Many businesses and individuals alike underestimate the importance of choosing the right web hosting service by reading articles such as this SiteGround vs HostGator comparison. The fact is, however, that there are serious consequences for making the wrong choice, including a loss of revenue, security breaches, or a poor ranking in search engines.
You might assume that most web hosting giants are closely matched, with only minor differences between them, but that’s not the case. In reality, the same amount of money can get you a fantastic web hosting experience with one web hosting provider and a terrible one with a different web hosting provider. This holds true two even for SiteGround and HostGator, two of the biggest names in the web hosting industry today.
Both SiteGround and HostGator launched in the early 2000s, quickly attracting customers from around the world and positioning themselves in the web hosting landscape. SiteGround is now one of the most popular managed WordPress hosting providers in the world, but its services also include shared hosting, dedicated server hosting, cloud hosting, enterprise hosting, and reseller hosting. HostGator, on the other hand, is seen mostly as an affordable provider of shared web hosting even though its services largely overlap with SiteGround.
To help you choose which of these two web hosting providers is a better choice for your site, we’ve put together a detailed SiteGround vs HostGator comparison that includes everything from web hosting features to performance to price and much more. It’s a long read because there’s a lot of ground to cover, but it’s always better to spend a few extra minutes when looking for the best web hosting provider than waste hours migrating your site because you made the wrong choice.
Important Facts About SiteGround
- Reputation: SiteGround is known to be a reasonably priced provider of managed web hosting services with amazing customer service and attractive features.
- Launched: 2004
- BBB rating: B+ (25 complaints closed in the last 3 years.)
- Headquarters: Bulgaria
- Hosting control panel: cPanel
- Unlimited hosting: Yes
- Prices: start at $6.66/mo
Important Facts About HostGator
- Reputation: HostGator is known as a budget-friendly provider of web hosting services that makes web hosting easy and is backed by one of the largest IT services companies in the world, Endurance International Group (EIG).
- Launched: 2002
- BBB rating: C+ (248 complaints closed in the last 3 years.)
- Headquarters: Texas
- Hosting control panel: cPanel
- Unlimited hosting: Yes
- Prices: start at $2.75/m
SiteGround vs HostGator: What Their Users Are Saying About Them
Thanks to the internet, there’s no reason to rely solely on expert reviews and comparisons such as this one because you can get accurate information straight from the horse’s mouth. That is to say straight from the users of SiteGround and HostGator.
This is what real customers have to say about SiteGround:
You’re looking at the 5 most recent reviews published on BBB.org at the time of writing this article. As you can see, they are all overwhelmingly positive, praising SiteGround for its impressive performance, outstanding customer support, and reliability. No wonder then that the average customer review of the web hosting company is 4 stars out of 5.
This is what real customers have to say about HostGator:
When it comes to customer reviews, HostGator is the polar opposite of SiteGround. If it wasn’t for the lonely 3-star review published in February 2019, all 5 most recent reviews would give HostGator just 1 star. That would be pretty much in line with HostGator’s past customer reviews, which average at just 1.3 stars out of 5. Most customers complain about the web hosting company’s shady practices when it comes to cancellation, with some being able to cancel their hosting plan only because the credit card they had on file is no longer valid.
To be fair, HostGator does respond to all negative customer reviews, and it does so fairly quickly. The reason why we decided to remove the responses is simple: we wanted to keep the screenshot above from being too large. This is what HostGator had to say in response to the review posted by Mark W in November 2018:
From HostGator’s response, we can tell that the customer was really charged incorrectly and that HostGator did something about it only AFTER the customer issued a complaint. Had the customer not noticed that money was missing from his bank account, HostGator would have never done anything about it.
Comparing SiteGround vs HostGator Hosting Plans
SiteGround and HostGator provide a wide range of hosting plans that cover the needs of everyone, from solo entrepreneurs planning to launch their first major online project to large organizations with an established global presence and millions of visitors from around the world.
When comparing web hosting plans, it’s important to look beyond introductory offers and special deals and consider how much money the plan will cost you 5 or 10 years down the road. You might find out that a web hosting plan that seemed irresistible at first actually is anything but that.
