Comparison Review: Bluehost or HostGator?
The time to buy Bluehost or HostGator website hosting is now. Both web hosting companies are competitively priced and there are plenty of incentives to join either network.
I’ve extensively reviewed both Bluehost and HostGator in the past, and have been a paid client of both services for over a decade. I do have a relationship with both vendors, and as such am able to offer my readers a substantial discount on their hosting plans. Both hosting providers are currently priced at less than $4 per month, which is an outstanding deal to host your website. Bluehost Basic is only $2.95 per month, with the HostGator Hatchling plan at $2.75.
So which web host is right for you? While there are subtle differences between each service, the pricing, support, uptime and performance statistics are comparable. That said, here are the details you should know to ensure you’ll be able to make an educated decision when purchasing web hosting.
Bluehost is a private web hosting company, founded in 2003 and headquartered in Provo, Utah, USA. Along with its sister companies, Bluehost hosts over 2 million websites, accounting for an estimated 2.3% of US web hosting market share.
Today, Bluehost has more than 700 employees, and it offers a wide range of hosting services to meet the needs of both individual home users as well as large enterprises. Bluehost is known for its commitment to WordPress, the most popular content management system in the world. Many Bluehost employees either are or at some point have been WordPress CORE developers, and they leverage their experience to deliver the best WordPress hosting experience possible.
Bluehost also supports other open-source projects besides WordPress as a way how to give back to the open-source community for providing it with the reliable, high-performance tools and technologies without which it would be impossible for the web hosting company to host over 2 million websites. If the other contestant wasn’t so strong, the conclusion of this Bluehost vs HostGator comparison would be clear right from the start because Bluehost embodies the qualities all web hosting providers should strive for.
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HostGator is a publicly traded web hosting company founded in 2002 and headquartered in Houston, Texas, USA. HostGator hosts over 9 million websites, with more than 400,000 customers worldwide. HostGator has an estimated 4.0% market share of web hosts in the USA.
Today, HostGator is a leading provider of a broad range of hosting services, including shared web hosting, reseller web hosting, VPS web hosting, and dedicated web hosting. In 2015, HostGator launched its Mexico operations and broadened its Spanish-speaking support with the launch of hostgator.mx.
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Endurance International Group: Bluehost & HostGator Parent Company
Both companies are owned by Endurance International Group (EIG), a web hosting conglomerate that owns dozens upon dozens of hosting companies, most of which continue to operate under their original name.
Apart from Bluehost and HostGator, EIG also includes DomainHost, FastDomain, FatCow, HostClear, iPage, MyDomain, SpeedHost, Typepad, vDeck, YourWebHosting, and others. Because of its enormous size, EIG is able to achieve economies of scale and deliver fantastic service to its 5 million+ customers.
Because both Bluehost and HostGator are owned by EIG, you can be sure that neither of these two web hosting providers is not worth your time and money. That said, we encourage you read this Bluehost vs HostGator until the very end to find out which web hosting service can meet your needs the best.
Bluehost vs HostGator Feature Comparison
Bluehost makes it incredibly easy to get a WordPress site up and running thanks to its 1-click WordPress installation. Besides WordPress installation, Bluehost also helps its users select an appropriate theme relative not only to their website’s purpose but also their own style, and install the right plugins to use WordPress to its full potential.
All WordPress users can additionally enjoy automatic updates to the most stable version of WordPress, and many other WordPress-oriented features, including a huge library of easy-to-use WordPress templates that make building a website a breeze.
Bluehost even has an advanced managed WordPress hosting plan, called WP Pro, which includes an all-in-one marketing center and dashboard, SEO, email marketing, and social media tools, and optimized performance for blazing site speeds.
In comparison, HostGator doesn’t have nearly as many advertising-worthy features as Bluehost. Perhaps the most attractive feature offered by HostGator is its Website Builder, which provides an incredibly convenient drag-and-drop building experience, offering a wide selection of themes as well as entire pre-built sections.
In summary, the winner of this Bluehost vs HostGator comparison is Bluehost—by a large margin. Not only does Bluehost make it incredibly easy to get a WordPress website up and running, but it also offers an advanced managed WordPress hosting plan with many advanced features that are guaranteed to impress all die-hard WordPress users.
Testing Bluehost vs HostGator – Who is Best?
