SiteGround and HostGator are both well-known web hosting companies that offer a suite of hosting solutions.
They both offer shared hosting, WordPress hosting, dedicated hosting, and other solutions, but which is better?
In this SiteGround vs. HostGator article, I’m going to compare the two web hosts in all of the important metrics, including speed, uptime, and customer support.
I am someone who has used both of these web hosts for my business sites and blogs (not just running quick tests), and I will say right now that I believe one of them is superior to the other.
Note that these tests and comparisons were made on the shared hosting plans, and I can’t make any definitive conclusions on other solutions like dedicated hosting. However, it’s fairly safe to extend many of the conclusions of this comparison to other plans.
The handy table below will give you a quick overview of the conclusions of my comparison. Click the entries on the left column to be taken to their corresponding sections.
|Popularity||Less popular||More popular||HostGator|
|Site Transfer||First is free||First is free||Tie|
What solutions do they offer?
Now I’ll go over the various hosting solutions that both web hosts offer. I’ll compare price and storage later in the review.
SiteGround offers shared hosting plans under three types: web hosting, WordPress hosting, and WooCommerce hosting.
Each of these hosting types has three plan levels: StartUp, GrowBig, and GoGeek. StartUp allows for one domain and has the least amount of storage space, while GrowBig and GoGeek allow for unlimited domains, have more storage space, and offer additional features.
SiteGround also offers cloud hosting (hosting in the cloud with dedicated resources), dedicated servers, and enterprise hosting (custom infrastructure).
HostGator offers shared web hosting and WordPress hosting, but not WooCommerce hosting.
For the standard shared hosting, there’s the Hatchling Plan, Baby Plan, and Business Plan (recommended by HostGator). All but the Hatchling plan allow for unlimited domains. Unlike SiteGround, which has disk space limits, all plans have unmetered disk space and bandwidth (see the Features section for an explanation of this).
The plans for WordPress hosting are Starter, Standard, and Business. Each plan includes a free SSL certificate and domain.
Another interesting feature is HostGator’s drag-and-drop website builder. This builder is included in three additional hosting plans (Starter, Premium, and eCommerce) that cost a bit more than the shared plans.
HostGator also offers VPS (Virtual Private Server) hosting, dedicated hosting, and domain registration.
Although both web hosts are well-known, HostGator is moderately more popular than SiteGround. This is evidenced by the following Google Trends graph, and also from the general interest I’ve observed:
As you can see, HostGator is consistently above SiteGround by about 25 interest points.
In addition, HostGator claims to host over 8,000,000 domains, while SiteGround hosts over 2,000,000.
But as you’ll see in this comparison, it doesn’t necessarily mean that HostGator is better. In reality, a larger base of customers can make it more of a challenge for a host to manage their resources, especially on shared plans, and this often results in worse performance overall.
SiteGround has an entire section on their website dedicated to the technologies they use. They divide them into 3 categories: data centers, speed, and uptime.
HostGator has some pages describing their data centers and network features, but they don’t seem to be accessible from the home page for some reason. I had to ask support about some technologies.
Nonetheless, I’ve done my best to compare them. Here’s a summary:
|Data Centers||Five in 3 continents||Two in the USA|
|Solid-State Storage||Yes||On cloud hosting|
Let’s start with data centers.
The speed and stability of your website depend a lot on the location and characteristics of the closest data center. This is why it’s important to have multiple high-quality data centers in different locations, preferably in different countries and continents.
SiteGround has five data centers and provides a map with the exact locations of each (see image above). They have data centers in the USA, UK, Netherlands, and Singapore.
HostGator has two data centers in Houston, Texas and Provo, Utah. Each data center is located in a facility that uses state-of-the-art server hardware, network and electrical systems, and HVAC.
Solid-State Drives (SSDs)
SSDs (solid-state drives) are much faster than regular hard drives. They can make a big difference in hosting performance.
SiteGround uses SSDs for all of their shared hosting plans.
HostGator, as it turns out, only uses SSD on their cloud shared hosting plans. On their regular shared hosting, HDD is used. This is disappointing because it results in hosting that is slower and less reliable.
NGINX speeds up loading of static content on websites.
SiteGround uses a NGINX setup on all of their shared and cloud plans.
