HostGator vs. FastComet
HostGator vs FastComet? A very tough choice you’ve got there.
Thankfully, we love helping people through tough choices. Choosing a web host can be a tedious job, especially when your top choices are HostGator and FastComet.
HostGator is one of the biggest, oldest and most popular names (or brands) in web hosting while FastComet is relatively unknown in the industry. What’s more? A close look at both will reveal that they have different kinds of clients in mind.
While HostGator has a wider berth and seems to be in favor of the “masses” of the internet, so to speak, FastComet isn’t like that. FastComet is structured in such a way that only advanced users can appreciate the features of their web hosting service.
HostGator is undoubtedly the more popular web host, but if there’s anything we’ve found out from test running some of the most popular web hosts and some of the least popular ones, it is that popularity means very little.
Known for fantastic uptime (99.98% recorded in the last 21 months), unlimited bandwidth and storage with basic shared hosting plans in addition to great customer support, HostGator is a formidable opponent. Based on these records alone, you should migrate your website to HostGator immediately, but that wouldn’t be fair. Mostly because for all their impressive uptime records, their average page loading time isn’t something that anyone can brag about (1007ms).
To make matters worse, other extra features that most web hosts throw in for free today like free automatic backup and website security sometimes command extra fees. Owned by EIG, HostGator has become quite popular for providing relatively cheap hosting plans that have great interfaces for beginners or novices, so to speak. However, there is still a lot to know about HostGator, and we’ll find out soon enough.
Based in California, FastComet is a relatively new company, only founded in 2008. Initially, FastComet did not offer web hosting services for small business (aka shared hosting) but four years after inception, it began a cloud hosting service. FastComet might not have a rich pedigree or popular name, but with eight data centers on three continents and with the usage of SSD-only server, they are really serious about their tech. In addition, their extremely detailed website just overloads your brain about their infrastructure. They also have an impressive worldwide clientele of over 45000 websites based in 83 countries.
To be honest, we are of the opinion that FastComet has an obsessive-compulsive approach to Technology. Let us let you in on a secret, FastComet is one of the few web hosting companies not owned by EIG— EIG owns almost two-third of all web hosting companies in the world, (yes, even HostGator) so that is a pretty big deal. FastComet also has some sweet deals like free domain on a till-death-do-us apart basis.
Short answer? HostGator.
Long answer? HostGator is the more popular web host.
Reason? Well, HostGator is a much older company than FastComet. They’ve had the time and resources to build up a following and a loyal clientele so they have more customers than FastComet. Also, as a big company and as a member of a great conglomerate like EIG, they have the funds to embark on great marketing campaigns. Even the customer base proves this, as HostGator has about 10 million subscribers worldwide. FastComet, being relatively new to the market and being a privately owned company, has no such privileges.
The reason why this metric does not even have a shred of importance?
Some of the most popular things are actually really trash. I don’t have to give examples, but you already know popular musicians who shouldn’t, on a normal day, be allowed near a microphone. So yes, HostGator is the more popular web host, but that fact is something we would find difficult to care less about. Pro-tip; you should too.
FastComet vs. HostGator – Performance
This is the core of this comparison. Simply put, who performs better, HostGator or FastComet?
There are two or three (depends on your view on the great ideological question of our age: is speed the same as response time?) basic ways to measure performance. The first is the speed test/response time and next is the uptime rating. These metrics measure the speed and reliability of a web host. Speed and reliability are the two things to look out for in performance, and let’s see how these folks do.
Generally, the speed on the internet is very important. But the speed of your web host could even be more important than you thought. Here are two interesting facts for you before we continue;
- Amazon would lose over 1.6 billion dollars worth of business if it were hosted by a slow web host
- A site that takes more than four seconds to load is abandoned by 74% of users.
If Amazon can lose that much if it slowed down, imagine how much business/visitors you would lose if you slowed down.
Asides using Pingdom, there are two manual ways, I would say, to know if a web host is likely to be fast or not. The first is the number of data centers they have and the second is the kind of storage disks they use; whether they use normal hard drives or SSDs. We can tell you this for free, though. HostGator has only two data centers in Houston, Texas and in Provo, Utah. FastComet has eight data centers on three continents including places like Tokyo, London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, and Singapore. While FastComet offers Solid-state Drives on all their plans, HostGator doesn’t offer SSD’s on their shared hosting plans. With HostGator, you’re going to have to make do with HDD drives, which are much more slower. In addition to this, FastComet is fast at providing new updates of Php versions than HostGator. While FastComet already has support for version 7.3, HostGator’s highest Php version is 7.2.
