April 24, 2019 12:00 PM PT

Bluehost vs HostGator

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Looking for a hosting service for your website? Bluehost and HostGator are some of the biggest hosting services around. But which provider is better for you?

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Both have their own strengths and weaknesses. Bluehost has great security features but charges an expensive site migration fee. HostGator guarantees a 99.9% uptime but doesn't offer a free domain.

In this review, we do an in-depth comparison of both host providers.

Bluehost

PROS

  • Competitively priced
  • 24/7/365 support via phone, live chat, and email
  • Extensive knowledge base that includes a YouTube channel
  • Many auto-installers and app integrations (easy for beginners)
  • Offers "unlimited" shared hosting plans
  • Free SSL
  • 30-day money back guarantee
  • Offers free domain with all their plans
  • Automatic daily, weekly, and monthly backups
  • On-site web builder powered by Weebly
  • Good security measures

CONS

  • Higher renewal fees
  • No month-to-month option
  • Expensive site migration fee

HostGator

PROS

  • Competitively priced
  • 24/7/365 support via phone, live chat, and email
  • Extensive knowledge base that includes a YouTube channel
  • Many auto-installers and app integrations (easy for beginners)
  • Offers "unlimited" shared hosting plans
  • Free SSL
  • 45-day money back guarantee
  • Free site migration
  • Automatic weekly backups
  • Free website builder tool with hundreds of fully customizable templates
  • 99.9% uptime guarantee

CONS

  • Higher renewal fees
  • No free domains

What You Get with Either Provider

Both have cheap subscription rates.
Both HostGator and Bluehost have competitive prices. This isn't a surprise since both companies are under the Endurance International Group (EIG). Having the same parent company means they have similar resources and can offer similar pricing.

However, bear in mind that to get the best discounts, you'd have to subscribe to longer plans. Both Bluehost's $3.95/month rate and HostGator's $2.75/month rate are only for their 36-month plan.

For shorter terms, the monthly prices increase.

Also, don't forget—when you renew their services, the regular rate kicks in. This could be up to three times what you paid the first time.

Both sites are beginner-friendly.
Bluehost and HostGator make it easy for beginners. They've customized the control panel (cPanel) and cleaned up the interface. They've also added extra features to help you get started easily.

Both sites feature the MOJO Marketplace, which is where you can buy new plug-ins and themes for your WordPress site. It features one-click installs so you can customize your site with just a few clicks.

They also have CloudFlare, which is a content delivery network (CDN) system. It cuts your website's loading times and protects you against DDoS attacks.

What is a content delivery network (CDN)?
A CDN is a network of servers around the world that helps distribute content. Traditionally, if a visitor from Malaysia visited your site in the US, the signal would have to travel all the way between the two countries. This meant poor latency and slower loading times.

With a CDN, a cached version of your website content is stored on multiple servers around the world. So, when that visitor from Malaysia clicks on your US-hosted site, he/she interacts with a nearby CDN server instead.

This is much quicker than having the signal travel halfway across the world and back again. Your website loads faster regardless of your visitor's location.

Both have a great knowledge base and how-to videos.
Both providers have a great knowledge base. HostGator has a wide range of topics to learn from, which include everything from how to set up your website to managing affiliate programs. They've arranged each support section by topic. The support page is a little clunky and needs redesigning, but there's a lot of information.

Bluehost has a wide knowledge base too. The upside is that their support page is cleaner than HostGator's. They split their information into six different categories, ranging from general "FAQ" to "Control Panel" usage. You just need to select the appropriate tab, and you'll see all the relevant topics.

Both Bluehost and HostGator also have their own YouTube channels. You can watch instructional how-to videos in case you need more help.

Why You Might Prefer HostGator

Although both HostGator and Bluehost are under the same parent company, they have minor differences. Here are some advantages HostGator has over Bluehost.

45-Day Money Back Guarantee
HostGator offers a 45-day money back guarantee. That's longer than Bluehost's guarantee (30 days). Fifteen days may not sound like much, but bear in mind that neither company offers refunds after the guarantee period. You would want their guarantee to stretch for as long as possible.
On the other hand, while HostGator has the longer guarantee, but there are terms and conditions too:

  1. Refunds are only valid if you paid using PayPal or a credit card. You won't get a refund if you paid using a check, money order, or bank wire transfer.
  2. Refunds are only for shared, reseller, or VPS hosting accounts. They don't offer refunds for dedicated server accounts.
  3. Refunds don't include administrative fees, install fees for custom software, or domain purchases.

