I won’t use GoDaddy WordPress Hosting
Last update 8/28/22
Too long; didn’t read:
- Data breach at 1.2 million sites in Fall 2021
- There are very few backups
- No ad hoc backups
- Slowly staging sites
- Slow push to bring the staging site online
- The staging site push to live server does not remove deleted files
- FTP cannot replace an image.
- GoDaddy Mystery Plugins Required
- Domain forwarding fails
- Zone Records are Randomly Updated to Point to GoDaddy Servers
- Problems with DNS Management or Updating/Deleting DNS Zone Record Records
- Chat has long waits
- For a limited time, “Free” domains are available for free
- After the first year, a “free” SSL certificate is very costly (see below).
- Clearing cache can make it difficult for you to finish your work efficiently.
- Common issues with client accounts that have shared GoDaddy Pro access are:
- All-round sloppiness
These notes were based on my firsthand experience with GoDaddy managed WordPress hosting. While your mileage may vary, I doubt it.
GoDaddy: The “Bargain Basement” of Website Hosting
GoDaddy is known for cheap shared hosting and domain registrations. Although it’s competent in the latter, GoDaddy’s cheap hosting plans are well-known for their underperformance. This is due to server oversubscription, which is a practice of putting too many accounts on one server and not managing customers’ server resources. Customers suffer financial losses when their website is not up to par and visitors abandon it prematurely.
According to my experience, hacked websites are more common among GoDaddy’s customers who use shared hosting than any other competitors. Even simple HTML websites can be hacked without any programming vulnerabilities. This is likely to be due to poor server maintenance, and again, poor customer management.
GoDaddy’s shared hosting at a bargain basement was not a great deal overall.
WordPress Hosting Managed by GoDaddy
Over the years GoDaddy has made attempts to improve its hosting services, mostly recently by jumping on the bandwagon of “managed WordPress hosting” and offering accounts which are in their words: “optimized for speed, effortless updates and total reliability…designed specifically for WordPress.”
What is my experience with their product? Let me list a few problems:
Data Breach in 2021
GoDaddy’s report to the SEC states that unknown attackers gained access the system used for provisioning the Managed WordPress sites of the company for more than two months. According to the filing, the following customer information was disclosed:
- Active and inactive Managed WordPress customers were able to have their email addresses and customer numbers exposed.
- The original WordPress Admin password, which was used at the time of provisioning, was exposed.
- Passwords and usernames for active customers were exposed.
- The SSL private key was visible to a subset active customers.
Customers are at greater risk of phishing attacks if they have access to their email addresses and customer numbers. An unchanged admin password or database access could allow for anything, from widespread alteration of site content or functions to complete exfiltration any data stored on the site. This includes contact form submissions and personal identifying information (PII). An ecommerce site could be vulnerable to the theft or alteration in transit of credit card or order information if it had access to the SSL certificate key. GoDaddy disclosed that the breach had been extended to a variety of GoDaddy brands, including tsoHost and Media Temple.
It’s not a good idea. Really. It’s not a good idea.
GoDaddy offers daily backups for the last 30 days. Although this is a good starting point, it’s not sufficient. You don’t have any backup options if your website was compromised more than 60 days ago.
Although rolling 30-day backups are common among managed WordPress hosts they also work well with some third-party backup solutions like the BackupBuddy plugin. However, GoDaddy servers have certain configuration issues that make it difficult for these backup solutions to work.
The customer is responsible for implementing, testing and paying for a solution that reduces their risk to acceptable levels.
No Adhoc Backups
A backup is usually made right before you perform low-impact updates like WordPress theme or plugin upgrade. This is in case something goes wrong. This feature is not offered by GoDaddy. This feature is often offered by other providers.
Slow staging site creation
A staging site is essentially a copy of your live website that is placed in a hidden location. To test large, significant changes to a site, a developer uses a staging page. It’s an extremely useful tool that can replace a semi-complex, time-consuming manual process.
The GoDaddy staging sites that are “one click” can take a long time to create. It can take GoDaddy 15-30 minutes to create a cloned stage site. This creates a significant window of time during which the site can be made public, but it is likely to become inoperable or incomplete while new or modified files are transferred to the live server.
Problems with Staging Sites
Worse, though is how GoDaddy’s staging servers work. Files that are deleted from the staging servers do not get pushed to the live servers. If I have 16 files on my live site, then the staging server should contain 16 of the same files. If I delete four files from my staging server and add four more, there are 16 files total on my staging server (16 originals and four new). The staging server is now back online. Instead of 16 files, the live server will have 20 files. A staging server should be identical to the original live site. The modified staging site should then be sent back to the live server as an exact replica. This is a major problem that can cause many problems for developers. The process is currently a mess.
