Some of you are, at this very moment, traveling down the rabbit hole looking for the best hosting option for your website or online business. To save you the trouble, here is a bit about why I chose my current hosting provider after months of careful research.
I also want to start out by being completely transparent in telling you that I have provided affiliate links for your convenience throughout this article. I tried to be stay as unbiased as I possibly could before, during, and after I made my final decision. I found so many articles written that seemed like a sales pitch for one option or the other, which prompted me to write my own. This wasn’t written to promote the companies mentioned, but instead to help you out by saving you the months of research that I spent trying to take that first leap. If you would like to go through one my links, thank you in advance!
Lets begin by looking at the facts. Hostgator and Bluehost, among many other top hosting providers, are both owned by the same parent company, Endurance International Group. People have their own opinions about EIG and seem to think they tend to run companies into the ground after acquiring them, but it is important to notice that while it may appear that you have many options, most of them fall under the same umbrella corporation. Sure, Hostgator may not be the innovative, homegrown startup that it used to be but after reading this it will be clear why they were my top choice.
I spent hours and hours skimming articles and reviews to try and make this decision and it all really comes down to three things. Speed + uptime vs. price + value. Bluehost seems to be all the rage right now when it comes to promotions that are obviously motivated by affiliate programs, and it can be confusing sorting through all the sales BS to get to the truth. For me it all came down to simply putting the shared packages side by side, and weighing the options against the price.
Bluehost will give you a free domain name upon signup as a perk, but other than that the shared plans are almost identical. In most of the studies I found, Hostgator was faster to load and had less downtime than Bluehost. They both have a c-panel dashboard, and simple 1-click WordPress installation.
Bluehost and Hostgator also both have live chat support. After running a few side-by-side tests with long wait times on both, I came to the conclusion that Bluehost’s support was a complete waste of time. Hostgator’s live chat on the other hand, while also having a long and drawn out wait time, at least gave me the answers I needed.
Hostgator Hatchling, Baby, and Business Plan
Do yourself a favor and forget about the Hatchling plan. It comparable to trying dip your foot in the pool, when you know its just going to delay the process even more. Take the leap, and go big or go home.
You can often get the Baby for just a bit more and the potential for growth is less limiting. The Baby plan is a great starting point! It gives you the option to host multiple domain names and some extra bandwidth to work with. That being said, in my opinion the Business plan is worth a few extra bucks to get a private IP address and SSL if you really want to gain the trust of your followers, and both of these can play a role in SEO as well.
The same applies to the Bluehost plans. Give yourself some room to grow and go with the “plus” or “prime” plan and skip the “basic” one. You can often get them for the same price. Bluehost also offers a “Go Pro” plan for an extra $10 that I looked into during my search, but I don’t feel comfortable recommending yet after what I read. The idea is good, having less websites per server and charging more, but the reviews haven’t been friendly. It is however, your only option if you want a private IP address or SSL certificate within the shared plan; something that you can get with Hostgator‘s Business plan for less than half the price!
Shared VS Cloud
Be aware that “unmetered” bandwidth and disk space is not what it seems. After digging around you will see that they do monitor bandwidth and a shared hosting plan is exactly that, SHARED. In fact, it’s shared with tons of other websites, all fighting for bandwidth and speed on the same server. Because of this they will send you a message if you are using too many resources on the server, and pull your site if you fail to comply with their requests to cease doing so.
Also while you can host multiple websites on the same account, be aware that there is a limit and when you start to reach it you’re page load speed will suffer. To see all the “fine print”, go to this link, and hover over all of the question marks at the left hand side of the screen.
Both providers offer a Business cloud plan. Hostgator’s comes with Private IP and SSL, 6GB storage, and should be at least 2x faster than the shared plan. They also offer a c-panel management platform making it easier for users who aren’t computer science majors, like me, to operate. They boast 100% uptime, made possible by data mirroring and offer easy monitoring as well.
I settled on the Hostgator Business Cloud hosting plan because I wanted the extra room to grow with the benefits of having extra storage, more speed, and scalability.
Caution! Please take into account that the “introductory” price you pay for your hosting at a discount will change when the term you paid for is up. This is the “fine print” that you might have had trouble finding, and they do a great job keeping it quiet. This is why I would suggest that you purchase as long of a term that you can afford up front.
I’d say to go for at least a two year plan, as the discount is usually the same or close to the three year plan and by then you can decide if you want to upgrade your hosting or not.
Also, don’t fall for the “free first month for $0.99” trap, as they will jack the price up the next month. If you already made this mistake and are within the 45 day cancellation timeline, consider yourself lucky.
You will also need a domain name to finish the setup, and you’ll most likely want to purchase a domain name from a cheaper service. Refer to my post, “How To Choose A Business Name With A Matching Domain Name“, if you need some help getting started there. Thats it my friends.