Here is a comparison of SiteGround and HostGator hosting plans and their costs:
|Type of hosting||SiteGround||HostGator|
|Shared hosting||Special price: $6.99-$14.99||Special price: $2.75-$5.95|
|WordPress hosting||Special price: $6.99-$14.99||Special price: $5.95-$9.95|
|VPS hosting||N/A||$29.95 – $49.95|
|Dedicated hosting||$269-$729||$119 – $149|
Shared Hosting Plans
Shared hosting puts your website on the same server with many other websites, making you share server resources with them. Just like it’s much cheaper to sleep in a hostel with 10 other people in the same room than it is to rent an apartment, it’s much cheaper to share server resources with 10 other websites than it is to rent an entire server.
Of course, you should be ready to sacrifice some things when choosing a shared hosting plan. For starters, your website won’t load nearly as quickly as it would if it ran on a dedicated server. Security is another important area of concern because hackers could theoretically use one vulnerable website to infect all other websites on the same servers. Last but not least, shared hosting is typically aimed at beginners and customers with modest requirements, which is why it often doesn’t come with advanced features, premium customer support, and various other perks.
SiteGround and HostGator and pretty much neck and neck when it comes to shared hosting plans, both start at just a few dollars per month and offering free SSL certificates, unlimited domain names, and one-click installs of popular content management systems, like WordPress. HostGator additionally promises “unmetered” bandwidth, but that just means that you’re not charged according to the amount of disk space or bandwidth you use.
“We do require all customers to be fully compliant with our Terms of Service and to only utilize disk space and bandwidth in the normal operation of a personal or small business website,” states HostGator on its website. “For example, customers who are using 25% or more of system resources for longer than 90 seconds would be in violation of our Terms of Service. Please see our Terms of Service or contact us with any questions.”
In other words, HostGator’s shared hosting plans are just as “unmetered” as SiteGround’s, so it doesn’t really matter how you choose when it comes to traffic limits.
WordPress Hosting Plans
There are several things that separate WordPress hosting plans from regular shared hosting plans. While you can use a shared hosting plan to host just about any content management system you want, WordPress hosting plans are, quite naturally, optimized for WordPress only, turbocharging WordPress sites with faster load times thanks to multiple caching layers, low-density servers, and various low-level tweaks.
In addition to making WordPress websites run faster, WordPress hosting plans also make it easier to get a WordPress website up and running. Both SiteGround and HostGator let their users install WordPress with a single click, and they make it just as easy to create backups and restore from them.
SiteGround goes a step further by offering a free professional transfer service on GrowBig and GoGeek plans in addition to a WordPress transfer plugin. If you have more WordPress sites to transfer, you can pay SiteGround as low as $30.00 per site and let the company do all the work for you. SiteGround migrates more than 50,000 sites per year, so you can be sure that the migration will go smoothly and without any problems.
When developing a WordPress site, it’s extremely useful to set up a separate staging environment for testing changes and updates to ensure quality under a production-like environment before application deployment. SiteGround makes this simple with its fantastic Staging Tool, which you can use to create a copy of your website with a simple click and then push the changes you make to it. SiteGround also performs automatic backups each time you upload a staging version to production, ensuring that you’ll always be able to go back.
HostGator doesn’t have a Staging Tool, forcing its customers to use various third-party staging plugins for WordPress. That’s just one of several reasons why SiteGround is the superior option when it comes to WordPress hosting, especially considering that its plans can be even more affordable than HostGator’s.
VPS Hosting Plans
VPS stands for Virtual Private Server, which is a virtual machine sold as a service by a web hosting provider. When you purchase a Virtual Private Server, you get your own operating system with guaranteed disc space and bandwidth, but you share a single physical server with multiple other Virtual Private Servers. As such, VPS hosting occupies the middle ground between shared hosting (which doesn’t give you your own operating system and guaranteed disc space and bandwidth) and dedicated hosting (which is much more expensive because you rent an entire server for yourself).
Unfortunately, SiteGround doesn’t offer any VPS hosting plans, so HostGator wins by default. HostGator’s VPS hosting plans start at $29.95 a month. At this price, you get 2 CPU cores, 2 GB of memory, 120 GB of disk space, 1.5 TB of bandwidth, 2 IP addresses, and such advanced server features as full root access, optional cPanel with WHM control panel, and more.
HostGator recommends its VPS hosting plans to customers who are looking for more control/flexibility the ability to scale resources on demand, and the ability to install a custom application or custom configuration. Existing HostGator customers can take advantage of unlimited free cPanel to cPanel migrations to VPS hosting plans.
