GoDaddy is a big name in the web hosting industry, and though the service it provides is decent, it won’t be making our best web hosting guide. The high price tag isn’t justified given its lack of features on inexpensive plans, and though there are plenty of extras that you can buy, they cost more than they do in the rest of the market.
Even so, the speed isn’t bad, and GoDaddy’s all-in-one system may be appealing to you. In this GoDaddy review, we’ll detail our experience after launching a website with its Economy shared hosting. We’ll also talk about pricing, features, usability, security and more before giving our verdict.
GoDaddy is a fine choice for web hosting, but you can get more for your money. Given how many services it offers, though, the extra cost may be worth it to have everything at your fingertips.
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Multiple hosting types
- Excellent support resources
- Many features
- Decent website builder
- Business-focused plans
- Managed WordPress hosting offered
- Difficult to use
- Shared plans lack features
- Website builder isn’t free
Alternatives for GoDaddy
GoDaddy is rife with features, but you may not get to use them if you opt for an inexpensive plan. The onslaught of advertisements to add services to your plan is annoying, especially when many of the extras are essential features that should come with any hosting package.
For example, the first two shared plans don’t come with an SSL/TLS certificate, and none of the shared plans come with daily backups. Likewise, there’s no malware scanning or removal. Those features are available, but only for a hefty fee.
Website backup is $3 per month per website, malware scanning is another $6 per month and an SSL/TLS certificate is $7 a month. When it’s all said and done, you could spend triple the web hosting fee or more on extras.
That said, the most annoying omission is the website builder. GoDaddy has a decent website builder that you can read about in our GoDaddy GoCentral review. It’s not included with hosting, though. We’ve seen providers such as HostGator include a restricted version of the builder (read our HostGator review), but hiding it behind a paywall seems like a cash grab.
That seems to be the theme with GoDaddy. As we’ll see throughout the review, everything has a stipulation, and though the features are plentiful, you’ll have to pay a pretty penny before seeing them.
The most impressive features come from the website builder, and the hosting packages feel skimpy by comparison. WordPress plans are the exception, as they’re fit with malware scanning and removal, free daily backups, a search engine optimization wizard, custom themes and more. That said, if you want WordPress hosting, the price is steep.
GoDaddy Features Overview
|Web Application Firewall|
|Live Chat Support|
GoDaddy offers a lot of hosting types, so before getting into the thick of it, we want to clarify the table above. The price is listed for the most inexpensive tier for the longest term. For example, web hosting goes from $2.99 to $12.99 per month, depending on the tier you choose, but rather than list every tier, which would be around 25 entries, we’re segmenting them into categories.
That’s ignoring the Windows hosting, which has its own separate pricing structure. Suffice it to say that if you’re looking for the price of a particular plan, it’s best to consult GoDaddy’s website.
The prices aren’t great, anyway. GoDaddy is expensive, especially with how limited the lower tier plans feel. Economy hosting, which is the most inexpensive offering, starts at around $3 per month if you buy three years and renews at around $8 per month. That’s standard for most web hosts, except that it only allows for a single domain and lacks features such as daily backups.
By comparison, a single-domain plan at DreamHost is around half the price (read our DreamHost review). Plus, that plan includes a free SSL/TLS certificate, domain privacy and automatic backups.
GoDaddy also has the annoying habit of charging more for less than a year’s worth of service. You can purchase shared hosting in durations of three months, one year, two years and three years, and though the multi-year plans renew at $8 per month, the three-month plan runs $11 per month.
GoDaddy WordPress Plans
WordPress plans are better when it comes to features, but still more expensive than the competition. If you want to host WordPress, read our best web hosting for WordPress guide. SiteGround is our top pick (read our SiteGround review).
The more expensive types of hosting aren’t bad, but it still feels like GoDaddy is trying to drain your wallet. There are so many add-ons that aren’t included that you’ll be paying twice the already high price just to get a full hosting package. If you want cheap hosting, read our Hostinger review or iPage review.
The refund policy sucks, too. Much like the uptime guarantee — which we’ll get to in a later section — GoDaddy’s refund policy is stingy. All hosting plans are refundable, but the time frame is short. Any plan for one year or more has a 30-day refund window from the date of the transaction. Plans with shorter durations only get a 48-hour window.
Plus, you can only get a refund if you call GoDaddy’s customer support line and request one. Note that refunds are specifically issued through telephone requests. You also can’t request a refund after canceling your account.
There’s a window, though it’s not as long as InMotion Hosting’s (read our InMotion Hosting review), but the problem is the hoops that GoDaddy makes you jump through. Again, like the uptime guarantee, the blocks in place seem to be an attempt to limit money paid out, and we imagine few refunds are actually processed.