You can’t simply replace an image file with an older version of the same file. You can replace a 2MB file that is not optimized with a 200K version. The file can be transferred via sFTP. However, the updated file will not be served by any URL. Oh joy!
GoDaddy Plugins Mandatory
WordPress Multisite is used by the GoDaddy Managed WordPress Hosting Platform to host multiple websites for customers from one WordPress installation. GoDaddy can allow the use of hidden plugins such as Limit Login Attempts and Stock Photos. Manage WP Worker, Manage WP Worker, and WP Easy mode. Other features include caching, CDNs, Sucuri scannings, Sucuri scannings, caching, CDNs, IP blacklists, Sucuri scannings, single sign-on, updates, hotfixes. The average WordPress administrator would not know when these items were updated or if they could be causing problems, conflicts, and so forth. Your installation. You can also disable or change one of their features (e.g. Conflicts may make it impossible to replace caching with a third-party option.
Only the initial 12-month hosting term that you selected at the time of your account purchase will be eligible for domain registration. You can choose a 12-month initial term, and the domain will be yours for free for 12 months.
To encrypt website traffic during transit, everyone who has a website should use a SSL Certificate or HTTPS. GoDaddy will give you an SSL certificate for one year free of charge with your more expensive WordPress hosting plan. You can renew the certificate at an inflated rate of $79.99/year.
Many hosts now offer basic SSL certificates for free or at a very low price. Let’s Encrypt started offering free SSL certificates to the general public in 2005. These SSL certificates are free to my clients when I host their websites on my servers. This is a balloon payment on GoDaddy’s side. So remember that “the first one” is always free.
Update: GoDaddy now offers no-cost SSL services for select hosting accounts as of 9/19/21. This would indicate that they no longer try to charge for a service offered by their competitors.
Caching refers to a collection of techniques that make it possible for future requests for the exact same data to be delivered faster. A good example is in your kitchen. When you go to prepare dinner, it’s easier and faster if all the ingredients are in the fridge instead of being purchased at the grocery store or in a field waiting for harvest. Server caching can be a great way to increase the loading time of your website and reduce server load.
Caching can cause problems when you update a site. You need to be able see the changes you have made, and not the cached version. These issues are usually addressed by caching systems. Logged in administrators will either be shown an uncached site or the site can be purged as soon as necessary. Although GoDaddy claims it provides the latter, it is not always available and can cause delays. This can quickly become frustrating and make it difficult to complete work efficiently.
The only way to stop caching is to do so completely, which defeats the purpose.
As mentioned, certain plugins such as BackupBuddy are not compatible with GoDaddy managed WordPress hosting. If plugins duplicate GoDaddy’s features, they are automatically blacklisted. This is a standard industry practice, but GoDaddy took this one step further. In 2016, GoDaddy actively began to remove plugins that duplicated features in its offering without any prior discussion.
Chat has long waits
Although the wait time to reach a customer support chat is usually between 5-10 minutes, it can take up to 30 minutes to resolve support tickets of average complexity.
You will be required to enter something in the chat box every few seconds to prevent it from disconnecting or timeout.
Problems with Zone Record Management and DNS updates
GoDaddy’s WordPress managed hosting can make it very difficult to update DNS zone records.
Navigating around the DNS management area of this site can result in a mix of “503 Service unavailable” and “504 Gateway timeout” errors. These errors are a sign that you are out of luck. You might try again later, perhaps when DevOps teams get up from their sleep.
Other times, DNS zone records updates required for a launch won’t save.
The Sucuri firewall can be disabled, so it is impossible to delete zone records without customer service intervention. Contact support to have the Sucuri software firewall disabled.
To update a DNS A record to point at a new host account during a GoDaddy migration, it took a one hour chat and a 24-hour wait to discover that it hadn’t been updated by GoDaddy.
Before you begin a migration away GoDaddy, it is best to completely change the authoritative DNS servers of your domain. You can cut GoDaddy out of this process as you would a cancer.
GoDaddy DNS services were used by a client who had moved hosting to a better provider. GoDaddy took down the site of the client. GoDaddy changed the custom DNS A Zone record to “Parked”, on the expiration date for the previous GoDaddy hosting package. They will ignore custom DNS records if it suits them.
Last time I was forced to setup a GoDaddy managed WordPress account for a client, GoDaddy placed it on an EU server without any reason. Because the US-based client didn’t want to fix the mistake at the time, their site could now be subject to EU privacy regulations as a result of the General Data Protection Regulation.
A client recently had an issue. Their website was mysteriously offline. GoDaddy was contacted to confirm the email address associated with their decade-old customer account. The account link to send the confirmation email again was not working so customer support had to be called.
