SiteGround vs HostGator: no need to overpay for hosting
In this article, I’ve compared SiteGround vs HostGator – two popular web hosting providers with well-known reputations. I’ve looked at everything from their prices and ease of use to the performance and customer support. All this to determine whether they are as good as they claim to be.
While both providers started on the same path, offering quite affordable shared hosting for beginner users, they grew very different over time.
SiteGround became a staple of WordPress hosting. It started focusing on performance and developing its own tools, turning into a premium platform.
HostGator, on the other hand, remained very affordable and beginner-friendly. It’s more of a classic web hosting provider with a standard control panel and management options.
When comparing HostGator vs SiteGround, I’m really interested in what use cases they are best suited to. I mean, you’re always going to get the best results if you’re using a hosting provider suited to your needs, right?
With this in mind, let’s jump straight into my comparison with a quick overview.
SiteGround vs HostGator: general info
SiteGround and HostGator are both popular web hosting providers offering a selection of plans for both small and large websites. On the other hand, SiteGround is slightly more expensive, but it’s known for its impressive WordPress hosting features. HostGator is significantly cheaper and targets beginners without much industry experience.
Here’s a quick overview of the main facts. As the post turned out to be quite long, you can read the whole thing or skip to the verdict altogether.
|Pricing:||from $6.99/mo||from $2.75/mo|
|Ease of use:||Custom control panel||Modern native dashboard with the classic cPanel integration|
|Performance:||99.99% uptime and 217ms response time||>99.99% uptime and 525ms response time|
|Security:||SSLs, server monitoring, WAF, daily backups||SSLs and server-level firewall|
|Support:||24/7 live chat, tickets, and phone||24/7 live chat and phone|
SiteGround offers shared hosting starting from $6.99 per month, along with a more expensive managed Cloud option. HostGator shared hosting is cheaper, starting from $2.75 per month. VPS, dedicated, and cloud hosting are also available.
Shared hosting is the main product of these two providers, but the features offered are quite different.
While both SiteGround and HostGator include free SSLs and email accounts for a single website, that's where the similarities end:
- SiteGround StartUp ($6.99/mo) includes 10GB SSD storage and bandwidth for 10 000 monthly visits. Additional perks include daily backups and pre-configured caching.
- HostGator Hatchling ($2.75/mo) includes unmetered storage and bandwidth. Additionally, it will provide you with a free domain for the first year.
It seems that HostGator is not only cheaper but also offers more server resources. At the same time, don’t be fooled by the unmetered. Just like your own phone or computer has limited storage, so does the server. Plus, you are sharing them with other users. So SiteGround is more transparent about the resources offered. Plus, it includes daily backups and caching that are pretty expensive on their own.
At the same time, to get the advertised price, you have to stick with the providers for a certain time. Plus, the pricing will jump up when it comes time to renew. Let us take a look at how it is:
|Provider||Plan||Total initial price||Total renewal price|
While both initial and renewal pre-payments with SiteGround look friendlier, keep in mind that it’s just for a year. Meanwhile, you'll have peace of mind for 3 years with HostGator.
Although one thing is certain. The entry plans are both very limiting – 1 website is very often not enough. So unless you know for sure, it’s better to look at other options.
With 3 shared hosting plans in total, SiteGround prices range from $6.99 to $14.99 a month with yearly subscriptions.
The entry plan is quite limiting and does not offer the features SiteGround is so famous for, so it’s best to look at the 2 other options.
- GrowBig already includes unlimited websites and 20GB of storage space. It also adds staging, collaborators tool, on-demand backups, and a custom PHP setup Ultrafast PHP.
- GoGeek adds even more, with 40GB storage, it also includes a white-label control panel that you can give to your clients, Git integration, and priority support.
I personally think GrowBig is the most universal plan that’s not overpriced. GoGeek is more of a business/agency option.
Choose GrowBig with a 36-month subscription to get a permanent $17.49/mo price with no increases upon renewal. Alternatively, you can choose it for a year for $9.99/mo initially and $24.99/mo on renewal. It’s the best value for performance-focused WordPress websites.Check SiteGround Pricing Now
As for HostGator, it too has 3 plans ranging from $2.75 to $5.25 a month with 36-month subscriptions.