Ease of Use
If you’re building a website, it seems like there’s nothing GoDaddy doesn’t offer. Its website is packed full of exciting features, and though the glitz can catch your eye, it proves too distracting in practice. Finding what you need on GoDaddy’s website isn’t easy, which causes more than a few issues during checkout.
First, though, you have to find a plan. GoDaddy’s top menu distributes services in a strange way, with a lot of crossover between categories. For example, the “websites” tab has the website builder, but also talks about WordPress, despite the fact that there’s a “WordPress” tab.
There’s a high density of services, and all of them have equal value on GoDaddy’s website. Finding the hosting plan you need among the additional services you can purchase is difficult.
That carries over to selecting your plan. For instance, when you select “web hosting,” you’ll be greeted with a lineup of plans and a tab for navigation between web, business and reseller hosting. If you click the business plans, though, the tab will disappear. It’s that kind of disjointed design that carries through the website.
GoDaddy’s website doesn’t look bad, but it seems like a lot of pieces were stuck together that don’t work. That can make understanding the plan lineup confusing, much less navigating it.
Checkout isn’t terrible, but GoDaddy falls into the annoying trap of preselecting add-ons for you. That said, add-ons are kept to a minimum, and there’s plenty of explaining accompanying each product.
Unlike other hosts, though, GoDaddy doesn’t ask you which domain you’re purchasing web hosting for. Rather, you’ll need to assign the hosting to a domain in your dashboard. Once again, that’s a backwards way of doing something that should be simple.
If you’ve ever purchased a domain, GoDaddy’s dashboard should be familiar. The layout is much easier to digest, with your services segmented into collapsible categories. For managing your hosting, find the domain that you selected and click “manage.”
You’ll find the account renewal date, IP address of the server, app installer and more there, but what’s most important is the link to cPanel (read our best web hosting with cPanel guide). cPanel is the saving grace when it comes to usability. Choosing a plan may be difficult, but managing your hosting is anything but.
GoDaddy uses a stock build of cPanel, which, in this case, shines. You can view your website’s stats, add services and do advanced configuration. Though not as deeply integrated with WordPress as Bluehost’s version of cPanel (read our Bluehost review), GoDaddy’s stock build suffices.
As mentioned, GoDaddy has a dense lineup of services, offering everything from domains to business phone numbers. The web hosting lineup is complex, too, but there are a few key hosting types missing.
For the average user, shared hosting makes the most sense. The web host puts multiple websites on the same server and has them share the resources. By doing so, it can host more websites with fewer servers, which lowers the cost for everyone.
GoDaddy offers four shared plans, and though the first two are in line with the competition, the higher tiers are more expensive while offering little more than the rest of the market.
The WordPress plans are like fixed versions of the shared plans. While still having a four-plan lineup, GoDaddy’s managed WordPress offerings include essential features, such as daily backups and malware detection. Because they’re managed, you’ll also enjoy automatic WordPress updates and free migration.
GoDaddy Business Hosting
After that, things get tricky. GoDaddy offers business hosting, which it says uses a virtual private server. VPS plans provide the power of a dedicated server without the extra cost by using a virtual machine on a shared server. That said, GoDaddy also has an independent lineup of VPS plans.
That’s two four-tier sets of VPS hosting that, from what we can tell, do the same thing. We suspect that’s an attempt to capitalize on keywords being searched, but it’s nevertheless confusing when browsing the website.
At the top are dedicated servers, but we don’t recommend them. In addition to the high price, the specs aren’t great, with the only difference between the four tiers lying in RAM and storage space. The processor GoDaddy is using across tiers — an Intel Xeon E3-1220 v3 — is a solid performer, but the more expensive plans call for a beefier CPU.
What’s missing is cloud hosting, especially for WordPress. Kinsta, for example, offers managed cloud WordPress hosting on Google Cloud, fit with a long list of features and fast speed, to boot (read our Kinsta review).
Speed & Uptime
We tested GoDaddy’s Economy shared hosting with Pingdom Speed Test and Load Impact. Our test site was simply a blank installation of WordPress with nothing else on it. Unfortunately, the economy nature of our plan showed. Though the speed wasn’t bad, the resilience of GoDaddy’s shared servers left a lot to be desired.
Pingdom Speed Test gave it a 90 out of 100, which is good, though not as high as A2 Hosting rating (read our A2 Hosting review). The point of comparison is Arvixe because both scored a 90, and much like that service, the majority of load time from GoDaddy was thanks to the wait metric, which measures how long the browser takes to receive data (read our Arvixe review).
GoDaddy could be faster, but given that we tested the most inexpensive shared plan, the performance was fine. Our Load Impact test, on the other hand, had issues. We simulated a load by sending 50 virtual users to our website over five minutes, measuring the response time and number of errors each of those users received.
It didn’t struggle when it came to consistency — read our GreenGeeks review to see what that looks like — but GoDaddy returned more HTTP errors than average. The test is designed to stress the server, but not to the point that anything breaks. The light pressure proved too much, though, and around 20 percent of the HTTP requests were met with errors.