Uptime – SLA Guarantee
Bluehost: Unfortunately, Bluehost does not have an uptime guarantee or SLA. However, their Network / Server Uptime Agreement offers two concessions: most issues are resolved within 15 minutes (but it does not indicate how often these issues may occur), and the second, that you will not be charged for leaving your hosting agreement early due to server downtime.
HostGator: If your shared or reseller server has a physical downtime that falls short of the 99.9% uptime guarantee, you may receive one (1) month of credit on your account. The Uptime Guarantee only applies to Shared and Reseller web hosting accounts. VPS and Dedicated Servers are covered by a separate and unique Network Guarantee.
Testing Website Speed
International Distributed Performance Testing with Chrome Browser – Full Page Download
- Avg Load Time: 1.24 s
- Successes: 4600
- Failures: 321
- Load Time STD Dev: 1.03 s
- Fastest Hr/Day: 11pm
- Slowest Hr/Day: 2pm
- Fastest Day/Wk: Friday
- Slowest Day/Wk: Wednesday
- Avg Load Time: 1.71 s
- Successes: 4479
- Failures: 407
- Load Time STD Dev: 1.42 s
- Fastest Hr/Day: 6am
- Slowest Hr/Day: 1pm
- Fastest Day/Wk: Saturday
- Slowest Day/Wk: Monday
USA Only Distributed Performance Testing – Server Response Times
Over the course of 2-weeks of testing at a 15-minute monitoring interval, the USA zone average showed Bluehost to load nearly 25% faster than HostGator. When testing browser response time, fully downloading element on my WordPress test site, the results showed a 38% difference between speeds of both hosts, with Bluehost coming out the winner for both page load time tests.
It was interesting to note, however, that Bluehost achieved a perfect 100% uptime, even though they do not offer their clients a formal uptime guarantee or SLA. HostGator achieved a 99.9X% of uptime, successfully meeting their 99.9% SLA guarantee.
While there is a discrepancy between the server responses of Bluehost and HostGator, both show strong performance for their basic shared hosting plans, and either company will provide great performance. Bluehost, however, is the clear choice if website speed tops your list of criteria when choosing a web host.
Because Bluehost and HostGator are both owned by EIG, their security is more or less equal, and each includes the following security measures:
- Protection from DDoS attacks.
- Custom firewall rule and large mod security rule sets.
- Network-level flood protection.
- Highly secure facilities with restricted access.
- Regular audits to identify weak account passwords.
- Additional server security methods and precautions that are confidential.
However, Bluehost and HostGator both acknowledge that their users have certain security responsibilities:
- Users must choose a strong, unique password.
- They must use sensible account settings.
- All web applications must be kept up to date (this is where Bluehost has an advantage because it offers managed WordPress services).
The reason why Bluehost and HostGator even mention that their users have certain security responsibilities has a lot to do with the fact that many Bluehost and HostGator users have been hacked in the past because of their own mistakes, earning Bluehost and HostGator less-than-stellar reputation when it comes to security.
However, it should really come as no surprise that hackers target the largest hosting providers. Many Bluehost and HostGator users don’t know much about web hosting and security, and they enjoy the fact that Bluehost and HostGator don’t force them to become webmasters just to publish a website.
On the other hand, users of boutique web hosting services, and much more expensive managed hosting providers (such as WP Engine or Kinsta), are typically far more knowledgeable when it comes to security, and they are able to better protect themselves against online threats. That’s why Bluehost and HostGator do what they can to educate their users by teaching them how to protect their websites. But as far as this Bluehost vs HostGator comparison is concerned, they are equal. Both Bluehost and HostGator offer backup and website restoration services, so if advanced security is a concern, you can rest assured that with a proper backup service running you can easily restore your website if it or it’s hosting server is ever compromised.
It is important to note that if you are in the healthcare sector and handle protected patient data, you must process your data via HIPAA compliant servers and communication networks. Neither Bluehsot or HostGator are HIPAA compliant. Rather than a shared hosting service, you will need to select a dedicated hosting provider that is certified as a HIPAA Compliant Host.
Setup & Ease of Use
While both Bluehost and HostGator utilize cPanel for their admin dashboard, they each have a customized design that makes the system even more intuitive and easy to setup. HostGator’s system looks a little more like the out-of-the-box standard cPanel dashboard, but stylized a bit better. Using each dashboard, I found the HostGator interface to be a bit more distracting, while the Bluehost interface with clear icons and section grids on a white background was easier to navigate.
