One of the first and most important decisions you have to make when starting a website is which hosting provider to go with. And we get it, there are a lot! How are you supposed to determine which one is the best?
For individuals and small businesses, there are a few main hosting providers associated with the kind of affordable, simple web hosting services that make the most sense. To help you understand how your options stack up against one another, this is one part of an ongoing series on how the top small business web hosting providers compare.
In this installment, we look at: HostGator vs Bluehost. Here’s how they’re different in a few of the main categories that matter most to new website owners.
HostGator vs Bluehost on Hosting Plan Options
Every web hosting provider offers an array of different plan types. Understanding what your plan options are is important to making sure you get as much web hosting space and bandwidth as you need, without overpaying for more than your website requires.
Knowing the different options included under one provider is valuable, because your website needs may well grow in years to come. Upgrading to a new plan with your initial provider will be easier than switching to a new company at that point.
While there’s some overlap in the kinds of plans offered by HostGator and Bluehost, the list of options isn’t the same.
HostGator’s Web Hosting Plans
HostGator offers six different types of web hosting services, with three plan levels available for each. The categories included are:
- Shared Web Hosting – For new website owners shared hosting services are usually the best place to start. HostGator offers three different plans at this level:
- Hatchling – The simplest, most affordable plan on the roster. The Hatchling is a good choice for new website owners with a limited budget and simple needs. Even so, it offers some of the most important basics, such as a free domain, SSL certificate, and unmetered bandwidth.
- Baby – Another simple, affordable shared web hosting plan. The baby plan is similar to the Hatchling, but allows for unlimited domains, instead of only one.
- Business – For small professional websites, the business plan provides the affordability of shared hosting, with the addition of key business features like a dedicated IP and a positive SSL.
- Cloud Web Hosting – Cloud hosting services allow for more flexibility and useful analytics to better manage your site. HostGator offers several cloud hosting options, that line up pretty similarly to their shared hosting options:
- Hatchling – For smaller, newer websites that want the flexibility of a cloud plan but don’t expect that much traffic, Hatchling plans come with 2GB memory, 2 cores CPU and the ability to support one domain.
- Baby – Baby is a step up from Hatchling to unlimited domains, 4 GB, and 4 cores CPU.
- Business – And business goes up to 6 GB and 6 cores CPU, and includes a positive SSL and dedicated IP.
- WordPress Hosting – Many of the world’s websites run on WordPress, and web hosting plans that specialize in WordPress ensure proper compatibility. HostGator has three levels of WordPress hosting plans:
- Starter – Supports one site and is good for up to 100k visits a month and 1GB backups.
- Standard – Supports up to two sites, 200k visits a month, and 2GB backups.
- Business – Steps it up to three sites, 500k visits a month, and 3 GB backup.
- VPS Hosting – Virtual private server (VPS) hosting is a step up from shared hosting. While you still only rent part of the web server your website is hosted on, you lay claim to a larger portion of it, and your section is partitioned off from the rest so your website is unaffected by other sites on the server. HostGator offers three VPS plans:
- Snappy 2000 – Comes with 2 GB RAM, 2 cores CPU, and 1.5 TB bandwidth.
- Snappy 4000 – Offers 4 GB RAM, 2 cores CPU, and 2 TB bandwidth.
- Snappy 8000 – Scales up to 8 GB RAM, 4 cores CPU, and 3 TB bandwidth
- Dedicated Server Hosting – For bigger websites and those that expect high traffic numbers, dedicated hosting plans ensure you get all the space you need for your website. HostGator offers three levels of dedicated hosting plans:
- Value server – You get a server with 4 core, 8 thread, and 8 GB RAM
- Power server – This server has 8 core, 16 thread, and 16 GB RAM
- Enterprise server – The highest-level plan has a server with 8 core, 16 thread, and 30 GB RAM
- Reseller Hosting – For businesses that intend to offer web hosting to their clients, HostGator also has three levels of plans for resellers:
- Aluminum – Comes with 60 GB of space and 600 GB bandwidth
- Copper – 90 GB space and 900 GB bandwidth
- Silver – 140 GB space and 1400 GB bandwidth
With so many options, HostGator’s plans will easily match the needs of most website owners. And they provide plenty of room to grow with you if your needs change in years to come.
