Today, we’ll be looking at Bluehost vs. GoDaddy. Both hosts are some of the most popular hosts on the internet, and for most new users the choice comes down to these two. Choosing the best host can be difficult, so we are going to make the choice easy. We are going to make the choice for you. How? Both hosts will be going head to head in the most important metrics to us; security, performance, pricing, customer service and ease of use. We’ll decide the best host under each metric and after everything, we’ll round up with a verdict. The good news is that you don’t have to agree with our verdict— you can choose the best host for you because we’ll provide you with all the data you need to make the best decision. So, this isn’t just any comparison article, it’s a review article too!
Let’s get on with it then
Bluehost vs. GoDaddy: A Complete Overview
Founded in 2003 after Matt Heaton had experimented with creating Web-hosts, Bluehost grew to unimaginable proportions within a short period (to the point where they became one of the main alternatives to GoDaddy). By 2010, the host has become so big (and presumably so profitable) that it wasn’t possible for them to be ignored any longer. That year, Bluehost was bought by probably the biggest company in internet-related services, Endurance International Group, and became one of the many hosts under the umbrella of the company. For many critics, this signaled a downward trend in the service delivery of Bluehost. Those critics have been disappointed, and Bluehost has actually grown to be one of the largest hosts on the internet today with over two million websites hosted on its servers. Like the biggest hosts in the market, Bluehost offers a plethora of services; from VPS hosting to Shared hosting to Dedicated hosting— we don’t think there is a hosting service that Bluehost doesn’t have a plan for. Bluehost is known for being decent in almost all facets and for being extremely reliable. They’ve also won more than a few customers over with the fact that they are an officially recommended host by WordPress— a feat that only two other hosts have managed to achieve. If you’d like to read more details, you can check out our extensive Bluehost Review where we focused only on Bluehost, it’s Pros and it’s Cons as a stand-alone host.
Originally called Joomax technologies and founded by Bob Parsons in 1997, GoDaddy is what we’d like to call a freak of advertising. Whether or not their audacious advertising tactics (like airing ads featuring women in bikinis during Superbowl) have worked out for them is something that we don’t have the range to get in (we did speak more about this in our in-depth GoDaddy Review tho). What is important, though, is that GoDaddy is probably the biggest host on the internet with over five thousand employees and 13 million customers worldwide (and with over 59 million domains registered, we can say that GoDaddy is the biggest domain registrar on the planet). Not very many come close, and they offer almost anything and everything pertaining to hosting services.
Bluehost is pretty popular. In fact, we’ve been reviewing hosts for a while and only one host has ever trumped Bluehost.
Well, today makes it two.
GoDaddy is one of the most popular hosts Web-hosts ever, and even people who don’t know the first thing about web development have heard of them. Yes, GoDaddy is that popular. Asides that, the numbers speak for themselves. If Popularity would be an important metric then yeah, GoDaddy would have been a great alternative to Bluehost.
If you’re contemplating buying something from either of two vendors, one of your first considerations should be quality. Which vendor/producer will sell the product with the highest quality? Which vendor will be able to sell a product that will meet your expectations? Basically, how well does the product perform? We’ll measure the performance of both hosts using two major indicators; uptime and speed.
The first and most important duty of a Web-host is to keep the website of a user on the internet. While it is impossible for a website to be up indefinitely because of a plethora of reasons, we believe that a nu uptime of at least 99.96% us the minimum that any Web-host should aspire towards.
There’s only one way to measure uptime accurately, and that is by buying a plan, filling it with dummy content and testing uptime over an extended period with any tool that you may find suitable for the task. And that is exactly what we did. Over our testing period, we recorded an uptime of 99.99% for Bluehost. This is really impressive and is the closest to 100% that any host should be able to realistically promise. While we’d like to end it there, we also love to check whether a host has an uptime guarantee or not. Uptime guarantees are important because they, in whatever little capacity that they can, try to keep web hosts on their toes. They are also important because they provide a path of redress for users. Users don’t have to waste energy on phoning customer care in frantic tunes, and they can (usually) rest easy because they are entitled to some compensation depending on how long their websites are down for. Unfortunately, despite all the benefits that could be gained from having one— Bluehost doesn’t have an uptime guarantee. But, in the final analysis, should that matter? The host already has great uptime— of what use is an uptime guarantee?
