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: this entire GoDaddy / BlueHost review (originally published July 16, 2013) has been updated several times (now for January 2017) 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.
After comparing NameCheap vs. GoDaddy when it comes to choosing a domain provider, I got lots of email questions about using GoDaddy for web hosting – specifically for hosting WordPress. I’ll be doing a series comparing GoDaddy hosting with other hosting providers that I have personally used.
I’ve also had some questions about whether I recommend BlueHost overall – especially because I recommend 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 projects mainly because of how they structure their pricing & features. I do have a 25% off coupon code for HostGator – swampland25 – if you want to check HostGator out as well. This site specifically uses InMotion VPS Hosting – which has a big emphasis on customer service & performance.
But for now, we’ll compare BlueHost vs. GoDaddy specifically on price, usability, support, hosting features, and extra features based on my experience and their own guides.
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 offers tiers of service for their shared hosting,
whereas BlueHost offers 1 tier – unlimited everything for 1 price. EDIT 1-5-2016 Bluehost now offers tiers, but their old single plan is called “Plus.” The new tiers consists 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 though GoDaddy does)
- Bluehost Prime ~ 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 on GoDaddy. Until Bluehost’s recent (aka 2016) pricing changes, I had found the pricing trend that Bluehost is cheaper long-term (ie, after a year), and was always cheaper for what you get in features. However, the new tiers tilt the cheaper long-term pricing towards GoDaddy but keeps 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 (see here to get the latest pricing), 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 $6.95/mo or less if you register for a longer time period (here’s 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 “2 SpamExperts” vs. “1 SpamExpert” – 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 – let’s look at usability.
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 programming.
BlueHost uses a backend called cPanel – which is the industry standard. Typically, cPanel comes with an unpolished, but straightforward interface. With their 2014 re-brand, BlueHost has really polished the backend, and 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 never plans on really changing anything else – GoDaddy wins. It has a sleeker, easier interface on it’s 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. I like BlueHost’s small educational touches, but GoDaddy’s integration with their other heavily used products (like domains) is a big plus as well.
For usability, I’d say they are a tie. It’s really personal preference. 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 – and so on 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, fabulous 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.
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 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 “Prime”) 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 which 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 features 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 Prime & 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 and 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 – GoDaddy comes with the easiest. GoDaddy also 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.
To check their data, I re-run TTFB tests for every update. Here’s the results from January 2017 for my websites on each.
In line with EIG’s data – Bluehost is faster. For comparison, here’s HostGator’s speed test on the same day with a similar website –
Again – in line with EIG data. Keep in mind that TTFB times are best looked at as a trend. But as a general rule, I’ve found GoDaddy to be slower than Bluehost. Bluehost slower than HostGator. And HostGator to fluctuate but general be tied or slightly slower than independent competitors that I also use such as InMotion Hosting (review).
Either way, Bluehost wins on speed compared to GoDaddy.
So – who wins Bluehost vs. GoDaddy in 2017? It depends on who you are and what you are looking for.