So here we go, another round of expert, well-informed, well-written, hilariously funny reviews of webhosts in Australia, lovingly brought to you by the team here at Aussie Hosting.
First up, HostGator.
Let’s get one thing out of the way first: HostGator has a really stupid name.
I mean, sure, alligators are Australian. Full points for nationalism. But no tech companies are called things like “HostGator” anymore. And what’s with that silly blue and yellow mascot? Alligators are supposed to be ferocious, not cuddly. Why is he standing up like that? Why is he blue?
It’s all a bit too cute for me. I like my tech companies to have name like “Optima”, and to exclusively use tasteful shades of cream. HostGator’s branding looks like they are stuck in 2005, and think that AskJeeves is pretty cool.
Their silly branding aside, Host Gator is actually a really good web host. They’re fast, reliable, and their pricing is super competitive, at least for the Australian market. Best of all, they don’t use the normal trick of budget Australian web hosts: charging you extra for stuff (like SSL) that should be free in 2017.
What We’re Looking At
Like all our reviews, this one is going to be mostly based on numbers. Maybe that sounds boring, but I promise you that looking at the data is by far the best way to assess web hosts.
After all, if I based this review just on HostGator’s logo, they’re not going to come out very well. 😉
So here is what I’ll do in this review:
- Have a look at HostGator’s uptime, speed, and reliability. For those of you who just can’t wait for the juicy numbers to appear, the conclusion of this section is that HostGator are actually pretty good.
- Then we’ll do some more numbers, but this time to look at HostGator’s pricing. Spolier: it’s some of the best in Australia at the moment.
- At the end, I’ll compare HostGator to the web hosts that we use here at Aussie Hosting (SiteGround, mainly) and see if it makes the grade.
But first …
Why Should I Trust You Guys, Anyway?
Um, well … we know loads about web hosting. Here at Aussie Hosting, we’ve been working with web hosts, and collecting data on them, for almost 10 years now.
In that time, we’ve built up what we like to think is the best (it’s certainly the biggest) database on web hosts in Australia. You might think it’s weird to be proud of that (my database is bigger than yours!), but we are.
We’ve currently got 418 of our client’s sites wired up into a bespoke system that assesses the performance of their web host. Web hosts hate us doing this, and we’ve seen some creative ways of trying to get around it, but we’ve still collected a huge amount of information on a huge number of hosts.
For this review, all I had to do was to look at the database. We base all our reviews on this data, so if you want to see some truly shocking stats take a look at the reviews of VentraIP and Digital Pacific. Those guys suck.
Now for the main course. I’ll just give them to you, so those who know what they mean can make up their own mind.
- Uptime – 98.6%
- Average Loadtime – 1,912Ms
- Uptime – 98.9%
- Average Loadtime – 2,012Ms
- Uptime – 97.5% (ouch!)
- Average Loadtime – 2,182Ms
- Uptime – 98.09%
- Average Loadtime – 1,658Ms
These numbers are pretty nice. Canberra is a little low, of course, but then Canberra is a little behind in everything.
No offense Canberra. 😉
What Do These Numbers Mean?
Oh yeh, I should probably explain that for those of you who don’t spend the whole day looking at web hosting stats.
“Uptime” is self-explanatory. This is the percentage of the time that a web host is “up”. As in, the amount of time that their servers are turned on, running, and providing web pages to your customers. As in the amount of time your site is available. Got it?
A good web hosting provider will have an uptime of more than 98%. A bad one will offer less than 97%. When it comes to web hosting, even a .1 difference can create a huge change in the amount of sales you generate through your website. People hate sites being down, and if your site is offline the first time they try and visit, they ain’t coming back.
You can see above that HostGator score pretty well in this regard. These are, in fact, some of the best uptime stats I’ve come across recently, and they indicate that HostGator have got it together when it comes to maintaining their servers.
“Speed” should also be pretty easy to understand. But again, when comparing web hosts, small differences in speed really matter. Research suggests that even a 1 second delay in page loading will mean that a lot of potential customers click away from your site.
Again, HostGator are among the best web hosts in Australia when it comes to speed. If your website is large, and you want to include fancy hi-res pictures everywhere, HostGator are a great choice.
You see, the numbers are actually fun, once you understand them!
How much does that silly alligator charge for his excellent hosting services?
Well, not that much. I guess that alligators don’t have much need for hard currency anyway. Here is a summary of HostGator’s web hosting plans:
Ugh. You see that their website uses the same horrible colors as the alligator?