Can you already guess the faster web host?
To find out which web host runs the fastest, we purchased plans from both of them and set up WordPress accounts with the same content. We plan to make this as fair as possible. Generally speaking, the greater the visitors to a site, the slower it becomes. Regardless of how fast the web host is initially, it is advisable to get a dedicated server immediately you start getting millions of visitors per month. Testing with Pingdom, the average speed of HostGator was 1.28secs. August 2018 saw HostGator loading fully at 870mms, while September and October recorded average speeds of 1.26secs and 2.26secs respectively. November and December recorded an average speed of 1.045 secs, while January 2019 continued the trend with 1.19secs. Throughout 2019, the average load time has been pretty consistent at 1.15-1.50secs.
That is the period it took to load. Seeing as 3secs is the slowest time possible, this doesn’t represent a terrible score and is above the industry average.
Testing FastComet with Pingdom gives us almost roughly the same fully loaded speed of about 1.27secs. August to October of 2018 saw FastComet averaging a full load speed of 1.73secs while November and December saw the average speed rising to 1.21secs. January and the rest of 2019 saw speeds stay at an average of 2secs.
It may be fine margins, but with an average full load speed of 1.27secs to 1.28secs of HostGator, FastComet takes this round. There was no great upset in this round, as FastComet was always going to be the faster choice.
Response time refers not to the full speed that loads the page, but the time it takes for the first byte to be recorded. The TTFB (Time to the first Byte), so to speak.
August 2018 saw the fastest speed of HostGator reaching 170mms, however, September saw a drop to 700mms. With October, the drop became almost double as the speed slowed down past the 1-second threshold and was at a disappointing 1.71secs. November and December saw great improvement as speeds clocked 480mms and 570mms respectively. From January through August 2019, HostGator maintained an average speed of 620mms. This brings the average response time of HostGator to 700mms, which if not fantastic, is very respectable. The speed gets lower, though. If up to forty concurrent users are making use of your website, it might take up to an incredible 9 seconds for the first byte to load. This is quite troubling.
For FastComet, we expect so much more than we usually expect from well-known hosts such as HostGator or even BlueHost. Do they disappoint? Let’s see. FastComet records speed as low as 400mms, as we saw in August 2018 and as high as 680mms as we saw in November 2018. On an average, however (during the period we measured, at least) FastComet records speeds of up to 570mms. This is far higher than the industry’s average, and while commendable is not really surprising. FastComet was always going to have a better response time than HostGator. Even under a lot of traffic, FastComet performed really well, with speeds just about doubling at 1.06secs.
Surprising no one really, FastComet has a superior response time when compared to HostGator. And this isn’t just a result of technical luck. The work that FastComet puts into their tech, with SSD support on all plans and eight data centers, isn’t just for show, and that shows.
A web host must be reliable. You must be sure that your website will be reachable at all times, and it is very important that a web host can guarantee this. That is the essence of an uptime rating.
In terms of this review, things haven’t been going really well for HostGator. From our point of view, they need a big break in order to stand any chance against FastComet. And with incredible uptime, this is exactly what they’re getting. Since having some technical setbacks in December 2017, HostGator has posted incredible uptime. In the last 21 months, they’ve only gotten as low as 99.95% uptime once and that was in September 2018. They’ve scored 100% eleven times in that same period. In an industry where perfection is rarely ever guaranteed, HostGator meets this criterion perfectly. It is going to be hard for anyone to best an incredible uptime of 99.98%. What makes it better is that HostGator guarantees that if their uptime drops below 99.99% in a month, your account will be credited for that month. You need to be careful, though, as there are exceptions such as unpredictable hacks and planned maintenance. If you submit a support ticket to the billing department within the first 30 days, you will get your credit no questions asked. One important consequence of this sort of policy is that it is forcing other web hosts to sit up and be serious about maintaining flawless uptime. As a result of this, customers win. It is good ole capitalism at work once more.
FastComet has great uptime, simple. We expected that with great speed comes great responsibility and many times lower than average uptime, but we’ve simply been astounded by the reliability of FastComet. Over a 21 month period, we only recorded lower than 99.95% once, and that was in January 2018. Over the same period, we’ve seen 100% months around seven times. As you can see below, their overall uptime comes to a staggering 99.98% average. This is well above the industry average and is quite close to the best of what the best web hosts can offer in terms of uptime. Unfortunately, though, unlike HostGator, FastComet doesn’t have a guarantee of 99.99% or credit. This means they are not putting their money where their mouth is and you don’t get a chance to get something back if terrible uptime is recorded.