GoDaddy’s uptime is even trickier. Over a three month period, we recorded a 100% uptime (pretty super astounding, right?). However, our benchmark standards dictate that a 3 month period isn’t enough to come to a nuanced opinion about uptime, so we left our tools running for one more month and the average dropped to 99.99%. Moral lesson? GoDaddy is extremely reliable— in fact, one of the most reliable hosts we’ve ever reviewed. Unlike Bluehost, GoDaddy has an uptime guarantee policy. GoDaddy guarantees an uptime of 99.9%. This means that if uptime drops below 99.9%, you get about 5% credit of the monthly hosting fee. If you discover that your site has been down for a while, you need to confirm with GoDaddy’s reps before you will eligible for compensation. Additionally, cumulative (that is, over the course of a year) uptime has no compensation attached. However, we suppose it’s all good because GoDaddy’s uptime is really good and you’re unlikely to have problems with uptime in the first instance.
Even if your website is up 100000% of the time, Google says that 40% of users will not go to a site that has speed problems or loads slowly. So, far from being a vanity metric, speed is also important. The simple logic is that faster sites tend to retain more visitors while the slower ones tend to be left in the dust.
Bluehost Speed Tests
Since we already had a Bluehost account, we ran our speed tests and calculated an average speed from locations within and outside the US. On average, it takes 461ms for a Bluehost page to respond to requests. That is Time to First Byte (TTFB). Bluehost doesn’t have the reputation of speed, but the speed we recorded is easily above average for us. Most hosts only score around 600ms-800ms, so Bluehost convincingly beats the average score. In order to check whether speed levels will decrease during traffic, we sent around a hundred virtual users to our site. We monitored the speed levels and were glad to discover that even during a spike, Bluehost’s speed did not get worse. In fact, it remained relatively stable, which is more than what can be said for a lot of hosts.
GoDaddy Speed Tests
We tried to record GoDaddy’s speed as well, and we calculated an average of 510ms. That is Time to the first byte. This is much slower than Bluehost’s speed, but as we said earlier, still some ways from the average/bottom part of our ranking. This was impressive because we half expected GoDaddy to be much slower. Turns out they have pleasantly surprised us. We tried to send virtual users to our GoDaddy site to test whether the servers will slow down during a traffic spike. We were somewhat disappointed to find out that GoDaddy’s servers do, in fact, slow down during a traffic spike.
(Speed recorded here are high because of locations outside the US. Speed within the US is far better)
Ease of Use for Bluehost compared to GoDaddy
The best hosts are a joy to use. We’ve met a lot of webmasters and not one has told us that they’d prefer a host that makes work complex to one that doesn’t. Ease of use doesn’t only refer to the interface— it refers to the different features that a host may or may not provide that makes their job easier for users.
The first and most important factor to put into consideration when talking about a host’s ease of use is the interface. Bluehost makes use of cPanel which, alongside Plesk, is the standard user interface for hosting. Bluehost’s version of cPanel is heavily customized, so new users will have very few problems navigating it. Because Bluehost makes use of cPanel, it is even easier for customers crossing over from other Web-hosts to get easily acclimatized to the interface. However, we don’t think that a lot of new users would find it incredibly convenient to make the cross for another host to Bluehost. This is because, unlike many of the hosts that we’ve reviewed, Bluehost does not offer free site migration. If you want Bluehost to migrate your site for you, you will have to pay a one time fee of $149.99 which allows you to move five website, 20 emails and database files. That should not distract users, especially new ones, away from the fact that Bluehost’s interface, even though it is the standard cPanel, is one of the best interface layouts we’ve ever reviewed. Users can even customize the layout to their taste and are able to accomplish most tasks from a central area.
Asides a great interface, Bluehost offers the Mojo marketplace where users can get access to loads of popular apps like WordPress, Drupal and Magneto. One-click installation is also supported, so users don’t have to go through complex steps to install any application they want. Bluehost also offers a domain manager, so customers can manage all their domains from a single account. For people who want to build a website, Bluehost has Weebly support. Weebly is one of the best website builders that we’ve used, and even the rawest novice would hardly find it difficult to get a website up and running. On the security side of things, Bluehost offers a free SSL certificate from Let’s Encrypt. This makes sure that the connections of users are secure and customers do not have to pay extra to get the certificate.
As a plus, Bluehost offers a free domain to new users. The domain is only free for the first term, though, and users have to continue paying for the domain after the first term has expired.
