After thoroughly testing GoDaddy’s hosting services, I can say one thing: there is absolutely zero reason to choose this web host. This is not an average host, and it isn’t even a bad host. This is a handcrafted horror experience, one that continuously tests the very fabric of your being. If you’re looking for budget hosting you can actually rely on, you’re much better off with one of Hostinger’s cheap shared hosting plans.
Hosting from the World’s Most Famous Domain Company
If you’ve been around the internet for a while, you’ve probably heard of GoDaddy. It’s the most well-recognized brand in domain name registration, even if that branding has changed some. Gone are the days of race car driver Danica Patrick on the home page. Now, GoDaddy wants to be your provider of all things website-related.
What’s on offer from the hosting division? Regular shared hosting, reseller hosting, WordPress-specific plans, VPS hosting, and dedicated servers.
You’d think that with over 20 years of experience offering web services, GoDaddy would know exactly what it’s doing. Well, branding isn’t everything, so I ran a test website on GoDaddy – twice – for several months to find out just how badly… I mean, ahem… just how well it could perform. I did this as part of Website Planet’s huge web hosting comparison project, where we tested all the big names in the industry.
Spoiler warning: I’m sorry, but GoDaddy’s hosting is not great. It’s really not great. I’ve written a couple thousand words about how it’s not great, and if you’re considering signing up for a GoDaddy hosting plan, you should read them – for the sake of your website and your wallet. You could say that I’ve come from the recent past to save your future.
But of course, you could also just save yourself some time and check out Hostinger’s latest deals – this is the host that achieved the best performance scores in our testing.
GoDaddy Talks a Good Game, but Could be a Lot Better
Look, GoDaddy does domains first and foremost. That’s what it’s good at, and extra services like hosting are actually more of an afterthought in the corporate budget. A cynic might say that these services are offered as an easy way to get more money out of existing customers.
That’s me. I’m the cynic. Anyway, I bought the basic Web Hosting plan, so we’ll just be talking about that today.
First of all (a bit of nerd stuff ahead), the hosting is Apache-based. That’s the classic (AKA old) web server tech that most hosts are moving away from. Actually, none of the best hosts use it. It’s inferior to the newer Nginx and LiteSpeed in its capabilities, and doesn’t work as well with WordPress and other CMS (content management systems).
The more advanced plans support more databases, and while the basic plan can handle one domain, the others can handle unlimited domain names. There seems to be some “Processing Power & Speed” difference between them, which means the more expensive plans have more RAM and CPU.
This is cPanel-powered hosting, meaning you get all the regular tools. Installatron is the auto-installer tool available (it’s very similar to Softaculous), which means WordPress and many other CMS are easily installable in a few clicks.
What more is there? Honestly, nothing. It’s far easier to identify what’s missing.
There’s No Free SSL on the Basic Plan
Let’s be clear: SSL isn’t an extra, or something nice to have. It’s a thing you need. Specifically, it’s the technology that encrypts all data that goes between your site and your users, protecting both. Search engines also prefer secure sites, incidentally.
GoDaddy is the one big web hosting company that still doesn’t offer a free SSL certificate. It can choose to offer one, as Let’s Encrypt certificates are great and don’t cost the host a thing, but it doesn’t.
Instead, it lets you buy ridiculously overpriced SSL certificates. This is crazy expensive stuff, around $70 USD a year, and I’d say this is completely unforgivable.
Everything Is Extra; No Special Features are Included
Backups aren’t available as part of GoDaddy’s hosting plans. A lot of security features aren’t available as part of the plans. Even a website builder, a super simple thing that’s almost always there, isn’t included with GoDaddy’s hosting plans.
If you want to use GoDaddy’s website builder, you’ll have to purchase a completely separate builder plan. But then, if you do that, you can’t use WordPress. There are of course no staging sites, no CDN integrations, and no caching tools of any kind.
If any of these terms confuse you, don’t worry, because GoDaddy doesn’t have the technology to support them anyway. Just know that in this day and age, that’s dumb.See full list of features
Ease of use
It’s Just NOT Easy to Use
GoDaddy’s homepage can be deceiving. It’s nicely designed, the logo is modern, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that this is a modern, well thought out service. It isn’t.
Choosing Your Plan Is Hard
Really hard. I tried, I talked with support, I made an effort, but ended up defaulting to “Web Hosting” simply because I couldn’t understand why I would choose any other type of hosting.
There’s “Business hosting,” which is supposedly more powerful, but there’s no data to back that up. There’s WordPress hosting, but the basic shared hosting also supports WordPress. Even more unforgivable is the fact that the special WordPress hosting plans come with less resources.
Connecting Your Domain Is Hard
Anyway, like I said before, I went with the basic web hosting plan, and signup was generally easy. I was immediately given the A records (not nameservers) for connecting my domain. I took a screenshot at the time, but figured it wouldn’t matter because I’d just get that info again later.
For context, “nameservers” are the easy way to connect a domain name.
As it turned out, connecting the domain without my screenshot proved to be a ridiculously difficult task, as I couldn’t find those A records anywhere. The main account area has almost no information in general, and most of the tabs are filled with services that are available for purchase – ones that aren’t actually included with your plan.
Back to domain connecting. There was no info to be found, and support couldn’t help. They gave me the wrong nameservers and the domain didn’t connect. I ended up using my screenshot, and managed to connect my domain myself, but that was an unnecessary hassle. If you’re not experienced with web hosting, you definitely don’t want to be dealing with this kind of thing.
GoDaddy Might Take Your Money, Then Decide You’re a Fraud
Fast forward to three weeks later. GoDaddy suddenly decided I was suspicious, and required that I verify my info. The system had flagged me as a fraudulent user.
Other hosts do this too, but it happens immediately after signup. Your account doesn’t get activated until you provide your ID. GoDaddy suddenly remembered to do this three weeks after I had signed up, when I was no longer actively checking my control panel – so I missed the notice.
And then they CANCELLED MY ACCOUNT.
I lost everything I already had going and had to sign up again, starting completely from scratch.
As far as I’m concerned, this is ridiculously bad service. I lost time, I lost my work, and if I hadn’t thought to take my own screenshot, I would never have been able to connect my domain name to my hosting account.
For every host I test, I set up a test website with all the usual WordPress bells and whistles. I want it to be as close an approximation as possible of an average working website. I also always ask tech support if they can recommend (or perform) any website optimizations that might help speed things up, to give the host every chance to make a good first impression.
GoDaddy’s support agent recommended installing the WP Smush plugin, which compresses images in WordPress without sacrificing much in the way of quality. It was a decent suggestion, but it was also the only suggestion.
The average complete page load time for my GoDaddy-hosted website was a ghastly 2.94 seconds, and the average global (not complete) page load was 4.160s. Ideally, you want loading times to be under 2 seconds. At least the uptime reached a solid 99.974%.
Ugh. Horrible speeds. Truly.
Okay, I’m going into the rest of the grisly details now, but if you’d rather spare yourself the hosting-geek agony, skip ahead to the Support section now. Let me just warn you – that’s a whole different kind of agony.
There are three data centers to choose from, but GoDaddy is so secretive about their locations that you won’t even have any idea where it’s supposed to perform well. You’re just given a choice between “North America,” “Europe,” and “Asia.” Most other hosts go to great lengths to explain the exact geographic locations of their data centers, complete with pictures and details.
As for the tests, GTmetrix is my preferred tool for measuring complete page load times. Then, Sucuri gives me the average global loading times from around the world, and UptimeRobot checks to make sure my site is staying up.
The fastest complete page load time of 2.2 seconds is well over the recommended maximum of 2s. Never mind the 2.94s average, or the whopping 5s slowest loading time.
GoDaddy’s fastest speed is most hosts’ slowest speed, and the slowest speed is so bad that any visitor that encounters it will immediately jump ship. The average, actually, is also pretty horrible, as two-thirds of your visitors will most likely immediately bounce back to Google.
The most amazing thing is that a GoDaddy agent told me that 2.2s is really the fastest speed the service is capable of. I found that to be an unintentionally hilarious confession.
When the fastest average global loading time (3.833 seconds) is nearly as slow as the slowest loading time (4.504s), it’s just bad performance no matter where you are in the world. I mean, the average-average of 4.160s is a bit more than double the recommended page load time.
These results are just nasty, and they’re some of the better results:
Everything was bad up until now, but support is where it gets even worse. GoDaddy is not the only hosting service to outsource their support to a faraway location (even good web hosting companies, like InterSever and A2 Hosting, are guilty of that), but Godaddy’s support is a catastrophe of epic proportions.
Supposedly, it’s a live chat service (“manned by experts”), available 24/7. In reality, it’s rarely available within a reasonable time, and sometimes it isn’t available at all. Just about every time it was available to me, the agent was less-than-helpful.
There’s also phone support, but I can’t rate it much higher.
Wondering what was so bad? For starters, the agents barely know English, and they don’t seem to understand how their company works. They don’t know what services are available, or what the differences between them are. They don’t understand how web hosting works. They don’t even understand how ridiculous it is to admit that Godaddy’s horrible performance is the best it can get.
The agents I spoke to ran me in circles, and often disconnected or just stopped answering me. When they disconnect, you’re back to the queue again, and nothing is saved from your previous interactions. You have to explain it all again – usually, only to be disconnected again.
There’s no way to track ongoing issues or to deal with major problems – it’s mostly you versus a loading screen.
My presale chat interaction involved the agent lying to me to about how great the service is, mostly by copy-pasting paragraph after paragraph from her prepared answer sheet. She didn’t even always copy-paste correctly.
I was trying to understand the difference between the plans, but she didn’t know. At first, she said some plans include SSL certificates, but then said only the highest-tier plans do. She didn’t know which plans supported WordPress or why I should choose one plan over another. I had to waste almost an hour on this completely useless support interaction.
When I wanted help with installing WordPress, I asked tech support for exactly that.
The agent replied, “How can I help you?”
I repeated myself. “Can you help me install WordPress?”
The agent asked what issue I was having.
I said, once again, that I wanted to install WordPress.
This playful back and forth continued for some time, until I was told to go use Installatron.
I then asked for help with connecting my domain, and the agent assured me multiple times that it was already connected. It really wasn’t, as domains don’t magically connect, and mine wasn’t even registered with GoDaddy.
This is exactly where a good support agent runs a DNS propagation test to understand where the domain is pointed at. GoDaddy’s support agent, however, just lied to me. Throughout this entire conversation, I spent long periods of time just staring at my screen, not getting any kind of answer.
If I’m being kind, the agent was probably juggling 40 other conversations. Or eating peanuts. You never know.
I managed to get him to give me the nameserver details so I could connect my domain, and we parted ways. They ended up being the wrong nameservers, and didn’t work at all. I had to resort to doing things myself.
When I wanted to ask for help with installing my theme and configuring WP, the live chat was unavailable for at least a few hours, so I just gave up.
When I sent a message later to request help with optimizing my site, the funniest thing happened. I got to speak with multiple agents, a message or two at a time, before they were all mysteriously disconnected. The agent I did talk with at the end recommended that I install WP Smush. Not bad advice, actually.
Still, my page loading time was a sluggish 2.2s.
I sarcastically asked if that was the best GoDaddy could do, but the agent told me happily: “Yes correct that the mx speed it can achieve!”
Well, when an agent tells you that terrible speeds are the best a host can do, who are you to question that?
How does GoDaddy Hosting match up to the competition?
GoDaddy’s prices are expensive by any standard, but when you consider that it doesn’t even provide basic features like free SSL certificates, it starts to look like a cash grab.
That said, if I haven’t convinced you to run for your life, the payment terms available are 3, 12, 24, or 36 months. You can only pay through credit card. There’s no money-back guarantee, and even the three-year plan is pretty expensive – especially compared to competitors like Hostinger or InterServer. And any minor add-on will cost you more than it’s worth.
GoDaddy’s checkout page is filled with automatic upsells you’ll have to manually remove – if you don’t, they can end up costing waaay more than the hosting itself. Services like “Free Office 365 Mail” are only free for the first year and will renew automatically, potentially costing you hundreds of dollars.
GoDaddy doesn’t warn you about this, of course – the company would probably rather have you confused. It almost seems like they really want you to accidentally check out with add-ons you never asked for.
A free domain is included with the 1-year plan, but it will renew for a high price. GoDaddy says the value of the domain is over $30 USD a year. That’s just inaccurate. With Namecheap, you could get the same domain name for less than $10 USD a year, plus a privacy shield. You could even get it cheaper from GoDaddy itself, by buying the domain separately.
All my blogs are with godaddy windows hosting, recently i purchased a new hosting plan. Got a free domain with big discount on economy hosting. my suggestion is need to add more features, like others hosting companies are offering.
I’ll say it again: Don’t use GoDaddy for hosting. The domain registration service is decent, the brand is popular, and even non-techies are familiar with it. But… the hosting services are a huge waste of money.
If you have the budget to spare, I recommend you check out Liquid Web– one of the best premium hosts available today. If you want to pay next to nothing for your hosting, but still get vastly superior service to GoDaddy, try Hostinger or Interserver.
Whatever you do, just don’t choose GoDaddy.
Brent is a freelance web developer who loves experimenting with new technology and sharing his experiences with others. While his career life can get hectic sometimes, he always makes time for the important things in life: good coffee, good wine, and quality time with his twin boys, Aiden and Sean.