Hostgator SiteLock Worth it? Free Alternatives

Hostgator SiteLock is not worth the additional costs, mainly because you can get the same functionality from other sources for free. Particularly if you aren’t already using Hostgator.

The SiteLock option exists on each of the shared hosting packages. You can already get extremely cheap hosting using this Hostgator coupon list, and their SiteLock add-ons are pretty affordable as shown here (at least the starter plans!).

Hostgator SiteLock Plans
Hostgator SiteLock Plans & Pricing

In addition, SiteLock has two other issues:

  1. Automatic cleaning doesn’t address the source of malware
  2. Creates a false sense of security

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Table of Contents

Hostgator SiteLock Features

Hostgator’s SiteLock does the following for you:

  1. Scans your site periodically for malware
  2. Removes malware automatically
  3. Gives you access to a CDN
  4. Blocks bot attacks

It comes in three tiers with the following pricing:

Hostgator SiteLock PlanPricing
Essentials1.99
Prevent14.99
Prevent Plus24.99
Hostgator SiteLock Pricing

SiteLock isn’t a standalone Hostgator product. It’s attached to a specific hosting plan. You can buy it either when you first sign up for an account, or you can purchase it as an add-on from within your Hostgator dashboard. When you purchase it as an add-on during checkout, you get the basic Hostgator Essentials plan.

Problems with SiteLock

There are a couple of problems with relying on something like SiteLock.

1. WordPress Hacks are Indicative of Deeper Problems

Have you ever noticed that only some pages on your website get inundated with spam comments? And you ask yourself “Why this page?” What’s so special about this post or article that attracts spammers? The answer is that it’s most likely been picked up by a spam network, and has propagated to all the nodes, branches, and brother/sister networks.

The same is true of hacked WordPress pages. If you blindly clean up a hacked page, the chances are that it’s going to be hacked immediately again. So many WordPress intrusions are automated, and this bodes ill for any vulnerability that goes unfixed.

The SiteLock service offered by Hostgator doesn’t make any promises to fix the systemic issues on your site or page that allow it to get hacked. And I don’t blame it. There’s no way an automated system can perform a deep inspection of a site and perform a “root-cause analysis” and isolate the problem.

In fact, most of the time you just need to update your theme, plugin, or core WordPress installation. SiteLock by itself doesn’t do this for you. And if you don’t address the core problem, you’re going to be repeatedly hacked again and again.

It’s fine when Hostgator SiteLock comes included with the plan itself, like with Hostgator’s WordPress plan.

The above criticism is true for any automated system. At best, these systems are great as warning signs that require human intervention. They can’t fix the problems by themselves, but this aspect of website security is always overlooked in the marketing materials. Which brings me to my second major point.

2. Hostgator SiteLock Breeds Complacency

If you read the advertisements on the SiteGround website or on the Hostgator service pages, you’ll be forgiven for thinking that you don’t need to do anything else to secure your site. That the software will take care of everything for you.

Worse still, it’s very easy to fall prey to the mentality that you don’t have to adhere to security best practices, just because you purchased SiteLock. It’s the same effect that leads to increased casualties on pedestrian crossings because people get complacent. It’s no joking matter.

Free Alternatives for WordPress

Fortunately, there are ways to avoid paying for a separate security plugin on WordPress. Here are some alternatives.

1. iThemes Plugin

Despite everything I’ve said above, it’s a good idea to have some kind of security software running on your website. While I personally think there’s no need to pay for something like SiteLock, the one I use on my own website is the iThemes plugin.

iThemes is a well-respected security company that’s been in the business since 2008 and started by Cory Miller. Their WordPress plugin is one of the best all-in-one security solutions in the market and does an excellent job of hardening your website to prevent malware infections in the first place. I highly recommend it.

For example, it has a module that monitors all your internal files for changes not made by you, and alerts you when it finds something worrying:

iThemes File Change Detection for Free instead of SilteLock
Free File Change Detection in the iThemes Plugin

This is just one example. It also obfuscates your login page (my favorite) and has a host of other security tweaks that make it much harder for hackers to get into your site. And all for free! They also have a pro version, that you don’t really need to use – their free version is so good.

The paid version’s benefits include dedicated customer support etc – great options if you ever really do get hacked. Otherwise, the preventive measures that iThemes implements should ensure that you never need it in the first place.

2. NameHero Has Free Malware Scanning

Another option is to buy web hosting with malware scanning built it. These typically cost more than ordinary hosting, but not by much. For example, my personal favorite is NameHero. They have free malware scanning via the Imunify360 cPanel plugin. When you factor in the costs of the separate SiteLock plan with Hostgator, the pricing works out to about the same, without the crazy restrictions.

NameHero also has far superior backup plans compared to Hostgator. In fact, Hostgator’s backup system is non-existent. So by choosing NameHero, you save additional money that would have gone to a 3rd party backup solution like CodeGuard.

Think of Hostgator as vanilla, basic web hosting. SiteLock and CodeGuard are add-ons that make it functional. It might be better to just purchase hosting where these things are part of the package!

3. Use the Free Cloudflare CDN – It’s Better

SiteLock also provides a CDN – something unavailable with plain Hostgator plans. But I’ve done extensive testing, and in my opinion, the Cloudflare CDN is the best. All Hostgator plans offer free integration with Cloudflare, and if you want, you can also use Cloudflare’s DNS servers for even tighter integration. So you can get these features for free.

4. Cloudflare Protects you From DDoS too!

You can get a good chunk of your website security just by using the free Cloudflare integration, which gives you protection from DDoS attacks – including the all important layer 7.

Keeping all this in mind, the additional security provided by SiteLock becomes almost redundant. Cloudflare is an all-in-one solution that gives you everything for free.

5. HostArmada Has a Free WAF

The “Prevent” and “Prevent Plus” SiteLock plans include a “Web Application Firewall” or a WAF. This is an advanced firewall with dynamic rules that protects your website from external threats. It’s a pretty good value addition.

However, you can get WAF functionality for free from HostArmada. Here’s a complete HostArmada review, where you can check out the variety of features available. It’s the only host I know of that integrates a WAF into their hosting!

Bottom Line

Hostgator’s SiteLock makes the promise that you can stop worrying about security if you purchase the monthly service. But this simply isn’t true. It does nothing to fix the root cause of hacks and leads users into a false sense of security. It’s better to get a security plugin like iThemes that hardens your WordPress installation and works on preventing hacks in the first place. Clean up should be a last resort, not the first.

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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