Bluehost’s Web Hosting Plans
Bluehost offers plans in some of the same categories as HostGator, as well as a couple of others focused on different types of WordPress sites. Here’s a rundown of their plans:
- Shared hosting – Bluehost also offers affordable shared hosting plans for smaller websites. They have four options at the shared plan level:
- Basic – Supports one website, one domain, and provides 5GB of storage space
- Plus – Has no limit on the number of websites and domains and adds access to their SpamExperts feature
- Choice Plus – Offers everything the other shared plans have, plus domain privacy and backups
- Pro – Has everything in the other plans, plus a dedicated IP address
- VPS hosting – Bluehost has three VPS plans:
- Standard – Includes 2 cores, 2 GB RAM, and 1 TB bandwidth
- Enhanced – Offers 2 cores, 4 GB RAM, and 2 TB bandwidth
- Ultimate – Comes with 4 cores, 8 GB RAM, and 3 TB bandwidth
- Dedicated hosting – Like HostGator, Bluehost also has three dedicated hosting plans:
- Standard – Offers 4 cores, 4 GB RAM, and 5 TB bandwidth
- Enhanced – Has 4 cores, 8 GB RAM, and 10 TB bandwidth
- Premium – 4 cores, 16 GB RAM, and 15 TB bandwidth
- Shared WordPress hosting – Three of the categories of hosting Bluehost provides are focused on WordPress. Their first level of WordPress hosting is shared WordPress hosting, which they have three plans for:
- Basic – Supports one website and 50 GB of storage
- Plus – Supports unlimited websites with unmetered storage
- Choice Plus – Offers unlimited websites, unmetered storage, and adds in backups
- Managed WordPress hosting – Their managed WordPress plans provide more resources for building and managing your WordPress site.
- Build – Comes with a basic Jetpack plan, marketing center, free WordPress themes, daily backups, virus detection, and domain privacy
- Grow – Comes with everything in Build, plus Jetpack premium, SEO tools, and 10 GB video compression
- Scale – Includes everything in the other managed plans, plus Jetpack Pro, unlimited backups, unlimited video compression, and chat support
- WooCommerce hosting – For ecommerce websites built on WordPress using WooCommerce, Bluehost has three plan levels:
- Starter – Allows for one online store, 100 GB storage, and includes domain privacy
- Plus – Supports unlimited online stores, unmetered storage, and domain privacy and backups
- Pro – Offers everything Plus does, as well as SEO tools
Like HostGator, Bluehost has a lot of different plan options. But the types of plans and the features that are included differ.
HostGator vs Bluehost: How Do They Compare on Web Hosting Costs?
HostGator and Bluehost are both web hosting providers with a reputation for being affordable. For anyone starting a website on a budget, they both have a number of low-cost plans available. But for anyone with limited funds, seemingly small differences in price can make a big difference—especially for a recurring cost like web hosting.
The price of Bluehost and HostGator web hosting varies based on the type of plan you buy, and any extras you decide to invest in. While most of their pricing is pretty similar, there are enough differences for those who are especially price conscious to take note.
While you can find detailed pricing info for every plan type on each of the web hosting company’s websites, we’ve provided a comparison overview for the main plan types below.
A Simplified Comparison by Plan Type:
For shared website hosting plans:
- HostGator’s pricing starts at $2.75 for the basic plan, and goes up to $5.95 for the business plan.
- Bluehost’s rates start at $3.95 and go up to $5.95.
For WordPress hosting plans:
- HostGator’s WordPress plans start at $5.95 a month, and go up to $9.95.
- Bluehost’s WordPress hosting starts at $3.95 a month for a shared plan, and their fully managed plans go up to $49.95 a month.
For VPS web hosting plans:
- HostGator’s VPS plans start at $29.95 a month and go up to $49.95 a month.
- Bluehost’s plans start at $19.99 a month and go up to $59.99 a month.
For dedicated hosting plans:
- HostGator’s dedicated hosting starts at $119 a month and goes up to $149 a month.
- Bluehost’s dedicated hosting starts at $79.99 a month and goes up to $119 a month.
As you can see, there’s no pat answer to which of the two wins on price. It all depends on what you need and what plan you choose.
Both companies do have a money-back guarantee policy, so you can try them for a certain amount of time before fully committing. For Bluehost, it’s 30 days. With HostGator, you have 45.
HostGator vs Bluehost on Hosting Features and Extras
Both web hosts have a unique set of features they’ll include for some or all plans, and extras you can invest in as an add-on to your plan.
Common features for both:
- Secure socket layer (SSL) certificate – Both companies include an SSL certificate in all of their plans. SSL certificates are how you get an https for your website, which adds an extra layer of encryption to protect your visitors, and signals to them that the site is secure.
