HostGator Review: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

I am back to writing again, hopefully for good this time, with a brand new shiny domain and a brand new shiny web hosting. I cannot pick out a best time to start this post talking about this new web host this time.

This time I am trying out HostGator for myself. Through the years since I started blogging (this is NOT my first post as a Lady Programmer), I have heard good and bad reviews. Perhaps, this time, it’s my turn to tell my experience with this webhost.

I have signed up for the Baby Plan, which is actually on a shared hosting. This allows me unlimited domains, unlimited disk space, unlimited bandwidth, unlimited email, unlimited MySQL databases and several other features. I think that plan should be sufficient enough for me to plant a series of small websites that will grow in traffic over time.

The Good

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The site is absolutely easy to use. The website backend uses CPanel, which is actually a very common platform used by so many webhosts, so anyone like me who were used to doing website on another webhost will certainly not get lost with the settings.

Another plus point of this webhost is that it is easy to find discount coupons around. I was able to save more or less $10 for this year’s hosting. That extra amount may be spent on addons or any additional features.

I like the presence of CloudFlare integration, as well as Google Apps for domain (not free). This certainly makes things easier to setup.

For less technical people but have extra dough to spend, there are various special offers that are within the webhost itself – for SEO, WordPress, site builder, ad credits and so forth.

You can choose to pay monthly hosting, pay every six months, pay annually, or even pay the entire thing spanning several years.

The Bad

Customer support is not really that terrific, but I cannot say that it is too terrible either. It is a good thing to see several means to contact them through their contact page. However, there’s a quite a long waiting for the customer service to get back on the line. They are there alright, and won’t run on you. Have that patience to spend half an hour or so waiting for the others who came ahead you to be served before your turn.

The Ugly

I was kind of disappointed that they have this extra step of verification. I was asked to submit a scanned copy of my ID and the credit card (I used a debit card) that was used for the transaction. First I was notified through email this step is necessary, and at the same time I was unable to get into the website control panel and surprisingly, even the Billing section. The billing section simply returned an error message – it should have been better if the error message indicated that I have to verify my account. Nevertheless, I don’t think the extra step of verification is necessary.

All in all I have waited for about three days. I was expecting to be verified within two days. Had I not make a call through Skype for follow up, the verification wait would have last longer.

Conclusion

My thoughts are divided for the HostGator. Simply put, they are an OK host for me – not too terrific, and not too shabby either. Consider these points.

HostGator is for you if:

  • You can manage things in the control panel without needing the technical support guys to do things for you or to walk you through the process. Or just do not have a technical friend to help you out.
  • You are willing to shell out extra money for additional offers such as SEO, WordPress themes, Backup features, ad credits, etc.
  • For the specific Baby plan that I took – the Baby Plan – the package is good for growing a small website, good until traffic grows for me to decide to move on to an upgraded plan.
  • You simply prefer a webhost that has proven itself to last long in the industry.
  • You like to use coupons to save on the hosting price. HostGator has them.

HostGator is not for you if:

  • You prefer technical support to do things for you most of the time. Well, they do things for you, really, but it just takes a while to connect through them in any way possible.
  • For the specific Baby plan that I took – If you have an existing site which has a significant amount of traffic, this is certainly not the plan to use. You know that you will just be getting the site suspended if you have that much traffic for just a small plan, right?
  • You are adventurous; you think HostGator’s shared plans are congested and is willing to take a risk on lesser established web hosts – not a bad idea either. However, consider this – a famous webhost such as HostGator can also invest more on new hardware to accommodate more customers, while smaller startup webhosts may also struggle getting new hardware with smaller customer base – so these smaller web hosts can just try to fit their customers on their web servers to avoid investing on new hardware. Therefore, I personally think that both ways don’t guarantee a better uptime.