If you’re starting a business from scratch, a brick-and-mortar business expanding into the online space, or just looking to switch web hosting solutions, we can all agree on one thing: Choosing the right web hosting provider is an uphill task.
Almost all web hosts claim to provide the highest uptime guarantee and excellent customer support. The best way to choose the right hosting service is being strategic about it.
Instead of just reading one comparison to another, have a guided approach. Understand what you should be looking for in every web hosting service, so it doesn’t feel like shooting darts in the dark.
What Should You Look for in a Web Hosting Service?
How do you choose between two reliable web hosting services, such as Hostgator vs. Bluehost? What if both are owned by the same parent company -- Endurance International Group? Start by using the most important factors to consider in order to pick the one that outshines the other.
Here are the key attributes you need to focus on to determine if a web hosting service is the best option for your business needs.
Dealing with downtime
Having to deal with downtime due to unstable network connections and weak servers damage your online reputation. Web visitors will be accessing your site from different time zones, and counting on a hosting company with an uptime score above 99 percent is crucial to your success.
Even though your web host can monitor uptime, you still need to confirm that it’s making good on its promise. You can do this by using server monitoring tools to check your site automatically
The race is on
Research shows that 40 percent of page visitors will abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load. The faster your site, the better the user experience.
When choosing a web hosting solution, opt for a dedicated server or VPS instead of using a shared plan.
With a shared hosting plan, resources such as memory and processor are divided among hundreds of different websites. If any one of these websites experiences a surge in traffic, it can use the remaining RAM and bandwidth. That can impact your site negatively.
On the other hand, a dedicated server prevents other websites from consuming your site’s resources. The server isn’t bogged down trying to process different requests from other websites.
A dedicated server is more expensive but if it isn’t within your budget, no worries. A Virtual Private Server (VPS) offers the same benefits of a dedicated server with a price closer to that of a shared server.
Lock it down
Web hosting security is crucial for every website, regardless of whether you want to blog occasionally or run an eCommerce site. Consider a web hosting provider that offers basic site security such as malware detection, software updates, backups, password security, address, and credit card verification systems.
Remember to choose a plan that provides an SSL certificate. It protects your site from hackers, and visitors will see the lock icon or the “https” prefix at the beginning of your website address.
An SSL certificate or HTTPS encryptions are essential, ensuring that your site can be trusted by internet users. Equally important, Google confirmed back in 2014 that SSL certification is a ranking factor.
You should also ensure that the web hosting service offers secure file transfer protocol (SFTP) access. That provides an extra layer of protection when you drag your files to where you want them uploaded.
When you need a hand
How reliable is the web host company in providing support for technical problems? Give priority to companies that have an in-house customer service department that works 24/7.
It is also essential to look at the kind of support you’ll be receiving, and if it works for you. Some people might prefer using live chat or comprehensive documentation instead of email or telephone support.
Look at customer reviews for different web host providers before you decide to click the “Buy” button.
Watch for WordPress support
If you’re looking for a web host for your WordPress site, go for a company that offers a shared Linus Hosting server with PHP. However, you don’t need WordPress hosting to run a WordPress site.
If you find that you require WordPress specific services such as WordPress optimization or emergency WordPress patching, then a WordPress-specific hosting might be your best option.
Can I sell products online?
If you’re planning on running an eCommerce website, opt for a web hosting company that supports features like online payment options, automatic shipping support as well as automatic taxes.
Calling for backup
Your website can crash and become inaccessible to users. There are multiple reasons for this nightmare, such as a hacker replacing your entire database. It’s also possible to delete or add a code with errors during customization.
Automated site backups come in handy in case you forget to back up your site from time to time manually. However, you should also consider if you can restore your backup files easily.
That's actually far more important than most people think. Try to imagine spending a full year building a customer base and then losing it all because you forgot to back up your site.
Sure, you'll get some of them back, but you'll lose a lot as well. And if you're running a media website, all of those articles and posts are gone forever.
Don't let that happen to you.
Is it easy to maneuver?
