In our Bluehost vs HostGator comparison, we look at two platforms that regularly feature on lists of the best web hosting services. On the surface, these two hosting companies appear to be very similar, catering to beginners entering the industry for the first time.
To this end, both Bluehost and HostGator have streamlined, intuitive user interfaces, a smooth website setup process, and great customer service. They also both offer website builders that rank among lists of the best website builder available.
However, they have some flaws as well, sharing sub-standard security and unclear pricing models. What’s more, HostGator’s performance is below average, with Bluehost’s being even poorer.
Here, we explore these commonalities, but also delve deeper to prise Bluehost and HostGator apart. Which beginner-friendly host is going to suit your needs better?
- Bluehost: competitively-priced web hosting
Bluehost regularly features among the best web hosts due to its range of quality hosting tools across a series of hosting plans. Its cheapest shared hosting costs £2.34 a month (for a 36-month plan), and offers unmetered bandwidth as well as 50GB of storage.
- HostGator: unlimited hosting at great prices
HostGator's web hosting plans cover a wide range of projects, budgets, and hosting types, and it offers features such as unmetered bandwidth and disk space, FTP support, email accounts, MYSQL databases and subdomains. Across shared, WordPress, dedicated, VPS, and reseller hosting it offers a 99.9% uptime and a 45-day money-back guarantee.
Bluehost vs HostGator: What we compared
To determine which host is better suited to which uses, we compared their user interfaces, pricing, main features, and more.
- User interface and setup
- WordPress setup
- SSL certificate installation
- Website builder
- Domain registration
- Which web hosting service is best for me?
- What our reviewers said
- Alternatives to Bluehost and HostGator
Bluehost vs HostGator: User interface and setup
HostGator and Bluehost are both targeted at beginners with limited technical experience or knowledge, and accordingly have beginner-friendly setup processes and intuitive user interfaces.
On the one hand, HostGator’s management dashboard is quite link-heavy, but it enables rapid access to virtually everything that’s important. You will have access to a cPanel control panel and the Softaculous one-click installer, which make setup and ongoing site management extremely straightforward. With Softaculous, you can install a new WordPress site in minutes.
Bluehost goes one step further by presenting you with a set of recommended steps to take to get your website up and running. These are conveniently located on the homepage of your management panel.
Like HostGator, Bluehost uses a cPanel control panel and a one-click WordPress installer, so there’s little to separate the two in terms of site setup and ongoing management.
Bluehost vs HostGator: Pricing
HostGator offers shared, WordPress, VPS, and dedicated server hosting. Its three shared hosting plans range from £2.25 to £4.30 a month for an initial 36-month subscription. However, you will pay much more if you would like to pay as you go, and you can expect significantly higher prices on renewal.
Bluehost has a similar product offering, with its four shared hosting plans ranging from £2.34 to £11.08 a month for an initial 36-month term. Renewal prices are even higher than HostGator’s, reaching more than triple the introductory price in some cases.
HostGator also offers cloud hosting from £4.06 a month, WordPress hosting from £4.88 a month, VPS plans from £16.35 a month, and dedicated servers from £73.75 a month. Bluehost has managed WordPress plans from £15.42 a month, VPS solutions starting at £15.08 a month, and dedicated servers from £63.52 a month. Again, though, these prices require long-term subscriptions and will increase on renewal.
Overall, it’s difficult to separate the two platforms here, although Bluehost does advertise its renewal prices more clearly.
Bluehost vs HostGator: pricing plans compared
|Header Cell - Column 0||Bluehost||HostGator|
|Starts at||£2.34 a month (£7.93 on renewal)||£2.25 a month (£5.70 on renewal)|
|Small business||£5.92 a month (£11.11 on renewal)||£2.87 a month (£8.15 on renewal)|
|Medium business||£5.92 a month (£11.11 on renewal)||N/A|
|Professional||£11.08 a month (£21.43 on renewal)||£4.30 a month (£14.95 on renewal)|
|Enterprise (VPS)||£15.08 a month (£23.82 on renewal)||£16.35 a month (£65.53 on renewal)|
Bluehost vs HostGator: WordPress setup
Setting up a new WordPress website is usually a straightforward process—as long as your host provides the right tools. HostGator does a great job here, including the Softaculous one-click installer with all shared hosting subscriptions.
This makes it extremely easy to install a new site. You won’t need any special technical knowledge, and getting started is a matter of simply following the prompts.
With Bluehost, you can choose to use the native one-click installer or the Bluehost WordPress website builder. With the one-click installer, you can get your site up and running just as easily as with Softaculous.
It’s virtually impossible to separate Bluehost and HostGator when it comes to setting up a new WordPress site. Both make it very easy to do.
Bluehost vs HostGator: SSL certificate installation
A valid SSL certificate is crucial for maintaining secure data transmissions between your server and your visitors' web browsers. Sometimes, installing an SSL certificate is very easy, and at other times it requires significant technical knowledge.
For one, HostGator includes a clear link to the SSL management page on the main dashboard. Here, you can upgrade the included Let’s Encrypt certificate to a more powerful business or ecommerce option.
Third-party certificates can be added directly to your domain from the HostGator dashboard, but this will cost you £8.20 a domain. Alternatively, you can take advantage of the advanced SSL tools available via the cPanel control panel, but you will need some knowledge to use them.
Like HostGator, Bluehost enables you to activate a free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate from the management panel. However, the only way to upload a more advanced third-party certificate is via the advanced cPanel tools. Because of this, HostGator just takes the points here.
