Hostgator

Introduction

Most web hosting providers are essentially the same--they offer a place to store your files so they can be seen by other people on the Internet. And Hostgator is owned by EIG so it uses the same servers and support staff as its sister companies (Bluehost, iPage, NetFirms, Site5, etc.).

The only thing notable about Hostgator is their web-based, point-and-click tool for creating a web site. It's called Gator and its similar to online web site builders provided by Squarespace, Wix and Shopify.

Gator offers limited options for customization, but its easier to use than Wix or Squarespace.

If you just need an attractive web site with a few pages (about me, contact me, etc.), Gator can get the job done without much fuss.

There's also support for adding a basic blog and online store, but nothing too elaborate.

However, despite Hostgator's noteworthy features, users often complain about slow servers and inept tech support agents unable to provide solutions to common problems. What's more, Hostgator does not offer any online ticketing for support, you can only use web chat if you need help.

The true cost of low prices

Hostgator (and many other web hosts) entice new customers with really low prices. But after the initial invoice the price goes way up. Hostgator makes it pretty clear that the initial price is a discount--they list the regular price along side the new-customer price. Yet, many people are often blind-sided when the real price kicks in.

I suspect it's because many customers pre-pay for two or three years of service at a really attractive price and years later, when the renewal payment is due, there is some serious sticker shock.

So when you sign up for a web host, you should judge it on the regular price--not the sale price. The regular price should be something you're actually comfortable paying in the long term.

Unlimited web hosting

When customers write bad reviews for a web host, it is usually due to unexpected costs or lackluster service.

Common complaints for Hostgator (and other unlimited web hosts) are as follows:

  • My server is slow and I was told to upgrade to a more expensive package.

  • I was told that my site is receiving too much traffic and I need to upgrade to a more expensive package.

  • I was told that I have too many files (or the few files I uploaded are too big) so I need to upgrade to a more expensive package.

Using the term "unlimited web hosting" is easier than trying to explain to a novice the difference between megabytes and gigabytes (and how they relate to storage and bandwidth). But the term "unlimited web hosting" is ultimately meaningless.

Even if you read the fine print of your ToS (terms of service), there's really nothing that will stop your web host from kicking you off a service plan once you become unprofitable to them.

If you choose an unlimited web hosting plan from a company like Hostgator, all you can do is accept the fact that at some point you may be asked to upgrade to a more expensive package. Or, you can use a web hosting provider with clearly defined limitations. Some providers appeal to the tech savvy (e.g. LiquidWeb) while others use a more plain-English approach (e.g. WP Engine).

Conclusion

The Gator web builder is neat and very cheap, but I can't recommend Hostgator/EIG due to its many pissed off customers who often report poor quality service.

If you need a point and click web site builder...

Shopify has the easiest web builder, but it's also very limited and is only meant for building online stores (which it's very good at).

Wix and Squarespace also allow for the creation of online stores, but their ecommerce features are not as sophisticated as Shopify's (although they are surprisingly close).

If you just want conventional web hosting (for WordPress or whatever), SiteGround and LiquidWeb offer reliable service at affordable prices (they are not the cheapest, but they are not the most expensive either).