Basically, setting up an account and managing it is extremely easy with Bluehost. We had limited difficulties and were able to accomplish all our tasks easily.
Like Bluehost, GoDaddy makes use of cPanel. This is good for the same reasons that we were satisfied with Bluehost using it. A proprietary interface, to us, isn’t just worth the hassle, and we are glad that GoDaddy agrees. That is where the similarities end, though. GoDaddy’s cPanel isn’t quite as customized as Bluehost’s. The fact remains, though, that it is quite easy for users to accomplish most tasks using the interface. However, we have a single problem; navigating the panel, for the uninitiated, can be supremely tedious. There are almost a thousand pages for everything and at times it gets really tiring. GoDaddy also has an AutoInstall option for WordPress, so people who want WordPress sites do not need to do anything concerning setup. Everything is set for them already.
Unfortunately, GoDaddy does NOT offer free SSL certificates— although a lot of higher-tier plans come with SSL certificates included. This is especially strange because it’s common practice for a host to provide AT LEAST an SSL certificate from Let’s Encrypt/Comodo on all plans. As expected, you can add an SSL certificate to your plan at checkout, and the lowest GoDaddy offers is $63.99/year. Which, in our opinion, is incredible for something that can be gotten for free elsewhere. Unfortunately, the upsells do not end there. Like Bluehost, GoDaddy doesn’t offer free migration. Customers who want their sites migrated by GoDaddy will have to pay $99 per site. Even more pricey than Bluehost’s. To make up for this, perhaps, GoDaddy offers a free domain to new users.
GoDaddy makes use of a proprietary website builder called GoCentral. Like most web builders, GoCentral has drag-and-drop functionality that makes it easy for even amateurs to get a basic website up and running in no time. We aren’t really fans of proprietary technology and would actually prefer third party web builders like Weebly. However, GoCentral was surprisingly efficient, and we were able to set up a functioning website in about ten minutes. Like Bluehost, GoDaddy has one-click installation and access to the Mojo marketplace where users can purchase any number of apps, templates, themes and plugins. Unfortunately, after choosing a theme, users cannot switch themes without losing their content.
Money-Back Guarantee Policy
Almost all hosts offer money-back guarantees. The difference, though, is how long the guarantee period is. Most hosts offer a thirty-day money-back guarantee, but we don’t think that is enough. In fact, we’d prefer an anytime money-back guarantee like A2 Hosting offers. However, if we can’t have that we’ll settle for anything longer than thirty days.
Bluehost doesn’t perform as impressively in this criteria, as the host offers only 30-days money-back guarantee. This refund doesn’t cover any free add-ons, such as a free domain, that might have been collected. If a free domain has been received, a fee of $15.99 will be deducted from the refund to be received. Asides that, Bluehost’s refund policy is pretty straightforward. Low, but straightforward.
GoDaddy also offers a thirty days money-back guarantee with more or less the same conditions as Bluehost. It has a few extra nicks, though.
- You get 30 days if it’s an annual plan.
- You get 48 hours if it’s a monthly plan but not all monies will be refunded.
In addition to that, we scoured GoDaddy’s terms and conditions and found this gem hidden between a cluster of words.
“If a Hosting Service has already been performed, then it is non-refundable (if not yet performed, eligible for a refund within 30 days of the date of the transaction)”.
That sounds anything but straightforward.
GoDaddy vs. Bluehost: Customer Support and Reliability
Hosting is a technical job, and even the most experienced users at a time or the other often run into problems. The truth is that everyone, at a time or the other, will have no choice but to rely on the customer support of a Web-host. When that time comes, it’s better to be in the safe and capable hands of customer support that is easily reachable and helpful, rather than ones who would just send you a link to an article, some smileys and a patronising “have a good day!” (We are this specific because we remember Karen from our early hosting days).
Bluehost has the basic contact channels; phone support, live chat support and a ticketing channel. All channels are available on all plans 24/7, which is a good sign. Isn’t that supposed to be normal, you ask? You would be surprised, we say. You would really be surprised. We tried out the live chat channel several times over the course of 24 hours and we connected to a live support rep each time. (Isn’t that supposed to be normal, you ask? You would be really surprised, we say.). We suffered an average wait time of 5 minutes, which isn’t really terrible considering what we’ve experienced with other hosts. The reps we spoke to were polite and friendly enough. However, when it came to answering our questions, only about half of the hosts we spoke to answered promptly. The rest took lengthy breaks (which we assume meant that they had to go cross-check the answers to our questions from somewhere). While Bluehost’s customer support should be able to solve simple problems for you quite easily, we think only about half of the reps we spoke to would be competent enough to solve more difficult problems or answer difficult questions on demand. All in all, Bluehost’s customer support doesn’t have any great deficiency and users should be able to get on quite well without any problem.
