2021 February 2
Sometimes 2 web hosting providers are so similar it’s hard to see any difference at all. Bluehost vs HostGator is exactly the case. To find out which one, the alligator or the WordPress shark is better for you, we need to do a deep dive.
STANDS FOR “SUPERB”. THIS PROVIDER IS AMONGST THE BEST IN THE MARKET
SPEED — 270ms
GREAT SPEED WITH HIGH RELIABILITY SCORE
UPTIME — 99.99%
GREAT, BLUEHOST WILL KEEP YOUR SITE ONLINE THE MAJORITY OF TIME
PRICING — 8.0/10
AFFORDABLE PRICES WITH PLANS SUITED FOR BEGINNERS
HIGH-LEVEL TIER. THE TOP 10% ARE RANKED HERE
SPEED — 419ms
FAST, HOSTGATOR SPEED IS BETTER THAN AVERAGE
UPTIME — 99.97%
GREAT RELIABILITY SCORE, AMONG THE TOP 15%
PRICING — 8.4/10
AFFORDABLE, PROVIDER IS AMONG THE CHEAPER OPTIONS
Let me tell you something crazy first.
Choosing between Bluehost and HostGator isn’t really a choice between two companies. If you took a closer look, you’d see that the pricing difference is just $0.20. The resources you are given are almost identical. The only difference to the support panel is color. How’s that so?
Well, Bluehost and HostGator both belong to the same company – Endurance International Group (EIG) and are flagships for it.
Many many people will say to get away from companies like this. EIG has a bad reputation for aggressive marketing tactics and for cutting corners. To put it shortly, they are a profit-driven company.
While EIG may sacrifice underperforming projects, Bluehost and HostGator are the flagships. They are both highly popular and rarely you’d find a developer who hasn’t hosted with these two.
So should you avoid them? No. This long introduction is here to say that you are choosing between 2 products here, not 2 companies.
And exactly in this HostGator vs Bluehost comparison, I’ll check if these 2 are capable of performing well and providing value for their clients.
Bluehost pricing starts at $2.95 a month which would be $106.20 if you’re getting the longest 3-year plan. Meanwhile, HostGator comes out a little cheaper at $2.75 a month or $99 for 3 years.
The deals you get at these pricing levels are almost the same.
Bluehost will give you:
HostGator will give you:
So the only big difference is that HostGator is offering unlimited bandwidth while Bluehost – 50GB.
But keep in mind that unlimited is not actually unlimited. If you upload way too much, you’ll be asked to upgrade.
Though in my experience, regular websites are around 1GB to 5GB in size. So in any case, you shouldn’t be reaching any limits with neither of the hosts.
One more difference is that the minimum billing term with Bluehost is 1 year. HostGator, at the same time, allows picking a monthly billing option.
So in terms of pricing and value you get, I would say that both Bluehost and HostGator are pretty much identical. The only difference is that HostGator allows short term hosting.
Performance is actually the main product you are paying for, and I can tell you that both Bluehost and HostGator fulfilled my expectations. Being part of a major corporation, they both have the possibility to invest in reliable servers.
Okay okay, let’s just get started.
On both WordPress installations, I worked to create similar websites. You know, controlled environments and so on.
The first test I did was GTMetrix page loading speed test.
In a surprising turn of events, HostGator loaded the website faster than Bluehost. It managed to do that in 3.9 seconds while Bluehost took longer, 4.3 seconds to load the website.
Is this fast? Well, not really.
Premium performance-focused providers can load similar websites in around 2 seconds. But that would be 3 times more expensive SiteGround or A2 Hosting plans.
So this result is quite good for cheap providers. It would work for personal websites like blogs or portfolios. Considering the generous disk space – even photography and other highly visual websites.
But website speed won’t help you if the site is always down. That’s what I tested next.
Using Pingdom, I monitored my websites 24/7 for 7 days. Again, the results are almost identical. Bluehost was down for just 1 minute and HostGator did not experience any downtime whatsoever.
This is as much reliability as you can wish from cheap shared hosting.
For the final test, I’ve sent 50 bots to see if they can slow down my website. Since the previous tests were done without any visitors, this would simulate real-life conditions. Cause you know, you would want traffic on your website.
And again, quite similar results.
Bluehost displayed no performance issues. That blue line representing speed is quite stable while the green one representing bots increases. This is exactly what we are looking for.
HostGator performed even better.
While Bluehost has a couple of bumps, HostGator’s speed line is as flat as it gets.
All this means that even under stress, the providers can perform really well.
All in all, the performance results of Bluehost vs HostGator are very identical. However, HostGator is one tiny step ahead – slightly faster page load time, no downtime, and more stable performance under stress.
I’d say that Bluehost has an advantage when it comes to the control panel. Throughout the years it has streamlined the interfaces and now they are easy to use even for beginners. Meanwhile, HostGator’s first major control panel upgrade came in 2020 so it still has some improvements to make.
With Bluehost here, everything is straightforward. It has a nice user area with the main menu on the left and some tips in the middle section.
For example, to create a website I only have to go to “My Sites” and click on “Add Site.” After I chose WordPress and entered my site name, it was automatically and quickly installed.
So Bluehost made it really easy to install WordPress.
With HostGator, on the other hand, things weren’t as buttery smooth.
You see, the interface is quite clean and has a ton of shortcuts including “Install WordPress.” But as a matter of fact, the custom in-house installation under that button doesn’t always work as it should.
Fortunately, you have the orange cPanel launch button close by and can install WordPress through Softaculous which you’ll find after scrolling down all the way in the cPanel.
Then it’s just a matter of filling in details like your site name and your own username.
So while HostGator attempts to make your life easier with a custom in-house installation, it’s still a little buggy, and the original Softaculous works better. I actually have a full account of the changes in my full HostGator analysis.
By the way, Bluehost also has cPanel which you’ll find under the “Advanced” tab. I analyzed it more when I was reviewing Bluehost. Both for Bluehost and HostGator, it will be where you manage domains, email accounts, databases, files, etc.
All in all, the management of your hosting is similar with Bluehost and HostGator. The only difference is that Bluehost has their interface already streamlined while HostGator is still a bit glitchy.
Additional features can add a lot of value to the plans and influence your decision. In this round, we have Bluehost’s Staging tool fighting against HostGator’s website builder.
With Bluehost, you get one of the best features for website management – a staging area for WordPress.
This tool allows you to make a copy of your website and test out or perform all the changes on that copy. If everything works fine, you can transfer the changes onto your live website with one click.
Why’s that useful? Well, instead of your users running into an “Under Construction” page or a buggy website that just doesn’t work, they get to use a normally functioning website. All while you are working on the changes. So this way you prevent any bugs from ruining the user experience and get to keep your site live.
Meanwhile, HostGator has something that works for users in a complete hurry or beginners that have never developed a website before. A website builder.
While I’m not a fan of website builders, I can see that they can be useful for certain occasions.
HostGator’s website builder has more than 200 templates that are easy to modify and match your website needs.
Customizing everything is easy. Every element has its own set of options and you can add new ones from the sidebar. So you can simply drag everything around till you get a nice result.
It is really not much different than, for example, creating a PowerPoint presentation.
The only drawback is that only a free version of the builder is included. You’ll be limited to just 6 pages for your website. So that can work for very small sites. But I think it’s the best temporary option till you get your WordPress site ready.
All in all, both Bluehost and HostGator have great unique features. And while Bluehost is oriented more towards business websites, HostGator is there for beginners.
In this Bluehost vs HostGator comparison, I found out several important things: 1) both providers are the same company and have many similarities 2) Bluehost is more developed with HostGator getting their updates just now 3) both are good cheap web hosting options to start your website.
So which one should you pick?
Well, I’d personally go with Bluehost now. It underwent major changes throughout 2019 and 2020 and now has a streamlined user experience with great website management tools. The only thing that is up for update is the performance.
Meanwhile, HostGator is undergoing some updates right now and is a little bit glitchier than I’d like. Nonetheless, the upgrades seem to be changing things for the better and even the performance is already better than Bluehost’s. So it’s just a matter of time when HostGator will overpass the teammate.
All in all, as an affordable option, either provider will do great. I can recommend them both if you are building a personal website or a small site to represent your business online.
You can also check out my video if you're more of a visual learner: