There are a few things that are crucial when it comes to creating a new website, including selecting the best web hosting platform. Hosting provides the physical infrastructure for you to store your site’s files and other information. When a visitor navigates to a page on your website, the relevant data is delivered by your hosting provider and rendered as a web page in said visitor’s web browser.
In our HostGator vs Hostwinds comparison, we take a close look at two popular web hosting platforms. HostGator offers competitively priced hosting solutions targeted at beginners, with a focus on shared and other low-end solutions. Hostwinds is known as a slightly higher-end provider, with a range of shared, virtual private server (VPS), cloud, and dedicated server plans.
We compare the main features, performance, prices, and customer service of these two hosting providers to help you decide which is best for your next project.
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03. Hostgator: the best shared web hosting provider
To keep costs low, you'll want shared hosting. Hostgator is a great choice, providing strong support, a free domain name, unlimited email addresses and a website builder.
HostGator vs Hostwinds: Features
Before we get into this, it’s important to note that different types of hosting come with significantly different tools and features. Because of this, we’ve focused on shared hosting, comparing a few of the most significant features HostGator and Hostwinds offer.
Both HostGator and Hostwinds offer supposedly unlimited storage and bandwidth. This basically means that your resource consumption won’t be closely monitored, but don’t expect access to truly unlimited resources.
This is because both platforms offer their “unlimited” options under their fair use policy. In short, you will be asked (read forced) to upgrade to a more advanced plan if you begin to use more than a fair share of your server’s resources.
HostGator offers more than 75 one-click app installations through the QuickInstall platform. Other apps and programs can also be installed, but this process can be slightly complicated. Hostwinds goes one step further here, with more than 380 scripts available for one-click installation through the integrated Softaculous installer.
Good security practices are essential when it comes to shared hosting. Unfortunately, though, HostGator falls down here. At first glance, it appears to offer a selection of neat security integrations. However, most of these are provided through third-party apps such as SiteLock, which is only available with an additional subscription.
On the other hand, Hostwinds’ security practices stand out as excellent. You will benefit from 24/7 website monitoring. If problems do arise, they will be dealt with in a fast, efficient manner. Nightly backups are available for free, and you can rest assured that your site will be protected at all times.
Both HostGator and Hostwinds offer some form of free site migration, which is nice to see. Hostwinds’ service involves full site transfers from your existing hosting provider to your new Hostwinds account. It’s handled by a team of experts. HostGator offers similar manual site migrations, and the number on offer varies according to the plan you’re subscribed to.
HostGator vs Hostwinds: Performance
To test the performance of HostGator and Hostwinds, we signed up for a basic shared hosting plan with each provider. We created a simple WordPress website with each host and used Uptime.com to monitor its uptime and server response times for a seven-day period.
Uptime basically refers to the percentage of the time your site is online for. Ideal is 100%, but small outages are quite normal with shared hosting. Server response times measure the length of time it takes the server to return the results of a request. Lower response times equate to quicker load speeds and better performance overall.
Both providers delivered a 100% uptime figure, which is excellent. Be aware, though, that the seven-day test period is quite short, and this figure could change over longer test periods. Hostwinds does offer a 99.9999% uptime guarantee, though, while HostGator offers a slightly worse 99.9% guarantee.
When it comes down to average server response times, Hostwinds clearly stands out as excellent. The 285ms average response time we measured during our testing is great, and it should translate to fast, user-friendly websites.
HostGator’s average server response time comes in at a significantly slower 378ms. This is sliding towards the slower end of the spectrum, but any result between 200 and 400ms is more than acceptable.
Overall, though, Hostwinds is the clear winner here.
HostGator vs Hostwinds: Support
HostGator offers a selection of support streams, including 24/7 live chat and phone. You can also get in contact via Twitter if you’d prefer, and the team is generally friendly and helpful. Email support is notably absent.
Hostwinds also offers attractive customer service options, including 24/7 live chat, email, and online ticket submission. The notable absence here is phone support, but again, the customer service is fast and responsive.
In addition, both HostGator and Hostwinds offer a suite of self-help resources. Hostwinds provides full product documentation, along with a selection of in-depth tutorials and a useful blog. HostGator’s knowledge base contains thousands of helpful articles and video tutorials, and it’s easy to navigate and cleverly organized.
Overall, it’s impossible to separate Hostwinds and HostGator in terms of their support services.
HostGator vs Hostwinds: Pricing and plans
HostGator and Hostwinds both offer a number of different hosting solutions, including shared, VPS, and dedicated server plans.
HostGator’s three shared hosting plans range from $2.75 to $5.25 per month for an initial three-year plan. Prices are significantly higher for shorter subscription terms and on renewal. All plans come with unmetered bandwidth and storage, a free site migration, a free SSL certificate, and a free domain for the first year.
Hostwinds’ shared hosting is slightly more expensive, ranging from $3.74 to $6.74 per month for an initial three-year subscription. However, it’s a much more affordable option for shorter subscription terms, and prices won’t jump majorly on renewal.
Like HostGator, Hostwinds offers unmetered bandwidth and storage, a free domain and SSL certificate, and free site migrations. However, it also offers a selection of more advanced tools, including 24/7 site monitoring, nightly backups, and a free dedicated IP address.
Those looking for more advanced solutions can expect to pay anywhere from $19.95 per month for VPS hosting with HostGator or $4.99 per month with Hostwinds. HostGator’s dedicated servers start at $89.98 per month, while Hostwinds’ come in from $106 per month.
It’s hard to separate HostGator and Hostwinds in terms of their prices, but Hostwinds just takes the points due to its clearer price structure and the lower cost of a short-term subscription.
Ultimately, both HostGator and Hostwinds offer decent web hosting services, and they are deserving of their great reputations and positions as industry leaders. Hostwinds clearly stands out as a winner in many categories, though.
For example, Hostwinds offers many more advanced tools and features than HostGator. It also takes the points on the performance front, and we were impressed by its transparent prices and affordable short subscription terms. It was impossible to separate the two providers in terms of their customer service.
The bottom line: Hostwinds is clearly the more advanced option, but HostGator remains a viable choice, especially for absolute beginners.