Again, the entry plan is best if you know one website is enough for you. Other than that, the rest of the options look good:
- Baby is not even a dollar more expensive but already includes unlimited sites.
- Pro includes more extra features such as dedicated IP, PositiveSSL, and SEO toolkit.
In any case, Baby is the most universal option offering the best value. Neither dedicated IP nor other features of the Pro plan are essential for personal or small business websites.
Choose Baby with a 36-mo subscription to get the most bang for your buck with HostGator. Initially, you’ll pay $126 for 3 years worth of hosting. Renewal brings the next payment to $358.20.Check HostGator Pricing Now
HostGator is a significantly cheaper option, with both initial and renewal pricing considered. At the same time, its packages are pretty basic. SiteGround offers more premium features in its more expensive plans that are more suitable for business use.
One final thing that separates the 2 is the money-back guarantee.
SiteGround has a standard 30-day refund period, while HostGator extends it to 45 days. Keep in mind that not all services might be refundable.
All in all, SiteGround and HostGator have very different packages. SiteGround is more expensive but features premium tools and transparent resources. Meanwhile, HostGator remains a budget option with essentials included.
Hosting management: ease of use
When it comes to the user interface, both providers are doing a really good job. SiteGround has one of the best modern user interfaces we’ve seen, alongside a custom control panel. It also features tools that are meant to make hosting management easier. HostGator offers a similarly intuitive client management area alongside a cPanel control panel. All of its plans include the native Gator website builder too.
Account management dashboard
The main dashboard is what greets every user once they log in to their accounts. SiteGround client management area is simple and intuitive. It’s very tidy and includes a range of built-in tools. HostGator client management area is also very attractive, providing links to a selection of basic hosting management options.
For starters, I really enjoy SiteGround’s tidy interface. The home page of its client management area includes a neat selection of tips to help you jump-start the creation of the website. The top menu also features the main account and management tools.
For example, clicking through to the Websites tab brings up a list of your installed sites. From there, you can create new sites, access more advanced tools, and reach a control panel for each site.
On the other side of the comparison, HostGator main dashboard mostly works as a navigational area. Here you'll find not only the information about your account and hosting package but also a list of quick links that will take you to the main website and hosting management tools.
The Manage column has options to set up directly from the native dashboard, such as SSL. However, others are paid. Meanwhile, the Control Panel column will redirect you to the main website setup tools in the cPanel. That is WordPress installation, file manager, databases, and webmail. What I like here is that you don’t really need to navigate to all the different areas yourself – everything is reachable from this tiny table in the main dashboard.
However, I still have to say that SiteGround and HostGator are pretty much even in terms of their native client management areas. Both have tidy, intuitive interfaces that are self-explanatory and easy to navigate. No major differences here.
Control panel comparison
SiteGround uses a native control panel Site Tools the provider developed in-house with built-in custom features such as performance management and staging. Meanwhile, HostGator comes with a standard cPanel control panel with custom skin and classic functionalities.
I started by exploring SiteGround’s control panel, and to say I was impressed would be an understatement. I really like the way it keeps things simple and attractive, and it certainly doesn’t present an overwhelming amount of information at once.
While the design and navigation are different from cPanel, it’s even easier to use. All thanks to the very logical categories on the left.
All the standard things are here – you can reach Site settings with file manager and databases, manage Domains, Email, and Security. SiteGround also adds more unique areas for Speed optimizations and WordPress settings with the staging tool. You can also pin the most used tools on the main page.
Generally, this control panel is in no way less functional than cPanel. Plus, it looks really good.
HostGator’s integrated cPanel control panel is no less powerful, but it’s certainly not as visually appealing as SiteGround’s. In saying that, it does everything it needs to, which is what counts.
Now, the relatively large selection of tools available on HostGator’s main user management page means that the average user won’t actually have to use the cPanel itself very often. But when you do, you will be able to find the exact tools you need with the built-in search bar.
As HostGator uses the standard version of cPanel, everything’s categorized into familiar tabs: email, domains, databases, security, software, and so on. It really is as standard as it gets – easy for beginners to understand and functional enough for more experienced users.
Once again, there’s really no way to say which provider is better. In terms of control panels, they are both good but different. SiteGround is completely custom with additional functionalities, while HostGator remains faithful to the classic and time-tested cPanel.
Extra hosting management features
While SiteGround has a bunch of useful tools to offer as an extra, HostGator sticks to the basics and provides a nice website builder.
Starting with the GrowBig plan, SiteGround includes a couple of handy tools for hosting management. That’s staging and adding collaborators tools.
Staging is by far the most helpful feature you can get. With a couple of clicks, you can clone your site and use that clone to test out changes or introduce new features. With the same couple of clicks, you can easily push those changes to the original version of the website.
Another useful tool is the possibility to add multiple other people to your account and assign roles, as well as manage their privileges.
The feature is great for businesses that have multiple people working on the same or different projects. This way, you get better privacy and security as your team members can only access what their roles ask for.
As for HostGator, it is not as fancy. Nonetheless, you get to use a well-made website builder. It’s one of the fastest ways to launch a website.
The provider includes a free version of the Gator website builder that allows creating up to 6-pages. It has a choice of over 100 responsive templates that are very pleasant to look at.
The editor itself is easy to use and features a ton of design elements to make the template look unique. What’s surprising is that you can even integrate PayPal and accept payments online, which is rarely the case with free builders.
On the other hand, HostGator will display a small banner saying, that you created the site using its builder. So it’s more of a temporary solution if you’re using the free version.
So from the very start, it was obvious that SiteGround offers more impressive extra tools. At the same time, HostGator builder can be helpful too.
All in all, both providers are easy to use. So easy that even complete beginners won’t have issues with either of them. However, if you’re looking for more functionalities and tools, SiteGround takes the win. If you’re looking for the classic cPanel – that’s one for HostGator.
SiteGround vs HostGator performance
Performance is the key when it comes to website success, especially if it is a commercial one. Quite surprisingly, even with such a big pricing difference, HostGator is not quick to give up and shows pretty similar results to SiteGround. Nonetheless, SiteGround is a little faster.
Uptime and response time
To see if providers are reliable, I monitored their uptime and response time over 2 months.
First up, SiteGround showed incredible reliability with 99.99% uptime. That is the result of just 3 outages and 7 minutes of downtime. For a quick reference, it would mean less than 1 hour of total yearly downtime.
Response time is also very speedy. It averages at 217ms, which is as fast as it gets. Especially with shared hosting.
HostGator uptime is even more impressive. With just 3 outages totaling 5 minutes of downtime, it scored >99.99% uptime.
At the same time, the provider’s servers are not as fast to respond, averaging at 525ms response time.
In any case, it’s a very close call on this one. There’s basically no difference in terms of uptime, while SiteGround takes the win for speedier server reaction times.
Website speed is the one factor that visitors notice the most. It’s also one of the factors that search engines are starting to include in their algorithms. So I’ve set up identical websites and ran them through the test.
3 factors that we are looking at here are:
- Largest Contentful Paint – up to 2.5 seconds is a good result.
- Fully Loaded Time – it should not exceed 3 seconds to be considered as good.
- TTFB – it’s the initial server reaction, which is best to keep under 200ms.
SiteGround had no problems at all. Its Largest Contentful Pain loaded in very speedy 872ms. There was a little delay until Fully Loaded Time, which stood at 1.1 seconds.
Even more impressive is TTFB – just 90ms. That’s really the fastest result I’ve got for shared hosting. And that is with standard SiteGround speed optimizations – no advanced stuff turned on.
As for HostGator, it’s really not far behind. The Largest Contentful Paint is at 1.1 seconds with a small delay to Fully Loaded Time, which is 1.2 seconds.
HostGator also perfectly fits into the recommended TTFB time, with 154ms result.
It really is surprising how such a cheap provider can compete with SiteGround, which strongly focuses on performance.
But there’s one difference.
Speed is also dependent on where your website is hosted. To get the best results, servers have to be physically close to your audience. With SiteGround, you get to pick from 6 data centers in the US, Europe, Asia, and Australia. HostGator, however, operates a single data center in the US.
So while in the US, where my websites are hosted, results are very similar, SiteGround has an advantage if you target audiences in other continents.
Stress testing results
The final test is very important as it shows us if a provider can perform in a real-life scenario. Over 5 minutes, I’ve sent 50 virtual users (bots) to imitate actual visitors browsing through the site.
SiteGround handled the test exceptionally well.
