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Bluehost vs. HostGator: What’s the Difference, Is One Better?

Hi there! Choosing the right web hosting service is one of the most crucial decisions you‘ll make when creating a website. The host you go with can single-handedly make or break your site when it comes to performance, security, and ease of use.

In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll be comparing two of the most popular hosting providers – Bluehost and HostGator. Both companies have been helping people host websites for over 15 years and currently power millions of sites.

By the end of this guide, you‘ll have all the information you need to decide whether Bluehost or HostGator is the better choice for your website hosting needs. Let‘s dive in!

Brief Background on Bluehost and HostGator

First, let‘s start with a quick background on both companies so you know where they came from.

Bluehost was founded in 2003 by Matt Heaton. The Utah-based company is now owned by Endurance International Group after being acquired in 2010.

Here are some key facts about Bluehost:

  • Hosts over 2 million websites
  • Powers over 12% of all WordPress sites
  • Recommended by as an official hosting partner
  • Home to over 400 employees
  • Operates 175,000+ servers worldwide

Over the years, Bluehost has become one of the largest and most recognizable brands in web hosting. They are the official hosting recommend for WordPress users.

HostGator was founded a year earlier than Bluehost in 2002 by Brent Oxley. This Houston-based provider is also now owned by Endurance International.

Some quick facts on HostGator:

  • Hosts over 8 million domains
  • Has 500,000+ customers in over 200 countries
  • Operates 45,000+ servers worldwide
  • Employs over 800 staff members
  • Won over 20 different web host awards

HostGator has established itself as a reliable and budget-friendly hosting option. They advertise aggressively online and have grown a massive customer base.

Now that you know a little bit about the history and reputation of each company, let‘s compare their hosting features, performance, support, and pricing to see how they stack up.

Comparing the Hosting Features

When it comes to features, Bluehost and HostGator offer very similar standard hosting capabilities.

They both provide users with:

  • Shared hosting – Plans start at a few bucks per month and support multiple sites. Resources are shared among users on the same server.

  • VPS hosting – Get your own slice of a virtual private server with allocated resources. Prices start around $20/month.

  • Dedicated hosting – For large sites that need an entire physical server. Starts between $100-$150/month.

  • WordPress hosting – Optimized hosting for WordPress sites with pre-installed themes/plugins.

Here are some of the core hosting features they have in common:

  • Free domain name – You get to register one free domain that is included for the first year.

  • Unlimited bandwidth – There are no monthly data transfer limits on either Bluehost or HostGator‘s shared plans.

  • Unlimited storage – You have unlimited disk space for your website files and emails.

  • Free SSL certificate – An SSL certificate allows your site to run securely over https. Included for free on both hosts.

  • Email accounts – Get unlimited professional email addresses based on your domain name.

  • cPanel dashboard – The standard cPanel interface is used by both to manage hosting accounts.

  • 1-click installs – Easy installers for WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and over 100 other web apps.

  • CDN – Bluehost includes content delivery network (CDN) services for faster delivery of site files.

When you look at the core features side-by-side, Bluehost and HostGator are pretty evenly matched. But there are some differences worth noting:

  • Backups – Bluehost performs daily automated backups of your site. HostGator also does daily backups but they are not automated.

  • Website builder – Bluehost includes the easy Weebly builder. HostGator uses BoldGrid which is more complex.

  • Migrations – HostGator will migrate your site from another host for free. Bluehost charges $99.95 for migrations.

  • Caching – Bluehost includes dynamic caching support. HostGator has no built-in caching features.

So while the basics are the same, Bluehost pulls ahead when it comes to automated backups, a better website builder, and free migration services. But both deliver the core hosting tools most users need.

Speed and Performance Comparison

The performance and speed of your web host can directly impact your site. Faster sites tend to rank better in search engines. Quicker page loads also help keep visitors happy.

Independent web hosting review sites like HostingFacts and TechRadar have tested the performance of both Bluehost and HostGator extensively over the years.

Here is how they compare based on key metrics like page load times, uptime and response speeds:

  • Page load speed – In 12 months of testing, Bluehost averaged page load times of 1.8 seconds compared to 1.2 seconds for HostGator. HostGator was generally faster for static pages.

  • Database speed – For database driven pages with dynamic content, Bluehost and HostGator were nearly identical. HostGator maintained a slight edge.

  • Uptime – Both Bluehost and HostGator had outstanding uptime, averaging 99.99% over months of monitoring. They delivered maximum reliability.

  • Response times – Another metric that impacts performance is how quickly servers respond to page requests. HostGator averaged 525ms compared to 361ms for Bluehost.

While HostGator scored better in raw performance metrics like page load times, both companies delivered excellent reliability and speed sufficient for most smaller sites.

However, for mission-critical sites with high traffic volume, HostGator‘s faster response times give them an advantage. Their infrastructure seems better optimized for high performance loads.

Ease of Use Comparison

A smooth, frustration-free hosting experience is important. Ease of use is another area where we can compare Bluehost and HostGator:

  • Control panel – Bluehost uses a custom icon-based dashboard that is simpler for beginners. HostGator uses the standard cPanel that has a steeper learning curve.

