Bluehost vs HostGator: Which One Is the Best?
Updated: September 2018
They are both excellent hosts in terms of shared hosting and they both have a lot of different plans, pricing options, and other features that they offer—but who’s the best? Which one has the best uptime? Who is the fastest? Who has the best pricing?
There’s so much information out there it’s enough to make a person dizzy! But that’s where this page comes in—I’ve tested both hosts over the period of an entire year and broken down everything that I think a prospective buyer should know. I have been creating websites and web properties for more than 10 years and am an expert in web hosting. I also have professional experience with hundreds of hosting companies over many years, so I know not only what’s good but I also know what’s bad.
On this page, you’re going to get an unfiltered, honest, and complete expert comparison of Bluehost vs HostGator!
Full disclosure: if you purchase hosting via any of the links located on this comparison page, I might get a small referral commission. This does not affect any my recommendations and I am very serious about that. There are plenty of hosts that I don’t like (many of which pay out high commissions) and you can read about the hosts that I don’t recommend.
Without further ado, let’s dive in and take a look at the comparison between Bluehost and HostGator.
HostGator vs Bluehost: The Measuring Stick
When comparing web hosts, there are 5 main metrics that I like to use. I think these metrics paint an excellent picture of the quality of a web host (click any of the quick links below to jump to that section). These metrics are:
Overall Performance and Speed – Bluehost Compared to Hostgator
First thing’s first—when it comes to web hosting, speed is very important. Some search engines are now using page speed as a ranking factor in their search results, so slower-loading websites may be shown below faster-loading websites. This means that it’s very important to choose a web host with fast servers who is good at managing their resources, especially on shared servers.
For this comparison, I have a website that has been hosted on Bluehost for over a year and a website that has been hosted on HostGator for over a year. While these are not 100% identical sites, they are very similar for the purpose of testing.
To begin, I ran a website speed test using Dotcom-Monitor’s page speed test tool (Dotcom-Tools.com). It’s a free test that anyone can use, and it gives you load times from around the world. For this test, I chose Dotcom-Monitor’s American network which tests load speed from 11 locations throughout North and South America. The speed test results for Bluehost are summarized in the table and image below:
|Monitoring Location||Bluehost Page Load Time (Seconds)||Errors?|
|Buenos Aires, Argentina||1.4||Yes|
As mentioned above, HostGator was put through the exact same tests as Bluehost in order to determine who had the best web performance and who is the fastest. The HostGator speed test results are summarized in the table and image below:
|Monitoring Location||HostGator Page Load Time (Seconds)||Errors?|
Looking at the tables and images (including the waterfall chart), you can see that Bluehost had an edge on load times with the fastest time coming in at 1.4 seconds in the Argentina datacenter, compared to HostGator’s fastest load time of 2.1 seconds in the Colorado datacenter.
However, if you look at the images of my 12-month monitoring test below, you’ll see that Bluehost had a 1.1521 second server response time over 12 months, and HostGator had a 1.0981 second response time over 12 months, giving a slight edge to HostGator.
Looking back at the speed test table again, you can see that the average load time for HostGator on a one-off speed test was 7.3 seconds as the 50 second time in Florida really brought down HostGator’s average. The average load time for Bluehost was 3.3 seconds because it didn’t have any super long wait times.
The winner for speed and performance: Bluehost by a tiny bit.
HostGator is still an excellent option for a speedy web host, but according to these tests and my interpretation, Bluehost had a very slight edge in speed and performance. Granted, this was a 12 month test but with only two sites; if there had been a larger sample size, it’s possible that the outcome could’ve been different. Either way, these are both excellent hosting companies and two that I use regularly. Keep reading to see the breakdown of results over 12 months for uptime/downtime.
Uptime: Bluehost vs. HostGator
Simply put, uptime is the measurement of how long a host is up or online, compared to how often they are down. If a host experiences a lot of downtime, this means that your website will be frequently down or inaccessible which is a bad thing; you want a host that experiences very little downtime.
Most hosting companies have an uptime guarantee or SLA, which is usually 99.9% or a similar number. Bluehost no longer guarantees a specific percentage for uptime, but Hostgator does offer 99.9% as a number for their uptime guarantee.
In order to put these hosts to the test, I monitored their uptime for an entire year using Dotcom-Monitor’s ServerView platform. Each website hosted on Bluehost and Hostgator was pinged every 3 hours from multiple datacenters in North America. Testing over a long period of time is important because it helps to create a larger sample size with more data points. 12 months is a fairly long term test when it comes monitoring and this length of time gives a pretty fair assessment of the reliability of a host. Having a test that goes for 12 months ensure that each host had the opportunity to recover from downtime here and there and still have a decent long term average for uptime and reliability of their servers.
Astonishingly, after 12 months, HostGator came in at a whopping 100% uptime! This is absolutely excellent as Dotcom-Monitor didn’t detect a single outage on the HostGator server over an entire year!
Bluehost also did well, but unfortunately fell a bit short of the industry standard 99.9% uptime guarantee coming in at 99.81% for the year, which is still really an excellent uptime rating.
The winner for uptime: HostGator, with an astonishing 100% uptime measurement over 12 months!
I think HostGator is the best when it comes to uptime because not only do they guarantee a specific number that you can measure against, but they also had amazing uptime during my year long test. Have a specific SLA for uptime (such as 99.9%) is really important because if a host doesn’t offer that (like Bluehost) you have no way to measure the uptime against anything. This makes it tougher to actually make a claim if you have monitoring data to support the fact that your site has been down too much, and honestly, when hosts don’t have an stated uptime SLA percentage, it makes it seem a bit like they’re trying to get out of being held to a specific standard.
Support & Customer Service: HostGator vs Bluehost –Who’s the Best?
