Hostinger Review: Cheap, But What’s the Catch? [2023]

A Fast and Low-Cost Entry Point To Hosting, Perfect for Beginners

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Hostinger is one of the most affordable web hosts on the market, with prices starting at just ₫47083 per month. Even when compared to other budget-friendly hosting providers, this is a really low price. So, what’s the catch?

The catch is, to get the best deal you’d have to sign up for four years of hosting, and pay for it all at once. That’s quite the commitment, but it also means you’ll be getting a fixed, highly discounted price for nearly half a decade. Which is a good thing, as long as Hostinger can provide good service for the duration.

Can it? As we’ve tested this host multiple times over the years, I’d say very probably – depending on your needs. It primarily offers shared and WordPress hosting with marketing aimed at new customers. There is plenty of help for newbies to web hosting, and the service can work very well for personal sites, business landing pages, and small-to-medium-sized online stores.

Hostinger also offers VPS and cloud hosting for those looking to host traffic-heavy, resource-demanding websites. But this isn’t Hostinger’s strongest suit – these plans appear to lack value and flexibility when compared to plans from hosts that specialize in higher-tier services.

Hostinger is definitely best if you’re looking for a low-cost entry into the wonderful world of shared web hosting, or to migrate your site(s) from an overpriced or underperforming web host.

It’s also worth noting that Hostinger offers plans for resellers. These work well if you’re a solo web designer or web development agency serving individual clients or small businesses with sites that get average traffic.

Another important note: aside from English, Hostinger’s website is available in dozens of other languages, and its customer interface is available in Arabic, Chinese, French, Indonesian, Lithuanian, Portuguese (and Brazilian Portuguese), Russian, Spanish (Argentina, Columbia, Mexico, and Spain), Turkish, and Ukrainian.

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A Highly-Optimized Platform With Plenty of Resources

With prices being as low as they are, my anxious personality immediately identified two areas where Hostinger might be trying to pull one over on me: features and performance. Sure, I’d love to pay less than what the competitors charge, but I don’t want to get only some of what they provide.

Fortunately, I soon discovered that Hostinger provides a generous set of resources, plenty of built-in WordPress optimization, and all the critical features you need to get started. I focused my testing efforts on Hostinger’s WordPress Starter, the most popular budget plan they offer. Here are the features that stood out to me.

Optimized Performance From LiteSpeed Web Server

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Hostinger employs the impressively fast LiteSpeed web server – this is the software running on the physical server that delivers your website’s content to your visitors. LiteSpeed outperforms the more traditional Apache web server, upon which many other web hosts still rely due to its open-source (i.e. free) license.

LiteSpeed itself already offers great performance, but its LiteSpeed Cache for WordPress plugin stores pre-loaded (cached) copies of your web pages, which can then be more quickly delivered to your visitors.

Generous With Bandwidth, SSD Storage, and Number of Sites

With such affordable prices, I expected Hostinger to be tight on resources. Many budget web hosts cut costs by allocating fewer resources per customer, because this allows them to jam more hosting accounts onto each server.

But Hostinger offers plenty of resources for its low rates – the WordPress Starter plan includes support for 100 websites, 100 GB of SSD storage, and unlimited bandwidth. This is more than what many other budget hosts offer with their most expensive plans. You’ll have plenty of room to grow and develop your online presence, and you’ll be able to host many sites at once.

Automatic Backups With One-Click Restoration

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Data loss can be absolutely ruinous for an online business. You don’t want to spend hours working on your site just to lose it all to a wifi glitch, or even to an honest mistake. Thankfully, Hostinger offers a flexible backup tool that allows you to create, download, or restore backups.

In addition, Hostinger offers weekly automatic backups – as it does with the WordPress Starter plan – with a free upgrade to daily automatic backups with higher-tier shared plans. Alternatively, you can pay for this feature as an add-on.

Unlimited Free SSL, and a Robust Security Suite

No matter how tight your budget is, you can’t afford to go with a web host that’ll leave your site vulnerable to malware or DDoS attacks. Fortunately, Hostinger understands the importance of security and provides protection from an array of potential online threats.

