In fact, WordPress wasn’t even founded until shortly after the crash in 2003. As time marched forward and we moved closer to the adoption of cloud technologies, there was an explosion of hosting providers.
Hosting, be it WordPress hosting or otherwise, was delivered to customers as a service, helping businesses small and large eliminate the need for in-house servers to host their websites, and to eliminate the need for an in-house IT team.
These days, it seems like a new provider is cropping up every other night, and it’s difficult to know which hosting providers are trustworthy and deliver good value.
After all, no one wants to get stuck with a lemon and be forced to wait out the terms of a subscription before switching providers.
To that end, we’re going to take a look a two of the leading services’ free trials, pricing plans, features, customer service, headquarters’ locations, and more so you don’t make an uninformed decision.
I will add here that we recommend SiteGround as part of our WordPress Site Speed Guide, which shows how you can have your website load in under 0.5 seconds by following our step-by-step process.
To start off, I wanted you to know how old and mature each company is. HostGator was founded back in October of 2002.
SiteGround is slightly younger, though was still founded about the same time back in March of 2004.
The point is, neither of these services is an unproven startup; rather, they are both matured, tried and tested hosting providers with strong reputations.
To get started, let’s take a look at each service’s respective pricing models.
Both providers have extremely competitive pricing models, and I don’t personally think nominal savings of $1.00 a month would affect the average user’s decision one way or the other.
That said, there are plenty of price-conscious consumers of hosting services that simply want the absolute cheapest service possible.
Of all the plans offered by both providers, HostGator’s entry-level web hosting package, nicknamed the Hatchling Plan, is the most inexpensive at a mere $2.75 per month.
However, as we’ll discuss later, price isn’t everything, and you get what you pay for.
Before digging deeper, let’s take a high-level overview of each provider’s pricing model.
The following outlines SiteGround’s Web Hosting and WordPress payment plans:
- StartUp Plan: $3.95 per month
- GrowBig Plan: $5.95 per month
- GoGeek Plan: $11.95 per month
The following outlines HostGator’s WordPress hosting packages:
- Starter Plan – $5.95 per month
- Standard Plan – $7.95 per month
- Business Plan – $9.95 per month
The following outlines HostGator’s Web hosting packages:
- Hatchling Plan – $2.75 per month
- Baby Plan – $5.95 per month
- Business Plan – $5.95 per month
As you can see, overall, HostGator is the more inexpensive option. In fact, it's Business Plan is cheaper than SiteGround’s highest-tier GoGeek Plan, which costs $11.95 per month.
Furthermore, the Business plan’s cost is equal to SiteGround’s second-tier GrowBig plan. And as mentioned previously, the Hatchling Plan is the most inexpensive between either provider.
If your sole concern when selecting a hosting provider is cost, then HostGator is the way to go. But I would caution you to read the section regarding features before making a final decision.
Also, I found it interesting that HostGator’s second-tier and third-tier packages cost the same amount of money. You’d have to be crazy to opt for the Baby Plan when the Business Plan has an equal cost.
I think that HostGator simply overpriced the Baby Plan as a marketing ploy to encourage more customers to opt for the Business Plan.
Marketing tactic or not, I can confidently say that HostGator wins the price war.
But let’s take a closer look at the availability of free trial accounts and money back guarantees.
Pricing Winner = HostGator
Genuine free trial accounts are something of a rarity in the hosting industry, which is fair from the point of the hosting provider who doesn’t want to give their limited hardware resources away for free.
That said, there is a small handful of providers in hosting niches that do offer free trials, such as GoDaddy.
Unfortunately, neither SiteGround nor HostGator offer free trials, but that doesn’t mean these services don’t have a way to remove risk for new users.
Typically, I’ve found that if a service lacks a free trial, then it will offer a money back guarantee as a means of compensation.
In fact, I would go so far as to claim that it’s a rarity that a digital service should lack a money back guarantee, since, along with 24/7 customer support, they have become the norm.
SiteGround offers a 30-day money back guarantee to its customers, which provides an entire month to determine if you really love the service and want to commit to a longer-term subscription.
30 days seems to be the standard period for guarantees, but HostGator goes one step further by offering a 45-day money back guarantee.
I do admire HostGator for offering a longer money back guarantee and find it commendable, but be aware that terms and conditions do apply. Aren’t there always some strings attached?
The 45-day money back guarantee offers no protection for dedicated servers, administrative fees, install fees for custom software, or domain name purchases.
Essentially, the 45-day money back guarantee only offers refunds for the subscription fee itself and not any ancillary expenses. So even if you cancel your plan, you’ll still have your domain name for the remainder of the subscription terms.
Still, a 45-day money back guarantees, while not as good as a free trial account, is better than nothing. You could certainly do a lot worse, and because HostGator has a longer money back guarantee, I favor it over SiteGround with regards to the amount of risk removed for new customers.
Features and Benefits
Compared with HostGator, I was relatively impressed with SiteGround’s wealth of features. Given that the service is so inexpensive, I was surprised to see the amount of value the service adds to all service tiers, including the StartUp package.