In all honesty—when it comes to customer service and support, it’s really a subjective thing. One person may have a good experience with a particular host, while another person may have a different experience.
Both Bluehost and HostGator offer phone, chat, and ticket support 24/7/365 which I really think all hosts should do. There are multiple ways to get in touch with them, and this is excellent if you’re having a problem late at night or need help on a holiday, etc.
However…I have noticed that in the past 6 months or so, HostGator’s support is not what it used to be. I had a ticket open and waited days for an answer, to the point that the technician apologized and issued me a month’s refund for having to wait so long. Sometimes their chat support hangs and the wait times are more than 20 minutes. They also ask you to sign in to get chat support if you’re an existing customer, which I think makes sense, but it seems like a bit of a nuisance to me.
To be fair, their support has been awesome in the past, and hopefully it will be better in the future—and of course, this is just my opinion. Their support as it stands now is not bad per se, but it just used to be better from my perspective. HostGator was the first commercial hosting that I’ve ever bought, and I have multiple accounts I’m using with them now, so they’re definitely a host I trust, it’s just that I’ve been a bit disappointed with their support recently.
In comparison, Bluehost support seems to respond quicker, and they seem to be a bit more helpful overall. They do seem to outsource their support just like HostGator, but if you ask you can get connected to a higher level engineer.
Who has the best support: Bluehost, right now.
A couple years ago I would’ve said HostGator hands down, but I just haven’t seen it that way lately. They are technically owned by the same parent company, EIG, so I hope that they can get things sorted out with HostGator and bring the support back to the level that it used to be.
Setup and User Interface: Bluehost and HostGator
As I’ve mentioned in other reviews, I really think that Bluehost is very “noob friendly” which makes them a great host if you’re just getting started out online. They do an excellent job of providing help documentation and laying everything out in a way that makes a lot of sense for people who might be new to hosting. One thing I like about Bluehost is that when you log in, many aspects of the account and hosting are immediately visible. You can easily switch back and forth between your hosting control panel and the main account dashboard. With HostGator, you need to go through a few more clicks to get to cPanel and in my opinion, it’s a bit more cumbersome to navigate. This doesn’t mean that HostGator is hard to use, I just don’t think it’s as easy as Bluehost right off the bat. Once you know what you’re doing though, either panel is just as easy to navigate.
Both hosts offer either Softaculous or Fantastico so installing WordPress is a breeze, and there are a lot of automated tools in order to make managing your website easier. Again, I think it’s a bit easier to find these things in the Bluehost interface if you’re new to dealing with web hosting, but once you know your way around, HostGator is also easy to use.
Who has the best user interface and ease of use? Bluehost.
Bluehost wins in this category in my opinion, primarily because I think their user interface makes “more sense” than the HostGator user interface.
Features & Pricing
When it comes to features, both hosts are extremely similar—it’s almost an even tie. This is because they are both full-featured hosts that use cPanel and all the bells and whistles that come along with it. I think it’s a little easier to manage domains in Bluehost, but other than that they are very similar.
Feature-wise, there isn’t much that one host offers that the other doesn’t. I have found that HostGator is a bit more willing to honor custom requests, especially when it comes to modifying shared hosting accounts in some way.
As far as pricing goes, they are fairly close, but I would give the edge to Hostgator here. As with any hosting, the longer term you sign up for, the cheaper it will be. In addition to that, renewal rates are usually always more expensive than the introductory rates. In this sense, I think HostGator has a little less “renewal shock” in my option, and over the years, they have been more willing to adjust renewal pricing than Bluehost.
In terms of pricing for Bluehost, they often have specials that give hosting for under $4/month ($3.49/month at the time of writing), but you generally need to sign up for multiple years at a time in order to get this pricing, and it’s typically not available on renewal. Bluehost usually doesn’t allow people to pay monthly on shared hosting, with a minimum 12-month payment.
Bluehost coupons or discounts are available from time to time as well. Currently, we have an exclusive coupon deal with Bluehost that allows you to get $2.95/month pricing on shared hosting plans, which is as low as you’ll ever find.
HostGator, on the other hand, has more coupons that are available throughout the year (in my experience) . At the time of writing, the lowest non-coupon price available on HostGator’s hatchling plan was $3.30/month with a 36 month package. Again, there are often coupons and specials around holidays that can get this price even lower from my experience, but I can’t really say the same for Bluehost.
Who is the cheapest? HostGator.
I’ve had many hosting plans over the years with HostGator and Bluehost, and I can definitely say from my own experience that both initial pricing and renewal pricing has been cheaper with HostGator. This doesn’t mean that Bluehost is too expensive per se, it’s just that HostGator does a little better on the pricing.
So Who’s the Winner? Bluehost or HostGator?
The answer to this is—it depends. They are both great hosts, so it’s hard to nail down a definite winner. In my opinion, it really depends on your needs an experience level.
Best shared host for those new to web hosting: Bluehost
If you haven’t really managed a server before or built a website, I believe that Bluehost makes that experience a little bit easier with better support and a more clearly-organized dashboard. They are a little bit more expensive, but they are a great, full-featured web host and you really can’t go wrong with their shared hosting if you’re just getting started.
Best shared host for those with hosting experience: Hostgator
When it comes to uptime and pricing, HostGator is hard to beat. Their servers are extremely well-managed and reliable, and their pricing has been the cheapest of the two in my experience dealing with both hosts on a professional level.
Regardless of which host you pick, both are well-known, reliable and solid choices for web hosting. The choice in the end comes down to you and your preferences. While I think Bluehost is a little better for beginners and HostGator is a little cheaper, I believe that both hosts offer good quality shared hosting at an affordable price. To learn more about web hosting, feel free to check out other pages on this site and take in some hosting knowledge!