Ditching GoDaddy? Here Are Some Alternatives

Whether it’s because of the recent major outage, their brazen support for SOPA, or their longstanding questionable business practices, there are many reasons one may wish to avoid doing business with GoDaddy. (Archive.org has a mirror of the old NoDaddy site if you’re curious about some of the hijinks they’ve been behind in the past.)

There are countless alternatives for the services GoDaddy offers, but many newbies are not too aware of them. After all, they don’t pour money into TV ads during the Superbowl.

Since I’m frequently asked for suggestions, I figured it would make for a good post.

Domains

It is usually prudent to register domain names with a separate company from the one that actually hosts your web site. That way, if you have cause to switch for one reason or other, you can simply edit the DNS to point it to your new host, and you don’t have to worry about transferring the name from one service to another.

There are many domain registrars, but a few that are frequently recommended are:

  • Name.com — Name.com recently went above and beyond to help recover a domain that was hijacked from a web development blog. Even though the thief had transferred it away from GoDaddy and only moved it to Name.com temporarily before being shuffled over to 1and1, Name.com was the only company involved to step up and coordinate the recovery of the stolen name.
  • Hover — Hover charges a premium, but their goal is simplicity and no BS. They won’t push extra services on you when you buy a domain or clutter your admin panel up with ads.
  • Namecheap — A popular option, though I know less about them. A lot of the people moving away from GoDaddy during the SOPA boycotts went with Namecheap.
  • 1and1 — I’ve been using 1and1 for my many domains for several years. (Since 2005 or so, maybe.) I haven’t had an issue with them so far, though some people have reported issues with their customer service department. They get a bit of flak, whether it’s warranted or not, but I have been happy with their service for about seven years.
  • Gandi — Gandi’s motto is “no bullshit™.” They handle a large selection of TLDs, so they’re a good bet if you’re looking for something exotic, like a .it, .io, .ly, .me, or .fm domain. Their prices do vary depending on the extension, though, since country-level domains vary depending on their home nation’s policies.
  • Moniker — I currently have one domain registered with Moniker, as I had acquired it after the previous owner allowed it to expire, and I never moved it away from Moniker. I haven’t had issue with them so far, and they’re an established name in the industry.

Shared Hosting

There are three major types of web hosting services: shared, VPS and dedicated. Shared hosting is the cheapest option, and is the easiest for beginners to get started with. Basically, you share a server with many other users. Its resources are allocated equally, and everything usually works fine so long as none of the website get too much traffic. Things get a little more complicated then, and the host may suspend the offending web site and ask them to upgrade to a pricier service.

Some hosts advertise “unlimited” bandwidth, but you shouldn’t take that claim too seriously. While they may not meter your bandwidth, they will still cut you off if serving your site takes up too much CPU time. (More traffic means more requests served simultaneously, which means greater processor usage. Obviously they don’t want to impact the other sites on the server, so they suspend the site.)

  • A Small Orange — ASO aims to provide affordable and fair web hosting without overselling, a tactic that some hosts use to maximize profits, selling more accounts on a server than the hardware can handle, under the assumption that the majority of users won’t be fully utilizing what they pay for. A Small Orange is upfront about the limitations of each plan they offer. You can get a shared hosting account starting at $35/year ($2.91/month) and move up to higher plans as needed. Their $10/month plan with 5 gigabytes of storage space and 100GB of transfer is a pretty good deal, and more than enough for even a moderately popular blog. They also offer reseller, VPS and dedicated plans if you outgrow shared hosting. [Affiliate Link]
  • Nearly Free Speech — What if you didn’t pay a flat monthly fee for basic web hosting? What if you only paid for what you used, and not a penny more? That’s how Nearly Free Speech works. Pricing can get a little complicated, but it can be very cheap as a result. You make a deposit, as little as $0.25, and pay as you go. Serving up static HTML isn’t going to cost much, depending entirely on how popular your site is and how much you’re storing on their servers. Dynamic sites, like WordPress blogs, start with that same baseline, but there is and additional $0.01/day dynamic site fee, and additional usage fees for your MySQL database.
  • WP Web Host — This one is well-known in the WordPress community. They specialize in hosting services for WordPress. They’re up front about their policies on the maximum system resources that you can consume under a shared plan, as well. (15% CPU, 512MB of RAM)
  • Media Temple — Media Temple’s “Grid Service” offering, though pricier than most shared hosting services, is known for being more reliable. They use redundant server clusters that can “burst” extra resources to handle spikes in traffic. You get a 100GB storage pool and up to one terabyte of monthly network transfer. Media Temple offers a custom control panel, and one-click installs of popular software packages, such as WordPress.