Dedicated Hosting Plans
Would you like to have your own web server without actually having to put together the individual hardware components and provide it with high-speed internet connectivity and redundant supply of power? In that case, dedicated hosting is an easy choice because it allows you to get your website to the next level with minimal effort.
The price of dedicated hosting is based on how much resources you purchase. The least expensive dedicated hosting plan from SiteGround costs $269 a month, and it includes 4 CPU cores, 8 GB of memory, 480 GB of SSD storage space, and 10 TB of bandwidth. The cheapest dedicated hosting plan from HostGator starts at $119 a month, and it includes 4 CPU cores, 8 GB of RAM, 1 TB of storage space, and unmetered bandwidth.
The reason why HostGator is so much more affordable than SiteGround is simple: the price HostGator displays on its website is for the first term only, and it goes up substantially after that. By how much? That depends on whether you choose a semi-managed dedicated hosting plan ($179) or fully managed dedicated hosting plan ($189). With SiteGround, there’s no reason to make this decision because all dedicated hosting plans are fully managed, so you can focus on other more important business issues and leave the IT aspect of things to professionals.
We also like that SiteGround’s dedicated servers are running exclusively on fast SSDs, whereas HostGator is still using a mix of traditional spinning hard drives and modern SSDs. For extra $50.00 per month, SiteGround can even provide Nginx-based static and special dynamic cache options for your WordPress and Memcached, giving your site the performance boost it needs to outrank all other sites in search engines.
Cloud Hosting Plans
Cloud hosting is all about scalability. Instead of being tied to a single physical server, you can pull resources from multiple different servers to achieve excellent performance without having to overprovision in order to account for peak demand.
Because large web hosting companies like SiteGround and HostGator have a virtually limitless supply of cloud server resources, there’s nothing stopping your website from growing astronomically in a matter of months, weeks, and even days.
If scalability isn’t your priority, you might at least appreciate the high availability of cloud hosting plans, which can be as high as 99.999%, or just 5.25 minutes per year, because a cloud hosting infrastructure doesn’t have a single point of failure.
When comparing SiteGround cloud hosting plans with cloud hosting plans from HostGator, it’s impossible to miss the fact that the cheapest cloud hosting plan from HostGator is nearly 20x less expensive than the cheapest cloud hosting plan from SiteGround ($4.95 a month versus $80 a month). It’s true that SiteGround’s introductory cloud hosting plan includes 4 GB of memory, while HostGator’s introductory cloud hosting plan includes just 2 GB, but that still doesn’t explain the massive price difference.
It’s also true that the price advertised by HostGator applies to the first term only, but even the true monthly price of $12.95 is way too low compared with SiteGround, so that doesn’t explain the price difference either. What does explain it, however, is the fact that SiteGround offers fully managed cloud hosting service, while HostGator doesn’t.
What that means is that SiteGround’s most experienced devops configure and manage your cloud account for you, guarding it against hack attacks, SPAM and malicious bot resource usage, proactively applying software updates and patches, and constantly optimizing your cloud resources for best performance. HostGator’s cloud hosting is really just a more scalable version of its shared web hosting. If you have a website that requires the scalability of cloud hosting, you probably also have the money to spend $80 a month on a fully managed cloud hosting plan, making HostGator’s cloud offering rather pointless.
Money Back Guarantee
SiteGround gives all new customers a 30-day money-back guarantee. This guarantee applies only to the purchased hosting plan, and it doesn’t include domain names or any other add-ons. HostGator offers a 45-day money-back guarantee, but it also doesn’t cover domain name costs or other add-ons, so the two web hosting companies are more or less tied in this regard since 30 days should be more than enough to evaluate any web hosting plan.
Supported Payment Types
SiteGround directly accepts the following credit cards: VISA, MasterCard, American Express and Discover. The same credit cards are also accepted by HostGator, in addition to PayPal, checks, money orders, and bank wires.
Comparing the Features of SiteGround vs HostGator
|Automatic WordPress Updates||x||x|
|Automatic Data Backups||x||x|
|On-Demand Backup and Restore||x|
|Free Drag & Drop Builder||x||x|
Both SiteGround and HostGator can automatically update WordPress websites. SiteGround’s Autoupdate feature provides a convenient overview of all WordPress installations, showing the exact version of each installation as well as its update status. HostGator handles automatic WordPress updates using a background script that can’t be completely disabled for security reasons.
