HostMonster vs. HostGator
HostGator vs. HostMonster sounds like the title of a Hollywood 90's flick where a gator that lives in a city named Host goes against a monster that lives in the same city. And then, in the end, we discover that the real monster is the city's mayor.
HostGator and HostMonster are two of the most popular web hosts on the internet. We are yet to see a top ten list of most popular hosts that don't have either or both hosts on it. But which host is better?
We bought plans from both hosts to find out. We tested both platforms and came to some really revealing information, and some of the things we found out defied everything we previously knew about both hosts. At the end of our testing, we'll give a verdict and decide the host that we think offers the most value.
However, you do not have to accept our verdict. You can come to your own conclusion, and the important thing is that you'll have all the information you to come to an informed decision.
HostMonster vs. HostGator Overview
HostGator and HostMonster were both founded in the United States, with HostMonster founded by Matt Heaton in 1996, and HostGator founded by Brent Oxley in 2002. HostMonster is the less popular sibling of Bluehost and has many of the same features of Bluehost.
HostGator, on the other hand, is a much bigger company despite being younger than HostMonster. By 2006, HostGator had surpassed the 200,000 mark, that is, in just four years, the host had managed to register more than two hundred thousand domains.
In 2015, HostMonster managed to be acquired by EIG, five years after the same company had bought Bluehost. Coincidentally, the same company also acquired HostGator. While some say that companies owned by EIG (and there are quite a lot of them) don't usually do so great in terms of performance, hosts like Bluehost have shattered that assumption. You can check how HostGator stacks up to Bluehost in our Bluehost vs. HostGator comparison if you want.
The business model of HostMonster and HostGator are verily similar. They both offer Dedicated, VPS and Shared Server Hosting. In addition, unlike companies like WP Engine that command a premium fee, both hosts offer great specs at the lowest prices. Well, not exactly the lowest prices, that title goes to NameCheap. Let's get right into it. You can check out our Namecheap vs. HostGator comparison if you'd like to.
The Popularity of the Two Hosts
Both hosts may be really popular, but HostGator is clearly the more popular host, despite being the younger company. Does it really does not matter which host is more popular, though? It certainly doesn't matter to us, and it shouldn't matter to you.
Popularity says very little about the quality of the service you're getting. It does say a lot about the effectiveness of the quality of the host's marketing department, though. Since that shouldn't be of great importance to you, what truly matters?
HostGator vs. HostMonster for Performance
We'll be testing the performance of both hosts with speed and uptime, which are both very important metrics.
How did we test for uptime? Simple. By buying plans from both hosts, setting up, and using tools like Pingdom to test for uptime. We tested both hosts over a three month period and here are our results;
|HostGator Uptime||HostMonster Uptime|
|Last 7 Days||100%||99.94%|
|Last 30 Days||100%||99.93%|
|Last 3 Months||99.99%||99.97%|
Our tests show one thing clearly, the Gator is certainly up, on average, for longer than the Monster. While an average uptime of 99.95% isn't the worst thing in the world, an average uptime of 99.99% is definitely better.
Uptime Guarantee Policy
We don't like to base our judgment of a host's uptime only on uptime statistics. We also like to check out uptime guarantees to know what happens when uptime does get bad. For HostMonster, the answer is simple, there is no uptime guarantee. Although, on their website, they promise that downtime is fixed within fifteen minutes. But that's just it, a promise. And those are regularly broken.
HostGator, on the other hand, offers a 99.9% uptime guarantee. That is, users get a free month of hosting for every percent of downtime experienced below 99.9%. Definitely better than a fifteen minutes promise from HostMonster, wouldn't you say?
This was pretty easy for HostGator to win. The monster never really posed a threat.
Before checking out the speed of both hosts, let's check out two factors that affect load speed and response time. The first is whether or not hosts have CDN support.
Content Delivery Networks allows versions of your site to be saved on servers all around the world and helps deliver better speed. HostGator and HostMonster both come with CDN support, but you'll have to activate it from your control panel.
The same logic that applies to CDN applies to datacenters. Datacenters spread across the world will certainly deliver better speed that one just set on one continent. Unfortunately, both hosts only have data centers in the US.
(show a diagram of the datacenters of both hosts)
Speed is vital in today's world, and as such, it is important to create and maintain your site on servers that prioritize speed. We went to work with our test tools and checked the TTFB (time to the first byte) of both hosts. In our calculations, we also factored in speed from different locations. Here is a snapshot of our results:
On average, HostGator had a 781ms response time, which isn't really impressive. HostMonster didn't perform that well either, with an average response time of 841ms. Unfortunately, both hosts post quite average response times. There are hosts definitely faster, and a good example of such hosts is A2 Hosting. You can check out how A2 Hosting compares to HostGator in our dedicated comparison.
