When 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.
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 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.