Thinking of signing up with GoDaddy hosting or some super cheap hosting provider? Please read my review first.
Please note: This review is about the HostGator Shared Web Hosting account (Baby Plan) only. Other plans may vary in the performance. Also, in this review I talk about my own first hand experience and do not rely on any 3rd party rewviews.
I have been with HostGator since 2010. Currently I have a shared hosting account as well as a reseller account with them.
I’ll be upfront with you. I love HostGator, and not because they are cheap (because there are cheaper hosting companies out there), but over the past 4 years I’ve never had a problem with them. Not only did I never have a problem with them, but they always go the extra mile. This is exactly what you want to have when looking for a hosting company.
The Baby Plan comes with the following features:
- Unlimited Domains
- Unlimited Webspace
- Unlimited Traffic
- Unlimited MySQL Databases
It’s definitely a good thing to have everything unlimited. Of course there are technical limitations and you cannot upload 1000s of GB of files. Unlimited refers to, that there are no hidden costs involved. Shared hosting accounts will be enough for any small to medium website. Once you receive heavy traffic to your website, you might want to consider upgrading to a better hosting plan.
Price: (coupon code: AEDAN65)
With $7.46 / Month HostGator is among the cheapest hosting companies in the monthly payment category. Other hosting companies, such as GoDaddy might be cheaper if you pay 12 months upfront, but if you pay on a monthly basis with GoDaddy, you pay twice as much ($14.99).
I don’t like paying 12 months up front for anything unless I know the product well, have tested it extensively, I know I will need it for at least 12 months and I can afford the upfront payment.
For those reason, I prefer to rent on a monthly basis. On a personal note, I will sign up for HostGators Reseller account and pay 12 months up front the next time they are on sale.
The most frustrating part:
The most frustrating part is, that most of my clients are not with HostGator, but often with GoDaddy or some smaller unknown hosting company that has very poor server performance (more about GoDaddy below).
Whenever I have to transfer a website to GoDaddy or some super cheap unknown hosting company, it can literally take hours, rather than 5 minutes. Even worse is that, although I recommend all my customers HostGator, about 30% still decide to go for something else, and in many cases, they end up having issues. HostGator is very reasonable priced, and of course there are always cheaper hosting companies out there, some even offer a hosting account for 99 cent (oh god, never again! It was a nightmare).
There are several aspects to performance. How fast your website is loading, how fast are backend scripts performing, how fast and reliable is your MySQL server.
Below I will explain more in detail on how I tested the server performance. However to sum up, HostGators shared hosting account, have both, a good front end speed (that’s what your customer see), as well as a good back end speed (things only you do, like backup).
The loading speed of a WordPress website can be optimized with caching plugins like W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache. Using these plugins you will bring down the loading time immense. I have to be honest, when it comes to the actual loading speed of a regular website that performs very little calculations and using these caching plugins, I have hardly ever seen any noticeable performance differences among HostGator, GoDaddy, NameCheap, BlueHost and 1&1.
However, when I run customized scripts that for example make quite some calculations, or fetch data from other websites (using cURL), HostGator performs incredibly well, considering it’s a shared hosting account. My scripts never time out and they perform their tasks within a reasonable time.
For example I have a script that fetches the content of 100 threads of a forum, and then saves it in a MySQL database. On HostGator shared account, this task is done within 30-40 seconds, while with BlueHosts VPS is takes over 3 minutes.
What about heavy load? Some of my websites that get anything from 10,000 – 100,000 visitors per month, can easily keep up with that. I never saw any break in performance.
I do recommend however that if you have 50,000 visitors or more per month and growing, you might want to consider a reseller account or VPS. Why? Because if you do own a successfull website that is growing and growing, you will have to switch to a better server sooner or later, and trust me, the sooner you do it, the easier it will be.
Another big point for me is database import and zip file extractions.
Whenever I sell a website to a customer and he tells me he has a HostGator account, I get so happy, because I know it will be a seemingless transfer. The way I work is that I usually create websites on my local computer, once finished, I create backup with BackupBuddy and upload that to the customers server.
The way BackupBuddy works is that it compresses al the files into zip file, including a MySQL database dump.
Upon restoration, it unzips the files, and imports the database back into the new MySQL database.