Load Impact test
Not satisfied with our tests, we decided to check the performance of both hosts under traffic by sending virtual users to our sites. As we expected, page load speed was not stable and decidedly got worse as traffic increased.
(diagram of speed getting worse for both hosts)
It's simply not good enough.
It was certainly not beautiful, and we certainly would not recommend either host to you if you were particularly concerned with speed. But our tests still showed a clear winner, and HostGator wins this round for us.
HostGator vs. HostMonster for Ease of Use
It's important that the company you eventually go with provides service that is easy to understand through a great interface. It is also important that the host helps, as much as possible, to make your task easier.
The first place to start is the user interface. When it comes to interface, the best choice, in our opinion, is cPanel or Plesk. HostGator and HostMonster share this opinion with us, and as such, both have cPanel installed on their Shared Hosting plans.
Signing up for both hosts was easy, but we had a problem with HostGator. It took a while for us to have access to the workspace that we had paid for, it took as long as thirty minutes.
Whether the payment was being confirmed or whether extra verification was being done is a question we don't have an answer to. We scoured the internet for similar stories, but we found none, so it probably was a one-off thing. If you experience such a delay, you shouldn't be worried.
Most hosts provide a free included domain on all plans, and since a year's registration costs about $15, you'll save some money if you go with a host that does provide free domain registration. Thankfully, HostMonster and HostGator have that in common. Free domains come with all plans.
Apps Integration, Installation and Marketplace
In this regard, we hardly saw a difference between HostMonster and HostGator. Both have one-click Installation support for WordPress, both have access to the MOJO marketplace where you can purchase templates, themes, plug-ins, and apps. Both support other popular content management systems like Joomla, Drupal, and Magneto.
Free Site Migration
In our opinion, for a new customer, all hosts should provide at least one free site migration. Unfortunately, that isn't the case, and there are many hosts who, in fact, do not offer free web transfer services. One of such hosts in HostMonster.
While you can move your site over to HostMonster for free using FTP, it is a technical task that might not be worth your time, especially when there are other hosts who'll do the same service for you, for free. HostGator is one of such hosts, and depending on your hosting plan, you are entitled to at least a free web transfer.
You must note, though, that HostGator's web transfers are performed on an “as is” basis. That means you are entitled to only a web transfer, and all other related services are not offered for free. If you'd like HostMonster to transfer your site for you, you'd have to pay $149.99 and that entitles you to a transfer of five sites and 20 email accounts.
If you don't want to have your site hosted on a content management system and want to build it yourself, you can make use of a website builder instead of going through needless lines of code. While most hosts make use of third party solutions such as Wix and/or Weebly website builder, HostGator has a proprietary website builder named (and this is definitely not a joke) Gator by HostGator.
Do we applause the genius of the name or do we deplore it? The Jury is still out. What we can't deplore, though, is the usefulness of Gator by HostGator. It has drag and drop support, so you can set up your site within minutes.
We've used the Gator before, so we can tell you that it is one of the more efficient website builders out there. Users have access to 100 mobile-friendly templates and can start with 6 ready-made pages. It has social media integration, PayPal payment gateway, Google analytics, and social media integration. For an inbuilt app, Gator by HostGator isn't half bad. However, this tool isn't free and packages range from $3.45 to $8.30.
HostMonster, on the other hand, offers two choices of web builders. That is the Weebly website builder, and Concrete5. Both web builders are great for building as they have drag and drop functionality. While Weebly isn't quite as flexible as Wix and/or Squarespace, it is definitely easier to use. Both web builders are also search engine optimized as well.
Weebly is free to use, but you can only have six pages on the free version. For more functionality, you'll be required to buy a package with more functionality.
For a green user, there is probably nothing that will be as useful as a staging environment. Staging environments allow you to make changes to a version of your site that is not live. This way, you can see the effects that your changes and configurations choices will make on the site without actually making them on your live site.
This helps you to avoid making costly mistakes that can lead to long periods of downtime. While it is possible for you to create staging environments with some plugins and also on subdomains, it is easier if they come with your hosting plan. With HostMonster, you get absolutely zero installed staging sites and HostGator doesn't either. That sucks.
Despite the delays we first experienced, we found the HostGator interface easier to use. In addition, the fact that they offer a free single site migration impressed us. However, this was a really close one and could have gone either way. Asides the fact that neither host comes with pre-installed staging environments, users should find using them as easy as possible.
