Hostgator v Stablehost Review 47


Over the years, I have used a lot of web hosts and none have been perfect.  As website owners, the holy grail is to find an affordable host that will have little or no downtime, and fast server responses.

NOTE: Keep reading to find out how you can get 40% off your hosting at my recommended hosting company!

I have more recently been using (and recommending) Hostgator for niche websites.  Their prices are competitive, and I have always found their service to be on a par with any other that I have tried.  However, in the last few months, Hostgator “upgraded” two of the shared servers I was using for some of my sites, and my sites suffered badly.  The page load speed became unacceptable, as did the amount of server downtime.  A post I made on the forum about my problems was never approved by the forum moderators.

Here is a screenshot showing the server on Hostgator just before I moved the site:

image

Incidentally, this data is monitored using Monitis.  You can see 5 lines in each graph, two in Europe and three spread across the US.

The top graph shows server response times for the homepage of the site.

The lower graph shows the server response times for an internal page on the site.

When someone wanted to visit my homepage in their browser, the server was taking, on average, over 8 seconds just to respond.  The page them had to load.

For the internal page, the server took nearly 2.5 seconds to respond before the page could load.

Also, notice all those red dots on the graph?  These are times when the server was unavailable – in other words, my site was down.  That was neatly an hour in the 24 hour period for the homepage, and over 2 hours for the internal page. This site was one server on Hostgator that I was using (the site has now been moved to a different host, and I’ll come back to that shortly).  I also have another account on Hostgator, on a different server.  Here is the graph for the last 24 hours on that server for a different website:

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That server has better server response times of under 1.5 seconds (though this was a more expensive hosting package), but as is typical for this server, it has been down an unacceptably long time in the last 24 hours – 1.5 hours.

Fed up with Hostgator, I started to look for another host to move my sites to.

Stablehost came highly recommended from a few different websites, so I took the plunge and transferred one of my sites over there as a test.

Initially, things didn’t look a whole lot better than Hostgator.  Here is a screenshot after the move:

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The first red arrow marks the point where the initial server switch was made, and my site was now starting to be served from Stablehost’s servers instead of Hostgators.  However, the complete switch from one server to another can take 24-48 hours, as DNS are propagated around the web.  That is a possible reason that one or two of the locations were failing to load the site in the first 24 hours after the switch and I fully expected that to resolve itself quite quickly.

Despite the red dots on the graph, hopefully you can see a dramatic improvement in those server response spikes.  Whereas on Hostgator, spikes were often 40-50 seconds (and that is just the time for the server to respond to a request, not to load my page), on Stablehost, the response time spikes were under 10 seconds.  The next step was to activate CDN (Content Delivery Network) using Cloudflare, which comes integrated into the web hosting account at no extra cost.  This essentially uses servers around the world to serve your content, making it faster to load, and more reliable.

NOTE: My hostgator account also has the option of installing Cloudflare, but their instructions were a little too scary, so I never tried it on Hostgator.

Activating this was a simple task of clicking a couple of buttons, seriously, no more than a minute.  It’s just as easy to deactivate this too.

In the run up to activating CDN, there were fewer server failures, presumably as the DNS continued to populate, but after the CDN was activated, failures stopped:

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The arrow marks the point where CDN was switched on.  Notice the response times improving, with fewer, smaller spikes and no downtime.

After running the site on Stablehost for several weeks, here is a typical graph for the website:

SNAGHTML141f340

That’s the homepage, with a response time of a little under 1.7 seconds and no downtime.  I do have occasional downtime, but it is usually less than 5 minutes and not every day.

The internal page on the same site that I showed you with the Hostgator hosting looks a lot better on Stablehost as well:

SNAGHTML1416f99

The server response time for the internal page is 0.6 seconds, and 100% uptime again.

Overall I am a lot happier with Stablehost than with Hostgator.  The type of hosting account I am using and reviewing here is Stablehost’s Enterprise hosting plan, at $19.95 a month.  I do have a few friends though that are using the cheaper shared hosting option at $3.95 per month and they are very happy so far too.

Both the Shared and Enterprise hosting accounts allow you to host unlimited domains.

I have been with Stablehost for several weeks so far, and am planning to move all of my Hostgator sites over to them in the near future.

Check out the features of Stablehost here and use the coupon code ezseonews to get 40% off your first payment on shared hosting plans.  Note that this discount is for your first payment, so if you pay for a year up-front, you make a bigger saving than if you just pay monthly or bi-annually.

