So you’ve narrowed down your choices and it is down to two Web-hosts: Bluehost vs. HostGator. Both Web-hosts are reasonably popular, offer the same amount of plans, and are both owned by the telecommunication giant, EIG.
However, despite the fact that they are both really similar, our review will definitely reveal some interesting facts. And as usual, we’ll compare them based on the most important metrics and see which Web-host comes out on top. We know that choosing a host is a great undertaking and you want to make the best choice and get the best deal. That’s why we are going to go over all the most important bits. At the end of everything, we’ll have a summary and choose the one that we think is best. Will you agree with us? Very likely. However, even if you don’t, you’ll have the raw data to make your choice and come to your own conclusions.
To be absolutely clear, all the analyses here are done in relation to the Shared hosting plans of both Web-hosts. This is because shared hosting plans are the most purchased hosting plans on the internet and as thus, are more relevant.
Bluehost vs. HostGator: A Complete Overview
As we discussed in-depth in our Bluehost Review, Bluehost was founded by Danny Ashworth and Matt Heaton in Utah, several years ago. The company grew in stature and size until it, like almost half of the Web-hosts we’ve reviewed, got the interest of Endurance International Group, a giant conglomerate.
Bluehost was acquired by EIG in 2010. After the acquisition, the general sentiment was that Bluehost would lose the great performance that it was known for. Fortunately, that hasn’t been the case. Bluehost is like… the Supermarket of hosting.
This means that you can get almost everything and anything you want from them. Whether it is Dedicated hosting, VPS hosting, Shared hosting, E-commerce websites… you just name it and it is likely that Bluehost has got just the plan for you. Because Bluehost is so popular and offers such a wide range of services, they are able to offer extremely low prices and have made a name for themselves by offering really competitive pricing with decent performance.
|Types of Support:||Phone/ Live Support/ Chat/ Ticket||Phone/ Live Support/ Chat/ Ticket|
HostGator was founded in 2002 and is also based in Utah like Bluehost. HostGator offers all kinds of hosting from Dedicated plans to Shared Hosting Plans. HostGator also has a website builder called Gator by HostGator (Will you find a better website builder name? We don’t think so). HostGator was also bought by EIG when they got big enough, and like Bluehost, they’ve defied popular sentiments and have continued to grow from strength to strength (more in-depth information about this you can find in our HostGator Review).
HostGator and Bluehost are both immensely popular Web-hosts. So popular that we really don’t know which one is known by most people. However, based on the fact that HostGator has more websites hosted on its servers, we’ll go with HostGator, even though Bluehost seems to have more searches on Google trends.
But does it really matter? We’ve seen really popular Web-hosts, like GoDaddy for example, get absolutely floored by the less popular ones, like SiteGround or even A2 hosting. So we’ve learned to give no regard to the number of websites powered by a particular Web-hosts or how many Super Bowl ads they’ve placed or how many people actually know them.
Many times Popularity is just proof of great marketing, it does not always mean also great hosting.
It’s simple really. Purchasing a host means that you are buying a promise, a promise that your website will be accessible an overwhelming majority of the time, and it will be accessible as quickly as possible. Let’s see how well these Web-hosts deliver on this promise.
The primary purpose of a hosting service is to keep websites online, and the better the host at accomplishing this task, the better the performance is.
We tested Bluehost’s Uptime
To measure uptime, we bought a basic plan, set up a dummy website and filled it with basic content and began testing. Over our testing period, Bluehost recorded a 99.99% uptime, which is fantastic and as close to perfect as any host can get. All hosting services experience downtime, but a good one makes sure that the downtime that a website experience is negligible.
A host that has an uptime guarantee allows customers to have a path of redress in case uptime gets terrible. Unfortunately, Bluehost doesn’t have an uptime guarantee. This shouldn’t be a problem, though, as it appears that the host has great uptime already. But uptime can be fickle, and we’ve seen hosts go from hero to zero in the shortest period. What happens to the customer then?
We tested HostGator’s Uptime
We purchased a basic HostGator shared hosting plan and took it through the same motions as the Bluehost account. After that, we tested the uptime of the account. We were impressed to record a 99.96% uptime, less than Bluehost though.
