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GoDaddy review

We take a closer look at the US hosting giant

GoDaddy
(Image: © GoDaddy)

Our Verdict

GoDaddy offers lots of options and quality support, but can be expensive in some situations.

For

  • Wide range of products
  • Data centers in US, Europe, Asia
  • 24/7 live chat and phone support
  • Linux and Windows hosting

Against

  • Underpowered starter plans
  • Not the cheapest for some products
  • Shared hosting has below-par server response times
  • 48-hour refund for plans less than 1-year

US-based GoDaddy is a website hosting giant, the largest in the business, with more than 78 million domains under its management and some 19 million customers. But is it the right company for you?

GoDaddy's shared hosting seems appealing, with introductory prices as low as $5.99 a month on the three-year plan ($8.99 on renewal) and some unusual extras (a free 5GB Microsoft Office email mailbox for a year), but check the small print and you'll find some important limits.

Storage space starts at 100GB, for instance, and MySQL databases are limited to a maximum of 1GB. And crucially, the two most basic accounts in the range don't include an SSL certificate. (Bluehost, HostGator, InMotion and other big names all now provide a free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate with even their cheapest accounts.)

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.

It's relatively expensive, though, at $14.99 a month for an initial year, then $19.99 a month on renewal. HostGator's Baby plan supports unlimited everything for $8.95 a month in year one, $11.95 afterwards.

GoDaddy scores for its flexibility, though. Not interested in the standard Linux hosting, for instance? Switch to Windows for no price premium, a very unusual touch.

Alternatively, capable VPS products offer better performance, cPanel management and a free SSL certificate from $19.99 a month over two years, $29.99 on renewal.

You can also opt for basic or managed WordPress hosting from $6.99 a 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 more than 1,500 words).

There are better deals elsewhere, especially if you're looking for a starter product. Ionos' Essential plan gives you 10GB of storage and a free SSL certificate for just $4 a month, for instance. (No catches, no need to sign up for a decade – it's just simple monthly billing which you can cancel whenever you like.)

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

(Image credit: GoDaddy)

Account setup

Choose a GoDaddy hosting package and you're generally offered a fair range of term lengths from 1 to 36 months (the exact options you'll see vary according to the product).

Opting for a longer contract might cut the effective price per month, but not by very much. For example, the Launch VPS plan is $29.99 billed monthly, but still $24.99 over 36 months. And after renewal, the Economy hosting plan starts at $10.99 a month for the three-month plan, but then remains at $8.99 for the 12, 24 and 36-month plans.

The signup page also provides a starter list of add-ons, from site backup and restore to automated daily malware scans (the site automatically added GoDaddy's $2.99 a month Website Backup plan to our shopping cart, unfortunately, but we noticed and removed it).

There's an 'Add standard SSL certificate' option, too, but it costs an extra $6.67 a month. You can get quality hosting and a free SSL certificate for less.

After paying the bill, you're walked through the rest of the setup process. Essentially this means entering a domain name, choosing the data center where your site will be located, and creating a cPanel login. You might not be clear about these just yet – maybe you've not chosen a domain, or you're not sure whether your site is best hosted in Europe, Asia or the US – but it's easy to change your mind later.

Web dashboard

GoDaddy hosting plans are managed from the company's plain, simple but surprisingly effective web dashboard.

There are no deeply nested menus here, no icon-stuffed panels, no toolbars or tabbed panels. Instead, there's a list of whatever products you've purchased, with 'Manage' or 'Setup' buttons; some links to commonly used hosting modules (phpMyAdmin, File Manager and FTP Manager); and a button to launch cPanel, where you'll find every other management tool you'll ever need.

GoDaddy

(Image credit: GoDaddy)

The same simplicity is visible just about everywhere. Some hosts make it so difficult to find the Cancel Account option that you end up searching the Support site to find out more. Here, GoDaddy has a single Account Actions menu on the Dashboard with only three options: Upgrade, Reset and Cancel. Much easier.

If you run into trouble anyway, a Help button gives you instant access to GoDaddy's knowledgebase via a pop-up window on the current page (much more convenient than opening a new browser window or tab).

GoDaddy's stripped-back dashboard won't appeal to everyone, but we think it works well, making it quick and easy for every level of user to find the hosting tools they need.

WordPress

If you're looking to host a WordPress site with your GoDaddy account, there's some good news: the company makes that surprisingly easy.

The initial signup wizard ends with an optional 'Create a WordPress website' step, for instance. Click 'Yes', enter a WordPress admin username and password and the package is installed within a couple of minutes.

This is as simple as a WordPress install can get, but it's also very limited, and gives you no control over how the site is set up.

Skip the first WordPress installation option, though, and you can try again via Installatron, GoDaddy's feature-packed automated installer (more on that later).

This setup mostly works, but there's perhaps scope for improvement. Bluehost's WordPress installer is particularly well-designed, easy enough for the greenest of blogging beginners to use, but also giving considerable control over key areas of the site (you're able to choose a theme, install web commerce support, and more).

Website builder

GoDaddy's regular shared hosting plans don't include any form of website builder, not even the highly restricted demo versions you'll often see with other hosts (many have limits on your website size, the number of pages and more).

That's not a big deal, though, as the company has plenty of other options.

GoDaddy has its own Website Builder with a particularly strong set of e-commerce tools. There's a one-month free trial, and plans range from $10 to $25 a month with an annual subscription, depending on the features you need. (The $10 plan has enough power for many personal and business sites, although you should expect to pay at least $20 a month to get a decent web store.)

Auto-installer

All GoDaddy hosting plans get you access to Installatron, a very capable auto-installer.

This 'only' supports 125 apps, well behind the more commonly used Softaculous, but there's still more than enough website building power for most people: WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, MediaWiki, Magento, PrestaShop, phpBB and more.

Not sure what you need? Installatron could help you out. Its Browser organizes applications into categories such as Content Management, eCommerce and Photos and Files. Choose something like the excellent e-commerce solution, PrestaShop, and Installatron gives you an overview of the app, links to PrestaShop-powered sites, and provides a live demo of a PrestaShop installation, allowing you to preview how it works.

You can do much the same with Softaculous, but Installatron goes further with support for some very sophisticated management tasks. One of the latest examples enables backing up installed apps to or from FTP, FTPS, SFTP, WebDAV, or Dropbox, and optionally restoring them to a different location, ideal when you're migrating a site.

A few customers might miss having a simple website builder, then, and one or two more would probably appreciate Softaculous' extra apps, but most people should find GoDaddy's hosting gives them all the website building and app support they need.

UpTime.com

(Image credit: UpTime.com)

Performance

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 below average, with a range of 574ms to 813ms and an average of 649ms, significantly slower than many top providers. (At the time of writing, Hostwinds, Tsohost, Hostinger and Ionos all average between 150-200ms).

GoDaddy was consistent, at least. Many hosts will have occasional checks where a response time takes several seconds, but GoDaddy's peak of 813ms isn't bad at all.

While these results are still 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

(Image credit: GoDaddy)

Support

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 toolbar, rather than a separate browser tab, making it easy to read advice alongside whatever control panel element you're trying to understand.

Unfortunately, the content of the knowledgebase doesn't live up to the top-quality presentation.

Individual categories don't always cover the topics you might expect. The 'Copy files to my site' section covers FTP and touches on SSH, for instance, but the simplest and most obvious approach – using cPanel's File Manager – doesn't even rate a mention.

Other articles seem poorly organized. Click 'Publish my website' and you'll get details on installing and moving web applications, for example; not what we would expect.

Some advice is unnecessarily alarming, 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.

There is at least a huge amount of decent content here, although you'll need to use the search box to find it. And even then, the most relevant matches don't always appear at the top. For instance, when we typed 'import WordPress website', our matches began with 'redirect my WordPress website to HTTPS for Linux Hosting' and 'My website was hacked. What should I do?'

If you don't get anywhere, 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) 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.

Final verdict

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.