So is this a tie? The data certainly suggests that it is, but we have to pick a winner. HostGator wins this round for us because of its 99.99% or credit guarantee.
Ease of Use
If you aren’t a pro at owning your own web site or aren’t conversant with the technicalities that one often has to deal with when controlling their own domain, you might be worried about the ease of use of a prospective web site host.
Web hosts that make it easy to sign up and set up an account are preferable, and if they throw in a free domain to make starting up easier, it’s all the better. Whether or not they provide a website builder and whether or not they have cPanel support is also important.
HostGator is very user-friendly, especially for beginners. This is why we said, at the beginning of the article, that HostGator’s target market is probably beginners or people who aren’t too tech-savvy. We doubt that any other web host put in so much time into making the set up of an account easy for beginners. HostGator’s site is choke-full of tutorials, walkthroughs and technical help to guide you through the creation and maintenance of a domain. They have an in-house Website builder called Gator by HostGator. Unlike the frequent tales of drabness and inefficient website builders we’ve heard, Gator by HostGator actually excels at the basics. It is, in fact, one of the best in-house website builders that we’ve reviewed. One of the things that stands Gator by HostGator out is the fact that it comes with an e-commerce plan. What this means is that you are able to set up your own online store without worrying about the technicalities that come with actually creating it. Gator by HostGator simply takes care of it. The drag and drop feature is readily available to be used and you get free SSL certificates with each basic plan. HostGator is by far one of the easiest web hosts to use. Regardless of the result of this comparison, that is one thing that can hardly be denied.
FastComet is user-friendly, of course. They support one-click installations for popular apps like WordPress and Joomla. There are a lot of tools available for developers to use if they so wish. Tools like WP-CLI, bash, Drush, Laravel, Genesis, and Symphony are some of the many instruments available to developers to use on FastComet’s platform. With these vast arrays of tools, FastComet makes it easy for users to fully customize their backend. They also have a mobile-friendly cPanel which means that you can control your website from your phone.
For us, because of the reliability of Gator by HostGator and the amount of dedication that HostGator put into ensuring that users get the best experience when working, HostGator wins this round. But we must say that both web hosts score really high marks in our opinion.
FastComet gives a 45 days window for you to check out their services and see if it works for you, if not you can get your money back. Their 45 days Money-back-guarantee is far higher than the industry average which is usually thirty days. This shows that FastComet is confident about their service, and is generally a good sign.
Like FastComet, HostGator offers the same 45 days Money-back guarantee— on the surface. A careful look at the fine print in the user agreement tells a different story, though. There is a 45 days window where you can get your money back if you are not satisfied with the service, quite alright. But it isn’t so black and white with HostGator. The first red flag is that if you’re using a dedicated server, this money-back guarantee doesn’t apply to you. It also doesn’t apply to admin fees and domain names. Another thing is that while you can request a refund within the first 45 days, HostGator is allowed to refund you within 90 days. That means you can be refunded the next day after asking for a refund, or the next 60 days (for some reason, we think this scenario is more likely). It is not over, though, as you will not be refunded in cash— you can only use the refund to get a new plan or new account with them. We feel, as you must, that this is quite a nice load of rubbish.
Customer support comparison is always going to be objective. Customer support staff are diverse, and like in any job, some are better workers than others. A company with a great customer support infrastructure may deliver a bad experience because of an undertrained or inexperienced worker, and a company with a bad customer support infrastructure may consistently deliver to customers because of a plethora of other factors. The important thing, we believe, is whether or not the firm invests and/or keeps a close eye on customer support. That would show, oftentimes than not, in customer support experience and would tell a great deal about the firm’s idea of customer sovereignty.
HostGator dedicates a lot of time to help users get through thorny problems. Asides the regular or traditional live chat, phone, and email option, HostGator has a vast knowledge base and loads of video tutorials to help you through any problems that you might encounter. Their live chat and phone in option is perhaps the most effective way to contact a live representative as the email system might be difficult for people to use. Perhaps HostGator designed it that way so that most complaints are channeled through chats and phone calls. The wait time for the live chat isn’t stable (you can be connected in 2 minutes or might have to wait for an hour), which can be bad news if you need to solve a problem quickly. Also, in our experience, the online reps of HostGator sometimes seem a little out of their depths. Here’s a conversation we had with Sarah below.
