VPS Webhosting review: HostGator vs Amazon Lightsail

HostGator Snappy 2000 VPS

HostGator’s “Snappy 2000” is a 2 core CPU VPS server that comes in at $89.95 a month (if you include cPanel, which most people will), though it has an introductory offering that can be as low as $33.95 a month for the first twelve months. It has 2GB of RAM and a 120GB SSD, and there are bigger options for people with more requirements.

Amazon Lightsail VPS

Amazon Lightsail is the Amazon Web Services “simple website configuration” offering. It has a lot of flexibility in terms of what power you can choose, but it does come with some important caveats that are not entirely obvious at first glance — and it is much more complicated than HostGator to understand properly.

Some of the Amazon Lightsail instance types (it goes up to $160 a month, there are two types on the right not displayed).
Image from Amazon’s CPU credits explanation.
Baseline CPU utilisation for Lightsail instances.
Instance image choices.

Pros & Cons: HostGator

Pros

  • Good tech and non-tech support
  • Full, constant CPU utilisation is allowed without problems
  • cPanel included at a lower extra price than is possible for an individual ($10 per month on HostGator vs $16 per month via cPanel), making it very user friendly
  • Almost everything is pre-configured for you, very little knowledge required — but you can customise it if you want to

Cons

  • Significantly more expensive, though this is much less of a downside if you have a need for constantly high CPU usage
  • It takes time to provision new resources, as there is no automatic process for doing this

Pros & Cons: Amazon Lightsail

Pros

  • Significantly cheaper than HostGator if you only need 10–20% of CPU utilisation on average, but need the ability to go higher than that sometimes
  • Provisioning resources is fully automated, easy to remake an instance
  • Integration with other AWS services such as RDS (for a dedicated database server) and ability to use load balancers without much hassle

Cons

  • Zero support — Lightsail is not suited to non-tech people, especially if your website has specific requirements as you’ll need to implement everything other than the base image yourself
  • CPU usage is limited, which isn’t suitable for all use cases, and the amount by which it is limited is not immediately obvious
  • No “all inclusive” solutions — unlike e.g. shared hosting plans on HostGator, something like a very simple portfolio website is still complicated to set up on Lightsail, even if you don’t need root access or other features

Conclusions

Ultimately, both are very good, but it basically comes down to your requirements and your tech knowledge. HostGator is excellent if you need very high, consistent CPU utilisation, your tech knowledge is limited, or your use case is very simple; Lightsail is likely to be better for anything else.

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