For web hosting on a tight budget, there are few providers as versatile as HostGator and GoDaddy. Both rank highly among our best web hosting providers, with an excellent list of features, zippy speeds and usability to boot.
Even so, the services differ quite a lot when put up against each other. One often fills in the gaps left by the other, making for two services that pertain to vastly different audiences. For example, HostGator stumbles its ease of use, but makes up for it with a selection of plans that GoDaddy can only hope to achieve.
We saved you the leg work and put these two providers head to head, giving you a point-by-point analysis so you can pick the right host for you. This comparison takes place in a vacuum, though, so make sure to read our HostGator review and GoDaddy review to learn about these two in a broader context.
HostGator vs GoDaddy: Setting Up the Arena
We’re going to throw GoDaddy and HostGator into the ring to duke it out for a title. It’ll take place over a series of four rounds, each comparing the services feature by feature. After going over each of the points, we’ll declare a round winner, adding a tally to its overall score.
For all web hosting comparisons, we look at price, ease of use, speeds and uptime, and security and support. We touch on a few other areas in how to choose a web hosting provider, but these four reign above the rest.
After the four rounds, we’ll declare a final winner based on the tallies gathered throughout the comparison. Still, our pick may not be the best choice for you. Especially in a comparison like this where both providers are quite good, it’s important to read through this article in its entirety instead of just taking our word for it.
If you want to get a better idea about web hosting in general before diving in, make sure to check out our web hosting archive. You can find articles such as how to register a domain name and the best reseller hosting.
For tight wallets that need cheap web hosting, you can also opt to host your own website. It’s a cumbersome process, but one that’s nonetheless educational and useful for those that have a powerful enough server.
Lastly, you may want to check out some of our other web hosting comparisons. For instance, we threw up HostGator vs Bluehost, a matchup that was difficult to determine given how similar the providers are.
With some web hosting knowledge in hand, it’s best just to dive straight in. Let’s see who comes out on top when we put up HostGator vs GoDaddy.
Price is the first consideration when purchasing web hosting. Unless you have a bottomless wallet that can afford a service like Pagely (read our Pagely review) you’ll be, at least to some degree, budget conscience. For this first round, we’ll run over the prices of both providers and give some notes on the overall value that each plan brings to the table.
HostGator shows a fairly typical web hosting model. Shared plans have cheap introductory rates with a slightly higher renewal, and a few different options for each type of hosting. Even with the typical model, HostGator feels balanced across the board.
For many, a shared plan is the way to go, though. This inexpensive service throws multiple users on the same server to reduce costs at the data center. Those savings are passed on to you, giving you a cheap entry point into web hosting.
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The most inexpensive plan, Hatchling, will save you a couple bucks, but certainly isn’t ideal. It’s a single domain plan with a bit of upside (such as one-click installs) but that’s about it. The plan isn’t terrible, but the couple extra dollars really makes upgrading to a higher tier worth it.
Baby plans lift many of the restrictions set in place. You have access to an unlimited amount of domains with unmetered bandwidth. As with both other plans, you get $200 in ad credits, weekly backups and free email hosting as well.
Business plans have the same introductory rate as Baby plans, but a slightly higher renewal cost. Even so, the extra value makes the plan well worth it. You have a dedicated IP address, meaning any DNS fussing is fair game, and an SSL certificate which on its own could run $20 or more per year.
The important thing about this lineup is that you’re getting the same performance across all three plans. The extra cost between them is justified through features, not speeds. While that’s fairly common for a shared lineup, it’s an important note when comparing to GoDaddy.
You’ll only see a significant performance increase at HostGator when moving to a new type of hosting. Thankfully, it offers just about everything, including cloud, VPS, WordPress and dedicated. WordPress plans, for example, start off at $5.95 per month with much faster speeds than shared hosting, a big reason why HostGator ranked highly on our best web hosting for WordPress list.
Overall, the prices aren’t too shocking at either end of the spectrum. HostGator sits in a comfortable middle ground, providing a lot of value for the money without price gouging or cutting. It’s a consistent model that means no matter what plan you go with, you’ll get your money’s worth.
GoDaddy takes a slightly different approach to pricing. The first few plans are built on the same architecture, lining up fairly well with HostGator’s prices. However, Business plans are built on a different architecture, coming in at a much higher cost for much higher performance.
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Economy plans run parallel to Hatching plans. It’s a single domain service that’s a few dollars cheaper than the rest of the lineup. However, unlike HostGator, GoDaddy imposes a 100GB storage limit on Economy plans. That knocks this plan down a few ticks when compared to Hatchling, but neither of them are ideal.
