Why I No Longer Recommend HostGator

For the past six or so years I’ve recommended HostGator for small sites that shared hosting is designed for.

However in my opinion their customer service and hosting performance has drastically reduced in the past few months. They were purchased by Endurance International Group who own around 50 web hosting and domain related companies. These include JustHost, HostMonster and Bluehost.

Bluehost has always been one I’ve used for cheap shared hosting with a lot of clients who already had hosting – but I too and getting more and more complaints about their hosting performance and service as they are sharing a datacenter with many of these other hosts. Phone and live chat support can have very long wait times.

So I now have three recommendations for a web host, all for different levels of service:

Small site, shared hosting

dreamhostDreamhost – Shared hosting plans start from around $8.95 per month, and this allows unlimited domains so you can host multiple sites under this account. Great for small starter sites.

Dedicated WordPress hosting

WPEngineWPEngine – Rock solid hosting for WordPress sites only, with backups and caching built in. Starts at around $29 per month (for one site only, they have multiple site plans). Their support is superb.

Non-Dedicated WordPress hosting

SiteGroundSiteGround – This is who I use. If you also have other sites or landing pages, sales pages or squeeze pages that are not WordPress you need to have non-dedicated hosting that is solid and reliable and can cope with your site demands and with WordPress.

From now on, all links for HostGator should redirect to Dreamhost.

How have your experiences with HostGator and Bluehost been recently?

38 thoughts on “Why I No Longer Recommend HostGator”

  1. Hi Joel,

    The waiting time for customer service on HG literally changed over night from 2 minutes to 40 minutes. Luckily I haven’t had any major problems yet. Finger crossed!

    I’m not surprised WP has started their own hosting they should have done this year ago.

    Thanks for advice


    1. It did seem like it was overnight Naomi!

      WordPress don’t have their own hosting (yet), if you excluded WordPress.com which has been around for a long time. There are many good dedicated WP hosts our there though.

      Good luck!

  2. I’ve gotten some very long, complex problem emails from HostGator on two of my busiest websites, and they took down my main blog until it was fixed. I had no idea what the problems were b/c there was so much tech jargon above my head in the messages. It turned out to be caching problems in both cases.

    When they sent the second message to me after they shut down my site, I replied that I had no idea what they were talking about or what to do to correct whatever problem was happening, and to please send me specific directions so I could fix it. They fixed it for me. Why couldn’t they have just told me what happened and ask me if I wanted them to fix the problem? Would have been a lot easier.

    HostGator never used to be that way. I’m thinking about switching, and DreamHost seems the best deal for what I do with my websites. I’ll be contacting you for help to transfer all my sites. I do some tech stuff, but host transferring is above my head. What does DreamHost use instead of cPanel? Is it as easy to get used to?

    1. Hi Sherri,

      Sorry to hear of your problems!

      You’re right HG never used to be that way, it’s gone downhill over the last 6 months or so. Dreamhost use their own custom system but they do have a cPanel importer – http://wiki.dreamhost.com/CPanel_Importer Option 1 is the easiest but doesn’t seem to be working, but perhaps a pre-sales question to Dreamhost can clarify the options. I’d be happy to help of course, but if it can be done easily for free then that’s the best way 🙂

  3. OK, I’ve changed my mind and will change hosts asap. They took down my entire site because of a script they don’t like!! I’ve been with them for years, have other sites on their servers and they couldn’t even warn me. I’m done…

    1. Sorry to hear that! They do that all the time now, it used to be rare. However most hosts won’t warn you as they need to maintain the integrity of their servers, but it’s silly if you’ve had it for years.

  4. Dear Joel –

    I think all these servers have problems from time to time. They have so many sub agents handling small accounts.

    I nearly went mad with one of the servers you mentioned. No problems with Hostgator for the past year.

    But glad to have the list.

    Maybe you should sne it to Obama.

    1. Haha, maybe! They’re sending clients server overload warnings left right and center, some on accounts not used for a long time. So it’s change on HG’s end, not on the client end. I’m glad it’s working well for you though!

  5. I am so pleased that people like myself have technical experts like you. I am just useless with it and rely on the professional advice of people like yourself. Must admit I do like Word Press. Even I manage to get my head around it.

