution! I gave up…and moved on.

Hostgator gives you the ability to grow

Hostgator is a large and established hosting provider (Top 10 largest in the world with more than 8 million hosted domains to date), which means that they offer a large range of web hosting packages. From shared hosting at the lower end through VPS (Virtual Private Servers) to dedicated servers.

This allows you to upgrade the hosting as your website grows, without having to switch providers.

Still correct. They are huge. Infact they are essentially MUCH bigger, as they were acquired by EIG. I’m not going to go into detail about EIG here as a quick google will tell you all you need to know. All I will say is that EIG has acquired quite a lot of other hosts over the last few years, and in general what I have read about the hosts acquired by them is not very positive.

I would recommend you check who is really behind the host you are considering before you pull the trigger, and do your own research into EIG (Bluehost is another example that might surprise you).

…some other notable plus points

  • unmetered bandwidth
  • unlimited subdomains
  • unlimited email accounts (and mailbox size)
  • unlimited ftp accounts
  • 99.9% uptime guarantee
  • 45 day money back guarantee
  • fully guaranteed by the CEO! (not sure what this means, but I’m sure they mean it!) Hmmm

Hostgator offers great deals on their shared hosting

If you are just starting out you will likely want to go for one of the shared hosting plans that they offer.

The best I have seen is for 60% off, which is quite substantial.

Typically, Hostgator has some sort of offer on at any given period for their hosting packages. The best I have seen is for 60% off, which is quite substantial.

Should there be no specific offer on when you are looking to buy hosting you can use the following code which will give you 25% off TESTSPEC25. If the hostgator site has an offer for greater than 25% obviously go with that rather than the code. Take a look here to see what they currently have on offer.

I couldn’t possibly recommend them anymore. They do still give big initial discounts, but don’t let it blind you

If I go with Hostgator, which hosting plan should I go for?

At the time of writing there are three basic shared hosting plans available:

  1. Hatchling Plan
  2. Baby Plan
  3. Business Plan

My recommendation would be to go with the Baby Plan. The only real difference between the Hatchling Plan and the Baby Plan is that the Hatchling Plan allows you to have only one domain, and the Baby Plan gives you unlimited domains.

Now, you may be thinking that it is unlikely that you will ever have more than one website, but there are other situations where you may well want another domain, which at this moment you may not have thought about. For example it is possible to create shortened link friendly URLs for your site, but if you do this yourself it would require a separate domain.

Anyway….my point is that I believe it is worth the extra cost (which is small anyway) rather than a headache further down the line.

The business plan offers some additional features that are probably quite well suited to an e-commerce website with added private SSL certificate and few other features, but for the majority of people it is probably unnecessary when starting out.

Conclusion

All in all I think I can sum Hostgator up by saying that it is a competitively priced, reliable, easy to use, no fuss, fully featured hosting provider, with a good support network to back it up. It is by no means perfect, and if you are looking for some very specific features there may be better deals out there, but I think overall Hostgator fits the bill for most users.

In my opinion you can do a lot better. Since I left hostgator I have used two different hosting providers:

Siteground

Linode

Siteground is just like hostgator in the sense that they offer managed shared hosting, VPS and dedicated servers. My general experience with them was great and I would (at this moment, not hesitate to recommend them). They also have free LetsEncrypt SSL certificates, which is very important these days. 

Linode (my current host) is something I have moved on to recently and is a lot more flexible, but also more complicated and requires time to manage properly and setup. Not recommended for a person starting out, but if you have a little more experience it is worth consideration.

What is your experience with Hostgator (good or bad)? Any other hosting providers that you think are an all around winner. Let me know in the comments.

 

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TestSpecimen

TestSpecimen

TheTestSpecimen is the creator of thetestspecimen.com and the Wanderfile app (https://wanderfile.app). Passionate about technology, coding, photography and travel.

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