In the almost-twenty years since their inception, GoDaddy has become one of the best known - if not highest-regarded - domain name registras and web hosting providers in the world. GoDaddy’s sheer size and familiarity (thanks to a series of provocative Superbowl ads) frequently brings them first to mind when making hosting decisions.
Although GoDaddy is a very popular choice for web hosting, it remains a sideline for the Scottsdale, Arizona based company. Their primary and most lucrative business is domain registration. Thus, it’s worth looking closely at the pros and cons of hosting through GoDaddy before deciding on a web hosting provider.
The One-Stop Shopping
GoDaddy strives to be a mega-mart for all services needed to establish a web presence. Once you’ve selected and reserved your domain name, GoDaddy’s online ordering process quickly suggests web design and promotion services, but not before they offer up hosting options for a website behind your new URL. And you can even make money from their Auction House.
Their basic packages can seem almost laughably inexpensive. GoDaddy can afford to be generous. Most websites consume negligible resources on the virtual hosts GoDaddy uses, and access to internet backbones ensures the company is never bandwidth-challenged. Selling hosting at very minimal prices attracts clients who can later be pelted with an almost-endless array of upsells.
Thus, cheap hosting service counts as not much more than cheap advertising for GoDaddy in the early stages of the game.
How Cheap Can You Get?
How cheap is cheap? Very cheap. During GoDaddy’s frequent sales - or by using one of their widely-available coupons - the basic plan starts at $1.00 per month when paid a year in advance. This includes one website/URL, 100GB of storage, 100 email addresses, “unlimited bandwidth,” and — often enough — free registration of a single domain.
Many an aspiring webmaster finds that one-dollar-a-month deal very hard to pass up, especially considering how GoDaddy sweetens the deal. Included in the basic package is instant install of popular content management servers like WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal, as well as 1 GB of space on a shared MySQL database server.
It seems almost too good to be true. And likely, it is.
GoDaddy is under no obligation to keep the price at $1.00 per month after the first year. It’s a competitive market, and competition from other ISP’s should restrain any astronomical increases, but your chances of paying $12 for your second year of hosting are slim to none. Moving a site to a different ISP is a pain, and GoDaddy knows you’re probably just going to accept the charge to your credit card at the full price of the plan once you’re part of the family.
And being part of that family seems to satisfy the needs of GoDaddy’s over five million ISP customers. The catch is, very few of those five million need much of anything at all.
With a staggering ten million websites hosted, it would seem unlikely GoDaddy could seriously offer “unlimited bandwidth.” What if all those sites started taking major traffic at once? Cables would surely melt, no?
The thing is, most websites see very few visits, if any at all. Even a blog heavily promoted through social media might see 100 hits per day, with a percentage of those coming from web-crawler robots. GoDaddy’s infrastructure can easily withstand this minimal level of traffic, even multiplied times ten million. In actual use, most websites won’t get more than two or three hits per day.
This means the minimal package can satisfy the minimal expectations of most basic users. Users get to say they have a website. They see their URL up - most of the time. They’re happy with the negligible monthly expense for a web presence and an “official” email address. Even at the full price of $3.99 a month customers are still getting a decent value.
And they’re happy with it.
GoDaddy can GrowBadly
Though it might be true in some way that bandwidth is “unlimited,” purchasers of the basic hosting plans sometimes report unexplained slowdowns. This is of little concern to the entry-level user who’s just happy to be online at all.
But what happens when the stars align, the heavens open above, and your website actually starts getting real traffic? In a few cases reported in online forums - and among real-life contacts - only higher GoDaddy’s shared plans can accommodate a serious flow of constant users. This isn’t such a bad situation as long as a quick solution is available.
But at that point, you’re dealing with GoDaddy’s support teams. Mostly, GoDaddy's team can address your issues within a few minutes. For a more complicated case, it can take a while until the problem is solved. In a rare case, a scheduled move to a dedicated server was delayed for different reasons.
And then, you’re no longer in the realm of GoDaddy’s promotional, get-them-in-the-door pricing strategy. GoDaddy’s prices for dedicated hosting - where your site runs on a separate server - are competitive with prices available almost anywhere else.
Should You or Shouldn’t You?
Let’s summarize the pros and cons of GoDaddy hosting:
- Very cheap at the bottom end: If you want a cheap, simple way to establish an online presence, it’s hard to turn down GoDaddy’s offer to handle it all for you, especially if you can get one of their promotional deals.
- Full features and one-stop shopping: Even the basic plan includes everything you’re likely to need in a basic website. Domain registration, content management, storage, email, and even DB access is all there in one place, and it all works well enough for most users.
- Phone support: Many other more highly-rated ISP’s don’t offer phone support: They conduct support through chat interfaces and email. Many less-savvy users value the ability to talk to a human being on the telephone to walk them through unfamiliar steps.
- Not their core business: GoDaddy is primarily a web domain registrar. Hosting is a profitable sideline. Excellence in hosting requires something more like a laser-like focus on eliminating the last nth of potential failures.
- GoDaddy offers no money-back guarantee for their services. They explicitly state no refunds are available. At $12 a year for a promotional url and hosting package, this might not matter much. As business grows, it might matter more.
- Readiness to grow might not be there: Some reports of difficulty in scaling up from a basic plan might indicate you’ll have some difficulties with GoDaddy when your website really starts to get heavy traffics. If you are getting over thousand daily visitors, a higher plan is highly recommended.