The right web hosting solution is crucial to a successful online business. While the primary function of a host is giving your website a place on the web, the quality of your hosting affects your website’s performance, reliability, and security.
Alongside competitive pricing and high standards for the traits listed above, hosting providers nowadays offer a variety of additional benefits to attract users. This leaves a lot to consider when choosing the best host for your online business.
You’ve likely come across two big names in the hosting game: Bluehost and HostGator. The two are similar in many ways. They both provide comparable services, and both are acclaimed for their speed and reliability.
But, there are some notable differences between these providers. In this post, we’ll compare Bluehost and HostGator so you can determine which one might make the best home for your website.
Bluehost vs. HostGator
Bluehost is a popular hosting provider known for its WordPress hosting, ease of use with other open-source CMS platforms, and its range of hosting plans for businesses with different needs and budgets. HostGator is another versatile, well-known hosting service best known for its affordable, scalable packages and comparable pricing to Bluehost.
To help you decide which hosting solution is right for your site, we’ll discuss key features of both services below.
Pricing and Plans
Let’s start by looking at overall pricing between Bluehost and HostGator. Hosting is a recurring expense, so small price differences between plans add up. Still, it’s important to ensure you’re getting all the features you need.
Both providers offer plans for different levels of hosting, from shared hosting for small sites to dedicated hosting for larger organizations. Pay special attention to contract lengths when signing up — just as important as the monthly prices is the time you’re required to pay, including any future price increase.
Bluehost offers shared, managed, VPS, and dedicated hosting. Plans range from $2.95 to $119.99 per month. Note that these promotional prices (in blue) only apply to your first term of enrollment. After that, the regular rates (in gray) will start.
Bluehost’s low prices typically require a multi-year contract. If you’re confident in the service, this will be a low-risk and cost-effective choice. Bluehost also offers a 30-day trial for their plans, so you can opt out if dissatisfied.
Another great perk of all Bluehost plans is their free domain name offer. After paying the domain registration fee, you can keep the name for a year, after which you can renew for the regular price.
Bluehost Shared Hosting
Bluehost is known for its especially cheap shared hosting plans, which are great for small blogs and businesses. Prices range from their cheapest plan at $2.95 per month to the highest shared tier at 13.95 per month. As the price increases, Bluehost adds security features, stricter access permissions, a content delivery network for increased page speed, and higher limits on most features.
Bluehost Managed Hosting
Bluehost’s managed hosting for WordPress websites, referred to as its WP Pro packages, will optimize your site’s security, speed, performance, and updates for you. There are three different managed hosting plans with resources that scale up at each price point. The respective plans are $19.95, $29.95, and $49.95 per month.
All WP Pro plans include a free standard SSL certificate, daily automated backups, and analytics through the Jetpack plugin.
Bluehost VPS Hosting
Websites with the need for more server space can opt for Bluehost’s VPS Hosting options, which range from $18.99 to $69.99 per month. Each level increases your allotted RAM and bandwidth, and optional (but recommended) security add-ons are available for all plans.
Bluehost Dedicated Hosting
The largest online business will prefer dedicated hosting plans from $79.99 to $119.99 per month. This powerful, secure option will exceed the needs of most smaller businesses, but you’ll always have this option if you grow large enough.
HostGator offers the same types of plans as Bluehost, with the additional “cloud hosting” option, and requires a multi-year term to benefit from their low prices. Their trial period is 45 days (as opposed to Bluehost’s 30 days), but only applies to shared or VPS hosting plans. HostGator also offers a free domain for the first year when users sign up for an annual plan.
Like with Bluehost, be aware of the discounted intro rates in your first term. The cost increases afterward will depend on the plan you choose.
One great feature of any HostGator plan is its unmetered storage, which means you won’t be billed according to the amount of storage you use. However, HostGator will notify you if you exceed what they deem to be fair use of storage. Sites with high traffic will need to increase their plan to avoid this caveat.
HostGator Shared Hosting
HostGator’s shared hosting plans are priced $2.75 to $5.75 per month, cheaper than Bluehost’s shared hosting. However, note there are fewer features than the higher-tier Bluehost shared plans — you get what you pay for.
HostGator Cloud Hosting
Cloud hosting is a slight step up from HostGator’s shared plans. With this option, you get increased site performance and reliability, as well as real-time metrics on uptime, visitor info, and resource usage. Plans start at $4.95 per month.
HostGator Managed Hosting
HostGator also competes in the managed WordPress hosting space, though these plans are more basic, and much cheaper, than Bluehost’s WP Pro options — the most expensive plan is only $9.95 per month in your first term. If you’re looking for the cheapest managed WordPress hosting and are willing to skip out on more advanced features, this is your option.
HostGator VPS Hosting
HostGator’s VPS plans are comparable to Bluehost’s in pricing and features. The exception here is HostGator’s most expensive VPS plan, which is considerably cheaper than Bluehost’s highest VPS option, but less feature-rich.
HostGator Dedicated Hosting
When comparing prices to Bluehost for dedicated hosting, consider how quickly your business and website are scaling. If you’re growing fast, HostGator’s unlimited bandwidth and higher RAM might be better suited for your needs.
Whether it’s your first time building in WordPress or you’re moving from an old host to a new one, consider whether your host specifically accommodates for a WordPress-powered website.
Both HostGator and Bluehost have managed WordPress hosting, meaning their server configurations are tailored specifically to WordPress core and optimized to make your site run as smoothly as possible. However, there are differences between their WordPress integrations.
