HostGator WordPress Hosting Review: Worth it or Not?!

There are many benefits with changing to ultra fast WP dedicated hosting such as increase in sales, and higher Google (SERP) rankings. WordPress is a powerful way to host websites, but can be bulky and resource consuming.

But is WP hosting really worth the extra buck?

In this review, I’ll be examining what HostGator WP Hosting really is and it’s pros/cons. Because singing up is not always a good idea for everyone.

Good read! Shared VS WordPress Hosting – What’s The Difference?

HostGator WordPress Hosting

Easy to Use with Less Control

HostGator WP Hosting is perfect for those who want to easily setup and manage a new and powerful WordPress site or blog. Also migrating your old website (more about that later) is simple because it’s done for you.

The single biggest limitation is that you are mostly restricted to working with the WP dashboard (the backend of WordPress). If you are new to hosting websites, or accustomed to using the dashboard only, this is the easiest way of course.

For advanced users, it’s still a very attractive option because this is one of the most inexpensive ways to host WordPress with blazing fast page loads. Plus a whole lot of other benefits such as:

  • Automatic off-site backups
  • Automatic security updates
  • Automatic malware detection and removal
  • Unlimited bandwidth

HostGator’s Own Hosting Control Panel

Most normal hosting plans include access to cPanel – the most popular advanced web hosting control panel. Instead of cPanel, HostGator has it’s own “Customer Portal” which is much easier to use for administrative tasks with more limitations.

HostGator WP Hosting Customer Portal

What you see in the screenshot is pretty much all you can do with it:

  • Manage WordPress (takes you to the dashboard)
  • Change Cache Settings
  • Manage Email Accounts
  • Security Settings
  • Manage FTP Accounts for access to your files

The biggest missing feature is the access to MySQL, which is a database management system that contains your website data.

Without it you have limitations like:

  • It is not possible to use third party applications that use a MySQL database. For example: Piwik web analytics, Internet forums, other scripts, etc.
  • Manual migration or moving (exporting) the website is not possible and have to ask staff to do it for your every time.

Please note, that you have full access to your files through FTP. Just not direct access to the MySQL database contents.

Managing WordPress

Manage WordPress Dashboard

To manage WordPress, the dashboard looks just like any other WP installation. You can upload your own themes or use the ones provided, add Google Analytics to your website, install plugins, etc. No difference there.

Page Load Speed

It is said that roughly every one second increase in page load time, can result in a 7% decline in converting leads. This is because a slow loading website has a higher percentage of page abandonment.

Also Google has stepped in to support those who want to provide a smooth user experience. Slow websites can result in lower rankings in search results, and decrease the amount of pages that Google will crawl at any given time.

Pingdom Website Speed Test

This is a speed test, loading up a site hosted with HostGator WP Hosting.

A common WordPress specific hosting problem is a slow Time To First Byte (TTFB) time. This is the amount of time it takes for the server to access the requested data and start loading it onto the visitors browser. In this test, it was around 50 milliseconds. When using ordinary shared hosting, it can take several seconds to just start loading the page.

Also the data is transferred very fast with good worldwide server connections (speeds well maintained outside of US). Page load of 0.3/seconds is phenomenal.

Managed vs VPS Hosting

Those who are more experienced with WP, and want full control with access to extensive tools, HostGator VPS plan is worth considering. The ability to run third-party web apps and MySQL tools such as phpMyAdmin is one of the biggest temptations to pay the slightly bigger expense. As with the cheaper managed plan, you get blazing speeds and outstanding performance.

Alternatives

While any serious business should consider advanced web hosting methods, it’s not for everyone’s budget or needs. If bothered with slow page loads, probably the most powerful cache plugin, WP Super Cache is also worth a try.

While HostGator is considered the most affordable, there are other WP Hosting providers with similar services.

Further Reading

After registration, you will receive an email with instructions to setting up the website. Here are links to some of the important bits as navigating through the massive support system is not always fun.

How to Manage WordPress Hosting

How to Migrate Your old Website

Step-by-step Instructions (WalkMe Walkthroughs)

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or get in touch. Hope this review was useful.

