Friday, March 21, 2008

GoDaddy Review

A little over a month ago, I moved my web hosting from a simple, bargain-basement host (SiteFlip) to GoDaddy. I am a regular listener to Geek News Central, a podcast that GoDaddy sponsors, and when my site came up for renewal, I decided to look into moving it.

I went to and started looking at their offerings. They had almost the exact same amount of storage (which was doubled from 5GB to 10GB prior to my sign up), a bit more bandwidth (which was also increased from 250GB to 300GB but isn't a huge factor to me), similar features and add-ons, and very similar pricing. What GoDaddy had over SiteFlip, besides not having to hunt for the special pricing, was a good reputation and a commitment to reliability.

SiteFlip gives you a cheap spot to park your web site and that's about it. The servers are slow? The site was down an aggregate of 48 hours this month? Trouble accessing the site to manage your account? Can't reach tech support? What do you expect for $5 a month with this much storage? Actually, not much but I didn't need much. I don't make money off my sites or anything like that so I wasn't worried about it.

GoDaddy offers everything SiteFlip offers (now much more than SiteFlip offers) as well as a 99.9% uptime commitment, 24/7 support, and, presumably, faster servers. What really pushed me over the edge was my pre-sales questions. I contacted their support department about issues related to domain transfers, moving MySQL databases, terms of service and two or three other issues before deciding that GoDaddy would fit my needs. With each and every query, I received a timely, concise and accurate response. In a couple of cases, they outlined the procedure in some detail then included a link to detailed, step-by-step instructions.

Ready with a promo code that would save me 20% on my hosting service when signing up for a year-long commitment (todd20), I started filling my cart and completed my purchase. I was a little discouraged because there was some confusion about the discount level (I thought the promo code would be in addition to the 5% discount GoDaddy gives for one year of hosting but it ended up being instead of the 5%) and I failed to account for the domain name costs, which have always been included with the budget hosting services. I ended up with a bit of a bonus on the domain name anyway* so I just went with it. Within 24 hours my domain had been transferred and I was ready to begin moving my files... or so I thought.

As I stated in a previous post, the interface at GoDaddy was a little daunting. There was so much going on that I wasn't exactly sure all of the steps I had to take to get my site up and running. I scratched my head for a couple of days until I figured out that I had to activate my hosting as if I were granting the account to myself. I then realized that, with this model, I could easily manage multiple domains and multiple web sites with multiple URLs from a single interface. Pretty cool and much more control over my products than any other host I had used. Now I was ready to begin moving my files.

One of my photo sites runs off of a MySQL back end through Coppermine Photo Gallery. My original thought was to migrate the database but I needed to do some serious pruning and a little bit of reorganization so I opted to rebuild. I had no reservations, however, about migrating the database given the wonderful support and thorough instructions I received.

What has really hit me. What has been so in-your-face. What has bothered me about GoDaddy enough that I am already wondering if I want to renew with them next year is the sales pitch. It's E V E R Y W H E R E. If you look at their front page you see segments advertising their different services, you see wiggling sale tags, you see announcements of special pricing, just what you would expect on the front page of a hosting company and domain registrar. But almost every page I have seen of their site is the same. Once I am logged in, I stay at their main page, with the entire services menu surrounding me, and have to click again to enter my account area.

But it doesn't stop there. The main page of the account manager contains the same top border advertising sales and special deals. The rest of the page contains links to the product adviser, domain auctions, a domain name search and a graphic telling me "there is nothing in your cart." I thought I was managing my account, not shopping.

Over on the left, in small type, are the links to my account list, domain manager, and free products list as well as other account-related links. It is not until I click two more times, to my hosting accounts then to the control panel for a hosting account, that I finally lose the advertising.

As if that wasn't enough, every single email and piece of printed matter I have received contains a sales pitch. It's either about buying a domain, renewing my services or adding supplemental services such as email or upgraded stats packages (and don't get me started about the weekly marketing email I get). I received a welcome packet in the mail the other day that included a welcome letter, a card with my customer number, a coupon (I think it was for domain registration), and an entire sheet of sales pitch. I cut out the card, stuck it in my wallet, and never read the welcome letter.

I understand that this is their business and they are trying to increase their profits by suggestive selling. It is nice to know about all of the GoDaddy services and to have access to them so readily but for crying out loud, stop suggesting so much! It is a real turnoff.

* When I first went to a hosted service, it included free domain registration. When I moved to a different host a year later (the original host failed to honor a special deal that I signed up for), I intended to transfer my domain as well and even went through the headache of getting host 1 to release it to me but never actually completed the move. During the two years I was with SiteFlip, I thought I had moved my domain and SiteFlip was renewing it along with my hosting service. When I went to move it to GoDaddy, I realized it was still being managed by host 1. It was due to expire on March 5 of this year so I was a little anxious to get it moved and enjoy the 1-year extension that GoDaddy offered. Some time around February 5, Host 1 renewed it for another year so I got bonus time when GoDaddy tacked their year onto the registration. The kicker is that I never paid Host 1 a single cent for domain renewal and haven't had a relationship with them for over two years. I would have left it there and gladly allowed them to continue renewing it in perpetuity at no cost to me but I really wanted to get away from host 1.

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