You’ve got a master plan. You’re going to quit your boring day job, launch a web startup company on your own, and then make enough cash to retire into peaceful relaxation. Maybe you’ll even buy a second home in a tropical destination, you know, so you have somewhere to run and escape the Canadian winter.
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But before you start writing up your resignation letter to hand to your boss, make sure you have a plan for where you’ll be hosting your new website. Without a solid, reliable, and fast web hosting provider, your new venture will be doomed to failure.
Fortunately these days, individuals don’t need a great deal of technical knowledge in order to get a new website hosted on the cloud. These reviews on HostingCanada will help you to identify the best option for your web project.
You’ve probably seen advertisements for HostGator online or heard commercials for it on your favorite podcasts. The company has been around since 2002 and actually opened its first international office in Canada.
You won’t find many alligators in the Canadian wilderness, I hope, but read on to find out if HostGator is a good match for your new website.
Our Analytical Approach
Judging a web host is no simple task. Providers must be evaluated on a number of factors, including speed, reliability, and of course cost. The word “number” is the most important thing to keep in mind. All web hosting companies will tell you that they are the best, the fastest, and the most secure. Of course, that can’t be true!
At HostingCanada, we base all of our web host reviews on quantifiable metrics and statistics. This means you can be sure that our findings are trustworthy and unbiased. If a web host provider is not worth the money, we’ll tell you straight up. No tricks from us.
In evaluating HostGator’s performance against other top providers, we’ve captured metrics from several major Canadian cities and provinces. Your end users will likely be spread across the country and the globe, so it’s important for your web project to load fast from all locations.
Here’s an overview of our approach to this review of HostGator’s offerings:
- First, we’ll give you the raw numbers of HostGator’s performance, including uptime, speed, and reliability.
- Then we’ll move onto pricing and evaluate HostGator’s product offerings to help you find the best value.
- Lastly, we’ll compare Hostgator to other popular platforms and give our overall recommendation for you, our loyal Canadian readers.
Why Our Opinion Matters
Before we hit you with data about HostGator, let’s talk for a minute about why you can trust what we say. We here at HostingCanada have been in the web game for decades. We have experience in design, marketing, customer service, and of course – cloud hosting!
HostingCanada has been compiling statistics since 2016, when it began purchasing and testing different hosting plans from providers across Canada. We’ve analyzed all that data and are happy to present it to you in easy-to-understand reviews like this one.
Hosting companies will often boast about impressive metrics on their website, especially when they are trying to sell you on a specific package or plan. But there is always fine print to be found, so you should be weary of trusting any marketing material you find. It’s best to refer to independent reviews like this one to give you a realistic view of how a hosting provider functions and performs.
The Hard Science
Here we go, stat nerds. It’s time to dig into the mathematics of web hosting with HostGator. All of our tests were run within Canada to help get an accurate mix of results across the country. To get started, check out the results below from our four testing locations.
- Uptime – 98.6%
- Average Loadtime – 1,912Ms
- Uptime – 98.9%
- Average Loadtime – 2,012Ms
- Uptime – 97.5%
- Average Loadtime – 2,182Ms
- Uptime – 98.09%
- Average Loadtime – 1,658Ms
People say there’s nothing to do in Winnipeg, but look! They have internet! And pretty fast internet, too.
So what do these numbers actually mean? Well, first it’s important to understand the terminology. When we talk about update on HostingCanada, it refers to a measure of how consistent the hosting provider’s services are. The statistic is presented as a percentage to indicate the overall time that the hosting provider is online and functioning normally.
For example, HostGator has performed with 98.6% uptime from Montreal testing locations. This means that in all of the data we’ve collected in our testing, HostGator services were unable for only 1.4% percent of time for Montreal users. The math equates to around 122 hours of downtime over the course of a year.
When gauging uptime performance, even a fraction of a percentage point can make a significant difference to your website’s availability. At HostingCandada, we consider uptime metrics of over 98% to be strong, with anything below that classified as poor. The very best hosting companies guarantee 99% uptime or else will refund you some of your payments if that expectation is not met.
Now in switching gears to loadtimes, our focus shifts from overall availability to actual speed measurements. The numbers compiled by HostingCanada are an average over months of testing with HostGator’s platform with various browsers like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Internet Explorer. Times provided above are measured in milliseconds and cover the length of a full request and response to a cloud web server.
Keep in mind that your website’s end users may seem some variation in response times due to a variety of factors, including local network speed, browser behavior, and server traffic. Overall, HostGator’s loadtime speeds perform well against other common providers available in Canada.
