If you prefer videos, then watch the Hostgator Managed WordPress Hosting Review video here.
Before I jump into the review, let me ask you a quick question. What is the page load time for your blog?
If you are still unsure of it, I will recommend that you do it right away before anything else. I can recommend the below 3 tools to do that. All of these do pretty much the same thing and the choice on which one to use is entirely yours.
Why all this page load speed talks? You might be wondering!
I am sure you would know the impact that page load speed has on your search engine rankings. Google has very clearly laid it out in this post at their webmaster blog.
While there are numerous factors that impact the page load speed and pretty much everything is controllable, one critical aspect that impacts page load speeds is the hosting server.
Till the time your blog is small and doesn’t use a lot of your server resources, any shared hosting should be fine, though we would recommend a good shared hosting provider like bluehost, iPage or, Hostgator shared hosting. We have used all of these in the past and also continue to use them.
iPage is the most economical of these and very reliable as well.
But, once your blog grows and it starts using a lot of resources because of a lot of posts, images etc. you need to start thinking of getting a better server. And it is here that bloggers start to look towards dedicated servers and cloud hosting solutions.
Another problem that most bloggers, especially the ones who run their blogs on WordPress, face is the WordPress management. A WordPress blog requires a lot of time and effort from a day-to-day management perspective.
This is where Managed WordPress hosting solutions comes in. Managed WordPress takes care of both your hosting issue and also the blog management piece. But Managed WordPress hosting was always a costly affair, until players like Hostgator and Godaddy came in with some very economical plans which could beat a Shared hosting when it comes to pricing.
I recently switched over from Godaddy Managed WordPress to Hostgator. And in this post today I am doing a complete Hostgator Managed WordPress hosting review and will also tell you why I switched over from Godaddy to Hostgator (Stay tuned, because this is a very critical piece when it comes to hosting).
Hostgator Managed WordPress Hosting Review
What does managed WordPress Hosting mean and what should you expect from such a hosting plan?
WordPress blog management involves a lot of things. Regular updating of the WordPress core files, theme files, plugins etc. to ensure your site is protected from hackers and malware, constant monitoring of your files to check any hacking attempts and or, attempt to inject malicious codes and if any, then trying to clean the files. If you site gets hacked, then you need to spend hours trying to get your site back online.
Other important activities include ensuring your site has enough security to prevent hacking attacks, protecting your database and critical files.
These are just some of the basic things that you should expect from a Managed WordPress hosting plan.
But Managed WordPress Hosting plans have come to deliver much more than just managing your WordPress blogs. You expect faster servers with faster page load speed, improved security features, priority support etc.
Now let us get straight onto the Hostgator Managed WordPress Hosting Review and see how it fares against these expectations.
One of the biggest reasons why Managed WordPress is out of reach of a common blogger is the pricing. Almost all Managed WordPress hosting plans out there are exorbitantly priced and is normally un-affordable.
Mediatemple, Pagely and WPEngine are 3 of the best managed WordPress hosting service providers and their base plans are priced at $20.00, $99.00 and $29.00 respectively. Studiopress and Bluehost too have their Managed WordPress Hosting plans. While the Studiopress plans (called as Synthesis) starts at $47.00 per month, the Bluehost plans start from $24.99 per month.
Check out the plans from Hostgator below:
You can see that their plans start from $5.95/mo and almost all plans are affordable. If you go for a plan that allows you to host 3 sites, your per site cost comes to a little over $3.00/mo.
What is also noticeable is the fact that the storage space and the bandwidth in all of the plans with Hostgator, is much more than any of the other hosting service providers who would normally provide you with around 10-15 GB of storage space.
Server Speed and CDN
A CDN (Content Delivery Network) helps speed up your site load times by caching your files. Managed WordPress hosting servers are expected to have better architecture leading to a super fast server that reduces your page load times. And an addition of a CDN helps with caching your site and further increasing the page load speed.
I did a comparison of the page load speed of my site with that of Copyblogger, which I assume might be running on their high performance servers.
You can see that my site load times was about 30% faster than that of Copyblogger. This was the case with a lot many other sites as well. While I agree that Copyblogger might have a lot of content, still the page load times where considerably better in the case of my site.
Hostgator has an excellent Cloud hosting architecture that they are using for their Managed WordPress hosting plans which is extremely fast when it comes to site load speed. Add to it that they have a CDN included in their plans and you have an amazing deal. Keep in mind that a lot of the other Managed WordPress hosting service providers will charge extra for including a CDN.
One basic expectation from a Managed WordPress Hosting service is that they provide complete security to our blog. WordPress blogs are the most prone to hacking and malware attacks primarily because of the fact that their codes are Open Source.
And hence in order to prevent this from happening, you need a very robust and effective site security. Amongst all of the different WordPress security services, Sitelock is the best and Hostgator offers Sitelock security as a part of their hosting plans.
Automatic Malware removal is a feature that Hostgator provides. So, even if for some reason malicious codes get injected into your WordPress files, the automatic malware removal ensures that these codes are removed automatically.
