The shared hosting option from HostGator is one of the most widely used budget hosting solutions for people building their first blog or website. HostGator is part of the EIG umbrella that owns over 80 different hosting brands. In this review, we'll walk you through the data we collected on their shared hosting products and provide you with real performance and support data so you can make the right choice when shopping for a hosting plan.
Along with the other hosting providers in our $1000 web hosting case study, HostGator offers a pretty high referral commission for their products. This is why you see hundreds of websites and bloggers promote them as "the best" host. We'll stay out of the bias in this article and let you decide based on the raw data.
There are three separate plans that HostGator offers for their shared hosting product. It follows the same nomenclature as their cloud hosting: Hatchling, Baby, and Business. Each option has more features, can handle more traffic, and comes with a higher price tag.
With a shared hosting solution, you will share a physical server with 10s to 100s of other accounts. Since websites only need server resources when there are active visitors, there is quite a bit of downtime unless you have a large site. By oversubscribing the hardware, hosting companies can save costs (allowing them to charge less money) and fully utilize their servers.
The downside of shared hosting solutions is that during times of peak load (remember the servers are over-subscribed), there may be performance slowdowns or even connection failures due to the high load.
If you are migrating an existing website that has a lot of subdomains or you plan on using that site architecture, you can use as many as you want with the HostGator shared hosting plans. Some of the other providers limit the number of subdomains unless you step up to a more expensive plan.
HostGator has unmetered bandwidth and disk space which means that you are not charged based on the amount of either that you use during the course of normal operation. However, if you use more than 30% or the server resources for more than 90 seconds, you are in violation of their TOS. It is unlikely that anyone with a small personal or business blog will run into these issues, but they recommend contacting them if you are concerned.
Through their cPanel interface, you can make a backup of the entire cPanel account and have the ability to restore it at a later date. There is no mention of the duration or number of backups that you can have at a time.
With every hosting plan, you will receive a $100 voucher to both Google Adwords and Bing Ads. After you spend $25, your next $100 is free. If you plan on using search engine advertising, factor this into your TCO calculations.
If you plan on using your hosting provider as an email client (instead of a third-party such as Google for Business), the HostGator Shared plans allow for unlimited accounts on your custom domain.
1st Year $/mo
Like the other HostGator options, in order to get the advertised lowest price, you have to pay for 3 years up front. This is a little deceiving and it can cause your first bill to be much higher than you would expect at the start. We built a table below to help you understand the total cost over a few years.
The 3 and 5 year columns represent your total cost after that much time. The 1 year cost is what you will have to pay on day 1.
1 Year Cost
3 Year Cost
5 Year Cost
1 Year Cost
3 Year Cost
5 Year Cost
The least expensive Hostgator Shared plan is the hatchling plan. This plan caters towards people looking for the lowest entry price and is used for small personal or business websites.
HostGator doesn't list a number of visitors that this plan can handle, but if it follows the same pattern as most other hosts it should only be used for websites that get < 5,000 visitors a month.
With the hatchling plan, you can't use SSL (https://), and you will be sharing an IP address with the other accounts that are on your shared host. In order to get a dedicated IP you will need to upgrade to the business plan.
By taking on a few extra dollars a month for the baby shared hosting plan, your website will be able to handle more traffic (they don't specify how much), but if it follows along with their other hosting options it is probably around 10-15k visitors a month.
With this plan you can use SSL presuming your purchase your own certificate (HostGator also has them for purchase) and can get a dedicated IP for your host for $4/mo.
This is also the first plan that will allow you to host multiple websites on the domain. So, if you have a portfolio of sites or blogs this is the cheapest option for you.
The business shared hosting plan has all of the features of the previous plans plus a few extras. Again, there is no monthly traffic estimate but around 15-12k would match the tiering on other plans in the same price range.
Included in your monthly price is a free SSL certificate as well as dedicated IP address.
If you have a website or workflow that needs anonymous FTP, this is your choice.
Similar to their cloud hosting offering, all of the addons that are available for purchase on their shared hosting plans are run by third party companies. This has some benefits since you would expect a company that is solely dedicated to email to be better at email than a hosting company.
The downside is that you will most likely be working with a third-party vendor if anything goes wrong. Take that into account before you make your final decision.
HostGator contracts with SiteLock for their security add-on. SiteLock will scan your website and pages periodically to look for hacks and vulnerabilities. If there is a security problem with your site, they will send you a notification and you can try and fix it or restore from a backup.
They also offer Google Business Email for the same price that Google offers it directly ($5/mo). If you want to use the GMail interface and use a custom domain, then you should add this to your account.
CodeGuard provides their extra backup add-on. Just like the others, this is a third-party vendor. By purchasing this through HostGator and not through them directly you will get access to the interface inside the cPanel UI.
Per their Terms of Service, you are only allowed to use 30% or more of the server resources for less than 90 seconds. If you experience a large spike in traffic you may violate this and your website will become inaccessible.
Their FAQ mentions that this is pretty abnormal for many personal blogs and smaller websites and you can contact them directly to get more information and see how close you are to your limits.
Since EIG is a mega-company, they have big call centers that handle Live Chat, Ticketing, and Phone support for all of their brands. Their support representatives will be handling multiple issues at a time so you will need to be patient to get your issues resolved.
The plus side of being a large company is that they have an extensive database of commonly asked questions and answers and if you have a typical problem you can resolve it without having to talk to anyone.
To see the Live Chat test, head over to our HostGator Cloud Hosting Review where we document our experience.