Bluehost vs HostGator – Which Web Hosting is Best?
The world of web hosting can be difficult to navigate for some, with new options being available every day. Comparing all the different companies and all the different services that they offer can be quite a daunting task.
In order to stay up on what’s best for your website, it’s a good idea to compare different companies side-by-side, in order to get a more focused idea of what their services can offer you.
Today, we’ll be taking a look at BlueHost and HostGator, two companies with many years of reliable service under their belts. We’ll be comparing some of their advantages, as well as contrasting their disadvantages, and making some judgments about which is best.
So let’s start with BlueHost.
BlueHost has been reliably offering reasonably priced web hosting services since its founding by Matt Heaton in 2003. Since their acquisition by Endurance International Group, BlueHost has become solidified as a big name in the hosting industry.
Overall, BlueHost has a lot of resources at its disposal, and has a large focus on customer service and ease-of-use. Their plans are straightforward and the performance they offer is competitive.
To make things a little easier for ourselves, let’s break it down into pros, and cons:
Pros of BlueHost
- Brand Reputation. BlueHost has offered reliable web hosting for 15 years. Their service is widely reported on, and there is a large amount of information available on how their service has worked for others in the past. Not to mention the resources they have at their disposal.
- Excellent Onboarding Resources. BlueHost has a vast trove of knowledge for beginners learning to use their service. They also use cPanel, which is industry-standard, allowing you to familiarize yourself with tools that may come in handy for future web design projects.
- Discounts and Special Offers. BlueHost is always offering a myriad of special deals of bundles with their hosting services, which can be a huge plus for users looking to save some money, or access a wide range of functions for a lower price.
- Customer Support. BlueHost offers customer support over the phone 24/7, as well as through live chat, allowing you to receive the support you need when you need it.
- Money Back Guarantee. It’s always nice to get a refund when something doesn’t go right. BlueHost offers a money back guarantee if you cancel your hosting service within 30 days. You can check out the details of the guarantee on their website.
- BlueHost is a big-name company, which means that they have the resources to devote their attention towards their clients’ satisfaction. The reputation BlueHost has built for itself as an easy-to-use and affordable platform with reliable service speaks for itself.
- Ease-of-use. The industry-standard cPanel interface which powers BlueHost’s management tools is easy to use, with lots of information at your disposal. Combined with the onboarding resources available through BlueHost, this factor can be very attractive for newbies just starting out.
- Excellent Service. Although BlueHost has had some of the same hiccups typical of other companies, the range of their services and reasonable prices more than makes up for it. The performance stats on their hosting aren’t anything to scoff at, either. These factors make BlueHost very competitive when it comes to cost-for-capability.
- Flexible Billing Plans. BlueHost offers both annual and monthly plans, with discounts for longer plans available. This gives customers an incentive to be with the company for longer developing a good rapport with the hosting service and building trust in the reliability of their website.
- Special Offers. BlueHost often offers special discounts and deals on their packages, so it’s good to keep an eye out and see if you can save some money. This can be an attractive option for people looking to spend less, or newbies looking to minimize their risk factor.
Cons of BlueHost
No service is without its faults, and BlueHost, unfortunately is no different. There are a few areas where BlueHost tends to lag behind the competition:
- BlueHost has both reliable and competitive services, but there are some out there that are better. While BlueHost may not have the highest speeds in town, they are up front about this fact, posting the specs for their servers and features.
- BlueHost’s pricing structure can be very reasonable with special offers and deals, but overall, their prices are a little wonky compared to the competition. This is largely reflected in the fact that many of BlueHost’s plans are very limited in terms of storage and certain other features.
- Storage Limits. One of the most glaring features that many users will notice about BlueHost’s service plans is the limit that many of the plans have on things like storage and parked domains. While BlueHost’s actual prices and services are very competitive, it’s a good idea to watch out and know exactly what you’re getting, and whether or not it really fits the plan you have for your website.
- Large Company. Although BlueHost’s resources and brand recognition make it attractive in a lot of ways, there are a lot of ways that a larger company can fall short, as well. With their huge focus on informing and servicing users, some niche markets can get left out, and some services can become ignored or forgotten. Being a large company also makes BlueHost a target for cyberattacks, which is an important point to consider.
- No BBB Accreditation. BlueHost is not accredited by the Better Business Bureau, despite being a big name company in the industry for over 15 years. This may be a red flag for some who are used to being reassured by organizations like the BBB.
Some of these disadvantages may seem pretty major, but it’s really a question of how BlueHost stacks up to its competitors. There are many advantages offered by BlueHost which easily cancel out many of the disadvantages we’ve mentioned here.
So, now that we’ve taken a good look at BlueHost, let’s take a look at HostGator.
HostGator is a web hosting provider based in Houston, Texas, which has spread a little bit into Austin, Texas as well. They were founded in October of 2002 by then-student Brent Oxley.
