Bluehost vs HostGator: Which One Is The Best?

In this Bluehost vs HostGator comparison, I take a look at two of the biggest names in the web hosting market. Is reputation alone giving them all the hype, or are these two hosting giants truly deserve it by offering the best services? If so, which one is the better?

Hosting performance, customer support, ease of use, and security are the key areas when deciding on the provider. No matter if you are a beginner or a pro. Sadly, they can only be evaluated through experience. And none of us, simple people, have the resources and time to try out a dozen providers to pick out the best.

So here you are reading reviews and here I am writing them.

Whenever I write an article, I like to personally try out and test the providers. Then, I can share my experience and results with you.

And you know what?

Enough of this introduction. Let’s get into all the details about Bluehost and HostGator to find out if they are any good and which of the two is better.

In this article, I compared the prices, performance, ease of use, security features, and customer support – all from the user perspective. I will provide all the results that I got during the testing, as well as helpful tips and insights about using these two hosts.

Bluehost vs HostGator: Overview

Let’s address the elephant in the room. This Bluehost vs HostGator comparison is not a comparison of two companies. That is, they both belong to the same corporation and generally offer similar services. But that’s not the reason to ditch them altogether. Although there are many similarities, we will still see differences in interfaces, performance, and even pricing.

Bluehost vs HostGator: Pricing

Bluehost is slightly pricier than HostGator, offering shared hosting plans from $2.95/month, while HostGator plans start at 2.75. However, Bluehost shared plans go all the way up to $13.95/mo while HostGator stops at $5.25/mo, making it a cheaper option overall.

Other hosting options provided by the providers are pretty similar: HostGator’s VPS plans start at $19.95/mo, while Bluehost’s – $19.99/mo. Dedicated server hosting with HostGator is $89.98/mo, with Bluehost – $79.99/mo. HostGator also has more options – Cloud hosting ($4.95/mo), Reseller hosting ($19.95/mo), and Windows hosting ($4.76/mo) that the other contender is lacking.

However, shared hosting is what made both popular.

And without any surprise, there are some similarities between the plans. Both providers will give you a free domain for a year as well as unlimited SSL certificates. The entry plans also start with the 1 website limit.

  • Bluehost (Basic – $2.95/month) – this plan can host 1 website using 50GB SSD storage and unmetered bandwidth. Alongside that, you get a free domain and SSL certificate. Basic will be best for a small personal site.
  • HostGator (Hatchling – $2.75/month) – this plan allows you to connect 1 website using unlimited storage and bandwidth. You also get a free domain and SSL certificate. Hatchling is great for a portfolio website or casual blogging.
ProviderAdvertised priceTotalRenewal monthlyTotal
Bluehost$2.95/month$106.20$8.99$323.64
HostGator$2.75/month$99.00$6.95$250.20

It is obvious that Bluehost will turn out to be the more expensive option in the long run. Nonetheless, when features that you get for the price are concerned – both providers offer virtually the same.

Higher renewal pricing is inevitable. Almost every provider that I tested does this with very few exceptions for particular plans and/or billing periods.

By the way, the cheapest plans only look good on paper. More often than not, you’ll need to add a second website or a few subdomains. This means upgrading, which in turn means even more expenses.

So which plans with Bluehost and HostGator offer the best value?

Bluehost has 4 shared hosting plans which prices range from 2.95 to $13.95/month.

Bluehost vs HostGator: WordPress hosting

Bluehost’s main selling point is that it’s a WordPress-focused hosting provider that’s rocking the endorsement from the platform itself. Meanwhile, HostGator also aims to make hosting WordPress sites easier, yet doesn’t focus its services entirely on it. Nonetheless, both hosts have plans and features for the content management platform specifically.

Starting with Bluehost, everything in the interface, servers, and features are focused on WordPress.

  • Once you first log in to the platform, there’s a setup process that installs WordPress (and even a theme with selected plugins if you wish) automatically.
  • There’s a huge guide dedicated to creating a WordPress website and using the platform in the area of the dashboard.
  • WordPress websites get a separate management area where you can manage plugins, updates, comments, and other settings globally.
  • WordPress websites also get a staging tool, something that’s not available for other CMSs.

