Namecheap vs. GoDaddy: The 2023 Battle of the Once Registrars
Neither Namecheap or GoDaddy made it into our best web hosting guide, but one was much closer than the other. As two domain-registrars-turned-web-hosts, it only seemed fitting to pit the two against each other in a Namecheap vs. GoDaddy matchup. Although GoDaddy has a significantly larger market share, it isn’t necessarily the best option.
GoDaddy isn’t a stranger to our comparisons, taking on some of the biggest names in the industry in our SiteGround vs. GoDaddy and HostGator vs. GoDaddy head-to-heads. Namecheap, on the other hand, is a newcomer, rarely starring in our guides. Nevertheless, it’s an impressive host, considering the price.
We’ll do our best to give you a clear option by the end of this comparison, but you should still consult our GoDaddy review and Namecheap review. There, you’ll see how these two services fare in the wider web-hosting market, not just in isolation.
Setting Up a Fight: Namecheap vs. GoDaddy
We judge individual services in eight sections, each being part of what we consider vital for a web host. But comparisons can’t afford to have a full eight sections, though, as it would make them unnecessarily long and unfair. Although we’ll still cover everything that we do in our normal reviews, we’ve condensed the sections here into five rounds.
Those rounds are: features, pricing, ease of use, speed and security. Each round begins with us setting the stage with what we are looking for. Then, we’ll talk a bit about each service and give some thoughts about how they stack up. At the end of each round, we’ll declare a winner and award a point.
There are a total of five points, and the service with the most points at the end will be crowned champion. Although we use this system to make it easy to determine which service we prefer, it isn’t the only consideration. As we’ve seen in multiple comparisons before (such as our SiteGround vs. DreamHost and A2 Hosting vs. SiteGround comparisons), there isn’t always a clear-cut winner.
Because of that, we suggest reading through each round so you understand why we made our decision. Some rounds are cut and dry, but others have a bit more nuance.
$2.88 / month(All Plans)
$2.99 / month(All Plans) 1-day money-back guarantee
- : Paid
Features are becoming increasingly important with web hosting services. For example, a few hundred dollars in ad credits with iPage starts to look lackluster compared to Hostinger’s LiteSpeed servers (read our iPage review and Hostinger review). That said, there are a lot of features to consider (read our A2 Hosting review for an example of that), so instead of focusing on specifics, we look at three general areas.
A good hosting service should have tools that help you build, optimize and secure your site. Anything that falls under those umbrellas satisfies what we’re looking for in this round.
Namecheap, as the name implies, is cheap. Considering the price, the list of features is impressive, although it’s hard to ignore that it’s missing a few basics. You can most assuredly get a package for less than the competition, but you may have to hunt down some other services to make it feel fully featured.
Thankfully, though, Namecheap covers the essentials. It includes a rudimentary website builder with a handful of decent themes and options for e-commerce outlets. “Rudimentary” is the best way to describe it, though. Although you can build a site, it won’t be as functional or beautiful as a site built with one of our best website builders, such as Wix (read our Wix review).
If you don’t care for the builder, you can always use Weebly or Strikingly, both of which are available through the app store (read our Weebly review and Strikingly review). Additionally, Namecheap offers domain privacy, daily backups, a boatload of free SSL/TLS certificates and integration with Google Apps.
That list of features would make even SiteGround proud (read our SiteGround review). However, Namecheap has one odd omission. You get a free domain with your plan, but it has to be a “.website” domain. Nearly all hosts offer a free “.com” domain, so it’s strange to see Namecheap skip past it.
GoDaddy is undoubtedly one of the most feature-rich web hosting providers around, but you’ll have to spend a lot to get access to those features. As one of the largest hosts, GoDaddy offers everything from business phone numbers to multiple website builders, but most of those features come a la carte.
That’s showcased in GoDaddy’s shared plans. The first two, for example, lack a free SSL/TLS certificate. None of the shared plans have daily backups or malware scanning, either. Although some hosts replace these critical features with flashy ones (read our Site5 review for example), GoDaddy doesn’t.