Deluxe shapes up a far more suitable plan. Unlimited domains and storage space means you have plenty of flexibility without too much extra cost. However, while the initial cost is cheaper, the renewal rate is higher than HostGator, leaving this plan in an awkward spot as far as pricing goes.
Up the line, Ultimate plans line up next to Business plans at HostGator, but at a slightly higher price. Even so, extra features like an SSL certificate and premium DNS bring a lot of value to justify the cost. The latter is especially impressive, meaning you’ll rarely have domain issues. To learn more, read our article on what are DNS records.
Business hosting at GoDaddy is the outlier in this lineup. It’s far more expensive than all plans at both providers, but comes with a lot of extra performance to boot. It’s a VPS plan, fit with cPanel and a dedicated set of resources. It’s more expensive, yes, but comes with a much higher performance rate as well.
Outside of these four plans, GoDaddy only offers WordPress hosting. Plans start at $3.99 per month with a measly 10GB of storage, but become far more impressive with higher tiers. The more costly plans bring SFTP/SSH access, site staging, malware scanning and a SEO wizard.
The offers are condensed at GoDaddy, meaning you’ll see more of a performance increase between each plan. However, that also comes at a higher cost. You’re going to spend more overall and, while your speeds may be faster, your wallet will also be lighter.
Round One Thoughts
Value is a stronger consideration than price when evaluating the cost of a web host. Because of that, it’s a bit tricky comparing these two hosts. On one hand, HostGator has overall cheaper rates, but GoDaddy, despite the higher cost, offers a bit more with each plan.
Even so, the winner is quite clear. HostGator has a much wider selection of plans, each fit with their own set of features. There is a plan for nearly any need, with the features necessary to make those plans successful in practice.
Between condensed plans at GoDaddy and higher prices overall, your best bet is to stick with HostGator. You’ll save a few bucks in the long run, sure, but also have access to a richer lineup of services.
Ease of Use
HostGator has one of the best interfaces we’ve seen. In fact, it ranked number one on our best web hosting with cPanel. GoDaddy doesn’t offer that same level of quality, reserving cPanel only for Business plans. In this second round, we’ll run down the functionality of both providers and see if cPanel is really as good as it looks.
HostGator is among the best web hosting providers in terms of usability. It’s built on cPanel, a front-end interface for controlling all aspects of your website. Many web hosts use it, but few capitalize as much as HostGator. The interface is built to further the ease of use even more while adding extra features exclusive to HostGator.
You still have the large, icon-based layout that’s resemblant of most operating systems with a few minor changes. For instance, HostGator adds a second search bar on top of the page that directs you to the knowledgebase
Within cPanel itself, you also have access to the MOJO Marketplace. For WordPress users, this inclusion is huge as it allows you to quickly browse themes and plugins without opening another tab. It’s not a major change, but enough of one to make usability that much easier.
Even so, not everything is perfect at HostGator. The support center is a far cry from the smooth cPanel experience, featuring an archaic design that’s quite shocking given the rest of the interface. It’s as lousy as support centers come, with a design that hasn’t be revamped since 2002.
It’s difficult to find what you’re looking for, annoying to browse the list of articles and generally dreadful to do just about anything else. HostGator gets everything else right, but this area is sorely lacking. A simple facelift would go miles in improving the usability of this web host, but it looks like that isn’t coming any time soon.
What’s perhaps most disappointing is the delta between cPanel and the support center. It’s clear that HostGator is capable of creating a functional interface that looks the part of the current decade. It’s baffling, then, why the support center doesn’t live up to that standard.
Even so, the majority of the time you’ll spend at HostGator will be in cPanel and not in the support center. While this provider certainly has a disadvantage because of the bygone design, the exceptional ease of use when managing your site means it still has a fighting chance.
GoDaddy doesn’t feature the smooth cPanel interface on its plans, with the exception of the top of the line Business hosting. Even so, the interface is tuned enough that it feels intuitive, despite lacking the options of HostGator.
The control panel here is all business. You have basic options for your web hosting plan, including DNS settings, domain privacy and resource usage, but not much outside of that. It’s a streamlined system that most users will feel comfortable in.
With a lack of options, though, comes a lack of power. You don’t have near the flexibility of cPanel here, with omission of just about everything besides basic web hosting functions. There are no extra apps, MOJO Marketplace or any other fuss in the control panel. It feels a bit desolate in comparison, especially with how much you can do in HostGator’s interface.
Despite that, the control panel is still very easy to use. Many newcomers to web hosting can easily be overwhelmed with the options in a normal cPanel configuration, and GoDaddy’s stripped down design helps alleviate some of those woes. The distinction between these two providers mostly comes down to your level of experience.
