HostGator is a web domain and hosting service that was founded in 2002 by Brent Oxley, a Florida college student and entrepreneur. The domain name ‘HostGator’ was ultimately chosen over the name ‘GatorHost’ and was registered on October 22, 2002. Over the years, with many customer and employee milestones, the company has grown into one of the 10 largest web hosting companies in the world and is currently hosting over 8,000,000 domains. Today, HostGator is headquartered in Houston and Austin, Texas with several international offices around the world.
- Security features
- Cross selling
- Customer support
For customers concerned about domain privacy, HostGator offers:
- Free Domain Locking: prevents someone else from capturing and transferring your domain.
- WHOIS Privacy Domain: protects your personal information from being publicly displayed on the WHOIS database.
The WHOIS Privacy feature costs users $12.95/year. This is not uncompetitive in price, but is slightly higher than the average company that charges $9.99 for domain privacy annually. Offering domain locking for free with a new domain name is highly competitive since most companies charge extra for this feature.
When checking out on HostGator's site, visitors encounter only 2 upsells: adding additional domain extensions and adding domain privacy. This is on par with a large number of domain registrars. HostGator, however, does not display these upgrades in pop-up form. They are slightly aggressive with the domain privacy feature, as they automatically check the box for you when you open the shopping cart page. Otherwise, upsells are less intense than some of their competitors who make consumers go through several additional screens of sales pitches in order to buy a domain name.
Customer support for HostGator is one of the best in the industry. They offer telephone support, live chats to walk you through the process of purchasing, and registering a domain without having to pick up the phone. All forms of support are available 24/7/365. You can also create a support ticket via their website. All forms of contact information are conveniently located on DreamHost's Support Portal page. The Support Portal is chock-full of other ways to interact with HostGator, including links to all their social media platforms (Twitter, You Tube, Facebook, Pinterest, etc). There's also a list of video tutorials, account add-ons (to upgrade, etc.) and links to the company's various live forums. You can also manage your billing. Most companies only have one forum and don't have such a thorough contact platform with social media icons, videos and the like. HostGator is definitely a winner in this area.
- Other TLD prices
- Number of TLDs available
- ICANN fees
- Bulk price
- Mobile app
- Simple domain transfer policies
- ICANN accreditation
To register a .com domain with HostGator, the cost is $12.95/year. This price comes with complimentary features including FREE Domain Locking, Automatic Domain Renewal, a User-friendly Domain Management Panel and 24/7/365 Technical Support. Compared to the top billing domain registrar sites on the market, which on average run between $11.00 and $16.00/year, $12.95 is still a competitive price. The problem lies with the fine print, since this price reflects a discount on the first invoice only. After that, the regular price goes up to $15.00/year (on the higher end but still a competitive price). This is non-transparent on HostGator's part and leads one to question if they are really getting a deal.
Other TLD Prices
Customers wanting to purchase other Top-Level Domains (TLDs) can expect to pay prices ranging from as little as $0.95 for a .site extension to as much as $39.95 for a .host TLD. The most popular alternate domains (.net, .co, .org, .info, etc) are also $12.95/year. These prices also require reading the fine print, as prices for these also only reflect the first invoice.
Number of TLDs Available
HostGator offers a total of 15 Top-Level Domains (TLDs). This covers the most popular and commonly used domains, but compared to some companies that offer around 100 different TLDs (or as much as 500+ domains) of soon-to-be-released extensions or exotic domain names, HostGator is limited.
All domain name registrars have to pay an annual fee to ICANN for each domain name, so when checking out on HostGator's platform, ICANN fees are not indicated either in fine print on the bottom of the web page next to an asterisk or included in the fee in their advertised cost as some companies do. HostGator appears to have some transparency issues in this area.
If customers want to purchase several domains at once (especially if it's a huge amount of domains, like 50 or more), HostGator won't be able to accommodate their needs. Some companies offer bulk discounts such as 100 domains for 10% off, 200 domains at 20% off or $30.00 off for 300 domains, etc. Because HostGator only offers 15 Top Level Domains, bulk discount pricing is not an option.
For a domain registrar company of its size and global recognition and popularity, it is surprising that HostGator does not offer a mobile app for both iOS and Android mobile devices. It seems the company has not been listening to their customers who ask if there is an app and share what type of app would help them most. For example, on one of HostGator's interactive forum pages, a customer suggested they make an app that has a push button payment feature so they could make payments from their phone and avoid being late with their domain payments. To date, HostGator has not responded with an app for any of these needs. A few domain registrars do offer apps for mobile devices, which makes HostGator deficient in this area.
Simple Domain Transfer Policies
A major disadvantage for HostGator customers is domain transfer policies. On their 'Transfer Domain' page, HostGator appears to charge a transfer fee for names purchased elsewhere and transferred over to their hosting service. Pricing ranges from $7.95 for a .com domain all the way up to $45.00 for a .host domain. What's really confusing about this is that other registrars don't charge for transferring domains. It also is confusing why the fee is an annual rate, not a one-time transfer fee. It definitely seems that HostGator is looking for an additional internal revenue stream.
The actual transfer process is approximately 8 steps. Other companies seem to have tutorial pages online regarding how to transfer from HostGator since it's such a popular brand-which makes the process easier.
The Bottom Line
Introductory prices with HostGator are competitive at $12.95/year for .com domains. Other HostGator domains fall between $0.95 and $39.95/year. Unfortunately, these prices require reading the fine print, as it only applies to the first invoice. (Their .com domains are actually $15.00/year after the first invoice). HostGator's customer service is arguably the best in the industry, with representatives available 24/7/365 via phone, Live Chat, email, and a Contact Forum full of resources for customers. However, they don't offer Apps for mobile devices, nor are they found on the ICANN Accreditation list. Perhaps the biggest negative is the domain transfer fees the company charges users, which other domain registrars never charge for.