The Truth About HostGator

HostGator Hosting Facts, Host Profile & Hosting Reviews

Our Review - HostGator

By Mark Shroyer

What can I say about HostGator. They are one of the most popular web hosts on the Internet. Especially with Internet marketers. HostGator offers several plans at different price points that most any budget can afford.

Of course, HostGator includes all the normal stuff in their packages you see everywhere. Like 99.9% uptime, unlimited bandwidth, unlimited disk space, etc., etc. (See their web site for full features.)

One thing I like is that HostGator includes free SiteBuilders with 4,500 high quality templates. Obviously, this is a great way to make the process of creating web pages quicker and easier. It is especially beneficial to those without HTML skills.

Not only that but HostGator offers several ways to contact support and it is 24/7. One of the best ways is through their 800 number. This is especially good for newbie webmasters.

HostGator includes all the most popular one-click install applications for hosting personal sites, blogs, CMS, bulletin boards, online business, etc.

What I really like though is that, unlike most web hosts, HostGator includes interactive demos of their SiteBuilder and Cpanel. That way you can play around and get comfortable with their tools and layout.

One thing I found unique is that they give business account customers their own toll free 800 number. I have never seen this anywhere.

A couple other uncommon things HostGator does (that most other host's do not) is they include telnet and a free limited version of ffmpeg for video conversion. Something else I like is that cgi can be ran out of the cgi directory.

All seasoned web site owners realize that all successful web sites have "growing pains." The best way to look at hosting is to be sure you have a plan in place for upgrading. When that day comes where you've outgrown the benefits of shared hosting, with HostGator it's easy to upgrade to a reseller account, VPS, or a dedicated server.

The best part is that HostGator offers a 45-day money back guarantee.

Though HostGator offers a lot of unlimited features the truth is they do have a few limitations that could impact you; depending on your web site and its coding.

One limitation HostGator has that I didn't understand at first is they limit connections to 25 processes altogether. If you don't use php, crontab, IMAP, databases (i.e., MySql) then it is not an issue. If you do, then it could become one. Especially if you run blogs, forums, etc. Each item counts as a connection. (i.e., PHP equals one connection, IMAP equals one connection, Cron tab equals one connection, etc.)

But the good news is 25 processes doesn't necessarly mean only 25 people can view your web site simultaneously. What it really means is that, for example, if it takes a PHP file 3 seconds to execute its code, then that's 3 seconds excess visitors must wait before a new process can open in order for them to visit your site. So it is all in the quality of the coding. As long as each connection does not take a long time to execute, there is nothing to worry about.

Like most web hosts who offer "unlimited" hosting, HostGator has a bandwidth limit of 100mbps constant and an inode limit of 250K. This simply means you can't have more than 250,000 items. (i.e., an email counts as 1 item, an image counts as 1 item, a web page counts as 1 item, etc.) Granted, this is more than most web site's will ever need. However, if you use 2.0 blogs or forums then a day could come where 250K isn't enough and you'd be forced to either delete excess files, open another HostGator account, or upgrade to a VPS or dedicated server.

Another thing I'm not crazy about is that there is a technical limit of about 32,000 files or directories in any one directory. These inode limits apply to their reseller accounts also. But again, it's more than the average person will ever need.

Also, HostGator limits you to sending no more than 500 emails per hour (12,000/day) per domain on their shared hosting. Now if you do very little to no email marketing then it is not an issue. However, if you do then 500/hr. may not be enough.

Of course, the reason for this 500/limit is to minimize spam accusations and being blacklisted. That makes sense. In fact, if you send over 500 emails in any hour, the emails will fail and may bounce back with an undeliverable error. Besides there are plenty of 3rd party companies for email marketing like TrafficWave, AWeber and/or GetResponse. So really this 500/hr. limit isn't that big of deal. It is simply there to protect you and keep your best interest at heart.

Another thing to understand is their policy on using more than 25% of CPU time for over 90 seconds. While they do try to kill any process that runs more than 30 cpu-seconds, the bottom line is that if any account uses more than 25% of CPU for more than 90 seconds that account is automatically suspended. This means your visitors get redirected to an "account suspended" page until the problem is fixed. But don't worry. For the average webmaster this won't be a problem because HostGator has very powerful processors and exceeding the limit is not easy.

The good news is that HostGator does back up your web site files each week. The bad news is they only back up to 100,000 files or 4 GB. You are responsible for backing up anything bigger and they do charge to restore your back up. (You should be backing up your own files anyhow.)

What surprised me most, however, is that HostGator allows adult web sites. I don't like that. The main reason is because adult web sites tend to be very busy and cause a lot of problems for everyone else sharing the server. (i.e., Web site speeds slow down and crash.) Of course, if you plan to host an adult Web site then HostGator is beneficial.

OK. So do I recommend HostGator and why?

While HostGator clearly has a couple minor limitations I definitely recommend them; especially for personal sites and small business sites.

The reasons why are because they have an A+ BBB rating. They are one of the most popular web hosts on the entire web. They have free telephone support and free site builders. At the start price of $9/mo. it is is dirt cheap. And when it is time to upgrade due to success they have everything from reseller accounts, to VPS, to dedicated servers. Plus they are green!

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