There are several things that are important here: the blue line (response time/speed), the grey line (number of visitors), and the red line (failures).
In SiteGround’s case, there are no failures, and the blue line remains flat even when the number of visitors increases. It has a couple of minor bumps, but overall, the speed remains unchanged. SiteGround really doesn’t care if there are 1 or 50 visitors on your site.
HostGator was no worse, holding up to 50 visitors with ease.
Again, there were no failures, and the blue line remained flat. It is much more bumpy than SiteGround’s, but that’s no issue at all.
HostGator really surprised me with such result, as it is more than 2 times cheaper and doesn’t feature as many speed optimizations as SiteGround.
All in all, both providers are very reliable and speedy. I’m calling this a draw and even favoring HostGator a little bit; for a cheap price, it manages to compete with one of the most speed-focused hosts out there.
In the security department, SiteGround is far more advanced than HostGator. It includes real-time server monitoring, a custom firewall, daily backups, and more. HostGator isn’t nearly as impressive and forces you to pay for anything more than the absolute essentials.
As you can probably imagine, web security is extremely important. Without the proper measures, your server, website, or databases could be hacked, resulting in the loss of valuable or sensitive information. Because of this, I decided that it was important to compare HostGator vs SiteGround’s main security features.
For starters, SiteGround is known for its industry-leading security features.
- AI anti-bot system works to protect your website from malicious traffic and brute-force attacks.
- A real-time server monitor ensures your website won’t go down unexpectedly. Server status is checked every half a second, and issues are identified and fixed proactively.
- Smart web application firewall (WAF) is on by default. In short, this tool works to protect your server and websites from hacking and data breaches. And, the provider constantly updates this firewall with new rules as new threats emerge.
- The system administration team is working 24/7 to monitor and prevent your website from the newest vulnerabilities.
Alongside the advanced security features, SiteGround also comes with the essential basics - free SSL certificates for all of the websites, CDN integration to prevent DDoS attacks, and automated daily backups.
Unfortunately, HostGator doesn’t come with anything close to the same level of security as SiteGround.
- The provider does include a server-level firewall, which is a basic measure that will prevent some unwanted traffic from reaching your account.
- As a standard, SSL certificates are free and unlimited, so no issues here.
But that’s where the good part ends. The rest of the features cost extra.
For example, HostGator performs complimentary weekly backups. But, if you’d like to restore, the provider does not guarantee that it will be successful and charges $25 for the service. Or you can opt for CodeGuard automatic backups that are $2/mo.
Additionally, the SiteLock security package is available. It’s designed to detect any signs of hacking or malware infection. Unfortunately, though, this does cost $23.88 per year or approximately $1.99 per month.
If you’re using Hostgator’s cheapest plan, security is more expensive than your hosting!
Overall, SiteGround clearly comes with better security features than HostGator. It pretty much has everything covered for free. HostGator, on the other hand, only includes the absolute basics and encourages you to purchase paid add-ons.
Both SiteGround and HostGator offer great self-help resources, as well as a selection of direct support channels. Here, SiteGround provides 24/7 live chat, phone, and ticket support. HostGator can be contacted via its own 24/7 live chat and phone channels.
On the one hand, SiteGround is famous for its fast and well-trained support team. However, to make the experience more efficient, SiteGround automatically sends some queries to ticket support and some – to the live chat.
For example, at one moment, I started monitoring quite slow server response times on one of the websites and decided to check whether the support knows what’s up. My question was redirected to ticket support.
I received a reply to my query within 15 minutes, which I was more than happy with. Some providers take longer to respond to live chat messages. However, the answer was a little disappointing. The agent I chatted to simply tried to tell me that there were no problems with my server’s speed, which I know isn’t true.
When I queried the response, I was told that changing my server location could help. Unfortunately, though, this is a paid service, so it felt a little like I was being taken advantage of.
Other than that, I did contact the SiteGround live chat team a couple of times, and the experience was good. So no other problems apart from this interesting interaction.
HostGator, on the other hand, has fast and reliable support agents. I reached out via live chat to find out if I could change my data center location. I received a clear, satisfactory answer within minutes.
Sure, HostGator doesn’t go out of its way to offer me one of its India or Brazil locales, as they are probably managed by completely different teams. Nonetheless, a straightforward answer is appreciated.
