I recently did a full review of InMotion Hosting, which you can read here. However, I wanted to specifically look at InMotion Hosting vs. GoDaddy Web Hosting, simply because GoDaddy is the consumer brand among most people who are looking to start their own website.
Note: This post originally appeared on October 6, 2013. It has been revised and rewritten to both companies as of 2016.
GoDaddy is a global brand that does a lot of advertising (that’s an understatement). I’ve maintained an account there, and a couple of my clients use it, so I’ve had a a good bit of experience with them since 2009. And InMotion is a rapidly growing hosting company out of Los Angeles that has recently generated a good bit of press and won several awards for their hosting services.
For quite a while now, I have been receiving reader questions about InMotion. I have client websites on GoDaddy, but currently use an InMotion VPS server for shivarweb.com. So I thought I’d compare them head to head. Let’s dive in and look at InMotion Hosting vs. GoDaddy Web Hosting.
Disclosure – I receive referral fees from any companies mentioned in this post. All opinion and data is based on my experience as a paying customer or consultant to a paying customer.
Second, while they both offer 3 tiers of shared hosting pricing (which they refer to as “business class” and “web hosting” respectively), their plans don’t align exactly.
Nevertheless, when I break out all the features and packages – GoDaddy has the lower prices – pretty consistently, even before discounts. Their cheapest plans are nearly identical in value, and their middle plans are not that far off from each other. If you are deciding solely on price – you should take advantage of GoDaddy’s hosting promos here.
The last catch, which I’ll also mention in Features, is the cPanel license. For GoDaddy, it’s a $1/mo upsell. For InMotion, it’s included. If you are planning on using cPanel (the industry standard backend), then that tips the price back to InMotion.
However, if you are able to, I wouldn’t make a hosting decision solely on price. While GoDaddy wins on pricing – let’s continue onto the rest of the categories before deciding on InMotion Hosting vs. GoDaddy…
Just like any bit of marketing, web hosts offer the same product in general, and try to emphasize certain features to stand out to their potential customers. That said – there are specific features that you should consider, and can have an impact depending on what your goals are.
First off, both GoDaddy and InMotion limit the number of websites/domains and databases at their cheapest tier. To break out the jargon, websites/domains is the number of domains that you can route to your hosting account. Each website/domain can have a ton of subdomains on it though. So you could have blog.domain.com, client1.domain.com, www.domain.com, etc, etc – and still only have 1 website/domain on your account.
What is truly limiting is the number of databases that you are limited to. Databases are what stores the information that runs your website. For example, if you use WordPress to power you website, each install uses its own database. Unless you are uploading raw HTML files (and I hope you’re not), then the number of databases allowed is what you should look at.
InMotion and GoDaddy both mix and match on their 2 cheapest tiers. I could really get into specifics and scenarios, but basically, if you have a few websites planned, then InMotion and GoDaddy will both be fine.
Second, the “hidden” feature that I always check is how much PHP they give you. The reason I look at this is because many, many people run their website off a PHP-based CMS…in other words, the programming language that powers the software that powers your website (ie, WordPress is a PHP-based CMS).
PHP needs dedicated memory to run – just like your computer, laptop, or smartphone needs memory to run quickly. Often, web hosts on the cheaper end of the scale will seriously cut back on PHP memory for the sake of costs.
GoDaddy used to be infamous case of this – sometimes only giving 64M to your account. They have recently upgraded to allocate industry standard 256M to each account, though they still cap the amount of memory dedicated to uploads (only a factor when you try to upload a huge photo/video directly through WordPress).
InMotion, though, get especially high marks for the amount of memory dedicated. They match GoDaddy at 256M – but exceed them in upload PHP, and other resources dedicated to the account (this will show up again when we get to Performance).
Otherwise, both GoDaddy and InMotion Hosting offer a wide variety of freebies such as email, app installers, and advertising credits – and they both include a free domain with hosting purchase (see InMotion’s deals here and GoDaddy’s current promo here).
First, money-back guarantees. They both offer them, but in my (and others) experience – GoDaddy does 45-day, while InMotion offers a 90-day guarantee.
Second, GoDaddy does not do backups. InMotion does free weekly backups which are available for free as well. Now – you should be doing your own website backups, so this should be moot. However, things happen (like hitting delete while backing things up…speaking from experience). So it’s always good to have a safety net – especially one that you don’t have to pay for.
InMotion vs. GoDaddy on features? If you are only planning a couple websites or less, then InMotion wins by far. If you are going to need a good many separate websites (for clients, events, etc) – GoDaddy’s unlimited features on their Unlimited plan might be a better fit for you, though you should read on to the end for other, better alternatives than GoDaddy.
Features and pricing don’t matter though if your hosting doesn’t do the 1 thing it’s meant to do: serve up your website quickly every single time a visitor requests it.