And all that with simple shared hosting. Bluehost also has managed WordPress plans starting at $9.95/mo for larger websites. It adds features like Global Edge servers, Jetpack license, daily backups, and malware protection.

At the same time, HostGator is pretty basic:

  • You can use one-click WordPress installation via shortcut from the dashboard.
  • HostGator has extra services for setting up a WordPress website – you can order theme installation and design service.

Additionally, you can pick managed WordPress plans that start at $5.95/mo. Although they are not as inclusive as Bluehost’s – you get extra security features such as daily backups, malware removal, and DDoS protection.

So in terms of WordPress hosting, Bluehost is a better and more inclusive choice. However, that’s pre-determined – it’s the provider that’s been working on the platform for years.

Bluehost vs HostGator: Ease of use

Bluehost and HostGator feature similarly easy-to-use account management dashboards. Both are designed with beginners in mind and apart from traditional control tools feature intuitive website builders. However, they both don’t slack in terms of advanced management by incorporating improved cPanel versions.

First, users get to know the main dashboards where all the necessary information and tools are located. In fact, these main dashboards might be all that you’ll ever use. Both Bluehost and HostGator have all the tools to set up and manage websites from there.

At the same time, control panel integrations are also useful for more advanced things while website builders save those that are in a hurry.

So I looked at these interfaces to see which one does the job better.

Account management dashboard

Your first encounter with each web host will be via the account management dashboard. First impressions count, and neither of the providers has disappointed. The interfaces are clean, uncluttered, and intuitive. However, Bluehost has a slightly better dashboard if you are looking to host a business website.

When you first log in to Bluehost, it guides you through an automatic WordPress installation and setup.

So by the time you reach the dashboard, your website will be ready for customization.

The homepage of Bluehost’s dashboard presents you with a drop-down list of all your websites. You can also add a new site directly from the drop-down.

Below that, there is a series of suggestions in checklist form for getting your website started with WordPress. If you’re new to building websites, these can be very handy, as some points may regard things you otherwise might not know about.

Nonetheless, you won’t spend much more time on this main screen as more important tools are on the left-side menu where you can:

  • Manage existing websites and access individual site control panels in the “My Sites” menu. It’s by far the most important interface.
  • Add new services or features via the “Marketplace” – WordPress, other CMSs, website builder, email marketing options as well as themes and plugins for WordPress can be found there.
  • Manage and access email accounts – both settings and mailboxes are accessed through the “Email & Office” menu option.
  • Manage domain names via “Domains” – add or purchase new ones as well as add subdomains.
  • Access cPanel under the “Advanced” tab.

With all the features accessible from the main menu, most of the users won’t even need to get familiar with cPanel. Bluehost is not wrong in naming it “Advanced,” as its main dashboard features all the necessary tools to get the website up and running.

What I liked about HostGator is that you can set up your website directly from your dashboard. You can install a CMS by clicking on “Install WordPress,” add a professional email account in “Email Accounts,” and check if SSL was automatically installed in “SSL Management.”

These are the main tasks that every website owner usually does, and HostGator made it all very convenient.

HostGator also has an individual website management area, but it is not as powerful as Bluehost’s “My Sites.” You’ll find it under the “Hosting” menu tab.

Bluehost vs HostGator: Control panel comparison

Both Bluehost and HostGator offer customized versions of the popular hosting control panel cPanel. This tool is used for more advanced website development tasks and configurations – think of creating subdomains, managing databases, blacklisting IPs, or implementing frameworks. It always comes in handy when custom websites are built.

Bluehost’s cPanel opens in the same window or tab as the rest of the dashboard, but it actually exists on a different subdomain. Many won’t even notice, though, because it’s been skinned to look like the rest of the dashboard. That’s nice and sleek.

Theming aside, it’s a fairly standard cPanel offering. It has all the functions that those familiar with hosting control panels would come to expect.

Compared to the main account dashboard, the transitions between pages aren’t as fast. And going between cPanel and the account dashboard, or vice versa always takes a few seconds.