Money-Back Guarantee Policy
Money-back guarantees are important because they reduce the risks that users are exposed to. While most hosts offer an industry-standard thirty days money-back guarantee, we believe that the best hosts often offer longer. At least we've seen hosts like DreamHost that offer a stunning 97-day money-back guarantee. You can check out our DreamHost vs. HostGator comparison if you want.
HostMonster offers only a thirty-day money-back guarantee, which is absolutely the lowest they could have gone. HostGator, on the other hand, adds fifteen days and makes it a forty-five-day money-back guarantee. While a forty-five-day money-back guarantee is certainly not the best we've seen, it is certainly longer than many.
As usual, there are some terms and conditions. The first is that if you've gotten a free service, like a free domain, the fee will be deducted from your refund. Not so free anymore, is it?
This is clear cut and dried. The host with the longest guarantee will always come out the winner, and HostGator has clearly scaled through this one (yes, that was intentional, and yes it was funny).
HostGator vs. HostMonster: Customer Support and Reliability
Many times, great customer support can be the difference between pulling your hair out in frustration and heaving a sigh of relief. Great support is easy to contact, easy to talk to, and extremely helpful.
HostGator and HostMonster are pretty popular and large companies, and as such, we have to confess that we didn't expect great things from their customer support. Why? Large companies often have too many customers to cater to, and as such may not spend enough time training personnel. And there's also the matter of EIG companies being notorious for having inconsistent customer support.
Customer Support Channels
HostMonster and HostGator have regular customer support channels which are the phone, live chat, and ticketing support. All channels are open 24/7.
We first decided to test the live chat channel because of obvious reasons. Most people use that channel, and it is clear of many ambiguities. The first thing we discovered was that, on average, it took us a shorter period to connect to HostMonster's customer support than it took us to connect to HostGator's.
When we eventually connected, the quality of customer support was more or less the same. The live reps that we spoke to were cordial enough, and to some extent looked like they knew what they were talking about.
However, some questions still took a long time to answer and we were not exactly inspired. On a whole, it wasn't a bad experience and was definitely better than many that we've had contact with over the years, at least we weren't mesmerized with a bunch of article links.
You should probably be aware, though, that HostMonster has a somewhat lengthy verification process before you can connect with a live chat representative.
Phone support was more of the same, and as with the live chat support, we found that connecting to customer support was quicker with HostMonster than it was with HostGator.
Ticketing support with both hosts was great, as tickets are returned and queries are answered comprehensively within 24 hours.
Both hosts maintain great knowledge bases where users can search for answers to basic questions and go through tutorials. We would advise, in fact, that users go through tutorials or articles before attempting to speak to customer support. It is many times a more effective way of solving problems.
While the quality of customer support offered was almost the same, HostMonster wins this one for us because of noticeably lower wait time.
The internet is a wonderful place, and it can also be a scary one. Any webmaster knows that making sure that your site is continually secure is perhaps one of the most important things to figure out when creating a site. While a lot of the responsibility of keeping your site secure lies in your hands (making sure you update your plugins and apps etc.), your host also has a lot of work to do. In fact, recent studies suggest that up to 40% of site hacks are as a result of weak server infrastructure.
In the beginning, people only got SSL certificates for e-commerce websites. Today, though, the best practice is for you to have an SSL certificate regardless of what sort of site you have. In fact, Chrome will mark your site as insecure if you do not have “s” behind your “HTTP”. That will wreak some serious damage on your numbers for sure.
Thankfully, HostMonster and HostGator plan come with free SSL certificates from Let's Encrypt, so that is covered.
In case your site does get hacked or gets a virus, and you have to clear out the entire system, your backups are your only saving Grace. HostGator has a backup service that runs on a random day of every week. The backup overwrites previous backups as only one copy of the backup is stored on HostGator's servers. Fair warning, though, HostGator's backups are created as a matter of courtesy and aren't guaranteed.
This means that keeping running a backup is sort of up to them. They can pretty much choose not to because they have literally zero obligation to. HostMonster's backup policy is also somewhat like HostGator's, with only one version of backups stored. And like HostGator, HostMonster only offers backups on a courtesy basis.
So what do you have to do to get mirrored, daily and automatic backups? Easy. You're expected to purchase a backup tool like CodeGuard basic or Site Backup and configure it. Both tools are safer options than the custom backups provided by either host.
HostGator offers extensive Firewall protection with extensive firewall rules and large security sets that help protect servers from attacks from malware and mischievous entities. In case of heavy flooding, HostGator has network-level flood protection that can be easily enabled.