Every plan includes free SSL for all your sites, an in-house-developed web application firewall, an automatic malware scanner, and Cloudflare DDoS protection for Hostinger’s nameservers – this is not to be confused with Cloudflare’s content delivery network (CDN), which isn’t enabled by default. This may not be the most advanced security suite out there – but it’ll keep you safe from the most common threats. It’s also more than what you’d get with most other budget hosts.

Hostinger Automates Setup To Get You Started

Overall, Hostinger offers a remarkably easy platform to work with, from sign-up to developing and managing your website. We had no trouble purchasing the WordPress Starter plan and building our test website.

This is due in part to Hostinger’s proprietary control panel, hPanel, which is really easy to navigate (more on this later). Here’s what you can expect when you sign up for an account, and set up a site on Hostinger’s platform.

Creating a New Account

Signing up with Hostinger was refreshingly easy. Hosting plans were clearly laid out, and we had no problems discerning what was included with each of them. The WordPress Starter plan offers a free domain name if you choose an annual or longer billing cycle, which was a nice addition. This is the case with every WordPress plan excluding Single WordPress.

What’s particularly nice is that we only had to provide a minimum of information – there was no huge, time-consuming form requiring a ridiculous amount of personal data. We were also given the option to sign-up with a Facebook or Google account to simplify the process.

Accepted payment methods include all major credit cards, PayPal, Google Pay, AliPay, and even some cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Thankfully, Hostinger didn’t pre-select any add-ons or try to upsell us during checkout. It was always clear how much we were paying, and for what services.

After payment was complete, our account was set up. We were ready to connect our domain and install WordPress in under a minute.

Connecting a Domain and Installing WordPress

Once your account has been created, Hostinger takes you through some set-up steps. We were first presented with a short questionnaire, the purpose of which was to help Hostinger auto-configure LiteSpeed’s caching to maximize performance based on your particular needs. This allows you to take full advantage of LiteSpeed without having to figure how to optimize the settings yourself.

From there, we were asked if we would like to install WordPress automatically. This again was really quick and easy, as I only had to enter an administrator email address and password, and optionally choose a starter theme.

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With that, the next step was connecting a domain name. As we had signed up for the WordPress Starter plan on an annual billing cycle, we were able to claim a free domain name. Be aware that not all domain extensions are available with Hostinger’s free domain name offer, though the popular .com is included.

After choosing a domain name and extension, we just had to pick a data center. We went with a US-based location, but you should choose the location nearest to your target audience. Once this was done, we were given a summary of the information we had entered, which we confirmed to begin installing WordPress and registering our domain name.

Five minutes later, WordPress installation and domain registration were complete. Our domain was automatically connected to our site as part of the setup process, but we had to wait some hours for DNS (domain name system) propagation to complete. This is an unavoidable process that takes place whenever you connect a new domain, and it may prevent your WordPress installation from being accessible online until it is complete.

In the meantime, we set up our email. Hostinger includes third-party Titan Email for free. To get it working, we had to configure our DNS records so that emails could be sent and received from our domain.

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This was a bit of a pain – but hPanel displayed all the records I needed to add, so it was simply a matter of copying and pasting this data into the DNS Zone Editor. This involved setting up an SPF record, which prevents spammers from sending emails that appear to originate from your domain.

With that done, and after an hour or two of waiting, DNS propagation was complete. We were then able to upload our custom WordPress theme and access our test website online. Overall, besides the email service, Hostinger sets up nearly all of the hosting and basic WordPress framework for you.

Beginner-Friendly hPanel Makes Hosting Easy To Manage

Hostinger has developed its own proprietary control panel, called hPanel. It’s a joy to use – it’s easy to navigate, cleanly designed, and gives you access to all the basic processes you need to manage your sites.

That said, it can be a bit slow at times, depending on which settings you’re accessing. Entering the File Manager can take several seconds of loading, for example. Accessing the WordPress Admin area can also take several seconds – though the fact that the WordPress login process is reduced to a single click in hPanel makes up for the loading time.