I have struggled with my WordPress sites getting hacked very frequently in spite of doing everything possible at my end. And restoring these hacked sites was one thing that I was frustrated with. Hence I wanted a hosting that has robust security.
Both Godaddy and Hostgator had excellent security measures and I believe almost all Managed WordPress hosting will have that. So this feature is not a game-changer.
The only thing that distinguishes Hostgator is the level of support. A lot of the managed WordPress services only provides the basic security, meaning that your site is secured from hacking and malware attack. But there is no automatic malware removal. You need to pay additional for this. But with Hostgator, you get that as a part of their plans.
When we are talking about Managed WordPress, the obvious part will be automatic updates of your WordPress files, theme files and plugin files. This is something that I never had to worry about with Hostgator. The best part is that they do it within 3 days of the updates being made available, thus keeping your WordPress files updated.
They would usually send an email letting you know that they would update the files in case you are not able to do it on your own.
If for some reason, you do not login and update the files by yourself, they would go ahead with doing that. That’s a cool feature because you, would not have to worry about your WordPress files being outdated.
Database and File Backups
Another important thing to keep in mind when you are running a Self-hosted WordPress blog is constant backing up of your site files and database.
If for any reason, you happen to delete your files or, your database or, even your posts, you can use these backups to restore your site back to its earlier state. There are a lot of plugins that will help you do it, both automatically and manually. But the big problem with this is the need to have some storage space where you can keep the backups and the ability to restore it without having to spend a lot of time.
Most Managed WordPress hosting will offer this feature. While some service providers only backup the files, some others only backup the database.
But with Hostgator, you get a daily backup of both the files and the database. And in addition to this, if there are any changes to either the file or, the database, then again there will be a backup. So that way, you have up-to-date backups of your entire site.
And restoring your site back to one of these backups is a matter of a few clicks. You can see that in the above pictures. You just need to click on the “restore” button just next to a specific backup and your site will be restored to that specific date.
Dashboard and cPanel Access
If you are expecting to see a cPanel access with your Managed WordPress Hosting with Hostgator, then you are sure to be disappointed. Hostgator gives you access to a sleek dashboard that lets you do some of the basic activities with your WordPress installation.
While some of you might think that as a drawback, I completely feel it fine. The basic essence of Managed WordPress is that you do not have to touch your server to do some of the basic things. And when you do not have to fiddle with your server, you don’t need access to cPanel.
For everything else you have the customer portal where you can manage the rest of the things like your backups, Sitelock security etc. and then you access to all your files through FTP.
If at all there is something technical you need to do, just reach out to their technical support team.
Technical Support with Godaddy
This is one of the critical aspects of any hosting service. If the technical support is not good, then you are in for a disaster and I would recommend that you run as fast as you can, away from such providers.
This was one of the biggest problems I faced with Godaddy. I had always liked Godaddy. But when it comes to Managed WordPress, they were pathetic.
While they promised that you always get to speak to a WordPress expert that never happened. After I upgraded to WordPress 4.2, I started seeing the below error when I tried to open the website or, access my WordPress Dashboard.
“Fatal error: Cannot call overloaded function for non-object in /home/“
I contacted their technical support and to my horror, I found that I was dealing with a bunch of folks who had no clue of what was happening.
I myself figured out what the problem was, which had to do with the PHP version, which was at 5.4 and reached out to them asking them to upgrade it to 5.5 and they blatantly disagreed. You can read about the complete experience here.
Technical Support with Hostgator
And with Hostgator this experience was the complete opposite.
I had to reach out to the Hostgator support team about 3-4 times in the past 6 months. Every time it was with a different requirement. Only once did I have to reach out to them with a technical issue. And in each of these instances, I was connected to a person who absolutely knew what he was talking about. I could sense that he knew in and out of WordPress.
And all these chats ended in a complete resolution. And I did not have to call them back again with the same issue.
That’s exceptional technical support.
And this is where Hostgator was really exceptional and different from other hosting providers.
The only downside is their queue time when it comes to chat support. Because I prefer chat support, I always use that medium and I have seen that the queue wait time, sometimes is about 5-6 minutes.
I don’t mind waiting in the queue though, if I know I will always get a first time resolution.
So What’s the Verdict
At the end of this Hostgator Managed WordPress Hosting review, what is the final verdict?
The verdict is clear. Hostgator’s optimized WordPress Hosting is one of the best when it comes to managed WordPress hosting service. With affordable pricing, exceptional technical support, easy server access, robust security and dependable and regular backups, they provide a real solution to a complete hands-free WordPress management.
If you want to focus only on blogging and leave all your worries about the technical side of managing your blog to the experts, then I would highly recommend Hostgator.
If you are on a shared hosting and do not have more than 2-3 blogs, then I would recommend that you switch over to the Managed WordPress hosting from Hostgator because you will get a complete managed solution for the same price.
You can order Hostgator Managed WordPress Hosting here.
Watch the Hostgator Managed WordPress hosting review video below.
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