GoDaddy vs Bluehost – WordPress Hosting Plans Compared! (2021)
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They’re two of the most established and well-known names in entry-level shared hosting, so whether or not you plan to use WordPress for your website, they’re definitely worth investigating.
However, while their prices are similar, there are significant differences in the levels of performance and features you get from each host. So, to ensure you choose the right host for your website, this GoDaddy vs Bluehost comparison will evaluate the key areas of both options, using paid tools to find out which one offers the fastest and most reliable service, along with an exploration of their most useful features.
Let’s get started…
GoDaddy vs Bluehost Shared Hosting Plan Details
Before we find out whether you get the fastest loading times and best load handling ability from GoDaddy or Bluehost, let’s take a look at the key details of their shared hosting plans:
GoDaddy Shared Hosting Plan Details
- Economy: From $5.99 a month for one website with 100 GB of storage and standard performance.
- Deluxe: From $7.99 a month for unlimited websites with unlimited storage and standard performance.
- Ultimate: From $12.99 a month for unlimited websites with unlimited storage and 2x processing power.
- Maximum: From $19.99 a month for unlimited websites with unlimited storage and 2x processing power and speed.
While you can host WordPress websites on all of these shared hosting plans, GoDaddy recommend WordPress users choose the Ultimate plan or higher, because of the increased processing power.
GoDaddy also have some WordPress-only plans that are a similar price but have different specifications. However, for this comparison, we’re looking at the shared hosting plans, with a focus on the capabilities of the standard performance Deluxe plan.
GoDaddy Usage Policies
All of the GoDaddy plans have unlimited bandwidth, so, in theory, you don’t have to worry about how many visitors your site receives. However, you’ll need to stick to the GoDaddy hosting agreement when it comes to how much storage and bandwidth you actually use.
Bluehost Shared Hosting Plan Details
Bluehost have some of the most affordable shared hosting plans available today. Like GoDaddy, bandwidth is unlimited, and the storage allowances are unlimited on all but the lowest-priced plan:
- Basic: From $3.95 a month for one website with 50 GB of storage and standard performance.
- Plus: From $ 5.95 a month for unlimited websites with unlimited storage and standard performance.
- Choice Plus: From $6.95 a month for unlimited websites with unlimited storage plus a CodeGuard Basic subscription and standard performance.
- Pro: From $13.95 a month for unlimited websites with unlimited storage plus a CodeGuard Basic subscription, dedicated IP and high performance.
Like GoDaddy, Bluehost provide different levels of performance, depending on which shared hosting plan you choose. However, for this comparison, we’ll be testing the site speed and load handling of the standard-performance Plus plan.
Also like GoDaddy, Bluehost have WordPress-only plans, but you can very easily install WordPress on their regular shared hosting plans. They also have a premium WordPress service, which you can read about in our Bluehost WP Pro managed hosting review.
Bluehost Usage Policies
Although Bluehost do give you unlimited storage and unmetered bandwidth, you still have to stay within the terms of the usage policies. Failure to do so will result in Bluehost taking ‘corrective action’, which could involve you having to upgrade to a higher performance plan.
These plans have been designed for small websites, so, if that sounds like an accurate description of your site or the one you plan to build, staying within the terms of the Bluehost usage policy shouldn’t be a problem.
Both GoDaddy and Bluehost have money-back guarantees, allowing you to sign up without risk.
When you sign up with either Bluehost or GoDaddy, you get a pretty deep discount that lasts for the entirety of your first invoice. After that, you’ll pay the full price, which, depending on your plan, could be up to almost 50 percent more.
As you can pay for up to 36 months of hosting in advance on your first invoice, you can at least lock in these lower rates for some time.
Shared Hosting Features
With pricing out of the way, let’s explore the key features of the GoDaddy and Bluehost shared hosting plans to find out exactly what you get for your money.
Domain Name Registration
A one-year domain name registration is included when you sign up with either GoDaddy or Bluehost for a 12-month contract or more. After the first year, you’ll have to pay the domain renewal fees, which are published on the Bluehost website but aren’t publicly available for GoDaddy.
Because of this, you may prefer to register your domain elsewhere, with the aim of finding a lower price, and then connect it to your hosting account. Doing this does take a few extra steps, but it’s relatively straightforward, and the support staff from both hosts will help you if necessary.
Our guide on whether or not you should buy your domain name from your web host will help you to decide what to do.
Verdict: As both Bluehost and GoDaddy include a one-year domain registration with 12-month-and-higher contracts, there’s nothing to separate them here.
Without an SSL certificate, your visitors won’t see the padlock icon in their browser address bar, and they may even receive a warning that your site isn’t secure.
Because of this, it’s good to see that Bluehost provide you with free SSL certificates for your site. They make it very easy to apply the certificate, too.
GoDaddy, though, unlike many web hosts, don’t include an SSL certificate on their lower-priced shared hosting plans, although the top two Ultimate and Maximum plans do.
