We finally got around to signing up for GoDaddy’s Economy hosting in November 2017. After building a simple WordPress test site, we’ve been monitoring their uptime, performance, and service ever since. Here’s how they stack up against the competition.
What is GoDaddy Hosting?
GoDaddy needs no introduction.
Everyone knows them. Everyone saw the Super Bowl ads over a decade ago. Everyone recognizes the spokespeople like Danica Patrick.
Even your parents, who annoy you on Facebook and still don’t know proper texting etiquette, recognize GoDaddy.
They were founded in ‘97, over two decades ago. They were also originally known as Jomax Technologies back then, too. (Good call on the name change.)
Jomax err, GoDaddy, was started in Baltimore, Maryland, before seeking warmer climates (literally) in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Bob Parsons, the founder, also kinda knew what he was doing; selling his previous company to Intuit for a cool $65 million bucks a few years before founding GoDaddy.
Just last year, they made an eye-watering $2,231,900,000 in revenue, according to our friends at Wikipedia. They’re reportedly the biggest domain registrar in the world, with over 6,000 employees servicing 17 million customers.
So yeah. You could say they’re doing OK.
But here’s the thing.
Size doesn’t always matter. (At least, not in web hosting.)
Many of the biggest brands we’ve tested have posted the worst results. They have more money, seemingly more people, and servers, and yet their performance is awful.
Doesn’t make any sense.
Which camp does GoDaddy fall under? Do they make many of the same mistakes as some of the other well-known brands in hosting industry?
Or have they been able to side-step a lot of the problems that plague their competitors?
We purchased a GoDaddy hosting account just like any old customer in November 2017.
Then, we setup a test website on WordPress to evaluate their performance. You can see the test website for yourself, here.
You can even play along at home, digging into the Pingdom uptime and speed results, too.
Let’s see how they fared.
Pros of GoDaddy Hosting
GoDaddy has more money than some countries. And they’ve been doing this for over 20 years.
Apparently, they’ve learned a thing or two along the way.
Here are some of the highlights we saw.
1. Good Uptime of 99.96%
GoDaddy performed well right out of the gate, posting a 99.96% uptime average over the past few months.
In this case, ‘no news’ is definitely good news. You don’t want to notice your host’s uptime. Because if you do, chances are, it’s because your site is down again. (And your visitors are pissed, again.)
Here’s a quick look at the past few month’s performances.
2017 avg. uptime:
- November uptime: 100%
- December uptime: 99.97%
2018 avg. uptime:
- January uptime: 99.98%
- February uptime: 99.96%
- March uptime: 99.91%
- April uptime: 99.99%
Click here to find more detailed uptime and speed data for GoDaddy
2. Great speed!
After keeping your site live, a web host is only as good as its speed.
Because the internet is obsessed with it.
Slow page speeds mean less visitors, less revenue, and fewer conversions across the board.
It’s true: A reported 79% of customers won’t purchase from a site again if they had a slow experience.
Speed is so important that even Google has debuted an entire toolset to help everyone out.
Now, we’ve seen some fast speeds over the past few years. After testing dozens of hosting companies, we’ve grown accustomed to strong page loads in the low ~500ms range.
But even we were surprised at GoDaddy’s performance these past few months.
The past few months they’ve held a steady 394.6ms average. It’s still a little too early to call it the best we’ve seen, but they’re already a front-runner, vying for the top position.
2017 load time:
- November avg. speed: 420ms
- December avg. speed: 389ms
2018 load time:
- January avg. speed: 363ms
- February avg. speed: 415ms
- March avg. speed: 386ms
- April avg. speed: 395ms
3. Additional Services Thrown In
GoDaddy might be known for domains and hosting, but it seems they have every product under the sun for small business people.
That means they can serve as your one-stop shop. There are countless complementary products that will play nice with your new website.
For example, GoDaddy will throw in their website builder, GoCentral, so you can build your own site. They will also connect you with over 125 applications to instantly add to your new hosting account.
However, they’ll also take the next step and connect you with web design professionals.
That way, you don’t have to lift a finger. You can just add some of these products to your cart, request a call from an expert, and let them take care of everything so you can get back to what you do best.
Cons of GoDaddy
So far so good, right?
Strong uptime and fast speeds are about as good as you can hope for.
There were, however, a few hiccups along the way.
GoDaddy has performed extremely well for a big brand so far. We haven’t seen a lot of the same carelessness that often creeps into larger hosting companies that now only compete on name alone.
But we did have a few issues. Here were the biggest.
1. Lowest Priced Plan is Limited
GoDaddy offers a low-priced plan to stay competitive in the marketplace.
Unfortunately, it seems like they’ve also stripped out a lot of the value, too.
The ‘Economy’ plan only allows you to host one single website. This, in and of itself, isn’t that unusual.
The bad part is that they also don’t include standard features like backups, a CDN, or an SSL certificate (more on this in the next point below).
So while the initial $2.49/month sticker price looks decent. You’ll find that a lot of other ‘extras’ aren’t factored into this price at all.
Which means you’re going to have to fork over some more dough…
2. A Stomach-Churning Number of Upsells & High Renewal Fees
Remember that SSL certificate mentioned a second ago?
These things are virtually required for any website today.
Google is basically starting to require them on all sites to help keep customers safe.
Or else, they’ll publicly shame you with warnings:
Any sites that ask for information, without an SSL, will receive different warning signs that tell customers their connection isn’t secure.