    1. I’m glad WordPress is working out for you Steve! Like anything there is a learning curve and practice makes perfect 🙂

  6. Hi Joel, timely post, very useful. I’ve been absent from the blogosphere for a good while & looking to get re-started soon – with a hosting decision to be made, too. Haven’t heard about the services you recommend, but will be sure to use your links if ever. Choosing the right one seems like choosing the right car – all the good ones do basically the same thing, so you kick some tire to make it look rational, but in the end go with the one that ‘feels’ best. Talking only for myself, of course :-]

    1. I like that analogy Beat, thanks! If you have any questions give me a shout, I use a lot of different ones every day.

  7. Ok, now i think I maybe in trouble. I have Blue host for one site and Hostgater for another. I haven’t had any trouble, but after what you say maybe I shouldn’t wait until I do have a problem.
    Your thoughts Joel. Thank you lots for this info. I do appreciate it.

    1. Maybe you should wait for a problem! If it’s not broken then don’t fix it. I’ve just noticed it getting much worse for me but if it’s not for you then great!

  8. I’m using hostgator too. I have not contacted hostgator support for quite a while and from the past experience, I do not quite like the service.

    Anyway. Thanks for recommending those alternatives. Most of my sites are wp base and wpengine appeals to me.

    1. Thanks Raymond. There are some good quality WordPress-centric hosting companies out there. They just cost more 🙂

  9. I’m about to start a new blog – and I also have another one (on hostgator). So – I’m wondering if it makes a difference which new host I choose. How hard is it to move from one host to another?

    1. If you already have HostGator and you’re not suffering any problems then it’s easiest and cheapest to add another domain to your account. Some new hosts, like SiteGround will move your cPanel over for you bringing the sites, databases, emails etc, it’s easy. Dreamhost is harder as the don’t use cPanel so takes a manual transfer.

    1. A, sorry to hear that! They do refund pro-rata if you paid up front for cancelled services, at least they have done for others. But don’t cancel before you have other hosting in place with copies of your site(s) on!

  10. I’ve been wondering when someone would critique them honestly. They’ve had major outages lately. Every time I drive traffic to one my sites, they all go down and I get internal error messages. They absolutely suck as a host.

    1. Thanks Clara! They have gone from great to very poor very quickly in my opinion, it’s not fun.

  11. Joel,

    I’ve also recommended Hostgator for the past x years. My own site has been with them for several.

    But due to the recent takeover, I experienced dreadful response times and some of my clients have.

    I decided to move to SiteGround (thanks to you) and all is now well!


    1. Glad to hear SiteGround is working out for you Andrew! I met a couple of their people recently and had a good chat with them. I’m testing a new tool for them at the moment, I think you’ll like it!

  12. I am giving them a go, mainly because “the gators” don’t respond to my queries of unfairness. They continue to charge me – my loyalty worth nothing, more than twice what they charge new customers. The jury is out, but I am trying your advice. WordPress lover!

    1. I find most hosting companies have offers for new customers that they don’t extend to current customers. They want to entice you to sign up. Thanks for sharing Claudia!

  13. Hi Joel, I’ve been using Hostgator for a while, but I don’t have much comparison since I’ve moved all sites to Hostgator over the years. I’ve never liked GoDaddy’s interface – I have a domain with them, but never set up a site there. Which hosts do you believe are measurably faster than Hostgator?

    About customer service at Hostgator, I find that if you contact them directly by email you get the best and most knowledgeable service. Chat and phone service is usually staffed by ‘low level’ support and has in my experience been pretty useless.

    1. HostGator live chat used to be awesome and still isn’t bad – if you can stand waiting more than 30 minutes. I don’t tend to use phone support as sending URLs and error messages is much easier in chat. I called GoDaddy support today (as they don’t have live chat) and it was quick and great, I was surprised!

      Speed wise, Bluehost and HostGator have drastically slowed as they’ve combined servers and datacenters – I bet you got the email about new IP address and namesercers for your hosting account. For shared hosting Dreamhost is pretty good, so are SiteGround.

    1. In my experience GoDaddy are going in the opposite direction with some great customer support and focusing on web developers like myself with tools and services to support us to support our clients.

  14. Wow Joel (got your link from Mike Filsaime’s MDC Newsletter) that news about Hostgator has shocked me. Everyone praises Hostgator. I had a problem with them earlier in the year when they hosted 2 separate domains and I wanted them to cancel one. What a big problem they kept getting it wrong.
    So now I am just down to 1 account which is working OK with my primary domain on it.
    Nowadays, I keep each business on separarate Hosting accounts.
    Thanks for your comments on the MDC
    David Jubb UK

    1. Thanks David! People used to love HostGator, myself included. But support and speed has gone down, down, down recently.

  15. Hi,
    if i remember correctly Bluehost and Hostgator was bought out by the same company. I used Hostgator for years till the customer service started getting bad. The hosting started slowing down also. I would never use Hostgator again.

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