So you’re ready to start a blog? Before you can launch your new project online you’ll need to find somewhere to host your content.
With so many hosting providers around it can be difficult to choose between them. That’s why we’ve created this comparison guide to help you find the best option for you.
- Plans, Pricing, and Features
- Reliability and Performance
- Customer Experience and Support
- Our Recommendations
An Introduction to Bluehost and HostGator
Bluehost and HostGator are two of the most well known web hosts around in 2018. They are both popular for their affordable pricing, ease of use, and recommendations from bloggers, online marketers, and blogging experts.
Both brands are owned by Endurance International Group, a global family of brands designed to help people do business online. Although they are owned by the same parent company, the two web hosts are often compared and rated against each other as they offer similar services.
Bluehost and HostGator are both great options for bloggers who are in need of web hosting. They cater to new bloggers with affordable starter plans, all the way up to dedicated and virtual private server (VPS) hosting for bloggers who need to upgrade to support their traffic growth.
In this section we take a look at the plans, pricing, and features offered by these two top web hosting providers.
HostGator and Bluehost are both competitive on pricing and offer similar shared and cloud hosting plans, which make them an affordable choice for new bloggers. For less than $3 per month, you can create a blog and have it online, ready to be viewed by the world.
|Introductory Price||$2.95 per month||$2.75 per month|
|Price After Promotion||$7.99 per month||$6.95 per month|
|Website Space||50 GB||Unmetered|
|SSL||Free (“Let’s Encrypt”)||Free|
|Email Hosting||5 accounts, 100 MB storage per account||Unlimited|
When you compare the monthly pricing for the two web hosts, it’s a good idea to consider the price after promotion and whether you can make savings if you invest in a long term deal.
To make the most savings, you can lock in your Bluehost promotional rate for 3 years and you’ll pay $106.20 — compared to $199.80 at HostGator for the same period. If being able to pay monthly is important to you then HostGator is the web host for you, as Bluehost doesn’t offer a pay per month option.
HostGator offers unmetered website space and unlimited email hosting (subject to fair use), whereas Bluehost caps this on their basic plan. You can unlock a similarly unlimited experience with Bluehost if you upgrade to their “Plus” plan at $5.45 per month ($196 over three years).
If you don’t already have a domain name, you can register one for free with any Bluehost shared hosting plan. You can also buy domain names from HostGator at $12.95 per year.
Bluehost and HostGator offer a range of features that are well suited to bloggers, whether you want to start a blog or move your existing blog to a better host.
Blogging features which are included with both hosts include:
- “One click” WordPress installations
- Control panel access with cPanel and FTP (to access and edit website files)
- Email hosting and management
- SSL Certificate
- Website backups
- Website builders (although we recommend you install WordPress)
Bluehost is officially recommended by WordPress.org and has worked closely with them for a number of years. While HostGator doesn’t have this same accolade, it is also popular with bloggers who use WordPress as a content management system.
If you need to migrate an existing blog, this is something you’ll need to manage yourself if you move to Bluehost — or invest in their $149 Website Transfer service. For HostGator customers it’s free to migrate your website across to them.
A good web host will offer solid performance and be reliable, so that your blog suffers little to no interruptions. When your blog is offline or affected by performance issues it can be difficult for readers to find your content. This can persuade them not to visit your blog again and even affect your search engine ranking ability (SEO).
In this section we compare the uptime, server response time, and security of the two web hosts to see which performs better.
Uptime and Server Response Time Tests
There are several ways to measure the reliability of a web hosting provider.
The first of these is uptime — the amount of time that their servers remain online and functional. When your website experiences downtime it’s offline, so readers can’t access your content. This means that you should choose a web hosting company with a high uptime score, ideally over 99.9%.
Thanks to data provided by Down.com, we can see that HostGator and Bluehost both perform well on uptime tests — with HostGator ahead at an average score of 99.98% compared to Bluehost’s 99.94%.
In reality you’re unlikely to notice such a small percentage difference, so there’s no reason to be concerned about high levels of downtime with either host. At the time of publication, HostGator offers an uptime guarantee credit. Bluehost offers no uptime guarantee.
A second way to evaluate the performance of a web host’s servers is to look at server response times. This is a measurement of how long it takes to the server to display content after it’s requested by a user, so lower results are better. Fast load times not only improve user experience but help with SEO factors too.
According to tests run by another blogger, HostGator’s servers responded 1.5 times faster than Bluehost’s. Both performed well in tests, but the blog hosted by HostGator was especially quick to load.
Security and Backups
A top web hosting company will keep your data secure from digital and physical damage or attack. From secure server rooms and high tech security at data centers to firewalls and spam protection, your web hosting company does a lot behind the scenes to keep your content safe.
Like many good web hosts, Bluehost and HostGator take security seriously. They both offer protection from malware, spam, and DDoS attacks. Both companies offer hosting services which come with SSL certificates, which offers peace of mind to your readers that their data is transferred securely.
Bluehost and HostGator create backups of your data and content, and you can also choose to create your own backups (something that we’d always recommend).
As with most web hosting companies, you can also add extra security features to your plan for a monthly or yearly cost with HostGator or Bluehost — which includes SiteLock Security for additional security, and CodeGuard which is a daily backup service.
Whether your blog is a hobby, side hustle, or your business, you want it to be reliable and work seamlessly. Sometimes things do go wrong, which is why good customer support is essential.
In this section we look at the kind of support and customer service you can expect as a Bluehost or HostGator customer.
A good web hosting company will make customer and technical support one of its priorities — with fast, easy access to help when you need it. That often means 24/7/365 support, forums, live chat, and more.
In our experience, Bluehost and HostGator offer a similar level of customer support. They both have a comprehensive online knowledgebase filled with help articles, access to live chat, email chat, and phone support.
We prefer the interface and navigation of Bluehost’s support system, which offers recommendations based on what you type into the search bar. It feels modern and intuitive, something that we miss from HostGator’s outdated design.
We make decisions based on our intuition and research, but even the best web hosts aren’t perfect. That’s why money-back guarantees are popular with hosting companies.
These guarantees offer you the opportunity to cancel your hosting plan within a certain time frame, so that you can move your blog elsewhere if you’ve been disappointed by the service or spotted a better deal elsewhere.
At the time of publishing, HostGator offers a money-back guarantee. Bluehost also offers a money-back guarantee for 30 days. Both of these guarantees exclude any extras like domain names. If you’re likely to take advantage of a money-back guarantee it’s important to double-check the terms and conditions before you buy.
It can be hard to choose the right web host for your blog, even after you read comparisons or do your own research. That’s why we’ve broken it down into simple points here, so you can make a decision based on which host suits you best.
Why You Should Choose Bluehost
Bluehost is one of the most popular web hosting companies in 2018, and it’s a great choice for you if you want:
- The best value for money (over a three-year period)
- To work with a hosting company that’s recommended by WordPress
- A free domain included
We also think Bluehost is a good choice for new bloggers, thanks to its comprehensive and easy-to-use support system.
Why You Should Choose HostGator
HostGator is an equally popular web host, and could be the right choice for you if you want:
- To pay monthly for your web hosting
- Unlimited website space and email accounts
- A website that loads faster (on average)
If your blog is likely to be very content heavy, an unlimited website space option like HostGator’s “Hatchling” plan may work best for you.
Is Another Host Right For You?
If you’re on a budget or want to start a blog without paying for web hosting, read our guide to the best free blogging sites in 2018.