Both site advertise a 99.99% uptime – that comes from internal numbers though, and has a lot of variables. I’ve yet to have any downtime with InMotion yet, and I’ve had some downtime with my client’s sites on GoDaddy – though just barely within the 1 hour of projected downtime within a year (of course this excludes the infamous DNS snafu of 2012). Uptime though is hard to predict without aggregate data.
What I can measure though is how quickly the servers can serve up the requested site. The metric that I look at is TTFB – time to first byte. It’s the measure of how long it takes the server to acknowledge a request and serve the first byte of a website. I don’t look at the total load time simply because that gets into how your individual website is configured, and what type of website it is.
So here’s the results of the best of 3 consecutive test performed on both websites with the same testing software from the same server & browser:
GoDaddy Speed Test
InMotion Speed Test
InMotion Hosting wins. By quite a bit. Actually…a lot. Again – TTFB is best looked at as a trend. In some of my other hosting reviews, you’ll find better and worse results for InMotion and GoDaddy. But as a rule of thumb – InMotion still wins overall.
That was straightforward – let’s move to usability.
Every hosting company struggles with the problem of making the account backend simple and not daunting for first-timers, while still providing all the options for anyone else who wants to tweak and explore.
InMotion tries to solve this problem with their Account Management Portal. They still have all the technical access via SSH, FTP and cPanel – but they also have quick links all within a single login.
GoDaddy goes a different route – they have a 100% proprietary setup (unless you pay for a cPanel license). They have an account backend, where you can click over to your hosting backend. In my experience, it’s much less daunting for first-timers, but quickly becomes limiting once you find your way around. Since it’s all proprietary and unique to GoDaddy – you’ll really only get good support from GoDaddy & their knowledgebase.
GoDaddy Account Backend –
GoDaddy Server Backend
So who wins InMotion Hosting vs. GoDaddy with usability? I’d say that if you are a total beginner looking to put up a website or two and nothing else – then GoDaddy might be a better fit. If you are looking to do more then InMotion Hosting wins this round.
Customer service is one of those things that’s easy to skip over when you are purchasing. The thing is, when you do need it…you really need it. I wouldn’t skip over it at all.
The problem with customer service is that so much is anecdotal. The people with the worst experiences are the loudest. GoDaddy has some pretty horrible stories online about its customer service. They are actually quite infamous.
However, I’ve also had a couple readers write in to me with horrible customer service stories from InMotion.
For me personally, I’ve never had a horror story with either. I’ve had some long waits with GoDaddy that I haven’t had with InMotion. But GoDaddy is generally fine.
The one difference that I have noticed that I think speaks to something deeper is training. Whenever I talk to a GoDaddy rep, I get the sense that they are just using a troubleshooting script. They don’t actually know what they are talking about.
With InMotion, their reps use some scripts, but they seem to actually know what they are doing. It’s easy to skip past the basic troubleshooting questions and get right to the heart of the matter.
InMotion also does an excellent job of answering questions across all channels – including the comments in their Knowledgebase. You can do DIY customer support without getting funneled to a phone call.
That to me puts them far ahead of GoDaddy with customer service.
Product reviews and comparisons are important, but it’s also important to be aware of the companies that produce those products. GoDaddy has a specific brand that they promote – you’ve probably seen it on television and online. It’s controversial on purpose and you can take it how you want to take it.
However, GoDaddy has been involved in a fair number of controversies that the informed consumer should be aware of. To give GoDaddy the benefit of the doubt though, they have a new and less controversial CEO, and are phasing out their old ad campaigns.
InMotion Hosting is not perfect, but has not courted quite the controversy of GoDaddy, though they also don’t operate at GoDaddy’s scale. They do actively support open-source software initiatives, sponsor WordCamps, and have been working with non-profits to reduce their carbon footprint. They are one of the few independent and employee-owned hosting companies.
You can decide if that matters for you, but just FYI.
Unless it is a simply obvious choice, I try to never declare a “best” or “winner” in any hosting review – different companies/products fit different people depending on their goals (I even made a hosting quiz to help identify the right one if you’re planning for shared hosting).
If you are looking for a solid web host, with good performance, great customer service, and you don’t plan on creating dozens of sites or paying a couple extra bucks a month – then go check out InMotion Hosting’s 53% off discount on plans here. They will probably be a better fit for you.
If you are looking for an widely known brand and you’re more concerned about budget than performance – or you plan on having lots of sites on 1 account – then you should check out GoDaddy here (see their current hosting promo here).
Or if you are looking for a 3rd alternative – one that allows unlimited websites on a single account with flexible pricing – check out HostGator. I use them for all my dev and sandbox sites. You can get 45% off here.
You can also see my full InMotion Hosting review here.