Sarah was unable to answer questions about maintenance and downtime that we experienced. All in all, there seems to be an existing customer support infrastructure, but we aren’t terribly sure of the level of effectiveness that it can reach. However, HostGator can rest in the assurance that their customer support before the point of human contact, is excellent and perhaps the best we’ve seen.
FastComet claims to have 24/7 chat, ticket, and phone support. They also, like HostGator, have a wide knowledge base that ensures that you rarely, if ever, need to contact a live representative. We’ll see in a moment whether the claim of a 24/7 available support is true on all channels.
First, we try to call up a phone support line. We are connected quickly and the live rep is helpful, speaking almost like a friend who knows an awful lot about web hosting. This is a good sign. We try a few more times, but the results are inconsistent. Sometimes we get no reply for a long time, and sometimes we are connected instantly. On average, though, we do get a hold of a live representative on the phone. So while FastComet’s phone channel is certainly effective, we wouldn’t say it is available 24/7. Their ticket service is quite impressive too, with representatives solving questions completely and promptly. We were quite impressed. Now, we move to the live chat option which is easily the most popular way of contacting web host support. Unlike many web hosts, FastComet’s live chat had little or no wait time. We were almost instantly connected to a live representative. This, obviously, was quite impressive. However, what if their customer support was the quantity and not quality? We tried asking some difficult questions and we can say that the FastComet representatives that we met through the live chat were the least helpful— which, with other web hosts, is usually the opposite. The representatives we met via the live chat sometimes got stumped by difficult questions and sometimes stopped replying entirely for long periods of time. We don’t know why this is so, but it reflects poorly on FastComet’s customer support infrastructure. We think that FastComet’s support is better than most, but can let you down quite badly sometimes.
With both web hosts having just slightly above average customer support, we have a difficult choice to make. This is one of those choices that numbers can’t make for you, and you’ve got to go with your gut feeling. Personally, we feel that the amount of video tutorials that HostGator has on a variety of problems makes it unlikely for one to ever need to contact a live representative. For this reason, HostGator wins this round for us.
I don’t think we’d be wrong to say that most web hosts take security seriously and have internal firewalls against breaches. The important thing is do they charge extra for this security? Are SSL certificates and backups free? Do they take any extra steps to guarantee security?
Both web hosts offer free SSL certificates with their basic shared hosting plan, however, while FastComet throws in site backup for free HostGator do not. Both web hosts also have proprietary defense mechanisms; HostGator has sitelock, codeguard and Spam assassin for protecting your email against malicious attacks while FastComet has a web application firewall optimized to protect against the hacking of some of the most popular apps like Joomla, WordPress, and Magneto. With BitNinja, FastComet has another layer of defense against DDoS attacks. And all these are absolutely free while HostGator’s Sitelock and codeguard will set you back $19.99/year, and $23.95/year respectively.
Concerning backups, HostGator has this gem to say; “HostGator backups are provided as a courtesy and are not guaranteed. Customers are responsible for their own backups and web content and should make their own backups for extra protection”. Not exactly filling us with confidence, that line. Especially when FastComet offers free and automatic backups with their basic plan.
For us, FastComet has a better security infrastructure simply because of the fact that most of it is free. With HostGator, you have to pay extra.
In our opinion, this is the most important metric of comparison. Value for money is important, and we are of the opinion that even poor service can be forgiven if you’re paying for exactly that— poor service. However, it is difficult to compare prices for a host of reasons; plans are rarely ever on the same wavelength and web host companies usually run discounts with anything from 25% – 40%. So sometimes it might feel a little bit like you’re comparing apples to oranges.
We’ll be looking at the shared hosting plans of both web hosts to see how they compare.
HostGator’s lowest plan is the Hatchling plan which starts at $2.75 per month (however, you have to pay three years in advance to get this rate, more on this later), and it comes with one domain name, unlimited storage, a free SSL certificate, and unlimited subdomains. FastComet’s cheapest plan is the StartSmart which, at $3.95, comes with one website and 15GB of storage space, free SSL certificate, unmetered traffic and an amazing free domain for life (we are certainly excited about this). On face value, HostGator’s plan is the cheapest, and if you’re penny-pinching is the one you’re likely to go for. However, after the initial three years, subscription fees rise through the roof and it becomes $6.95 per month to renew. If you don’t want to pay for three years in advance and want to pay for the same plan per month, HostGator bills you an incredible $10.95. FastComet, extraordinarily (Yes, because almost all web hosts have this deceptive pricing mechanism), retains the same $3.95 price after your initial payment. Coupled with better features, the StartSmart blows the hatchling plan away in terms of value for money.
