GoDaddy has the brand, pricing, and mind-share in the website industry. Bluehost is one of the oldest and most reputable shared hosting companies on the Internet. Here’s my comparison of Bluehost vs. GoDaddy for best choice in web hosting – with a specific focus on WordPress hosting.
A few quick notes before diving in (or skip to the conclusion).
First, this entire Bluehost / GoDaddy review (originally published July 16, 2013) has been updated several times (now for October 2018) to account for both GoDaddy’s and Bluehost’s rebrand, new tiers and various other changes. Also, a disclosure: although everything here is based on my experience as a paying customer or consultant to a paying customer, I do receive referral fees from any companies mentioned in this post.
Second, GoDaddy provides a ton of services beyond hosting. They were originally founded as a domain registrar, but now provide a huge range of business services including accounting, email and more. I’ve also written how their domain services compare to NameCheap and how their hosting compares to InMotion and SiteGround. But it’s important to “weight” your desire for convenience across a range of business products in addition to your desire for the best web hosting choice.
I’ve also had some questions about whether I recommend Bluehost overall – especially because I recommend their sister brand HostGator elsewhere on the site. So, point of clarification: HostGator and BlueHost are different brands of the same holding company. They are kind of like Coke and Sprite.
I use HostGator for many of my small projects mainly because of how they structure their pricing & features. You’ll want to check out HostGator with a 60% off discount here as well. I’ve written a focused Bluehost review here. I have clients who love them – and use their email and domain services as well. I’ve found that every brand has tradeoffs – there is no overall “best” – there is only the best for you based on your goals & preferences. For example, this site specifically uses InMotion VPS Hosting – which has a big emphasis on customer service & performance.
Comparing Bluehost and GoDaddy on price is quite difficult for 2 reasons. First, they both run frequent specials (see Bluehost’s current deal here & GoDaddy’s here), so their pricing is never going to exactly align in the short-term. Second, GoDaddy breaks their tiers of service down differently from Bluehost, who reworked their tiers in 2016. The new Bluehost tiers consist of a super cheap, but limited Basic plan, and a Pro tier with a couple domain upsells. The tiers on Bluehost and GoDaddy are apples to oranges – with a different tiering focus for each. Here’s an approximate cheat sheet for now –
- Bluehost Basic Plan = GoDaddy Economy Plan
- Bluehost Plus Plan ~ GoDaddy Deluxe Plan (Bluehost has no hard caps but GoDaddy does)
- Bluehost Choice Plus ~ GoDaddy Ultimate Plan (Bluehost provides a few extra bonuses, but they are fairly comparable)
I’ve set up websites for clients who use GoDaddy and Bluehost. I currently have 1 website hosted by GoDaddy. Until Bluehost’s recent (aka 2016) pricing changes, I found the pricing trend that Bluehost is cheaper long-term (ie, after a year), and it was always cheaper for what you get in features. However, the new tiers tilt the cheaper long-term pricing towards GoDaddy but keep the value per dollar towards Bluehost.
If you are looking for a super dirt cheap hosting solution for 1 small website (with storage limitations) – GoDaddy is generally cheaper with specials, but Bluehost’s Starter plan is comparable and usually just a dollar more expensive after promo.
Bluehost’s Plus plan pricing is $10.99/mo for unlimited everything – unlimited databases (important because that’s how many WordPress sites you’ll be able to install), and unlimited storage, and domain mapping. They will often discount it to $2.95/mo or less if you register for a longer time period (here are their current plans with promotional pricing).
GoDaddy has a couple comparable plans. The Deluxe is very similar to the Bluehost Plus plan, except it caps the number of databases (ie, WordPress websites) you can have. It is slightly cheaper with yearly at $8.99/mo and discounts often down to $4.99/mo. The Ultimate package is standard pricing $14.99/mo with discounts down to $7.49/mo. It has unlimited databases, but also adds on an SSL & premium DNS – which are not especially needed by most websites – but if you have several projects going, then you have no real caps.
So if you are really in a pinch for cash and want something super-cheap – no matter how limited – GoDaddy and Bluehost tie on the lowest tier pricing. On the middle tier, where you want a versatile account with no caps but without the bonuses – then Bluehost is a better value.