You'll be spending a considerable amount of time on the control panel of your hosting service. The ability to easily navigate around your account makes site management less challenging.
That way, you won't have to rely heavily on customer support to figure out how everything works. Opt for sites that provide the cPanel because it's the most friendly user interface you can find.
How long is the refund policy?
Most hosting service companies require a monthly subscription from its customers, but this approach isn't as cost-effective. When you pay for a longer-term upfront, you might end up saving some money.
Consider the refund policy in case you decide to cancel your hosting. How long is the duration of that refund policy? It's also important to consider the ease of migrating to another site.
Keeping up with growth
You might need multiple websites to popularize your site. That's why you should consider a web hosting provider that allows you to add multiple domains and scale your site.
Rules of engagement
You may have come across web host accounts that offer unlimited hosting to deliver unlimited bandwidth and storage. Unfortunately, an unlimited hosting service is only unlimited when you’re using fewer server resources. That makes them quite limiting because the memory and CPU are imposed with limits.
Every web hosting company has its terms of engagement where violation leads to extra charges as well as temporary or permanent discontinuation of your hosting.
Be sure to read these terms and avoid companies that lack clear terms and argue that account suspension and limitation are at the discretion of their management team.
Hostgator vs. Bluehost: What Do They Have in Common?
As mentioned before, these two web hosting providers are owned by the same company, Endurance International Group (EIG).
Founded by Matt Heaton in Utah, Bluehost has been in existence since 2003. EIG acquired the company in 2010 for an undisclosed sum (assume there were a lot of zeroes involved).
On the other hand, Brent Oxley founded Hostgator back in 2002 in Florida. Hostgator was acquired by EIG in 2012 for a sum of $225 million (See? That's a lot of zeroes). In 2013, the two companies suffered notable server outages, but nothing like this has been reported since.
Setting up the Fight
For 12 rounds, we’ll see how the 2 web hosting companies stack up against each other. These rounds will focus on the key features to look for when choosing a reliable hosting solution.
Ready for this head to head? Let’s begin!
Hostgator vs. Bluehost: How easy is it to access the control panel?
Hostgator and Bluehost run their control panels using the cPanel. It's the most industry-standard and user-friendly user interface. It comes with all the advanced features for pro developers and a one-click installer for content management systems such as Joomla and WordPress.
That's ideal for people looking to start a website.
Round 1 winner: tie
Both web hosting services provide a well-built control panel that offers easy navigation. It’s a tie for round one.
Hostgator vs. Bluehost: Which service offers better performance?
Hostgator and Bluehost depend on SSDs (solid-state drive) for all their servers. Unlike the traditional HDD (hard disk drive) that features a spinning wheel as well as a head and arm mechanism, the SSD has no moving parts.
That makes SSDs more reliable and faster because you won’t have to worry about downtime as a result of hardware failure. Hostgator doesn’t have the SSD hosting for its shared hosting plan.
Bluehost uses its CPU throttling feature to protect users in the shared hosting plan when one site uses too many server resources by shutting it down.
Round 2 winner: Bluehost
Bluehost takes the lead for this round by not leaving the users on its shared hosting plan hanging. It takes care of the major drawback that most web hosting providers face with their shared hosting plans, and this is what gives Bluehost an edge.
Hostgator vs. Bluehost: Which service has better features?
When it comes to domain name registration, Bluehost provides a free domain name that’s registered for one year. You can renew it as you renew your web hosting plan.
Hostgator doesn’t offer free domain name registration, but unlike Bluehost, domain transfer is free.
Speaking of transfers, Hostgator migrates scripts, databases, and one domain registration transfer at no cost.
In contrast, Bluehost provides the option of migrating manually or using the Website Transfer service that allows you to migrate up to five sites and 20 email accounts at a fee, and you’ll also need to include the FTP option to your hosting package.
You can decide how to build your site using Bluehost’s on-site builder that’s powered by Weebly. You can also install WordPress or any other option from the Mojo marketplace.