But anyway, look past the glaring design, and you’ll see that HostGator are really quite competitive. Sure the basic plan doesn’t come with SSL, but $6 a month for their business plan is really good.
One thing I would note is that I don’t think it’s worth going for the basic plan with HostGator. It’s ok, and you will still get a reliable and fast service, but the number of extra features included in the other plans, for just a few dollars more, makes them much better value.
In fact, when we look at the Baby and Business plans HostGator are second only to SiteGround in terms of value. Well done them.
Perhaps the best thing about HostGator, though, is that they include a whole load of extras as standard in all of their plans. Listing them all here would take forever, but go to http://www.hostgator.com/shared-compare and take a look.
Tables like this:
Are a great sign. You might not know what Perl is (though my inner geek urges you to find out), but take it from those of us who know: a web host supporting so many languages is rare. It also means that HostGator are taking themselves seriously, and offer serious web hosting for serious people.
This is what you should be looking for.
If you’ve read a few of our reviews (you really should, they are great), you’ll notice that we go on about SSL a lot. This is because there is a real problem in Australia – some would call it a con – when it comes to SSL.
The scheme works like this. A web host offers pretty average hosting at a super cheap price, and attracts a load of customers to sign up for year-long contracts. However, the plans are so minimal that these same customers end up paying hundreds of dollars a year extra to get features that should come as standard. And SSL certificates are the worst.
Take a look at our NetRegistry review if you don’t believe me. Those guys charge $200 a year for SSL.
I’m happy to say, however, that there are no such problems with HostGator. All their plans, apart from the most basic, come with SSL as standard. That’s good, because it means I don’t have to go on my usual rant about this subject.
Talking To The HostGator Alligator Support
One last point. The customer service at HostGator is actually really good. I think this is because they don’t have much to do.
I’m not calling them lazy, far from it. But it seems to be a pattern: hosts with good uptimes have good customer service departments, because they are not inundated with calls every few days because the server is down.
If you know how to maintain servers, they are less likely to go down, and you have more time to respond to people. This seems to be the case at Host Gator.
I like to imagine that everyone at their call center is dressed up as that blue and yellow alligator. But after extensive inquiries, I can exclusively confirm that most of the time they are not.
It’s a sad fact that by this section of the review, most of the time readers are desperate to know what the alternatives are to whatever crappy web host I’m reviewing. I don’t think I’m particularly cynical, actually, it’s just that most web hosts in Australia suck.
Happily, HostGator don’t. There are a few alternative web hosts that are just as good (and perhaps a little bit better) than HostGator, but if you’re looking for fast, cheap, reliable web hosting, the alligator is the way to go.
And if, after everything I’ve said, you’re thinking about swapping from your own web host, then now is the time to do so. I don’t want to labor the point, but getting a good web host can really improve your sales rate, your profit margin, your happiness, and your sexual potency (citation needed).
It will also give you these things:
But apart from that, we also saw a marked improvement in some of their other stats:
- An increase in client’s time spent browsing the site (people like fast websites)
- A better Google ranking (Google also likes fast websites)
- Better Uptime, and
- Faster load times
And even if you’re stuck in a year long contract with a sucky host, you should consider moving your site anyway. Web hosting in Australia has come a long way in recent years, and if you signed up to your web host a few years back, you can probably get a lot more for your money nowadays.
HostGator are pretty good, but let’s take a look at some alternatives, just in case you really can’t stomach seeing that color scheme every time you log into your back end.
In truth, HostGator are so good that there is really only one alternative, and it’s the one we use:
Average Uptime: 99.95%
Average Load Time: 775Ms
Well, where to start? SiteGround represent the future of Australian web hosting, and the other companies have got a long way to go before they catch up.
For those of you interested in the numbers, SiteGround offer the best stats of any web host in the country. They are not that much better than HostGators, but they are close.
And like HostGator, SiteGround also offer free SSL, and a whole host of extra features that are useful if you are running an unusual site.
The only disadvantage of SiteGround is that they are a little more expensive than HostGator. The difference between the two companies, however, is about $1 a month, and if you are worried about that your company might need a more drastic change than just updating your web host.
Some Final Thoughts
In short, HostGator are an excellent, modern web host with a stupid, outdated mascot.
If you are looking for a web host that is reliable, fast, and that offers really good customer support on the rare occasion when something goes wrong, you can do a lot worse than going with HostGator.
Plus you get to imagine your server engineers dressed as alligators, which will make the day just fly by.