Picking the right hosting solution for your WordPress site is crucial to your online success. To ensure you make the right choice for your site, you’ll want to take the time to evaluate different providers’ performance, speed, security, and reliability, among other factors.
With over 330,000 web hosting providers worldwide, however, it’s impossible to compare each one. To help you narrow down your selection, we’ll evaluate two of the more popular WordPress hosting companies: SiteGround and HostGator.
Both SiteGround and HostGator can provide the uptime, server speed, and security features you need to run a fast and reliable site — but they offer slightly different services to do so.
In this post, we'll explore the following major differences between these hosting providers so you can decide which is best for you and your site’s goals:
SiteGround vs. HostGator
SiteGround is a popular hosting provider that offers a wide variety of hosting plans, including shared hosting, cloud hosting, and managed WordPress hosting. Founded in 2004, it now hosts over two million sites. HostGator is another versatile host that is best known for its affordable cloud hosting packages. Founded in 2002, it now hosts over 9 million sites, making it one of the largest hosting companies in the world.
While both these companies offer a variety of different hosting types and packages that suit most website owners, they are particularly popular among the WordPress community. Each offers WordPress-specific plans with resources that scale up at each price point.
Below we’ll take a closer look at the differences between these two hosting solutions for WordPress.
SiteGround vs. HostGator for WordPress
Officially recommended by WordPress.org, SiteGround offers three managed WordPress plans, all of which include one-click WordPress installation, automated migrations, automatic updates, advanced caching, and expert support. HostGator also offers three managed hosting plans for WordPress that come with one-click WordPress installation, free migrations, unmetered bandwidth, and a 99.9% uptime guarantee.
Both SiteGround's and HostGator's WordPress plans are cloud-based. That means each hosting platform relies on a network of virtual servers rather than a single physical server
Because the resources required for maintaining your website are spread across more than one server, cloud hosting greatly reduces the chance of your site experiencing downtimes. If any of the servers in the cloud goes offline, is hacked, or experiences technical difficulties, another will temporarily serve as a back-up to render the required resources. Similarly, cloud hosting enables your site to handle traffic surges since another server can provide additional resources during peak traffic.
It’s important to note that HostGator offers unmanaged cloud web hosting plans as well. However, these aren’t specifically optimized for WordPress and require site owners to take care of the day-to-day management of hardware, software, and security. For that reason, we’ll limit our focus to HostGator’s WordPress managed cloud hosting plans in this post.
To help you decide which hosting solution is right for your WordPress site, we’ll compare the key features of SiteGround’s managed hosting plans with HostGator’s managed cloud hosting plans below. Let's start by comparing the server locations of each.
A web host is essentially a company that stores your website's files on its servers and delivers them to your visitors' browsers. Depending on the web host and plan you sign up for, these files will either reside on a physical server somewhere in the world, a virtual server in the cloud, or a combination of both. Most hosting companies today — including SiteGround and HostGator — offer the latter, otherwise known as a hybrid server.
If a hosting company uses physical servers at all, it's good to know their locations (often referred to as "data center locations"). Though its only one factor among many, server location can affect how fast the company can deliver your website's files to your visitors's browsers — or how fast your site loads, in other words.
As a general rule of thumb, you want to choose company with at least one server located in the same country as most of your target audience.
Since SiteGround and HostGator both use a hybrid model, let's look at the data center locations of each.
SiteGround Server Locations
SiteGround uses six data center locations in total. These are as follows:
- Iowa, USA
- London, UK
- Eemshaven, Netherlands
- Frankfurt, DE
- Sydney, AU
- Singapore, Singapore
In addition to these physical servers, SiteGround partnered with Google Cloud in early 2020 to power part of its infrastructure, including its managed WordPress hosting plans. This distributed storage enables SiteGround to provides its WordPress customers with built-in redundancy and faster load times.
SiteGround also partners with CloudFlare, a Content Delivery Network (CDN) provider with an additional 194 data center locations worldwide.
HostGator Server Locations
HostGator uses the following data center locations:
- Provo, Utah
- Houston, Texas
If the majority of your users are outside of the US, then you might need more options. In that case, you'd need to purchase a CDN separately.
The speed of your site matters. Not only does Google use load times as a ranking factor for search — but today’s online consumers demand fast load times. In fact, 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in two seconds or less.
To help ensure your site is optimized for both visitors and search engines, you need a high-speed hosting provider. Both SiteGround and HostGator can optimize your site’s load time, but take different approaches to do so. Let’s take a closer look at these approaches below.
Recognizing the importance of speed, SiteGround developed its own powerful caching solution called SuperCacher. This solution offers three caching options for temporarily storing the contents of a web page in locations closer to visitors so that it can be retrieved more effectively and reduce your site’s load time. While SiteGround’s StartUp plan only comes with the first level of caching, the higher-tiered plans include all three levels.