Update

I don’t use the basic shared hosting, I use the Basic Enterprise hosting.  However, a number of people have asked me whether I recommend the basic shared hosting.

To test their shared hosting, I started monitoring a friends site.  He hosts with Stablehost using their basic $3.95 hosting package.  Here is the data for his site over the last 7 days:

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First thing you will notice is that there are no red dots, so this site has been up 100% of the time in the last week.

Second thing you will notice is 5 lines on the graph.  The “slower” lines (top two) are in Europe (UK & France) and the bottom three are in the US.  Since this user is using the US hosting option at Stablehost (you can choose Europe hosting if you prefer), it makes sense that the server response times are a little slower from Europe.  The actual average server response time (average of all 5 locations) for this site in the last 24 hours is 328ms.  If you are just interested in response times from the US, that averages out as 248ms.  The site in question is a WordPress site with Genesis theme installed.

One Year On..

I’ve now been with Stablehost for over a year now so I wanted to update you on exactly how satisfied I am with their services.

Firstly, here is a screenshot from Pingdom.com, which I now use to track my website performance:

image

The first thing I should say is that this account is tracking a WordPress site with 325 posts, over 900 comments and 25 pages, so it’s not a small site.  The site runs Genesis 2.x Framework with Lifestyle Pro theme (by Studiopress).

From the graph, you can see that over the last year, the site has had 28 outages for a total downtime of 44 minutes for an uptime of 99.99% (for once a host actually delivers on their promised uptime).  Most shared hosts that I have been with have more downtime than that most weeks.

The next thing I want to point out about the graph is the arrow I’ve drawn on it, showing the clear downward trend.  This graph is showing server response time, ie, how long a server takes to respond to a request from a visitor to view a page, before the page starts to load.  The downward trend shows that my server response time is getting shorter as the year progress.  If that’s confusing to you, just know that this is a good thing.  I shows my host is working hard to make their hosting even faster.  If I take a screenshot from the last 6 months, you can clearly see a significant drop in server response time around August 1st.

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That graph shows the last 6 months.  The reduces server response time is not all down to my host, however, but me upgrading my theme from Genesis 1.x to Genesis 2.x and switching to a mobile responsive theme.

In the last month, my server response time has been fairly consistent:

image

.. with just one outage of 2 minutes, but an average server response time of 246ms (max = 308ms, min=201ms).  Earlier in this post, I stated that when I swtiched to Stablehost, the server response time was 0.6 seconds – that’s 600 ms, so you can see the improvement over time.

OK, so server response time is one measurement.  What about page load speed?

Here is a screenshot from the free tool I use for page load times – – GTMetrix

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That is for the homepage of my site, which you can see is 494Kb in size and required 59 requests from the server to fully load.  The load time was 1.47 seconds, which I am really happy about.

So, to summarize then, Stablehost has been getting better and better over the time I have been with them (since 2013), and I cannot recommend them highly enough to anyone that is disappointed with their own web host performance.  Find out more by visiting Stablehost.  And don’t forget to use my 40% discount coupon (ezseonews) at your checkout.


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47 thoughts on “Hostgator v Stablehost Review

  • Glen

    I’ve been with Host Gator for over 4 years on a dedicated server, and I cannot fault their up-time and their support response times.

    When I had shared hosting with them, everything was not so good, but when I upgraded to a dedicated server, everything improved immensly

    Chopping and changing hosting companies is not on for me (even if they are recommended)

    • Andy Williams Post author

      Dedicated servers are a lot better at most hosts, but beyond the means of many people starting out. However, I do recommend you keep an eye on the Hostgator support forums. They are full of complaints from unhappy customers. Did Hostgator get bought out recently? Why did they “upgrade” servers to ones that are so much worse than the previous ones?

      • Peter Williams

        in your 6th paragraph you mention “NOTE: My hostgator account also has the option of installing Cloudflare, but their instructions were a little too scary”
        what do you mean by “a little too scary” as it relates to cloudflare?
        Is something wrong with the platform?

        • Andy Williams Post author

          I don’t remember now. It was not something I wanted to do though after looking at their instructions. I no longer have a Hostgator account, so cannot check.

  • Virginia

    According to Martin Avis, who sent a special Kickstart newsletter issue regarding this subject, HostGator along with several others has been bought by EIG and yes, service has declined. Martin is leaning toward WebHostingBuzz since he likes to use the live chat feature.

    I’m watching all you of people who are smarter than me since I’m pretty small potatoes and not really qualified to make such a decision.

    Thanks very much for this article!

  • Khaldoun

    I have to concur with Andy regarding HostGator.
    When I started out with my first website, I had it hosted with them. That was about 7 years ago.
    Over time I became dissatisfied with there service and started looking around for another hosting company.

    I am now with WiredTree on a VPS account and am very happy with the service and their support.

  • Larry

    My understanding is Hostgator was bought out by a company called EIG. There are other popular hosts that have been bought out by them.

  • June

    Always going against the norm, I never did like HostGator. I switched to HostMonster 7 years ago and have been happy with them. Not sure, but think they might be affiliated with BlueHost.

      • June

        I was looking at Stablehost yesterday and they are looking pretty good. I’m going try them out for a few new sites I am planning to build. Thanks so much for the suggestion, Andy.

  • Norm

    HI Andy,
    It has been a month or so hasn’t it? I was missing you.
    In the meantime, hmmn. Gator was down for most of a day recently. I’m not going to hold that against them, though how it could happen is a bit baffling. However, I have also noticed the increasing lag loading times lately. I have been around long enough to know when something isn’t right. But, I blamed my service provider, myself, and Martians. Now…thanks to you, I GET IT.
    I’ll keep your recommendation in mind nearer re-up time.
    Norm

  • Lance

    Love the detail you provided here Andy. I started out with Hostgator but I’ve been using Bluehost now. I was curious if you ran any comparisons with Bluehost at all? I love being able to connect with people over the phone but I’m curious how they’d compare from a performance standpoint.

  • Bjarne Maschoreck

    Had the same problems with hostbig.com. Affordable, but terrible uptimes and response times, friendly but of no use support and a catastrophy for business use. What ever they claimed to fix, did not make a difference. Dont go there, been there, done it, didn’t like it. And how much is a money back guarantee worth only covering their hosting..

    I now only go for for mid-prize services that seems to be up all the time, but stablehost might be a solution as well.

    • Angel Candelaria

      I used HostBig when I was starting out. Didn’t last two weeks with them. Definitely would not recommend that company for serious websites or blogs. It’s just one of those examples that scream “if the price is too good to be true, then it certainly is”.

  • Glen

    I have a dedicated server with HG, and following the problem they had last week with that extended outage, I contacted them and requested a credit for my next months hosting, citing HG own downtime guarantee, and they granted me a $200+ credit without hesitation.

  • Alan Stone

    Virginia wrote:
    > HostGator along with several others has been bought by EIG

    Andy wrote:
    > I tried Bluehost before going with Stablehost, and they were no better than Hostgator.

    FYI, here’s a list of their hosting brands (*):
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endurance_International_Group

    Too Big, NOT to fail?

    (*) You can save the wiki page as a pdf… in case they’d decide to clean it up and keep some information confidential or harder to find. ;O)

  • Angel Candelaria

    Hi Andy!

    I see you’re using CloudFlare for CDN services. I’ve been using Incapsula. Have you used Incapsula? Any thoughts? I’ve read that, compared to CloudFlare, they are more focused on security (although their CDN is working great; I’ve noticed a great improvement on the speed of my sites)

  • Jeff

    Hi Andy,

    I have been with hostgator for a while with a Baby Plan, and have also been concerned about recent poor load times of my web pages. I thought seriously about switching provider, but hesitant because of some of the horrors stories about the transfer process, and not ending up with a service that is no better. Try switching energy supplier in the UK and you will understand =:) My questions are:
    1) Is your transfer seamless with Stablehost, or are you required do some configuration in the transfer process?
    2) How long did the transfer take?
    3) Was there website downtime in the progress, and for how long?

    Regards
    Jeff

    • Andy Williams Post author

      Jeff
      I use a third party registrar – Namecheap. That means Hotgator were not responsible for registering and renewing my domains, Namecheap are.
      I also use a tool called WPTwin to make an exact copy of the site. With these two things in place, I can move a site in a few minutes, and there is almost zero downtime.

  • Khoren

    Hi Andy
    1-Wptwin does it copy non Wptwin files,sites also?
    I have sites which are mix HTML and has a blog installed on them.does it copy all?