When you buy a hosting package, you get, well, the hosting package. That’s a fine concept, but GoDaddy gives you the bare minimum and charges more for it, which is something we’ll explore in the next round. The only exceptions are the WordPress plans, which are packed with enough features to be worthy of our best web hosting for WordPress guide.
You don’t even get a free website builder, which is especially annoying considering GoDaddy has a proprietary builder available (read our GoDaddy GoCentral review for our thoughts on it). Around every corner, it seems that GoDaddy wants more money. It provides everything, but you can get a lot more features for a lot less money elsewhere.
Round One Thoughts
Namecheap and GoDady are both lacking when it comes to features. However, one is clearly lacking more than the other. Namecheap has some strange omissions from its shared plans, but the features package is solid overall. GoDaddy, on the other hand, includes next to nothing unless you’re buying a costly WordPress plan. For that reason, we will award Namecheap the point for this round.
Point for Namecheap
Pricing is a complex round for most web hosts, and unfortunately, that’s the case here. While not as deceptive as Arvixe (read our Arvixe review), one of our competitors has a complex and confusing pricing scheme . In this round, we’ll look at how clearly Namecheap and GoDaddy convey the price throughout the checkout process, as well as the rate itself.
Namecheap’s name isn’t just talk. It’s by far one of the cheapest web hosting services. While Hosting24 will get you a lower introductory rate (read our Hosting24 review), Namecheap is unmatched in price, compared to other services — including the very inexpensive 1&1 IONOS (read our 1&1 IONOS review).
In short, Namecheap is the epitome of cheap web hosting, but more than that, it’s the epitome of clear web hosting. The pricing scheme is simple to understand, with Namecheap offering all of its plans in one-month or one-year durations. You’ll get a 6-7 percent discount by going yearly, and you can check that price directly on each product page.
Shared and WordPress plans use that structure, while VPS and dedicated users can also pay quarterly. Reseller plans, which are just bundles of reskinned shared plans, can go all the way up to two years. The most impressive of the lot, though, are the clearance-dedicated servers. Although less modern than a dedicated server at LunarPages (read our LunarPages review), Namecheap’s clearance servers will allow you to get dedicated hosting for less than $50 per month.
If you try the service and decide you don’t like it, you have 30 days to get a refund on all services except VPS, which only grants two weeks. We’ve seen much longer refund windows (read our InMotion Hosting review for one of them), but Namecheap is in line with most of the market with its 30-day money-back guarantee.
As one of the biggest web hosts available, it should come as little surprise that GoDaddy has an extremely dense list of plans. The volume alone can make finding a plan confusing, but GoDaddy doesn’t help the matter with its confusing pricing scheme.
- Price for longest term
- Price for longest term
- Price for longest term
- Price for longest term
- Price for longest term
- Price for longest term
For example, the most inexpensive shared plan starts at around $3 per month and renews at $8 per month. That’s standard for most hosts, but what GoDaddy doesn’t clarify is that it’ll cost $11 per month if you subscribe for less than a year. By comparison, DreamHost offers a more feature-rich shared plan that is only $6 per month upon renewal, regardless of duration (read our Dreamhost review).
GoDaddy isn’t the most expensive web hosting service we’ve seen (read our Pagely review for that), but with how little you get with each plan, it’s hard to trust the advertised price at all. To get the same features that you’d get with DreamHost or SiteGround, you’ll be paying double or triple with GoDaddy.
The money-back guarantee doesn’t guarantee much, either. You have the standard 30 days to get your money back, but only if you purchased a year or more of hosting. If you go with the three month option — which is the only choice outside of a year or higher — you have only 48 hours to change your mind.
Round Two Thoughts
GoDaddy is costly, confusing and complex, while Namecheap clearly displays the price you’ll pay. Even if the services cost the same, Namecheap would win this round. We find it impressive that Namecheap is so clear while keeping the price so low.