On their top tier plans – Bluehost offers more features…though I’m not sold on whether they make up for the price. I mean, what is a SpamExpert or unique about CodeGuard Basic? And I’d rather purchase an SSL from a third party provider like NameCheap than my hosting company. GoDaddy’s top tier plan just promises “faster speeds” – which makes me question the value of their middle plan.
But pricing isn’t the end all be all – let’s take a look at usability.
Hosting companies are selling something that is inherently technical by nature – and daunting for many users. Good hosting companies strike a balance between convenience and control. Their “backends” and account dashboards should be clean and straightforward.
As mentioned, both Bluehost and GoDaddy use the industry standard cPanel for their server backends. They have both customized them for simplicity.
GoDaddy’s New cPanel Backend:
Those are screenshots of the backend of GoDaddy and Bluehost. Those are the screens that you get to see once you purchase your hosting account.
When you sign up for hosting – you don’t get a website, you get a place to “put your website” – as it were. So you get a dashboard to operate your hosting account – add domains, install files, manage databases, install WordPress, etc.
Since it is the backend of a server – it’s not going to be super-user friendly, but it’s also nice to be able to install and manage your account without having to learn to program.
Bluehost uses a backend called cPanel for all their accounts – which is the industry standard. Typically, cPanel comes with an unpolished, but straightforward interface. Bluehost has a really polished the backend compared to many other cPanel-based hosts. They’ve organized it with different tabs to reduce the appearance of clutter. They have also added several educational options in addition to the big, green Install WordPress button.
In July 2013, GoDaddy had a proprietary backend that was sleeker and more straightforward than cPanel but became frustrating, limiting, and unwieldy if you ever tried to build out multiple sites on the account.
With GoDaddy’s Fall 2013 re-brand, they officially switched over to the industry-standard cPanel, just like Bluehost (with an extra $1/mo). They did customize it a bit to make it more user-friendly like Bluehost.
In July 2013, I said that – “for deciding between Bluehost vs. GoDaddy on usability, it all depends on what type of usability you are looking for. If you are a beginner who wants an easy-to-use setup and who never plans on really changing anything else – GoDaddy wins. It has a sleeker, easier interface on its web hosting backend. If you are looking for long-term usability with the flexibility and options to meet whatever project you are trying out – Bluehost wins.”
After both the rebrands and GoDaddy switching to cPanel, they are really just about the same on usability. I like Bluehost’s small educational touches and one-click WordPress installs. But GoDaddy’s integration with their other heavily used products (like domains & email) is a big plus as well.
For usability, I’d say they are a tie. It’s really personal preference depending on what company you already use. If you are starting from scratch – then Bluehost has an edge with a cleaner design, better education and more thoughtful upsells. If you already have GoDaddy for domain/email – then you’ll find their hosting setup straightforward.
But kudos to GoDaddy for switching over to cPanel (even though they do charge an extra $1/mo).
However, no matter what you get as far as usability goes – you will inevitably run into problems. And that’s where customer support comes in.
Now, judging customer support is always going be a bit anecdotal, especially if you don’t need to utilize it much. Your phone or email rep is a person – so at any given moment, your experience might be better than mine (for example, my experience with Comcast support has always been fabulous FWIW).
Based on my experience with both companies – and talking with people who use both as well – I’ve found GoDaddy’s support to be adequate. I always have to wait several minutes on the phone. I always have to explain a couple times what my issue is. But overall, they get the job done, and my problem fixed. No horror stories – just nothing super-special.
Bluehost, on the other hand, has always provided me fast, solid support. I’ve spoken with them via phone and email and had great experiences with them both times. Bluehost has highly rated customer service and seems to deserve it – although they did come under fire with their response to a DDOS attack in 2015. In a recent incident, they were much more transparent.
But again – anecdotes. Instead, I think it’s better to figure out if a company views support as a cost, an investment or an upsell. Their company culture will evolve from there.
I think you can deduce this by looking at the diversity of support channels, investment in DIY help and figuring out their approach to customer service.
GoDaddy and Bluehost both have large knowledgebases. GoDaddy seems to skew towards their own products rather than hosting help. Both have support across a range of channels including phone and chat.
The main difference that I see is that Bluehost allows for “self-triage” – you pick your support issue before calling.
Whereas GoDaddy pushes everything to their main phone line to let account reps and/or the phone tree sort issues.