GoDaddy has the same customer support infrastructure (more or less, at least) as Bluehost. There is phone, live chat, and ticketing support. And all these channels are open 24/7. Like we did with Bluehost, we tried to connect with live reps through the live chat channel. First off, we experienced an average wait time of over twenty minutes. In fact, we once had to wait over thirty minutes on more than two occasions. If the support we received was stellar, it would have been better— however, we received far from stellar support. The reps were polite quite alright, but they were not very helpful. Most of our questions were not answered immediately and we had to wait between 5 to 15 minutes to get proper answers to our questions.
We tried the phone channel and, while there was a considerable improvement as regards time and support quality, we had the same complaints.
The responsibility of securing your website from dangerous elements is one that rests on two shoulders; that of the host and that of the user. We wouldn’t want to get into the argument of who has the bigger responsibility, regardless, you’re better served to pick a host with more security support. We say security support because all hosts, to the best of our knowledge, have some level of security. The difference is whether you have to pay extra or not.
GoDaddy Security Features
Like we’ve said before, GoDaddy doesn’t offer free SSL certificates. If you want a secure website, you’ll have to pay extra (from $69.99) for an SSL certificate. Not a good note to start from we, think. Does it get better? No, not really. GoDaddy has web security and backups offered as an extra add-on that you’ll have to pay $2.99 and $5.99 per month respectively for. So GoDaddy has great security if you’re willing to pay.
Bluehost Security Features
Bluehost, on the other hand, offers free SSL certificates. The rest come at a price, though. For instance, Bluehost provides Codeguard, a tool that allows users to backup their files. The catch, though, is that Codeguard is only free with higher-tier plans. So, if like us, you purchased a basic Bluehost plan you’ll have to pay extra for Codeguard basic. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s yet another upsell. Asides that, Bluehost offers Sitelock, a tool that scans your website 24/7 for malware. There is also the Spam Experts tool that filters your mail and tries to keep you away from emails that will definitely slow your roll. Domain Privacy is a tool that keeps your private information off WHOIS public listing and is another security tool that Bluehost offers. While some of these tools may come with your purchased plan, none of them is free. This means that even after you’ve gotten them for free, they expire after the first year and you’ll have to pay for their renewal to continue using them.
To ensure that the end-user is as careful with security as Bluehost is careful with their own side of the security bargain, a checklist of security measures is provided to remind users of their obligations.
Plans & Pricing
Under this section we aren’t merely going to be looking at the prices that respective hosts offer for their services, we’ll also be looking at the quality offered and whether the price quoted is worth it. The winner of this round will be the host with the most transparent pricing and the one that offers the most value for money.
Bluehost offers four Shared hosting plans. Most of the Web-hosts we’ve reviewed just offer three. We like how Bluehost leaves a lot of room for scalability. The four plans are the Basic plan, Plus plan, Choice-plus and the Pro plan.
- The Basic plan comes with;
- Unmetered bandwidth
- Free SSL certificate
- 1 website
- 5 parked domains
- 25 subdomains.
- 50GB of storage
- 1 free domain
- The plan costs $2.75 (renewal costs $7.99 per month).
The Plus plan comes with all the features of the basic plan plus;
- Unlimited websites
- Unlimited domains
- $200 marketing offer
- Spam experts.
- Unlimited storage
- Unlimited subdomains
- Unlimited parked domains
The plan costs $5.45 per month. It normally costs $10.99.
The Choice-plus plan comes with all the features of the Plus plan plus;
- 1 office 365 mailbox – free 30 days and Codeguard basic site backup.
- Domain Privacy and protection
- The plan is the same price as the Plus plan but renewal costs $14.99
The Pro plan is the most expensive Shared hosting plan that Bluehost offers. The package costs $13.95 per month— renewal is $23.99 per month. It comes with all the features of the Choice-Plus plan with a dedicated IP address and high performance. Does this mean that previous plans have low performance? Not really. The truth is that previous plans have “standard performance”. According to Bluehost, high performance means that Pro servers allow for a 300,000 file count and are deployed with fewer users per server than the standard shared hosting servers. Therefore each user gets more resources allocated than with normal lower-tier hosting plans.
