HostGator Cloud Review

Have you heard about HostGator WordPress Cloud hosting?

Me neither. At least not before when EIG (the company who owns HostGator, Bluehost and bunch of others) contacted me personally and said they want us to review their new hosting option.

To be honest, I was quite skeptical at first. I mean, their low-cost shared hosting option didn’t perform well in our tests (ranked #15th out of 30).

Guys behind HostGator team told me this:

Our high-performance managed WordPress platform bundles scalable cloud hosting and robust functionality, empowering your sites to run faster and more securely than ever before. Load pages at blazing speed worldwide without having to configure your caching and CDN.

What does this mean? In short, they promised 2.5x higher load time.

But to be really sure about it, we took out our credit cards and paid for a real, live plan (although they insisted to use an account which was already set up by them – we were afraid it’s just flawed). After that, we set up a default WordPress website and started to monitor performance.

Want the good, the bad, and the ugly? (Hint: there was no ‘ugly’.)

Let’s take a look.

PROS of Using HostGator Cloud

Fancy additional services are no good if a site doesn’t stay online. HostGator’s basic plan couldn’t deliver. But this new option is on a whole different playing level. Here’s why.

#1. VERY Strong Uptime of 99.99% (last 12 months)

HostGator Cloud’s uptime has slipped a tiny bit recently to 99.99%, which is .20% better than the industry average of 99.79%. That’s the best uptime out of 30 hosts we reviewed. When we first subscribed to them, they had an amazing 100.00% uptime for the first six months. There is potential to get back to 100%, but 99% is truly amazing as well.

Uptime is THE stat to watch when choosing a host. If your site’s not live, it ain’t doing you any good. And it don’t get much better than 100%.

2016:

  • October uptime: 99.98%
  • November uptime: 100%
  • December uptime: 100%

2017:

  • January average uptime: 100%
  • February average uptime: 100%
  • March average uptime: 99.98%
  • April average uptime: 99.99%
  • May average uptime: 99.98%

#2. Top 3 in Speed (504ms)

Ever attempt to open a site on your mobile, only to wait? And wait? And wait?

Not fun. So you do what every other sane, rational human being does in that situation.

You hit the back button, and go down to the next search result on Google.

Page loading times go far beyond basic usability, causing 74% of your mobile site traffic like this to leave if it doesn’t load within 5 seconds!

Similarly, decreasing those page load times can increase conversions by 74%. Coincidence?

While using HostGator Cloud, you don’t need to worry about it, as their speed of 521ms is almost 2x better than industry average (1059ms). Only A2 Hosting (a bit more expensive) and BlueHost Cloud (has bad uptime) are faster than HostGator Cloud.

Last 12 month average load time (2016 – 2017)

2016:

  • October average speed: 279ms
  • November average speed: 319ms
  • December average speed: 616ms

2017:

  • January average speed: 728ms
  • February average speed: 545ms
  • March average speed: 602ms
  • April average speed: 565ms
  • May average speed: 689ms

Unlike many others, this seems to stable and fast.

#3. Very USER-FRIENDLY…

‘Bandwidth’ is incredibly important. As is ‘disk space’.

However ask ten different people to explain what it means in plain English, and you’ll get ten different answers that sound like a lot of jargon and nonsense. Your eyes glaze over as nonsensical words like “net bit rate”, “throughput” and “throttling” leave their lips. Leaving you with little-to-no mental bandwidth (ha!) to process what the heck just happened.

Mercifully, HostGator’s website empathizes and attempts to use actual, plain English to explain what you’re gonna get when signing up.

Navigating their site is a breeze. Signing up for an account isn’t rocket science. And things are explained relatively clearly — especially for a host.

Not understanding the nuances of those things makes it nearly impossible to decipher the plan tiers from some hosting companies because it might as well be written in Latin.

HostGator instead uses clear terminology like ‘max sites’ and ‘monthly traffic’ to give even the most basic a clear understanding of the bang you’re getting for each buck.

And if you get stuck, their live support (see below) is available, while they also have tons of tutorials, FAQ and other support docs available.

#4. FREE Extras: Anti-Malware, Global CDN, Daily Backups etc…

HostGator throws in a bunch of extras on their plans that push this offering over the edge.

For example…

Free Migrations: First, they’ll transfer your site over for free. Like, really free. They don’t say it’s free, only to charge you later based on a bunch of different loopholes like some hosts.

Daily Backups: From their super duper, easy to use control panel, you can set-up full daily backups that will run automatically for you. These are a lifesaver when… stuff inevitably hits the fan and you’re scrambling trying to get your site back online.