The same theme is seen in all subsequent plans. HostGator’s next plan is the baby plan that comes with all the features of the hatching plan, but with unlimited domains at $3.95 per month. This deal is also a great deal, not many web hosts offer unlimited domains and storage space at that price. However, like the hatchling plan, the price hikes to $9.95 after the first three years. FastComet’s next plan is ScaleRight which starts at $5.95 per month. It comes with multiple websites, unmetered traffic and 25GB of space. The fact the renewal rate for this plan is fixed is amazing, and the only drawback that we can see is the storage on offer. HostGator’s unlimited storage offer really is something. Regardless, we would still go for FastComet’s ScaleRight plan because it is better value for money in the long run.
The next plans are the Business plan for HostGator and the SpeedUp plan for FastComet. The Business plan is top tier and it comes with unlimited storage, bandwidth and domain names. It also has a free dedicated IP, a toll-free number, and a number of freebies like free SEO tools. All this goes for $5.95 per month. Without a three year plan, you would be obligated to pay $13.56. The SpeedUp plan has all the features of the ScaleRight plan but with 35GB of space. We are not terrifically impressed by this, and at $9.95 per month, we expect more. If you were to choose between the SpeedUp plan and the business plan, we would advise that you go with the business plan. The SpeedUp plan has the least value for money when we look at all the shared hosting plans of FastComet, and we wouldn’t encourage anyone to purchase it.
All in all, FastComet has the better value for money and would cost less in the long run than HostGator. So FastComet, for us, takes this round.
All web hosts have that extra feature used to entice customers. Let’s see what extra these web hosts have in store for us.
FastComet offers CDN services on all their servers. Content Delivery Networks are used for hosting content all across the globe so that your website loads instantly for anyone, anywhere. Not many web hosts offer this. FastComet also boasts of being open-source friendly with more than one hundred and fifty applications. It doesn’t end there, FastComet also offers free migration. That means you don’t pay extra fees if you want to move an existing website to your new web host. FastComet’s best extra feature, though, is the free domain name for live feature. Whether or not you continue with their services, FastComet gifts subscribers a free domain— for life with absolutely no strings attached. In addition, you already know that FastComet has a very transparent pricing mechanism— this means that they don’t hike renewal fees and don’t demand that you pay for three years upfront in order to get ridiculously low discounts. Free, regular and automatic backups also stand FastComet out of the crowd. Even FastComet’s basic plans have a free SEO suite, a free chat client, and about $75 dollars worth of advert money. Their 45-day money-back guarantee, which is longer than the industry average, is also one extra thing that FastComet offers.
HostGator has a lot of extras too. For example, it is easy for users to increase their CPU and RAM capacity without switching plans via the cloud setup. You get a gift of 100$ worth of Google AdWords after spending 25$ on Ads. The company also has a 45-day money-back guarantee which is longer than the industry average of 30 days. They provide extra security options like Sitelock monitoring and spam assassin. The only drawback, though, is that sitelock comes with an extra cost. But we suppose that it is rather fitting that extra features come with extra costs— although, we are not sure that FastComet shares that philosophy. HostGator also offers free migrations, which is very helpful if you have an existing site. Gator by HostGator, HostGator’s proprietary website builder, is perhaps their most impressive extra feature— thankfully, it doesn’t come with extra cost.
Both web hosts have very impressive features, but we would be lying if we said that a free domain for life offer is something we’ve seen before. It is new and furiously competitive— it is the decider for us. FastComet wins this round.
And with that, we come to the end of this duel. Let’s see then, which web host is the best between FastComet and HostGator.
HostGator vs. FastComet – Our Pick
HostGator started off strong. Being the more popular web host, we expected great things. After all, a lot of people cannot all be wrong. However, it seems that is what a lot of people are exactly; wrong. FastComet has better performance, better Money-back policy, better price, better extra features and on top of all that, a more competitive pricing mechanism. HostGator, we suppose, is best for beginners and has a greater customer support infrastructure, but sadly that where it ends for the ancient soldier of the EIG. HostGator vs. FastComet? Only one winner and that winner isn’t a Gator.