Free Website Transfer
HostGator also offers a free site migration service. If you already have a registered domain and website, HostGator will migrate your site over to them for free.

However, bear in mind that the service is only for "as is" transfers of your website. There can't be any changes to the site configuration. If you change to a new domain or new URL, the service isn't free.

99.9% Uptime Guarantee
HostGator offers a 99.9% uptime guarantee. "Uptime" is the total time your website is online and accessible to visitors. A 99.9% uptime guarantee means that HostGator guarantees your site won't be down for more than about 45 minutes per month. If your site is down for more than that, HostGator gives you a 1-month credit.

There are exceptions to this guarantee. For one thing, if HostGator performs server maintenance, it's not counted as downtime.

Also, the guarantee only applies to connection issues caused by their server. If your site isn't working because of a problem on your end (i.e., problems with your site or content), then it doesn't count.
To be fair, 99.9% uptime is the industry standard. You shouldn't settle for any hosting provider whose servers fail more than that. Still, HostGator puts a guarantee on this, which is a nice perk to have.

Does HostGator offer SSD hosting?
SSD stands for "solid state drive." It's essentially a flash drive with no moving parts. The traditional HDD hard drive has a spinning wheel and head-and-arm mechanism. This makes them slower, since they must first move these parts to access the data.

SSDs transfer 95% more data under heavy strain compared to HDDs. They also perform 20x faster in processing I/O requests. These are basically requests from the server to pull data from the drive.

SSD hosting means that the shared web hosting server uses an SSD drive to store all the files and information. SSD hosting loads your page faster even during high loads, since there are no moving parts.

HostGator doesn't offer SSD hosting for their shared hosting plans. If you're looking for shared SSD hosting, try InMotion instead.

Month-to-Month Billing
If you don't like commitments, then HostGator is a great choice. They offer monthly plans, which gives you more flexibility. You won't have to pay a lot upfront, which might be better for those just starting out.

The downside is, your monthly fees are expensive. You'll be paying more in the long run.

Also, if you decide to upgrade your plan later, bear in mind you won't get their first-time discounts anymore. You'll have to pay regular rates, even for longer terms. This means no more $2.75/month rates.

For the biggest savings, subscribe to Bluehost's 60-month plan. You'll pay rock-bottom prices for the next five years!

Why BlueHost Might Be Better

Free domain with all their plans.
Bluehost offers a free domain (for the first year) with all their shared hosting plans. Buying a new domain will cost you around $10-$15 a year, depending on the registrar (Bluehost, HostGator, InMotion, etc.), and TLD (.com, .org, .net, etc.).

It's a small cost compared to your upfront fees, but still nice to have. Those starting a new website will be happy to not have to pay for the first year. However, once the term ends, they'll have to
continue paying for the domain.

What is a parked domain?
A parked domain simply means an alternate domain name for your main website. So, for example, if wheels.com was your main website, you can buy "wheels.net" and park it. Parking it simply means that wheels.net links back to your original website. Any visitor who typed wheels.net would see content from wheels.com instead.

It's officially recommended by WordPress.
Bluehost is one of the three officially recommended providers by WordPress. They've been working together since 2005, and WordPress has officially recommended Bluehost since then.

All Bluehost accounts feature 1-click installations for the WordPress CMS. Their knowledge base and support team are all familiar with the WordPress system too.

That's not to say that HostGator lacks any of these. After all, both Bluehost and HostGator are under EIG—there's a high chance that they share the same pool of support staff.

Still, being officially endorsed by WordPress should account for something, right?
Or maybe not. We consider this one just a slight pro over HostGator.

You want a site with higher security.
Bluehost has some great security features, even for shared hosting plans. Regardless of which plan you choose, Bluehost offers these security features:

  • Two-factor authentication ensures that no one can log into your Bluehost account without also having access to your phone.

  • "Account token validation" requires you to submit a six-digit account security token code to Bluehost's support staff. This lets them validate your identity before asking for your personal details. You can find this by clicking the "Validation Token" button at the bottom of any page in the control panel.

HostGator does have two-factor authentication, but it requires Web Host Manager (WHM) access. That's only available for their Reseller, VPS, and Dedicated hosting plans.

Where is Bluehost located?
Bluehost operates its servers in-house in a facility in Provo, Utah. It shares the space with its sister company HostMonster, and employs over 700 people to run the facility.

Both Do Have Downsides

Because EIG owns both providers, they share common downsides. Whether you pick Bluehost or HostGator, be prepared for high renewal fees. If you decide to renew your service, their regular rates kick in. This could be as high as three times your initial fee!