However, while GoDaddy won’t provide you with a free SSL certificate, it’s possible to apply a free one to your website yourself, although the process isn’t entirely straightforward. Furthermore, you have to reapply the certificate every 90 days — something you may forget to do.
With other hosts, such as Bluehost and SiteGround, for example, a free SSL certificate is either applied during sign up or can be added in just a few clicks. You usually only have to do this once, and there’s no need to worry about the certificate expiring.
GoDaddy aren’t completely unconcerned with the security of your website, though — they do give you the option of purchasing an SSL certificate. However, with prices starting at $63.99 a year, it costs nearly as much as their entry-level hosting plan.
Verdict: Bluehost make it very easy to apply a free (or paid) SSL certificate to your website, so they win here.
Confusingly, while the bottom two Bluehost shared hosting plans aren’t advertised as including website backups, it’s possible to back up your site with both hosts on all of their shared hosting plans.
As both hosts provide you with cPanel access for managing your account, you can access a backup tool in cPanel with Bluehost and GoDaddy. Doing so gives you the ability to back up and restore your account and WordPress website in just a few clicks.
The main difference here is with GoDaddy you can set up automatic WordPress website backups on a custom schedule via cPanel, whereas with the Bluehost cPanel configuration backups have to be created manually.
This is because the two hosts use different cPanel tools or software for managing WordPress installations, and they’ve been configured in different ways. GoDaddy use Installatron with automatic backups enabled, while Bluehost use Softaculous and appear to have disabled automatic backups.
If you’d rather have access to a more feature-rich backup solution, you have a few options. With Bluehost, you can choose from either of their top two plans, Choice Plus or Pro. These two plans come with a CodeGuard subscription that includes automatic backups.
Alternatively, you can choose a cheaper Bluehost plan and then pay to add a CodeGuard subscription to your package. The cost of the entry-level CodeGuard plan is $2.99 a month, although there are other more feature-rich and expensive plans. Despite the low cost of CodeGuard, adding it to your plan will increase the amount you pay for hosting by a sizeable percentage, because of the low cost of the Bluehost shared plans.
With GoDaddy, you can purchase an extra service that adds a powerful backup system and some security-related features to your account. With prices starting at $2.99 a month, again, it’s not too expensive. However, it will still increase your monthly hosting fees by 50% if you sign up for the $5.99 entry-level GoDaddy shared hosting plan.
One of the benefits of opting for the paid upgrades from either host, compared with using the cPanel backup solution, is that the tool is integrated into your account dashboard, rather than being accessible only through cPanel. cPanel is a little clunky, while the paid options do look better. They also have some extra features, such as the ability to only restore certain files or database tables, and to create backups on an automated schedule.
However, while the cPanel option may not be as slick or functional as some of the more modern backup solutions out there, it does work.
Another option is to install your own WordPress backup plugin. Thanks to some good free options, such as BackWPup, you can have your WordPress website automatically backed up each day at no extra cost.
Verdict: GoDaddy win here, as you can enable automatic backups via cPanel. However, the top two Bluehost shared plans include a CodeGuard backup service subscription, while with GoDaddy you have to pay extra for their backup tool — regardless of which of their shared hosting plans you choose.
Caching and Optimization
If you want to keep your visitors happy when it comes to loading times, then you need to choose a host that takes performance and site speed seriously.
To help with this, sites hosted by Bluehost have the in-house caching technology from their parent company, EIG, applied by default. Thanks to this, you can choose from three levels of caching, with the ability to disable caching if you’d prefer. You can also install your own choice of caching plugin, including free options such as WP Super Cache or the premium WP Rocket plugin.
With GoDaddy, there’s no caching tool for WordPress websites on their shared hosting plans. However, as is the case with Bluehost, you can install your own choice of plugin, with W3 Total Cache an option recommended by GoDaddy.
It’s definitely a good thing that Bluehost-hosted WordPress websites come with a caching tool pre-installed. However, as you can see in our SiteGround review, some provide even more optimization features as part of their caching tools.
Content Delivery Network
If you want to use a content delivery network (CDN) to have your website files automatically distributed around the world — so they load quickly no matter where your visitors are located — Bluehost make it very easy to do so.
With Bluehost, all you have to do is click a few buttons to connect your website to a free CloudFlare account, and you can start leveraging their CDN technology to try to speed up your website for anyone visiting from outside the region where it’s hosted. As Bluehost only have one data center — located in Utah, Western USA — this is very helpful.
GoDaddy don’t give you a quick way to connect your site to a free CDN service, such as Cloudflare, but you can purchase their security package to add extra features to your hosting plan, including CDN, site monitoring and infection cleaning.
Bluehost and GoDaddy both certainly try to create a fast hosting environment. You can find out how effective those efforts are later on in this comparison when we share the results from our performance tests.
Verdict: Although you could integrate a free or paid CDN service with your site, whether you host it with Bluehost or GoDaddy, Bluehost come out on top here as they make enabling the Cloudflare service very straightforward. Bluehost also have their own WordPress-focused caching tool as well.