The company passed 200,000 registered domains in 2006, and was featured on Inc. Magazine’s list of fastest growing companies in 2008. Like BlueHost, they have a recognized reputation for quality service that they’ve built up over a long period of time.
So, what are the different pros and cons of HostGator?
Pros of HostGator
- HostGator offers a guaranteed 99.9% uptime, and has a reputation for maintaining that guarantee. A reliable host is incredibly important, and for some websites a few minutes can mean a huge loss of traffic and income. Knowing that your hosting service has your back is a huge plus.
- Money Back Guarantee. HostGator offers a 45 day money back guarantee on its services. If you aren’t satisfied and cancel within 45 days, you will receive a full refund. It’s worth noting that this guarantee covers a longer period of time than BlueHost’s 30 day guarantee.
- Ease-of-use. HostGator is based on the industry-standard cPanel, which is known for its easy-to-learn interface, as well as the Plesk interface. The cloud-based Plesk service and the comfortable cPanel make HostGator very friendly for new and advanced users alike.
- Linux & Windows Plans. HostGator offers both Linux and Windows based plans for their shared and dedicated servers. This can be a more attractive feature for some more advanced users, but newer or less savvy users will care less about this factor.
- Free Website Migration. HostGator offers a free migration service for moving your website onto their hosting. This is a huge plus for people looking to switch hosting providers, or people who acquired a used domain and want to refurbish it on HostGator.
- 24/7 Customer Support. Like BlueHost, HostGator offers 24/7 customer support over the phone. It’s always important to be able to get a hold of some support in case your service experiences downtime, or if you have a question pertaining to your service. Keeping your website running smoothly is the name of the game, and a good support line is a good way to ensure you do that.
- Flexible Billing Plans. Like BlueHost, HostGator offers both annual and monthly plans, with discounts for longer plans. HostGator offers a much wider variety of plans with a more complex range of features, so this factor can be a bit more impactful compared to with BlueHost.
- Free SEO Consultation. HostGator offers free consultation on Search Engine Optimization for your website. This is a huge plus for users looking to maximize their traffic or get their content seen by as many people as possible. This is a good way for people just starting out to kill two birds with one stone, as SEO will be a major focus for a lot of new websites just starting out, and professional consultations can be costly.
- Specialized WordPress Hosting. Something other companies consistently offer that BlueHost does not is specialized WordPress hosting. This service is built to maximize usability with WordPress, and features free migrations and other specialized features.
As you can see, HostGator has some impressive chops when it comes to their features and advantages. Some of their offers even outpace BlueHost! Both companies are quite comparable, and we’ll take a more in depth look at how they compare in a second.
Before we do that, though, let’s take a look at some of the disadvantages associated with HostGator.
Cons of HostGator
- No Free Domain name. Hostgator doesn’t offer a free domain name with their plans, and you will have to fork out the dough for a domain. This isn’t such a big issue for people who are migrating or who already pay for their own domain, but it can be a factor for some people looking to save money.
- Aggressive Marketing. HostGator tries really hard to sell you extra features and more expensive plans, and they aren’t shy about it. While their plans do offer good features at reasonable prices, the aggressive marketing of the upsales isn’t the most attractive feature of the service.
- No Windows VPN Hosting. Unfortunately, HostGator doesn’t offer Windows-based VPN hosting. This can make a big difference for people used to working on the platform, but it doesn’t tend to be a big deal for most people. It can, however, make a difference for users who are more in need of security than others. Security is always important, but certain services can demand more, and falling short in this category can be an automatic game-over.
- Not accredited by the BBB. Like BlueHost, HostGator has no BBB accreditation despite being in business for over a decade. Again, this doesn’t really make a difference with the website itself, it simply means that the reliability of its services and the competitive fairness of its price structure hasn’t been examined by a trusted organization like the BBB. This is really only a big deal if such accreditation means a lot to you, but there are a lot of other hosting companies which do have accreditation from the BBB.
- Long Commitments for Best Discounts. In order to get the best discounts from HostGator, you will need to commit to years at a time, which can be inconvenient for some people. This will especially make a difference if you want to minimize your risk or if you have doubts about HostGator’s services. Unless you expect to be changing hosts soon, or really need to save the money, this probably won’t be a big deal.
So now that we’ve taken a look at what both companies have to offer, let’s look at how they stack up side-by-side to see which one comes out on top.
Functionality, Support, and Price
In order to get a focused look at which company offers more than the other, we’ll be splitting our comparison into three categories: Functionality, Support, and Price. Finding an obvious leader in these categories will give us a definitive idea of which company is the best for hosting your website.
Both websites have a fairly reliable guarantee in place for their service. BlueHost’s service is also able to match HostGator’s in terms of speed and uptime. The money back guarantee for HostGator is longer, at 45 days versus 30 days for BlueHost’s service.
