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Our review of HostGator.com

Web Hosting Provider Web Site: http://www.hostgator.com
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HostGator.com web hosting plans listed at Best Host Ratings:

  • Hatchling   ($6.95 / month, Unlimited Space, Unlimited transfer)
  • Baby   ($9.95 / month, Unlimited Space, Unlimited transfer)
  • Swamp   ($14.95 / month, Unlimited Space, Unlimited transfer)
  • Aluminum Reseller   ($24.95 / month, 24000 MB Space, 250.0 GB transfer)
  • Basic Dedicated Server   ($174.00 / month, 80000 MB Space, 1500.0 GB transfer)

Company information

HostGator is one of the fastest growing companies in the web hosting industry. It has been talked about a lot on popular web hosting forums like WebHostingTalk.com for example. The company has been founded in 2002 and by the time of this review their site says that more than 200,000 domains are hosted on their servers.

HostGator hosting facilities are located in the one of the best Internet data centers in US: “The Planet” (www.theplanet.com) Dallas/TX, USA.

 

HostGator is one of the so called “GigaHosts”, but it looks like so far they manage to deliver what they promise.

Equipment

The company offers Linux based hosting. By the time of our review the servers were running Linux Red Hat 9.0. The server where our account has been located was running 4 x Intel(R) Xeon(TM) 2.40GHz CPUs with 4GB RAM and a 200GB SCSI drive.

HostGator hosting environment is based on Cpanel/WHM - one of the most popular web hosting Control panel software packages. It is feature-rich and easy to use.


Services and features

HostGator offers shared hosting packages, reseller hosting plans and dedicated servers. I would not recommend their dedicated servers as they are pricey. However, the Shared and Reseller plans are quite a good deal.

Shared hosting plans: The cheapest plan costs only $6.95/month paid on yearly basis and includes 3.5GB of web space and 50GB of transfer per month. It is quite a lot of space at quite a reasonable price. It has all the regular features Control Panel, Webmail, scripting languages, databases, a free scripts Installer (Fantastico), anti-spam protection, etc. With the cheapest plan you can host only one web site per hosting account. If you wish to have multiple sites hosted (multi-domain hosting) you will need to go for a more expensive plan where prices start $9.95/mo and you have the option to pay on a monthly basis. With the shared hosting plans you can host multiple sites; however they are add-on domains. (e.g. you do not have separate Control Panel for each hosted web site)

Semi-dedicated plans: At first we thought these are kind of VPS plans, however after we talked to an online sales rep on their site it appeared that these semi-dedicated packages actually are like shared hosting plans, however they include more resources (25GB space, 500GB transfer) and most importantly what makes them different from a shared hosting plan is that the server where the semi-dedicated plans are located host relatively small number of users. That is you share the server resources with less users and in this way you have more CPU power at your disposal. For example if you have 300-400 users on a regular shared hosting server, when you are on a semi-dedicated you will share the server with only 15-20 other customers. Of course the pricing is much higher compared to a shared hosting plan – $74.95/mo.

Reseller hosting plans: Starting $24.95/mo you can purchase a reseller hosting account with 5GB of web space and 50GB of bandwidth. The reseller package gives you the option to host separate websites using a single reseller account. If you are a web designer a reseller account might by the right option for you as you will be able to offer you clients decent hosting services. HostGator even went one step ahead and offer some great tools for resellers, such as Billing manager application, merchant accounts, ready-to-use templates and even a free domain name registration account with one of the biggest registrars eNom.com. So if you are looking for a place to host multiple sites with separate Control Panels HostGator is worth trying out.

Dedicated servers: As mentioned above HostGator services include dedicated server packages as well. The offerings start with a 2.4 GHz Super Celeron to Dual 2.4 GHz Xeons servers. So in case your site outgrows the shared or semi-dedicated hosting plans you may go to a dedicated server. All servers are equipped with a Panel/WHM which makes the server management an easy task.

Customer service/support

HostGator offers 24/7 customer support over email, phone and live chat. While we’ve been testing our account, we had several interactions with their support. Usually, we got replies in 15-20 minutes. However on some occasions it took a bit more. Our questions varied from simple howtos through some more advanced/tech related ones and finally some requests that should be handled by 3rd level support (which usually take more time to be completed than a regular support request). Almost all of our requests have been handled properly. The only problem they fail to resolve was a question regarding a PHP script. We saw they have the PHP engine running as CGI and decided to check their knowledge in PHP. We’ve created a sample HTTP Auth script (actually we took the example provided at http://www.php.net/features.http-auth) and uploaded it to our account. Just of reference, when PHP is running as CGI HTTPAuth will not work properly (this is a limitation by design). The support person who handled the ticket was unaware of this limitation and provided us with some wrong answers.

In general the support reps were friendly and polite, even we acted as a bad customer and even we’ve been rude in some of our requests. Our overall rating for their support is 9 out of 10.

Signup process

The signup process is easy and intuitive. They accept a wide range of payment options, including: Credit card payments (VISA/MasterCard/American Express), Paypal, checks, bank transfers, cash and money orders.

In general you will get the account active in 20-30 minutes after your payment has been processes.

However with our signup we encountered a little trouble. When you go through their order process at some step you are asked to specify username and password for your new hosting account. For the matter of simplicity we used one and the same word for both our username and password. The order form accepted these values, however later on it appeared that they have created an issue. Most probably HostGator use some hosting automation software to open hosting accounts when they receive a payment. However, the Cpanel has a restriction for username and password similarity. So when we placed our order their billing system failed to activate the account on the hosting server and the hosting account email we have received was incomplete and was missing the hosting server IP address. So, we have been unable to use the account as actually the account has not been created at all. Luckily, the troubles have been resolved in several support tickets and email messages and a short live chat session.

Overall experience

Our overall experience with HostGator is positive. Although we have used their services for a month we had no major problems and the hosting account performance and speed were at a very good level. The only issues we had were the ones we have already described above. Despite these, we would recommend HostGator to anybody looking for a web host. They offer quality and reliable, feature-rich services backed up with friendly and prompt support.


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