HostGator does not use NGINX on any of their shared plans. It’s possible that they’re only available on VPS or dedicated plans.
PHP 7, CDN and HTTP/2
These technologies all result in faster loading in any part of the world.
SiteGround offers all three on shared plans, but HostGator only offers PHP 7.
SiteGround also offers uptime technologies such as Linux containers (LXC) and anti-bot artificial intelligence. It doesn’t appear that HostGator uses LXC.
The clear winner when it comes to technology is SiteGround. They have many of the latest technologies designed to boost your website’s speed and performance, while HostGator is missing many of them.
When you’re considering a web host, there are many important features that you should look at.
Here are what I think are the most important features of shared plans:
This is the amount of space your websites are allowed to take up. SiteGround offers 10GB SSD on StartUp, 20GB SSD on GrowBig, and 30GB SSD on GoGeek.
This is one area where HostGator wins out, at least on paper. They offer unmetered disk space on all of their shared plans.
Unmetered space means that there’s no hard cap for the amount of disk space you can use, but HostGator expects you to use a reasonable amount that’s in line with the normal operation of your website.
Now, chances are you won’t hit SiteGround’s limits. Space may only become an issue if you upload a lot of high-res videos and images, but you shouldn’t be doing this anyway.
It’s important to keep recent backups of your site in case something goes wrong.
SiteGround does a great job here. They keep daily backups of your site for 30 days on shared hosting and 7 days on cloud hosting. The backups can be easily recovered by going to the Backup Tool in the cPanel.
SiteGround also offers premium on-demand backups on the GrowBig and GoGeek plans; up to 5 of these can be created at any one time. On the StartUp plan, on-demand backups can be created for a fee.
HostGator’s backup policy is weaker. They do automatic backups once a week on a random day, and each backup overwrites the previous backup.
HostGator states that their backups are provided as a “courtesy” and are not guaranteed. Their backup policy depends on the plan; full information on that can be found here.
HostGator recommends that customers with critical business info and data use a third-party backup service for safety.
The ability to host multiple websites under a hosting plan can be critical to many webmasters.
Fortunately, both HostGator and SiteGround allow for unlimited websites and subdomains on all shared plans except the Hatchling and StartUp plans.
All shared plans on SiteGround and HostGator offer unmetered bandwidth, meaning there’s no limit to how much traffic you can get, resources allowing.
Go ahead and grow your sites as much as you want!
SiteGround allows you to create unlimited email accounts. However, each email account is limited to 2GB, 4GB, and 6GB quotas for the StartUp, GrowBig, and GoGeek plans respectively.
You can choose from 3 email clients: Horde, Roundcube, and SquirrelMail. I use Roundcube and I’ve had no problems with it.
HostGator allows unlimited POP3 email accounts, and they also don’t appear to have any special disk space limits for email. Included are unlimited email aliases, autoresponders, and mail forwards.
Winner: HostGator, because they don’t limit disk space for email. However, unlimited email storage is mostly unnecessary unless you send thousands of emails a day with many attachments.
Because a large portion of webmasters use WordPress, having hosting that is optimized for the platform can be a really great thing.
SiteGround and HostGator both offer specialized WordPress hosting to customers. The features have similarities, but there are also some major differences.
The first is that while both entry-level plans allow only 1 website, SiteGround’s other two plans allow for unlimited WordPress sites, while HostGator only allows 2-3 websites.
This means that if you want WordPress hosting with HostGator but want to run more than 2-3 sites, you’re out of luck.
However, SiteGround’s plans are meant to accommodate 10,000-100,000 monthly visits, while HostGator’s plans are meant to accommodate 100,000-500,000 monthly visits, which is a win for HostGator.
Here is a comparison of some key features in tabular form:
|Automatic system updates||Possible||Yes|
|Automatic plugin updates||Possible||No|
|In-house caching plugin||Yes||No|
Winner: SiteGround. Unlimited websites is important, but HostGator comes in a close second because of the larger bandwidth and additional bonuses like a free domain and $100 Google Ads credit.
To summarize features:
- Both allow unlimited domains and subdomains on regular shared hosting.
- HostGator offers unmetered disk space and bandwidth.
- SiteGround has a better backup policy.
