Go Daddy Review: Solid Web Hosting With a Side of Cheese

Go Daddy: A Bit of History

Go Daddy

Go Daddy logo
Arizona-based Go Daddy has been offering web hosting since 1997.

Headquarters: Arizona, United States

Employees: 3300 and 600 in-house developers

Go Daddy was founded in 1997 as Jomax Technologies by Bob Parsons, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps.

In the mid-1990s, Parsons sold his financial software services company, Parsons Technology, Inc to Intuit, netting him several millions of dollars and an early retirement. By 1997, Parsons re-joined the workforce to launch Jomax, which later became Go Daddy Group Inc.

On his blog, Parsons says he decided to change the company’s name because “no one would remember a name like Jomax Technologies.”

“…One day our new name literally fell out of the sky. Barbara Rechterman (my right hand person to this very day) and I were in my office. Someone said ‘How about Big Daddy?’ A quick check revealed that it was taken. Then I said ‘How about Go Daddy?’ And by golly, the name was available, so we bought it,” Parsons wrote.

Go Daddy data centers
Go Daddy has more than 65,000 square foot of data centre space at facilities across the US and India.

The company has multiple data centres in the US and overseas totalling more than 65,000 square feet of space at nine facilities, including Arizona, Iowa, California, Colorado, Washington, D.C. and India.

This year the company reached more than 55 million domain names under management. With more than 11 million customers, Go Daddy is considered the world’s largest domain name registrar and web hosting provider. It has also been reported as the largest ICANN-accredited registrar in the world, four times the size of its closest competitor.

According to Go Daddy’s website, it registers, renews or transfers more than one domain name every second of every day and has more than 40 product offerings.

In 2006, Go Daddy filed for an IPO but later cancelled due to “market uncertainties.” In January, CEO Blake Irving flagged a possible  2014 IPO. In an interview with Bloomberg news, Irving said the company was on track to generate $1.43 billion in revenue this year and forecast $5 billion annual within the next two to three years.

In June 2011, private equity firms KKR and Silver Lake Partners along with a third investor, Technology Crossover Ventures, bought 65 per cent of Go Daddy for a reported $2.25 billion.

The web hosting giant props up its public image as a good corporate citizen through its charitable arm, Go Daddy Cares.

The company has also crafted its image through sexually suggestive ads featuring “Go Daddy.com Girls”. The company’s early ads featured WWE wrestler Candice Michelle and have also featured IndyCar driver Danica Patrick, professional poker player Vanessa Rousso and pro golfer Anna Rawson.

Go Daddy has also been known for its cheesy and tasteless Super Bowl ads, first broadcast in 2005, including this year’s infamous “Perfect Match” ad starring Israeli model Bar Refaeli.

In 2011, Go Daddy faced a customer backlash over its support for the controversial anti-piracy legislation SOPA, or Stop Online Piracy Act. Customers began transferring domains away from the host and was followed by a proposed Boycott Go Daddy Day on December 29 that year. Cheezburger’s Ben Huh took to Twitter to threaten to move his company’s 1000+ domains off Go Daddy if the host didn’t pull its support for the legislation. Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales announced all of the free encyclopedia’s domains would be moved away from Go Daddy due to the host’s “unacceptable” position for SOPA.

Go Daddy eventually dropped its support for SOPA on December 23, with CEO Warren Adelman saying it was important all internet stakeholders supported work on any anti-piracy legislation.

It was the only controversy that year.  Founder Bob Parsons, who says he “does his best thinking on a motorcycle at dawn”attracted outrage in 2011 when he posted a video online of an elephant he had killed. He later claimed he had shot it to save an African village.

Cost

Go Daddy offers shared and managed WordPress hosting as well as VPS, Dedicated, Managed Server and Reseller hosting.

There are three WordPress Blog Hosting plans:

  • Economy – $5.99 a month – 100GB space, unlimited bandwidth, 100 email accounts, 10 MySQL (1GB each)
  • Deluxe – $8.99 a month – unlimited space, unlimited websites and bandwidth, 500 email accounts, 25 MySQL databases (1GB each)
  • Ultimate – $9.99 a month – unlimited websites, space, bandwidth, email and MySQL databases (1GB each), Website Accelerator, SSL certificate with fixed IP address
Go Daddy WordPress site builder
Go Daddy WordPress installations feature an easy to use site builder for newbs.

Go Daddy offers three shared hosting plans, which are currently on sale:

  • Economy – $2.99 a month – 1 website, 100GB disk space, 10 databases, 100 email address, $55.84 Facebook Ad Credit
  • Deluxe – $4.49 a month – Unlimited websites, unlimited disk space, 25 databases, 500 email address, $55.84 Facebook Ad Credit, customizable mobile site
  • Ultimate – $7.49 a month – Unlimited websites, unlimited disk space, unlimited databases, unlimited email addresses, $55.84 Facebook Ad Credit, customizable mobile site, premium DNS, SSL certificate, malware scanner

Each plan comes with 24/7 phone support, unlimited bandwidth and you choose whether you want a Linux or Windows operating system.

Five VPS plans are available to customers and offer the CentOS or Fedora operating systems:

  • Economy – $29.99 a month – 1GB RAM, 40GB disk space, 1000GB bandwidth
  • Value – $39.99 a month – 2GB RAM, 60GB disk space, 2000GB bandwidth
  • Deluxe – $59.99 a month – 3GB RAM, 90GB disk space, 3000GB bandwidth
  • Premium – $79.99 a month – 4GB RAM, 120GB disk space, 4000GB bandwidth
  • Ultimate – $149.99 a month – 8GB RAM, 240GB disk space, 8000GB bandwidth
Go Daddy chilled water plant
Go Daddy’s main data center contains a chilled water plant to help keep servers cool. Recycled water is pumped out at 55 degrees and pumped back in at 75 degrees.

The Windows operating system is also available, but only on the Value, Deluxe, Premium and Ultimate plans and offers half as much disk space.

Each plan includes:

  • Rapid setup
  • SSL certificate
  • 3 dedicated IPs
  • FTP access
  • Bandwidth Overage Protection
  • Best-of-breed routers and servers
  • TippingPoint Intrusion Prevention Systems
  • 24/7 telephone, email and web-based tech support
  • State-of-the-art security
  • 24/7 physical security
  • 24/7 network monitoring
  • Fast Asia-Pacific-based servers

There are six Dedicated Server plans to use with either the CentOS, Fedora or Ubuntu operating systems:

  • Economy – $99.99 a month – Intel Core i3 – 2 cores CPU, 2GB RAM, 2 x 160GB hard drives, 5TB a month bandwidth
  • Deluxe – $199.99 a month – Intel Core i5 – 4 cores CPU, 8GB RAM, 2 x 1TB hard drives, 10TB a month bandwidth
  • Premium – $299.99 a month – Intel Core i7 – 4 cores CPU, 16GB RAM, 2 x 2TB hard drives, 20TB a month bandwidth
  • Value Deal – $149.99 a month – Intel Core i5 – 4 cores CPU, 4GB RAM, 2 x 300GB hard drives, 10TB a month bandwidth
  • Power Player – $249.99 a month – Intel Core i7 – 4 cores CPU, 4GB RAM, 2 x 300GB hard drives, 10TB a month bandwidth
  • Memory Hog – $249.99 a month – Intel Core i5 – 4 cores CPU, 16GB RAM, 2 x 1TB hard drives, 15TB a month bandwidth
Go Daddy Managed Hosting
A Managed Hosting option provides a Dedicated Server without the hassle of managing it yourself.

The Windows operating system is also available with each of the above plans for an extra $10-$20.

The Managed Hosting plans provide the power of a Dedicated Server without all the work.

I must admit, I jumped in and signed up for the Economy shared hosting plan before fully exploring the site. I simply clicked on “Get Website Hosting” in the navigation bar at the top of the homepage, assuming all of Go Daddy’s hosting services would be listed there. They were not.

You need to hover over “All Products” and then “Hosting and Servers” to find a full list of Go Daddy’s plans. The plans are almost hidden away. I would have chosen WordPress Managed hosting if I’d known it was available. It would be great to see the navigation updated to make it easier to see brief descriptions of all the hosting options available on one page.

Features

According to Go Daddy, the company has designed its servers to be “WordPress-friendly” from the moment you login. The host services more than 2.47 million active WordPress installations, with an install rate of 2.63 per minute.

After you install WordPress and login to your WordPress dashboard, you’ll find a Quick Setup wizard, which allows you to easily setup one of a dozen themes for a personal, company, gallery or blog website and fill in your contact and about details.

Email hosting comes with every hosting plan. You just need to login to your account and launch the control panel to set up your email addresses.

There are also tailored packages available for business, including hosting plans for building an online store, eCommernce web design and merchants accounts for accepting credit cards on your website.

Other business-specific tools include a Small Business Centre section on the website that provides tips on how to get online, a drag and drop Website Builder, Online Bookkeeping, Search Engine Visibility, Business Email and Email Marketing. SSL Certificates are also available.

WildCard DNS is available with shared hosting accounts but you need to buy and activate a dedicated IP address before using the wildcard feature.

For insight into the technology Go Daddy uses, check out this video tour of one of the host’s data centres.

Usability

Signing up for a Go Daddy account is a straight forward affair. After you login and enter you domain name, you’re given two options – install WordPress or upload your website. Too easy and convenient for WordPress users.

The next day I discovered registering wasn’t as straight forward as I had first thought. I received an email asking for a copy of the identification of the credit card holder for the account. So I had to send off a scanned copy of a passport. A bit annoying. And you have to do this within 48 hours or the account is cancelled for your apparent protection.

Then I received an another email, this time asking for a copy of the front and back of the credit card, so I sent that off. Five minutes later, the account was finally verified.

Go Daddy provides a 1-click WordPress install. You just select your domain name, admin name, password, email and click “Go”.

Jetpack comes pre-installed with your WordPress account, similar to many other web hosts that provide WordPress.

Go Daddy Control Center
The Control Center is the place to update your settings for your domains, web hosting, email and other aspects of your hosting account.

Unlike many other hosts, Go Daddy doesn’t use the popular hosting control panel, cPanel. Instead, it uses its own custom Control Center where you can tweak you domain, hosting and email settings.

To get to the Control Center you first need to login to your account from Go Daddy’s website and click “Launch” next to Domains, Web Hosting or Email. The Control Center isn’t much different to cPanel in that it provides access to all of your site’s settings in the one place. It’s just a prettier site.

Customer Service

Go Daddy provides 24/7 email and phone support, as well as a comprehensive Product Support manual containing hundreds of articles on everything from hacking to how to set up your email.

The support section of the host’s website also includes a forum, access to Go Daddy’s blog, customer groups (currently there are 45) and an IdeaShare area where customers can share their thoughts and suggestions on updates, new features and product ideas. There are also cool and helpful product videos featuring Go Daddy staff who give walkthroughs on how to do things like set up email.

I wanted to test WordPress Multisite on my site so I created a new discussion in the forum asking other customers for their feedback on the speed of their their Multisite installs. I got one reply from a Go Daddy support member with instruction on how to set up WordPress Multisite and didn’t hear from any customers.

So I went ahead and tried to set up Multisite, but got as far as attempting to login to my account using FTP – my password wouldn’t work. So I opened a support ticket to have the issue resolved.

Almost three hours later a support member emailed me detailed instructions on how to change my password and I was able to login to my account via FTP. Hooray!

Go Daddy support time
Go Daddy’s support members are quick to answer simple inquiries.

Then I decided to install WordPress Multisite and break it on purpose to see if I could get further support. I received a polite reply from support member Thomas, who informed me that Go Daddy doesn’t provide help for third-party products (which is fair enough) and suggested I “consult with a community forum online or do a search on your favorite search engine as other users may have encountered a similar problem in the past and may offer helpful solutions.”

While researching for this review I tried to find details on Wildcard DNS/Sub Domains and couldn’t find a clear answer in the Knowledge Base or in the forum so I fired off yet another support ticket. A couple of hours later I received a detailed reply from support member Suzi, who emailed me a detailed walkthrough of how to add a dedicated IP to my shared hosting account and then how to set up a Wildcard DNS. The reply neatly answered all of my questions and resolved the ticket.

Customers who have used Go Daddy’s services are firmly divided. Some rave about the host (and probably receive generous revenue from affiliate links) and others have even set up websites, posted videos and started Facebook pages about how much they loathe the hosting company.

It’s hard to get a good picture of public opinion on Go Daddy. My own support experiences were positive, however testing Go Daddy over a much longer time period with a larger and more demanding website would be a better test of the host’s services.

Speed

I used Pingdom to monitor my test site and was impressed with the uptime. Go Daddy promises a 99.9 per cent uptime guarantee. Over the lifetime of my test account, the site experienced 99.95 per cent uptime, with just 38 minutes downtime. Close enough, I suppose. All up, the site experienced 21 downtimes. In the past seven days, the site was up 100 per cent of the time.

Over the past 30 days:

Go Daddy uptime

The response times were good. Over the lifetime of the account, the slowest average was 1613 milliseconds and the overall average was 1049 milliseconds. The fastest was 584 milliseconds. During the past seven days, the slowest average response time was 1379 milliseconds and the fastest was 870 milliseconds. The overall average was 974 milliseconds.

The average response times for the past 30 days were not bad:

Go Daddy response times

Disclaimer: In putting together this review, we bought our Go Daddy review account just like any other customer – via the sign-up link on the homepage. We didn’t let Go Daddy in on the fact we were reviewing their services to avoid any special treatment.

Have you used Go Daddy? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below.

To read the reviews in this series:

Image credits: Jaypee Online.

The Good

  • Reliable uptime and response times.
  • Comprehensive support options.

The Bad

  • Prepare to have your email inbox bombarded with promotional offers pushing you to hand over more money.
  • Have you seen the gross Super Bowl ads? It's best to turn the sound off.

Our Verdict

  • price:
  • usability:
  • service:
  • speed:
  • features:
  • Overall:

23 Responses

  • The Incredible Code Injector

    Sending all of that private information would have been an immediate deal breaker for me. God only knows who has access to that. One bad apple and a person’s identity could be stolen with no way of figuring out that GoDaddy was the reason for it.

    GoDaddy also forces clients to keep a credit card on file now. I found that out the hard way after renewing a domain for a client. While trying to get my card info removed, I spoke to a rude support person on the phone who basically told me it wasn’t up to me what happens with my credit card info since I used it on their website. Since they require at least one card be on file I either had to use another or I was out of luck. As far as I’m concerned, once the bill is paid they have no legitimate reason to hold on to such information.

    Their ads are gross, sexist, and disgusting as well. Not that they care what anybody thinks about that.

  • Chief of Keepin' it Fresh Div.

    Honestly a bit surprised by the outcome of this review. I have not even considered them as an option based on the negative comments of others in the forums (here and on other sites). I guess if you are running an operation that big you must be doing some things right…even if that is just racy (controversial) advertising, a great affiliates program and %99 up times. Hmm.

  • Flash Drive

    Great review…though probably a bit more text about their controversies than I think necessary, but that’s just me.

    I really hate Godaddy’s web site/admin panel. It’s so cluttered with ads for more of their services that I find it hard to locate the controls I need to get something done with the services I already have. On the other hand, I have received excellent customer support (albeit with the occasional upsell attempt) from them so I guess I’m ambivalent about them overall.

    It’s good to know about the reliability…thanks for the thorough testing!

  • New Recruit

    The one piece of this I can agree with is the uptime. I was with GoDaddy for 4 years and the uptime was always stellar. I’m a numbers nerd and I monitor it closely. My speed results differ greatly though. I used the shared ultimate package, and although I was moved around servers several times, my speed was always atrocious. That is what finally drove me away from them, I just couldn’t handle how slow my sites were. I jumped to Bluehost whom you also reviewed – that immediately fixed my speed issues, my sites are far faster on Bluehost…. now I have uptime problems. Oh well, I’ll try host number 3 soon enough….. I’m watching this series for that reason.

  • New Recruit

    Godaddy is all good with speed, uptime & even on price (thanks to promos) Only thing problematic was support. my site got compromised & a some script got added, without any warning Godaddy locked my entire account. To unlock it demand was some hundred odd dollars. all my domains, all my hostings etc are under lock because one of your site was in issue. One more crazy thing, your domains got renewed if your account is lock, thanks to credit card associated with them. If you don’t wish that too, either unlock or terminate your card, second option will take away all domains.

    Infra wise they are good, really good. but support… God bless

    • New Recruit

      Hmm, I don’t think so, but that’s just my opinion. :)

      I’ve never hosted with GoDaddy, but have dealt with their support…not so good was my experience- so I can say that I never will host with them.

      And, it seems that speed may be an issue too, from reading some comments here…..actually, I’m moving all my domains from them too, just because of the feeling I get about their company…..and yeah, if the company has low morals, it ultimately transfers over to their whole company….

      Call it a law of the Universe, eventually low morals even undoes a big company.

  • WPMU DEV Initiate

    I’ve used many different hosting services with WordPress over the years. That being said, GoDaddy has been the absolute worst of every single one of them. I see NO pro`s to GoDaddy hosting whatsoever.
    I had some very simple sites hosted on them with minimal traffic, great pro lean themes, no more than 4 extra simple plugins, you get the idea. Good lean sites. The slowness I experienced was just stupid! Every time you call them they will blame it on your site and tell you it`s processor intensive. I`m certain they never even looked…it`s just what they are told to say.

    Anyhow I switched those sites over to HostGator, and they were FANTASTIC. I could not say enough good about HostGator. And guess what…those same sites immediately ran at lightning speed after the switch. Sorry GoDaddy, but your hosting pretty much sucks. I really have to question this review big time. My experience was very common if you read the forums.

    • New Recruit

      When I first chose Godaddy for shared hosting for my then static html site in about 2004, they were great. Even after transitioning to a WordPress site a few years ago, still just fine. I even directed half a dozen clients to them. I decision I now regret.

      My experience was so much like this one. A minimal traffic site, that Godaddy would blame me for the slowness and timeout problems. It must be the plugins I was usings, my database needed optimizing, or some other nonsense.

      Most importantly, they will not pursue a reported problem unless you stay on the phone with them. I literally have wasted hours on the phone with Godaddy support. Nice people, but poor operation.

      Like arqaeda, I had enough of Godaddy, and went with Hostgator. Same site, same plugins, just ported it over. Bam! The admin interface loads in a second. Beats waiting 20 or 30 seconds between every edit or any other WP tweak. Three months now, and still very pleased with Hostgator.

      I am already helping one of those associates move her sluggish site over.

  • New Recruit

    Hmmmm. Though not a “fan” of Godaddy, I have used them for hosting for many years with few issues. I’m thinking a lot of the anti-GD sentiment is because they do things quite differently from other hosts. I have tried out several hosting services, and I can state that although GD is far from the best, they are also far from the worse.

    Recently, with GD, I’ve noticed a marked improvement in speed and performance. A year ago I think they realized that 10,000+ users on a shared server would not work.

    I also echo some of the other sentiments written here – who cares if GD has cheesy commercials? I’m more concerned with hosting results than I am with how they position themselves in the market.

  • New Recruit

    I have hosted with Godaddy for over 3 years. Fortunately am now an ex-customer. I have never ever received such weird replies on my support tickets from any other hosting provider. For me it looks as if they outsource their technical problems department to the cheapest employees possible which would also explain why they are able to offer such low fees. In other words, opening an account with them was a disaster and I will never return. Am now hosting with http://linux-hosts-inc.com This service has the world’s lowest account cancellation percentage and I now understand why.

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