Our GoDaddy Shared Hosting Review
Our last GoDaddy review was not particularly favorable (mainly due to lack of cPanel), but with their new cPanel hosting and with some revealing discussions with Ben Gabler (the Senior Product Manager) about the direction and fresh approach at the company we honestly think they are turning a corner. This is one of the most detailed reviews we have undertaken, so please keep reading to find out our thoughts on their cPanel hosting. It is also worthwhile checking out our User GoDaddy Reviews at the end of this article.
Our First Thoughts
Their website has a very cool and fresh styling that makes it easy to navigate. They are clearly proud of their new hosting products (cPanel Linux Hosting & Plesk Windows Hosting) which are being clearly promoted. If you click on the “Hosting” option in the menu, you go straight through to the relevant pages with clear and precise information on the different plans, which is great.
There is a simple section detailing the different platforms (cPanel for Linux, or Parallels Plesk for Windows). The information given is pretty brief, and if we were new to hosting we would find it pretty hard to know which platform to choose. What’s more, we would be further confused by the reference to their old(?) WordPress hosting product at the bottom of the page. That being said, the information slider and the signup form defaults to our preferred cPanel Linux plan (we clearly have a bias here!). The only time we would choose their Plesk Windows plan is if we needed ASP.net, as you cannot run that on Linux.
The Sign-up Process
Signing up is incredibly easy, and you will find a detailed step by step guide on how to purchase a plan on our respective Coupon page. Suffice to say, you simple select your plan, term, and platform… add your free domain and review your order. At this point, you need to check that any discounts are applied and make sure all the details are correct before completing the purchase.
One thing to note is that when we went through the sign-up process, you will see that they try to upsell you with various products, such as “Increase traffic to your site.” It was frustrating that there was no information or link on the product, and it took a Google search to find the relevant page. We found it in the end via a Google Search, but we think this could have been much better… and their Search Engine Visibility product looks very interesting (at that pricing level) and includes things like rank tracking. If you were a small business, this actually would be great.
Anyway, once you finished paying for your new hosting, it will get added to your account. You need to launch the new cPanel hosting from within your user account, and you can watch your account being set-up in real-time. See the screenshots below:
Once you choose your login information it will go through some steps that take just a couple of minutes to complete, and then you can log into your cPanel:
We were certainly impressed with how simple and easy the whole process is, and how great their interface looks as well.
We are blown away by the new cPanel interface. It is without a doubt, the best custom cPanel design we have seen. They have gone to great efforts to create custom icons and style it generally in a way that is seamless with the styling of their site in general. Just take a look at this screenshot:
However, there is something that makes their interface special, and that is their resource usage charts. Many websites are very cryptic about their resource usage policies, often referring to some technical information in a “fair usage” policy. The problem is, you won’t know that you have exceeded your limits until they suspend your account. Of course, there are a number of hosts that are increasingly displaying some data, such as CPU Usage, and bandwidth usage, but they also provide a whole wealth of information in a clear chart that allows you to react well in advance (such as setting up caching CDN, or even upgrading the plan). This is what they track:
- CPU Usage
- Physical Memory Usage
- Entry Processes
- Number of Processes
- I/O Usage
- Disk Space Usage
- File Usage
- Monthly Bandwidth Transfer
Rather than explain what each of these mean, we will in the future do a separate post about them. Needless to say, you don’t need to worry too much unless the charts start showing you are nearing full capacity. Even then, don’t automatically rush to upgrade, as there are plenty of things to check do that can bring down the server usage (caching CDN’s removing resource intensive plugins etc.).
We will ultimately have to update this in time as our uptime monitoring has more data to work with. However, in the few weeks, we have been testing their cPanel product we have not experienced any downtime at all which is great.
With all the hacking going on these days security is quite a big issue. Fortunately, they use “CageFS” technology on their Cloud Linux platform.
We have long since stopped relying on web hosting providers to keep backups. Quite simply, even if you think a host is reliable, and well known Murphy’s Law will always kick in. They take a backup of your site nightly, and they will happily restore your backup should something go wrong. Like many hosts (including some of our other recommended ones), they only keep limited backups so you shouldn’t rely on that as your backup solution.
The great news with their cPanel hosting is that it is super easy to take manual backups, and download them to your computer.