To unzip a 50MB file containing over 10,000 files, it takes less than 5 seconds with HostGator. To compare, with NameCheap and BlueHost it’s also still reasonable at 10-15 seconds. With GoDaddy I go nuts! It’s so incredibly frustrating. Unfortunately many of my customers use GoDaddy hosting. Several times a week I get a customer where I have to transfer a website to a GoDaddy hosting account and it’s the same old story over and over. There is a 50% chance that it will not work. The zip extraction times out and there is nothing I can do. I can try over and over and nothing helps. Only solution is to do a manual transfer where I either upload all files manually or I create split backup zip files. Either way, it means 1-2 hours of work to transfer a website, rather than 1 minute like it is the case with HostGator. For this reason alone I love HostGator and am frustrated with GoDaddy.
Next up is database import. In fairness, this is not something you do everyday, nor would the average website owner ever have a need to do this, unless of course he needs to restore a backup. As a web developer I am confronted with this every time I transfer a website to a customer. I have to transfer the entire MySQL database of the website. The actual size of the database is usually not the problem, as they are around 20MB – 50MB big. The problem lies in the amount of entries a database has. When I sell an amazon website, that comes preloaded with 15,000 products, the database easily has 300,000 entries.
Importing a database dump with 300,000 entries with HostGator is flawless. Never did I have a problem. No matter if the import is done via BackupBuddy, PHPMyAdmin, NaviCat or other tools. This is great. Another big plus for HostGator.
To compare this with GoDaddy, HostGator is a blessing. With GoDaddy this is my number 1 issue I have when I have to transfer a website to a customer. It’s even worse than zip extractions.
I always, always, always have a timeout with GoDaddy when I import a database dump with more than 100,000 entries. Not even backupbuddy can seem to solve this problem, although the script splits the import into blocks of 10,000 entries. For some reason it still times out. My only solution with GoDaddy is to use PHPMyAdmin and upload chunks of 100,000 entries or less.
This is something that over the years has become incredibly important to me.
About a year ago, some of my websites that I hosted with HostGator were infected with some malicious code. Apparently I was using a wordpress plugin which had a security hole and let the attacker install a script that sent out 1000s of emails using my server. I was not aware of this issue until HostGator sent me an email saying they have detected some malicious code which abused the server. To my surprise, they said that they have removed the code that was responsible for the issue. They sent me an exact log file of what code has been removed from what files. I double checked, everything was great! Wow! What a service.
In comparison, when I had a website hosted with BlueHost, and one of my websites was injected as well with spam, BlueHost has shutdown my hosting account without any previous warning. I just received an email saying that my hosting account is sending out 1000s of emails and they are shutting down my hosting account until I fixed the issue. First of all, they could have just deactivated the email service, so no more emails could be sent out, rather than deactivating my entire hosting account, making the website unavailable. I contacted BlueHost and it took almost 24 hours to get the website back up and running.
So you see, HostGator, without me asking and without any downtime, removed the malicious code and my website was perfectly fine again. Other hosting companies like BlueHost will neither help you, nor will they keep your website online. Without any hesitation they will shut you down. With HostGator my site stayed online all the time.
This is is something that is very often over looked, but also very hard to get a realistic measurement. Uptime refers to how reliable your server is in terms of being online.
With my shared hosting account, I never had a problem. Maybe once or twice a year I noticed that my website was offline for 30min, which really doesn’t bother me. One time back in 2012, I remember one of my site being offline and I received an email from HostGator saying there has been a power outage in some parts of their data center. An hour later everything was back online.
With other hosting companies, I had some terrible experience. My site would be offline for 2 hours a day. Luckily with HostGator I did never experience this. At the same time I have to be honest and say, that just because I never had problems, it doesn’t necessary mean that some other customers didn’t have problems. With big hosting companies who own 1000s of servers, it can happen that you end up on a hosting server, that has hardware issues and that might crash. If you are a customer of HostGator and you ever notice that your website is offline a lot, I would recommend you contact them immediately and request to be moved to a different server.
But all in all, HostGator has been very reliable when it comes to the uptime. I never experienced any significant down times.
To sum up:
In a nutshell, I have tried GoDaddy, BlueHost, NameCheap, 1&1 and HostGator, and HostGator is the only one that has always delivered as promised in every category, support, price and performance.
I would also like to take this opportunity, to say, Please stay away from GoDaddy webhosting! GoDaddy is great for domain hosting (as long as you don’t require support), but for god-sake, don’t use their web hosting offers.