If you want to host a single web site as a side hobby, or you want to run a website for a small, local group or non-profit organization, I would recommend HostGator, which is one of the largest hosting companies out there. If, on the other hand, you want to host several sites, and you have an interest in actually making some money on those sites, I don’t recommend HostGator for that.
I used HostGator myself up until fairly recently. I got the $9/month plan that allowed me to host “unlimited” domains, with “unlimited” disk storage, and “unlimited” bandwidth. Unlimited is in scare-quotes primarily because there is no such thing.
There are some very real limits, which are not presented in any obvious way.
There are several problems with HostGator that will severely impact your ability to make money. One is bandwidth-throttling. Now, I can’t really prove that HostGator was throttling my bandwidth, but I did see major variance in the speed of certain operations, one of which prevented me from running a backup of one of my sites because I kept running into a timeout on my backup script.
As an aside, there are several ways to do backups. I use a premium WordPress plugin called BackupBuddy, even though there are some free alternatives available. BackupBuddy does a lot more than just backup and restore — it is the easiest way that I have found so far to migrate a website from one host to another, and it comes with built-in malware scanning. I was able to complete a fairly complex migration of more than 50 sites (mostly away from HostGator) in less than a day. Before I found BackupBuddy, it took me over an hour to migrate a site to a new host, partly because the process is so complex that I didn’t always succeed the first time.
If you are wanting to make money with Internet marketing, sometimes it just isn’t worth trying to save a small amount of money. That said, you probably ought to try doing a site migration from scratch — once — just so that you will appreciate how much a utility like BackupBuddy is really worth.
The decision to move from HostGator to D9 was not made for any one specific reason, but now that it’s done, there are three main reasons that I’m really happy that I made the move.
The security aspect is not really a problem unique to HostGator, but to my choice of “shared” hosting instead of the more expensive “reseller” hosting. The problem with shared hosting is that your entire master cPanel account is tied to a single Linux user account, and if a hacker can break into any of your websites, it is possible that he can take over your entire shared hosting system. I’ve had some minor hacks, which were (fortunately) quickly detected and fixed (mostly). The thought of having to mop up all of my sites at the same time due to a root-job hack is pretty frightening. With a reseller account, each website has its own cPanel, and is associated with a separate Linux user account. This isolates the websites. Plus, it’s much easier to manage your sites using the separate cPanels, for some very subtle reasons having to do with the way MySQL databases are set up.
Since Hostgator has reseller accounts, I was actually considering moving everything to one of their reseller accounts, but at the time I was considering that move, I got a recommendation for D9 Hosting from another Internet marketer whom I have come to know, like, and trust, namely, Martin Avis (of Kickstart Newsletter fame), the first of my Internet marketing gurus. After doing some comparisons between HostGator, D9, and about a dozen other hosting companies, I settled on D9 (I actually had to ask Martin for his affiliate link — he was recommending without even using his affiliate account!).
I did not realize just how much difference there was in performance until after I had migrated most of my sites to D9. The backup script that was running into the 16-minute timeout on HostGator took less than a minute on D9. And I saw that all of my sites were loading significantly faster than they did from HostGator.
As for support, up until relatively recently, I was getting splendid support from HostGator, but the quality of their support has declined quite a bit since they were taken over by an outfit called EIG. I won’t go into the sordid details of what EIG is up to, but if you do a web search for “EIG hosting,” you will probably draw the conclusion that you don’t really want to host with any of the companies that have been bought out by EIG. The support I have received from D9 has been nothing short of great.
On the downside, I went from HostGator’s $10/month shared hosting to D9’s $24/month reseller hosting.
It was well worth it.
Actually, my total hosting expense went down, because I was running sites on 3 different hosting companies (HostGator, BlueHost, and CyberLynk). At the time I set all that up, it was widely believed that spreading your sites out over different hosts was best for SEO purposes. Well, BlueHost and HostGator are now both part of EIG, so that doesn’t really matter much anymore. CyberLynk was OK (high-performance, but pricey; why I was using them is a long story) — and I even had a reseller account there, but moving all of my business to D9 saved me nearly $200/year altogether, partly because they provide some other services for free for which I was paying 3rd-party services a substantial sum.
It’s possible that there are hosting deals out there better than D9 Hosting, but they were the best I was able to find after two weeks of searching and comparing.