  • Site builder – Bluehost includes the highly intuitive Weebly website builder. HostGator uses BoldGrid which is not as beginner-friendly.

  • Scripts – HostGator has a categorized script library for fast installs. Bluehost‘s scripts are unorganized, making them harder to find.

  • Migrations – As mentioned earlier, HostGator migrates sites free whereas Bluehost charges $99.95 for site migrations.

  • Upgrades – Bluehost makes it easy to upgrade between shared, VPS and dedicated hosting plans on the same account. With HostGator upgrades require plan migrations.

  • Support forums – HostGator has active community forums for finding answers to questions. Bluehost‘s forums see much less activity.

For ease of use, Bluehost comes out on top overall. The simplified control panel and Weebly website builder are perfect for beginners. HostGator will require a little more technical skill.

Customer Support Comparison

Reliable customer support is crucial when issues inevitably come up. Here is how Bluehost and HostGator compare when you need help:

  • Phone support – Both offer 24/7 phone support but HostGator averages slightly shorter hold times of around 2-5 minutes versus 10+ minutes for Bluehost.

  • Live chat – Instant chat is available 24/7 from both companies. Average wait times are under 60 seconds.

  • Response times – HostGator edges out Bluehost here too with slightly faster response times via phone and chat according to multiple reviews.

  • Self-help options – Both have extensive knowledge bases, tutorials, and documentation for self-service. HostGator also uses forums.

  • Tickets – Submitting support tickets is available as well – HostGator guarantees replies within an hour for urgent tickets.

  • Accessibility – One advantage Bluehost has is phone support pin codes, allowing 24/7 access without any account numbers or login.

When you factor in all the support channels and reviews, HostGator seems to deliver slightly faster and more effective customer service. But Bluehost also has excellent options for getting help when you need it.

Shared Hosting Pricing Comparison

Now let‘s compare the all-important pricing and costs between Bluehost and HostGator‘s shared hosting plans.

  • Bluehost pricing – Starts at just $2.95/month on their Basic 12 month plan. Discounts available for longer terms up to 36 months.

  • HostGator pricing – Also starts at $2.75/month for their Hatchling plan on initial terms of 12-36 months.

  • Renewal pricing – Bluehost retains the same low prices on renewals. HostGator prices jump quite a bit higher after promotional periods end.

  • Bundled extras – Bluehost includes a free domain, CDN, dedicated IP, and SSL with shared plans. HostGator bundles less with core hosting.

  • WooCommerce – Bluehost has specialized WooCommerce hosting starting at $6.95/month with bundled features. HostGator has no WooCommerce specific plans.

  • Value – Factoring in renewal costs and bundled extras, Bluehost delivers better overall value compared to HostGator‘s low introductory rates and stripped down plans.

The bottom line – Bluehost and HostGator are extremely affordable, with shared hosting starting at less than $3/month. But Bluehost provides better long term value.

Customer Satisfaction and Reviews

Looking at third party customer sentiment and reviews is crucial before choosing any web host. Here is how Bluehost and HostGator stack up:

  • Better Business Bureau – Both hold an A+ rating and accreditation from the BBB after 15+ years in business.

  • TrustPilot – Bluehost has over 15,000 reviews with a "Great" rating of 4.5/5 stars. HostGator has 8,000+ reviews and a lower 3.5/5 star score.

  • – Bluehost is one of only four recommended WordPress hosting partners. HostGator is not endorsed.

  • Web Hosting Talk – Users on these forums tend to be more technical. But here too Bluehost gets better feedback overall.

  • Cancellations – Both require 30 days notice and do not offer refunds for unused services after that.

  • Loyalty programs – One advantage of HostGator is account credits for renewals and referrals. Bluehost has no loyalty program.

When aggregating all third party reviews and forum sentiment across the web, Bluehost is the clear winner for higher customer satisfaction ratings.

Conclusion – Bluehost Is the Better Option for Most Users

Let‘s quickly recap the key findings from our in-depth Bluehost versus HostGator comparison:

  • Features – Bluehost edges out HostGator when it comes to backups, site builder, caching, and included extras.

  • Performance – HostGator is slightly faster for static sites while Bluehost and HostGator are equal on database driven sites.

  • Ease of Use – Bluehost has the advantage with its beginner-friendly dashboard and Weebly site builder.

  • Support – HostGator was generally faster to respond across more channels like phone, chat, and tickets.

  • Pricing – Intro rates are cheap for both. But Bluehost has better renewals and bundled value.

  • Satisfaction – Bluehost scores higher marks in third party reviews from WordPress users in particular.

Based on these comparisons, Bluehost is my top recommendation for most website owners. The user friendly dashboard, powerful site builder, bundled extras, and glowing WordPress reviews make Bluehost excellent value.

However, HostGator could be a better choice if you‘re on a very tight budget, have a high traffic site, or are building a basic temporary site. Their raw performance is faster and intro pricing lower – but Bluehost dominates long term value.

No matter which option you choose, you can rest assured knowing Bluehost and HostGator are both established, reputable companies who can capably host your website. Feel free to reach out if you have any other questions!