Bluehost vs. HostGator – My Personal Experience

There are lots of tools of the trade when it comes to building websites; however, there are only a couple of products that are absolutely essential.  This first one is web hosting.

When it comes to choosing a web host, there are literally hundreds (maybe thousands ?) of hosts to choose from.  A couple that I have personally used are Bluehost.com and HostGator.com.

When I first started building websites, I found Bluehost and was absolutely happy with them.  They offer unlimited domains (as does HostGator) and the service was excellent.  However, in reality you are limited by the number of SQL databases that you can have on one account (100 databases).

Each time you install a WordPress installation for a new website, a SQL database is used.  So, in reality, you are limited to 100 domains per account.  Most people don’t need to worry about this; but I’m not most people.

So, I looked at HostGator.com because they clearly stated that you had unlimited domains AND unlimited SQL databases, which meant I could host essentially all the websites I could handle on this account.

So, my second hosting account was with HostGator.

However, I quickly found out that the number of websites you could host here was actually limited to probably around 150 to 200 due to something called “inodes”.  I don’t fully understand it, but essentially due to this “inode” restriction, you are limited in the number of wordpress installations.  Again, this is not a big deal for most people.

It wouldn’t have been a big deal for me either, but I started to notice a couple of things that I didn’t like about HostGator.

Why I Didn’t Like HostGator (when compared to Bluehost)

1. The login was funky. I know this isn’t that big of a deal, but with Bluehost you can just got to Bluehost.com and login to your account.  On HostGator, there is NO login button!  You have to remember a URL (your domain name plus a few things) to login…its just weird to me, and I personally find it very inconvenient.

2. The customer service was slower. Actually, both web hosts have good customer service, but Bluehost is always so much quicker to pick up the phone than Hostgator, that even a couple of minutes on hold started to seem like an eternity.

3. The WordPress installations block Google sometimes. On WordPress, there is the option to change your privacy settings to keep Google from crawling (indexing) your website.  I found that when I installed WordPress through HostGator, the default was to keep my website hidden from Google…oh no!  Its not hard to change, but I always had to remember to go in and change it.  Bluehost has ALWAYS made my website visible to search engines…I like that.

4.  My Websites load slower on HostGator

This is the ultimate test of a web host!  And I can tell you that my websites on Bluehost.com are visibly faster at loading than the ones I have on HostGator.  I know others have not had troubles with load times, but for whatever reason, Bluehost seems to be faster for me personally (certainly may not be the case for everyone).

5.  You Have to Updgrade WordPress 1 At a Time on HostGator

If you have a few WordPress installations its important to keep these updated with the later version.  On Bluehost, you can click 1 button and it will perform the updgrade on ALL your websites.  This is not the case on HostGator, you have to click on “updgrade” on each and every website.  A small thing, but still kind of annoying.

Overall, having your own webhost is essential if you are going to get serious about building a business online.  Both of these webhosts are affordable, but for me personally, I have had a better overall experience with Bluehost.com.

So, if you are considering getting a hosting plan anytime soon, I recommend without reservation Bluehost.com.

Have other questions about hosting?  Let me know in the comments below, and I will do my best to answer!

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25 Responses to “Bluehost vs. HostGator – My Personal Experience”

  1. Everybody, it seems, recommends Host Gator. It’s good to finally get all the facts. Thanks.

  2. Great post!

    I use hostgator and have had no problems with them. Even when one of my sites was hacked they rectified the problem in minutes. Funny you mentioned the inodes as I noticed that just yesterday.

    Regarding “The WordPress installations block Google sometimes”, more than likely you have not installed on hostgator for a while as this has actually been fixed about 4 months ago. I have to agree it was really annoying.

    I was looking to open another hosting account so bluehost will definitely be my choice(through this site of course). I really like the fact that it is a one click upgrade as I have a ton of sites and it could take you up to 10 minutes manually upgrading with hostgator! Actually thats huge! Most of my new sites I installed the auto wordpress plugin which rectifies this problem though!

    Either way it seems they are the top two hosting accounts to go with.

    • Yep, its possible that HostGator has fixed some things in the past few months. I haven’t installed any new sites there, because of the issues I discussed above. The one click upgrade for all sites on Bluehost is REALLY nice!

  3. I use both and never had a problem. My first webhost is Hostmonster which I still use and I believe is a sister company to bluehost. I used Justhost and hated it. I’ve used webhostingpad and cancelled. I’m looking into Ipad. Any reviews on Ipad. Thanks.

    • Hey Spencer, great name by the way! Never tried Ipad…thanks for the heads up about Justhost…

      • I have used Justhosts and have had no problem except a series of marketing emails with the ‘managers special oto’ spam! One of the reasons I went for them is that it is easy to find coupons to get an account really cheap (50% off).

        The downside is there is no ‘upgrade all’ button, but as Shane says, use the plug in instead.

  4. I think Hostgator was the best host at one time, but like anything else, it’s gotten too big. There are a “host” :) of others that are better, bluehost being one of them.

  5. Hi really great break down of your love hate affair with Hostgator and I am looking to get hosting too and I am researching Ipad I like the whole green living thing they operate but that’s just me.
    Will share my findings on ipad till then….

  6. Hey Spencer

    I use Hostgator and admittedly I only have 5 sites but I’ve found them to be ok. I did have an issue early on but a quick message on live chat and it was fixed in minutes. I guess that as my sites increase I may feel differently but at the moment I think Hostgator are fine for my needs. Great WP template by the way, can I ask what it is?

