“GoDaddy vs. HostGator?” is a very common question for anyone researching hosting options.
GoDaddy and HostGator are two of the largest hosting brands in the world. And they are owned respectively by the two of largest web services companies in the world (GoDaddy Group and Endurance International).
They are both “go-to” brands for business owners looking for accessible, affordable hosting. And yet – they are different companies with different brands. And when you are choosing a website host – you still have to end up choosing.
I have current clients who use (and like) GoDaddy hosting. Although this site runs on InMotion Hosting (which I’ll mention later) – I also have several projects that have run on HostGator for years. I’ve been happy with them.
In this comparison between GoDaddy and HostGator, I’ll try to break down the differences that I’ve highlighted seven different areas ranging from pricing structure to customer service and market focus so that you can decide which is the best fit for your project.
Let’s dive into GoDaddy vs. HostGator…
Both HostGator and GoDaddy offer a wide menu of hosting products such as VPS hosting, Cloud hosting, specialized WordPress hosting, reseller hosting and more. But for pricing – we’ll focus on the most common product that small businesses usually need – shared Linux hosting.
Shared Linux hosting is also known as the “kind of hosting that lets you run WordPress, Joomla, and most non-Windows web apps.”
- You can check out HostGator’s current shared hosting plans/discount here.
- You can check out GoDaddy’s current shared hosting plans/discount here.
GoDaddy and HostGator both price their hosting in 3 tiers…that don’t quite line up.
The first tier is for small websites on a budget. GoDaddy calls it their Economy plan and renews at $7.99/mo. HostGator calls it their Hatchling plan and renews at $6.95/mo.
Their first tiers are different based on the type of cap they use.
HostGator uses a domain name cap – ie, you can only have one website on that plan, but that website is otherwise unmetered. It can have enormous videos, plenty of storage, lots of databases (e.g. software installs on the same domain), and unlimited email accounts. But you can only host a single domain on that account.
GoDaddy uses domain, storage, database and email caps. This means that you can connect a single website, but you are also limited on your files stored and email accounts that you can set up.
HostGator has the better deal on the first tier if you are looking for a small, cheap plan.
The middle tiers are the most comparable. HostGator calls it their Baby plan. It renews at $9.95/mo. GoDaddy calls it their Deluxe plan. It renews at $10.99/mo.
Both are almost exactly the same on all core hosting features except for databases and email availability (a concept that I’ll cover in Features). HostGator is a slightly better deal at a US dollar less per month.
The top tiers are less comparable since they don’t limit anything (outside of the physical limits of the server).
Instead, they compete based on plan bonuses. GoDaddy calls it their Ultimate and renews at $16.99/mo. HostGator calls it their Business plan and renews at $14.95/mo.
GoDaddy’s main bonuses are a free SSL certificate, free Premium DNS (for anti-spam), and free “processing power.”
HostGator provides a free SSL and a free dedicated IP address. On the top tiers, GoDaddy’s look better, though the only real difference is the Premium DNS, which is “paid for” with their higher price.
If you are running a single site and want unlimited features on that site, you’ll get the best value with HostGator’s Baby Plan.
Otherwise, their pricing is comparable enough that I’d look at some of the other differences between HostGator and GoDaddy before deciding.
Like I’ve outlined in other web hosting reviews, it’s useful to break web hosting features down into two different sets – a “core feature set” and a “bonus feature set”.
The core feature set consists of what I call the “3 D’s” – domains, disk space and databases/email.
Domains are how many distinct web properties you can connect to your hosting account.
Disk space is how many files you can store on your account, and databases/email is how much software you can install to help manage those files (ie, one install of WordPress requires one database on your server).
HostGator uses industry standard software such as cPanel and mySQL that “run” your core features. These allow for flexible and familiar management. GoDaddy has a proprietary software for their backend. They do allow for cPanel…but it costs a dollar more per month.
Here’s how their backends compare –
That said, you can start to see a difference between GoDaddy and HostGator on “bonus hosting features.” The catch about bonus features is that you need to actually use them to be worthwhile.
HostGator offers bonus features such as marketing credits for AdWords, Bing, etc. They also offer a free business toll-free phone number for your business.
GoDaddy offers a free Office 365 subscription. They’ll also bundle many of their services like DNS, accounting, etc.
If you are a small business who doesn’t need/want nitty-gritty cPanel features – and you like the convenience of GoDaddy’s complementary services, then GoDaddy will be good. If you are want to experiment and want access to more advanced features, then HostGator will be a better fit on features for you.
The core job of a web host goes beyond simply storing and delivering files to your website visitors. You’ll also want your web host to deliver the files quickly.