Virtual Private Servers

While a shared host puts many users’ sites in the same server environment, a Virtual Private Server (VPS) is more like having a dedicated server, though it is significantly cheaper. Using a technology known as virtualization, a server is partitioned into several virtual servers. Far less customers are put on one machine, so you have a much greater share of the hardware’s resources, and you also have full control over the server environment. In most cases you’re given remote access to the command line, and you can install your choice of operating system (Linux or Unix distributions, in most cases) and configure things however you want.

There are two varieties of service you’ll find when you purchase a VPS: managed and unmanaged. With a managed server, you give up some control in order to have the provider take care of the technical details for you, and maybe offer a friendly control panel like cPanel. With an unmanaged server, you’re given free reign over your virtual machine and little support (unless you pay extra to be rescued). If you’re familiar with Linux and don’t mind getting your hands dirty in order to retool things for your needs, an unmanaged VPS is awesome.

  • A Small Orange — (See the above entry under Shared Hosting.) A Small Orange also offers VPS plans, as well as dedicated servers. Their servers are fully managed, and include a cPanel license. So they’re a good bet if you don’t want to make the leap to managing a server and editing configuration files from the command line.
  • VPS.net — My hosting provider of choice. They offer a few different services, their “cloud servers” offering being what I use. You get a scalable VPS (you can add or subtract “nodes” of resources and deploy them with a quick reboot) and unfettered access over SSH. It’s unmanaged unless you purchase optional “managed services” or one-time “do it for me” support tickets. It’s very reliable, and there are datacenters across several continents. A single-node VPS with 376MB of RAM, 10GB of disk space and 1TB of network transfer will run you $20/month. [Affiliate Link]
  • Linode — Linode is a well-liked option along similar lines to VPS.net. Their offerings provide good bang for the buck (a 512MB system with 20GB of storage and 200GB of transfer will cost you $19.95/month) and they’re known for their support. They also have a nice collection of tutorials, which I have referred to in the past, even though I’m not a customer. ;)
  • Media Temple — MT also offers virtual servers, several variations of that theme in fact. They have their VE, GS and Nitro plans, which all have their different pluses and minuses. I don’t have any personal experience with Media Temple, though they have a good reputation and I had considered them at one point.
  • Rackspace — Rackspace is a big player in the cloud server arena. They provide numerous services for varying needs. They host many web apps, like Amazon.
  • Amazon Web Services — Few names are more well known in cloud services than Amazon. Their EC2 service powers a lot of big-name web apps and social networking sites, though it is just as viable for smaller sites. They also have S3, which is good for storing and serving static files, CloudFront, their CDN, and others.

Those are just a few suggestions. Whatever your needs are, there are many options out there. Be sure to shop around and look for reviews before comitting to a service.

A good resource for asking for advice is the Web Hosting Talk forum.

  • http://www.designcloud.com.au/blog/ Jonathan

    You completely forgot to mention MediaTemple and Rackspace…? Not a direct competitor to GoDaddy but MUCH better alternative and especially for people in the web industry.

    • http://www.webmaster-source.com Matt

      You’re right, I totally forgot about them. I’ll go back and add them.

  • http://joemajoris.blogspot.com Joe

    True, there banayk choice in the web industry, and I believe more and more sophisticated and easier.

  • http://www.kbve.com/c/ Admin KiloByte

    Namecheap also accepts bitcoins for the domain purchases! Which is amazing!

    • http://www.webmaster-source.com Matt

      That’s awesome. I’ve never seen a registrar offer that before.

  • joey

    xcubehost.com is a good alternative, well was for me anyway, just kept my domain from godaddy and switched nameservers.

  • http://www.screamindemons.com JP

    So I have a GoDaddy domain name and now I am trying to find a host to help me set up my website. I want to get involved with cPanel and WordPress.org.

    Any suggestions on how I can find a suitable host that helps a non-computer guy set up a decent personal website?

    Thanks a million!