    2-backing up sites I thought its hosting companies responsibility to restore the last good version but they said no we have to make our own backup.would be nice if web hosting companies does for us maybe once a month.does this hosting company offers this service?
    Thanks

    • Andy Williams Post author

      Hi Khoren

      1. Yes, WP Twin can copy just WP files and folders, or all files and folders.
      2. I think most hosts do keep backups of their servers, but don’t rely on these. You need to backup yourself.

  • Darwin

    Andy, didn’t you use 1&1 a while back?

    Does anyone have any current performance information for 1&1?

    • Andy Williams Post author

      Hi Darwin
      Yes, this site is currently at 1&1.co.uk but I am moving it to Stablehost soon. 1&1 has become more and more unreliable to the point where I am moving all my sites away from them. When they are working, it seems to be great, but I’ve had a lot of downtime recently.

  • Joe

    Hi Andy
    I have never done any of this so could you advise me how I go about checking load times and down times on a website.

    Thank you

  • Robbeh

    Great article, I ended up switching to Stablehost from HostGator with my small re-seller account.

    They transferred over everything (including the WHM cPanel) for me in a matter of a few hours. These…guys…rock. I went from 30-60 second lag spikes, slow servers and run around support with HG to a server where even without page speed optimization, the sites are fast as heck.

    Thumbs up on the article and thumbs up for SH.

    Robb

  • Mark

    Hi Andy,

    Based on this article, I switched from hostgator to stablehost (enterprise).

    Yet…over the past few months, based on LoadImpact’s test, stablehost is CONSISTENTLY much much slower than hostgator (exact same website, I just mirrored it on both host to test). Are you experiencing this?

    Contacting support gives the standard stuff about plugins, blablabla.

    • Andy Williams Post author

      Hi Mark
      I am still very happy with them. My sites load around twice as fast as they did on Hostgator, and downtime is very rare. Perhaps the biggest improvement is the lack of loading spikes, where on Hostgator there would be times in the day when my site would take 20 – 40 seconds to respond to a server request. At Stablehost, those spikes are fewer, and usually limited to 4 – 5 seconds. What made the biggest difference to my sites though on Stablehost was using the Cloudfare that is integrated. Makes sure you turn that on. Also, what Enterprise server are you on?

      • Mark

        Hi Andy,

        Thanks for the response, yes, I have cloudflare turned on, which is why i am surprised by the results. Have you used loadimpact to test your website before (comparison?)

        I am on the 19.99 enterprise plan based in the US. Is that the one you are using?

        Thanks.
        Mark

        • Andy Williams Post author

          Yes, I have the same Enterprise plan, but which server are you on?

          No, I have not used Loadimpace, but I did monitor my sites before and after the move. They are now A LOT more reliable, and my slowest site from Hostgator is twice as fast in terms of server response time, plus up for 100% of the time most days, whereas I was having 1-2 hours a day of downtime on some days with Hostgator. I do still have a few sites on Hostgator that I have not moved yet, and so I still monitor those. Their uptime and speed has improved significantly over the last month, but it is still not as good as I am getting on Stablehost.

  • Donna White

    Thanks so much for the coupon code. I used it on the year plan and saved the 40%.

    Take care,
    Donna 🙂

  • Vincent

    Hello, I have vps at planethoster by I think to move for stable hosted enterprise plan as it is cheaper. I am just afraid it would be slower. My websites contain webapp and calculator…but not heavy traffic. It is seen all over the world. I am very interest with your advise as you have elit experience and share it on a nice way. thanks Vincent.

    • Andy Williams Post author

      Vincent
      I cannot advise you on this. I would recommend you talk with support on Stablehost with your requirements and they are much more likely to be able to evaluate your situation.

  • salem

    HostGator Take My Money And They Didn’t Give Me Refund
    I took Business Plan (Six month ) And I notice My Site Was Slower than My Previous Host .
    So i Cancel My order But they not response my request . I Think We should call them ScamGator instead .

  • Billy Roberts

    Hi Andy,
    i went and got an Enterprise account with Stablehost also. I did the Cloudflare hookup. I also installed the w3tc cache plugin. Now my site is really fast. Thanks Andy for telling us about Stablehost. The service is fast. I had a few problems getting everything working and they were quick to help.

  • Shane Labs

    Hey Andy – Love the graphs here. I had a similar experience switching from HG to Stablehost, and can vouch that they not only excel in page speed and uptime, but also in support. Thanks for the detailed review!

  • Murrey Donaldson

    Hi Andy,
    Thanks for your great posts!
    Could you do a Udemy course on Stablehost?
    Thanks.
    Murrey