Bluehost vs HostGator – ITProPortal

Bluehost vs HostGator

(Image credit: Bluehost/HostGator)

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. 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 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.

Bluehost vs HostGator: User interface and setup

Bluehost management dashboard

Bluehost’s management panel features a list of recommended steps to get your site started (Image credit: Bluehost)

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.

HostGator management dashboard

HostGator boasts a text-heavy yet intuitive management panel (Image credit: HostGator)

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 $2.75 to $5.25 a month for an initial 36-month subscription. However, you will pay $10.95 to $16.95 a month 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 $2.95 to $13.95 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 $4.95 a month, WordPress hosting from $5.95 a month, VPS plans from $19.95 a month, and dedicated servers from $89.98 a month. Bluehost has managed WordPress plans from $9.95 a month, VPS solutions starting at $19.99 a month, and dedicated servers from $79.99 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
Bluehost HostGator
Free version? No No
Starts at $2.95 a month ($8.99 on renewal) $2.75 a month ($6.95 on renewal)
Small business $5.45 a month ($11.99 on renewal) $3.50 a month ($9.95 on renewal)
Medium business $5.45 a month ($16.99 on renewal) N/A
Professional $13.95 a month ($26.99 on renewal) $5.25 a month ($14.95 on renewal)
Enterprise (VPS) $29.99 a month $19.95 a month ($79.95 on renewal)

Bluehost vs HostGator: WordPress setup

Softaculous WordPress installer

HostGator provides the Softaculous one-click installer with all shared hosting plans (Image credit: HostGator)

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

HostGator SSL installation

HostGator enables you to purchase a premium SSL certificate for advanced security (Image credit: HostGator )

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 $10 per 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

HostGator speed and uptime

HostGator’s performance is clearly better than Bluehost’s (Image credit: Pingdom)

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

Bluehost WordPress website builder

Bluehost’s WordPress website builder enables streamlined drag-and-drop editing (Image credit: Bluehost)

Both Bluehost and HostGator offer some form of website builder. 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 comes with an excellent 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

Bluehost domain registration portal

Bluehost has an attractive domain registration portal (Image credit: Bluehost )

HostGator features a tidy domain registration portal enabling you to purchase new domains. Prices start at just $0.95 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 $15 a year after the first year. 

Privacy protection is available with all HostGator domain purchases. However, this costs an additional $14.95 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 $15 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
Bluehost HostGator
UI and setup Great Great
Pricing Poor Poor
WordPress setup Great Great
SSL certificate installation Average Good
Performance Poor Average
Website builder Great Average
Domain registration Poor Poor

Bluehost vs HostGator: What our reviewers said

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. Read our full Hostinger review to learn more.

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. Read our detailed Hostwinds review to find out more.

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. Read our comprehensive Hostwinds review for more.

Further reading on web hosting

Web hosting can be a complicated field, and we’d recommend some further reading  with an article demystifying the differences between managed vs unmanaged hosting, before moving on to a look at how hosting impacts web security. Or if you’re ready to choose a host, read more in our guides to the best WordPress hosting, and the best unlimited hosting on the market today.

Daniel Blechynden

Daniel is a freelance copywriter with over six years experience writing for publications such as TechRadar, Tom’s Guide, and Hosting Review. He specializes in tech and finance, with a particular focus on website building, web hosting, and related fields.