4 Free Tools to Support Hostgator Web Hosting

Hostgator is one of the cheapest web hosts. Anything lower than that, and you’re likely getting scammed in some way. Their web hosting is as solid and reliable as you can get for the price and the list of Hostgator coupon codes is a testament to cost-effective hosting. But because of this, you don’t get much of the support and tools that come with pricier competition. For example:

  1. Server caching
  2. Automatic backups
  3. Site monitoring
  4. CDN

So if you want to stick with Hostgator, you need supplemental tools to make up for this. Here are 4 great services that will help round out your cheap web hosting and make it punch above its weight.

1. Cloudflare

I’ve written before about how Cloudflare benefits Hostgator. In many ways, Cloudflare is a great equalizer that erases a lot of the differences between cheap and expensive hosting. It does this by providing:

  • A Free CDN
  • Free DNS server
  • 3 Free firewall rules

To use the free DNS server, you need to change your nameservers to Cloudflare. Don’t worry – Cloudflare has by far and away the fastest nameservers on the planet, and this will save you precious milliseconds as you struggle to get your TTFB times down to under 1 second.

Cloudflare also has a better CDN than many paid providers. I’m honestly surprised that there’s even space in the market for other players when Cloudflare’s free plan is so amazingly good. The service is one that I would happily pay for if necessary. They also allow you to create firewall rules that help you block XMLRPC requests without any additional load on your server, thus helping keep your low cost hosting free of unnecessary pressure.

2. W3 Total Cache or Other Free Caching Plugins

By default, Cloudflare only caches static files like CSS, JS, fonts etc. It sends all requests for ordinary URLs like webpages directly to your server.

For a low cost server like Hostgator, it’s extremely important that you don’t waste CPU time re-creating dynamic pages that the server has already generated. Since Hostgator doesn’t come with any in-built server caching, it’s crucial for you to install a caching plugin of your own.

One example is the free W3 Total Cache plugin which creates static copies of generated pages. It then serves those pages to repeat visitors. It really helps speed up your server response times and prepares you for a sudden influx of visitors to your site.

But W3 Total Cache isn’t the only game in town. There are dozens of caching plugins, including some like WP Rocket which are very highly regarded by the community.

3. Site Monitoring with Jetpack or StatusCake

Hostgator doesn’t have any in-built monitoring service to check if your site goes down. So you need to rely on an external party to continuously ping your site and notify you when there’s an error. Luckily, the Jetpack plugin has a free monitoring module that sends you an e-mail if your site is unreachable.

However, many people consider Jetpack to be bloatware that adds a lot of unnecessary code to your WordPress site. So if you don’t want to install it, you can use something like StatusCake instead. StatusCake is a pretty popular service with a free tier that took off when Pingdom decided to eliminate their free tier monitoring service.

4. Dynamic HTML EDGE Caching

If you’re using Cloudflare as explained in point 1 (and you absolutely should be using it), then you can take things to the next level and try and cache your entire site including HTML URLs on Cloudflare’s servers. This is impossible if you have a highly dynamic site that’s changing all the time. But if you’ve chosen a cheap Hostgator plan, I’m going to guess that your site is mostly static.

In that case, you can use a plugin like WP Cloudflare Page Cache to keep your HTML pages on EDGE servers throughout the world. This isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. Cloudflare doesn’t always honor its promise to keep content cached if it’s used infrequently. But it can definitely save your low-cost server a lot of traffic – even from bots that constantly try and hammer your site.

So these are 4 tools you should definitely be using with any Hostgator plan.

What About Backups?

Hostgator’s backups suck. Unfortunately, I haven’t included a free automatic backup tool in my post because there are none! Backing up a site is expensive and requires not just storage, but also bandwidth. During the purchase, Hostgator will try and sell you a CodeGuard plan. But Hostgator’s CodeGuard is absolutely not worth it.

My opinion is that when it comes to best value for money, DropMySite is the best for backups. It’s by far the cheapest option compared to all the others, and has no restriction on the number of sites you can protect. As icing on the cake, it also has a monitoring service that you can use instead of the above mentioned Jetpack and StatusCake.

Or if you feel that it’s getting too expensive, then just go ahead and buy web hosting from a host that has built-in backups like NameHero. For that price, you can then bundle web hosting with a whole bunch of value added services that would have to pay for otherwise. NameHero also has built in server caching via the LiteSpeed web server, so that has you covered as well.

Bottom Line

If you’re buying cheap web hosting from Hostgator, then you need to supplement it with something. By itself, it’s not enough to handle even medium sized loads and you’ll soon find yourself needing to upgrade. But with tools like Cloudflare and W3 Total Cache, you can postpone that time – perhaps even indefinitely!

About Bhagwad Park

I've been writing about web hosting and WordPress tutorials since 2008. I also create tutorials on Linux server administration, and have a ton of experience with web hosting products. Contact me via e-mail!

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