HostGator Shared Hosting: A Great Starter Plan for Your Site

HostGator Shared Hosting
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HostGator was founded in 2002 has grown to be one of the most popular hosting companies on the web. As of 2012 they were hosting over 8 million domains which gives the indication that they must be doing something right. In fact, they were one of the first hosting companies I signed up with and I continue to be a HostGator shared hosting customer to this day.

What is Shared Hosting?

With shared web hosting services, users are given access to a portion of disk space on a server. Each server contains many of these partitions, with each one available to host the websites of the other customers. As many customers are sharing the same server, it’s a cost effective way to get your website online compared to other services such as virtual private servers and dedicated servers.

As the servers are managed by the hosting company, they are ideal for those who don’t need access at this level or have no interest in learning how to manage a server. With HostGator shared hosting, users can however manage their own accounts. This is done by the control panel which allows them to manage the settings of the features offered and install certain software applications.

HostGator Shared Hosting Packages

The shared hosting services available from HostGator are their most popular packages. There are three packages to choose from including Hatchling, Baby and Business.

HostGator-shared-packages.png

The main difference between the Hatching plan and the other two more expensive options is the ability to add unlimited domains to your account. With Baby and Business you can host an unlimited amount of websites on one account. To do this, simply register an additional domain name with your registrar of choice, or HostGator, and you can host the website for that domain on the same account.

This is ideal for those with multiple websites or who want a development site for testing things on. If you offering web design services, you can also host your clients’ sites on the same account.

All the domains can be managed via a single control panel. This makes keeping track of them, their email addresses and any services you enable or install very easy.

Unlimited Disk Space

The shared hosting packages are advertised as having unlimited bandwidth and disk space. However, this is a misnomer as no company can offer such a package, at least not at these prices. If your site starts to become very popular and using a lot of bandwidth, it’s safe to say you will be contacted by the sales department to upgrade to a higher performance, and therefore more expensive package.

Ease of Use

As mentioned earlier, HostGator is very easy to use. The installed control panel, cPanel, makes carrying out tasks very straightforward. Creating new email addresses and adding additional domains to your account, can all be done through the control panel using the easy to use interface.

HostGator-control-panel

Installing popular software such as WordPress, Joomla and Drupal can be done by simply clicking a few buttons. This removes the need to upload files, create database tables and other time consuming and potentially difficult steps. If you want to start a new blog, WordPress can be installed in just a few mouse clicks.

Features

The control panel allows easy access to the following services and features included in the shared hosting packages:

  • Adding additional domains (not the Hatchling plan)
  • Managing email accounts
  • File manager
  • FTP accounts
  • Visitor and other user logs
  • Access to MySQL databases
  • Fantastico De Luxe (for installing WordPress and other software)
  • Ruby on Rails
  • Managing cron jobs

Getting a shared hosting account setup with HostGator is an easy and straightforward process, and the feature packed cPanel makes discovering and using the additional features and tools on offer a breeze.

Support & Billing

Both billing and support are managed through the same portal, where you can open and manage your support tickets, as well as view your billing details and make payments.

HostGator-billing-portal

Payment Methods

When it comes to payments, supported methods of payments include:

  • Visa credit card
  • MasterCard credit card
  • American Express credit card
  • Discover credit card
  • PayPal

You can put your credit cards on file for future use, or enter the details each time you make a payment.

Support Channels

The support team can be contacted by creating a ticket, calling the 24/7 live technical support helpline or using the live text chat service. There is also an extensive peer support forum which covers a range of topics.

Support Experiences

Over the years I’ve had a few occasions to contact the HostGator support. In most cases I’ve simply opened a ticket and waited for a response from the helpdesk team. On other occasions I’ve used the live chat service to ‘talk’ to an operative.

Through both channels I’ve been happy with my experiences and have always had my queries dealt with satisfactorily.

HostGator-support-ticket

While the support has been handled well, most issues were not serious and did not give me any cause for concern. On one occasion support took the proactive action of blocking a bot that was excessively crawling my domains at a rate which had the potential to cause server issues. Another instance was when I accidentally deleted the wrong account and needed to restore a website to another of my accounts. In this case support handled the restoration and migration free of charge.

HostGator Criticism

My only criticism of HostGator support and billing is regarding the billing system for dealing with multiple accounts. I have multiple hosting packages under the same account. Each month I receive individual email notifications when a payment is due for each of the packages. It would be nice if they were all rolled into one invoice, in order to make payment more convenient.

This could also help reduce the risk of missing a payment due to multiple requests for payment being sent in a short space of time. While I’ve tried to setup automatic payment of my invoices in the past, this has not yet been accomplished. In the past I even had an account suspended due to non-payment when I incorrectly assumed I had setup automatic payment. This was quickly resolved when the fact my sites were down was pointed out to me (by a friend) and I paid the outstanding balance.

Uptime

HostGator offer a 99.9% uptime guarantee and will give you one month of credit towards your account should this level of service not be delivered.

Who Should Use HostGator Shared Hosting

HostGator shared hosting is the perfect entry level service for those new to hosting their own website. This is due to the competitive pricing, the great range of features and the responsive support.

However, this does not mean that more experienced power users should avoid HostGator. Although it seems that many bloggers and site owners tend to move away from services like HostGator once their sites become more popular and begin receiving large amounts of visitors.

This could be because successful sites that generate income allow the owners to invest more money into their hosting, enabling them to use dedicated servers. While HostGator is very competitive on its shared hosting deals, this might not be the case with their higher end packages, depending on your specific needs.

For the user just starting out on their hosting journey, HostGator is a great service to use. From being able to affordably host multiple domains and sites on the same account as well as install WordPress and other applications with the click of a mouse, the shared hosting Baby Plan comes highly recommended.

In fact, if you are coming from WordPress.com or have your WordPress site hosted elsewhere, HostGator will transfer your current site for free when you sign up.

Conclusion

Overall I would recommend HostGator to anyone who was developing their first websites and wanted an easy to use and affordable hosting service. The features of HostGator cover most of things anyone might want to do with their website from installing a blogging platform, managing multiple domains and websites, and working with email accounts that can be checked through a browser or via a desktop email client such as Outlook.

While users might eventually outgrow the shared hosting packages, until that point is reached, the entry level packages are more than adequate for most users. Once a site takes off then the more high performance packages on offer, and those of their competitors, can be investigated.

Unless you are very confident in the future of your site and are prepared to pay for premium hosting from the outset, the HostGator shared hosing packages are a safe bet.

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