Like that one time, when you uploaded one plugin that for whatever reason, didn’t work with another one. You try previewing the new changes, only to see the dreaded white screen of death.

Automatic Malware Removal: One of the few downfalls of WordPress are the potential security holes with so many third-party tools and plugins. Fortunately, HostGator’s got your back. If you do run into an issue, they’ll pitch in and help out.

Like that one time, there were 10 plugin updates and 3 theme updates pending for a few weeks, giving hackers a simple ‘back door’ after reading all about how those said plugins patched old security issues in their latest updates (you know, the one you still haven’t made).

Global CDN: Content Delivery Networks help take all of your large files like images and video off your site so it doesn’t get bogged down by requests, and instead delivers them to customers using tiny little magic fairies closest to their location to make load times blazing fast.

WPPro Developer Help: Another unique, additional perk includes (a) access to WordPress beginner info, but more importantly (b) access to a network of trusted professionals who can help you troubleshoot various issues.

This can be a HUGE pain point if you’re not technical and run into a few issues (like the aforementioned plugin catastrophes). Best of all, you don’t have to slum around Craigslist looking for technical help that’s tough to verify (and impossible to know whether you can trust what they’re saying or not).

Storage: Most basic, shared hosting options give you a couple gigs of storage. Good enough for you know, like A video. (Singular — as in, one.) These Cloud hosting options, though, pack a punch with unmetered storage on all of their cloud plans. No joke.

#5. Good, Quick Support

As previously discussed, HostGator’s support is good.

It’s available through phone, email, and live chat. The live chat option is both responsive and quick, making it a pretty painless experience overall. Their support is also much better than other EIG brands tend to fare.

They also offer an increased 45-day money back guarantee, so you can give them a spin without getting locked into some long-term deal.

CONS of using HostGator Cloud Hosting:

There’s a lot to like about HostGator’s upgraded cloud hosting options. A lot.

However, there are a couple minor drawbacks to consider (although you might be able to avoid one of them).

Here’s an overview.

#1. Industry-Standard Pricing Tricks (If You Don’t Use Our Offer)

How web hosting companies explain and promote their pricing is one of the most consistently frustrating things you can count on.

Unfortunately, HostGator’s Cloud options are guilty of this too.

For example, if you’d like to take advantage of the mouth-watering $2.92 deal on their site, you can only sign up either monthly or 1 year upfront. If you want more than 1 year, you’d need to pay $5.48 – which would be a deal-breaker, right?

#2. Possible Con: No Social Support Channels

I’m not sure why you wouldn’t want live support that’s pretty quick and efficient.

However, if you don’t, and you’re just dying to get some replies on Twitter or Facebook, HostGator can’t help you.

Their social channels are generally pretty non-responsive to support requests, instead redirecting you over to their live chat options to speak with a real support person, you know, live and in real-time.

Overview of HostGator Cloud Hosting Plans + Quick Facts

Here’s a quick overview of the HostGator Cloud plans offered:

  • Starter Plan: This plan starts at $5.95 per month. It supports 1 site, 25k visits per month, 1GB backups, and unmetered storage.  <- We used this plan for our test site.
  • Standard Plan: This plan starts at $7.95 per month. It supports 2 site, 200k visits per month, 2GB backups, and 150GB storage.
  • Business plan: This plan starts at $9.95 per month. It supports 3 site, 300k visits per month, 3GB backups, and unlimited GB of storage.
  • Ease of Signup: Signup process is a breeze!
  • Payment Methods: You can pay by credit card or PayPal.
  • Hidden Fees and Clauses: The only major ‘gotcha’ is a restriction that you can’t tap over 25% of their system for over 90 seconds.
  • Upsells: There are some upsells along the way.
  • Account Activation: It might require up to 24-48 hours for accounts to be activated in some cases.
  • Control Panel and Dashboard Experience: cPanel.
  • Installation of Apps and CMSs (WordPress, Joomla, etc.): Extremely easy, one-click installation process of the most popular apps available.

Do We Recommend HostGator?

Yes.

The entry-level, shared hosting options from HostGator we previously reviewed weren’t that great.

However, these upgraded Cloud hosting options are AWESOME.

Yes, we couldn’t recommend these plans highly enough.

Between the impressive 100% uptime, our insanely low $3 dollar deal, the user-friendliness of their site and all the outstanding extras, this really is one of the best places to host your WordPress website.

No further reading required.

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