BlueHost and HostGator are two well known web hosting companies. They’ve both been reviewed here at Clickfire and are both regarded as leaders in the web hosting industry. Each company received a 5 star rating in its respective review and both companies had far more pros than cons listed.
So which one is better? This little analysis will hopefully help answer that question.
The features offered by the two companies are essentially the same. You can get a fully functional cPanel account with things like a site builder and Fantastico from either company. Both BlueHost and HostGator support Ruby on Rails and PHP5. You can get as many email and FTP accounts as you need and the way you manage them is pretty much the same. Each company has detailed plan pages that outline exactly what they do and don’t support.
BlueHost does not offer reseller or dedicated hosting. HostGator, on the other hand, has fairly extensive offerings for customers who require reseller or dedicated hosting accounts.
One thing that can be of concern is that BlueHost does not have any meaningful uptime guarantee. According to a sales representative I spoke to, all their uptime guarantee (99.9%) allows you to do is cancel and get a pro-rated refund. They won’t compensate you if the site is down. At HostGator, most of their plans have a 99.9% uptime guarantee. If they fail to meet it, you receive a refund for that month.
Both companies offer 30 day money back guarantees. The guarantees allow you to cancel at any time if you aren’t completely satisfied with your experience.
HostGator’s pricing is pretty straight forward. Shared plans range from $4.95 per month (paid yearly) to $14.95 per month (can be paid monthly). Reseller hosting plans range from $24.95 per month to $99.95 per month. Dedicated servers are priced from $174 per month to upwards of $374 per month. None of HostGator’s plans have any setup fees.
To find pricing for BlueHost, you have to dig a little bit. It also takes a little bit of thinking to figure out what you’ll end up paying at the end of the day. BlueHost only offers one plan (a shared hosting plan). You simply cannot purchase anything shorter than a 1 year commitment.
BlueHost’s one plan provides customers with “unlimited” disk space and bandwidth, but BlueHost reserves the right to put a soft cap on anyone they feel is adversely affecting their other customers. HostGator’s smallest plan matches the “unlimited” disk space and bandwidth with similar soft restrictions.
Assuming you stay with the companies for the following amounts of time, here is what you’ll pay (including setup fees, if they apply):
As you can see, BlueHost and HostGator have the same price at the 12 month mark, but in all other cases either HostGator is cheaper or BlueHost doesn’t even offer service for that length of time. If you’re getting close to a decision on one of the two, check each hosts review at Clickfire as HostGator and BlueHost both regularly offer coupons (HostGator) or special discount promotions (BlueHost) that can lower your cost. You can also check the Clickfire web hosting review top list for this stuff.
I called BlueHost’s sales department to ask if they had an uptime guarantee. The call was answered in about 30 seconds. The representative’s answers and tone didn’t give me a lot of confidence, but he managed to answer the question. A call to HostGator was answered within about 30 seconds as well. The representative seemed to be more knowledgeable and was more confident about his answers.
I sent emails to each company’s support department in the late evening on a Sunday. BlueHost doesn’t let you send a ticket in via email – you must use their web-based interface. The web-basted interface offers a lot of categories (which can be confusing) and forces you to look through a knowledge base before submitting a ticket.
I heard back from HostGator after 14 minutes. Their response was good and provided the information needed. I heard back from BlueHost about two and a half hours later. Their reply was helpful, but not as good as HostGator’s.
Both companies provide customer service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to all of their customers over email and live chat. HostGator also offers support over live chat.
New BlueHost customers receive $75 in advertising credits from Google and Yahoo. HostGator does not offer an equivalent to this. BlueHost also includes a domain with certain purchases (when you pre-pay a year or two in advance). HostGator does the same thing, but only at $50 in credits and only for Google. Not a huge perk, but it’s not a bad thing. Both hosts will help you move your sites over from other web hosts.
If it is between BlueHost and HostGator, you can’t make a bad choice. Both companies are well known and reputable companies that offer pretty much the same service for similar prices. Their customer service is consistent, effective, and easily available.
If it were my web site and my money, I think I’d go with HostGator. The company has always impressed me with their very straight forward, no hype attitude. I like that they offer more choices when it comes to plans and payment terms and I appreciate that flexibility.
The choice is yours, though. One of the great things about the web hosting industry is that there are lots of choices and lots of great companies to choose from.
–June 2007, Douglas Hanna
–Updated: March 2010, Steve Miller