Godaddy vs. Bluehost: Which Affordable Website Hosting Company is the Best?

bluehost-smallWhen you’re looking for cheap, reliable web hosting, several names inevitably come up, two of the most prominent being Bluehost and Godaddy. But at this basic level of shared hosting does it really matter that much which host you pick?

Overall, although many of the features are quite similar, there are also a few key differences between Bluehost and Godaddy. And in my own personal experience, due to a combination of factors including features and support which will be explored in detail in this article, I chose to move my own websites from Godaddy to Bluehost, although I still register my domain names with the former.

Bluehost and Godaddy Company Comparison

Despite being less of a household name compared to Godaddy (not many hosting companies have decided to purchase Super Bowl TV ads), Bluehost is no newcomer to the world of web hosting, as the company dates back to 1996. And although at first glance it may appear to be smaller Bluehost going against the behemoth Godaddy, this is not the case.

Bluehost is actually owned by a much larger company, Endurance International Group, which acquires and operates dozens of different hosting brands including HostGator and FatCow. But despite this, Bluehost’s culture and philosophy is reported to have remained largely the same after the acquisition by EIG in 2010. (Source: Internal email from Hostgator posted to pastebin http://pastebin.com/nV9bc7Cv)

Bluehost prides itself on its technology infrastructure and the fact that it handles every aspect of its customers web hosting, as stated on its About Us page: “We have our own datacenter (a 50,000 square foot headquarters with two secondary data centers locations totaling over 20,000 square feet), we build our own servers, we have our own nationwide fiber network, we build our own custom linux kernel.”

Godaddy, on the other hand, has important core services in addition to web hosting. It is the largest ICANN-accredited domain registrar in world by a large margin, for one, managing over 45 million domain names as of 2010. (source) Godaddy’s chief data center is larger than Bluehost’s, weighing in at 65,000 square feet.

Comparison of Godaddy and Bluehost Hosting Features

When it comes down to the actual features, in this case shared hosting, the two options are fairly similar, but Bluehost gives you a bit more. Both allow quick and easy installs of WordPress for blogging and other apps, generous disk space and email services, PHP, MYSQL databases, and Shell (SSH) access.

The biggest difference is that at the shared hosting level, Godaddy operates a three-tier model, whereas Bluehost only offers one “all-in-one” package. Right now the Godaddy levels are Economy at $4.94/month, Deluxe at $6.64/month and Ultimate at $9.49/month.

The major disadvantage of the Godaddy Economy plan is the fact that you can only use one domain per hosting account. In addition, some features, including Ruby, Python, Perl, and Postgre SQL, are not included in the economy plan, although most bloggers and new webmasters likely won’t need them. (Check out Godaddy and click hosting to read about the full set of features)

Bluehost, on the other hand, throws a few additional key perks into the pot to sweeten the deal. These include a free domain, unlimited domains on one account, and unlimited disk space and email accounts. The regular price is $6.95 but they are currently running a promotion for $3.95/month.

Finally, Bluehost uses cPanel for its user interface which is a big favorite for many. Godaddy’s has been reported to be slightly less intuitive, although I never found it to be too difficult.

Read more about Bluehost’s shared hosting plan.

Godaddy and Bluehost Service: Which is Better?

For most webmasters looking for the best affordable shared hosting, names like Perl, PHP or Ruby might not mean a whole lot, but quality service certainly does.

And both Godaddy and Bluehost provide great customer service, although again I give the nod to Bluehost.

In my experience, Godaddy emails were answered in about 24 hours, and were helpful but sometimes not to the level I was hoping for, and my questions remained unanswered. I should also note that their support staff also are good about answering questions on their community articles which can be found through a search either in Google or on Godaddy. And finally, I once had an issue with my site and decided to tweet @Godaddy and they promptly responded and helped, routing my ticket to someone else to follow up. I’m always impressed to see a company that uses social media to actually help rather than just broadcast their latest promotions, although I’m not sure if they’d still do that today.

The biggest advantage of Bluehost’s service, however, is the fact that they offer a Live Chat option, which is ideal when you don’t want to wait on hold on the phone or wait for hours for an email response.

My Personal Tale of Godaddy vs. Bluehost

When I started my first self-hosted website a few years ago, I decided to go with Godaddy, as I thought it would be advantageous to keep my domain names and hosting under the same company. It all worked extremely well for several months until I realized I couldn’t host multiple domains on the same account. Thankfully Godaddy staff helped me upgrade to the Deluxe plan, and I was up and running with a small network of sites.

But at one point things started to go slowly. Sometimes my sites would respond perfectly fast, but at other times they would take up to a minute to connect, occasionally timing out entirely. Godaddy support was helpful and courteous, but didn’t really have much of substance to say rather than their standard canned responses. I tried doing a traceroute and a few other diagnostic tools, and they basically concluded by saying that it must be a plugin or something else I personally did.