Both web hosts do have upsells and cross-promotion ads throughout their systems, but this is to be expected when purchasing a budget shared hosting provider. Throughout the systems I did find the Bluehost ads to be less obtrusive and actually rather helpful, as the give the user a sense of confidence in the system and its support. The HostGator ads appeared more “flashy” and distracting during my workflow and dashboard navigation.
Neither hosting control panels are bad, I just give the better design to the Bluehost layout. I’ve literally seen hundreds of web host admin panels and dashboards over the years, and consider Bluehost to be one of the best. Their integrated walkthroughs, prompts and custom labeling are extremely helpful, and it’s a system I’d be comfortable recommending to anyone – from the novice to the power user.
Who has the Best Support? Bluehost or Hostgator?
Beyond uptime, availability and performance, comes the need for quality support from your web host.
The research suggests that Live chat has the highest satisfaction levels for any customer service channel, with 73%, compared with 61% for email and 44% for phone.
In my personal web hosting experience I tend to agree with this data. I only use phone support for urgent website downtime type issues, and email support or ticketing system for requested server tweaks (such as turning on a feature that isn’t standard, or requesting a memory upgrade, for example).
For all other inquiries, I prefer chatting with the support representative via their instant messaging service or live chat. That way I can continue to work on other projects while I wait, and I can easily implement their suggestions while they’re on the line (works great if they copy a file or code path as well).
Naturally, I took the liberty of analyzing the support times of Bluehost and Hostgator to see who will provide you with the best service. 10 calls were placed at staggered intervals to each host on each day of the week (50 calls each), with 10 calls placed to each on each weekend day (20 calls each). All in all, 140 phone calls were made (I do apologize to Bluehost & HostGator customer service teams!), and the time was recorded for each. Below is the average of all the calls for both weekday and weekend.
|Esitmated Wait||Actual Wait|
|HostGator - Weekday:||n/a||7:03 s|
|HostGator - Weekend:||n/a||8:46 s|
|Bluehost - Weekday:||6 min||4:38 s|
|Bluehost - Weekend:||4 min||3:21 s|
I found the estimated wait time feature with Bluehost to be helpful, as I could plan accordingly. I found it interesting that their estimated wait time was overestimated by an average of 31%, which set the expectation and then beat it, leaving a positive perception of Bluehost support in my mind. This must be an internal customer service metric that they choose to instate – much like a hostess at a restaurant claiming the wait time to be 45min, then you are pleasantly surprised to be seated in “only” 30min.
Bluehost phone support was 48% faster than HostGator. No one likes to wait, especially on the phone… and Bluehost knows this.
Live Chat Support
|Estimated Wait||Actual Wait|
|Bluehost - Weekend:||5 min||2:27 s|
|HostGator - Weekend:||5 min||1:43 s|
|HostGator - Weekday:||4 min||1:56 s|
|Bluehost - Weekday:||3 min||2:13 s|
HostGator live chat support’s response times were nearly 50% faster than Bluehost. What HostGator lacks in phone support they certainly make up for in live chat response times!
Through the course of testing the actual wait time varied significantly between each individual chat session. While Bluehost had some of the quickest response times over the testing period, the averages left a significantly quicker average overall response time from HostGator.
Who has the better support all comes down to whether you prefer speaking with an expert on the phone, or chatting on the computer while you work on other projects.
Bluehost vs HostGator Hosting: Best Value for Price
In this part of our Bluehost vs HostGator comparison, we want to analyze which web hosting provider offers a better value in relation to price. Like most things in life, it’s not always the cheapest or least expensive option that offers the better value. We want to be sure to compare the features of Bluehost vs HostGator to the price, to determine which of their hosting options is the best deal.
Bluehost’s introductory plan (Basic) offers support for 1 website, 50 GB of SSD storage, unlimited bandwidth, a free SSL certificate, 25 sub-domains, and 5 email accounts with 100 MB of storage per account. All this can be had for the current promotion of $2.95/month (that’s over 63% off!).