Where they differ is in the support center. Unlike HostGator, GoDaddy has a support hub that matches the rest of the website. You have a help button within your control panel that links you directly to support, including commonly viewed articles on billing, account information and contacting support.
Much like round one, GoDaddy certainly isn’t going deep with its control panel. It’s as straightforward as the lineup of plans which, for some, may be a positive. However, if you’re looking for a little more power, you’re better off looking elsewhere.
Round Two Thoughts
There are two distinct areas that we must evaluate when declaring a winner. The control panel is as important as the support area when ease of use is on the table, making this round a bit dicey for one host to pull ahead.
Hands down, cPanel provides far more power without sacrificing ease of use over GoDaddy’s simplified design. Still, it’s impossible to overlook HostGator’s major design flaw in the control panel.
This round could easily go either way depending on how many features you need access to. Even so, we have to give it to GoDaddy for a support center that is suitable for the rest of the service.
Speeds and Uptime
Testing server speeds requires more than simply running a speed test on a domain hosted there. Websites contain lots of data, and the speeds take the loading time for that data into consideration. As sites can vary widely in the amount of data they have, you could get vastly different speeds on the same server.
So, to test server speeds alone, we used a different method. Using domaintools.com, we reverse DNS searched the shared servers at each provider and noted the top five domains. Next, we ran those domains through Bitcacha to test speeds. This tool measures server response solely, throwing out any data loaded on the page.
We averaged the results for a server in the East and West of the U.S. to get our result for each host. Bitcacha also takes into account international servers, which we’ll note. However, we omitted them from the average to avoid skewing the results too much.
HostGator ranks somewhere in the middle for web hosting providers. Our tests returned an average response of 45.3ms in the States, slightly below SiteGround’s 52.9ms (read our SiteGround review) and slightly above iPage’s 43ms (read our iPage review). Out of all the hosts we’ve tested, this is about as medium of a speed as you can get.
Abroad speeds tell a slightly different tale, though. The average we found was 173.8ms after testing eight different servers around the world, a whole 20ms faster than GreenGeeks (read our GreenGeeks review) who has quite impressive speeds on its own. Most hosts stumble when moving out of the U.S., so HostGator may be the pick for you if your site pertains to a wider audience.
Perhaps most impressive is HostGator’s uptime guarantee, though. There are plenty of reasons not to trust the uptime guarantee of a web host, as, in most cases, it’s simply a marketing ploy. Such is not the case at HostGator, a provider that not only promises that your site will stay live, but actually follows through on it.
For any given month, if your overall uptime falls below 99.9 percent, HostGator will compensate you for the whole month. The period is restricted to those 30 days and only counts unscheduled downtime, but it’s still a clear commitment to service that few other hosts can compete with.
Although, downtime is sparse, meaning you’re unlikely to capitalize on a free month. HostGator has frequent server maintenance (as do all web hosts) but the size of this host means you’re unlikely to feel the hit. Changes are made quickly, with redundant servers at the ready to move sites over.
Speeds aren’t particularly impressive at HostGator, although not bad, but the uptime guarantee is hard to argue with. Some hosts leverage this claim as a marketing tactic while others don’t include it at all. At HostGator, it’s a term that actually means something and that certainly earns HostGator points in this round.
GoDaddy is slower in the States, but not by much. Our tests returned an average of 56ms across the two servers. The rate is above HostGator, yes, but not by an amount that should impact performance in any meaningful way.
International speeds faltered quite a bit, though. We saw an average of 257.1ms, ranking this provider nearly 100ms above HostGator. It’s not as bad as Arvixe’s 280.6ms international speed (read our Arvixe review) but still significantly slower than HostGator.
GoDaddy provides absolutely no uptime guarantee either. While we would certainly prefer a host cut this claim instead of lying about it, the lack of any mention knocks GoDaddy down a few ticks in this match up.
Even so, it’s doubtful your website will go down often. During our testing, we experienced no downtime at all, in fact. It should be noted, though, that uptime is more of a long game so using a few days worth of data isn’t the most consistent way to track down this information.
However, Cloud Spectator tested GoDaddy for uptime in a more encompassing way, returning results of 100 percent uptime on Managed WordPress plans and 99.98 percent on Linux web hosting. These results are certainly above par, with providers like Dreamhost (read our Dreamhost review) falling below the 98 percent mark at some points.
Even with the impressive uptime, the speeds are still slower and there’s no insurance that your site will stay live. While it’s certainly not a cause for concern, it is a consideration when pinning these two providers against each other.
Round Three Thoughts
For round three, the call isn’t even close. HostGator has faster speeds on its base plans, with higher upside on more expensive plans. Combine that with one of the best 99.9 percent uptime guarantees, and its enough for this provider to pull ahead in the race.