Naturally, we moved to analyze the next thing – whether HostGator has an uptime guarantee or not. We were impressed to discover that there is a 99.9% uptime guarantee for HostGator’s customers.
If you discover that your uptime has gotten lower than 99.9%, you are entitled to a free month of hosting for every 0.1% reduction in uptime that your website experiences. In other words, Hostgator has almost perfect uptime and at the same time, has a great uptime guarantee. We see the winner here, do you?
Yes, Bluehost has great uptime, but we were kind of let down by the lack of an uptime guarantee. HostGator, on the other hand, has great uptime and also boasts of an uptime guarantee. HostGator comes out the winner of this one.
No one wants to waste more time than necessary on anything – that’s why Google reports that 40% of users will leave a website that takes too long to load. So if you don’t want that to happen to your website, you had better take note of the page load speeds.
Bluehost Speed Tests
We put our tools to work and tested the response speed (Time to First Byte or TTFB) of Bluehost. We measured an average response time of 215ms which wasn’t bad at all, especially given the fact that Bluehost doesn’t have a reputation for speed. Google says that the optimum response time is around 200ms, and Bluehost consistently delivers that to locations in the US. Outside the US, however, things get a little tricker and that’s why the average was able to rise as high as that.
In order to test the validity of this result, we sent 100 virtual users to our site and monitored the speed of the servers. To a large extent, the speed didn’t suffer because of the spike in traffic. That’s something that we like to see too, as it is a good indication of whether your site will suffer when traffic load gets really high.
|LOCATION||HOSTGATOR LOAD TIME||BLUEHOST LOAD TIME|
|Tokyo||5.8 sec||3.2 sec|
|Seoul||5.4 sec||3.7 sec|
|Vienna||2.08 sec||4.15 sec|
|Berlin||2.3 sec||4.15 sec|
|Manchester||1.6 sec||3.4 sec|
Bluehost makes use of Cloudflare CDN on all plans to easy to see how Bluehost has managed to be so fast (relatively, of course). All in all, we don’t think Bluehost users will have complaints about Bluehost’s speed.
HostGator Speed Tests
Using the same methods we used with Bluehost, we set about testing HostGator’s speed. The average response time (that is the time before we picked up the first byte from the servers), was 765ms. While this is low, it actually isn’t the lowest that we’ve reviewed. However, it is squarely stuck in the average zone.
If speed is something that you value dearly, as you should, then HostGator isn’t the host that you should be looking at. However, it seems HostGator has learned about the deficiencies of their shared hosting plans so they recently introduced a Cloud hosting Plan structure that promises two times the speed and up to four times the resources of the Shared hosting plan.
While we’ve not tested this plan out ourselves, we’ve gone through tested reviews and have discovered that to a large extent, this claim is correct. However, this comparison is only for their shared hosting plans, and the fact remains that the speed of HostGator’s shared hosting plan is thoroughly average.
Bluehost is not a speed Lord, but is still comfortably ahead of HostGator. We guess gators are not just as fast on the internet.
Ease of Use for Bluehost compared to HostGator
Very few people (if any at all, really), find joy in making use or learning to make use of anything that is not user-friendly. That’s why automatic cars were invented – no one wants to do more than the bare minimum. It is the same with hosting. Managing a website can be a pretty technical task and everyone, especially beginners, need all the help that they can possibly get. However, not all hosts provide the best help, and some do not even at all. Let us look at the kind of help that these hosts provide and consider how easy it is to make use of them for hosting your website.
Bluehost makes use of the standard cPanel interface. However, it is heavily customized to make it easier for beginners to navigate through and accomplish simple tasks.
The MySites feature allows users to take control of multiple websites using a single account, the Marketplace feature, just like the name implies, gives users access to a marketplace where they can buy WordPress themes, buy professional services and even purchase new add-ons if they so wish. There’s also a domain manager that allows users to manage their domains (keep an eye on their registration status, buy new domains, setup redirection and update information).
For WordPress users, Bluehost automatically updates the core of the WordPress software. There are also one-click installations and a custom WordPress installer that are just a click or two away. While Bluehost’s backend is optimized for beginners, experienced users can also find advanced settings under the advanced section of the interface.