Bluehost vs HostGator: Performance
To test Bluehost and HostGator’s performance, we created a simple WordPress website and used Pingdom’s uptime monitoring tools to keep tabs on them. There were concerns in both cases, although HostGator stands out as a better choice here.
Bluehost had one of the slowest average server response times we’ve seen. Most leading shared hosting has an average server response time in the 200-400ms range. Bluehost’s was 2720ms, approximately ten times slower than the norm. This will likely result in slow page load speeds and a poor user experience, making it hard for you to build an audience and keep visitors.
HostGator performed much better, with an average server response time of 464ms. This is still higher than we would have liked to see, but it’s not a deal-breaker. Both platforms had a 99.99% uptime figure after the two-week test period, which is perfectly acceptable.
Bluehost vs HostGator: Website builder
Both Bluehost and HostGator offer some form of website builder, and both are ranked among the best website builders. HostGator includes a basic version of its native Gator Builder with all shared hosting plans. This supports full pixel-perfect drag-and-drop functionality, but you will be limited to a six-page site. Those wanting to create larger sites will need a dedicated Gator Builder subscription.
HostGator also comes with a limited version of the Weebly website builder. The included version is free, but you will have Weebly advertising on your site, and you will be limited to 500MB of storage. Once again, you will have to pay more for a more advanced subscription.
Meanwhile, Bluehost offers its own Bluehost WordPress website builder that you can use to put together your new WordPress website. With this, you will be able to edit through an intuitive drag-and-drop interface, rather than via the sometimes more complicated native WordPress editor.
Bluehost vs HostGator: Domain registration
HostGator features a tidy domain registration portal enabling you to purchase new domains. Prices start at just 78p a year for your first year. But as is the case with the company’s hosting, prices increase significantly on renewal, and you can expect to pay at least £12.29 a year after the first year.
Privacy protection is available with all HostGator domain purchases. However, this costs an additional £12.25 a year, whereas most domain registrars include some form of privacy protection for free.
Bluehost’s domain registration portal is much more attractive and easier to navigate. But it has the same problems. The advertised prices are quite low, but they increase significantly on renewal. And like HostGator, Bluehost charges a £12.29 a year domain privacy fee.
Bluehost vs HostGator: Which web hosting service is best for me?
Bluehost and HostGator are two of the world’s most popular web hosts, and are most suitable for those creating their first website.
On the plus side, Bluehost boasts a beginner-friendly user interface, streamlined WordPress website setup, and an excellent WordPress website builder. But its renewal prices are much higher than the introductory rate, its performance is poor, and the SSL certificate installation process could be more straightforward.
For its part, HostGator has a great user management dashboard and a fast, streamlined WordPress setup process, along with a decent website builder and average performance. But like Bluehost, you will pay much more on renewal.
Bluehost vs HostGator, compared
|Header Cell - Column 0||Bluehost||HostGator|
|UI and setup||Great||Great|
|SSL certificate installation||Average||Good|
Bluehost vs HostGator: What our reviewers said
“Bluehost is a very popular web host that’s recommended by WordPress.org, but it’s far from the most powerful we’ve used. It’s quite expensive, and monthly payment options aren’t available. Its performance is poor, and there’s really not a whole lot to make it stand out from the crowd. There are a few noteworthy features, including a neat website builder and a streamlined WordPress website creation portal, but there’s just not enough to like here.”
- Score: 3.5/5
“HostGator is a favorite among web hosting newbies, but its deceptive pricing, poor security, and other flaws count as strikes against it. Despite being one of the biggest names in the web hosting world, it just doesn’t stack up against the competition. While it does boast a beginner-friendly interface, decent customer service, and a selection of notable features, it only offers simple shared, VPS, and dedicated server hosting options, and there are just too many downsides for our liking.”
- Score: 3.5/5
Alternatives to Bluehost and HostGator
Bluehost and HostGator are both popular, beginner-oriented web hosting providers that aren’t as good as they appear on the surface. But there are plenty of alternatives out there for businesses of all shapes and sizes.
For one, Hostinger stands out as an excellent option for those on a tight budget. It offers much cheaper hosting than Bluehost or HostGator, its security practices are excellent, and its performance is much better than that of your average shared hosting provider.
A better option for more advanced hosting is Hostwinds. It is slightly expensive compared to the alternatives, but it offers some of the most advanced hosting solutions we’ve seen. Its VPS and dedicated server options are great choices for high-traffic sites with a large amount of content.
Meanwhile GreenGeeks is a leader in the environmentally friendly hosting field. Neither HostGator nor Bluehost offers anything in the way of green energy matches, renewable electricity guarantees, or other eco-friendly features. Along with its commitment to the planet, GreenGeeks boasts affordable shared hosting, excellent performance, and a focus on malware detection and removal.
Further reading on web hosting and website builders
Once you've found the best website builder, and are looking for cheaper hosting, look into the best cheap web hosting for your next project, or even the best free web hosting if you're on a tight budget. If you're searching for hosting for a small business website, take a look at the best web hosting for small business. If you’re still unclear about why you need hosting, you can find out more in our article asking what is web hosting?
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Daniel is a freelance technology and finance writer, whose scientific background in the natural sciences lends rigour and nuance to his informative, accessible articles. His reviews on website builders, web hosting and business web development grace the virtual pages of TechRadar Pro, WebsiteHostingRating.com, and HostingReview.com, as well as IT Pro Portal. Well-versed in blockchain, cloud computing and cybersecurity, Daniel takes a keen interest in all aspects of B2B and B2C tech.