Also, both providers try to upsell you with extra services and features on checkout. You can uncheck them, but that also means you'll miss out on nice perks like automatic backup services.

If you're running your website on WordPress, there are other (free) backup service options. WordPress has plug-ins which let you make automatic backups daily.

You can even set these plug-ins to automatically save your backups to cloud services like Dropbox. This is almost the same as CodeGuard, the paid backup service being offered.

Individually, they each have their downsides too. Maybe these reasons will be a deal-breaker for you.

Downsides of HostGator

  • No Free Domains: HostGator doesn't offer free domains with their plans. If you want a new domain, that's extra.
  • Support Page is Outdated: HostGator's support page is clunky and hard to read. There's a lot of information, but the user experience is still poor.

Downsides of Bluehost

  • Expensive Migration Fee: Bluehost charges $150 to move your site from your old provider to theirs. If you're moving from another provider, that's going to add a lot to your upfront fee!
  • Long Service Terms: Bluehost's shortest service term is one year. You'll have to pay for 12 months upfront, which can be pricy. There's no monthly option like with HostGator.

Which Provider is Better For You?

If you already have a webpage and are experienced with web page building, then HostGator is the better choice. They'll transfer your existing site for free, and chances are, you won't really need to use their clunky support page. HostGator is also a great choice for those who'd rather pay monthly than annually.

On the other hand, if you're just starting out, then Bluehost is the better choice. You get a free domain and you can easily find help on their streamlined support page. You do need to subscribe for at least a year, but even the monthly average of their annual price is slightly cheaper than the average monthly price from other providers.

Also, Bluehost has some great account security features. If account security is important to you, go with Bluehost.

How to Switch from HostGator to BlueHost

There are several ways to switch from HostGator to Bluehost. The easiest method would be to purchase Bluehost's site migration service. It'll cost you almost $150, but they'll help migrate up to 5 websites and 20 email accounts over to their server.

You'll also need to purchase a Bluehost hosting plan. Once you have an account, just let them know you'd like to migrate your site. They'll email you a list of information they need. Once you provide this, they'll get started. Bear in mind that the migration process can take 3-5 days.

If you'd rather do it yourself, the process can a little complicated. Generally, it involves having SSH/Shell Access to your old HostGator server, and making outbound shell connections to your new Bluehost server.

You can read more about the process here.

If you're not technologically savvy, or don't want to risk damaging your site, it's better to pay for the site migration service instead.

Alternatives to Bluehost and Hostgator

If you still want more options, here are a few more providers to consider.

GoDaddy
GoDaddy is one of the most popular web host providers in the world. They have 17 million customers and 6,000 employees worldwide.

GoDaddy has decent speeds and good service uptimes. They also have great promotional prices if you choose their 36-month plan. It's comparable to what you'd find with HostGator or Bluehost.
However, both may still offer better value-per-dollar compared to GoDaddy—it depends on which tier plan you choose.

Another great thing about GoDaddy is that they act as a one-stop shop for all your webhosting needs, especially for online businesses. They offer services like SEO optimization, social media management, and local listings management. You can even get a business line service that goes straight to your personal smartphone!

If you're looking to set up an online business, consider GoDaddy. They offer plenty of extra features and services to help you.

iPage
Like Bluehost and HostGator, iPage is another EIG brand that has been around for about 20 years. They're the cheapest hosting service provider we've seen, offering shared web hosting services at only $1.99/month.

They offer only one shared hosting plan, with terms of 1-3 years. As usual, the advertised rate is only for their 3-year plan. Prices jump back up to three times the promotional price on renewal.

The features are industry standard, offering "unlimited" disk space, bandwidth, and MySQL databases (within reason). You'll also get a free domain and free Let's Encrypt SSL with your account.
We like their straightforward 30-day money back guarantee—they'll grant you a refund within this period, no questions asked. The downside is, they'll deduct a non-refundable domain fee, but this is standard practice.

Bear in mind that their shared web hosting plans don't have cPanel; they use their customized vDeck instead. This might make a difference if you're used to the cPanel interface.

If cost is your biggest concern, you might want to consider iPage. Just remember that you'll be paying triple once your initial period ends.

Wix
Wix is better known for being a site-builder, but they offer web hosting too. If you create a free website with Wix, you also get free hosting. It comes with 500MB of cloud storage and 500MB bandwidth. It's not a lot, but if you're just building a personal site, it's completely free.

With their Premium plans, you get better perks. Prices range from about $5/month to $25/month. Be aware that their cheapest Premium plan only has a measly 1GB bandwidth and 500MB storage.
Unlimited bandwidth starts from their mid-tier premium plan onwards. That has 10GB storage, and you also get Wix's form-builder app and Site-booster app for free.

At the highest tier, you get 20GB storage, an Online Store (add-to-cart functionality), 10 email campaigns a month, and Wix's Priority Response customer service.

Wix is a good choice if you have no idea how to build a website. Their drag-and-drop website builder makes it easy for beginners, so you don't need much technical knowledge. The downside is that you'll be paying quite a bit just for hosting, compared to other hosting providers.

If your priority is being able to create a sleek website easily, Wix offers that. But it comes at a higher hosting cost. If you'd rather get the best value for hosting, look for specialized hosting providers instead.

Just Host
Just Host is another EIG-owned hosting company. You can expect a lot of the same benefits as its sister companies—low introductory prices, good average uptimes, and round-the-clock customer service.

There are also the usual cheap monthly prices with expensive renewal rates. You'll know by now that advertised rock-bottom prices are only for their 36-month plan. However, Just Host also has monthly plans if you prefer shorter terms.

They offer Shared, Dedicated, and VPS hosting. All plans come with a free domain. They use a customized cPanel with all the usual 1-click installs: WordPress, Joomla, osCommerce, etc.

A downside is that customer service isn't good; customers aren't happy with Just Host's customer service. Complaints range from difficulty of canceling a service to unhelpful customer service agents.
If you feel like you can deal with bad customer service and monthly installments are better for you, then Just Host is an option. Otherwise, have a look at other providers first.

SiteGround
If you're looking for an all-around hosting provider, SiteGround is a solid choice. They've got good speeds and uptimes, great customer service, and transparent pricing. They're also one of the officially recommended hosting providers by WordPress.

At a glance, SiteGround's features are on par with what other hosting providers offer. But what they do, they do well.

Take their transparent pricing, for example. First-time users get their promotional rock-bottom prices, regardless of the term you pick. So, whether you choose 12 months or 36, you'll still get the same introductory price.

The exception is for their monthly rate. They still charge you their low promo price, but they also add a one-off setup fee.

They throw in other perks such as daily backups and free site migration for higher-tiered shared hosting plans. There's even a free SSL (Let's Encrypt) and Cloudflare CDN too.

To top it all off, SiteGround has great customer service. And we mean great. Our checks show that SiteGround teams actually browse through other sites and forums for negative customer comments and respond to them. Our checks show that customers generally have good things to say about their customer service.

If you're looking for a fast hosting provider with transparent pricing and good customer service, SiteGround is worth a look.

DreamHost
DreamHost is one of WordPress's officially recommended hosting services, and for good reason—they've got good customer support, fast loading speeds, and they offer a 100% uptime guarantee.

Yup, that's right—100%. For every hour of interrupted service, DreamHost promises to credit one day of service back to your account.

To add to that, DreamHost offers the longest money back guarantee we've seen—a stunning 97-days. If you're unhappy with their service, just ask for a refund anytime within this period. They'll give you your money back, no questions asked.

They also offer one of the cheaper hosting services out there. You can get started for less than $3/month when you sign up for their 36-month plan.

However, bear in mind that that's for their Starter shared plan, which is rather limited. You only get 1 website, 50GB of disk space, and email isn't included. For their Unlimited plan, the monthly rates jump up to almost $8/month (also for a 36-month term).

Still, for what they offer, the price is comparable to other hosting providers out there. If you're looking for a provider with great guarantees, DreamHost is a good choice.

Bottom Line

Both HostGator and Bluehost offer rock-bottom prices, but you'll need to sign up for at least 3 years for the cheapest rates. They both offer 24/7/365 customer service, which is great if you need help instantly. They both also offer an extensive knowledge base, complete with YouTube channels and videos.

HostGator caters slightly more to experienced users. They offer a free site migration fee but charge for new domains. Monthly subscriptions mean you'll pay less upfront, but more over time. This makes it good for those who just want to host websites for the short term.

On the other hand, Bluehost is a great place to start for beginners. They offer a free domain and have a great support page. They're also one of WordPress's officially recommended host providers. If you plan to use WordPress, their support staff are familiar with it and can help you.

In short, if you're new to site building, go with Bluehost. If you're an experienced user with an existing website, try HostGator instead.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author's alone. Please support CreditDonkey on our mission to help you make savvy decisions. Our free online service is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content.

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