Automatic Data Backups
The last thing any web administrator wants is to lose all data as a result of an unfortunate user error or malware. Fortunately, SiteGround and HostGator automatically create data backups. SiteGround keeps backups of customers’ Shared and Cloud hosting accounts for a period of up to 30 and 7 days accordingly. HostGator’s automatic backup service runs once a week on a random day, and each run overwrites any previous backups.
On-Demand Backup and Restore
SiteGround makes creating backups easy. All you need to do is open the Backup and Restore tool, name your backup for easy identification, and click on the Create Backup button. It’s that simple. HostGator’s customers can enjoy on-demand backups only with CodeGuard Professional, Premium, and Enterprise plans.
SiteGround has perfected staging with its Staging tool, which is designed to provide our WordPress and Joomla users with an easy-to-use way to create and manage development copies of their websites. HostGator is, unfortunately, missing this important functionality, making it much more difficult for web developers to test changes before rolling them into production.
WordPress caching can significantly reduce page load times by saving frequently requested data so they are available much faster than usual. SiteGround has its own proprietary WordPress caching solution called SuperCacher, which handles caching at three different levels, according to its website:
- The second level makes copies of your site’s dynamic content and stores them in the server RAM.
- The third level uses Memcached technology, which speeds up database calls, API calls, and page rendering by storing data and objects in memory to reduce the number of times a database is queried. It’s a good option for sites that rely mainly on database queries.
HostGator doesn’t have a similar feature. Instead, it recommends its users to use a caching plugin like WordPress Super Cache, which can generate static HTML pages from your dynamic WordPress blog.
Free Drag & Drop Builder
All SiteGround customers can easily create beautiful and responsive websites using an intuitive drag & drop builder. No technical skills are required to use the builder, and the results can be quite impressive. HostGator has a drag & drop builder as well, complete with a whole host of mobile-friendly templates that cover everything from e-commerce to technology to fashion. While we don’t give web builders a lot of weight in this SiteGround vs HostGator comparison, some customers find them important.
SiteGround vs HostGator: Web Performance
Long gone are the days when visitors were willing to wait as much as several minutes for a website to load. Today, a just one second longer page load time can significantly increase the bounce rate because visitors have so many other options where they can find what they’re looking for. As such, it’s paramount to select a web hosting service that consistently delivers fantastic performance and is able to withstand massive spikes in demand, which is why a detailed performance analysis is a critical part of this SiteGround vs HostGator comparison.
SiteGround has servers in the following locations: Chicago, Amsterdam, London, and Singapore.
HostGator has servers in the following locations: Houston, Texas and Provo, Utah.
On top of their own data centers, both SiteGround and HostGator are compatible with various content delivery networks, such as Cloudflare and KeyCDN. In fact, SiteGround includes Cloudflare in all of its plans, making it exceptionally easy for its customers to achieve fantastic global coverage. As you’ll see later in this SiteGround vs HostGator comparison, the number of server locations a web hosting company has can have a great impact on the performance of the websites it hosts.
One easy way how to measure the speed of a web hosting service is to count how long it takes a website to load completely. We first tested the hosting speed of SiteGround and HostGator using a static website that contained several images and around 1,000 words of text. The total size of the website was 364 kB. With SiteGround, the site took 569 ms to load. With HostGator, the site loaded in 612 ms.
Next, we wanted to see how effective SiteGround’s proprietary WordPress catching solution is. To test it, we created a brand-new WordPress blog with a custom theme using the WordPress hosting plans offered by SiteGround and HostGator. With SiteGround, the WordPress site loaded in 4.2 seconds. With HostGator, the site took nearly 1 extra second to load, which is a massive difference.
Server Response Time
Server response time measures how long it takes a server to respond to an initial request. Hosting a website on a server that’s too slow to respond can make your website feel unresponsive, and it may make it impossible to run certain web services that require real-time communication between two or more parties.
SiteGround’s shared hosting servers were consistently faster to respond than HostGator’s shared hosting servers, which didn’t surprise us at all because HostGator has servers only in the United States. The situation was the same even when it came to cloud hosting and dedicated server hosting. As such, we wouldn’t recommend HostGator to anyone who expects visitors coming from countries other than the United States.
SiteGround guarantees network uptime of 99.9% during a twelve-month period, starting on the date you order your account. If your uptime falls below 99.9%, you automatically get 1 month of hosting for free, and you get an additional month of free hosting for every 1% of uptime lost below 99.00%. SiteGround can afford to do this because it has 100% uptime for most months of the year.