Point for Namecheap
3. Ease of Use
There’s a lot that goes into setting up a site with a web host, from choosing the appropriate plan to migrating your site files to learning your way around the control panel. While this can be difficult, we’ve seen a few hosts that make the process inviting and exciting, such as Kinsta (read our Kinsta review). In this round, we’re going to detail our experiences with Namecheap and GoDaddy.
Namecheap has a straightforward plan-selection process, but checkout takes longer than it needs to. Each step has its own dedicated page, meaning you’ll create an account on one page, enter your payment information on another, fill in your billing information on the next and so on. This makes the whole process feel unnecessarily long, especially because Namecheap could condense it to a page or two.
One upside, though, is that you can set your password right away, instead of shifting through your email to find login credentials (read our HostGator review for an example of that). You can log in to your dashboard immediately after purchasing your plan.
The dashboard is disappointing, though. It’s clearly a relic from when Namecheap was simply a domain registrar, with almost all the tabs pointing you toward purchasing hosting for the domains you have registered. That makes finding essential options, such as cPanel, difficult, as they’re buried beneath the hoopla.
cPanel itself is fine, mirroring all of the picks in our best web hosting with cPanel guide. That doesn’t get Namecheap off the hook, though. Instead of rebuilding the service to compete with modern web hosts, Namecheap expanded its services, leaving behind a control panel that isn’t nearly as functional as it should be.
GoDaddy is similar to Namecheap when it comes to ease of use. However, choosing a plan with GoDaddy is much more difficult. Not only does GoDaddy have a longer list of plans, it displays them in an inconsistent way. For example, shared hosting has multiple subtypes, but some of those subtypes will lead to an entirely different product page.
As we noted in our review, it seems as though GoDaddy designed all of the elements of its site in isolation and pieced them together after the fact. The design is aesthetically consistent, but navigation is anything but. Checkout is straightforward, thankfully, even though GoDaddy pre-selects a few add-ons.
Namecheap and GoDaddy become much more similar when it comes to the control panel. Like its competitor, GoDaddy clearly has a focus on domain registrations. That said, GoDaddy’s control panel isn’t as cluttered as Namecheap’s. Despite being limited in function, GoDaddy makes it easy to find cPanel.
cPanel itself is fine, although not as deeply integrated as Bluehost (read our Bluehost review). The build is as stock as them come, with no extra sections or apps in the interface. That said, getting to cPanel isn’t a problem, which is more important for this round.
Round Three Thoughts
GoDaddy and Namecheap have a strong focus on domain registrations. Both offer cPanel, too. However, for its streamlined checkout process and simpler control panel, GoDaddy is our winner. Namecheap is filled with too much clutter during checkout and hosting management.
Point for GoDaddy
4. Speed and Uptime
In this round, we’re comparing the results of Namecheap’s and GoDaddy’s web hosting speed and uptime. We test web hosting performance by launching a site with the most inexpensive shared plan and installing a blank copy of WordPress on it.
After that, we run the site through two benchmarks — Pingdom Speed Test and Load Impact — to determine how well they perform. We do all this acting as a normal customer, meaning we don’t have a cherry-picked server.
Namecheap performed well during our Pingdom test, but we’ve seen better. Overall, the site loaded in less than a second. Despite that, Pingdom rated it only at 90 out of 100. Based on what we can see in the graph below, the lower score was likely a result of little-to-no caching going on at the server.
The first two tiers of shared hosting don’t include any caching. Therefore, because we tested the first tier, we didn’t have any caching on the test site. Up the range of hosting options, you’ll have access to eAccelerator and xCache, which should significantly improve performance.
Load Impact produced excellent results, though. With this tool, we sent 50 virtual users to the site within five minutes to see how well it could manage a traffic surge. Namecheap handled the load with ease, keeping a near-straight line throughout the test. There weren’t any errors, either, much unlike GreenGeeks (read our GreenGeeks review).