Bluehost Integration With WordPress
WordPress integration is one category where Bluehost has the clear advantage — Bluehost is the WordPress hosting platform. Even WordPress itself recommends it.
Since Bluehost is built with WordPress in mind, WordPress users can take advantage of the many integration tools between their host and CMS. These features include an easy setup process, WordPress-specific support, automated WordPress updates. Bluehost will even install WordPress on your domain for you if you’re just setting up your site.
Once installed, easily access the Bluehost menu from your WordPress dashboard.
However, if you’re looking to move your website from another host to Bluehost, you’ll either need to transfer it yourself or pay the $149 fee that Bluehost charges for its migration service. Since HostGator includes complimentary migration services, this is a factor to consider if you want to preserve your existing website.
HostGator Integration With WordPress
Not to be outshined, HostGator also offers hosting plans specialized for WordPress. For new WordPress websites, they include a setup wizard to help you install and configure your CMS on their servers. While more involved than Bluehost’s WordPress setup, this process is still intuitive. For existing websites, HostGator has a leg up on Bluehost with its free migration service.
Even so, HostGator lacks many of the WordPress integration features that Bluehost offers — consider this inconvenience if you run a WordPress site.
Cybersecurity is one of the most important investments you should make for your website. Your host should, at the very least, maintain a solid reputation for security and include options security monitoring and spam protection. HostGator and Bluehost check both of these boxes.
Hosts tend to be secretive about their specific security measures so as to not reveal gaps in their systems, but we can still review the security offerings from these two providers.
All Bluehost plans include a free standard SSL certificate to protect visitors when connecting to your website. SSL encryption is a must for your website, since many browsers will warn visitors when they’re about to enter a non-SSL-protected site, and Google considers SSL encryption in its rankings.
Bluehost states that their servers are secure and equipped to detect and handle intrusions to keep your data safe. Their service also integrates with Cloudflare, a digital security and performance company, to handle additional security features on your website like spam protection and firewalls.
Pricier Bluehost plans add on automatic backups and restoration through CodeGuard Basic (though you can also manually back up your Bluehost site whenever you want), and you can purchase the SiteLock add-on for performing malware scans to catch spam, harmful code, and potential vulnerabilities in your site.
HostGator highlights the protective measures implemented in their servers to protect from DDoS attacks, a common type of hack in which multiple hostile servers send large amounts of traffic to a hosting server causing it to crash. HostGator counters DDoS attacks with a sophisticated custom firewall and quick reactive measures to these hacking attempts.
Like Bluehost, HostGator offers a free standard SSL certificate to all customers and offers the paid add-ons SiteLock and CodeGuard for backups and malware scanning. HostGator additionally runs automatic weekly backups free of charge, and you can always back up your site yourself at any time.
Load Time and Uptime
When it comes to page speed and uptime (how often your website is available online), tiny differences can have a big impact on your business. Page performance is a key Google ranking factor for search, and most visitors expect your pages to load in seconds.
Page speed doesn’t matter much when your website is down. Any reputable hosting provider will market an average uptime percentage very close to 100%, since any downtime will hurt your reputation and disappoint visitors. Downtime generally decreases on higher-tier plans, but even the cheapest plans should be online at least 99.95% of the time.
To measure up to other websites, your hosting provider needs to provide fast and reliable delivery of your web pages. How do Bluehost and HostGator compare?
Bluehost Load Time and Uptime
Bluehost’s load time has consistently ranked among the fastest and most reliable providers in the industry.
A recent analysis by Hosting Facts tracked the page performance and uptime of a website using Bluehost’s cheapest plan, the “Basic” shared hosting plan. They found that the average load speed clocked in at around 400 ms. What’s more, the Bluehost test site hovered around a near-perfect 99.99% monthly uptime over the course of two years, an excellent result when considering 100% uptime is impossible.
Note that websites on higher Bluehost plans might experience even less downtime and faster speeds with CloudFlare’s content delivery network integration.
HostGator Load Time and Uptime
HostGator claims exceptionally fast loading speed thanks to their content delivery networks and low-density servers. Loading times on HostGator websites have proven comparable to, and sometimes faster than, Bluehost websites. A review by ThemeIsle recently found that loading times averaged under a second.
HostGator also boasts uptime rates as high as Bluehost. It reports an average of 99.99% uptime in recent years, and even guarantees one month of credit on your hosting account if your site’s uptime drops below 99.9%. The downside is that you need to request this compensation from HostGator’s billing department, and you might not receive it in certain cases.
Both Bluehost and HostGator continue to set high standards for the rest of the industry when it comes to site performance and reliability, so you can’t go wrong with either of these services in this factor.
The Key Differences Between Bluehost and WordPress
HostGator and Bluehost both provide excellent, well-received hosting solutions for websites of all sizes and specialties. To help you choose which is right for your online business, we’ve summarized the key differences between them:
|Pricing and Plans||shared, managed, VPS, and dedicated hosting plans from $2.95 to $119.99 per month||shared, managed, cloud, VPS, and dedicated hosting plans from $2.75 to $139.99 per month|
|WordPress Integration||excellent WordPress integration, $149 migration fee||good WordPress integration, free migration|
|Security||Free standard SSL certificate, security handles by Cloudflare, CodeGuard and SiteLock add-ons available||Free standard SSL certificate, custom firewall for DDoS protection, SiteLock and CodeGuard add-ons available|
|Load Time and Uptime||~99.99% uptime, ~400 ms page load speed||~99.99% uptime (with 99.9% uptime guarantee), 400-700 ms page load speed|