Even so, GoDaddy isn’t doing anything particularly wrong here. It lost because, in comparison, HostGator is so much better. GoDaddy isn’t bad in terms of speed or uptime, so don’t completely count it out either.
Security and Support
Unfortunately, problems will arise with any website. Whether that’s a piece of malware that slips through the cracks or some faulty code is irrelevant. What’s important is that the host can give you support when you need it. For this final round, we’ll take a look at what security features come stock with your site and how the host can back them up.
As mentioned in the ease of use section above, HostGator undoubtedly has one of the worst support centers we’ve seen. However, despite it’s nasty design, there is still plenty of content for you to uncover.
HostGator has a laundry list of articles, videos, tutorials and more, each packed full of content to help you on your web hosting journey. What it lacks it beauty it makes up for in depth, with a surprising range that few other web hosts can rival.
In addition to the wealth of support knowledge, you also have automatic weekly offsite backups and access to the forums. Unfortunately, this area looks just as bad if not worse than the support center. Even so, the community is fairly active with new topics popping up every few days.
For most plans, security features feel pretty light, though. You have redundancy with the offsite backups, but not much else. SiteLock, SSL certificates and domain privacy are all available, but at an additional cost. While it’s certainly reasonable to lock these features on inexpensive plans, not including them on the more costly routes is disappointing.
This is particularly an issue on WordPress plans. Around 28 percent of all websites use WordPress, and HostGator doesn’t include many security features out of the gate. For example, WordPress plans at Bluehost (read our Bluehost review) comes stock with an SSL certificate, SiteLock security and a CDN, making HostGator’s offerings look quite dismal in comparison.
The options are certainly there, and had HostGator included some with each plan, there would be a far different outcome. However, between the outdated design of the support center and the lack of security features from the get go, the outlook is disappointing for this round.
GoDaddy goes deep instead of wide, with a feature rich lineup that offers plenty of security features out of the gate. Furthermore, the support center is easy to use with a wealth of information at your disposal. While HostGator feels like a mess of information thrown together, GoDaddy feels like a refined system.
Starting with security, though, you get fraid, virus and spam protection across all plans. It’s not the best malware for you site, but still suitable for getting started. As spam runs rampant among websites today, having this small, although not ideal, peace of mind is well worth it.
SSL certificates are reserved for Ultimate plans and above. Even so, it comes in as a free inclusion one plan earlier than HostGator at nearly half the cost. Sure, it’d be nice to have a certificate with the cheaper plans as well, but it’s certainly not a necessary inclusion.
Where GoDaddy really earns stripes is in its support area. It’s a fluid experience that makes HostGator’s support panel look silly in comparison. You have articles and videos for nearly any topic, each organized in a manner that’s easy to navigate.
GoDaddy also has a series of “dive in” articles where it gathers the most important information about a particular topic and gives you a step-by-step way to get through it. It’s a bit like a web hosting curriculum, hitting on the major points without overwhelming you.
Like HostGator, you also have access to forums. However, unlike HostGator, these forums look suitable for the time. It’s a completely community-driven system, meaning you won’t get a reply directly from GoDaddy, with the exception of appointed moderators. Even so, GoDaddy hosts occasional AMAs so you can still get your questions in.
You’re lacking the extensive options that you get with HostGator, but at the gain of a far more fluid system. GoDaddy doesn’t present you all the bells and whistles, but instead a streamlined system that makes finding support simple.
Round Four Thoughts
If it weren’t for that terrible support center, we may have had a battle here. Unfortunately, that’s not the case and the winner is quite clear. GoDaddy steals the fourth and final round simply because it can function for the modern customer.
Despite how much ripping we’ve done on HostGator, it’s not all bad, though. The support center looks ugly, but still has plenty of information in it, and there are options for security as long as you have the extra coin. Even so, all of that feels too little when put up against GoDaddy.
The issue in using an even number of rounds is that, occasionally, you have a tie. Certainly, these hosts come close on paper, but one is far more suitable in practice. HostGator comes out over GoDaddy for its excellent uptime guarantee, ease of use with cPanel and wide variety of hosting options.
The lows are much lower with HostGator, but the highs are much higher as well. The support panel is ugly but functional, and the security options don’t look great from the onset. Even so, the redesigned cPanel, multiple support options and zippy speeds are enough to blunt the hit enough for HostGator to squeeze out a win.
Still, the battle was close, so make sure you check out our dedicated review of these providers to learn more. If neither fit the bill, you can also check out some of our other web hosting reviews to find the right one for you.
Do you like HostGator or GoDaddy more? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.