I’ve found Bluehost’s approach to be much more preferable. If you are calling about a WordPress issue – then you aren’t stuck in the same queue as billing question people. There are fewer transfers between reps and I feel more in control.
The downside is that you do have to “self-diagnose,” which can be confusing if you have an overlapping question.
As mentioned in the pricing section, both GoDaddy (“Economy” and “Deluxe” and “Ultimate) and Bluehost (“Basic” and “Plus” and “Choice Plus”) offer tiers that don’t quite line up…which throws direct comparisons off a little bit.
The absolute core features of any hosting plan are – the number of websites (domain names that can be assigned to a website on the account), databases (the number of unique website installations on the hosting account), and disk space (how much stuff you can put on your server).
If you know that you only want 1 super-cheap place to host 1 small website – then you should consider GoDaddy’s Economy package or Bluehost’s Basic plan. They both limit your websites, storage, and databases – but equally. It’s actually a pretty solid head to head comparison.
Aside – here’s one case where BlueHost’s sister brand, HostGator, has a better lowest tier plan of them all. Check out HostGator’s “Hatchling” here. It’s still 1 website, but no caps on subdomains, storage, or anything else.
When you look at the other plans, things get slightly more complicated. But the key feature to call out is databases. BlueHost doesn’t limit them on the Plus plan. GoDaddy caps them at 25 on the Deluxe (which otherwise is comparable to the Plus plan). On the flip side, GoDaddy’s Unlimited plan does do unlimited storage, databases, and domains – but also adds SSL certificates and Premium DNS to the plan. Both of these are not really necessary for a non-eCommerce website…and are usually cheaper and better if you buy them separately anyway (ie, like domain registrar).
Another important feature of hosting is the memory limit – especially if you are setting up WordPress hosting. Memory limit is how much resources your shared hosting account is allocated to produce your website every time a visitor loads your site (ie, more memory = faster load time, and more visitors allowed before crashing).
Both Bluehost and GoDaddy used to set pretty low initial limits before 2014. However, Bluehost has their’s set to 256 megabytes by default. GoDaddy does not. I’ve found back ways that you can increase it on your GoDaddy account…but it’s a real pain. Not a pain worth $12 extra per year.
For other features, Bluehost does better on its Choice Plus & Plus plans with unlimited space, dedicated IP, etc now that they did away with specific disk space and email account caps.
Bluehost wins on the top end of plans, while GoDaddy wins on the middle plans and it’s a tie on the cheap tier. However, I set aside a separate rubric of extra features to consider (features that aren’t technically part of the web hosting – but come with the hosting package).
Extra Features & Performance
While both Bluehost and GoDaddy come with 1-click WordPress installs – Bluehost comes with the easiest one. GoDaddy provides Premium DNS and beats BlueHost on free ad money (they both do Google, but GoDaddy offers Bing & Facebook money).
They both offer a free domain for a year with web hosting. But what about performance?
A hosting server’s primary job isn’t just to hold your website – it’s to provide it quickly to any browser that requests those files. The easiest metric to measure here is Time To First Byte (TTFB) – that is, how quickly the server gets the request and sends the first byte of information back.
TTFB is best measured as a trend & relative at the time of testing – which can be hard for average consumers to see. On this site – you’ll see test results that show variance in test times, but the trend & relative position usually remains the same.
It’s also something that competitors keep close at hand. However, Endurance International – the corporation that owns both Bluehost and HostGator – included their internal data and long-term benchmarking in their investor presentation.
You can see that Bluehost – by EIG’s internal data – is not the fastest. But it is faster than GoDaddy.
Here are the results for my websites on a recent test.
Over the past few years, my tests have always been in line with EIG data. But recently, GoDaddy has been showing a bit better performance. In this most recent test – they are only slightly slower than Bluehost.
Keep in mind that TTFB times are best analyzed as a trend. But as a general rule, I’ve found GoDaddy to be slower than Bluehost. Bluehost is slower than HostGator. And HostGator seems to fluctuate but generally be tied or slightly slower than independent competitors that I also use such as SiteGround (vs. GoDaddy) or InMotion Hosting (vs. GoDaddy).
Both are about the same on speed.
So – who wins Bluehost vs. GoDaddy? It depends on who you are and what you are looking for.