In addition, HostGator's data centers are highly secured with extremely restricted access and have diesel backed up generators. HostMonster, on the other hand, runs a Web Application Firewall that protects against SQL injection and cross-site scripting based attacks.
HostGator offers access to SiteLock, a third party advanced warning and malware scanning security application, from as little as $1.94. HostMonster also makes use of SiteLock, and as a HostMonster customer, you get up to 80% off on all of SiteLock's packages.
Choosing a winner when it comes to security infrastructure is always very tricky, as you cannot truly know the strength of a host security infrastructure unless you are on the inside. But we are not, so we are going to have to go with what our senses tell us. HostGator, to us, offers more in terms of security than HostMonster. However, neither host set off important alarms in our heads, so they are generally safe.
HostGator vs. HostMonster: Pricing and Plans
To some, this is the most important consideration to look at when trying to buy a hosting plan. However, we won't just be looking at the cheapest host, we'll be looking at the host that offers the best value at the best price.
Shared Hosting Plans
A majority of the sites on the internet are hosted on Shared Hosting servers, that much is a fact. Therefore, we'll be looking, specifically, at the prices of Shared Hosting plans and managed WordPress plans.
HostGator has three tiers of Shared Hosting plans which are the Hatchling Plan, the Baby Plan, and the Business plan, while HostMonster also has three tiers which are the Basic, Plus, and Choice-Plus.
Basic Shared Hosting Plan
HostGator's basic plan is the Hatchling plan and it costs about $2.75 per month and renews at $10.95. The plan comes with single domain registration, one website, unlimited disk space, unlimited email accounts, unmetered bandwidth and subdomains, and a free SSL certificate. At $2.75, unlimited disk space, email accounts and bandwidth is great value for money, that's for sure.
HostMonster's basic plan costs $2.65 per month and renews at $9.49. The plan comes with one website, 50GB storage, unmetered bandwidth, one domain, 5 email accounts, and 100 MB of email storage.
|HostGator Hatchling||HostMonster Basic|
|Money Back Guarantee||45-days||30-days|
|Price||$2.75 with discount||$4.95 with discount|
It's clear that, for the basic plan, HostGator obviously offers more, and at a relatively lower price as well. Regardless, we do think that HostMonster's plan comparable to HostGator's despite the gator's enviable specs because, for one, it is extremely unlikely that a single website can use up 50 GB of space. However, we would still go with HostGator's plan if we had to choose one.
Medium Range Plan
The medium-range plan for HostMonster is the Plus plan and it comes with ten websites, 150 GB of storage, 20 parked domains and 50 subdomains, 100 email accounts with 500mb of storage per account, and unmetered bandwidth.
Staying in line with HostMonster's pricing philosophy, the plan costs $4.95 per month and renews at $12.49 per month. At $4.95, the Plus plan is pretty cheap. However, you might have to consider the fact that it costs $12.49 to renew. That's almost as two hundred percent hike. Steep.
For HostGator, the medium-range plan is the Baby plan (which is weird for all manner of reasons) and would set you back just about $3.95 per month. Renewal costs $9.95 though.
For this price, the plan comes with unlimited domains, a free domain plus all the features of the Hatchling plan. So basically, all you're paying extra for is unlimited websites, which is a pretty big deal. But after your first subscription, you'll have to pay $9.95 which puts everything in a whole different perspective.
|HostGator Baby||HostMonster Plus|
|Money Back Guarantee||45-days||30-days|
|Price||$3.95 with discount||$6.95 with discount|
Comparing the two, it's easy to see that HostGator offers more value both at the initial purchase stage and the renewal stage.
High Range Plan
HostMonster's most expensive plan is the Choice-Plus plan and it comes with unlimited websites, storage, bandwidth, subdomains, parked domains, Spam protection, 1 domain privacy, CodeGuard Basic, and one free domain.
It costs the same initial price of the Plus plan, which is $6.95 ($14.99 for renewal). For the level of specs that this plan comes with, $6.95 is a veritable bargain. But is $14.99 such a bargain? In any case, the price hike is too high, and you may find yourself paying double for the same service in a short period.
HostGator's most expensive plan, as expected, pulls out all the stops as well (although one wonders what stops can actually be pulled). The plan comes with all the features of the Baby Plan plus a free dedicated IP and free SEO tools.