No matter how good a host is, at some point something is bound to go wrong, and quite often the first place you will look is to your host’s support service even if it is not hosting related. We will be looking at support in two different ways;
- “Help! My site is offline, and I need it fixed NOW!” – the typical panic-stricken plea for help, that needs some immediate response to help keep your blood pressure low.
- “Hmmm, I wonder if I can do this” or “Hey, is it possible you can help me with something” – This type of support query is non-urgent. It may be that you want to configure an email or something relatively low level. You want a response relatively quickly, but it doesn’t have to be that minute.
So, in light of those different scenario’s how well can they respond? To answer this thoroughly, we will go through each of the support different methods in turn:
Now we are totally biased when it comes to telephone support. We know many people will only host with companies that offer telephone support, but we hate it. We just find it so much easier to fire off a quick support email, or open a live chat.
That being said, we made the effort to phone their support for a couple of queries. As an Englishman, getting a strong, very cheerful American accent on the other end of the phone made the whole process a little uplifting. We had to wait for all of about 20 seconds to get through to the support, and after handing over our customer number and passcode for security purposes, we had our answer within minutes, albeit it was a relatively simple “can you help me with something” type query.
Overall, as a novice telephone support user, we were completely impressed by their telephone support.
This must be one of our favorite methods of contacting web hosting support. Quite often you head to the homepage, click on a button and a minute or so later you can ask a quick question. You don’t have to put on a friendly voice, or pay 100% attention to it. When the conversation is done, you either have your answer, or the tech guy has escalated your problem to a ticket.
ARRRGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! Unfortunately, they do not offer Online Chat support.
Ticket support is the ultimate way to raise queries that are perhaps a little more complex, or which may require some action on the part of the technical support team. Quite often phones or online chat support is manned by “Level 1” technical support. They have a good grasp of simple things, but anything complex may need to be bumped up to one of the fewer, but more capable people.
We have been a little disappointed with the Ticket Support so far. They advertise that responses will be forthcoming within 24 hours, but we think this is way too long for simple and quick queries. Apparently, some more complicated do take longer, but we are used to an initial response much quicker. It is a little confusing in a way, as you always have the option of getting an almost immediate response by telephone. [needs some further investigation consideration]
Email Support (cPanel support team)
Now, if you have read our news post announcing the arrival of cPanel you may already be aware that they have created a special dedicated support team specializing in the new cPanel hosting product which specifically monitor that support queue. To use this special support, simply send an email to [email protected]. We tried it out with a few general queries and were very pleased to get a response within about 15 minutes. This is pretty awesome.
Due to their very large customer base, they do have pretty active support forums. This enables other customers to chime in with suggestions to fix minor problems, but their support does normally respond around the 6-hour mark, which mirrors the ticket support response times. Unless you have a general query, though, rather than something that might need you to provide your account details, etc., we would recommend using their ticket or telephone support.
If you ever need to pass a spare 10 minutes or so, their Twitter account can be quite amusing. Essentially, they have a team of Twitter techies scouring Twitter for any reference of their name and a potential problem, and they immediately reach out to offer support. It is quite insane how active they are, from responding to good wishes, commenting on reviews or other posted articles. What gets us, though, is how incredibly polite they are no matter what. It is like someone is taking happy pills over there.
From looking at the account, they are responding within an hour, and much faster in some cases. We spent some time reading back over some of the tweets to get an idea of the type of support queries, and incredibly we saw follow up tweets from several days prior because they didn’t get a response and they wanted to follow up to make sure everything is ok. Incredible, and probably one of the most active support Twitter accounts we have seen.
Certainly, if you have a quick query and use Twitter, try them out. We could see ourselves raising minor queries this way.
Our Conclusions on their Support
If you ignore the different methods of support, their support is quite excellent, at least for the fairly basic queries we have personally thrown at them, and what we have seen via their more public support methods.
Our only criticism will be on the methods of support available, and the speed of “some” of the support methods offered. If you have an urgent problem that you want dealing with instantly, you will need to use their telephone support. If you have a more general minor query, then we would recommend their Twitter Support as they have an excellent team answering questions there.
Unfortunately, where they are let down is the speed of their ticket support. While a response within 24 hours is reasonable, and in a couple of cases, we tested, the response was around the 6-hour mark it falls way behind some of their competitors. Also, lack of Online Chat support is frustrating. That being said, they have set up a dedicated cPanel hosting support team that you can submit a support ticket to by emailing them at their support email mentioned above. Our experience with this support method was an incredible 15 minutes, as good as any other host out there.