HostGator also averages a rating of 100% uptime over 12 months, and it also gives its customers 1 month of hosting for free it a shared or reseller server falls short of the 99.9% uptime guarantee it provides. However, HostGator reserves the right to not compensate its customers with free web hosting if it doesn’t feel the compensation is justified.
SiteGround vs HostGator: Security
All noteworthy web hosting companies today have implemented all basic security measures to protect their customers, including daily backups, SSL support, and more. However, some web hosting companies constantly strive to stay at least one step ahead of cybercriminals by proactively taking various measures to keep their servers and the websites hosted on them secure.
SiteGround has enabled PHP 7.0 by default on all of its servers so that its customers can enjoy the latest security fixes and performance improvements. SiteGround is also running Apache in a chrooted environment with suExec, a feature of the Apache web server that protects scripts and files from unauthorized access, and SiteGround’s sophisticated IDS/IPS systems block malicious bots and attackers.
To detect malware before it can do any harm, SiteGround has partnered with Sucuri, one of the leading providers of malware and blacklist scan services, to develop a malware detection and early warning system called SG Site Scanner. When you activate SG Site Scanner, it will scan all the links that are accessible from your website and immediately send you a notification email if it detects any issues.
HostGator also uses the latest version of PHP and checks all the other basic security boxes. Its most impressive security feature is actually a paid add-on called SiteLock, which defends against bad guys by actively scanning for malware and sending alerts via email and the control panel.
SiteLock starts at $1.94 a month, but you should consider paying either $6.97 a month for the Fix plan or $38.75 a month for the Prevent plan because they include SMART (Secure Malware Alert & Removal Tool), an automatic malware removal for website security that keeps your site safe. All customers who purchase SiteLock earn the right to display the SiteLock trust seal on their websites to show their visitors and customers that the website they’re visiting can be trusted.
SiteGround vs HostGator: Customer Support
If you’ve read the real customer reviews we’ve shown earlier, you already know that customers are very happy with SiteGround’s customer support, which is provided 24/7 via chat, phone, and tickets. When SiteGround customers need help, they can simply log into the User Area → Support → scroll to the bottom of the page and click Contact.
When you receive a reply from a SiteGround customer support employee, you can see the person’s photo, so you always know who you’re communicating with. Most questions are answered promptly and thoroughly, and SiteGround customer support employees never fail to impress us with their politeness and knowledge.
HostGator offers the same customer support channels as SiteGround, but the quality of customer support provided by the web hosting company can be a huge hit or miss. That’s probably because the work culture at the company is abysmal.
Just read what one employee had to say about working as a customer support agent at HostGator:
“Cons? Literally everything. $16 an hour doesn’t even begin to compensate for the abuse you endure. Yes sometimes customer service is just abuse but the abuse you receive from HR and upper management, Is out of this world ridiculous. We aren’t trained to do the job. We are just stressed trying to figure it out. The support for getting answers is slim to none.”
And he/she isn’t the only one who sees things this way:
“This is a good company to work for if you like soul-crushing work. Don’t care about actual customers? This is the job for you. Cool with nebulous titles, changing job descriptions and no one that actually knows what’s going on? Apply today! Like seeing your bosses fired (for no reason) so you can pretend to have a chance to advance? APPLY TODAY! What are you waiting for?!”
To read more employee reviews like this, just look for Endurance International Group (EIG), the parent company of HostGator, on Glassdoor.
SiteGround vs HostGator: Major Differences
Advantages of SiteGround over HostGator:
- Recommended by WordPress.
- Offers fully managed hosting plans.
- Superior customer support.
- Free professional site migration.
- Superior performance.
- Automated daily backups.
- WordPress staging.
Advantages of HostGator over SiteGround:
- 45-day money-back guarantee.
- Offers VPS hosting.
SiteGround vs HostGator: Conclusion
The summary of some of the key differences between SiteGround vs HostGator speaks clearly: SiteGround is a much better provider of web hosting services that’s especially great for WordPress users since its officially recommended by WordPress. Like so many other web hosting companies acquired by EIG, HostGator is no stranger to shady business practices, and it doesn’t stand behind its customers nearly as much as SiteGround does. If we had to rate both web hosting companies on a scale from 0 to 10, we would give SiteGround 9 points and HostGator just 5. Yes, it’s true that SiteGround can be considerably more expensive than HostGator depending on which hosting plan you choose, but you will be rewarded with excellent customer support, flawless performance, and near-perfect reliability.