Tom's Guide Verdict
Despite being one of the most popular web hosting providers in the world, HostGator’s services are just too basic for us to be able to recommend them.
Excellent website builder
Competitive introductory prices
Terrible security features
Deceptive price structure
Why you can trust Tom's Guide
The best web hosting services for your needs will likely be very different for someone else. This can make the search for a hosting provider quite complicated, especially if it’s not an industry you know a lot about.
In our HostGator review, we take a close look at every aspect of this popular web hosting provider. With a range of hosting options, one of the best website builders, and competitive prices, there’s a lot to like on the surface. But let’s see what a deeper analysis reveals.
HostGator: Plans and pricing
At first glance, HostGator’s range of hosting options appears to offer excellent value for money. However, not everything is as it appears here. With the shared hosting plans, for example, you will have to pay for 36 months upfront to access the advertised prices. You will also pay significantly more when the time comes to renew your plan.
The cheapest Hatchling shared hosting plan starts at $2.75 a month for a three-year subscription ($10.95 with monthly payments). It supports one website, with unmetered bandwidth, unlimited storage, a free SSL certificate, and a free domain name for the first year.
Upgrading to the Baby plan (from $3.50 a month for a three-year plan) unlocks unlimited website connections. A high-end Business subscription (from $5.25 a month for a three-year plan) includes a free dedicated IP address, free SEO tools, and an advanced Positive SSL certificate for extra security.
Basic WordPress hosting starts at $5.95 a month for a Starter plan, which supports a single site with 100,000 monthly visits and 1GB data backup. More advanced VPS plans start from $19.95 a month, and dedicated server hosting costs from $89.98 a month.
Reseller hosting is also available, with the $19.95 a month Aluminum plan getting you 60GB storage, 600GB bandwidth, and support for unlimited websites. Or, you can harness the power of the Gator Builder website builder for just $3.84 a month.
HostGator offers a very basic hosting service with few advanced features. We’ve outlined some of the most noteworthy inclusions below.
For one, HostGator’s Gator Builder website builder is excellent. It offers similar design flexibility to industry leaders such as Wix, is backed by a suite of advanced tools and a decent template library, and costs from just $3.84 a month.
All shared hosting plans come with $150 worth of Google Ads and $100 of Microsoft advertising credit. These provide an excellent way for those new to digital marketing to get their foot in the door and begin to figure things out.
On the surface, HostGator’s unlimited everything shared hosting appears to be excellent. In short, it offers unmetered bandwidth and storage. However, in reality, you will be asked to upgrade to a more advanced subscription if your website starts using too many server resources.
HostGator: Interface and in use
The HostGator checkout process is smooth, but there are a few things to watch out for. For one, you’ll need to pay attention to the length of your subscription. Shorter plans are much more expensive. You’ll also need to look closely at the hosting add-ons, as the chances are that some will be pre-selected for you.
Meanwhile, the main dashboard provides a neat interface for managing everything from your domains and hosting to your email accounts and ongoing billing. When it comes to looking after your hosting, you’ll benefit from the powerful cPanel control panel, which is beginner-friendly and packed full of advanced tools.
If you need technical support from the HostGator team, you can reach out via phone or live chat. The support agents tend to be friendly and knowledgeable, which is a major plus. There’s also a decent knowledge base that contains a suite of guides, tutorials, and other self-help resources.
Unfortunately, HostGator’s security features are average at best. You will benefit from DDoS attack protection, a decent firewall, and a free SSL certificate, but that’s about all. Malware detection and removal is completely absent, there’s no multi-factor authentication option, and you’ll be encouraged to purchase a SiteLock security subscription to unlock more advanced tools.
Alternatives to HostGator
HostGator offers a decent hosting service but there are plenty of better options out there. One of our favorites is Hostinger, which offers high-quality shared hosting from just $0.99 a month. This is backed by a great selection of advanced features, along with leading security tools.
Another powerful choice is InMotion Hosting. With prices starting at $5.99 a month, it is a little more expensive than HostGator but it offers premium service across the board. All plans are built on modern hardware, with excellent security and a knowledgeable support team.
HostGator: Final verdict
All things considered, HostGator really isn’t as good as it might appear. Sure, its advertised prices are very competitive, but they are misleading at best. The checkout process is deceptive, security tools are almost entirely absent, and there really aren’t any advanced features to speak of.
On the plus side, the user interface is tidy and easy to navigate, and the customer service is excellent. Unfortunately, though, this just isn’t enough for us to be able to recommend HostGator.
The bottom line is, if you need high-quality, reliable hosting, look elsewhere.
Further reading on web hosting
To learn more about HostGator, read our comparison feature pitting Bluehost vs HostGator, and to see where HostGator ranks across different hosting types, read our guides outlining the best VPS hosting, the best Linux web hosting, the best WordPress hosting, the best unlimited hosting, and the best cloud hosting services.
Daniel is a freelance copywriter with over six years experience writing for publications such as TechRadar, Tom’s Guide, and Hosting Review. He specializes in tech and finance, with a particular focus on website building, web hosting, and related fields.