There is no such thing a perfect service, however, and there were a few features I feel could stand to be improved. The main feature of SiteGround’s service that I didn’t like was its limited storage.
The StartUp plan only comes with a measly 10GB of storage capacity, which isn’t much. Most people have more data on their smartphone, and I think the 10GB storage threshold could be easily gobbled up with photo data, not to mention files hosted directly on the site.
I imagine video content could easily swallow up the scarce storage resources too, but few people actually host video content directly on their website.
Instead, web administrators often embed a video on their pages from other sources – platforms like Vimeo and YouTube.
Despite the lack of large quantities of storage space, SiteGround offers a wide variety of diverse features. The following outlines the features and benefits of SiteGround’s Web Hosting and WordPress packages:
- StartUp – one website, 10GB storage, suitable for approximately 10,000 monthly visitors, and all essential features
- GrowBig – multiple websites, 20GB storage, suitable for approximately 25,000 monthly visitors, and all essential and premium features
- GoGeek – one website, 30GB storage, suitable for approximately 100,000 monthly visitors, and all essential, premium, and geeky advanced features
Essential features, which are available in all three packages, include the following:
- Free website builder
- Free SSL & HTTPS
- Free email accounts and Cloudflare CDN
- Unlimited traffic and MySQL
- Free daily backup
- cPanel and SSH
Premium features, which are available in all three packages, include the following:
- Free site transfer
- Priority technical support
- Free backup restores
Geeky Advanced features, which are available in all three packages, include the following:
- PCI compliant servers
- WordPress and Joomla staging
- One-click Git Repository creation
- Free backups on demand
Altogether, I think SiteGround has a well-rounded set of features designed to accommodate the full spectrum of individuals (bloggers, small organizations like churches, etc.) with small needs all the way up to businesses who need to comply with governmental regulations to conduct electronic transactions.
Their built-in cache features mean you can eliminate the need for additional WordPress cache plugins.
HostGator, on the other hand, did not impress me as much with its scant list of features – not only with HostGator’s WordPress hosting but also its Web hosting.
Compared to SiteGround’s impressive and long list of features, I don’t think that HostGator can keep up. While I was disappointed with SiteGround’s limited storage capacity, I was equally displeased with HostGator’s limited backup capacity with regards to its WordPress hosting.
Sure, a website’s actual code doesn’t take up hardly any space at all, but what about all the extra media attached to your WordPress website?
The Starter Plan only allows up to 1GB of backups, and the Business plan only allows 3GB of backups. The way I see it, that’s only good enough to back up the nuts and bolts of your website.
As for multimedia content that’s stored directly on your WordPress site, forget about it. I do think the approximation of appropriateness for monthly visitors is worthy of applause, but there isn’t much else to be exhilarated about.
The only other noteworthy feature is free SSL certificates, but you’re going to get a free certificate with the vast majority of other services.
HostGator’s Web hosting packages don’t add much value over the WordPress hosting packages, either. Yet again, they seem to be devoid of rich and diverse features, and it feels like HostGator is trying to take a “bare minimum” approach to deliver their service.
Sure, it’s incredibly inexpensive, but you only get as much as you pay for. Let’s take a closer look at HostGator’s Web and WordPress hosting packages’ features.
The following outlines HostGator’s WordPress Hosting packages:
- Starter Plan – one site, 100K monthly visits, 1GB backups, free SSL certificate
- Standard Plan – two sites, 200K monthly visits, 2GB backups, free SSL certificate
- Business Plan – three sites, 500K monthly visits, 3GB backups, free SSL certificate
The following outlines HostGator’s Web Hosting packages:
- Hatchling Plan – single domain, one-click installs, unmetered bandwidth, free SSL certificate
- Baby Plan – unlimited domains, one-click installs, unmetered bandwidth, free SSL certificate
- Business Plan – unlimited domains, one-click installs, unmetered bandwidth, free SSL certificate, Positive SSL, dedicated IP, free SEO tools
As you can see, even the basic versions of SiteGround’s service has more features than the highest tier of HostGator’s services. To be blunt, I think SiteGround blows HostGator out of the water, purely with respect to the value users get from the features of each service.
Also, consider that SiteGround’s first tier package comes with daily backups, and doesn’t encumber its users to 1GB of backup data.
And in addition to free site transfers, SiteGround’s GrowBig plan also comes with a caching feature to help reduce page load time and alleviate some of the processing demand placed on your website’s server. Other notable advantages SiteGround has over HostGator include priority technical support, PCI compliant servers, WordPress and Joomla staging, free backups on demand, and one-click Git repository creation.
To be perfectly clear, I wasn’t impressed with HostGator’s features at all. It seems like there is something missing like something isn’t adding up.
Why is SiteGround able to offer so many more features than HostGator? If I haven’t been obvious enough, I’ll tell it to you straight: SiteGround wins the features competition by a landslide.
Features Winner = SiteGround
Security, Privacy, and Company Headquarters
I wasn’t excited about HostGator’s features, and I’m also not excited about where HostGator chose to locate its company headquarters. HostGator was founded back in late 2002 in Austin, Texas, making it about 16 years old.
Although I do like mature services that have been around for more than a decade, I think some people will be dissuaded from using this service simply because of its headquarters location.
