Why Bluehost is More Expensive than Hostgator

Even though both companies are owned by EIG and offer the same types of services, Bluehost is more expensive than Hostgator. This is because of two reasons:

  1. SSD drives
  2. Spike or Resource protection

Other than that, the two web hosts are pretty much the same in features and performance. Here’s an explanation of how they impact your site.

Bluehost is a Lot More Expensive

The following table shows the shared hosting pricing between Bluehost and Hostgator:

Basic PlanAdvanced PlanPremium Plan
Hostgator Logo
Hostgator Shared Hosting
$2.64/m
$6.95
Discount 62% off
With Coupon code: TWEAKSOFFERS
$3.95/m
$9.95
Discount 60% off
With Coupon code: TWEAKSOFFERS
$5.95/m
$14.95
Discount 60% off
With Coupon code: TWEAKSOFFERS
Bluehost Logo
Bluehost Shared Hosting
$2.95/m
$7.99
Discount: 63% off
$5.95/m
$10.99
Discount: 46% off
$5.95/m
$14.99
Discount: 60% off

You can see that Bluehost is more expensive throughout. Here’s a complete list of all Bluehost coupons. The price comparison becomes even more stark when you consider that Bluehost’s 12-month prices are significantly higher than what Hostgator offers. Here’s a screenshot of their 12-month pricing:

Bluehost 12-month Pricing
Bluehost 12-month Pricing

Hostgator on the other hand, has much more attractive deals if you want to host for a shorter period of time:

Hostgator 12-month pricing is much cheaper
Hostgator 12-month pricing is much cheaper

Here’s a link to all the Hostgator coupon codes. As explained earlier, the price difference comes from two main sources.

1. SSD Drives

Hostgator is one of the few web hosts today that still uses HDD drives for its file system. SSD drives can be three times more expensive than HDD for the same capacity. The advantage however, is much faster read and write speeds.

But it’s not so cut and dried. Hostgator still has its reasons to continue using HDD drives. The most important thing to remember is that Hostgator uses SSD drives for its MySQL database servers. Given that the bulk of frenetic disk activity comes from reading and writing to the database, Hostgator’s use of SSD drives in this scenario takes the best of both worlds. The HDD drives help keep Hostgator’s costs low, while still offering high speed HDD when it matters. This is what allows them to offer unlimited disk space.

There’s also a lively debate on whether or not the benefits of SSD drives are exaggerated when it comes to standard web hosting, where the database sizes are small enough to fit the most common queries directly into the cache!

Given all this background, the speed differences between Bluehost and Hostgator due to SSD drives is negligible. So while it’s nice that Bluehost offers this upgrade, you have to wonder how useful it really is – particularly in light of the fact that Hostgator’s databases already use SSD.

Spike or Resource Protection

For me, this is the real justification for higher prices compared to Hostgator. It explains why Bluehost is more expensive in concrete terms.

Shared hosting has one big disadvantage – resource spikes. Normally, everyone on the server shares CPU cycles and memory harmoniously. But sometimes a website experiences a sudden surge and uses more than its fair share. This can happen for a variety of reasons. Like:

  1. Traffic spikes
  2. Misbehaving plugins
  3. Hacking
  4. Intensive processes like backups
  5. Updates and more

When this happens, all other accounts on the server suffer a slowdown for no fault of their own. It’s one of the main drawbacks of shared hosting on high-density servers. Most hosts try and mitigate this damage by imposing controls on how much each account is allowed to use through their usage policies. For example, here is Bluehost’s usage policy for shared hosting. If you fall afoul of these policies, your account is restricted.

Bluehost’s Temporary Reassignment

Of course, restricting your account means that your site won’t work as expected. Not all usage spikes are intentional or due to bad behavior. Sometimes you just get an unexpected burst of traffic. And if you’re restricted, your visitors will face slowdowns, and you lose business.

Bluehost mitigates this by temporarily moving high usage accounts to isolated servers which can absorb the impact for a short period of time. So when you have a spike in resource usage, your site won’t suddenly implode. It gives you a bit of breathing room, and time to fix the problem, or upgrade to a higher plan if necessary.

Of course, it goes without saying that you can’t stay on the isolated server indefinitely. Your usage policy still holds. But Bluehost’s resource protection gives you a chance to evaluate your options without taking down your site. It’s a graceful solution to a complex problem when it comes to shared hosting. And it’s this that sets Bluehost apart from Hostgator and justifies its higher pricing.

Bottom Line

Bluehost is significantly more expensive than Hostgator – especially if you want to host for shorter billing cycles like 12-months. The two reasons for this are SSD drives (for files) and resource protection. The former doesn’t have as big an impact as you might think. Resource protection, on the other hand, is a real value-add, and can make the difference between a smooth shared hosting experience, and a frustrating mess of resource juggling.

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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