We carried out a speed test via Pingdom.com on a basic WordPress install. The results were good as you can see. You should bear in mind, though, that no caching technologies were setup on the test website, and the load speed could well be faster than this (depending on the page size of your completed site of course).
In our discussions with Ben Gabler, the Senior Product Manager and the person responsible for introducing cPanel to their product line, Ben gave us some interesting information about the density of their servers:
I can tell you that our cPanel servers (according to cPanel themselves and our prior experience) are 1/3 the densification of our competitors. This means more resources for your website as well as faster load times.
Also, due to my long standing relationships with cPanel/CloudLinux I was able to develop a strategic offering making it possible to hit that 1/3 density number in the hosting industry.
Ben Gabler, also gave us a screenshot of the tests they regularly carry out to help the speed of their web servers:
In time, we hope to build up some speed test data ourselves on the website we test, for comparison purposes. However, the data in the table is very interesting. Ultimately, their cPanel hosting is one of their best performing products.
The cost of their hosting is very reasonable and represents good value for money. Like just about every other host we have reviewed the renewal price is slightly higher, especially if you use our coupons. It is, therefore, recommend that you sign up for a longer period to make the most of the initial savings.
Their refund policy is as follows:
- You may request a refund within 45 days of purchase for annual plans.
- You may request a refund within 48 hours of purchase for monthly plans.
- After 45 days, you may request an in-store credit for any unused time remaining in your annual plan. Unused time will be prorated based on the date of purchase.
- You cannot get multiple refunds for the same product
While not the best refund policy we have seen, it goes a lot further than many. Having some pro-rated refund is a nice feature for long sign-up periods, although it is a shame, in this case, it is a credit based refund.
- Great Support – If you love telephone support, then they have you covered. You will get access to their support within a minute or two should you need it, although when we telephoned them on multiple occasions, we were chatting to them within around 30 seconds.
- Other Products – They have many other products and services that you may find of interest, from their Auctions to their SEO addon. We will be looking to review some of these additional features in due course, but as we have an SEO background, we know that some of the features of their SEO product would be great for small businesses.
- New Approach – We always like a host that is looking to improve and update itself. We weren’t impressed with them for so long, but their new management and product manager bringing in cPanel and Plesk seems to indicate a much more proactive company. Add in their awesome new advertising campaign, and we think they will be an interesting host to watch over the coming year.
- CPanel hosting – We are big fans of cPanel for the reasons we have already stated, namely it makes it super easy to move your site to and from a hosting provider.
- Clear Usage allowances – We love the fact that they are transparent with their usage requirements.
- Server Speed density – We are impressed that cPanel are purposefully not overloading their cPanel servers, and from our speed test the results are pretty good for shared hosting.
- Lack of Online chat support – We are big fans of online chat support, and the lack of it from them may isolate some people who prefer that method to deal with support inquiries.
- Fairly slow support ticket times – Don’t get us wrong, many hosts work on a 24-hour turn around for ticket support. However, there is an increasing number that will reply within 15-30 minutes to any support queries (i.e. Siteground). Where we used the special cPanel support email, we received a response incredibly fast, but their general ticket response was around the 6-hour mark. That is pretty good, but quite a bit off the best we have experienced.
- Only one day of backups kept – While we do not advocate relying on your hosts backups (many only offer it as a courtesy despite advertising daily backups, so you shouldn’t rely on them), they only keep one day worth of backups, so it makes developing your backup strategy all the more important.
Our GoDaddy Review Final Thoughts
Ok, we are impressed. When we looked at GoDaddy first about 11 months ago (when we did our previous Review), we were not overly impressed, mainly due to not liking their custom control panel. This time, however, we looked much more deeply at what they had to offer with their cPanel hosting and discovered some very friendly features, and pretty great support (if you love telephone support especially).
Our only downside about this host is the limited backups that are taken. While in reality, we never recommend anyone relying on their hosts backups, we do think that either they should sell an addon for backups, or should take at least a few days worth of courtesy backups.
Overall, though, we have no hesitation in our Review to recommend them, especially as a newbie novice friendly host.
Also, remember to check out our User Reviews below, as well as to check out our recent news articles.
This activation link will give you $1 per month Economy Hosting + Free Domain. This is for their cPanel Plesk hosting product, so a great deal. You will see the offer in the orange bar at the top of the page, but the prices won't reflect the offer until you reach the checkout.