PROS / HostGator offers a 45-day money back guarantee, which is longer than the standard 30-day guarantee offered by most companies.
CONS / It's the only web host on our lineup that does not offer a free domain.
VERDICT / HostGator lacks some control panel tools and security features. Although, you can add on several tools that makes this host more flexible.
HostGator is one of the most recognizable and popular website hosting companies. It excels in hosting flexibility by providing three different plans under a shared server umbrella. While its web hosting packages are slightly more expensive than those of its competitors, even its starter plans offer a good selection of features.
We reviewed the basic Hatchling plan. While all of the other web hosting services cover the costs of registering your domain for the first year, HostGator does not. However, outside of the monthly hosting rate, the domain registration fee is the only other fee you'll pay, something to be aware of when setting up an account.
You don't have to worry about spam because HostGator includes SpamAssassin in each of its packages, a spam-protection program that filters unwanted junk emails. This shared host does not offer a dedicated IP or private SSL at this level but does provide a shared SSL. This is a lower form of protection but still encrypts private information like credit card transactions if you have a shopping cart on your site.
The control panel gives you the option to make an instant backup of your entire cPanel account. After you back it up, the program provides you with a link to download the backup and restore your account on HostGator's servers. The Hatchling plan allows you to use the OpenSSH Protocol to make it easier to develop and debug files.
Control Panel Tools
Overall, we are impressed with HostGator's feature set, which includes some advanced features like custom cron jobs and error pages. However, the service lacks a script library. While these features aren't essential to web hosts, they are convenient and give advanced users more hands-on control of their sites.
We found that the website builder and cPanel were fairly easy to use. We awarded it an 80 percent ease of use score. It includes over 100 mobile-friendly templates and an image library you can use to design your websites.
HostGator is compatible with WordPress, giving you a familiar interface and web builder you can use. It also allows for a smoother transition when moving from one web host to another. Like most of the other web hosting companies we evaluated, you can transfer your domain from one web host to another for free. However, you have to pay to register your domain.
In order to promote your website, HostGator offers $200 in advertising credits ($100 goes toward Google AdWords and $100 to Yahoo/Bing), which is pretty standard for the industry. The Hatchling plan provides several shopping cart and eCommerce features. You can install osCommerce and ZenCart to your website.
Help & Support
HostGator is relatively easy to use, though you will need to invest some time learning the dashboard. Not all of its features are intuitive. It's similar with the service's customer support; it's good, but there is definite room for improvement.
On the HostGator website, you can read the FAQs, browse through user forums and view video tutorials. You can also contact the company for technical support via email, live chat or through its toll-free line. The website also hosts links to the company's Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube profiles.
While we think the company expertly strikes a balance between good help documentation and effective contact methods, it would benefit from faster response times. We frequently waited over 30 minutes for them to respond to our live chat requests. However, when we did finally speak to a technical support rep, we found the team member to be helpful in answering our questions.
HostGator is a flexible and feature-rich website hosting company. The control panel is not as intuitive as those of other services nor does the customer support stand out. However, aside from these two drawbacks, it's still a solid service for a complete hosting bundle. It caters to those who are new to owning a domain and those migrating their sites over to a new host.