For people without websites, Bluehost provides a website builder called Weebly. Drag-and-drop functionality is enabled so users can get their website running in no time without ever having to write a single line of code. Disappointingly, though, Bluehost does not offer free site migrations. The charge is $149.99 and is valid for the migration of up to five websites, 20 emails and database files.
Asides the fact that there are no free site migrations, Bluehost was actually one of the easiest hosting backends that we’ve ever made use of. The controls were clearly labeled and easy to find and we had very few problems accomplishing basic tasks. Setting up a website with Weebly was also quite easy for us.
How does our experience with Bluehost compare with the one we had with HostGator?
From the beginning, we found the experiences that we had to be quite similar. Like Bluehost, HostGator also makes use of a heavily customized version of cPanel. Like Bluehost, HostGator provides the basic options and controls needed to run the interface quite easily.
Upon logging in, the user is presented with the diverse controls that they’d need. The knowledge base is also very obvious too, in case of problems arise and the user might have to get around them. There’s a useful search feature that makes it easier for users to pull up relevant articles and tutorials as well. If that still doesn’t cut it, users can always make use of the control tab to contact the customer support (more on this later).
HostGator also has a feature that recommends hosting packages to users after they’ve made a request. That is if you want to accomplish a task and you’re not completely sure of the “how”, HostGator’s tool will recommend the package that should be added to your plan to accomplish that task. For those without a website, HostGator has an aptly named tool called Gator by HostGator that you can use to build a website in no time at all.
It has drag and drop functionality and a whole lot of themes and templates so that you can customize your website, reasonably of course, entirely to your taste. In addition to this, HostGator provides an email marketing tool that is free for all new users for the first three months of their plans. One-click installations are also available for a lot of apps, so users don’t have to spend valuable time following difficult installation procedures. With one click of their mouse, their apps can begin installing.
For new users, HostGator provides $100 in advertising credit – however, this is only valid if they spend $25 first. On the security side of things, HostGator has got users covered with a free SSL certificate from Let’s Encrypt. Ordinarily, this shouldn’t be a big deal – but it’s 2019, and some hosts still don’t provide free SSL certificates. Therefore, we’re going to build a mountain on this molehill and ride a storm in this teacup.
When it comes to site transfers, there’s only one thing that we like to hear – free. Hostgator doesn’t disappoint us in this aspect, and this is one place that they have a rapidly different policy from Bluehost.
HostGator offers single-site transfers, so if you’re moving from an old host, all you need is to provide the Hostgator team with access to your former cPanel and your site will be transferred absolutely free of charge. However, this offer is only valid within the first thirty days of purchasing a plan from HostGator.
|Regular Price||$2.71 per month||$2.95 per month|
|Free Included Domains||No||Yes|
|Google Adword Credit||$100||$100|
|Free Site Backup||Automatic backup on every week.||No|
|Free Backup Restore||Yes||No|
|Backup On Demand||Yes||No|
|Free Site Transfer||Yes||Pay $149|
|1 Click CMS Installer||Yes||Yes|
Just as with Bluehost, using HostGator was practically stress-free and we do not imagine that many users will be knocking on the doors of support to get around accomplishing simple tasks. However, we must choose a winner, and we found the fact that Bluehost does not offer free site migrations to be a bit disappointing. HostGator wins this one for us.
Money-Back Guarantee Policy
If you’ve ever bought something based on wrong advice and discovered that you cannot return it and your money is not refundable, you will understand the importance of a Money-back guarantee. A Money-back guarantee period allows you to test the product you’ve bought and discover whether or not it fits your needs perfectly. This guarantee shows the level of risk associated with purchasing a product. The product with a longer testing period has less risk associated with it than a product with a shorter testing period.
The industry standard for money-back guarantees is thirty days. Obviously, we’d prefer it if the standard was higher as thirty days isn’t a long enough time to get an idea of the type of performance you’re going to be getting, but it is what it is. Bluehost offers the industry-standard… which is just that, standard. Thankfully, unlike with other Web-hosts, the process of getting refunds is basically straightforward. You cancel the plan within thirty days and you get a refund of the purchased plan. However, if you’ve received an extra service or add-on like a free domain with your plan, the fee will be deducted from the refund you’re to get.