HostGator has a much wider range of plans, which overall have fewer limitations than BlueHost’s. HostGator has specialized WordPress hosting which BlueHost does not. At the lower end of the price ranges, the limitations on storage and domains actually matches BlueHost, so it’s possible we might see BlueHost pull ahead here.
HostGator also has a built in website building tool, which can be a huge bonus for people who don’t want to run around comparing another set of software in order to find what they’re looking for. They can simply use the builder that works best integrated with their hosting platform.
Overall, I’m going to call it a tie in this category, since both websites perform well and have comparable feature sets at low price ranges. HostGator might pull ahead for more experienced users or people willing to fork over a little more cash.
Both companies offer 24/7 customer support over phone. BlueHost offers support via live chat, but HostGator does as well, and it’s also available 24/7. HostGator also offers support through a ticket system.
Both Companies have a reputation for reliable customer support, and it seems rather easy to contact a human being to receive support, which can be important for some people. HostGator offers more options for contacting support, whereas BlueHost offers a larger knowledge base for its users.
Overall, I’m going to have to call this one a tie as well. It’s tough to judge customer support without actually using it, so we have to judge based on what’s there. Both companies offer similarly reliable services, so there’s no clear front-runner here.
For many users, this is going to be the make-or-break moment for this contest. The price structure determines just how effective the feature set of a hosting service will be for you. If you’re paying twice as much as you should be, who cares if your website is the fastest?
BlueHost offers Shared hosting starting at $3.95 per month, VPS hosting starting at $19.99 per month, and Dedicated server Hosting starting at $79.99 per month. Their range of options is a little limited at first glance, but the plans they offer have a lot of versatility, and BlueHost can be used effectively for a wide variety of different websites.
- For newbies, the shared plans are probably a good idea. They start at $3.95 per month (normally $7.99) for a basic plan with limited SSD storage, subdomains, email storage, and no special offers or features. The plus plan is $5.95 per month (normally $10.99), and offers unlimited websites, SSD storage, subdomains, and email storage. The plus plan also has $200 in marketing offers available. The choice plus package is also $5.95 per month at the moment (normally $14.99), and offers all of the features unlimited with all of the extra packages and offers.
- BlueHost offers VPS Hosting for $19.99 per month with 2 Cores, 30GB SSD, 2GB of RAM, 1TB of bandwidth, 1 domain/address, and free SSL. The Enhanced VPS package for $29.99 gives you 2 cores, 60GB SSD, 4 GB of RAM, 2TB of bandwidth, 1 domain, and two addresses. The ultimate VPS package for $59.99 per month gives you 4 cores, 120 GB SSD, 8GB of Ram, 3TB of bandwidth, 1 domain, and 2 addresses. Overall, these prices and features are lacking compared to Host Gator’s although the prices are comparable in the lower ranges.
HostGator offers Cloud hosting from $4.95 per month, specialized WordPress hosting starting at $5.95 per month, VPS hosting starting at $29.95 per month, and Dedicated hosting starting at $119 per month.
- The Cloud hosting is similar to BlueHost’s Shared plan, with the “Hatchling” package offering a single domain, 2GB of memory, 2 Core CPU and free SSL Certificate for $4.95 per month. This goes up to $7.95 per month with the “Baby” package, which doubles the memory and CPU and throws in unlimited domains. The most expensive here is the “Business” cloud package, for $9.95 per month, which gives you 6GB memory, 6 core CPU, free upgrade to Positive SSL, free Dedicated IP, and free SEO Tools.
- The other plans worth noting are the WordPress hosting plans. For $5.95 per month you get 1 website, with 100k visits per month, 1GB in backups, and a free SSL Certificate. For $7.95 per month you get 2 sites, 200k visits, and 2GB backups. The highest is $9.95 per month with 3 sites, 500k visits, and 3GB backups. This is a pretty straightforward price structure, other WordPress hosting plans with other services typically offer a wider range, but this is still a very good option if you want the reliability and other advantages of HostGator with a WordPress based site.
- HostGator’s VPS hosting starts at $29.95 per month offering 2gb of RAM, 2 cores, 120 GB of space and 1.5TB of bandwidth. The $39.95 per month option give you 4GB of RAM, 2 cores, 165GB of space, and 2TB of Bandwidth. The most expensive is the $49.95 option, which gives you 8GB of RAM, 4 cores, 240GB space, and 3TB of Bandwidth. Overall, these plans are comparable to BlueHost’s, but HostGator offers vastly superior storage options with their VPS plans.
Verdict: HostGator or BlueHost?
As we have seen, both companies offer a wide range of functionality for competitive prices. These two companies come very close in a lot of aspects, and each tends to fall short where the other has the advantage.
Overall, because of the much stronger price options, I will have to give this one to HostGator. The functionality they offer for the price ranges they have simply outmatch any of the other areas in which BlueHost could pull ahead.
But don’t take my word for it, do some research of your own and see if you can’t find something that stands out to you.