Flexible Drag-and-Drop Site Builder, Included Free

If you want to design a website quickly and easily without having to learn WordPress, Hostinger includes a free site builder. Like hPanel, this has also been developed in-house by Hostinger, and it allows you to build websites via a drag-and-drop interface. You can easily add site elements such as text, buttons, galleries, contact forms, and more with just a few clicks.

Even if you already have a WordPress-based website, you can try switching over to the builder app for a limited time, and if you don’t like it, your original site will be restored, free of charge.

One-Click Installer for 100+ Apps

In addition to a simple installation for WordPress, Hostinger’s Auto Installer lets you easily install over 100+ applications. This includes alternative CMSs (content management systems) like Joomla or Drupal, along with apps for database management, message boards, and more.

The selection may not seem to be quite as extensive as some other auto installers, but it offers all of the most useful and popular apps.

One of the Fastest Budget Web Hosts Out There

Despite being significantly cheaper than many popular entry-level hosts, Hostinger excelled in our performance tests. It was easily one of the best-performing shared hosting providers we’ve ever tested, and it wasn’t too far behind some of the top premium hosting providers.

Hostinger offers data centers in the US, Europe, Asia, and South America. If your site targets visitors from Africa, Australia, or the Middle East, you should choose the nearest available data center to their location.

To test Hostinger fairly, we built a website to simulate an average promotional site, filled with text, high-quality images, custom fonts, and plenty of complex code for interactive elements. We then put this website through multiple third-party testing tools – namely GTmetrix, Sucuri Load Time Tester, and UptimeRobot.

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GTmetrix

We used GTmetrix to test our website’s performance in a local setting. To do this, we selected a source server in the US, not too far away from our test site’s data center. We then completed a week-long performance analysis with hourly speed tests.

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So, what did we find? During a week of testing, our website on Hostinger’s server achieved a typical Fully Loaded Time of just 0.8s. To put that in perspective, most other budget hosts hover around 2s to 3s – Hostinger manages to be several times faster.

How does it do this? Well, it is due in part to the default LiteSpeed optimization settings enabled by Hostinger when we first installed WordPress. For example, the default image compression reduced the total content on our test page in size from about 1 MB to just under 800 KB, allowing the page to load more quickly.

There were a few instances where our site took 1.5s to 2.0s to load. However, even these worst-case results are still within acceptable guidelines for visitor retention. And notably, as each of our tests is conducted from a “fresh” browser instance, some of the cache settings don’t affect these results – but a real website visitor should see the page load even faster on repeat visits.

The results for Time to First Byte – the amount of time it takes for the server to start sending website data – were typically around 0.2s. This is a very good speed – it isn’t unusual to see this number at 0.5s or higher from shared hosting services.

Sucuri Load Time Tester

Next, we wanted to take a look at how Hostinger performed on a global scale. To do this, we used Sucuri’s Load Time Tester.

While Hostinger supports Cloudflare’s CDN, you’ll have to sign up for an account and configure it yourself, even if you’re just using the free Cloudflare plan. As this isn’t a straightforward process, we don’t enable it – we test hosting plans “out of the box” in their default state, so we can tell you how well they will work for beginner users.

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The results were surprising. Our test site achieved loading speeds of about 1s in Europe and South America, despite being hosted at one of Hostinger’s US data centers.

While it was far slower in Singapore and Australia, reaching around 2s, this is still well within acceptable limits. In fact, these results are better than some of the budget hosts in these regions can deliver on their own home turf.

UptimeRobot

Finally, we measured Hostinger’s reliability. After all, it doesn’t matter how fast a host can make your website load if it’s rarely online to begin with.

To test Hostinger’s uptime, we monitored our test website with UptimeRobot for an entire month. Whenever an instance of downtime occurred, it would be recorded.

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Amazingly, there were no instances of downtime to record. Our test site was online and available for the duration of the testing period. Hosting providers with much more expensive plans sometimes struggle to match this result.

Hostinger also offers a 99.9% uptime guarantee. If Hostinger fails to achieve this uptime within a specific month, you can request compensation in the form of service credits. This is not unique since a 99.9% uptime guarantee is the industry standard.