Bluehost’s money-back guarantee isn’t particularly inspiring, especially as we’ve seen many Web-hosts offer higher (as high a 97 days). HostGator, on the other hand, does fifteen days better and offers a 45-day money-back guarantee.
This is better than the thirty day offers that most Web-host provides and is commendable. Of course, the same conditions as with Bluehost apply; fees of additional services like domains will be deducted
This is pretty clear and not open to interpretation. HostGator has a longer Money-back guarantee period and as such is the winner of this round.
HostGator vs. Bluehost: Customer Support and Reliability
Even the most seasoned webmasters cannot boast of knowing everything there is to know about hosting. It is possible for the most advanced users to run into problems that they aren’t quite capable of solving. When a situation like that arises, as it almost inevitably does, it is the customer support technicians that help users navigate through the technicalities of their problems. However, customer support can only be useful if they are experts in hosting. That is why it is important to take into consideration the quality of a host’s customer care before purchasing a plan.
Bluehost has three primary channels of tending to the problems of customers and these channels are available 24/7. Additionally, these channels are available on all hosting plans. The channels are live chat, phone, and ticketing support. Since the most common means (and easily the more effective way) of contacting live support is through live chat support, this is where we started from. Over the period of a day, we tried attempting to connect to a live rep and we only had to wait for an average of five minutes. This is impressive, because, on a whole, we are usually quite wary of the customer support of large companies.
The reason is there are so many customers to attend to so it is quite possible that the customer support may be spread thin and the only way to cut cost might be to hire inexperienced reps. However, our experience with Bluehost told us that that isn’t necessarily true. The reps we connected to were friendly and courteous, and except one or two reps who didn’t seem like they were particularly conversant with their course material, most of them were able to answer our questions convincingly. It was an all-round great experience, and exactly what customer care should be like.
|Overall Support Rating||3.2 / 5||4.2 / 5|
|WordPress-Specific Support Rating||3.4 / 5||3.8 / 5|
Hostgator also has the same customer channels that Bluehost provides, and they are available 24/7 too on all plans. Like we did with Bluehost, we tried connecting with a live rep through HostGator’s live chat channel. The wait time was erratic. Sometimes we were instantaneously connected with a live rep and other times we had to wait for as long a half an hour. That is entirely too long a period to wait for customer support and we were definitely not impressed. We tried to see if HostGator would make up for the long wait time with great support.
While we would like to say that they did, the truth is that getting expert support with HostGator is almost like playing a game of Russian roulette. We were alternatingly connecting with expert help – that is, on the first trial, the live rep would be able to answer our questions satisfactorily, and the next live rep would give us an excuse or put on hold for as long as fifteen minutes. On a whole, we are certain that some of HostGator’s live reps are sufficiently trained and would be able to provide quality help, unfortunately, we aren’t certain that you’d connect with them when you need help.
Overall, we were able to get better help and advice from Bluehost customer reps than we were able to get with HostGator customer reps. We were not really impressed with average the wait times of both Web-hosts, though, and we believe that they could do better.
The internet is a dangerous place, with malware and hackers with mischievous purposes lurking at every angle. Having a website means that you are, more than ever, exposed to the antics of these unsavory characters. For the most part, the responsibility of security lies with the end-user; keeping your password safe and regularly updating your plug-ins are some of the things you can do to keep your website secure. However, a website host is the primary custodian of the servers your website is hosted on and it is important to know what measures have been put in place to keep your website secure. Obviously, a more secure Web-host is preferable to one with a lackadaisical attitude towards security. It is important, as well, that many of these security features aren’t provided as add-ons.
Bluehost Security Features
Bluehost, like has been mentioned earlier, provides free SSL certificates from Let’s Encrypt on all plans. Domain privacy, a tool that secures the private information of the owner of a domain and keeps it away from public WHOIS listings, is also provided on select plans. Asides that, there is also access to a security feature called Sitelock that scans for malware and prevents attacks on your website. Yet another security feature that users of Bluehost have access to is Codeguard. Codeguard is also available on select plans and is a backup tool. This means that in the event that your website is attacked and you lose valuable information, you can always perform a one-click restore using Codeguard. Does this mean that Bluehost provides backups? Yes and no. On the higher plans, Codeguard is provided free of charge so that is a form of free backups. On basic plans, though, Bluehost provides backups on a courtesy basis. That means you may or may not be provided with a backup. It mainly depends on how Bluehost is feeling at the time.
