HostGator offers web, cloud, VPS and dedicated hosting options for small businesses. It's been providing web hosting services for 15 years, and has a diverse service offering to meet your small business's needs. It provides unmetered bandwidth and free SSL certificates with its shared web hosting plans. HostGator is transparent – it gives you most or all the details of its plan directly on its website. You can also read the terms of service, which can give you an idea of how the company handles its accounts, cancellations and other services.
View all our recommendations for web hosting services on our best picks page.
If you're interested in trying HostGator's services, you can do so and get a full refund within 45 days of signing up. This 45-day, money-back guarantee, which is only applicable to new, one-domain users, is a good way to test drive the company's services without committing to a full-length contract.
HostGator provides deals spanning multiple terms, including month-to-month and yearly options. Depending on which plan you sign up for, the longer your contract, the lower your monthly rate.
HostGator has a decent online reputation, but it only scored a C+ with the Better Business Bureau and has a concerning complaint at the top of its profile. Many companies we reviewed had A+ ratings and no warning from the business reputation agency. Despite this, HostGator provides businesses with solid web hosting services, acceptable security and reasonable prices.
Pricing and Terms
HostGator breaks its shared hosting plans down into three plans: Hatchling, Baby and Business. First-time customers get HostGator's promotional pricing of $2.75 for the Hatchling plan, $3.95 for the Baby plan and $5.95 for the Business plan. These rates are advertised as 60 percent off the normal rate and part of a company promotion. This means that your second year, or maybe even second term, will have higher pricing.
If these rates are 60 percent off, logic follows that you'll pay around $6.87 for the Hatchling plan, $9.87 for the Baby plan and $14.87 for the Business plan for full price. Keep in mind that these are merely estimates and actual pricing may vary and will be outlined in your agreement with HostGator when you select the plan and features that meet your needs.
Many host companies use promotional pricing to attract companies and garner more business. Regardless of what company you sign up with, the price listed on their website is generally the promotional price. In fact, every company we considered for review has promotional pricing on their websites and not actual pricing. Keep this in mind as you budget and plan your business expenses related to web hosting and maintenance.
One bonus with HostGator plans is that the shared plans come with a lot of the same features. You can view a detailed breakdown of what's included in each plan here, but the business plan includes more advanced security features, dedicated IP addresses, and additional SEO tools. These extra features may or may not be worth it, depending on what your business is looking for. A lot of competitors we looked at had plan features that varied tremendously based on cost. HostGator differed from competitors in this aspect.
If you want to cancel your service, HostGator doesn't charge you a fee to do so. Depending on where you are in your contract, you likely won't receive a refund. You can read HostGator's cancellation and refund policy in the terms of service agreement. The details are listed under item No. 14.
In terms of other additional fees, HostGator allows you to transfer an existing domain for free within 30 days of signing up for service. Otherwise, you'll have to pay a yearly domain fee. This specific fee will be outlined in your service agreement. These fees, prices and terms are all for HostGator's shared hosting plans. Pricing and fees will likely vary if you sign up for another type of hosting, like cloud hosting or VPS hosting.
HostGator's shared hosting plans come with a full suite of built-in features. We analyzed the most important features for businesses. HostGator provides reliable security features, a good list of pre-installed apps, and solid storage and bandwidth.
- Storage and bandwidth: HostGator, like many web hosting companies, provides "unlimited" and "unmetered" storage and bandwidth. This means your business's website can scale up and down according to need, but these offerings are not truly unlimited. Most web hosting companies provide "unlimited" services up until a certain threshold. Once a user exceeds their allotted storage or bandwidth, they'll likely receive a warning email or maybe even have their service suspended. HostGator doesn't provide a lot of indication as to what this allotment is. This could be a good subject to touch on before you sign up.
- Security: HostGator provides a standard security offering for small businesses. It offers backups across all three of its plans and SSL certification. It also is protected from distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks and has "confidential" security measures to protect its clients. You can read more about HostGator's security offering here. Compared to competitors, it's a solid offering across all its plans. Some other companies provide georedundancy, which means your site's information is stored in multiple locations as well as other servers.
- Cancellation policy: HostGator does not charge any additional fees for canceling service. Depending on your contract, you may have to pay out the remainder of your service agreement. While there are no additional fees, they will keep your yearly domain fee, depending on what year of your contract you're in.
- Pre-installed apps: HostGator provides a range of applications and pre-installed services. It supports WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Magento, Wiki and phpBB. HostGator also offers the latest cPanel for monitoring and controlling your website. HostGator's pre-installed apps was one aspect of its service that stood out compared to its competitors.
Types of Hosting Offered
While we analyzed shared web hosting for the purposes of this review, HostGator also provides dedicated hosting, virtual private servers and cloud hosting. These are ideal options for small businesses with more capital looking for dedicated service.
All three will be more expensive compared to shared plans. Services vary with each plan, but expect these types of plans to include higher bandwidth and more storage.
HostGator provides free domain names and free transfers to new customers for the first year of service. This means they'll waive the overall fee of your first domain name. If you cancel service, they'll charge a $15 domain fee. After your first free year, expect to pay a fee for your domain name. These fees are usually between $10 and $20, although we couldn't find a specific number on HostGator's website.
HostGator has a reported uptime of 99.9 percent. Every company we reviewed also sported this high level of uptime. While many companies claim to support 99.9 percent uptime, the reality is it can be much lower depending on what server you're on and who your "neighbors," or other customers on the same server, are.
HostGator is not immune to this issue in the shared server world, but the company provides some perks to ensure it offers reliable service. In it terms of service agreement, HostGator states that if a shared server has a physical downtime that falls short of its 99.9 percent guarantee, you're eligible for a one-month account credit. HostGator was one of the few companies we reviewed that offered this type of perk.
Reputation and Customer Service
While HostGator's service offering seems solid, its online reputation isn't great. For each company we reviewed, we looked at their Better Business Bureau page to understand what customers and the independent rating agency were saying. As of July 2018, HostGator only earned a C+ with BBB, logging 293 customer complaints, 50 negative reviews, 1 neutral review and only 4 positive reviews.
The Better Business Bureau warns users that it has received numerous complaints regarding deceptive business practices and customers paying for services they're not receiving. There were also reports of the company not honoring its 45-day, money-back guarantee policy. You can read the full alert from the Better Business Bureau here.
The obvious drawback is the company's online reputation. HostGator provides a great service offering, but if it can't come through on its promises, that's a problem.
As with any online review or alert, do your own research and reach your own conclusions about the company and its services. However, it's something to keep in mind as you search for the right hosting service.
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