Managed WordPress Hosting
In addition to shared web hosting, Bluehost offers excellent managed WordPress hosting, which is perfect for demanding WordPress users who want hassle-free WordPress experience. The most affordable managed WordPress hosting plan offered by Bluehost costs $19.95 a month, and it includes such extra features as Jetpack Site Analytics, Marketing Center, 100 Free Premium Themes, Daily Scheduled Backups, Malware Detection and Removal, and Domain Privacy Protection.
Next-Gen VPS Hosting
If you want your own virtual private server that you can configure and customize to fit your needs, you should consider Bluehost’s Next-Gen VPS Hosting service, which starts at $19.99 and includes 2 cores, 30 GB of SSD storage space, 2 GB of RAM, 1 TB of bandwidth, 1 domain name, 1 IP address, 24/7 customer support, free SSL certificate, and 30-day money-back guarantee. (If you’re looking for more info on Virtual Private Servers, checkout the best VPS hosting article for a detailed comparison of VPS options).
Bluehost offers dedicated hosting, allowing its customers to assume complete control over their hosting environment. Bluehost’s dedicated hosting is tuned for maximum performance, and you get the flexibility to upgrade your hosting resources at any time. If you want to, Bluehost can give you access and control over everything from the operating system to Apache, but it’s always up to you to decide how much control you want to have. The most affordable dedicated hosting plan from Bluehost costs $79.99 a month, which is a fair price for what it includes.
WooCommerce is an open-source e-commerce plugin for WordPress, and Bluehost makes it easy for you to open your own WooCommerce store with its WooCommerce hosting plan. If you’re just starting on your e-commerce journey, you can purchase the Starter plan, which costs $6.95 and includes 1 online store, 100 GB SSD storage, free SSL certificate, and other useful features. When you outgrow it, you can upgrade to the Plus plan or the Pro plan.
HostGator’s intro plan (Hatchling) offers resources for 1 website, unlimited bandwidth, unlimited storage, and unlimited email addresses. They often throw in $100 Google Ads credit, and $100 for Bing Ads – a nice perk for HostGator customers! HostGator’s current promo price is $2.75/month (that’s over 60% off of their standard price!).
Regardless of whether you want to start a personal blog or create a new website for your business, you can rely on HostGator’s affordable WordPress hosting plans to help you turn your idea into reality. Costing $3.95 a month, HostGator’s cheapest plan surprises by offering unmetered bandwidth, email marketing tools, and one-click installation. The two more expensive plans are even more exciting, especially because they are not that much more expensive.
The most affordable VPS hosting plan offered by HostGator is significantly more expensive than the most affordable VPS hosting plan offered by Bluehost ($29.95 versus $19.99), but it offers more storage space and better performance. All HostGator VPS hosting hard drives are configured in a RAID 10 disk configuration to provide maximum data protection as well as excellent scalability as your website grows.
HostGator has never been known for offering inexpensive dedicated server hosting, but that’s only because it wants to ensure excellent performance, provide-world class customer support, and offer advanced management tools. Still, it’s budget plan, called Value Server, is quite appealing since it includes 4 Core / 8 Thread Intel Xeon-D CPU, 8 GB RAM, 1 TB HDD, Unmetered Bandwidth, and the choice between Linux and Windows.
One reason why HostGator is so popular among people who are just establishing their online presence is its website builder, which makes it incredibly easy for novice web masters to create professional websites thanks to its drag-and interface. If you want to create a simple website and don’t need priority customer support, you can pay just $3.84 a month for the Starter plan. If you want to launch an e-commerce store, prices start at $9.22.
Comparing price to feature set, both hosting companies are nearly identical, however with unlimited storage and the free marketing dollars for Google and Bing Ads, HostGator stretches your hosting dollars a little further than Bluehost.
Conclusion: Bluehost or HostGator
OK, so we have the data on Bluehost vs HostGator; but which one is best? For the 7 factors analyzed, including: Features, Uptime, Website Speed, Security, Setup & Ease of Use, Support, and Price, Bluehost comes out as the winner. However, HostGator is a very close second. Personally, I weigh website performance and server response times as the highest value, so even though HostGator wins in several categories, and is slightly cheaper with some nice marketing incentives, I have personally chosen Bluehost for more websites for myself and for my clients over the years than HostGator. But as mentioned, I am a paying customer of both services, and have no complains about either of their shared hosting plans. Whichever host you choose, you’ll be in good hands, with solid performance and very affordable pricing to back it up!