Hostinger is a bit stingy with credits if you are entitled to compensation. You’d only be due 5% credit towards your next monthly bill. Thankfully, by our tests, it doesn’t look like you’ll frequently need to claim compensation, if ever.

Polite, but Primarily Relies on Links to Documentation

Hostinger’s support service is available 24/7 through live chat and email. While budget hosts often say they provide 24/7 technical support, you might have to wait a long time for an agent to become available.

The quality of the support itself may vary as well – some hosts save money by outsourcing support to third-party support teams who don’t have an understanding of hosting in general, never mind your particular issue.

So, does Hostinger have these problems? To find out, I pretended to be a complete newbie to web hosting, and asked some basic questions.

You can easily contact Hostinger support from anywhere in hPanel by clicking the speech bubble icon on the bottom right of the dashboard. This will take you to the support screen, where you will first be required to select a topic relevant to your issue. When you click one of these, Hostinger will display links to knowledge base documentation on your chosen topic.

For basic queries, this can be really useful, as you’ll likely find the answer to your question in one of these articles. Hostinger’s knowledge base is fairly extensive, and filled with concise step-by-step guides for all the basics – some tutorials even include video guides.

If none of the suggested articles turn out to be of any help, you are then given the option to contact support. I did so via live chat, hoping to get a quick response.

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I was met with a banner stating that live chat agents typically respond in under 10 minutes – a perfectly mediocre response time. I typed out a question asking how I could optimize my site for faster performance, and waited.

14 minutes later, I got my response. The Hostinger support agent was friendly and quick to respond to subsequent queries. They answered all my questions with links to the knowledge base, even when I tried to ask for more direct recommendations for WordPress optimization plugins.

This was just OK. The linked articles provided helpful, relevant information, but I wanted more personalized help. The support agent never asked about my website specifics or current loading speed, not even once. Call me cynical, but if your live support agents can only share documentation links, they might as well be bots.

Next up, I tried email support. I asked how to set up a CDN to speed up my website. Hostinger’s email support only promises a reply within a single business day, so I prepared myself for a longer wait.

Surprisingly, after just a couple of minutes, I got a response from an agent stating they were looking into my query. Then, 22 minutes after my initial email, I got a detailed response to my question, which is pretty fast for email support. It wasn’t too far behind the wait time for live chat.

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This was a similar level of quality to my previous live chat experience. They sent me links to guides on configuring a CDN, which gave me everything I needed to know. They also sent me some extra resources on site performance optimization, which was a nice touch that I was grateful for.

Overall, Hostinger’s support is a little slow, but helpful. That said, the support agents seem reluctant to go the extra mile, or to provide detailed help with queries that are too complex to be answered by a short knowledge base article.

Still, compared to the terrible experiences I’ve had with some other hosting support services, support quality was pretty decent overall.

Massive Discounts for New Customers (and a Free Domain Name With Certain Plans)

Pricing is usually what draws customers to Hostinger in the first place. Hostinger is easily one of the most affordable options for shared and WordPress hosting, with prices starting as low as ₫47083 per month. These can be purchased on monthly, annual, biennial, and quadrennial (that’s 4 years!) billing cycles.

Signing up for four years gets you the best prices, but it also locks you into the longest commitment. The monthly plans are rather poor value, though you can still get a good deal with the annual or biennial plans. Hostinger offers a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee, so if you aren’t satisfied, you can cancel within the first month for a full refund.

I’ll let you in on a little secret – you can get an even better deal if you play your cards right. The WordPress Starter plan comes with a free domain name, while the entry-level WordPress Single plan does not – meaning you’ll actually save more money with the higher-tier plan in your first year of hosting. You’ll get unlimited bandwidth and email accounts too, making it the best-value plan overall.

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Hostinger offers affordable shared hosting plans that deserve your time and money. The performance, fantastic for the price, gives users a platform that’s easy to work with, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned developer.It also offers a generous set of resources and features that surpasses much of the competition. If you’re just starting out with your first site, or looking to run a bunch of low-to-medium-traffic sites while keeping costs low, Hostinger should be one of your top options.

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