The plan costs $5.95 per month (renewal costs $14.95 per month). Here we see yet another steep price hike. The lower price draws you in and gets you comfortable. The reality of paying almost 200 bucks per year soon dawns on you, though.
|HostGator Business||HostMonster Choice Plus|
|SSL||Free Positive SSL||Free|
|Money Back Guarantee||45-days||30-days|
|Free SEO Tools||Yes||No|
|Price||$5.95 with discount||$6.95 with discount|
Even here, where it is a bit difficult to choose a clear winner, HostGator emerges the host with the best price. Women lie, men, lie, but numbers don't lie.
WordPress Hosting Plan
One thing that makes a WordPress plan stand out is that it comes with WordPress pre-installed, which is sort of, well, needless, as you can always install WordPress with one click on a Shared Hosting plan. That isn't the only thing, though. WordPress plans are optimized for WordPress users, so they are usually faster, are more stable during traffic surges and have better uptime overall. In addition, with the managed WordPress hosting plan, the host actually helps you manage your site.
This means dealing with all the technical jargon that comes with updates and so much more. While HostGator has a special WordPress plan, HostMonster doesn't, so we'll be looking only at HostGator's WordPress plans.
Basic WordPress Hosting Plan
HostGator's least expensive WordPress Hosting plan is the Starter plan and comes with one website, a hundred thousand visitors per month, one gigabyte of backups, a free SL certificate and free domains. It costs $5.95 for new customers who would like to purchase an annual plan.
After the first period, though, the plan renews at $9.95. There is sort of a recurring theme here, and we'd advise long-term users to always check the renewal price of plans, and as much as possible, plan their budget with this price in mind.
Medium range WordPress Hosting Plan
After the Starter plan comes the Standard plan and it comes with standard features such as two websites, two hundred thousand visits per month, two GB backup space, a free SSL certificate and a free domain. The plan costs $7.95 and renewal costs about $15.95, clearly significantly more expensive than the regular Shared Hosting plan.
Since the medium-range WordPress Hosting plan costs more than the most expensive Shared Hosting plan, the question is, does it worth that much, especially when comes with only two websites? You're the only one with a concrete idea of your needs, so you're in the best position to answer that question.
High Range WordPress Hosting Plan
HostGator most expensive managed WordPress Plan is the Business Plan and it comes with 3 websites, a capacity of 500 thousand visits per month, 3 GB of backups, a free domain and free SSL certificate.
The plan costs $9.95 per month for an initial annual plan purchase, and renewal costs $22.95. In a space of a year, you could go from paying around $120 per year to paying about $270 per year, and that tells you all you need to know, really.
|HostGator Starter Plan||HostGator Standard Plan||HostGator Business Plan|
|Visits Per Month||100k||200k||300k|
While we were not very impressed with the fact that price jumps at an incredible rate after the first payment, we still found that HostGator had the better deal compared to HostMonster. At least, neither host is quite as expensive as SiteGround. You can check out our HostGator vs. SiteGround comparison here if you would like.
HostGator vs. HostMonster Extra features
HostGator has the following extra features:
- Better performance with Opteron 6000 series CPU combined with DDR3 ECC RAM
- Support of multiple languages including Ruby on Rails, PHP, Python, and Perl.
- HostGator has only one database: MySQL
- Unlimited FTP and email accounts.
- $100 in free advertising credits.
HostMonster has the following extra features:
- Instant provisioning is enabled, so if you plan to go for VPS hosting or Dedicated hosting, they promise instant provisioning of their servers. That's important if you want to get your site online in minutes. You won't have to go through the stress of lengthy verification processes with HostMonster.
- Unfortunately, HostMonster doesn't offer monthly hosting.
- You have access to developer features such as FTP access, SSH access, MySQL databases, custom Cron jobs, and CGI-Bin.
- All hosting plans come with a limit of 1000 total database tables, 3GB total database size, and 200,000 inodes.
- The host offers hotlink protection, Secure Shell (SSH) access, AllowOverride .htaccess support, Server Side Includes (SSI)
- Dual Quad Processor Performance servers
Unfortunately, none of the extra features we looked stood out for us.
Major Differences between HostGator and HostMonster
- HostGator has a forty-five-day money-back guarantee while HostMonster only has a thirty-day money-back guarantee.
- HostGator has a managed WordPress hosting plan, while HostMonster does not.
- HostGator has way better uptime than HostMonster
- HostGator has a money-back guarantee, while HostMonster doesn't have one
- HostGator is definitely more popular than HostMonster.
HostMonster vs. HostGator: Our Winner
We thought that this would be somewhat difficult because both hosts are alike in so many ways, but the fact that HostMonster only won in one category tells us otherwise. The gator in this 90s flick definitely served (served because of server, you get it?) the monster is behind on a plate. HostGator vs. HostMonster? The gator wins this one convincingly.