- Domain name – Both companies have plans that include free domain name registration for the first year, as well as the option to register a domain through the company as an add-on to any plan that doesn’t include it, and the ability to manage it within your web hosting account.
- Control panel – All of the plans from both web hosts include access to a control panel (commonly called cPanel), which makes it easy to manage your web hosting account.
- Backups – Both companies offer automated backups, sometimes included as part of a plan, and sometimes as an add on for extra money.
- Domain privacy – Domain privacy hides your personal information from the public directory when you register your domain. Both companies offer it as an extra you can invest in, and some plans come with it included.
- Dedicated IP – With shared hosting, you’re on the same server as other companies, which means you share their IP address by default. A dedicated IP can ensure you don’t end up on email spam lists because of something another website on the server does. Both companies provide it as an add on, and in some cases as part of a plan.
- Advertising credits – Creating and publishing your website is just the start. To get people to visit, you’ll need to do marketing. Both companies offer free credits on advertising platforms such as Google Ads and Bing to help you get started.
- Marketing services – And because marketing is a lot of work, both HostGator and Bluehost provide marketing services to customers for an additional fee.
HostGator’s Features and Extras:
- Website builder – Many of HostGator’s plans come with the basic version of their website builder included for free. The website builder includes over 100 templates and a drag-and-drop website editor, which makes it easy for anyone to use.
- Security software – Every day we hear about new data breaches and website hacks. HostGator also offers the security software CodeGuard as an easy add-on to their plans.
- Application hosting – HostGator’s web hosting is compatible with all the main applications website owners use, including Joomla, Drupal, and phpbb.
Bluehost’s Features and Extras:
- SpamExperts – Some Bluehost plans include their SpamExperts web filter that catches most of the spam that hits your email inbox before you have to deal with it. For those that don’t include it, you can purchase it as an add on.
- Jetpack plans – Bluehost’s managed WordPress hosting plans come with different levels of Jetpack plans included with them, which provides additional security and management features.
- Marketing dashboard – Some Bluehost plans comes with a marketing dashboard to help you manage and track your marketing activities.
- WordPress themes – Bluehost’s managed WordPress plans come with a number of free themes you can use to make creating your WordPress site easier.
To find the right web hosting plan and provider for you, consider which features are most important to you. In some cases, you’ll save money by going with a plan that includes the main features you need, rather than having to purchase them separately.
HostGator vs Bluehost on Customer Service
Both companies offer 24/7 customer service. The moment you need help with your web hosting, you should have little problem getting ahold of someone with either provider. That said, the places you have to turn for help are slightly different with the two providers.
Bluehost provides a phone number, live chat, and the option to open a customer support ticket. For those who prefer a self-service option, they also have a knowledge base with many support resources you can turn to.
HostGator also offers phone and live chat support to reach someone quickly. In addition, they have customer support portals and video tutorials to provide self-service. And they offer a forum that allows HostGator customers to help each other, so you can lean on the expertise of hundreds of other website owners.
HostGator vs Bluehost on Uptime
If you look at the tests performed by third-party websites, HostGator and Bluehost both have strong reputations when it comes to uptime. But HostGator tends to have an edge in the results. On Down.com for example, HostGator’s uptime was gauged at 99.97%, with Bluehost at 99.94%. Neither provide much room for complaint, but HostGator’s performance is a bit above Bluehost’s.
HostGator is also notably the only one of the two to provide a money-back uptime guarantee. If your website falls below the 99.9% uptime promised, they’ll credit your account. If uptime is a particular priority for you, HostGator’s the better choice.
HostGator vs Bluehost on Reputation
As someone new to running a website and navigating the world of web hosting, it’s hard to know where to start learning a company’s reputation in the larger industry. Rest assured that both HostGator and Bluehost are well regarded in the larger world of web hosting. You can find any number of third-party reviews for each that prove most customers are satisfied with their performance.
That said, Bluehost has the particular honor of being recommended by WordPress for those who choose to build their website with the popular content management system. And HostGator can boast a number of awards from third-party sites. In terms of reputation, either is a safe choice. But you can always dig into more of the details of what industry experts think by perusing reviews.
Find the Best Web Hosting Provider for You
At the end of the day, the right web hosting provider will depend on your particular needs and preferences. If you’ve determined HostGator is the best choice for you, getting started with one of our plans is easy. We’re pretty confident you won’t regret the choice.
Check out our other web hosting reviews:
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.