    • See the footer link below, its elegant themes.

      • Spencer,

        New arrival from SPI (Pat can vouch for me, right Sir Pat Flynn?).

        I too love the idea of Elegant Themes. I have HAMMERED them to provide better resources for their users. Lord knows, I’m no CSS Jedi. Use your klout and get them to have every design carry a generic white. I want to use my own colors, not ones prechosen for me.

        • Hey Leon – I agree that it would be nice to choose your own colors on all the elegant themes. However, for the price I have to admit that the themes are a pretty smokin’ deal for what you get. I will see what I can do though…

  7. Hey Spencer,

    Have you ever ran into any problems with your niche sites being put in the sandbox when they are still pretty new?

    I ask because I’ve been building niche sites for a while myself (started with Clickbank sites but now moving into Adsense), and I’ve never experienced this problem before, but my past 6 sites I built are all indexed by Google and they are nowhere to be found in the first 10 pages for their keyword phrase.

    I’m pretty good at judging the 1st page results and how well I can rank for a keyword so I know the problem isn’t that the keyword is too competitive or anything. The 1st page is quite weak actually.

    I’ve built countless niche sites in the past and I’m always able to find my sites at least somewhere in the first 3 pages when they are new, and now all of a sudden all 6 of my new sites are nowhere to be seen at all even though they are indexed which is a bit strange to me. They have been pinged and bookmarked too.

    I was wondering if you ever experienced this and what you did about it.

    For the record, I have maybe 30 sites or so right now and they are all under 1 hosting account. Do you think the problem could be that they are all under the same IP and Google is onto what I’m doing? If so, I guess I’ll have to open a new hosting account (I’ll go ahead and sign up through one of your links for you).

    Looking forward to your response.

    Thanks,

    J

    • J:

      I am actually preparing to write an EXTREMELY in depth post on this exact subject later this week. I have indeed noticed this problem, and I think its time that I addressed it. I think that Google is tracking your sites through both the hosting/same IP – AND – your google adsense account and/or webmaster tools. I will be discussing options and solutions later this week, so stay tuned!

      • Awesome, thanks for the fast response.

        Looks like I’ll need to open a new hosting account then. I’ve been using Host Gator and I can’t say I’ve ever had a negative experience with them, but I think I’ll test out Blue Host and see how they measure up. That 1-click WP update sounds like a real nice feature.

        I’ll be looking forward to your post too – can’t wait to read it!

        Thanks,

        J

  8. i have tried 1 month for hostgator, i also don like, eg. need to remember the login link, after i install, the index file still no change. I don’t know how to set the index file correctly and so just giving up.

    Anyway, i use fatcow and ipage. I like both services because of better security and online backup daily / weekly for me. just 1 thing is occasionally the site may be down but their support is prompt. I used other hosting and have a lot of hacking problem. After switch to this two, there is no more this problem at all.. rest of peace also. Another good function is i can turn off ftp so this also prevent any illegal upload of file to my hosting too. Just some sharing of my experience.

  9. I have a accounts with siteground ($9.99 for a URL and hosting for a year) and Hostgator. I signed up with Bluehost recently because of their unlimited domain hosting. I find that their tech support guys are not as sharp as hostgator but it might have just been the guy I spoke with.

    My feeling is that it makes sense to spread your sites around between hosts but I think they are are mobile phone carriers..you find one person who loves them and one who hates them.

  10. Do any of you guys use Godaddy? With the coupon codes they usually have up you can snag a .com URL for around 7.50

  11. great advice, I use them both and found I had loads of problems with hostgator when I added around 50 domains to them, they took my sites down due to the inodes. I now use bluehost as well and find they are good. I also will only had 20 domains to each host so if my sites go down this wont affect them all.

    • Andy, yes I definitely prefer bluehost. I think having only 20 domains to a hosting account is a good idea. Of course you can certainly do more (30 or 40); but I think ideally you should have as few domains per hosting account as possible (and if you can afford it).

  12. I just signed up with hostgator from their specials run recently. So far the customer service has been quite flexable .. Good to know about the default regarding indexing of your wordpress sites.
    Does anyone know where in admin one changes this so that the serach engines can index your site

    • Michael:
      Overall, Hostgator is fine, I just personally like Bluehost better. I have also found out that the default is now set so that search engines will find your site. However, if you ever want to double check. Go to your WordPress “Settings” and its under “Privacy”.

  13. I have used both HostGator and Bluehost. Several times Bluehost suspended my account for database queries (yes using WordPress with not many plugins) and not many sites.

    I later moved to Hostgator and ran the same scripts with twice as many sites without any trouble. However most scripts were for making product catalogs which Google decided was bad for duplicate content. I decided to experiment more with Web 2.0 sites and free hosting via Blogger and Google sites while I build up a collection of original content.

  14. Every webmaster have different experiences even on the same web host. It really depends on what kind of websites you are hosting. If is just plain html you’ll have less problem, but with WordPress, you really need to find the best host.

    I used to have two reseller with this two websites offering unlimited space and traffic. When some of the hosted websites received 300 visits per day, the websites went down and support says my account is having high cpu usage. Almost everyday the websites were down. When visits reached 1k per day to one of the website, my reseller account was disabled.

    That was the biggest headache that I ever experience as a webmaster. Luckily I have a backup to some of the websites.

    Good hosting is really a must to have a successful online business.

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