Hostgator provides a free proprietary site builder that features an intuitive interface with WYSIWYG functionality. The builder includes pre-built site sections, over 100 mobile optimized templates, and six pages for the free basic plan. However, it’s worth mentioning that upgrades come at a fee.
Round 3 winner: Bluehost
Even though Hostgator doesn’t provide free domain name registration, it gives free website migration. Similarly, Bluehost doesn’t offer free site migration, but it evens this out by providing free domain registration.
Hostgator goes out of its way to provide excellent site builder functions, but Bluehost provides both Weebly and WordPress website builders. That makes Bluehost get the top spot for this round.
Hostgator vs. Bluehost: Which one takes the crown for speed?
For this information, we turned to research conducted by WinningWP. They did several loading time tests for the two web hosting services.
The first test was done by installing Twenty Seventeen, a basic free WordPress theme. They created a simple blog post and set Pingdom to monitor page speed over seven days with 30-minute intervals for the average reading.
Findings revealed that Hostgator was faster than Bluehost.
The second test used Divi, a premium multipurpose WordPress theme. They created a larger web page and more content.
The research was also conducted around 7 days with 30-minute intervals using Pingdom. These findings also showed that Hostgator was faster.
Round 4 winner: Hostgator
Hostgator wins here because it delivered a faster loading speed compared to Bluehost on both a lightweight WordPress theme and a premium one.
Hostgator vs. Bluehost: What kind of uptime does each offer?
Bluehost has an uptime score of 99.98 percent, while Hostgator offers an uptime percentage of 99.99 percent.
Considering that uptime of 100 percent isn’t possible, both web hosting providers have worked hard to ensure that your site is easily accessible to site users. These high uptime scores speak volumes to why Hostgator and Bluehost are favored among other web hosting services.
Round 5 winner: Bluehost by a literal fraction
Both hosting services offer great uptime scores that would be ideal for personal blogs and business websites. However, Hostgator has a slight edge over Bluehost for this section.
Hostgator vs. Bluehost: Which one is more secure?
Bluehost offers a free shared SSL certificate for all accounts in its shared hosting plan. It also provides one SSL certificate for its Standard and Pro accounts because they are under one dedicated IP.
As for VPS and reseller accounts, you can buy multiple SSL certificates. Hostgator doesn’t provide free SSL certificates for its shared hosting plan.
When it comes to malware scanning, both hosting services partner with SiteLock to provide basic spam and malware monitoring, HackAlert feature, and a site verification certificate. Furthermore, they both protect sites from DDoS attacks.
Round 6 winner: Bluehost
Both services take site security seriously, and they take efforts to ensure your site is protected from DDoS and malware attacks. However, Bluehost takes the win on this round for providing free SSL certificates for all of its hosting plans.
Hostgator vs. Bluehost: Which wins in WordPress?
Bluehost is officially recommended by WordPress, and it has partnered with it since 2005. You can install WordPress with one click and manage the site using the cPanel.
Its managed WordPress hosting is built on a VPS powered platform that uses advanced architecture for unprecedented performance.
WordPress does not officially recommend Hostgator, but it also provides one-click WordPress installation. It also utilizes CDN and multiple caching layers to manage site content effectively and enable dynamic content requests to be sent fast.
Round 7 winner: Bluehost
Bluehost clearly takes this Hostgator vs. Bluehost round because WordPress themselves have chosen it as their most highly recommended hosting solution.
Hostgator vs. Bluehost: What about the money-back guarantee?
Hostgator offers a money-back guarantee of 45 days while Bluehost provides one for 30 days on its hosting plans. You should know that this only applies to the host and not to add-on products such as domain names.
If you are not satisfied with their services within the specified period, you’ll receive a full refund of the contract amount.
Round 8 winner: Hostgator
Hostgator wins here for offering a longer period for its money-back guarantee.
Hostgator vs. Bluehost: Which one boasts better site backups?
Bluehost provides automatically generated backups for its users. You can schedule these backups to take place on a monthly, weekly, or daily basis, depending on your preference. Bluehost also encourages its customers to create their own backup systems using the cPanel.