So, in all honesty, both providers have good customer service. At the same time, I was more lucky with HostGator.
Speaking of support options, HostGator and SiteGround also both provide a selection of self-help resources.
For one, SiteGround’s help center contains a wealth of information – tutorials, documentation, and even podcast. It’s very useful for dealing with common problems, and solutions are always presented in a neat, intuitive manner.
In saying that, HostGator’s knowledge base is at least as good, if not better. It’s one of my favorites, actually. And it really includes everything you need to know about setting up a new website, managing it, and troubleshooting.
Also, HostGator has a Youtube channel where they post video tutorials. It might be helpful if you’re a visual learner.
Altogether, HostGator and SiteGround both offer high-quality customer service. At the same time, SiteGround is taking a non-standard approach to forward some of the queries to the ticket support, while HostGator’s live chat is available for all questions.
SiteGround vs HostGator: final recommendations
In my SiteGround vs HostGator comparison, we’ve seen that both are high-quality web hosts. SiteGround is slightly more expensive and comes with impressive security tools. Plus, the performance is exceptional. HostGator is fast, easy to use, and comes with great support but limited security features.
|Pricing||HostGator is significantly cheaper than SiteGround, with the entry price of $2.75/mo. SiteGround plans start at $6.99/mo, but it includes additional perks such as caching and daily backups.|
|Interface||In the ease of use department, both providers are great. At the same time, SiteGround has a completely custom panel with extra functionalities such as staging and speed management.|
|Performance||Surprisingly, even at different price points, both hosts showed very reliable and speedy results. SiteGround and HostGator were fast and handled a lot of traffic easily.|
|Security||Security is where SiteGround is the obvious winner, offering both essential and more advanced tools for website protection. Meanwhile, HostGator includes the basics and makes you pay for the rest.|
|Support||24/7 customer support is available with both providers. It’s quick and efficient, plus, big and thorough knowledge bases are there too.|
Altogether, this comparison is a very close call, with both providers offering quality service. However, if you’re looking for the most pleasant user experience on the most up-to-date platform, SiteGround is the one for you. It’s the best option for professional use and business websites.
At the same time, HostGator is a cheaper alternative offering a more standard experience. Choose the provider if you don’t have a lot of experience in web hosting.
Alternatives to SiteGround and HostGator
SiteGround and HostGator are both popular web hosting choices, but there are numerous alternatives worth considering. Some providers offer better value for money, while others focus on more specialized solutions.
Hostinger is a great alternative for those looking for high-quality budget hosting. Its cheapest shared hosting plan costs just $1.39 per month, compared to HostGator’s $2.75 and SiteGround’s $6.99.
However, it’s worth noting that Hostinger’s shared hosting is quite basic. It doesn’t include the same number of advanced features as SiteGround, but it’s still a great choice for those on a tight budget. Especially considering that performance is no less powerful.
Bluehost offers similarly-priced (starting at $3.95/mo) shared hosting solutions with the focus on WordPress. It’s actually a WordPress.org recommended hosting provider, just like SiteGround. On top of this, it’s extremely beginner-friendly, comes with a free domain name, and is backed by a selection of great features.
While Bluehost is not the fastest out there, the ease of use really pays everything off. The provider has easy website setup, staging environment, and even marketing integration straight in the dashboard.
SiteGround vs HostGator FAQs
Can I get a free domain with SiteGround or HostGator?
You can get a free domain with HostGator but not with SiteGround. HostGator provides free domain for the first year with all shared hosting subscriptions of 12 months or longer.
Is HostGator or SiteGround better for advanced hosting?
SiteGround is the best choice for advanced hosting. Although both providers offer options to scale beyond standard shared hosting, SiteGround’s managed cloud solutions are up there with the best available. HostGator is on the more basic side with VPS and dedicated option, but it is more affordable.
Is SiteGround or HostGator better for WordPress?
SiteGround is better for WordPress than HostGator as its whole platform is designed around this content management system. SiteGround takes care of updates and develops tools to make WordPress faster, more secure, and more functional.
Can I choose my server location with HostGator or SiteGround?
You can choose server location with SiteGround but not with HostGator. Options include the US, the UK, the Netherlands, Australia, and Singapore. Be mindful about the choice during the purchase, as changing the location costs around $30.