GoDaddy: web hosting review
US-based GoDaddy is a web hosting giant, the largest in the business, with more than 80 million domains under its management and some 20 million customers. But is it the right company for you?
GoDaddy’s shared hosting starts at $5.99 /Month on the three-year plan ($8.99 /Month on renewal), which gets you 100GB storage, 10 databases, unmetered bandwidth and support for a single site. Unusual extras include a free 5GB Office 365 email mailbox for a year, and there’s a free domain thrown in with annual and longer plans.
That’s not bad, but it’s disappointing to see there’s no SSL certificate. Bluehost, HostGator, InMotion and other big names all now provide a free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate with even their cheapest accounts.
Those accounts can be significantly cheaper than GoDaddy, too. HostGator’s Hatching plan supports a single site, includes unmetered storage and a free SSL certificate, but costs only $2.75 /Month on the three-year plan, renewing at $6.95 /Month.
Pricing and payment methods
Move up the GoDaddy range and there are some very capable products. The Ultimate plan supports unlimited websites, disk space and databases, unmetered bandwidth, premium DNS management and a free GoDaddy SSL certificate for a year.
|36-month Term||Intro: £3.99 /Month|
Renew: £5.99 /Month
|Intro: £4.99 /Month|
Renew: £7.99 /Month
|Intro: £7.99 /Month|
Renew: £12.99 /Month
|Intro: £9.99 /Month|
Renew: £14.99 /Month
It’s relatively expensive, though, at $12.99 /Month for an initial year, then $16.99 /Month on renewal. HostGator’s Business plan supports unlimited everything and throws in a dedicated IP for $7.95 /Month on the annual plan ($5.95 over three years), renewing at $16.95.
GoDaddy does score for its flexibility. Not interested in the standard Linux hosting, for instance? Switch to Windows for no price premium, a very unusual touch.
Alternatively, capable VPS hosting products offer better performance, cPanel management and a free SSL certificate from $19.99 /Month over two years, $29.99 /Month on renewal.
You can also opt for basic or managed WordPress hosting from $6.99 /Month.
If you’re after maximum power, a very configurable dedicated server range gives you control over hardware (RAM, storage), term length (1-24 months), management (managed, fully managed, self-managed) and more.
A 30-day money-back guarantee offers you some protection, but there are all kinds of conditions and variations. The grace period drops to only 48 hours if your contract is for less than a year, and there are a bewildering range of other conditions (the refund policy small print alone is almost 2,000 words).
GoDaddy rarely has the best deals, then, especially if you’re looking for a starter product. IPage’s baseline plan gives you unlimited disk spaces and databases, a free domain and free SSL certificate for $1.99 /Month over three years, for instance, $7.99 on renewal.
Still, the costs are much closer in other situations, and GoDaddy does have its own advantages (easy Windows hosting, the year-long trial of an Office 365 Outlook mailbox, as we discussed above). Factor in the range of products and it’s a web host you need to check out.
GoDaddy’s first line of support is its very well-presented web knowledgebase. Menus, a search box and a wide collection of articles all appear in a floating sidebar within GoDaddy’s dashboard, rather than a separate browser tab, making it easy to read advice alongside whatever control panel element you’re trying to understand.
In our last review we gave some examples of poor organization, where content wasn’t always appearing in the categories you might expect. GoDaddy seems to have improved this, though, and articles appeared to be better grouped and sorted.
The search engine seems more intelligent, too, and entering various keywords got mostly relevant results.
Some advice is a little questionable, such as the article warning that setting up a cPanel hosting account might make your current website and email addresses stop working. You can buy and carry out a vast amount of cPanel work without causing any problems at all, and you’re always in full control of when a domain is redirected to point to your new hosting.
These issues are the exception, though, and most users will find a huge amount of decent content to explore.
If the website can’t help you, scrolling to the bottom of the Help window gives access to live chat and 24/7 phone support.
We tried live chat and were talking to a support agent within a few seconds. He responded to our question without asking for unnecessary extra detail, and quickly gave us useful and accurate information.
Accessing phone support can be more difficult, as you try to navigate the phone menus (enter customer ID, enter phone PIN, choose the type of service you need, choose the question area, subtract the number you first thought of) and delays can be several minutes at peak time. It can be the easiest way to discuss some issues, though, and previously we’ve found GoDaddy’s phone support agents to be friendly and helpful.
GoDaddy claims to offer ‘fast, reliable hosting’, but does it deliver? We were keen to find out.
We began our benchmarking process by setting up a simple website on our test GoDaddy shared hosting account. We then had Uptime.com check the site every five minutes, from multiple locations in Europe and the US, recording site availability and response time.
GoDaddy achieved 100% uptime, with no outages over the week of testing. That’s good news, although it’s also what we would expect for short-term checks.
Response times were slower than most, with a range of 280-785ms and an average of 354ms. That’s at the sluggish end of the 200-400ms spectrum we see from most starter shared hosting products, but it still represents a major improvement on the 649ms average we saw in our last review.
Dotcom Tools’ Website Speed Test measures page load time from 16 locations around the US and Europe. Results varied considerably from 1.1 to 2.3 seconds, but they were never impressive; some free web hosts have load times under 1.5 seconds, and the best products are closer to 0.7-0.8 seconds.
While these results are a little disappointing overall, keep in mind that our tests covered GoDaddy’s baseline shared hosting plan only. VPS, dedicated, and other premium products give you more powerful hardware and a greater share of resources, and they’re likely to deliver much, much better performance.
GoDaddy has a wide choice of products and decent phone and email support, but you may have to spend a lot on plans and add-ons to get the features you need.