As mentioned above, SiteGround also partners with CloudFlare to offer its CDN service at every tier of its WordPress hosting plans. This CDN caches web page content, auto-minifies images, blocks malicious traffic, reduces span, and more to improve load time.
Because of its built-in caching solution and CDN, SiteGround is able to deliver above-average load times. According to an analysis by Hosting Facts, SiteGround delivered average page speeds at 681ms, which places it among the top ten fastest providers in the industry.
In addition to the multiple caching layers included in the WordPress managed cloud hosting plans, HostGator’s low-density servers and premium hardware ensure superior load times on your site. According to a 24-month analysis by Hosting Facts, HostGator delivered average page speeds at 412ms, which places it among the top five fastest providers in the industry.
Let's start by comparing the costs of these two solutions. Both SiteGround and HostGator offer three WordPress hosting packages with resources that scale up at each price point. We’ll begin by looking at SiteGround’s plans.
SiteGround’s managed hosting plans begin at $3.95 per month, making it more affordable for new users than HostGator’s, which begin at $5.95 per month.
However, it’s important to note that these rates only apply to the initial term that you sign up for. Once that term is over, you’ll have to pay the regular rates to renew. Without the discount, SiteGround’s plans are slightly more expensive than HostGator’s. Its second-tier plan, for example, is four dollars more a month than HostGator’s.
Below you can see SiteGround’s pricing, with its regular rates listed below the special intro price.
Below are HostGator’s intro rates, which only apply to the initial term that you sign up for. Once that term is over, the monthly rates for each plan are $9.95, $15.95, and $22.95.
When comparing these two charts at a glance, you’ll notice that SiteGround can support a much greater number of sites than HostGator. This makes it an appealing option for larger businesses operating multiple sites. On the other hand, HostGator can support a much higher volume of monthly visitors, making it an appealing option for news organizations and other types of sites that expect heavy surges in traffic.
Both hosting providers include SSL certification with their WordPress plans (although it’s only indicated in HostGator’s screenshot above). Because an SSL certificate improves the security of your site by encrypting sensitive information and communications, it’s an important feature to consider when shopping for a hosting service.
A final observation from comparing the screenshots above is that HostGator includes a free domain for the first year when users sign up for an annual plan. SiteGround does not include free domain name registration.
Let’s look at the other features that set these two hosting solutions apart.
While there are security features built directly into the WordPress core software, it’s crucial that the web server hosting the software is also secure. According to research from WP White Security, 41% of hacked WordPress sites were attacked through a security vulnerability on their hosting platform.
That’s why you’ll want to select a host that provides automatic backups, WordPress updates, and other advanced security configurations to protect your site. Let’s look at the security features that SiteGround and HostGator offer below.
In addition to a free SSL certificate, SiteGround’s WordPress hosting plans include a suite of security tools and applications that will help keep your site safe.
SiteGround regularly monitors the WordPress application for any security vulnerabilities. When it spots one, the hosting company releases custom security patches instead of waiting for an official fix from WordPress developers. That means the server hosting your site won’t be at risk while waiting. When a major cybersecurity flaw that left many WordPress sites vulnerable was announced in 2014, for example, SiteGround patched up its servers in less than 24 hours.
SiteGround’s managed hosting plans also include SpamExperts, an advanced anti-spam email filter that scans and filters your incoming email for spam, viruses, phishing, and other email-related attacks by botnets and spammers with 99.98% accuracy. With this security feature, you can create professional email addresses with your website domain and protect them against spam at no extra cost.
Since outdated software and plugins are the most commonly exploited vulnerabilities on WordPress, it is essential to ensure your software and plugins are up to date. Often, this important responsibility falls to site owners to remember and manage. With SiteGround’s managed hosting plans however, you can use the WordPress Autoupdate Manager to schedule automatic updates of your WordPress software and plugins.
Your site will be automatically backed up before any updates are applied so that you can roll back to an earlier version if necessary. However, restoring a website backup is only free for users enrolled in the highest-tier plan. Those on the StartUp or GrowBig plans have to pay to restore a website backup.
HostGator’s WordPress hosting plans include SiteLock, a website security software that helps protect your WordPress site. SiteLock's daily firewall and vulnerability scans help prevent hacks, automated attacks, and any other harmful traffic from entering your site. Its automatic malware removal will help you protect your online reputation by automatically scanning and removing any malicious software or code it detects on your site.
HostGator’s plans also include CodeGuard, an automatic website backup service that will protect the data stored on your site from viruses, hackers, and other threats. Say a malicious attacker wipes all your site files or corrupts these files with buggy scripts, then you can simply restore your site backup. While you are limited to three restores per month, they are free with HostGator — no matter what plan you’re enrolled in.
You’ll also want to consider how much storage space your site will need when selecting a hosting solution. To help you decide, think about the purpose of your site. While blogs and personal websites that mostly consist of posts and photos won’t require much space, portfolio and WooCommerce sites that feature dynamic content, product pages, and high-quality images will need much more.