But in general, it’s an easy-to-use interface that looks good and has everything you need to manage your service.

HostGator also offers a pretty standard-looking cPanel. It has just a tad bit more spice mixed in it compared to the original. However, not enough to have the left-side menu option like Bluehost.

Other than that, you’ll find all the regular things in there – file manager, email settings, databases, and tools such as PHP manager.

Overall, HostGator offers a more standard-looking cPanel, which is very easy to navigate.

So when it comes to cPanel, there’s no winner here. Both Bluehost and HostGator put in some effort to customize and make the user interface friendlier. Nonetheless, Bluehost’s cPanel has a left-side menu, which could help to navigate quicker.

Website migration

Bluehost and HostGator both can migrate your website for free, although HostGator policy is better. Bluehost migrates just WordPress sites, while HostGator can transfer all cPanel and WordPress-based projects.

Bluehost is a bit secretive about its website transfer service. Although it’s there and available. So if you have a WordPress site with a different provider, find Migration Service in the Marketplace.

Transfer of 1 site is free, while a $149 fee will get you up to 5 transfers.

HostGator is proud of its migration service and mentions it when you purchase a plan. And ordering is very simple. You just need to fill out a form on your dashboard.

The service is free of charge for 1 cPanel or WordPress-based website.

So in this department, my vote goes to HostGator. It’s simply a more flexible option when it comes to switching hosts.

Website builder experience

If you are entirely new to hosting and managing a website or if you need to get a website launched really quickly, both Bluehost and HostGator give you access to website builders. While both website builders are easy to use, Bluehost’s one has an advantage – it is based on WordPress.

I was honestly very impressed with Bluehost’s website builder. It started very regularly – you answer some questions, get to pick some colors, images, and so on. The editor itself is very simple. Simplistic, even.

Everything is based on blocks. These blocks each have a couple of different templates based on functionality, and they all stack together nicely. Not too flexible, but makes a tidy website.

It’s also a modern builder that adapts the design to all screens automatically. You won’t be missing out on mobile traffic.

Nonetheless, I was most impressed when I discovered that the website builder is actually based on WordPress. So you get to use this very quick way of arranging a simple website that you can later customize further with WordPress.

This takes the one thing that always stops me from using website builders from the equation – being tied to one platform or one hosting provider. You see, when it’s a WordPress website, migrating becomes super easy.

So while Bluehost website builder is very simplistic, that simplicity allows it to work together with WordPress. Once you’re ready, you can use the basically limitless possibilities of the most popular CMS.

HostGator’s website builder is more standard. It works by you choosing a template and changing the content into yours. However, the free version allows you to create just 6 pages and there’s HostGator’s logo in the footer. Although, it allows PayPal integration, making it great to accept payments or donations.

Gator has over 100 responsive templates that are modern and well-made. The templates are organized into various categories including blogs, eCommerce, one-pagers, and so on making it easy to find something to match unique needs.

Bluehost vs HostGator performance

Surprisingly, Bluehost vs HostGator performance was not consistent with the price. HostGator was faster and was able to handle more traffic than Bluehost. On the other hand, both providers showed reliable and speedy results.

Uptime and response time

For starters, I monitored the long-term performance to see if any of these hosts can be trusted to stay up.

Over a period from January to March, the site on Bluehost’s server was down on 6 separate occasions for nearly 11 minutes. This equates to an uptime rate of 99.99%.

The average response time was 361ms, which is really good. Response times were rather inconsistent but improved to around 300ms towards the end.

One thing that concerns me the most about Bluehost is the absence of an uptime guarantee. While it performs well, a legal obligation to keep servers online would make me much more confident. Meanwhile, HostGator promises a 99.9% uptime guarantee, which is an industry-standard.

The testing of HostGator’s server was over a slightly different period of time – between December and February. In that time there were 3 outages, resulting in 5 minutes of downtime. This means that the uptime was greater than 99.99%.

Average response times were slightly off at 525ms compared to Bluehost. Even though it is worse than Bluehost’s, it’s still better than industry average of 600ms. Meaning the provider still manages to rise higher than average.