GoDaddy Pro is completely borked
GoDaddy Pro is often slow. It allows developers and designers to manage domains and websites hosted by GoDaddy. Over the past few years, on at least 80+ occasions, I was temporarily or permanently unable or blocked from accessing a client’s GoDaddy Account.
GoDaddy Pro shared client access system was updated in 2019-2020. This allowed customers to be more specific about the developer permissions they granted. Sounds great, but they left all settings off . My customer and I had created many years-long account relationships that were difficult to maintain. However, they were ineffectively unlinked. It was impossible to perform everyday activities such as updating zone records or DNS servers. The change was not notified to either party. It took approximately 40-60 hours to communicate with each customer, guide them through the process, and then correct.
Domain Expiration/ Renewal/ Redemption Fee/Auction Process
Domains are typically registered for a period of one to more years. If you wish to keep the domain, you can renew it at the end of your registration period.
Every year, a large number of domain owners let their domain registration expire or miss the renewal deadline for various reasons. This would cause an associated website to go offline, DNS not resolving, and ultimately the domain to be returned by ICANN and made readily available for purchase. The entire process would take between 90 and 120 days.
GoDaddy is an entirely different process.
GoDaddy will let you renew your domain within 19 days of expiration. This is either at an inflated price of $100 or five-times the annual registration fee.
GoDaddy puts the domain up for auction within 26 days of its expiration. The auction will last approximately 7-10 days. You lose the domain if someone buys it during this period. They may increase the price.
These 19- or 26-day periods seem too short to me. The redemption fees and auction system were largely created to convert expired domains that have been registered through GoDaddy into potential revenue before they are released to the public domain. This is their last chance to make some money from the process.
GoDaddy uses the same process as for domain expirations .
Here’s a summary of their process:
|Days after domain expiration|| |
What is happening and what can you do
|+1 Day||We will attempt to auto-renew it. Or, you can manually renew at the standard renewal price.|
|+5 days||We will try to auto-renew once more. If that fails, your domain is parked and your email stops working. You can manually renew your domain for the standard renewal price.|
|+12 days||We will try to renew your domain automatically one more time. You can renew your domain manually for the standard renewal price.|
|Domain is placed on hold. It’s still available in your account, but it’s inactive. You have the option to manually renew your domain with a $100 redemption fee.|
|Domain is up for auction. Domain goes to auction if there are no active bids. You can manually renew the domain for the standard price plus any redemption fees.|
|+30 Days||If there are no active bids in an auction, the domain will remain in your account. However, it is now expired. The standard price plus applicable redemption fees can be manually renewed. The domain cannot be renewed if there is an active bid at the auction.|
|+36 Days||Domain is sold at a final auction. You can manually renew the domain for the standard price plus any applicable redemption fees until there is an active bid. You can renew the domain only if there is an active bid. However, you can still place your bid.|
|+41 Days||The final closeout auction is over. The standard price and applicable redemption fees can be manually renewed.|
|+72 Days||Your domain has been removed from your account. You can’t renew it anymore. Although you may be able register the domain once the registry releases it, GoDaddy cannot predict when.|
Google has provided a comparison of their policy regarding domain renewal grace periods. It is, in my opinion, far simpler and more fair for customers.
Domain forwarding issues
Clients have experienced domain forwarding failures intermittently, with 502 (Bad Gateway), errors that were not explained by the client. Simple forwarding requests, such as mydomain.net to mydomain.com, have been observed to fail for between 5-60 minutes multiple times per day for weeks, resulting in an uptime below 95%.
Zone Records are Randomly Updated to Point to GoDaddy Servers
Others have reported that their DNS zone records point to GoDaddy servers randomly for no apparent reason.
The Good Side
Sucuri.net was acquired by GoDaddy several years ago. GoDaddy offers the malware scanning and remediation services as part of their managed WordPress hosting package. This is a good thing, as I have received more requests from GoDaddy to fix hacked websites than any other host combined. Similar services are offered by other hosts for malware scanning. You can also purchase Sucuri services to use on websites that are not hosted by GoDaddy.
ManageWP was also acquired by GoDaddy. This service allows you to manage and maintain all your WordPress websites through one dashboard. The most expensive managed WordPress hosting package includes ManageWP. This account type allows you to host 5-50 websites. If you are looking to manage WordPress websites that are not hosted by GoDaddy, ManageWP can be purchased.
Hosted sites load pages quickly and are usually on par with the competition, even though GoDaddy claims they are faster than their competitors.
Use at your own risk
If you’ve had similar experiences, please let me know.
Let me know if you would like to discuss your WordPress site or how best-in-class web hosting can be for your site.
Why I Won’t Use GoDaddy WordPress Host was first published by Vance Bell in Philadelphia, PA.