Should your site ever go offline, Namecheap as an uptime guarantee in place, which is stationed at either 99.9 percent or 100 percent, depending on your plan. For each hour your site is down, Namecheap will provide a day’s worth of service.
GoDaddy took less time to load than Namecheap, but it received the same score from Pingdom. As you can see in the chart below, GoDaddy spent less time on the “wait” metric than Namecheap. That said, it had a number of blocked requests, which bloated the amount of data that needed to be transferred between the server and user.
We had a number of issues during the Load Impact test, though. The conditions were the same — 50 users within five minutes — but GoDaddy wasn’t able to handle the load. During the test, the response time was wildly inconsistent, dipping as low as zero milliseconds for some of the virtual users.
When a virtual user returns a zero-millisecond response time, that means the server didn’t respond. In most cases, this suggests that too many users are overloading the server, which can’t fulfill any new requests.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, GoDaddy’s uptime guarantee is abysmal. GoDaddy promises you 99.9-percent uptime, and if GoDaddy fails on that, you’ll receive a credit of 5 percent of your monthly fee. However, eligibility is determined solely by GoDaddy and doesn’t include FTP outages, email outages or maintenance.
Round Four Thoughts
Our competitors are evenly matched when it comes to individual loading times, but we used multiple testing tools to view all aspects of a hosting service. When we bring Load Impact into the equation, GoDaddy doesn’t hold up. Namecheap was able to handle the traffic surge without any issues, and it comes with a better uptime guarantee — making it this round’s winner.
Point for Namecheap
5. Security and Privacy
Website security may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re purchasing a hosting package, but it’s vital. For this final round, we’re going to look at how well Namecheap and GoDaddy keep your site protected and your data secure.
Namecheap includes a full range of security features, including 50 free PositiveSSL certificates, automatic daily backups and malware scanning. The last feature is the most surprising, as nearly all hosts charge for malware protection.
You can find the tool under the name “virus scanner” in cPanel. Although you can access it anytime, you’re limited to one scan per day. It’s worth noting that the tool won’t clean your site, either. If you identify malware, you’re on your own to find a solution to get rid of it.
As for privacy, Namecheap is one of the better options around. Every domain you register with Namecheap comes with domain privacy for free, which replaces the personal information you’d usually register a domain with. Furthermore, Namecheap provides privacy on domain transfers, which we’ve never seen.
GoDaddy has a lot of security features, but the same issues that were present in round one are present here, too. Nearly all of the security features are only available as add-ons to your subscription, meaning you’ll pay double or more to keep your site protected.
SSL/TLS certificates, daily backups, malware scanning and malware removal are all available — but at a price. Those features aren’t great in terms of price, either. Website backups, for example, start with only 5GB of storage, which is a joke compared to manually backing up with our best online backup services.
Privacy is similarly disappointing. Unsurprisingly, GoDaddy doesn’t include free domain privacy with your plan (read our WestHost review or Midphase review if you want that). However, that’s not the concern. Like Endurance International Group, GoDaddy reserves the right to sell your personal information to advertisers.
That said, GoDaddy is very open about it, which can’t be said for most hosts. There’s a privacy center that details exactly what they collect and what they use the data for. Although we still condemn GoDaddy for selling personal information, the transparency is a step in the right direction.
Round Five Thoughts
Point for Namecheap
6. Final Thoughts
Namecheap took four wins in this comparison, but it could easily have taken five. It has a few issues when it comes to usability, but those concerns are minor, overall. Considering how much the service has to offer in the way of features, price and performance, it’s hard to knock Namecheap at all.
GoDaddy has a few strong points, including a dense lineup of hosting types and a tuned control panel, but everything else about the service is subpar. Around every corner, it seems that GoDaddy asks for more money, leading to under-featured and overpriced web hosting packages.
Do you agree that Namecheap is the rightful winner? What do you like about GoDaddy? Let us know in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading.