Go Daddy Review: Solid Web Hosting With a Side of Cheese
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.
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.
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 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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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:
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:
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:
- Which WordPress Web Host?
- Page.ly Review: Blazingly Fast Managed WordPress Hosting
- Bluehost Review: Cheap and Unreliable Shared Hosting
- Go Daddy Review: Solid Web Hosting With a Side of Cheese
- DreamHost Review: Speedy and Friendly Web Hosting
- WP Engine Review: Super Duper Fast and Secure Managed WordPress Web Hosting
- Web Hosting Review: So Just Who is the Best?
Image credits: Jaypee Online.
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- Reliable uptime and response times.
- Comprehensive support options.
- 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.