Many new website developers don’t know how to properly choose a website hosting provider. Whether you are a new blogger looking to find a host for your WordPress site, or you are an experienced web publisher looking to make a change, my Bluehost vs Hostgator review showdown should help you decide. I have experience with both of these providers and I can hopefully shed some light on which one is the right pick for your particular situation. I summarize my findings in the table below, present my “bottom line” recommendations, and then present the backup details. If you have experience with these providers or have questions on your particular situation, make sure to leave a comment!
Summary Table: Bluehost vs Hostgator
|Pricing||$6.95 per month (12 month prepaid), includes free domain registration.|
12 month price with domain registration: $83.40
|$5.56 per month (12 month commitment). Domain registration is $12.95.|
Includes 20% discount. Regular pricing is $6.95/month
12 month price with domain registration: $79.67
|Domains||Unlimited domains||One domain||Bluehost|
|Customer Support||24/7/365. Phone, chat, email.||24/7/365. Phone, chat, email.||Tie|
|Domain Names/Registration||Support for registration or transfer. Includes free domain name registration.||Support for registration or transfer.||Bluehost|
|Domain Privacy||Domain privacy registration is $9.95||Domain privacy registration is $9.95||Tie|
|Migrations/Transfers||$99.99 to migrate up to 5 websites and 20 email accounts.||Free transfer of website/cPanel account within 30 days.||Hostgator|
|Backups||Self-service cPanel backups +automated weekly backups.||Self-service cPanel backups.||Bluehost|
|Technical Features||Support for many advanced technical features.||Support for many advanced technical features.||Tie|
|Unlimited email accounts, web-based email clients, email forwarding, and Spam Assassin.||Unlimited email accounts, web-based email clients, email forwarding, and Spam Assassin.||Tie|
|WordPress Support||Simplified WordPress installation. Recommended by Wordpress.org.||Simplified WordPress installation.||Bluehost|
|Performance||Varies based on server load and many other factors. Independent testing showed slight edge to Hostgator.||Varies based on server load and many other factors. Independent testing showed slight edge to Hostgator.||Hostgator|
|Reliability||Strives for 99.9% uptime. No guarantee, but allows you to cancel account at anytime without penalties and with a pro-rated refund of unused portion of hosting agreement.||Strives for 99.9% uptime. Has guarantee (refund of monthly fee).||Hostgator|
Bottom Line: Bluehost vs Hostgator – Which is Best for You?
Bluehost and Hostgator have very similar offerings in terms of service, price, features etc. Both are good options for hosting your websites. How do you decide which webhosting provider is better for you? Here’s the bottom line:
Choose Bluehost if you don’t already have a domain name or don’t need to transfer an existing website. Also, Bluehost is a better choice if you plan on hosting more than one website on your account.
Choose Hostgator if you already have your domain name and/or you need to transfer a website/account from another hosting provider.
In either case, don’t worry too much about which one to choose…they both offer money-back guarantees AND it is fairly easy/straightforward to move your domain from one hosting provider to another down the road.
Hatchling Plan – Hosting for one domain with unlimited disk space and unlimited bandwidth.
Shared hosting plan – Hosting for unlimited domains with unlimited disk space and unlimited bandwidth.
Both Hostgator and Bluehost manage their hosting accounts via cPanel, the leading hosting control panel for Unix based webhosts. cPanel provides a graphical interface and automation tools that simplify the process of hosting a website like WordPress. cPanel interfaces can be customized by the hosting company to provide a different look and feel and allow access to different tools/features. The images below show the different look of cPanel for Bluehost vs Hostgator.
Bluehost offers unlimited domains on their entry level shared hosting plan. Additional domains are enabled in your account through cPanel’s “Addon” domains functionality.
Hostgator’s Hatchling plan only allows for one domain per account (i.e., there is no ability for “Addon Domains”). If you want multiple domains on your Hostgator account you will need to upgrade to their “Baby Plan” which starts at $7.96 per month (vs $3.96 per month for the Hatchling plan).
Hostgator pricing includes a 20% discount that applies to the initial payment/invoice. After your initial term (one month, 12 months etc.), your pricing will go up to the regular price.
Hostgator 20% Discount Pricing
- $5.56/month for 12 months
- $4.76/month for 24 months
- $3.96/month for 36 months
Hostgator Regular Pricing
- $6.95/month for 12 months
- $5.95/month for 24 months
- $4.95/month for 36 months
- $6.95/month for 12 months
- $5.95/month for 24 months
- $4.95/month for 36 months
Both Hostgator and Bluehost offer identical support offerings: Phone, chat and email/ticket based support offered 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Hostgator offers a 45 day guarantee. Full refunds. Cancel for any reason.
Bluehost offers a 30 day guarantee for a full refund. In addition, Bluehost accounts are “non-contractual” meaning that you can cancel at any time and receive a prorated refund for the remainder of the term that you signed up for.
Both Bluehost and Hostgator facilitate finding and setting up a new domain name or allow you to use an existing domain name. Bluehost, however, provides you with a free domain name while Hostgator charges you for a new domain.
Bluehost offers a “free” domain name with their plan. Bluehost actually charges you for the domain but then credits your account at sign up for the full cost of the domain. If you leave Bluehost you still retain ownership of the domain until the end of its registration period – but you can, of course, extend its registration as long as you want.
Hostgator charges $12.95 for domain registration.
Both Hostgator and Bluehost offer domain privacy (by using a proxy contact) to hide your personal information. Both providers charge $9.95/year.
Migration/Transfers from Previous Hosting Provider
Hostgator provides free website transfers for new accounts within 30 days of sign-up. Hostgator will move your content and databases for one website or your entire cPanel account from another host.
Bluehost provides migration services, but charges $99.99. Bluehost’s site transfer service allows for the migration of up to 5 websites and 20 email accounts.
Hostgator provides cPanel backups – a complete backup of your entire hosting account, including e-mail accounts (messages, passwords etc.), ftp account, all domains, databases, and website files. Hostgator’s backup is NOT automated – meaning that you have to initiate the backup yourself.
Bluehost also provides cPanel backups. In addition, Bluehost automatically backups your account on a weekly basis (although they provide the typical caveats that their backups are not guaranteed “in any way”).
For both Bluehost and Hostgator, StartGrowProfit recommends that you initiate your own backups on a routine basis (preferably weekly, but at a minimum monthly) and store your backups off of your hosting account (on a local machine or a cloud-based storage such as Dropbox).
Both Bluehost and Hostgator offer a myriad of more technical features which may be of use to you as your hosting needs grow more complex. Both providers offer FTP access, Secure Shell (SSH) Access, support for custom PHP.ini and .htaccess files, and Cron jobs (to schedule automated completion of specific tasks).
One of the advantages of having your own domain is the ability to have your own branded email accounts (e.g., firstname.lastname@example.org). Both Bluehost and Hostgator offer robust email features including unlimited email accounts, web-based email clients, and email forwarding. In addition, both providers provide Spam Assassin to help reduce email spam.
Both Hostgator and Bluehost offer simplified “one-click” installation of WordPress as the videos below demonstrate. Bluehost, however, is recommended by WordPress.
Hostgator’s WordPress Installation:
Bluehost’s WordPress Installation:
Performance and Reliability
Webhosting performance is one of the hardest areas to measure and compare between providers. The dirty little secret of shared hosting is that your website will be on the same server as dozens or even hundreds of other websites. Even though both Bluehost and Hostgator offer “unlimited bandwidth”, in reality the performance of your website on their server is affected by many factors including the load on the specific server your site is located on as well as the overall performance/bandwidth usage of the hosting facility. To attempt to assess the performance differences between Bluehost and Hostgator, StartGrowProfit identified several tests that attempted to measure the speed of multiple websites hosted on the providers under differing conditions (load from multiple users, speed differences from different locations in the US, etc.). While these tests may not be perfect, they did give a slight nod to Hostgator over Bluehost as far as performance.
Reliability is another interesting attribute to compare. Hostgator offers a 99.9% uptime guarantee (which equates to about 45 minutes a month that your website could be down). If your website isn’t up for 99.9% of the time in one month, Hostgator will issue you a credit to your account for the month. Bluehost does not offer any uptime guarantee. In reality, though, uptime is a little misleading. For example, your website may be incredibly slow (practically unusable) because of server load or bandwidth issues, but both hosting providers will consider your website “up” because it can be reached.
Bottom line: These shared plans from Bluehost and Hostgator are great for startup and low traffic websites, but once your website starts to take off you should switch to a more robust (and expensive!) offering (either from these providers or from another provider that offers VPS or dedicated server hosting).