Lightsail vs Hostgator: Bad for Beginners

The biggest difference between Lightsail and Hostgator, is that Lightsail is like a managed VPS that comes installed with WordPress, but without customer support. Hostgator on the other hand is traditional shared hosting where everything is automatically configured. Lightsail isn’t for beginners, whereas Hostgator is targeted towards those who want a “hands-off” approach towards web hosting.

Lightsail vs Hostgator: Differences

The differences between Hostgator and Lightsail are what you would expect from a VPS service vs a shared hosting service.

Pricing: Lightsail Charges for Customer Support

If you see the official pricing plans for Lightsail and Hostgator, you might think that the two are pretty close. After all, you can get started with Hostgator for $2.64/m. Here’s where you can find the right Hostgator coupon for you. Amazon Lightsail starts at just $3.50/m.

Amazon Lightsail vs Hostgator Pricing
Amazon Lightsail Pricing

Almost the same right? Not so.

The big catch is that Lightsail provides no technical support whatsoever. If you have a problem with your SSL for example, you need to pay at least $29/m. Compare that to Hostgator, where customer support is included. Granted, it’s not as if Hostgator has the best support in the business – it doesn’t. But they can help you with common problems with your installation, fix stuff, and offer you technical advice.

The reason Amazon’s Lightsail is able to offer these extremely low prices, is that they don’t factor in pricing for customer care at all. And as I’ve mentioned earlier, the major cost of hosting is support. The hardware and infrastructure themselves are cheap. But when something goes wrong (and it will), you need a human being on the other end to help you out.

The customer support itself is a sufficient reason for me to stay away from any Amazon offering. I need to focus on my business, not spend time configuring and debugging. If I have a problem, I want to call customer support and have them fix the problem for me.

Hostgator Sets up SSL for You. Lightsail Does Not

Today, you simply cannot run a site without SSL. Browser warnings will scare away your users if you use plain HTTP. With Hostgator, SSL comes free and pre-configured. You don’t even need to manually enable it. It’s set up by default.

With Lightsail on the other hand, you have to manually request an SSL certificate using the Let’s Encrypt infrastructure, and then remember to renew it every 3 months. The process is complicated, and requires using the console, and knowing how to apply the certificate to your site. There’s extensive documentation on how to do this of course, but it’s not plug and play.

This is emblematic of the problems with Lightsail. You’re on your own when it comes to any auxiliary service outside of just the web hosting itself. And with web hosting, there are a lot of additional services that bring it all together.

No Automatic Cloudflare Integration with Lightsail

With Hostgator, you can integrate your website in just a few clicks with Cloudflare. Sure, it’s not “full” integration since you’re still not using Cloudflare’s DNS servers, but you can immediately start using Cloudflare’s CDN network, which is still the best. In addition, Cloudflare offers a lot more beyond mere CDN services.

With Lightsail, there’s no such easy set up. In fact, Amazon would prefer that you stay away from Cloudflare entirely, and use their own CDN network instead (paid of course). You can always manually proxy your traffic through Cloudflare, but everything in Lightsail is meant to accelerate your transition towards EC2.

Lightsail Requires Manual Configuration of IP

When you set up a Lightsail workspace, you need to request a static IP address, and then manually assign it to your website. Again, it’s not hard, but all these additional steps add up. The service is not designed for “set it and forget it” hosting.

Bottom Line: Lightsail is Not For Business Owners

If you’re a business owner, you have more important things to do than worry about configuring your website. Hostgator allows you to set up WordPress, and then just leave everything alone. Probably the only decision you need to make is whether or not to upgrade to a higher tier plan.

Lightsail however, demands your constant attention. You have to keep track of your Let’s Encrypt certificates, your DNS zones, and any other technical issues that arise during the course of ordinary web hosting. The biggest problem however, is customer support. Without dedicated customer support, you simply cannot have the necessary peace of mind to focus on your work. It’s a great comfort knowing that at the first sign of trouble, you can just get on a live chat or call with a human being who will fix the problem for you.

Hostgator’s customer support is always available 24×7, and is included with the cost of your hosting. With Amazon’s Lightsail, you’re on your own. Unless you’re willing to pay a huge monthly fee for the privilege. And that’s the biggest difference between the two.

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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