There are a lot of factors that go into website speed, and many times, you cannot blame a slow website on a slow host (e.g., even the most powerful engine cannot go Zero to 60mph in 5 seconds if it’s pulling a massive boat).
That said – server speed is still critical. There’s not really a good way for non-network engineers to measure server speed between hosts (since, again, lots of factors).
Here are the results from my most recent test –
GoDaddy is ahead, but they are close enough that their times should average out to be the same.
Normally, internal data is not publicly available. But, EIG is a publicly traded company with all the public reports that go with that. Here’s their internal data from their a recent Investor’s Day report –
As you can see, even Endurance’s (possibly biased) internal data shows HostGator as much faster…which is not shown by my own tests.
The main takeaway – they are both fast enough for you to work on all the other variables that you control and affect website speed.
There is one aside – uptime and consistency.
That’s not to be glib about downtime. Downtime matters. But it’s important to look at why the downtime happened – and if a similar incident happened again.
Given their size and resources, I see HostGator and GoDaddy’s downtime risk as about the same.
Usability & Onboarding
Any good product can turn bad quickly if you can’t figure out how to actually use it. And this point is especially true with web hosts.
Both HostGator and GoDaddy have fairly straightforward onboarding and good usability. GoDaddy uses a proprietary setup in addition to cPanel. They both maintain similar account portals and they both send out similar onboarding emails.
And they both make it straightforward to install common web apps like WordPress.
They both do upsells to a similar degree. GoDaddy already has the reputation, but HostGator’s can be a bit annoying too. Here’s their checkout process.
The catch, though, is complementary services. GoDaddy is a domain registrar and “business services” provider. Many times, a company will have a domain and email with GoDaddy before they have a website. In that case, GoDaddy does make product integration simple.
If you already have a domain with GoDaddy, pointing it to HostGator is not a huge issue. But, if you already use GoDaddy’s email and other services, then you’ll have a simpler setup sticking with their hosting services.
Overall, GoDaddy has an edge in usability and onboarding. It’s nothing decisive but it does speak to the type of customer that they are looking for, which we’ll cover shortly.
Usability and onboarding can solve a lot of problems. but not every single issue. And that’s where customer service comes in.
The tricky thing about customer service is that it’s all anecdotal. No single comparison (including this one) can state definitively if one company has “good” service or “bad” service.
You never know if your customer service agent just started yesterday (vs. their seasoned pro) or was having a terrible/awesome day – or if it’s a deeper indication of company culture.
Instead, I try to look at indications on whether a company treats their customer service as a cost, a sales opportunity or as an investment.
According to the EIG’s Investor’s Day report, they are obsessed with their Net Promoter Score (NPS). In short – that is a metric that measures how likely your customers are to recommend you.
They draw a clear correlation between customer service → NPS → $$$
In other words, HostGator views customer service as an investment that leads to both more sales and more upsell opportunities. GoDaddy treats it similarly.
That’s a good thing for you as the customer with a catch (ie, the upsell part). If you don’t mind putting up with the upsells, you’ll likely experience alright customer service from HostGator and GoDaddy.
The main differences are phone access and technical skills.
GoDaddy has phone support and HostGator does not have phone support.
In my experience and from EIG’s investor reports, HostGator has more front-end technical expertise. In other words, the person you start talking to at HostGator is more likely to be able to solve your issue than GoDaddy.
At GoDaddy – you’re more likely to get referred to a “technical specialist” or new upsell product (ie, “WordPress Hosting”).
If you want phone support – go with GoDaddy. If you don’t need phone support and simply want quick answers – go with HostGator.
*If customer service is the primary issue for you – be sure to check out InMotion Hosting (my review here). They’re an independent company (ie, not owned by EIG) with a strong focus on customer service.
Why? Because they likely see them as complementary brands that fit different types of customers – sort of like Coke & Sprite.
Here’s their chart for investors on their “brand positioning” –
This chart lines up perfectly with how I’ve found HostGator’s customer service & usability.
HostGator markets to people who are website owners first and business owners second.
GoDaddy positions themselves as a company striving to “empower small business owners.” In other words, they want people who are business owners first and website owners second.
It makes sense – and is also important for what products & improvements each brand will likely make in the future.
Here’s grab bag of other factors to consider.
- HostGator has a longer money-back guarantee (45 days) than GoDaddy (30 days).
- For better or for worse, they are both owned by a giant corporation. As I’ll mention in the conclusion, if you want a non-EIG host, you can look at InMotion (review), Web Hosting Hub (review) or SiteGround (review).
- HostGator also offers an interesting Cloud hosting plan if you are global and want to work with those settings.
GoDaddy vs. HostGator Conclusion
So GoDaddy vs. HostGator? They’re both fine hosts with some differences.