- SiteGround has more WordPress features.
- HostGator offers unlimited email storage space.
- SiteGround offers unlimited email accounts on the entry level plan.
Overall winner: Tie
Speed is a very important aspect of your website. Not only does a fast website give a better experience to your visitors, but in general, search engines like Google and Bing will like you more and rank you better.
In my limited time with HostGator, and also from what I’ve seen with other sites hosted with HostGator, their speed is average — only slightly better than Bluehost.
In contrast, SiteGround has always been very quick for me on the shared plan. This makes it much easier for me to do work on my sites.
In terms of actual numbers, I performed a test using the Webtestpage.org and GT Metrix tools on equivalent tier shared plans. Here are the results for a particular test website:
|Webtestpage.org (Phoenix, USA)||1.54 seconds||4.32 seconds|
|Webtestpage.org (Los Angeles, USA)||1.00 seconds||3.54 seconds|
|Webtestpage.org (Orlando, USA)||1.02 seconds||3.76 seconds|
|GT Metrix (Dallas, USA)||1.85 seconds||4.61 seconds|
|GT Metrix (Vancouver, Canada)||1.47 seconds||4.87 seconds|
|GT Metrix (London, UK)||0.99 seconds||4.39 seconds|
It’s important to note that the exact speed of a site will depend on many factors apart from just the hosting company.
But keeping as many things constant as reasonably possible, as you can see from the data above, SiteGround beats HostGator by about 2-4 seconds each time.
From what I’ve heard, SiteGround’s speed was considerably worse as far back as 2016, but since then, they’ve become one of the fastest web hosts out there.
Winner: SiteGround, and it’s not close.
Periods of downtime can completely cut off your traffic, and it can also hurt your search engine rankings. Downtime can be caused by power downs, hardware failures, server maintenance, and other factors.
Downtime is less of a problem for some types of businesses for others (for example, small websites for a brick-and-mortar business), but it’s not a good thing in any case.
I have witnessed some issues with HostGator uptime. I don’t recall ever having downtime problems since I’ve been with SiteGround, and it has been many years.
Anything under 99% uptime is unacceptable in my view.
In practice, tests have shown that SiteGround has an uptime consistently above 99.99%. Most tests have indicated that HostGator has uptimes on shared plans that range from 98.5%-99.5%, which isn’t very good.
Customer support makes a big difference in a web host. If support is unfriendly, unhelpful, or both, it can really leave a sour taste in your mouth.
SiteGround really puts effort into making their customer support great, and it’s something that deserves praise. They offer 24/7 live chat, ticket, and phone support – you can’t get any better than that.
They also do various things like display the personal profile of the agent you’re talking to, overstaff shifts for super quick service, and in-house load balancing. They describe how their customer support works here.
When it comes to actual experience, I’ve contacted SiteGround support many times, and it has always been great. The agents know their stuff, are professional and friendly.
I’ve never reached out to support and not gotten my issue resolved. I talk more about SiteGround’s support in my review here.
HostGator offers 24/7 live chat, phone, and fax support.
There is also a large Knowledge Base with helpful information about all aspects of HostGator web hosting; there’s a good chance you can get your question answered here.
From what I’ve heard and experienced, HostGator support is decent. It’s worth noting that they use the same live chat system as Bluehost, which isn’t surprising considering they’re both owned by Endurance International Group (EIG).
It’s possible that the same support team is used for most of these EIG web hosts, and in this case, you can’t expect the support to be exceptional.
Having said that, whenever I’ve contacted support, I was able to get my questions answered one way or another, and I connected to an agent quite quickly. I definitely wouldn’t say support is as good as SiteGround’s, though.
SiteGround and HostGator both do a good job here.
SiteGround offers a free professional website transfer on their GrowBig and GoGeek plans. For the StartUp plan and for additional transfers, the fee is $30. I don’t believe there are limits on how many email accounts and websites you can transfer.
You can transfer one website or an entire cPanel that consists of multiple websites. It’s easy to request a transfer from within your hosting account.
On shared and cloud plans, HostGator offers one free website transfer (or an entire cPanel) within 30 days of signup. A full cPanel includes all addon domains, settings, and email accounts.
To get the transfer, you need to fill out a transfer form, and transfer requests outside the 30-day window can be met for a fee.
Note that HostGator doesn’t offer full cPanel transfers for optimized WordPress hosting. This is probably because of the special settings involved.
HostGator offers thorough documentation on the website transfers they do and the conditions tied to them.
Security features that protect against hacking, bots, and other attacks is critical. Let’s explore the security features of both web hosts:
SiteGround takes server security seriously. For starters, they offers a free SSL certificate for websites. They have SFTP and SSH access as well. In addition, they do the following:
- set all servers to PHP 7 with the latest updates and fixes.
- run Apache in a chrooted environment with suExec.
- block malicious attackers and bots with complex IDS/IPS systems.
- protect customers from the most common attacks with ModSecurity.
Their SG Site Scanner tool is powered by Sucuri and can be used to scan for malware on a daily basis. This service costs just over $1 per month. For more information on the SG Site Scanner, go here.
HostGator also includes SSL certificates with all of their hosting plans, and they support SFTP.
Regarding the security measures they take, they have a large mod security rule and extensive custom firewall rule, which protect them from various forms of attack including DDoS attacks. Network-level flood prevention can also be enabled.
Beyond this, HostGator employs additional security measures that they don’t go into further detail about.
HostGator offers SiteLock, a tool similar to SiteGround’s Site Scanner that scans for vulnerabilities and malware.
This tool costs anywhere from $2-$50 per month depending on the plan and term length.
Winner: SiteGround. While both web hosts are fairly open about their security measures, SiteGround’s malware tool is cheaper, and there have been more reports of hacks on HostGator.
Price is an important consideration for many people looking to get web hosting. Here’s my advice: don’t go for the cheapest and expect performance to be good.
In general, SiteGround is more expensive than HostGator on shared and dedicated plans, both for first-period discounts and regular rates. However, their added services and upsells tend to be cheaper.
See the table below for a comparison of SiteGround and HostGator pricing on shared plans. Note that these prices are correct only at the time of writing and are subject to change.
|Shared Plans||Entry Level||Mid-Level||Upper-Level|
|SiteGround – Discounted||$3.95/month||$5.95/month||$11.95/month|
|SiteGround – Normal||$11.95/month||$19.95/month||$34.95/month|
|HostGator – Discounted||$2.75/month||$3.95/month||$5.95/month|
|HostGator – Normal||$6.95/month||$9.95/month||$14.95/month|
As you can see, HostGator is cheaper on every shared web hosting plan. But remember that with SiteGround, the price is well-justified; you’re paying for reliability and quality.
The bottom line is this: in all the categories that really matter, SiteGround outclasses HostGator.
They may be less known, but they’re transparent about what they do, they use the top technologies and have top features, and they have better speed, uptime, and support than HostGator.
Another important thing to consider is that HostGator is owned by EIG, a corporation that owns more than 60 other hosting brands including Bluehost.
EIG has been criticized over the years for essentially ruining once-great web hosts. They have been accused of cutting costs whenever possible, downgrading infrastructure and offshoring support.
I’d prefer to go with a web host that isn’t under the thumb of a corporation that is more concerned with maximizing return for shareholders than providing excellent web hosting for customers.
I recommend SiteGround if:
- you want superior speed and practically 100% uptime.
- you want great customer support that is professional, friendly, and helpful.
- you don’t mind paying a few dollars more per month for better hosting.
- 10GB-30GB of storage space is enough for you on shared plans.
- you want hosting that uses the most cutting-edge technologies.
Use HostGator if:
- a cheaper price is more important to you than performance.
- you want unlimited disk space for your sites and email.
- you don’t mind mediocre support and a web host that’s controlled by a cost-cutting corporation with a questionable reputation.
Let me be clear: I’m not bashing HostGator. They are a decent web host that many people use and are satisfied with. I’m just being honest about what I’ve seen and experienced.
All in all, I definitely recommend SiteGround – I’ve been using them for years and I’m more than pleased. But if you want to give HostGator a try, feel free to do so.
Thanks for reading this comparison. This comparison contains affiliate links for SiteGround that I may receive a commission from. Note that the views expressed here are my own and are not official statements from the web host.
Have you used SiteGround or HostGator? Which do you prefer? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.