Website speed

Another test that I did was a simple page loading speed test. Users expect pages to load almost instantaneously and if it takes more than 3 seconds – a lot of them will bounce.

Especially those users coming from Google and not targeting your site directly.

So I set up identical WordPress websites on both of the providers and ran the tests.

I must note that both websites are hosted in the US data centers. My test is also run from the US, meaning these are the best expected results from these providers.

To understand the results, there are 3 main things you should look at:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – the time when the biggest chunk of content (image or text) is loaded. For many visitors, LCP is equal to full page load time.
  • TTFB (time to first byte) – similar to response time, this metric shows us how long it took for the server to react to the visitor’s request to open the page.
  • Fully Loaded Time – speaks for itself. At this point, the website is fully loaded and interactive.

From the first look, the results look very much different.

When we’re talking about Bluehost, it’s Largest Contentful Paint, and the Fully Loaded Time is the exact same – 1.8 seconds. If we take those the fact that visitors are more likely to bounce if the loading time is any longer than 3 seconds, Bluehost is doing a good job.

Website security

Neither Bluehost nor HostGator is brilliant when it comes to security. Both of them include free SSL certificates, but that’s about it when it comes to freebies. Bluehost might be a bit more secure here as it has one-step Cloudflare integration which helps to prevent some DDoS attacks.

Bluehost Cloudflare integration is seamless. It is turned on in the “My Sites” menu and by simply switching an “on” setting. That is as easy as it gets and not only it serves as a security precaution but also as a performance booster. Win-win.

HostGator does not have immediate Cloudflare protection, but as with all websites, it can be set up manually. That will require some tutorial-following, but generally, it’s not difficult.

Another important thing is the website backups. Bluehost and HostGator are similarly lagging behind here.

Neither Bluehost nor HostGator includes automatic backups – though they can be purchased separately as third-party software.

  • Bluehost charges $2.99 per month for such functionality and can go as $23.95/mo (free with Choice Plus and Pro).
  • HostGator has 3 options for backups with the cheapest being at $2.76/mo and going up to $8.33/mo (free with Business).

cPanel allows creating backups manually, but automation of such action is a much more secure way to go in case there’s an attack or a problem. You don’t want your data to be lost.

Other things in terms of security that should be considered are the overall safety of your account, spam prevention, and monitoring.

  • In terms of account security, you will get two-factor authentication, and both providers will regularly ask you to confirm your identity when contacting customer support with more advanced inquiries.
  • Bluehost includes spam protection starting with the Plus plan, while HostGator has the functionality built-in.
  • Monitoring software to prevent threats has to be purchased both with Bluehost and HostGator unless you are opting for the most expensive plans.

Altogether, Bluehost is slightly more equipped than HostGator when it comes to security. Nonetheless, neither of the providers is doing all to make sure they are secure, and additional tools need to be purchased separately.

Customer support

Bluehost offers customer support via 24/7 live chat and phone, help desk tickets, knowledge base articles, and video guides. HostGator also has 24/7 live chat and phone options, a knowledge base, and videos, but no help desk tickets.

To test how effective each support team is, I decided to ask both providers a similarly easy question via live chat.

I started with Bluehost and asked some questions about how to go about setting up staging sites.

I’ve found in the past that a lot of hosting providers’ support agents are often just reading from scripts and don’t have all the answers ready at hand. Often they’ll send you links to help articles and expect you to figure out the problem yourself.

That wasn’t the case with my live chat experience with Bluehost. My operator looked into my problems and gave me the answers I was looking for.

That aspect of the interaction was great. What wasn’t so great was that the initial connection took some time to occur. Also, quite a lot of time passed between replies in some cases. Sometimes the gap was as long as 10 minutes. This indicates that the operator may have been working on many support requests at the same time.

Getting connected to live chat with HostGator also took a long time. Unfortunately, my experience with HostGator from there wasn’t exactly positive either.

Bluehost vs HostGator: Conclusion

In the grand summary of this Bluehost vs HostGator comparison, I tend to put my favors with HostGator.The provider is less expensive; it offers significantly better performance stability. Bluehost is not far behind with its more functional user interface and slightly better security.

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