Loadtimes that average at 2,000 milliseconds or less are considered to be high performance, as it means the end user will face very little delay when loading the webpage. Hosting providers with slower response times are risky to use, because your readers and customer may get annoyed with the delays and choose to browse other sites instead.
Speed and reliability are of course important when selecting your web host, but when it comes down to making a final decision, pricing can be the biggest factor. After all, if you are a small business owner or are trying to launch a new startup, your budget will likely be tight and you’ll want to find the most affordable plan which can still provide solid performance. At the same time, it’s important to not just pick the cheapest hosting option and then hope for the best.
HostGator splits its hosting offerings into three plan options: Hatchling, Baby, and Business. The first two are inspired by their reptile mascot and are aimed at small customers or individual websites, while the Business plan targets enterprise users. See below for the current pricing that HostGator offers for Canadian customers, though keep in mind that these rates change often, especially when HostGator runs sales on their different plans.
There’s only one major difference between the Hatchling and Baby plans, and it’s the number of domains allowed to be managed. With the Hatchling plan, you can only link a single hostname, like a .com or .net, to your hosted environment. By upgrading to the Baby plan, HostGator will allow you to configure your cloud environment to work with an unlimited number of domains. For this reason, the Baby plan cost increase is worthwhile if you plan to spread your web project across multiple sites and domains.
Surprisingly, HostGator’s Business plan does not include a large number of significant advantages. It does, however, include a dedicated IP address for stable hosting and an automatic upgrade to Positive SSL provided by Comodo. A dedicated host can provide extra security and more efficient performance for your web project. The Business plan option also allows you to install a custom SSL certificate if you choose not to use the included one.
For Canadian web customers, HostGator offers an overall solid value for money. Just keep in mind that the price quotes listed on their website are the starting costs, and final bills may be higher. As you add more features and use more resources on the platform, your bill with HostGator may rise. Be sure to keep an eye on your monthly bill.
Web hosting companies will often throw in extra features or language support as a way to sweeten the deal. HostGator is no different. See below for some examples of their added package offerings.
It’s important to note that all HostGator plans now include a basic SSL certificate, which will allow you to encrypt all transmissions between your hosted website and end user browsers. Not sure how SSL works. Read this article to learn the basics.
All HostGator plans also come with a $100 credit for both Google Adwords and Bing advertising. With this credit, you can set up ad campaigns on both platforms and then monetize your own website’s performance.
HostGator makes it easy to launch a website using whatever programming language you prefer. The platform supports Python, PHP, and Perl, among others.
HostGator also provides all customers with email hosting, which allows you to configure different mailboxes for use on your website’s domain. This includes support for both IMAP and POP3 email protocols. Support for email hosting is crucial if you plan to run email marketing campaigns through your new web project.
Customer Service, Please Help!
You may like to think that nothing will ever go wrong with your website once you get it hosted on the live internet, but that’s not the case. You should always consider a provider’s customer support reputation and offerings before choosing which platform to use.
HostGator offers customer support all-day, everyday, year-round, regardless of what type of pricing plan you have signed up for. You can contact their support staff through email, phone, or a live chat system.
Based on HostingCanada’s experience, we’ve found HostGator’s technical support to be rather helpful and easy to get in touch with. But you should note that their website guarantees 99% uptime, which does not match with our own testing results.
What are the Alternatives?
You’ve read through a lot of information about HostGator so far, and although the platform is a strong provider of cloud resources for Canadian customers, we do suggest an alternative which offers great performance at an affordable cost.
SiteGround is our top recommendation for people looking to launch a new website on the cloud. As you can see from the metrics below, SiteGround has proven to offer better reliability and faster connection speeds than any of our tests with HostGator.
SiteGround also offers affordable pricing with their different tiers of plans, which are very comparable to HostGator. Importantly, SiteGround also includes a free basic SSL certificate for all customers, regardless of their plan.
Contracts with web hosting providers can often be locked in for a period of many months or even years. If your website is currently hosted elsewhere, you should find out what kind of commitment you have signed up for and what transition options are available. With SiteGround, you can migrate an existing web project onto their platform with minimal interruptions. Then you can go ahead and enjoy the best hosting experience on the cloud.
Summing It Up
HostGator is a strong competitor in the web hosting industry, making the cloud affordable for Canadian customers and offering a good number of added features. But we still recommend SiteGround above all other contenders, due to their proven track record of high performance and dependable stability.