Bluehost offers a lot of quality at very low prices. That doesn’t negate the fact that renewal prices jump almost 200% from the initial price paid. If it looks like a trap, that’s because it is. Our question is that is it possible to quote the same initial price during renewal? It is, as we’ve reviewed hosts who don’t use this pricing structure. The question, then, is why does Bluehost (and countless others, we may add) continue?
Let’s look at GoDaddy’s pricing structure.
GoDaddy’s shared hosting plans start from the economy plan which costs $2.99. The plan comes with 24/7 support,100GB of storage, unlimited bandwidth, free email, and free domains. This sounds quite cheap— except when you discover that web hosts are up to their regular tricks of deceptive pricing here. The renewal for this plan costs $7.99, more than two times the original purchase price.
The next plan is the Deluxe plan which can be initially purchased at $4.99 (however, you have to pay $10.99 to renew). It comes with all the features of the Economy plan and has the added features of unlimited websites, storage, and subdomains.
The next is the Ultimate plan which can be purchased at $5.99 (renewal costs $16.99). It has all the features of the deluxe plan, and in addition, has double the processing power, a free SSL certificate (for a single term) and unlimited databases. The maximum plan, which is the most expensive shared hosting plan that GoDaddy has to offer commands $12.99 for the initial purchase and $24.99 upon renewal. It comes with the Ultimate plan features and ×2 the processing power and memory, ×2 maximum site traffic and a free SSL certificate for the full term.
Everything and anything of interest goes here. Are there any extra features that make these hosts standout? Let’s find out.
We’ll be starting off with GoDaddy.
- GoDaddy offers a free domain name for the first term for every created website.
- An extensive knowledge base that ensures that you do not have a lot of reasons to contact live support.
- All hosting plans have access to a free website builder.
- Access to over 125 apps with one-click installs. This includes the more popular applications like WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.
- GoDaddy helps new websites to get their name out on the big worldwide web through $100 worth ad credits for every $25 spent. The credits also include $50 in Bing and Facebook ads.
- GoDaddy also offers managed WordPress hosting.
- GoDaddy Pro is an extra feature provided by GoDaddy that allows resellers or people with multiple products to manage their accounts from a single dashboard. This means that you can control all your products with GoDaddy including domains multiple websites via one central panel. You are also allowed to clone your websites, get real-time analytics, perform migrations, and set automatic backups as you deem fit. Users can also manage online stores and/or websites, and make purchases on behalf of others with GoDaddy’s pro client.
- GoDaddy has a reward and referral program called Pro rewards that lets you buy upgrades or pay for websites with reward points.
- People with a Deluxe hosting plan or higher have access to the one-click website staging tool. This ensures that you experience zero downtime while updating your website. This tool makes sure that your website is still online while you’re working and a copy. It also allows you to see first hand the results of your updates and correct your mistakes, if any, before going live.
Let’s check out the extra features that Bluehost has to offer.
- Bluehost offers hotlink protection to protect your data.
- $200 Marketing offers
- Bluehost is an officially recommended web host by WordPress. Only two other Web-hosts share this status
- Bluehost offers CDN access
- Bluehost has both MySQL and PostgreSQL databases and you can use either phpMyAdmin, Remote MySQL, or phpPgAdmin to manage your databases.
- In case you need to manage your domains through them, Bluehost has a domain manager
- One-click installations for over 100+ apps from MOJO
- Bluehost supports the use of Perl modules, Cron jobs, PHP PEAR packages, and Apache handlers.
- The Blue flash feature is a special customer care feature that allows you access to experts dedicated to helping you get your WordPress website up and running.
- Bluehost offers the web building services of Weebly for free for all users.
Major Differences between GoDaddy and Bluehost
Just to recap, let’s look at the major differences between both hosts.
- Bluehost is considerably faster than GoDaddy
- GoDaddy has an uptime guarantee while Bluehost doesn’t.
- Bluehost has better customer support than GoDaddy
- Bluehost offers free SSL certificates, while GoDaddy does not.
Bluehost vs. GoDaddy: Our Pick
If there’s one thing we’ve learned today, it’s that Bluehost and GoDaddy have more in common than both hosts would like to admit.
So it’s time to decide a winner. We think the winner should be clear enough by now. GoDaddy came second in too many important sections, and that means the host comes second in the final analysis as well.