The Google tool, Postini, provides spam protection for email accounts so that your emails are safe from suspicious emails or/and spams. In addition, Bluehost has single sign-on support so that users aren’t forced to make use of insecure passwords. This also comes with two-factor authentication so that your account cannot easily be stolen. Is there OpenPGP/GPG support? Certainly. Users can receive and send files securely. Because shared hosting means that several websites are using a single server, there is always the possibility that an attack on a single website can spread to other websites on the server. Bluehost mitigates this risk by using a special isolation technology to preserve website performance.
On the user end, Bluehost also tries to cover exposure by providing a checklist for users to see whether they are doing their part.
Overall, we feel that Bluehost has a sound security infrastructure. The only chink in their armor that we can see is the fact that backups aren’t guaranteed. Asides that, everything is top-notch.
HostGator Security Features
Like most of Bluehost’s Alternatives, HostGator covers the basics by providing a free SSL certificate on all plans. The host also provides access to Sitelock, a feature that you can add to your site with just a few clicks. For Email coverage, there is also Spam Assassin.
The tool protects your mail from spam and also suspicious mails. Unfortunately, like Bluehost, HostGator isn’t a fan of free automatic backups. But, surprising no one really, HostGator provides access to Codeguard on select plans. Codeguard is an automatic backup tool that costs about $2 per month. The basic Codeguard plan comes with 1GB automatic daily backup storage. The tool has scalable plans too, for when your websites get bigger and need more backups space.
We are not exactly security experts, but with the level of effort put in by Bluehost to ensure that websites are secure, we have to say that Bluehost is extremely safety conscious. This is not to say that HostGator would not keep the information on your website safe. We are just saying that, based on our research and experience, we would trust Bluehost the most.
Plans & Pricing
To some people (and yes, sometimes, we’ve been part of this group) price is probably the most important factor to take into consideration when purchasing anything. Humans are designed to constantly look for the best deal, and that is what we constantly do. Is there a seller offering the same product at a lower price? Is there a seller offering far more value at a slightly higher price? On a whole, can a better deal begotten? These are very important questions to consider before buying anything. And it is the same with hosting. The brand with the cheapest plan isn’t always the one with the best value for money, so we are going to break down each shared hosting plan and see just how much it is worth in comparison to other deals.
Bluehost has a whole lot of plans, however, we shall be considering their shared hosting plans alone because that is the basis of our comparison between Bluehost and HostGator. Bluehost offers four shared hosting plans which are the Basic, Plus, Choice-plus and the Pro plans.
The Basic plan comes with:
- 1 website
- 5 parked domains
- 25 subdomains.
- 50GB of storage
- Unmetered bandwidth
- Free SSL certificate
- 1 free domain
The plan costs $2.75 (renewal costs $7.99 per month).
|Number of Sites||N/A||N/A|
The Plus plan comes with all the features of the basic plan plus:
- Unlimited websites
- $200 marketing offer
- Spam experts.
- Unlimited storage
- Unlimited domains
- Unlimited subdomains
- Unlimited parked domains
The plan costs $5.45 per month (normally $10.99).
The Choice-plus plan comes with all the features of the Plus plan plus:
- Domain Privacy and protection
- 1 office 365 mailbox – free 30 days and Codeguard basic site backup.
The plan is the same price as the Plus plan but renewal costs $14.99
The Pro plan is the most expensive shared hosting plan offered by Bluehost.
The plan costs $13.95 per month (renewal is $23.99 per month) and it comes with all the features of the Choice-Plus plan with a dedicated IP address and high performance. So what’s “high performance”? According to Bluehost, high performance means that Pro servers allow for a 300,000 file count and are deployed with fewer users per server than the standard shared servers, allowing for greater compute resource availability per user. Interesting
Bluehost’s resource protection feature means that websites using too many resources are temporarily relocated to isolated systems. All Bluehost Shared hosting plans come with, resource protection a domain manager, and scalability.