In contrast, Hostgator doesn’t have automated site backups. However, it provides CodeGuard that creates daily automated site backups for site files and databases using a one-click restore system.
Round 9 winner: Bluehost
Bluehost wins this round by providing an automated site backup system that can be scheduled depending on the user’s preference.
Hostgator vs. Bluehost: Which offers the best eCommerce functionality?
Hostgator provides shopping carts and payment gateways on all its hosting plans. It also features a one-click installation for eCommerce store features.
Bluehost also provides a great eCommerce package by including a dedicated WooCommerce hosting plan, domain privacy, and regular automated backups.
Round 10 winner: tie
It's a tie for this round because both hosting services offer one-click installation for eCommerce features. They ensure that site owners can have different online payment options, shipping, and shopping carts.
Hostgator vs. Bluehost: Which service offers better VPS hosting?
The VPS hosting is ideal when features provided by regular shared hosting are not enough for your site. VPS comes in handy when managing multiple sites with massive traffic.
Hostgator and Bluehost use the WHM cPanel for its VPS hosting. That allows users to create separate user interfaces for every website. You can also allocate resources to each website and manage all of these sites from one cPanel.
Round 11 winner: another tie
Both Bluehost and Hostgator offer great VPS hosting as they can handle sites with a decent amount of traffic. It’s a tie for this round, too.
Hostgator vs. Bluehost: Which provides a more reliable customer support?
Bluehost offers several ways to reach out to them if you experience any issues. They have a dedicated toll free number for phone support, support tickets, and live chat. You can expect 24/7 customer support for tech support, account management, and sales.
Hostgator also provides different customer support options, including live chat, phone, billing, and forum support. It goes above and beyond by providing a knowledge base of helpful videos and tutorials.
Round 12 winner: Hostgator
Hostgator takes the lead on customer support by going the extra mile. It boasts an active community of users in the forums, offers video content as well as helpful tutorials to keep users engaged.
Hostgator vs. Bluehost: Pros and Cons
Web host service
Partnered directly with WordPress
Doesn't offer free site migration
Provides free SSL certificates and domain name
Doesn't offer free site migration
Offers automatic site backups
Customer support is not as comprehensive as Hostgator
Uptime is 99.99%
One-click installation of prominent CMS platforms
Lacks automatic site backups
Offers a longer money-back guarantee (45 days)
Doesn't offer a free domain name registration
Uptime is 99.98% (not as good as Bluehost but still amazing)
Every kind of customer support you could want
Who Should Consider Using Hostgator?
If you already have a web page, Hostgator is a great option if you’re seeking an alternative hosting solution because they’ll transfer your site for free.
Furthermore, they are a good option if you’d prefer to pay for hosting services monthly instead of annually.
Who Should Consider Using Bluehost?
Bluehost is the go-to hosting solution for beginners. You’ll get a free domain name registration and some great site security features.
You won’t have to worry about forgetting to backup files or other important data. You can just set your preferred backup schedule to save time and stress.
Who Wins the Championship Title?
Just like in professional boxing, it takes 12 rounds to declare who gets the Championship title. Well, in our case, both hosting services offered great uptime, eCommerce functionality, VPS hosting, and user-friendly interfaces.
However, Hostgator bested Bluehost on page load speed, uptime scores, customer support, and its money-back guarantee policy period.
Bluehost outshone its rival on performance by solving the problem most shared plans have in common using its CPU throttling (Dynamic frequency scaling) feature.
It also goes out of its way to show site owners that security is a top priority by providing free SSL certificates on all hosting plans. In addition, Bluehost is endorsed by WordPress to give it its popularity.
In light of all these, Bluehost gets five points while Hostgator comes in close with four points. That gives Bluehost the championship title, and it stands as the undisputed champion.
We hope this Hostgator vs. Bluehost comparison will help you make the right decision on the best hosting service for your website. Do you disagree with the results in any of the above 12 rounds? Let us know in the comments section below.