Tim

Last updated: November 19th 2016

Twitter Button Facebook Button Google Button LinkedIn Button

8 comments

  1. That’s an impressive Time to First Byte. Just 0.05seconds for the page to start loading! I’ve been previously on NameCheap and even though speed was fast, TTFB was annoyingly slow. Meaning that some customers had to wait for several seconds for the page to even start loading, not good for business obviously. This was especially the case when third party web applications were running.

    What’s the setup on the website you tested there with Pingdom?

    • Thanks for your comment. Yes, the TTFB is impressive and browsing pages is as smooth as a baby’s bottom. Obviously they have some huge server power (SSD drives heal yeah) in their hands, being able to scale from 100,000 to 1 million monthly visitors with steady performance.

      Unfortunately the managed plans don’t allow third party web apps. Would need VPS for that. So the setup I tested was pure WP. But it’s a bulky & clunky site considering Google’s “PageSpeed Insights” standards. And no caching has been activated. So in theory you can improve from there significantly.

      One idea with modern WP hosting is that what ever you feed them, they will handle it. Not good in the name of web development standards, but good for a lot of folks who just want to get things done. Not having to worry about anything.

      PS. Added a little section for VPS but to explain that further would actually require another post so. Do let me know if I need to write one. 🙂

  2. Hi Tim. Which do you recommend, managed or the ordinary web hosting plan? How many visitors can the cheapest hostgator plans support?

    • Unless you have massive traffic, it won’t matter in terms of the amount of visitors. What matters is what you want your website or blog to achieve. If you’re not running a business or don’t want to monetize, in most cases the basic web hosting plan is enough. Also if the website is very new, it might be better to start with the cheapest option until the website starts to gain enough visitors and becomes profitable.

      All HostGator plans have unlimited bandwidth but resources are limited. So websites performance and page load speed will depend on how much you invest. Even if you have a small amount of visitors, managed will always be faster.

      It’s worth noting that even though WordPress comes pre-installed and configured on the managed plan, it’s also very easy to set up on other plans as well.

      Great question, thanks for asking!

    • If you can.. — From personal experience I really recommend using Managed WordPress Hosting, because it is incredibly fast right out of the box. Some rightfully dislike the fact that you will be limited to WP only, but the fact is that while VPS is also a fast type of hosting, it will take some time and effort to reach to similar speeds as with the managed plan.

      The reason they can optimize to such speeds is because you are using one platform. Things get more complicated with a liberal infrastructure.

      1. If you are OK with WordPress only
      -> managed is faster and easier.

      2. If you want to host anything else
      -> VPS is the best in a similar price range.

      Thanks for the excellent question!

  3. You say “The biggest missing feature is the access to MySQL, which is a database management system that contains your website data.”

    There are WordPress plugins (I know of at least one) that allow you to set up a database on your WordPress website. Would this overcome the limitation you’ve stated? I need to say that I am not at all experienced in these areas, but know enough to try to jump in. If I want to set up a database containing simple lists of information that I’d want people to be able to sort online, would one of those plugins work on Hostgator’s optimized WordPress hosting?

    • Really sorry for the late reply — and great question btw.

      You are right! There are plugins that can manage the database and I believe ‘WP-DBManager‘ is a popular one. However — this and some of the other such plugins are “disallowed” by HostGator. They say it’s to optimize WordPress but I think the other reason is the simple fact that this is just not what WordPress Cloud Hosting is designed for.

      In practice, you can install the plugin and use it for a limited time only. Meaning that such plugins are automatically removed after a certain period of time. You could look for one that is allowed, but it can be a real nuisance. I think this is most useful for taking a simple backup of the database for yourself.

      Also, what you could do in theory (I haven’t tested this) is to open the ‘wp-config.php’ file to get the database name, user and password details to use on a third-party software. So there are ways around the restriction but because the hosting plan is targeted at WP only, it is not a stroll in a park.

      However once you get there, the performance is really impressive. There are way too many poorly performing, over-priced plans out there that you really need to be weighing in the pros and cons when making a purchase decision.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *