GoDaddy is the number one web hosting company in North America (by virtue of market share), which is why I wanted to write this review to see if it really does stand up to the hype.
So far it is the only company in this business that buys air space on TV. With its slick advertising message, it has influenced a whole new generation of new users to go to GoDaddy.com for their first domain names and hosting requirement, without even bothering to check out the competitions out there.
Personally, I feel GD is a good choice to get domains (brand new or a premium domain through auctions), but not necessary so as far as hosting is concerned.
$1.99 .com domains from GoDaddy – Use this link to get .com for $1.99.
But let me tell you my experience and what I have gathered from reading reviews of GoDaddy from around the web, so you can make up your own mind.
Company Introduction & Background
The strength of the company mainly revolves around domain names and domain auctions. According to RegistrarStats.com, GD is the world’s No. 1 ICANN-accredited domain name registrar for .COM, .NET, .ORG, .INFO, .BIZ and .US domain extensions. That said, it also offers web hosting service to compliment the domain registrations.
It is easy to deduce the domain registrations provides the main thrust of its business when you see the entire front page of the website is dedicated to the registration of domains. It has to be so since the company is responsible for the management of some 53 million domains. While I appreciate the significant role domain registration plays in their business, this blog is to focus on their web hosting services.
GD prides itself as the “largest hosting provider of secure websites”. They do command some respect as the company plays host to well over 10 million customers with 5 million websites, all securely inside their facilities.
Founded in 1997 with a name not as ubiquitous as GoDaddy, it was part of the umbrella group that also includes Blue Razor Domains and Wild West Domains.
Their facilities are spread across 5 US states, with an additional one in India. The company headquarters are located in Scottsdale, Arizona.
For the wider market in the US, the company is forever linked to crazy TV ads mostly featuring beautiful women in tight T-shirts such as Go Daddy girl, Danica Patrick, the famous Nascar driver.
And let’s not forget about their outrageous Superbowl ads; the company is so proud of that video and actually archives it on the website in a special ‘commercials’ showreel (you can find it on YouTube as well).
The company also has some bad time when its former CEO Bob Parsons was seen in a video shooting and killing elephants in Africa (tat sickens me more than anything else. Yeah, let’s kill innocent animals and call it a “sport”).
He was then replaced by Scott Wagner, who in turn was replaced in 2012 by former Yahoo and Microsoft executive Blake Irving. Under a new leadership, the company is thriving better than ever. According to VentureBeat, it rakes in $1.3 billion in annual revenue.
Very few hosting providers have an A+ rating (the highest possible) from the Better Business Bureau, and GD is one of them. The company has also been a BBB Accredited Business since early 2000.
Some people had also left reviews on BBB in regards to their experience with GD. Of the total 45 documented comments,12 were positives, 1 neutral, and 34 were negatives.
As far as complaints go, there were a total of 769 (at the time of writing this post) against GD. Although some had to do with advertising and billing, most were related to products and services. I would venture to say that probably 90% of those were related to their web hosting service.
GoDaddy’s Hosting Plans & Pricing
GD has the most confusing (especially for newbies) set of packages. There are 2 main web hosting services offered here, each one divided into 3 plans.
Although the company seems to put the priority on the budget hosting plans; one explanation could be that maybe there are more upsell opportunities as well as new domain name purchases.
Website Builder package
For the absolute newbie, GD would recommend you their Website Builder package. The Website Builder resembles, in features, to those of the SiteBuilder software, which is commonly provided by other hosting companies.
Website Builder makes website creation like a breeze for non-technical customers through their drag-and-drop interactive forms and pre-defined templates.
There are 3 different plans to choose from under “Website Builder”:
- Personal – Reg. $5.99 (on sale for $1.00 /month)
- Your website is restricted to a maximum of 5 pages.
- Business – Reg. $8.99 (on sale for $4.49 /month)
- This plan stretches the number of pages to a limit of 10 pages.
- Business Plus – Reg. $14.99 (on sale for $7.49 /month)
- This one allows for 999 pages.
Users have to adhere strictly on resource allocation, and with the most basic plan, you have to settle with that measly 1GB of disk space.
Web Hosting Package
Other than Website Builder, there is the Web Hosting plan. This is synonymous with other shared hosting plans employed by its competitions, which we have reviewed quite a fair bit.
Customers are granted access to a Linux or Windows server, within the predefined amount of disk space, database allocation, and email addresses.