Bluehost Pricing and Plans – Our View
So what do we feel about Bluehost’s pricing structure? There are definitely some positives to take away. For example, introductory prices are really low and the structure allows for real scalability. The value offered for each plan is also really competitive. However, we also found an issue with some things. For example, Bluehost doesn’t allow monthly payments, so if you want to purchase a Bluehost plan you’ll have to pay for a while ahead. In addition, after your first term, the renewal jumps so if you want to save a lot of money you’d be forced to pay for the longest term. It sort of sounds like a vortex sucking you in, but we hope its the good type. It would be a nightmare to be stuck with a terrible host.
The Web-host has three shared hosting plans. They are the Hatchling Plan, the Baby Plan, and the Business plan.
The Hatchling plan is the basic plan and it comes with:
- One domain
- One-click installations,
- Free SSL certificate
- Unmetered bandwidth and subdomains,
- Unlimited disk space
- Unlimited email accounts
The Plan costs $2.75 per month. This price is only for customers paying 36 months (or three years) in advance, though. If, after the initial three-year term, you’d like to renew the plan, you’d be required to pay only $6.75.
The Baby plan costs $3.95 per month (renews at $9.95 per month)
- The plan comes with unlimited domains
- Included free domain
- One-click installs
- Free SSL certificate
- Unmetered bandwidth
HostGator’s apex shared hosting plan
This is the Business plan and it costs $5.95 per month and renews at $14.95. It comes with the following features:
- Unlimited Domains
- One-click installs
- Free SSL certificate
- Free dedicated IP
- Free SEO tools
- And a free included Domain.
HostGator Pricing and Plans – Our View
Like Bluehost’s plans, HostGator’s plans pack great value. But the same kind of complaints that we had for Bluehost plans are the same as we have here; introductory prices are high and are only for customers paying for the long term, and renewal prices are needlessly jacked up after the first term.
Price-wise, Bluehost and HostGator have roughly the same structure (except for Bluehost Pro plan). However, Bluehost has more room for more scaling, and not to mention better performance so their deal is the best. Bluehost wins this one for us.
There’s always that something extra that a Web-host brings to the table. In some cases, it can be big/important enough to flip the table in the host’s favor. Let’s check out the extra features of these Web-hosts and see what we come up with.
Bluehost has a special customer support feature called Blue flash. Ran by WordPress experts, the feature is specifically for WordPress users who need help with plugins, themes, and templates.
Other Bluehost Extras:
- In case you need to manage your domains through them, Bluehost has a domain manager
- One-click installations for over 100+ apps from MOJO
- Bluehost offers the services of website builders like Drupal and Weebly.
- Bluehost offers hotlink protection to protect your data.
- $200 Marketing offers
- Bluehost has both MySQL and PostgreSQL databases and you can use either phpMyAdmin, Remote MySQL, or phpPgAdmin to manage your databases.
- Bluehost offers CDN access
- Bluehost is an officially recommended web host by WordPress. Only two other Web-hosts share this status
- Bluehost supports the use of Perl modules, Cron jobs, PHP PEAR packages, and Apache handlers.
- Automatic WordPress Plugin and Theme updates.
- Access to Google analytics and Mojo marketplace
- HostGator has only one database— MySQL
- Unlimited FTP and email accounts.
- Better performance with Opteron 6000 series CPU combined with DDR3 ECC RAM
- $100 in free advertising credits
- Support of multiple languages including Ruby on Rails, PHP, Python, and Perl.
Overall, we were more impressed with Bluehost blue flash feature. We tried it out and it is exactly what Bluehost sells it as.
Major Differences between Hostgator and Bluehost
Let’s look at the major differences between both of these Web-hosts.
- Bluehost’s basic plan comes with a free domain, HostGator’s basic plan does not
- HostGator has a 45-day money-back guarantee, while Bluehost has only a three-day money-back guarantee
- Bluehost is faster than HostGator
- HostGator has an Uptime guarantee, while Bluehost doesn’t
- Bluehost has four shared hosting plans, HostGator has only three
- Hostgator offers free site migration, Bluehost doesn’t.
- Bluehost is an officially WordPress recommended host, HostGator isn’t.
Bluehost vs. HostGator: Our Pick
Bluehost vs HostGator? The sky remains blue.
For all their similarities, HostGator and Bluehost have proven to be quite different. For us, Bluehost has the edge in three important areas; customer support, pricing, and performance. There could really be no other winner.