You see, multitudes of people have sworn off using digital services based in the United States because of the intelligence and wiretapping scandals committed by the Federal US Government.
Household names and trusted brands had been carrying out the NSA’s will to help the federal government collect reams of information about average US citizens.
Companies like Google, Yahoo!, Skype, Microsoft, and more discovered that their reputations with the American public, and the rest of the world too, had been shattered in the wake of whistleblower Edward Snowden.
After the government coerced domestic US digital services into stealing emails, personal pictures, private files, telephone data, video chat conversations, and more, many swore that they’d never use another domestic digital service again, if it could be helped.
For that matter, the most hardcore security purists and those who are paranoid adjacent, it is also undesirable to use a service based in the UK, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia as well.
These four countries have come to a mutual agreement with the United States to share intelligence information under the FiveEyes agreement.
If you fall into the category of being a security purist who has sworn off domestic US services, then HostGator is an inappropriate choice due to the fact that it’s based in Austin, Texas.
But the good news is that SiteGround is based in Bulgaria, making it a much more attractive option if you care about where a company chooses to locate its headquarters.
Before wrapping up this section, I did want to say that I personally don’t think HostGator has been compromised by the NSA.
There is no evidence, from Edward Snowden, WikiLeaks, or otherwise that HostGator was victimized by the NSA. However, I don’t have any explicit evidence to the contrary either, and a warrant canary is absent.
I find that warrant canary policies are much more popular among security services like VPNs.
Nevertheless, even though hosting providers may not be security services, it would be nice for them to include a warrant canary policy.
Security & Privacy Winner = SiteGround
Customer Sevice Comparison Siteground vs HostGator
With regards to customer service, I think SiteGround does an amazing job of supporting its users in their time of need. Users are given a variety of methods to contact the support department to accommodate the immediacy of their need for aid and can reach out via an online ticketing system, a phone call or a live chat system.
Naturally, I think the live chat system incorporates AI bots to field many of the basic and easy questions to answer to alleviate the demand placed on real human beings in the support department.
But this is a common and effective practice implemented by most modern customer service departments. And if I am live chatting with a bot, I don’t really care as long as it gives me the information I’m looking for in a timely manner.
I much prefer live chat to phone queues, which implement an automated voice assistant, which is similar to a bot anyway. I detest having to wait in the phone queue for a customer support agent almost as much as I dislike having to wait for the automated voice to get to the point and tell me which number I need to press before I can reach the right department.
Nevertheless, I suppose some people – for whatever reason – like contacting support the old school way, so it’s great to have so many options to choose from.
I also discovered that SiteGround has four different support departments based in the US, the UK, Spain, and Bulgaria, where the company is headquartered.
I prefer services with support departments in different regions as opposed to one global support center because it’s typically easier to communicate with people from your region of the world.
Furthermore, I was impressed with SiteGround’s wealth of online resources that may negate the need for contacting support at all.
It’s common for digital services to include knowledge bases, and SiteGround’s knowledge base is full of organized troubleshooting guides, installation and configuration procedures, and so much more.
Likewise, HostGator also allows customers to contact the support department through a live chat, telephone call, or by creating an online ticket.
However, I didn’t much care for HostGator’s support page. It looked rather archaic like it was made in the late ’90s or early 2000s and simply hasn’t been updated yet.
The layout wasn’t especially confusing, but it could use some honing to make it more navigable and to make it feel cleaner.
I also think HostGator didn’t as good of a job structuring the knowledgebase’s navigation and organization as well as SiteGround.
And though HostGator’s knowledgebase guides were informative and helpful, many of the guides were large blocks of text that were cumbersome to read.
I will give credit where credit is due, however, by applauding HostGator’s video tutorials, of which there are many. The video tutorials break down how to do a multitude of configuration and troubleshooting tasks step-by-step, which is a massive benefit to non-technical users who just need to know where to click or which fields to fill in.
My only complaint with the HostGator videos is the robotic narrator’s voice, who clearly isn’t a real human being. I really can’t figure out why they wouldn’t simply pay someone to read a script of the configuration tutorial, because doing so would be much less irritating and much more relatable. Still, regardless of the annoying robot voice, I do see value in the videos.
Having said that, I think that SiteGround has a superior customer support department. There were just too many small flaws with HostGator’s support department, even though I think HostGator does a good job of caring for its customers.
Customer Support Winner = SiteGround
Conclusion and Editor’s Opinion
Given the way that SiteGround came out on top in most of the above sections, it should come as no surprise that I think SiteGround is a better alternative than HostGator, though HostGator is certainly not a bad service by any stretch of the imagination.
SiteGround, though it lost the pricing war, is still inexpensive and affordable, and the features it offers far outweigh the light set of features offered by HostGator.
This is also true in several of our previous comparisons:
SiteGround’s customer service has a slight edge to it as well, and it’s based outside the US. However, the primary reason I think you should opt for SiteGround is that it offers inexpensive prices and a ton of features.
Price and features are, in my opinion, the core of any service. Lastly, if you’re still undecided, then I highly recommend testing the waters by taking advantage of the money back guarantee!