    JP

  • John James
  • http://www.lowhosting.com/ dan

    I hate to see Godaddy go down that path. But what can you expect for a Warren Buffet company. I was in doubt myself when I had to change away from Godaddy and I ended up checking out this big Hosting Comparison site called:
    http://lowhosting.com/ They give you the pros and cons of each hosting company.
    i chose “A Small Orange” which gave me a free domain as well. I see that you mentioned that in the guide as well!

    My top 3 is:
    ASM
    Dreamhost
    Hostgator

    Peace out :)

  • dileep ramanatham

    This is a good list of hosting and domain providers. I also appreciate you to write this kind of articles. If possible please add http://hostingrao.in/cheap-web-hosting.html

  • Terry Martin

    With Go daddy:( unfortunately there is much down time especially on the analytics.
    My site is global with info updated every few hours, we sell ads for views so analytics must be available to clients. Any suggestions on where to place the web site for accurate analytics? Thanks for this blog and the good information.

  • http://www.terminal-decision.com/ Tobias Claren

    Hello.

    Is there a list without “promotional prices”.
    A list with this “promotional prices”. are absolutely useless.
    For example, first month $2.30, and then $9.18 0_o.

    What really cheap hosters could you currently recommended as entry-Hoster (not commercial site, where uptime is urgent)?
    If successful (many visitors, for example according to news report etc.) it will be immediately “kicked”? I a product with limited disk space here better? For example 500GB or 100GB? Or the same kick risk in case of “instant website success” (tv report etc.)?
    I do not want to make money, “99.9%” uptime is not important. Also 95% or possibly less are not an absolute exclusion criterion.
    But I do not want to be simply “kicked”, and then get no money back.
    I do not need 100 MySQL databases. But the possibility to use more than one external domain would be useful.

    It seems, “Add On Domains” are not usual in the us.

    For example, a german hoster, only Webspace (without incl. domain):

    S:
    Plesk 11, 1GB, 50 Subdomains, unlimited Traffic, 2x MySQL, 20 emails, PHP and Perl&CGI: $9 per Year (75 Cent per Month), 99 Cent setup fee.

    M:
    Plesk 11, 2GB, 100 Subdomains, unlimited Traffic, 4x MySQL, 40 emails, PHP and Perl&CGI: $12.39 per Year ($1.03 per Month), 99 Cent setup fee.

    L:
    Plesk 11, 3GB, 150 Subdomains, unlimited Traffic, 8x MySQL, 80 emails, PHP and Perl&CGI: $14.64 per Year ($1.22 per Month), 99 Cent setup fee.

    XL:
    Plesk 11, 5GB, 180 Subdomains, unlimited Traffic, 15x MySQL, 180 emails, PHP and Perl&CGI: $15.77 per Year ($1.31 per Month), 99 Cent setup fee.

    XXL:
    Plesk 11, 10GB, 200 Subdomains, unlimited Traffic, 30x MySQL, 200 emails, PHP and Perl&CGI: $20.28 per Year ($1.69 per Month), 99 Cent setup fee.

    XXXL:
    Plesk 11, 15GB, 250 Subdomains, unlimited Traffic, 40x MySQL, 250 emails, PHP and Perl&CGI: $27.04 per Year ($2.25 per Month), 99 Cent setup fee.

    These are normal prices, not “promo prices”.
    Every product with 10 add-on-domains.

    All hosting companys in “cheap hosting” lists are not “cheap”.

    Perhaps about 8 Dollar per month.
    If i search for “cheap hosting”, I can find some hosters.

    For example:

    http://www.hostblast.net : http://www.hostblast.net/web-hosting
    Unlimited add-on-domains.
    Very cheap… but???

    Or Hostripples: https://hostripples.com/best-USA-linux-cpanel-shared-web-hosting.php

    Also 10 add-on-domains at “Business” for $3/month.

    Or 2mhost: https://www.2mhost.com/
    $2.75/month for 5GB, no info ablut add-on-domains…

    Only some search results, but no recommendations.

  • http://geekivity.com Admir Gracanin

    Very informative post. However, I would never recommend someone to use Media Temple because they are owned by GoDaddy.

    I am using HostGator right now on one of my sites and I am having nothing but problems. I am only staying with them because it is a pain in the rear to transfer my site to a different hosting provider.

    Here is a good place to find other alternatives to GoDaddy’s hosting and domain registrations:

    http://geekivity.com/godaddy-alternatives/