They’ll even color it red to make sure you get the hint.
As a result, many hosting companies are beginning to throw these in for free.
If they don’t offer it natively through their service, many will partner with organizations like Lets Encrypt to still help customers get a free SSL certificate.
After all, it’s in the best interest for all internet users, right?
On first pass, it seems like GoDaddy is playing along by throwing in an SSL with new hosting accounts.
But when you read the fine print, you’ll notice that it’s going to renew at $75/year for as long as you have it. (Which, if you’re paying attention, should be the rest of time.)
Unfortunately, this same exact game is played out over and over and over and over again across their site. There are almost too many other instances to name.
But perhaps the most egregious is their email upsells.
Think about it:
You buy a domain name, you should automatically get access to running emails through that site.
Right? Everyone should be shaking their head right now. It’s only fair. You’ve already paid for the thing.
Once again, GoDaddy will throw in one email account when you sign up for a new hosting plan.
A single lousy mailbox with Microsoft’s Outlook.
Hold up, though. That’s not even the worst part.
The worst part is that they’ll charge you $60 bucks per mailbox, per year thereafter!
Are you going to suddenly not need email one day in the future?
We can only hope. But it’s unlikely.
Many web hosts will just throw in these special features because (a) they don’t really cost the company extra and (b) they will help keep the customer around longer.
GoDaddy will give you them, too, at first. But then they’ll charge you an arm, leg, torso, and head if they can after the initial year is up.
3. High Hosting Renewal Prices
Most large web hosts have been around for decades now.
And unfortunately, they’re still playing the same old pricing games, too.
One of the oldest tricks in the book used to include splashing a too-good-to-be-true offer on their site (like $0.99/month!), only to spring a minimum ten-year term on you at checkout. (Ok that’s an exaggeration, but you get the point.)
If they can’t lock you into an absurdly-long commitment, they’ll turn to the next trick:
High renewal fees.
The lowest Economy plan looks good at $2.49/month… until you realize that the very same no-frills plan, which carries a ton of extras you’ll get dinged within subsequent years, will also jump in price to $7.99/month.
So instead of getting a good deal on a decent hosting plan, you’re stuck paying awesome-host prices for a still-crappy one.
4. Sketchy Money-Back Guarantee
You might think that a company’s Terms of Service is a decent cure for insomnia.
You’d be wrong, though.
Because some pack enough surprises to give you nightmares for weeks.
Case in point: GoDaddy’s.
On the one hand, their terms essentially say that annual hosting plans can be refunded if canceled within 30 days of being purchased.
Except, then, it goes on to say this:
“If a Hosting Service has already been performed, then it is non-refundable (if not yet performed, eligible for a refund within 30 days of the date of the transaction).”
Now, I’ve been doing this internet thing for decades. Yet I still don’t know what “if a hosting service has already been performed…” means.
Sounds like some carefully-crafted legalese that’s just vague enough to be up for interpretation.
Do you get a refund or don’t you?
Good luck trying to find the answer to that question. I fear you may need it.
5. Mixed Reviews on Tech Support
I’ve personally had mixed reviews with GoDaddy’s tech support.
Their U.S.-based, phone, tech support is great. The people we spoke with were based in Arizona and could easily translate technical mumbo-jumbo for you.
However, that’s only good for in-depth issues that could take hours to resolve.
What about a faster, lightweight option?
Can you get a simple answer to a basic question, like the one above about the refunds?
That’s what we set out to do with their live chat, only to be met by this:
The result was the same, no matter which page we tried loading it on.
This was also frustrating because the live chat widget would send a targeted message when each page loaded initially, prompting you to chat.
It was only when you tried to connect and ask a question that you’d get this, “Connection Unavailable” error.
GoDaddy Pricing, Hosting Plans & Quick Facts
Here’s a quick overview of GoDaddy’s hosting plans:
- Economy: One basic website for $2.49/month for the first year.
- Deluxe: A souped-up plan allowing for unlimited websites that will run you $4.99/month during the first year.
- Ultimate: More power, more databases, and one year of an SSL certificate for $7.99/month in year one.
- Business Hosting: $19.99/month during the first year gets you a dedicated, Virtual Private Server (VPS) and free SSL.
- Free domain? You get one year for free, but then it will cost you dearly after that.
- Ease of Signup: Pretty easy signup process.
- Payment Methods: All major credit cards and PayPal.
- Hidden Fees and Clauses: “If a Hosting Service has already been performed, then it is non-refundable (if not yet performed, eligible for a refund within 30 days of the date of the transaction).”
- Upsells: So. Many. Upsells.
- Account Activation: Fast account activation.
- Control Panel and Dashboard Experience: cPanel.
- Installation of Apps and CMSs (WordPress, Joomla, etc.): Lots of 1-click installation options with most popular open source apps.
Do We Recommend GoDaddy?
GoDaddy is well known. They’ve got strong uptime and some of the fastest page speeds we’ve seen.
However, there are just too many potential issues to honestly recommend them.
The first year of your GoDaddy service will be pretty good (assuming you don’t need to try out that money-back guarantee).
But then additional years after will cost you two or three times the initial rate.
There are just too many other good web hosts out there that offer the same (or better) performance, without all the hidden fees.
P.S. Want to check those out? You can see the full list of our best web hosting providers.
Do you have any personal experience with GoDaddy – positive or negative? If so, please leave us an honest, transparent review below!