Let’s have a look at the performance and reliability of two of the most popular hosting platforms. But more importantly, which hosting provider is worth the money, and what we can get out of it?
In this comparison, we will be looking at the most important aspects of both companies’ capabilities for your website. HostGator is one of the largest and most popular hosting companies in the world with over 8 million domains hosted.
They offer 4 different types of services: shared hosting, VPS hosting, dedicated servers, and managed WordPress hosting plans. Meanwhile, Bluehost is one of the 20 largest web hosts, collectively hosting well over 2 million domains and one of the best hosting providers for starters or small traffic websites.
Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. This does not have any additional costs to you, should you decide to purchase anything. It just helps me to keep the site running.
Bluehost vs HostGator: Which is Better for Beginners?
If you just want to jump ahead without reading the entire article, here is what you must know!
Bluehost offers a slightly better value for your money if you are a blogger or want to start a small business. While HostGator does offer slightly cheaper services, Bluehost will give your site better features, better user-friendliness, a free domain, and WordPress integration.
Bluehost is a definite winner here!
However, if you want to determine what is best for you, there are seven things that we will need to look into when searching for the best and cheapest hosting plans to start a new website.
There are 6 broad performances I typically like to examine and share with you in order to see which hosting solution is worth my money.
You have to be aware that Bluehost is one of the best platforms when it comes to WordPress integration. If you are familiar with or just heard of WordPress, Bluehost is better for you in the long term as it is seamlessly integrated. With Bluehost, you can get started building your site with WordPress, as it installs it for you in the process.
However, if you are completely new to web design or website creation, Godaddy is your best bet. Why is that? GoDaddy has its very own drag-and-drop website builder, providing you with the structures and experiences you probably need to start building.
If a hosting provider has strong uptime rates, then it’s a good indicator of well-performing servers. Uptime is the amount of time that the server hosting your website is up and running.
Uptime rates are typically listed as a percentage, such as 99.95%, which means that only 0.05% of the time, the server may be down for various reasons. This can be horrible if you need your site to be live 24/7 – 365. Imagine if your website has 100-page visitors a day. If your site has a 5% downtime, that means that approximately 5 of your 100 visitors might not be able to see anything on your site.
Now imagine if we calculate downtime for an entire year!
Your 100 daily visitors multiplied by 365 = 36500 visitors per year. We subtract the 5% downtime from 365000 and that would translate to 34675. This means that every year you’d lost 1825 page visitors. This might not seem devastating, but it can be avoided by selecting the right hosting plan or company. Bluehost does not make any claim of an uptime guarantee but provides an actual uptime percentage of approximately 99.9%.
HostGator has improved a lot and has a 99.98% uptime, which they’ve been consistent with. To make their claim believable, they’re even considering sharing a free one month of credit on your account if their uptime drops below 99%. (Hacks or DDoS attacks are not included in this deal.)
I would say that their uptime is at a draw!
Design and Functions
Here we will look into the user-friendliness, ease-of-use, and simplicity of the hosting companies’ dashboards and additional functions that help you start your website quickly and easily.
New users will find their dashboard and overall customer experience to be quite easy and welcoming. If you’re looking for WordPress hosting specifically, Bluehost is one of the few providers endorsed by the WordPress Core team. You can immediately upon purchase, install WordPress in a single click, or have the company’s managed services team take care of it for you. It’s really easy to use Bluehost and you can start designing your website within a few minutes.
If I had done this comparison, I would’ve been really discouraged by HostGator’s cPanel. However, their new dashboard is something even beginners could appreciate. The company has thrown out the ugly old cPanel and replaced it with a new, stylish, intuitive dashboard that is easy to follow and understand.
What makes Bluehost packages most appealing is the company’s reputation for affordability and usability. However, HostGator offers more hosting plans, even a website builder. In this comparison though, I look into the most basic and shared hosting plans offered by both companies that people use to get their websites started on the run.
Be aware that I’ve taken the price of their three-year plans. With both companies, the prices go up, especially with HostGator if you choose a monthly plan.
With Bluehost, you don’t have the comfort of choosing a monthly plan. Each price and plan you see are 12, 24, or 36-month plans. These are good in the long term.
HostGator’s shared hosting plans are cheaper, with introductory pricing starting at only $2.75/month if you choose to pay upfront for 36 months. This is where HostGator pulls two pricing tricks that are pretty standard in the industry. Even though Bluehost only accepts yearly payments, HostGator’s monthly payments become nearly four times more expensive at $10.95/month. Both companies’ cheapest plans come with a single domain name, one-click installations, unmetered bandwidth, unlimited storage. Basically, all of the core features you need for a complete website. There is also a money-back guarantee coming from both hosting companies, so you shouldn’t worry about wasting your time or money if you are unhappy.
But be aware of the extras!
For their basic plans, that’s about all they provide. All of the ‘extra’ stuff, like site backups, email hosting, SiteLock Monitoring, SEO tools, additional websites will all cost you extra when it’s time to checkout. Make sure you know what your website needs since most of these features are available via add-ons if you are a WordPress user.
There isn’t much difference here.
Both Bluehost and HostGator tick the box for providing their users with a knowledge center, live chat, and 24/7 phone support. For commonplace problems, like errors, downtime, or privacy concerns, these support channels can help out equally.
The last option is the fastest, connecting us to a service rep within about 15 seconds. Both companies have knowledgeable, well-trained, and friendly staff ready to help out.
Once again, we have a draw here!
Load speed is an indispensable asset that no business or website owner should ignore when it comes to comparing the value of a hosting provider. It affects two major points of your website:
- User experience,
- WordPress SEO rankings
According to some studies I have read from WPBeginner and Ahref, as little as one or two-second delay in your website speed can decrease your conversion rate by 7% to 14%. A 3-5 second delay can even cost you as much as 50% of your traffic. This can be catastrophic for your business or blog if you were to lose hundreds, even thousands of page visitors because you’ve chosen a slow hosting provider.
According to some tests in Gmetrix, Google Pagespeed Insights, and Pingdom Test tools, a fresh new website with Bluehost and HostGator runs pretty much the same. Around 1-3 seconds, depending on the location I have chosen to test my pages.
Testing my Site
When it comes, to test my site with some stronger domains with much bigger traffic, data transfer, and disk usage, things get a little slower. Times International, with its 50,000 monthly visitors was loading within 3-5.5 seconds with both providers.
Once you’ve reached a 10,000 visitor mark per month or your disk usage exceeds 1GB it is time to upgrade. If your site will be new and you don’t plan on bombing your blog posts or pages with high-resolution images, gifs, or videos, this shouldn’t be a problem. In my honest opinion, both Hostgator and Bluehost provide excellent service for small WordPress sites. However, Bluehost seems to be the winner here as it consistently loads below one second when testing multiple locations with Gmetrix.
The Cons of Bluehost and HostGator
When it comes to Bluehost, the only things I don’t like are the yearly pricing structures and their functionality. There is no chance to pay a monthly fee. Despite that, Bluehost is still the best choice for beginner designers, small blogs, or businesses.
Bluehost also charges extra for security.
HostGator’s control panel and site design are a little dated, which makes for a clunky user experience in my opinion.
With that in mind, there are few negatives, since both hosting companies help you take off with your website in minutes for a low price. In my opinion, Bluehost is a better option, whereas HostGator offers a little bit more. Unfortunately, this is a hosting comparison, therefore I personally would only use HostGator if I wanted to buy a separate site builder plan if you want to pay a little extra for a drag-and-drop site builder. (In my humble opinion, you can get the job done with WordPress.) But if you are comfortable using drag-and-drop, you can try Wix.
Final Remarks – What’s best for you?
Bluehost offers a slightly better value for money whereas HostGator is better for multiple product options and performance.
HostGator specializes in hosting small business websites with cheap hosting packages, WordPress cloud plans, great customer support, and speedy technology. Their 24/7 customer support via phone, live chat, and email is considered to be among the best. They’ve even got their own website builder, called Gator. But I will continue to recommend Bluehost, as it has better domain registration and website building mechanisms that make it a cheaper and better option, especially if you are using a CMS like WordPress.In conclusion, if you are an absolute beginner, Bluehost should be your choice. If you plan to use a different CMS and enjoy using a drag-and-drop system with full maintenance, HostGator should be your choice.
If you’re interested, there is also a complete tutorial and guide on starting your WordPress website with Bluehost to help you out.