The Web Hosting is further divided into 3 categories:
- Economy – $6.99 (on sale for $3.99 /month)
- 1 Website
- 100 GB Disk Space
- 10 Databases
- Deluxe – $8.99 (on sale for $4.49 /month)
- Unlimited Websites
- Unlimited Disk Space
- 25 Databases
- Ultimate (called the same way whether you are on Linux or Windows) – $14.99 (on sale for $7.49 /month)
- Unlimited Websites
- Unlimited Disk Space
- Unlimited Databases
Ultimate is the only one that comes close enough to unlimited resources; still, there is a limit on email accounts. Pay attention that GoDaddy shared hosting plans are not available on Java platform, and the company seems to be in no hurry to introduce any reseller schemes.
Users can opt for either virtual or dedicated servers, and both are packaged at competitive pricing. Moreover, they can also decide on what OS to go for their servers.
VPS offerings are centered on CentOS, Fedora or Windows operating systems, and they are split into 5 different price bands.
For its cloud hosting solution, the company employs both pay-as-you-use model and pre-paid model. Customers on pre-paid model have to commit to a fixed fee on a monthly basis.
How Does It Compare When It Comes to Uptime/downtime?
Company’s data centers spread across a vast geographic area, from the US to Europe and to Asia, collectively constituting over 70,000 square feet.
All data centers are equipped with redundant UPS power and N+1 air conditioning, fire protection and 24/7 on-site monitoring.
The website does not explicitly states their policy on eco-friendliness, but this may not be a significant enough factor in businesses hungry for profits.
GD does regular and incremental backups on customers’ sites at fixed frequency and complements that with full backups over a longer interval of time. According to the website, all backups are transferred away from the data center in order to mitigate the risk of any on-site issues.
The company guarantees of a fairly standard 99.9% uptime, but it does not publish any stats to support that claim on its website.
Support & Customer Service
According to Go Daddy Careers the company employs 500 in-house developers, with another 3,300 employees in various functions. They offer support on 24/7, throughout the year.
Customers can access support through phone and also via email. Customers in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the US are provided with a local support number respectively, but they all end with the same support staff. Support scheme does not cover live chat.
The company also encourages active customers’ participation in users forums and groups, which plays a supplementary role in dispensing technical support service.
In addition, they also have dedicated staff blogs hosted on their site (The most famous one being that of Bob Parsons, Executive Chairman & Founder of GoDaddy.com). They have created an IdeaShare that resembles a suggestion box to solicit users’ inputs on new features and updates.
There is also a fast track support option called Hosting Concierge to get websites up to speed quickly. Customers on Website Hosting or cloud hosting plans get free Hosting Concierge for the first 30 days.
For dedicated server customers, they can choose between the Assisted Service and Managed Hosting plans for any additional support required (extra fees involved).
The company would waive all support fees on virtual and dedicated servers if it is established that it (the company itself) is the source of the concerned fault.
Like many other web hosts, GD also has a purpose built control panel that eases the tasks of customizations and configurations. The customers use their normal login ID to get access to the control panel, which is permanently embedded on the main GD website.
There are comprehensive controls to be performed on their domains and hosting plans through the Control Panel, subject to what services they have acquired.
Unfortunately, the screens are pretty cluttered with information, links and hidden menus (in a way not dissimilar to their actual website!), so users would have to go through familiarization exercise(s). It does not look as elegant as Cpanel, but it can pretty much get the job done when you can make sense of the screen.
For customers on virtual and dedicated servers, they are provided with a Simple Control Panel, a product for the management of the server itself.
Customers of the Website Builder plan will be entitled to free stock images, $100 in Google Adwords credits, £32 for Facebook advertising, $50 for Bing and Yahoo!, and 10 Fotolia credits.
Those opt for their Website Hosting (i.e. shared hosting) and VPS plans will have 10 Fotolia credits and £32 in Facebook ad credits.
Dedicated server plan subscribers get the Adwords and Bing/Yahoo! Credits. And the freebie for VPS and dedicated server customers is one free SSL certificate.
Cloud hosting customers receive access to a range of server images.
GoDaddy’s Hosting Connection provides one-click installation option, through its own library of 4.1 million applications and scripts.
The features are:
- Zen Cart
- e-commerce sites
- social networking tools
- and more
Through its Hosting Connection, customers can have direct access to WordPress templates. Compare to Fantastico, this is a surely more comprehensive one-click package.
This company is one of the few that advocates strict no money-back policy. In fact, it is clearly stated on their website that “all prices and fees are non-refundable”.
