Go Daddy’s primary focus is domain names and domain auctions. Web hosting is offered alongside domain registrations, but the entire front page of the website (apart from the images of Go Daddy Girls) is dedicated to the registration of domains - hardly surprising, really, since they manage 53 million of them. Although domain registration is an important part of their business, we’re primarily going to look at their web hosting services.
On their website, Go Daddy claims that it’s the “largest hosting provider of secure websites” with more than 10 million customers hosting 5 million websites between them. Founded in 1997 under a different name, it’s one of three companies under the same umbrella (Blue Razor Domains and Wild West Domains are the other two). The company currently use facilities in five US states and in India, and the headquarters are in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Go Daddy are known in the US for their outrageous Superbowl ads; the videos are archived on their site in a special ‘commercials’ showreel (or on YouTube in ‘uncut’ form).
Go Daddy Hosting Plans
Domain name customers are offered InstantPage, but in terms of hosting, Go Daddy has four main web hosting services. It’s probably fair to say that Go Daddy’s hosting priorities are firmly in the lower-cost price plans; perhaps these are easier to upsell along with a domain name purchase.
The Website Builder package is aimed at absolute beginners. Website Tonight is an equivalent service to the SiteBuilder-type software other hosting companies provide (and the kind of thing you may have seen on sites such as Weebly). Website Builder allows non-technical customers to build a website using pre-defined templates and drag-and-drop interactive forms. The final product is limited to five pages on the Economy Plan, 10 pages on the Deluxe plan and 999 pages on Premium. All plans have strict limits on resources, with the basic plan offering a measly 1GB of disk space.
The next plan type on the site is simply called Web Hosting, and it’s equivalent to the shared hosting plans we’ve reviewed from other providers. Customers get access to a Linux or Windows server with a limited amount of space, database allocation and email addresses. There are three divisions in the Web Hosting category: Economy, Deluxe and Ultimate (the names are the same regardless of the OS you choose). Only Ultimate truly comes close to providing unlimited resources, although email accounts are still limited. Note that shared hosting plans don’t support Java, and they don’t appear to offer reseller options.
Go Daddy offers virtual and dedicated servers for competitive prices, with a choice of OS for both. VPS options are split into five price bands, with a choice of CentOS, Fedora or Windows operating systems. Dedicated servers are offered on six price bands, with CentOS, Ubuntu, Fedora and Windows on offer.
In addition, Go Daddy also offers cloud hosting with a pay-as-you-use price model. Customers who choose to pre-pay monthly have to commit to a fixed fee.
Go Daddy Uptime/Downtime
Data centres for Go Daddy customers are based in the US, Europe and Asia, covering more than 70,000 square feet. They use redundant UPS power and N+1 air conditioning, fire protection and 24/7 on-site monitoring. They make passing mention to being eco-friendly, although this isn’t given the prominence you might expect.
Website Hosting customers’ sites are backed up incrementally at predefined intervals, alongside full backups on a less frequent basis. Go Daddy specify that backups are stored away from the data centre in case of any problems on-site.
In terms of uptime, Go Daddy offers a fairly standard 99.9% guarantee. The company don’t appear to publish any data about uptime on their site.
Go Daddy Support
Go Daddy has 500 developers that all work in-house, as well as 3,300 employees. Their support department is open 24/7, every day of the year. Tech support is provided via phone (in the UK, the phone number is an 0207 number rather than a free or premium rate number) and also via email. Local numbers are also provided for Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and - of course - the US, although they all route through to the same staff. Live chat isn’t provided.
Customers have their own busy forums and groups which act as a key part of the technical support service. Go Daddy also hosts several staff blogs on the site. IdeaShare is a suggestion box for new features and product updates.
Hosting Concierge is an extra support option that’s designed to get websites up and running quickly. For the first 30 days, Hosting Concierge is provided free of charge on the Website Hosting and cloud hosting plans. Dedicated server customers can choose the Assisted Service or Managed Hosting plans for extra support (at extra cost). Note that virtual and dedicated server help is only free if Go Daddy is at fault.
Go Daddy in the News
In September 2011, a password breach on Go Daddy’s servers caused nearly 500 sites to be compromised. Edited .htaccess files redirected users to another site that was infected with malware. Go Daddy said that phishing was most likely the cause and claimed the damage was limited -:
Go Daddy also caused outrage by controversially supporting the US Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Angry customers announced a ‘Dump GoDaddy Day’ on December 29, 2011. The company later retracted their support on the grounds that their customers failed to show a “lack of consensus” on the issue. Go Daddy lost several high-profile customers regardless, including Wikipedia -:
Bob Parsons, owner and founder of Go Daddy, hit the headlines in March 2011 for posting a video online in which he was seen shooting and killing an elephant. The incident outraged customers and animal rights organisations -:
Go Daddy Control Panel
Go Daddy offers its own custom control panel which gives users a plethora of customisation and configuration options. Rather than being handled via a separate login, the control panel is part of the main Go Daddy website. Users can control their domains and hosting plans to varying degrees through the Control Panel, depending on what they’ve signed up to. The screens are complicated and absolutely crammed with information, links and hidden menus (much like the main GoDaddy website), so it takes a while to get used to the layout. It’s not as visually pleasing as Cpanel, but it does the job if you have the patience to learn where things are.
On virtual and dedicated servers, customers are also provided with a product called Simple Control Panel to manage the server itself.
Go Daddy Extras
If you choose the Website Builder plan, you’ll be given free stock images, $100 in Google Adwords credits, $50 for Bing and Yahoo!, £32 for Facebook advertising and 10 Fotalia credits.
Customers on GoDaddy’s Website Hosting (i.e. shared hosting) and VPS plans get £32 in Facebook ad credits and 10 Fotolia credits. Clients on dedicated server plans also get the Adwords and Bing/Yahoo! Credits. VPS and dedicated server customers are given one free SSL certificate.
Cloud hosting customers receive access to a range of server images.
One-click installation is available through Hosting Connection, Go Daddy’s own library of 4.1 million applications and scripts. All the usual suspects are included: WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Zen Cart, ecommerce sites, social networking tools and more. Go Daddy also provide WordPress templates directly through Hosting Connection. It’s fair to say that this is a much bigger and more comprehensive one-click service than Fantastico.
Go Daddy Money Back Guarantee / Cancellation Policy
There’s nothing on the Go Daddy website that pertains to a money-back guarantee, and their Terms of Service state that “all prices and fees are non-refundable”. If you’re looking for a host that offers this kind of refund/ cancellation policy, it’s probably best to look elsewhere.
Go Daddy Summary
Go Daddy places emphasis on selling domain names. That’s obviously their core business model. While they do offer a large number of web hosting plans, these are not that obvious on the website and don’t feel particularly competitive. In addition, I really had to dig deep and navigate several pages to get all the information I needed.
It’s not just the expensive plans that didn’t impress. Go Daddy’s Website Builder - the cheapest hosting plan - struck me as poor value. It costs about the same as a low-cost shared hosting plan; the only difference is that Go Daddy removes all of the technical jargon and simply concentrate on getting the user online. With a 5-page limit on the lowest price band, it seems silly to spend money on this when you can easily build a good WordPress website or template site elsewhere for free.
If you want to keep all your domain management and hosting in one place, Go Daddy will probably cut you a pretty good deal, and their massive capacity is not to be sniffed at. However, you sacrifice live chat customer service tools, and you don’t get access to industry-standard control panels. While they market their products at budget users, the ridiculously confusing website layout and lack of a money-back guarantee are major minus points.
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