When looking at the different amounts of storage space that SiteGround and HostGator offer in their WordPress hosting plans, keep in mind your site’s unique needs.
SiteGround’s storage space offerings might seem limited when compared to competitors like HostGator, but these amounts will likely suit most site owners. Its StartUp plan includes 10GB of storage space and increases by 10GB for subsequent tiers. According to a study by Kinsta, site owners only used 1GB of data when running a single WordPress installation for four or more years.
There are exceptions of course. If you have a large or media-rich site, then you may want to consider another host.
Unlike SiteGround, HostGator has no set limits on the disk space your site uses. Across all three of its WordPress hosting plans, storage is unmetered. That means that HostGator will not bill you according to the amount of storage you use.
The hosting platform can, however, suspend your account if your site exceeds “fair use.” While HostGator does not specify what constitutes fair use, it does say that any site using too many server resources will be temporarily disabled. You’ll be notified immediately via email and given an opportunity to reduce your usage or move to a dedicated server.
For this reason, site owners looking to establish a medium-to-high traffic site might need another hosting solution.
Any period of downtime on your site can negatively impact the visitor experience and your bottom line. For example, when Nextflix’s site and streaming apps went down worldwide in June 2018, it lost an estimated $1.2 million in revenue.
To avoid downtimes that disrupt the visitor experience and cost you potential customers, you’ll want to choose a hosting provider that guarantees as much uptime as possible. Let’s compare the average uptimes of SiteGround and HostGator below.
Both SiteGround and HostGator guarantee 99.9% uptime. In Pingdom tests conducted by Inline Host Blogger, SiteGround had a slight edge over HostGator, delivering 99.97% uptime on a test site over 30 days. HostGator delivered 99.92% uptime.
Because the difference in these percentages may seem marginal, let’s look at the difference in minutes that these two sites were offline. While the test site hosted on SiteGround experienced four outages which resulted in 12 minutes of downtime, the site on HostGator experienced 13 which resulted in 31 minutes of downtime.
While SiteGround guarantees an annual uptime of 99.9% in their Service Level Agreement and will compensate you with free months of hosting if it ever dips below that threshold, HostGator makes no such promises. If they don’t meet an uptime of 99.9%, you must contact the billing department to ask for compensation and they’re not obligated to give you any.
Below you can take a look at the different wording of each host’s Terms of Service, as noted in an article by Bitcatcha.
Since WordPress is an open-source content management system, it does not offer dedicated customer support. That’s why a hosting provider that provides expert support can be a huge advantage, particularly for first-time site owners. Let’s check out the customer service offered by SiteGround and HostGator below.
SiteGround Customer Service
SiteGround offers support 24/7 via live chat and phone. According to their site, chat representatives are able to resolve over 90% of customer inquiries. For more complex issues, you have the option to call a customer support rep or submit a ticket. You can expect a reply to your ticket within 15 minutes and a solution within a single reply, on average.
HostGator Customer Service
Like SiteGround, HostGator also offers support 24/7 via live chat and phone.
According to several reviews, live chat is an incredibly fast support channel. For example, in an article for PC Mag, managing editor Jeffrey L. Wilson wrote that he waited less than two minutes to hear back from a live chat representative.
If your issue can't be resolved over chat or on the phone, then your support rep will submit a ticket.
The Key Differences Between SiteGround and HostGator
Both SiteGround and HostGator are excellent choices to host your site on WordPress.org.
To help you decide which one is right for your business, we’ve summarized the key differences between the two hosting solutions below.
|Server Locations||Six server locations worldwide. CloudFlare's CDN service is also included in its WordPress hosting plans, which means your content is routed through its network of 194 locations.||Only two server locations in the United States.|
|Load Time||Average of 681ms||Average of 412 ms|
|Price||Starts at $3.95/month for new users. After the initial term is over, regular rates apply and start at $11.95/month.||Starts at $5.95/month for new users. After the initial term is over, regular rates apply and start at $9.95/month.|
|Domain||Does not include free domain name registration. You can purchase one when signing up for a plan. Prices start at $15.95/year.||Includes free domain name registration if you sign up for a 12, 24, or 36-month plan. Only free for the first year.|
|SSL Certificate||Included free with all plans.||Included free with all plans.|
|Security||Includes security audit procedures of the WordPress application, firewalls, custom security patches, SPAM Experts email protection, and daily automatic backups.||Includes automatic malware removal, firewall and vulnerability scans, and daily automatic backups.|
|Storage||10GB, 20GB, and 30GB of SSD storage, according to the three tiers of WordPress plans.||Unmetered SSD storage across all three plans.|
|Uptime||99.99% monthly uptime guarantee||99.9% uptime|
|Customer Service||24/7 support via chat and phone||24/7 support via chat, phone, and Twitter|
Originally published Nov 18, 2020 7:00:00 AM, updated November 18 2020