So, if you must insist on a money back plan, then GoDaddy may not be for you.
GoDaddy Reviews by Other Customers
In order to get the big picture when it comes to GD and its services, I decided to put my own experience aside for a minute and take some time to read what other folks had to say about it on blogs and online forums like Whirlpool and Cnet.
And as expected, just like any other web host, GD has both positive and negative reviews and ratings. But, I think when it comes to its hosting plans specifically, compared to companies like HostGator or iPage (read my iPage review), GD gets way more negative comments.
That said, GoDaddy’s domain registration reviews are much more positive and I can personally attest to that as I have bought a countless number of domains from them all with no problem (though almost any provider you go with is going to be the same as far as domain registration goes).
Here are the main points of the review I read online divided into pros and cons:
- Long established player in the industry, so there is little chance they will elope with your money.
- The SSL on offer here is the cheapest one can find. A premium SSL costs a very decent $100, others could easily charge double.
- Anytime refund policy. There would be equitable reimbursement for any days of service unused.
- The choice of packages available is mind boggling. Whenever you business is ready to expand, regardless at what scale, you are bound to find a new package that is suitable.
- The 7 months I was with them, uptime was an impressive 99.89%. No complaint at all!
- Support staff is 100% US based, these cover chat, phone, and support tickets.
- Even the sales (not technical) chat support is fantastic, among the very best I experienced (I expand more of this below).
- High competency for staff manning the support phone line; all native English speakers with good product knowledge.
- Rip-off price for their dedicated and VPS packages – always looks out for their incredibly good coupon deals if you are not prepared to blow your budget.
- Entry-level package is useless. The packaging that includes one domain per account only and the lack of basic CMS installs make it an extreme challenge to even get started.
- GD sometimes can be over keen to sell you upgrades to a VPS, especially. Even if the traffic is entirely manageable, you are still asked to upgrade account, which is not necessary at that time.
- The deployment of “4th Generation Technology” for their servers, a phrase they coined to mean ultra fast and highly scalable. But really there is little improvement over what they would call a 3rd generation technology, looks more marketing gimmick to me.
- That tend to capitalize on up-sells opportunities during checkout. The kind of stuff they try to sell you are miles apart from what you were looking for. The tactics are so overwhelming and make one wonders if a wrong purchase decision has been made.
- There’s no cPanel on shared accounts. The standard cPanel is so embraced as it has been proven to be the easiest platform for both novice and vets alike. Expect some adjustment with that interface provided by GD. For example, simply adding an “Add-on Domain” to your hosting account just takes about 15 minutes – the problem is that it is 15 minutes longer than it would typically take.
- The absence of cPanel also makes setting up email becomes more difficult.
- Common rant from developers is the difficulty experience when worked with their servers, apparently due to some setups employed by the company itself. I don’t have that problem since I am no developer, but pay attention if you are.
- They are not the most responsive provider when it comes to support tickets, in the market. Wait time to your tickets are typically about 12-24 hours. And the response comes in the form of standard format (as they simply cut and paste from their website), so the level of personalization is really poor here.
- They really chat good (as mentioned above), but that applies to sales only. Customers often find the support chat less than desirable. And that could be annoying. (Maybe the company needs to read this!)
- There is no complain about the quality of phone service, but you will have to wait. Average wait time is about 8 minutes before you are through with a real person.
My Overall Take
The core business of this company is obviously domain names sales. Granted, they also try to promote their web hosting plans, but from their website, the clear priority is always on domain names and one gets a sense that they are not particularly competitive in this field.
In addition, the website is designed in such a way and I had to navigate all over just to get my hands on all the necessary information.
It certainly does not impress on pricing consideration. But even with their cheapest hosting plan, their GoDaddy’s Website Builder, it is never a value for money option.
Cost wise, it is close to any low-cost shared hosting plan; the distinction about GD is that they take the trouble to remove all technical related jargons and present their technology as idiot proof to entice users online.
The lowest price band promises a maximum of 5-page, a ridiculous pricing when you could easily build a good WordPress website or template site elsewhere at no cost.
But if you are looking at providers who can help you on all your domain management and hosting in one place, Go Daddy will be a good choice as they simply enjoy the benefit of scale. But in return, you will lose out on live chat customer service tools, and the industry most ubiquitous cPanel would not be available to you.
Apparently they are good in marketing targeted at budget users, but the difficult to navigate website and the absence of money-back guarantee would not make me a fan.