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HostGator vs Squarespace: full control versus design freedom


In this article, I’m doing a deep dive on HostGator vs Squarespace – focusing on pricing, ease of use, performance, security, support, and more.

Many would say that a HostGator vs Squarespace comparison is like comparing apples and oranges. After all, the two are very different.

HostGator provides hosting services for various content management systems (CMS), including the extremely flexible and highly beloved WordPress.

On the other hand, Squarespace is one of the most popular website builders in the market that allows you to quickly and easily build a design-oriented website without any coding or extensive design skills.

However, to really determine which one is better is a pretty difficult task. While both are great in their respective niches, I’m curious to see how well they stack up against each other in terms of features and functionality.

That’s why I put both providers to the test. Let’s explore the findings.

HostGator vs Squarespace: general info

HostGatorSquarespace
Rating
4.2
4.2
Price fromFrom $2.75/monthFrom $16.00/month
Free domainYesYes
Payment typesCredit/debit card, PayPal, check, money orders, bank wiresCredit card
Hosting typesShared, WordPress, VPS, cloud, reseller, and dedicated server hosting plansSimple site and eCommerce
Control panelNative user interface +cPanelNative user interface +section-based editor
Average speed525ms467ms
Monitored uptime>99.99%99.99%
Uptime guarantee99.9%99.9%
Server locationsThe USAThe USA
SecuritySSL certificates, server-level firewall, 2-factor-authenticationSSLs, server monitoring, WAF, backups
Support24/7 live chat, 24/7 phone support, knowledge base24/7 ticket support and 5:30 AM – 9:30 PM PT live chat
Website migrationOne free WordPress/cPanel migration and inter-server migrationOnly manual website migration
ExtrasEmail accountsContirbutors
Money-back guarantee45 days14 days
Websitewww.hostgator.comwww.squarespace.com

HostGator vs Squarespace: pricing comparison

There’s a clear victor for HostGator vs Squarespace when it comes to prices – HostGator is the much cheaper option. HostGator’s shared hosting plans start at $2.75/mo, while Squarespace’s cheapest plan is $16.00/mo.

Before moving further, it’s crucial to mention that HostGator provides a variety of hosting solutions (WordPress, cloud, VPS, reseller, and dedicated hosting) for everyone’s needs. However, in this comparison, I’ll be focusing on its shared hosting plan and compare it to Squarespace’s 4 plans.

Now, talking about the two providers’ entry plans, they share some similarities like a free custom domain registration for a year, an SSL certificate, and unlimited bandwidth.

As for differences:

  • HostGator’s Hatchling ($2.75/mo) – allows hosting 1 website and includes unlimited storage, email accounts, cPanel, and Gator website builder, as well as some website statistics tools.
  • Squarespace’s Personal ($16.00/mo) – allows to create unlimited sites and includes 30 minutes of video storage, basic website metrics, and a large variety of professionally designed templates.

Right away, you can tell that HostGator’s basic plan is noticeably cheaper and more free-handed with its resources, compared to Squarespace. For less than ¼ of the price, you get unlimited storage and email accounts. Plus, it even comes with a builder – albeit a basic one.

Of course, these are just the providers’ entry plans – both have more plans available. Let’s see which one of them offers the highest value for money.


HostGator has 3 shared hosting plans ranging from $2.75/mo to $5.25/mo.

As you can see, HostGator recommends its Baby plan. That seems self-explanatory as for only $0.75 more than Hatchling, you no longer have to restrict yourself and can host as many websites as you need.

The Business plan provides even better features, yet the price for said additional features is slightly too high.

Best Value

To secure the best monthly rates, choose the Baby plan, with a 36-month subscription. The first upfront payment for 3 years is $126, which is more than 60% cheaper than the monthly subscription. However, be aware that rates are much higher.

As for Squarespace, it has 4 plans priced between $16.00/mo and $49.00/mo.

Now, depending on your needs, I’d recommend:

  • Personal ($16.00/mo) – unlimited websites, unmetered bandwidth, 30 minutes of video storage, and over 100 all-purpose attractive templates to choose from. Best for small or basic sites.
  • Basic Commerce ($27.00/mo) – if you’re looking to build an online store, this premium plan adds such eCommerce features as customer accounts, analytics and merchandising tools, and eliminates transaction fees. Recommended for smaller eCommerce stores.
Best Value

To get the most out of your hard-earned dollars, opt for an annual billing cycle. Save as much as 25% every year for both Personal and Basic Commerce plans.


Lastly, talking about money-back guarantees – HostGator offers a pretty unique 45-day money-back guarantee. At the same time, Squarespace has a 14-day money-back guarantee for annually billed plans.

All in all, HostGator’s plans are significantly cheaper, yet provide more server resources.

Hosting management: ease of use

Both HostGator and Squarespace nailed it as far as ease of use is concerned. With HostGator, you get an easy-to-navigate custom user interface along with a cPanel. Meanwhile, Squarespace offers its own modern management dashboard and a section-based editor.

Website and account management

Even though both HostGator and Squarespace are designed with user-friendliness in mind, there’s a notable difference in how the two approach hosting and site management.

With HostGator, you get both a custom control panel and a cPanel. The native dashboard is slightly old-fashioned but well-organized and easy to navigate.

There you’ll find all the main shortcuts to cPanel, including SSL, domain, and email management, as well as WordPress installation. From here you can also access the Gator website builder. Mainly, though, it’s used for billing and reaching the cPanel.

Speaking of which, cPanel is the main dashboard for website management. It contains pretty much everything you need to run your site like domain, email, SSL, file, and database management, as well as the Softaculous one-click app installer and security settings.

HostGator cPanel

In terms of design, HostGator’s cPanel comes with just a hint of customizations. It’s slightly old-school but extremely functional and very neatly organized. All the tools you need can be quickly reached.

Squarespace, on the other hand, is completely different from HostGator because the main control panel also serves as the website builder. That said, once you complete the setup process, you’ll immediately find everything you need for website management and website designing in one place.

On the right, you can see a live preview of the site. Meanwhile, the menu on the left features all the settings you’d need – everything from site design to things like domain, SSL, SEO tools, and marketing.

squarespace menu example

Everything is clearly labeled and methodically arranged. But the menu has multiple layers, with each option taking you deeper and deeper into the settings. So, there will be some extra clicking actions. At the same time, no page needs to be re-load since everything is built-in into the same interface.

Overall, HostGator and Squarespace took very different routes when it comes to website and account management. Despite that, both are very easy to use. HostGator neatly divides its features into 2 panels, while Squarespace has everything you might need in one place.

Website builder comparison

When comparing Squarespace vs HostGator website builder’s abilities, Squarespace wins this round. The Gator builder is easy to use with an intuitive editor and a big selection of templates. However, it’s far from being as sleek as Squarespace. Meanwhile, Squarespace is in its element with a simplistic editor and professionally made templates.

With any of HostGator’s hosting plans, you get a free Gator website that allows you to build up to 6 pages for free. The builder comes with 2 editors: Traditional and Express too.

With Traditional, you choose a template and customize it however see fit with a simple section-based editor. It gives you more control over design.

gator-full-editor

Meanwhile, Express is great if you want to get a site up and running quickly. It generates a site automatically based on your preferences.

As for templates, HostGator has over 220 options to choose from. They aren’t as sleek as Squarespace’s, but the variety is good – covering everything from professional services to blogs and portfolios.

Gator website builder templates

Squarespace, meanwhile, flaunts its strength as a website builder. For starters, it offers over 130 all-purpose designer-made templates. Each of them is responsive, meaning that they’re automatically optimized for different devices and will look just as good no matter which one you use.

Squarespace real estate templates

As for editing tools and customizations, Squarespace offers an intuitive section-based editor. The sections are made up of multiple blocks, which you can add, reshuffle or delete entirely – whatever you like.

squarespace-add-sections-view

It’s flexible enough to get the look you want but also simplistic enough for newbies to navigate.

Ultimately, Squarespace lives up to its reputation as a top website builder and takes the lead with its intuitive builder interface and gorgeous customizable templates.

Overall, both HostGator and Squarespace rise to the occasion, when it comes to ease of use. HostGator has advanced features as a hosting provider but also offers various features and tools to simplify things. Meanwhile, Squarespace prioritizes ease of use with a straightforward dashboard and intuitive builder.

HostGator vs Squarespace performance

On the performance front, it’s a tight HostGator vs Squarespace race as both did very well. HostGator comes out on top with near-perfect uptime of >99.99% and incredible website speed. Squarespace isn’t all that far behind with a still-excellent uptime and loading time.

Uptime and response time

To really see how reliable each provider is, both HostGator and Squarespace were monitored for over 2 months. During this time, both demonstrated excellent reliability and very reasonable server responsiveness.

Starting with HostGator, it revealed a near-impeccable >99.99% uptime. In 2 months, there were only 3 outages that caused 5 minutes of downtime.

That’s significantly better than its promised 99.9% uptime guarantee.

Hostgator  responce time

As for response time, HostGator’s results were more run of the mill – averaging at 525ms. That being said, it’s certainly still better than the market average of 600ms. Plus, I see some encouraging signs of improvement at the end of the observation period.

Meanwhile, Squarespace also showed great reliability with 99.99% uptime. In 2 months of testing, there was only 1 outage that had my site down only for 3 minutes.

Considering that Squarespace issues an uptime guarantee of 99.9%, the actual results were much better.

Squarespace uptime monitoring

In terms of average response time, it was slightly ahead of HostGator at 467ms. Even though its stability could be improved, the time itself was not bad and managed to slip under the market's average of 600ms.

In short, when reliability is concerned, both providers did equally well. HostGator has just a tad bit better uptime, while Squarespace showed a slightly speedier average response time.

Website speed

Next up, let’s see which of the two, HostGator or Squarespace, can load up a fully-built website faster.

Before we get into a detailed analysis of website loading speed, here are 2 main metrics that I took into consideration for this test:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – this is the time it takes to load the largest chunk of content (image, video, font, etc.) on the page. To increase your chances of ranking higher on the search engine result page, keep this time under 2.5 seconds.
  • Fully loaded time – marks the time it takes for all elements on the site to get fully loaded up. For decreased bounce-off rates and better user experience keep this time under 3 seconds.

Important to note that both providers’ data centers are located in the US alone. Therefore, that’s where my sites are hosted and tested, meaning there won’t be any latency involved in these test results.

HostGator was remarkably fast when it came to both LCP and fully loaded time. Its LCP was 1.1s and the website took an additional 0.1s until it was fully loaded.

HostGator fully built website loading speed

Now, before moving to Squarespace’s results, it’s important to mention that website builders tend to suffer from poor website speed due to many design elements.

However, Squarespace bucked the trend with a fast LCP of just 1.3s. Its fully loaded time, while much slower than HostGator’s, also managed to slip under the recommended max of 3 seconds – taking only 2.3s.

Squarespace page loading speed test

Overall, both providers were very fast. However, since this is a HostGator vs Squarespace hosting battle, it’s important to note that HostGator was faster, with a better LCP and fully loaded time.

All things considered, the pair delivered on their promises when it came to performance. However, this round had a clear winner – HostGator took the lead with better uptime and faster website speed.

Website security

As far as HostGator vs Squarespace security is concerned, both providers cover the basics but aren’t exactly liberal with their protection. For HostGator, everything beyond the bare minimum costs extra, but you have more say in security settings. Meanwhile, Squarespace offers slightly more robust measures, but you have limited control over them.

To begin with, both providers include the essentials like:

  • Free SSL certificates;
  • 24/7 server monitoring.

However, that’s about all they have in common.

As for the individual offerings, HostGator has:

  • Server-level firewall to protect against malicious traffic.
  • Positive SSL with the Business plan. Other plans have the option to upgrade to Positive SSL for $3.33/mo.
  • SiteLock Essentials can be purchased for $1.99/mo. It comes with features like daily malware scans, basic CDN, and Google Blacklist monitoring.
  • Daily automated website backup and 1-click restore are available for $2.00/mo.

Squarespace’s security measures, on the other hand, are already included in its plans and managed by the builder:

  • Two-factor authentication for an added layer of security.
  • Web Application Firewall (WAF) is activated by default.
  • Regular backups are performed automatically.

Overall, while they cover the bare minimums, both providers could be more comprehensive and generous on the security front. HostGator appears to be the better option since you have more control over your security, even if it means you have to pay more.

Customer support

When it comes to customer support, both opt for a bit different approaches. While both providers offer a live chat option, HostGator additionally offers support via phone and email. Alternatively, Squarespace focuses on its ticketing system. Regardless, each has a pretty extensive knowledge base.

Talking about HostGator, its main support channel is a live chat that’s available 24/7. Generally, the customer support team there is quick to attend and ready to solve your issues quickly. However, you might find yourself having to clarify your questions or issues since miscommunications are quite common due to the support team being outsourced.

Alternatively, HostGator has a generously-stocked knowledge base, too. It’s stuffed with articles, guides, and videos and everything is well-organized. You can very quickly find what you need.

Squarespace’s support is only available 24/7 via email and Twitter. Its live chat is only manned on weekdays from 4 A.M. to 8 P.M. ET. The wait time, generally, is short and the agents are professional. However, more often than not, they will try to redirect you to an article from the knowledge base instead of giving you a straightforward answer.

One good thing, though, Squarespace does have a very extensive and up-to-date knowledge base. So you just might find everything you need without even having to turn to the support team.

Overall, HostGator wins this round of the HostGator vs Squarespace battle. Its support channels are more readily available and the agents are more attentive to your questions and issues.

HostGator vs Squarespace: final recommendations

TheHostGator vs Squarespace battle was a pretty tough one, as both providers did very well. HostGator emphasizes affordability, ease of use, and performance. On the other hand, Squarespace offers a managed service with excellent ease of use to attract those in search of a no-fuss option.

FeatureHostGatorSquarespaceVerdict
Price
HostGator is significantly cheaper, with plans starting from just $2.75/mo. Plus, it offers multiple hosting solutions while Squarespace provides only one.
Ease of use
Both hosts are very beginner-friendly. HostGator comes with a native user interface and a cPanel, while Squarespace has all the features and site editor packed into one platform.
Performance
Both HostGator and Squarespace demonstrated reliable uptime and fast loading times. However, HostGator had a slight edge in both tests over the latter.
Security
Both hosts are pretty basic in terms of security. While the two do include basic features like free SSL and server monitoring, more advanced settings are missing.
Customer support
Both providers offer numerous support channels. However, HostGator’s support team is more accessible and helpful, while Squarespace’s knowledge base contains more articles.

All things considered, the HostGator vs Squarespace battle might be closely-contested but there’s a clear winner. HostGator takes the lead with its cheap pricing, beginner-oriented additional features, outstanding uptime and website speed, and better support.

Having said that, Squarespace isn’t all that far behind, either, with its easy-to-use and intuitive builder.

Alternatives to HostGator and Squarespace

While the duo is certainly praiseworthy, they might not be the right provider for you or the website you intend to build. If neither of the options fits your needs, there are many good hosting options, with the 2 most notable being Hostinger and Zyro.

Hostinger

Another wallet-friendly alternative, Hostinger’s cheapest option for shared hosting costs only $2.59/mo. Although very affordable, the host is most well-known for its excellent performance, ease of use, and generous server resources. Not only that, but it also happens to be among some of the most secure hosting options in the market, too.

Zyro

Zyro is one of the most affordable yet high-quality website builders. It’s known for its many AI functionalities, simplistic interface, and a wide range of modern-looking templates. The builder has a free 14-day trial, and 4 paid plans. Prices start from as low as $2.69/mo and go up to just $14.39/mo, which is still cheaper than the cheapest Squarespace option.


More HostGator comparisons for you to check out

More Squarespace comparisons you might want to read


HostGator vs Squarespace FAQs