To this day I’m not quite sure what was causing the slowness, but I did deactivate all my plugins to no avail. And the fact that the slowness only occurred temporarily was another part of the mystery. Some of the game of shared hosting might be luck: I think I may just have been in a bad server neighborhood where lots of other sites would start sucking up all the bandwidth before eventually being shut down. Since I didn’t have confidence that my sites would be accessible at the 99.9% uptime guaranteed, I eventually asked for a refund, which Godaddy promptly granted. At that point I was off to Bluehost, and I’ve never looked back.

My Bluehost sites have been very reliable and load very quickly. There have been a few brief issues, though. A few days ago one website I co-own with a partner went down for a couple hours. A look at Twitter revealed that there were lots of Bluehost sites down and Hurricane Sandy was even speculated to be the cause. I’d say I’ve only had downtime about twice over the past year, with the problem quickly fixed both times. For these reasons, I recommend Bluehost, although Godaddy is a quality host as well.

If you’ve hosted with either Bluehost or Godaddy, what has been your experience?

andrew walshAndrew Walsh is the owner and editor of Social Web Q and A. He is a freelance writer, academic librarian and web entrepreneur. Check out his book Savvy for the Social Web.

 

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Comments

  1. For me i’ll also go with Bluehost. Great review.

  2. Thanks for the helpful info. I am tasked with creating a new website for a soon to be museum, sponsored by a non-profit. They have purchased their domain name (in several versions: .com, .org, .net, etc.), and they are not at all tech/internet savvy. I am only a little bit more savvy than they are, in that I have a blog on wordpress.com. But, they want this website to be able to post logos/ads of their funders/sponsors of the museum, and to someday sell ad space, and of course collect donations for the museum construction and maintenance. So I’m thinking wordpress.org is the way to go. That said, I’m not sure which host would be best: go daddy or blue host? Any advice?

    • Andrew Walsh says:

      Patti, I do think that in situation, it is worth it to go with wordpress.org, which will allow for monetization and the potential for more customization down the road. In this post I’ve recommended bluehost because I’ve found it to be a little better than Godaddy, which I used for a long time too. I found Bluehost’s interface to be a little easier to use, and Godaddy was a little frustrating because there were more upsells to buy other products just about anywhere I looked. Bluehost is one of the more affordable hosts and in my experience there have only been a couple instances of site downtime over the past few months. And each time they got it back up very quickly. Finally, they have a live chat support option which I find to be really helpful when I need help, instead of waiting on hold on the phone or sending an email which takes a lot longer. Best of luck making your decision and setting up the site! Let us know how it goes.

      • Thank you so much for the quick and helpful reply. If I may, I have two more (stupid?) questions: Will I need a password to use their already-purchased domain name as I set up a website in wordpress.org through Bluehost? And do I begin this process in worrdpress.org, and choose bluehost from there?

        • Andrew Walsh says:

          No problem, and those aren’t stupid questions at all! You will need to have access to the account on whatever service the organization used to register the domain name. (ex. Godaddy, Namecheap, etc.) Bluehost asks you whether you need to register a domain name or if you already have one (which you do) You can either transfer the domain to Bluehost or keep it wherever it is now and adjust the nameservers so it will work with Bluehost. (Sounds complicated but isn’t really too tough; support at either service should be able to walk you through it)

          But you will initiate the process on Bluehost and the first step is to get a hosting account. Once you have that, they offer a one-click install of the WordPress.org software, so you never actually have to download anything from wordpress.org. Let me know if you have any more questions!

  3. Hi Andrew; Again, thanks for the helpful reply, I really appreciate it. I am waiting for a response from the organization as to where they registered the domain names. I guess I could just go into Bluehost and start the process. From what I’ve read, I believe wordpress.org offers an opportunity to get all your website pages set up the way you want, kind of like a dress rehearsal, before you publish for the world to see — which will work well for me because I’ll have to have the pages OK’d by a board before we go public with it all. (Although, I probably won’t be able to do that until I find out the origin of the domain name.) Thank you again for all your help.

    • Well, they informed me they purchased the domain names through Go Daddy. I’m looking at the sign-up page for Bluehost, and they offer an attractive rate right now: only $4.95 per month on a 36-month signup. But then on the next line they offer something called SiteLock Domain Security for $15 a year, and Site Backup Pro for $13 a year. What is your opinion of those additional charges? Worth it? Can I add them on at a later date? Thank you.

      • Andrew Walsh says:

        Those are definitely features that you don’t need to purchase. I don’t see any need for either, and there are also ways to back up your site for free within WordPress using plugins if you wish. I’m sure you could add them later on though. The first time I signed up for my Bluehost account I actually left those boxes checked accidentally and then when I realized what I had purchased I called support and they issued me a refund!

        • So glad I stumbled upon your site, Andrew! You’ve been most helpful. I’m forging ahead with Bluehost to set up a website via wordpress.org. Thanks again for your prompt replies.

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