HostGator broke onto the web hosting scene in 2002. Brent Oxley, an ambitious Florida Atlantic University student, started HostGator in his dorm room while in his freshman year. HostGator’s tagline is: ‘we eat up the competition.’ We have found this to be an accurate statement as they are arguably within the top 3 web hosting services in terms of brand image and sheer amount of domains hosted (over 9 million). HostGator also puts a heavy focus on VPS, dedicated and reseller hosting plans which makes this an excellent service for website designers and developers. Nevertheless, they are not as giving in their features section as some of the other top brands, as you will need to upgrade to get one or two of these features. But, they do eat up the competition by offering one of the best customer support services (almost 100% customer satisfaction rate) and true reliability all at an affordable price.
It is not as if HostGator lacks tons of features – they don’t. However, on their basic plan, features such as a dedicated IP address and free private SSL are not offered. Such features are commonly offered free on basic plans across all major web hosting companies. That said, they do offer unique features to their gigantic customer base. Since a large chunk of their customers are designers and developers, they provide convenient features such as free module installation, Image Magick, an IP Deny Manager, phpMyAdmin, and a range of ‘Instant’ features such as Instant Blogs, Instant Portals and Instant Forums. Naturally, they also offer countless website statistics and e-commerce features. The essential features that HostGator offers are:
- Unlimited Disk Space
- Unlimited Bandwidth
- Unlimited Sub Domains
- Unlimited FTP Accounts
- Unlimited Email Accounts (and unlimited POP3 accounts)
- Unlimited MySQL Databases
- 1 domain allowed (unlimited on an upgraded plan)
- Instant backups
- Web based file manager
- Spam assassin
We would also like to point out that while their backup service is quite helpful, it only runs once a week and only one week of backups are kept. Also, any shared hosting account that uses more than 20GB of space won’t even be included in the weekly backup. Therefore, if you decide to sign up with HostGator, we strongly recommend you take a look at online backup services to better suit your backup needs.
Mr. Oxley has noted on several occasions that all web hosting services more or less offer the same package to potential customers, and the way to stand out is through your customer support center. HostGator offers 24/7 live chat, phone and e-mail support – 365 days a year. The response times vary through each channel. It took a whopping 25 minutes to get a response via live chat, yet our phone wait was under 5 minutes. Also, we received an e-mail reply quicker than our live chat reply, which is likely the fastest ever e-mail response time. We also found HostGator’s representatives to be one of the most helpful and knowledgeable in the industry. Further, their gator mascot is with you every step of the way (and sometimes even animated), which we must admit makes the usually frustrating customer service experience fun. Additionally, HostGator has a very active user forum, tutorials and even a blog. And of course, if you’re a social media ninja, you can always contact HostGator through Facebook or Twitter. Lastly, HostGator offers a 45 day money back guarantee (except on dedicated servers). This may not seem as good as other providers who offer an anytime money back guarantee, however you must take into account the fact that HostGator plans are offered in 1 month, 6 month, 1 year, 2 year or 3 year intervals instead of almost all other hosting providers who force you into a 1 year contract.
Ease of Use
Like JustHost, HostGator allows you to ‘test drive’ the icon based cPanel so you can experience best in class user friendliness. HostGator has upgraded their cPanel control panel theme to fit all of the features they have to offer. Navigating through features such as databases, domain management and FTP accounts is a really a simple process, especially since all icons are positioned nicely by category. HostGator also uses the Fantastico script library which makes application installation a seamless procedure. Additionally, a nice feature shown in the control panel is the display of how much bandwidth and space you are using, though you are offered unlimited bandwidth and space to begin with. You also see your website’s traffic stats, backup stats and account information right on the dashboard. While these are all features, it falls under ease of use since you don’t need to go searching through the control panel to find your information.
HostGator Control Panel
HostGator’s premium website builder, called ‘BaseKit SiteBuilder,’ is an absolute pleasure to work with. While there are a bit more functionality with this specific sitebuilder, making it a great choice for professional web developers, it is just as useful for beginners with no prior site building experience. Many other hosting services offer the drag & drop site builder which is a great tool. But, it does not offer much flexibility in our opinion. Although, they do offer over 4,500 free templates which is significantly more than any other hosting provider. With HostGator’s BaseKit SiteBuilder, a novice user can have a super professional website up and running in just five easy steps.
HostGator understands that almost all webmasters really only care about two things when it comes to web hosting: customer support and uptime. Therefore, they guarantee 99.9% uptime like other major hosting providers. If you can prove that your site’s uptime was under this threshold, HostGator will supply you with one month of free web hosting. In regard to their servers: they use over 8,000 servers and have over 800 personnel just for maintaining superior reliability.
HostGator started off as a tiny company and developed completely into an enormous service by offering three things: service, reliability and affordability. These factors played a key role in their rapid expansion, specifically in regard to their VPS and dedicated hosting plans. With over 9 million domains managed, HostGator is undeniably a renowned hosting destination for all types of webmasters.