1&1 Hosting vs. GoDaddy Hosting – the two biggest brands in the web hosting business. Between their Super Bowl commercials, ubiquitous print ads, and service bundling, GoDaddy and 1&1 are typically considered at least for a moment in nearly everyone’s web hosting decision.
Editor’s Note – This post was originally published in January 2014. It’s been revised & updated as of May 2016.
And yet, the big brand campaigns typically don’t talk about the actual products they are selling – in this case web hosting. Since they are the 2 biggest brands in web hosting, I often get questions about both – and how 1&1 hosting (see their plans & promotions here) compares with GoDaddy hosting (see their plans & promotions here).
In addition to working with both web hosts for client projects, I’m also a customer of both GoDaddy and 1&1 hosting for a couple partner side projects. Here’s my breakdown of how 1&1 hosting compares with GoDaddy based on my own experience with each – and how they might fit you depending on your goals and what you value in a web host.
Quick aside – I’m specifically looking at shared Linux hosting. It’s the cheapest, most flexible option (ie, you are able to have a website powered by WordPress, Joomla, etc or plain HTML). Unless you know of a specific reason to get dedicated or Windows web hosting, then you probably don’t need it. Shared Linux hosting is usually the best, most flexible fit for most website projects.
Let’s look at 1&1 hosting vs. GoDaddy based on pricing, features, performance, usability, and customer service.
Disclosure – I receive customer referral fees from companies mentioned on this website. All data & opinions are based on my experience as a paying customer or consultant to a paying customer.
The primary problem with comparing hosting companies is that it’s tough to truly compare apples to apples. If you look at 1&1 hosting vs. GoDaddy specifically, it’s even more confusing since they structure their plans just slightly differently (ie, you can’t really compare GoDaddy’s starter tier (‘Economy’) with 1&1 hosting’s starter tier (‘Unlimited’). Here are their respective pricing grids.
Let’s look at what you are really buying when you purchase shared Linux hosting (if you don’t have a specific need for Windows, then you should be using Linux). You are really buying domain connectivity (ie, you own a domain and you can tell it to direct visitors to a specific server to serve up your website), databases (ie, usually a mySQL database that stores all the info about your site so it can generate webpages), and disk space (ie, storage space to keep files that get served up on your webpages).
GoDaddy and 1&1 hosting often run promotions (find 1&1’s latest promo here and GoDaddy’s latest here) so that can always throw off pricing comparisons by a couple bucks. However, the points for better value go to 1&1 hosting. Their Unlimited package is comparable to GoDaddy’s Economy package and allows for unlimited domains.
The other plans are nearly identical with some marketing upsells and features differences here and there.
If you are judging GoDaddy vs. 1&1 hosting solely based on pricing – 1&1 wins slightly. However, pricing isn’t often the only goal of purchasing a web host. And you may not need unlimited databases. Often other features do matter, so I like to look at those separately.
Both 1&1 and GoDaddy offers plenty of freebies and add-ons to their hosting plans. They both offer a free domain name for a year with purchase of a hosting plan.
They both offer pre-packages app installers for software like WordPress or Joomla. GoDaddy does give out more advertising credits to Google, Facebook, and Bing if that’s something that’s especially valuable to you.
For the most part, 1&1 hosting does a better job fluffing up their plans with standard features, except for one.
1&1 hosting does daily backups of your server, while GoDaddy does not. Now, you should never rely on your hosting company to backup your website. That is 100% your responsibility. That said – things happen, and it’s always good to have a safety net…as long as the safety net doesn’t make you procrastinate your own backups.
1&1 hosting does offer one other useful non-fluffy feature: money-back guarantee. GoDaddy does “in-store credit” for returns. 1&1 hosting does money-back guarantee.
If you are judging 1&1 hosting vs. GoDaddy based on features – I’d say that 1&1 hosting provides the better value, unless you plan on running a long ad campaign and 100% will do your own site backups, in which case GoDaddy would be a better value.
Features, however, do not really matter if the web host does not perform. The job of a web host is deliver your website files to a visitor’s browser every time they go to you web address as reliably and as quickly as possible.
Uptime is the measure of how well the web host fits the “reliably” part of performance. Both GoDaddy and 1&1 claim industry-standard uptime of 99.9%. Any measure of uptime by customers is going to anecdotal (including mine – neither me nor my clients have had noticeable downtime with either). Their uptime claims are supposed to be audited – so I’ll give them both a tie on reliability.
Quick aside on reliability – be wary of any host that over-promises reliability. Everyone can (and does) go down at some point. Amazon has gone down. Google goes down. GoDaddy goes down. And 1&1 certainly goes down. You should expect a very high-level of performance from your web host, but be sure not to let past performance set future expectations. Additionally, both services promise “unlimited bandwidth” (ie, how many concurrent visitors you can have on your site). That’s a partial untruth for nearly all web hosts. If your site is featured on CNN, Yahoo, and goes viral on Facebook at the same time…your site is probably going to crash. Again, expect a high-level of performance, but don’t have unrealistic expectations or put value in unfulfillable promises.
Back to comparing 1&1 hosting vs. GoDaddy on performance. Even though we can’t look at uptime directly – we can look at how quickly their servers can deliver files – ie how fast your website is.
There’s a lot of variables that go into exactly how quickly a website loads – how it’s setup, how many images and videos you have, etc. But your web host has a lot to do with it. To compare apples to apples, you can look at Time To First Byte (TTFB), ie how long does it take the web host to acknowledge the request once it has received the request from a visitor.
In other words, when someone types in your web address – how long does it take the server to say “hey – I got your request, I’m retrieving your files right now.” Here are the results of a test I ran with identically setup websites on GoDaddy and 1&1 (new WordPress install & no caching) in December 2015.
You’ll notice that 1&1 wins the TTFB comparison, quite handily. That said, you’ll also notice that on total load time – GoDaddy also loses. Typically, this would be put down to how the site is setup or how big it is. But my test was with identical, new websites, so that variable is out.
Since then, 1&1 has improved while GoDaddy has gotten worse.
With all that in mind – I would say that 1&1 hosting has better performance overall, since it’s easier to fix post TTFB times on your site than pre-TTFB times. However, if you are planning on a more basic site and don’t plan on tinkering with settings, then GoDaddy gets partial points in your ledger.
You control your server and hosting account with backend software that’s on your server (sort like Windows on a PC). This backend software is where you go to find your server & website information. It’s where you install software to power your website (such as WordPress or Drupal). It’s where you set up your email – basically just managing your account.
Servers by default can be very technical and very daunting for DIYers. The more experience you have, generally the more control and options you want, while first-timers want ease of use over anything. Hitting that balance is what I call usability – can you actually use your hosting account the way you want to use it without frustration?
cPanel is the industry-standard backend for hosting accounts. It’s open-source (meaning no one owns it and you can get support anywhere online, since multiple hosts have the same or similar setups), and very common. It’s not particularly pretty, but it’s straightforward and understandable. First timers can find what they need, and more seasoned website owners can get what they want.
Until early 2014, neither GoDaddy nor 1&1 hosting used cPanel. They both opted for custom, proprietary backend systems, arguing that it allowed them to customize the experience for their customers. As of January 2014, all new GoDaddy hosting accounts have the (paid $1/mo) option to use a modified version of cPanel.
In contrast, 1&1 hosting has a custom backend. Here is what each looks like.
GoDaddy cPanel Backend – note the big WordPress icon near the top:
In theory, 1&1 should be able to provide a better and more custom experience with their custom backend. Unfortunately, I find their backend experience incredibly frustrating. 1&1 hosting’s backend prioritizes technical settings (such as Global PHP Settings) while burying things that are more likely to be needed by first time users (such as DNS settings and WordPress install apps). 1&1’s backend also has the odd habit of breaking during routine actions.
And failing to install really basic items (such as a database for WordPress).
GoDaddy’s hosting set up is fairly straightforward. It prioritizes things that will be needed by first timers, and make so many operations seamless and simple. For example, here are the steps to auto-installing WordPress on GoDaddy (notice – it’s 1 step). And you can get to this screen after clicking the big WordPress icon at the top of the Dashboard seen above.
Again, in contrast, installing WordPress “automatically” requires multiple steps with more technical jargon on 1&1 hosting. You have to dig past their 1&1 website builder in to the app section.
And navigate through various installation “modes” for some reason, all of which are very confusing.
and then comes the 5 step process:
And this was just one example of my usability frustrations with 1&1 hosting. Not that GoDaddy is a shining star either – but at least GoDaddy has come a long way recently, especially with toning down the upsells and product lock-ins.
Big points to GoDaddy hosting on usability.
Customer service, like overall uptime, is often hard to judge based on just anecdotes – and companies’ internal metrics are not generally available. Both GoDaddy and 1&1 are huge companies with a lot of customers. Usually, customers with good experiences rarely talk about their customer service (especially if the service is functioning properly). Meanwhile, customers who do have problems will vocally talk about their bad experiences online.
If you do a quick search for GoDaddy complaints or 1&1 hosting complaints – you will find plenty of dissatisfied customers. I personally have had fine customer experiences with both 1&1 hosting and GoDaddy – but nothing amazing like I’ve had with providers like InMotion or HostGator. 1&1 hosting and GoDaddy offer customer service by phone, email, forum, knowledge-base, and chat 24/7/365.
My most recent 1&1 customer experience revolved around a failed install of a database for WordPress. The operator answered very quickly (no hold time) and was very cordial. However, I found out that they have their customer service set up as a cost center. The front end operators don’t have deep or broad technical experience, and anything that’s beyond basic gets transferred up the chain. Instead of waiting on hold, I asked to be emailed once the issue was resolved.
The issue was resolved within 10 minutes, and I received quick follow up via email from the rep. Overall, it was fine, but not astounding. And I could see where a lot of customers who may not know the specifics of an issue (and need technical assistance) could quickly become frustrated.
GoDaddy seems to have a different tradeoff. My most recent experience with them involved 15 minutes of hold time (plus more while the problem was being solved) in exchange for a front end service rep who had technical expertise (specifically in tracking down a CNAME error). They were cordial, and helpful.
For customer service, I’d give GoDaddy an upper-hand, especially considering their recent re-emphasis on providing better hosting.
Looking at 1&1 hosting vs. GoDaddy – it’s really tough to say who is the “best” hosting company unless you really think about your exact goals and what you are looking for in a hosting plan.
I even created a Buzzfeed-style hosting quiz to help sort the options based on your goals.
You’ll get better performance, better service, and better pricing than either 1&1 or GoDaddy (I use HostGator to run my smaller sites in particular, and feature it in my website setup guide while using InMotion for this site specifically).
If you feel confident navigating your hosting account and working with customer service, then you’ll save some money and get better performance by going with 1&1 hosting (see their plans & promotions here).
If money isn’t the sole issue for you, then you’ll have a much better experience and get much more value with GoDaddy hosting. And as long as you’re not running a really resource intensive site, then you’ll get performance that is nearly as good. If that’s the case – you should check out GoDaddy’s plans & latest discount promotions here.