HostGator: Our Review

Widely recognized for its oft-stated desire to “eat up the competition,” HostGator is a very popular hosting company that provides a full suite of features at affordable, competitive prices.

Features

HostGator provides four levels of hosting: Shared (called “Web Hosting” by HostGator), Reseller, Virtual Private Server (VPS), and Dedicated. While very much a “Linux shop,” the company does offer Windows-based hosting plans as well on the “Shared” and “Dedicated” levels.

Web Hosting Features

  • Unlimited* domains and sub-domains (single domain on “Hatchling” plan)
  • Unlimited* drive space
  • Unlimited* data transfer/bandwidth
  • Unlimited* SQL databases
  • 99.9% uptime guarantee
  • Support for Unlimited* email addresses and webmail
  • Free 24/7 customer support via Web/phone/email
  • “Instant Backup” service via cPanel
  • A free template-based website builder
  • A choice of shared or private Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) site certificate
    • Shared SSL is available for the “Hatchling” and “Baby” plans
    • A private SSL certificate is included with the “Business” plan, or can be added to the “Baby” plan for a $2 monthly fee
  • Full support for:
    • eCommerce (ZenCart, osCommerce, Cube Cart)
    • WordPress Hosting
    • PHP 5
    • Ruby on Rails
    • SSH
    • Pyton
    • Perl
    • FrontPage Extensions
    • Multimedia streaming
    • Website management with cPanel
    • A bevy of applications installed via Fantastico

HostGator’s shared plans come with a 45-day money-back guarantee. Also, the top-level “Business” plan adds a few nice additional perks in the form of a dedicated IP address and a complimentary toll-free phone number (a real cost saver if you’re just getting started with your business on the Web and want to give your customers an other avenue of contact).

Windows hosting, also offered on this tier, is comparable to the standard shared plans in price and features, with cPanel replaced by Plesk, support added for ASP.NET and MS SQL, and the upper limit for hosted domains set at five.

Reseller Hosting Features

If you’re looking to host sites for your own customers, HostGator’s Reseller hosting tier spans five plans (ranging from “Aluminum” to “Diamond”). It is also “shared” hosting, and includes everything in their shared hosting plans, but with a few modifications and additions:

      • Unlimited* domains and sub-domains
      • Up to 200 GB of drive space
      • Up to 1400 GB of monthly data transfer/bandwidth
      • All the other features of shared hosting plans
      • A free domain reseller account
      • Private name servers
      • Free site builder software with 4,500 free templates (for both you and your customers)
      • Unlimited* cPanels for your customers
      • A free billing system
      • Access to WHM as well as cPanel (for managing both your customer accounts/content and your site, respectively)
      • Automatic off-site backups performed weekly
      • Safe Harbor certification

*As a rule, “unlimited” in the context of shared hosting generally denotes “limitless until you negatively impact server performance, at which point you may be billed or transferred to a more costly service tier.”

Reseller hosting is covered by the same 45-day money-back guarantee as HostGator’s other plans.

Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting Features

For those who need more power and control, VPS hosting offers nine levels of virtual hosting power.

    • Your own virtual server, with:
      • The same standard features available in shared plans
      • Full root access to your server for application installation/customization
      • Up to 4435 MB of dedicated RAM
      • Up to 231 GB of storage space
      • Up to 3150GB of monthly traffic
    • Two dedicated IP addresses
    • File Transfer Protocol (FTP) access for your server
    • Free SSL certificate
    • 24/7 Network Monitoring and Security
    • Fully Managed Hosting
    • VPS plans at levels three and higher which include cPanel are eligible for ’round-the-clock managed hosting, which includes improved customer support and 24/7/365 server monitoring

All of HostGator’s VPS accounts are hosted on Dell equipment and feature a guaranteed 20 mbit/second connection.

Dedicated Hosting Features

HostGator’s dedicated hosting plans expand the available OS selection and, of course, add the power of a physical server.

  • Your own physical Linux or Windows server, with:
    • All of the features and perks of the lower tiers (including reseller hosting)
    • Intel® Xeon™ processors up to 3.3 GHz
    • Up to 16 GB of RAM
    • Up to 1 TB (Linux) or 2 TB (Windows) of storage space
    • Up to 10 TB of monthly traffic
  • Five free dedicated IP addresses
  • Total root access for your server
  • WebMatrix application development support (Windows)
  • Free cPanel (Linux) or Plesk (Windows)
  • All servers located in Texas, U.S.A.

HostGator’s dedicated hosting also adds support for PHPMyAdmin and access to the HostGator Community Forum for peer and admin support.

Benefits Breakdown

The Good

HostGator’s reputation for affordable and robust hosting plans is well-deserved, as befits a hosting company with full BBB accreditation and a stack of industry accolades.

Pricing is very competitive at all levels, and the 24/7/365 support is nicely supplemented by the company’s online library of tutorials and video support content.

A 45-day money-back-guarantee at all levels is appealing, and provides some much-appreciated reassurance if your business is still finding its online footing.

The Not-So-Good

While HostGator offers a broad range of plans and services, their dedicated plans may seem somewhat underpowered when compared to pricier competitors with more robust hardware.

VPS hosting is Linux-only, so if your site requires support for Windows applications or application development tools like ASP.NET, you may need to move to the more expensive dedicated hosting plans.

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