That suggests the servers are stuffed to the brim. Whenever a website begins returning HTTP errors under load, the server is generally running out of resources, so don’t expect GoDaddy’s shared plans to hold up under massive traffic spikes.
As for uptime, our testing was fine. GoDaddy stayed up outside of scheduled maintenance. There’s an uptime guarantee in case anything goes wrong, but it’s particular. You’re guaranteed 99.9 percent uptime, and if GoDaddy fails to maintain that, you’ll receive a whopping 5 percent credit for your monthly hosting fee.
It’s unlikely GoDaddy ever pays that, though. The uptime guarantee says downtime is solely determined by GoDaddy and doesn’t include repairs or maintenance (scheduled or not), FTP or email outages, outages relating to certain programming environments or outages from installation of third-party apps. In short, there’s a guarantee, but it doesn’t guarantee much.
GoDaddy has a lot of security features, but they’ll run you a pretty penny. Though we’re happy to have so many options, GoDaddy hides even basic security features behind a paywall. That makes this section difficult because all the options are there, but you may not see them without forking over more cash.
Malware monitoring and removal is offered, which is basically an antivirus for you site (read our best antivirus software guide). The plans start with basic scanning and removal and move up to include a content delivery network, web application firewall and more (read our what is Cloudflare guide to learn what a CDN is).
Though not as expensive as SiteLock, GoDaddy’s malware removal is costly, and we wanted to see at least basic scanning on inexpensive plans.
There’s website backup, too, which, once again, isn’t included on all plans. Unfortunately, it’s expensive, with the basic plan only including 5GB of storage. If you have a large website, it might be better to backup manually with a cloud storage provider. Read our best cloud storage guide for recommendations.
SSL/TLS certificates are offered, but GoDaddy, unfortunately, doesn’t include one with inexpensive hosting. Though that’s a bummer, GoDaddy sells advanced certificates. They’ll run you a lot, but high-level certificates can be important, especially if you’re selling online.
GoDaddy’s security lineup is good, but price is the concern here. We’d have nothing but positive things to say if essential security features, such as a low-level SSL/TLS certificate and daily backups, were included with basic shared hosting. Seeing as they aren’t, though, GoDaddy will have to settle for a lower score.
GoDaddy is better than most when it comes to privacy, but it doesn’t include domain privacy for free like DreamHost. When you register a domain, you also create a WHOIS record, which contains personal information such as your name, address, phone number, email address and more.
That information can be replaced with the registrar’s by purchasing domain privacy. The problem is the cost. Though GoDaddy is with the majority in that it charges for domain privacy, our hope is that the web hosting industry moves toward including it for free. That said, GoDaddy isn’t leading the pack.
That’s not a good thing, but it’s status quo in the web hosting industry. GoDaddy is very open about your privacy, though, going as far as setting up a privacy center where common questions are answered.
There are a lot of areas where GoDaddy misses, but support isn’t one of them. The knowledgebase is clean, thorough and accessible, which is refreshing after looking through FatCow’s cluttered mess (read our FatCow review). That said, self-help seems to be the best route because tracking down support can be a time-consuming and cumbersome process.
You can contact GoDaddy by phone or live chat. The former is available globally around the clock, with dedicated lines for countries around the world. Live chat, on the other hand, is offered all day Monday through Friday, but we were always met with a “chat busy” notification when trying to reach out.
There’s no email support, which stings more than it should given the queued chat we ran into. It’d be nice if you could leave a message for GoDaddy — send an email — and have it notify you when a support rep can take your request.
Thankfully, the self-help resources are plentiful, so it’s unlikely you’ll need to reach out much. The knowledgebase is organized like a tutorial, walking you from the basics to advanced features in multiple categories. Each category also has a troubleshooting section that can help you solve common errors.
We like the format a lot. The knowledgebase not only serves as a support tool, but as a learning resource as well. There’s even a “how-to” section that’ll give you tips on starting, building and growing your website.
What sticks out most, though, is the forum. It’s hard to find a web host that offers a forum, much less one that’s active. GoDaddy’s is thriving, with a handful of posts going up in each thread every day. Plus, the community is responding, suggesting the forum isn’t just a hollow shell where questions go to die.
GoDaddy may struggle in other areas, but the support is top notch. Though the direct contact options could improve, the self-help resources are incredible. From learning about web hosting to troubleshooting, GoDaddy has you covered when it comes to support.
GoDaddy isn’t a bad web host, but you’ll need to deal with getting nickel and dimed if you want to use it. The price is high, and though features and hosting types are plentiful, the final bill you’ll pay is more than most. That said, given how many services GoDaddy offers, the all-in-one package may be worth the extra cost to you.
You could do a lot worse, but you can do better, too.
What do you think of GoDaddy? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.