WordPress Management Features
To bring some of the benefits of managed WordPress hosting to these cheaper shared hosting plans, Bluehost give you the option of enabling automatic updates for the WordPress software and any themes and plugins you’ve installed.
You can also activate a few other management features, such as automatic emptying of the content trash, closing comments on old blog posts and reducing the number of post revisions possible.
These features should help to save you time and keep your site running smoothly, so they’re well worth having access to.
GoDaddy don’t make their WordPress updater tool available on their shared plans. To get access to this, you’d have to upgrade to their slightly more expensive WordPress hosting plans. However, the cPanel WordPress installer they use on their shared plans does give you the option of enabling auto-updates.
You could also use a free plugin to enable automatic WordPress updates as well.
Verdict: Bluehost win here as they offer a useful set of WordPress management features on their entry-level shared hosting plans, which are easily accessible through your account portal. With GoDaddy, you can only manage automatic software updates via cPanel.
Website Staging Tool
Creating a private copy of your site, or staging environment, gives you a safe place to test updates or modifications to your website.
To enable this, the Bluehost shared hosting plans include a very easy-to-use staging tool. Because of this, you can create a private copy of your website from inside your WordPress dashboard in just a few clicks. Once you’ve tested your changes or finished your work, you can effortlessly copy the test site content to your live WordPress installation.
The Bluehost staging tool does give you the option of copying the entire site, or just the files or database. However, some other shared hosts, such as SiteGround, for example, do have a more powerful staging tool, which gives you greater control over what content is transferred, including individual files and database tables.
A staging tool is another area where GoDaddy is lacking, compared with Bluehost, although their WordPress plans do include this feature. As we saw in our Bluehost vs HostGator comparison, GoDaddy aren’t the only host to not offer this feature on their shared hosting plans, though.
Verdict: Bluehost win again as they give you the ability to create a useful staging website on their shared plans.
Whether you choose GoDaddy or Bluehost shared hosting, you’ll be able to contact support staff 24/7 via telephone or live chat. Both hosts also have international telephone support numbers, so you should be able to call them easily, no matter where you’re located.
One area where the GoDaddy shared hosting service betters Bluehost is that you can contact their help staff via WhatsApp. This could be more convenient than live chat if you’re on the go or you’d like to receive notifications on your phone each time an agent has replied. This could be especially useful when dealing with the long wait times from GoDaddy. They also have an online community forum where you can ask questions and connect with other customers.
When testing the hosts for this comparison, I did find that the GoDaddy support staff were a bit less helpful than their Bluehost counterparts. For example, when asking a question about whether their hosting plans have caching or if there’s a recommended plugin, I was pointed towards the paid GoDaddy website security add-on, rather than having my questions answered.
Also, I experienced some significant wait times with GoDaddy that I’ve not experienced so far with other low-cost shared hosts, such as Bluehost or HostGator.
For extra help, Bluehost have a paid additional support service called BlueSky that’s similar to a WordPress maintenance service. If you sign up, you can get help with your website in a number of different ways. However, it’s not a cheap add-on.
Verdict: GoDaddy edged ahead slightly here, thanks to their community forums and WhatsApp option, although the live chat wait times were longer than Bluehost.
GoDaddy vs Bluehost Performance Tests
Now you know what features you get access to with these hosts, it’s time to see which one has the fastest and most reliable shared hosting service.
To find this out, I first monitored the loading times of the test sites, then I used a load testing service to get an idea of how many simultaneous visitors they were able to handle. I also monitored their downtime.
Here are the results…
Load Time Testing
For the first tests, demonstrating what loading times you might expect from the GoDaddy and Bluehost shared hosting plans, I used the paid Pingdom service to monitor the sites.
With Pingdom recording the site speed at 30-minute intervals over seven days, an average loading time was established for the test sites.
Lightweight Theme Speed Test Results
The first speed test measured the loading times of two identical (as possible) WordPress websites using the lightweight Twenty Twenty theme. Pingdom monitored a page on both test sites that contained an image and some text.
Bluehost Lightweight Theme Speed Test Results
As you can see in the graph below, the average loading time for the site hosted by Bluehost using the lightweight theme was 1.17 seconds.
GoDaddy Lightweight Theme Speed Test Results
For the same site but hosted by GoDaddy, Pingdom recorded a very slightly slower 1.2-second average loading time.
Lightweight Theme Speed Test Results Summary
Although there wasn’t much in it at all, the site hosted by Bluehost was 300 milliseconds faster than the same site hosted by GoDaddy.
If you’ll be using a lightweight theme, or limiting your page designs to text and a few images, there isn’t much to separate GoDaddy and Bluehost when it comes to loading times.
If average loading times above one second for a basic page such as this aren’t appealing, you could consider SiteGround. In the same test from our Bluehost vs SiteGround comparison, a much faster average load time of 289 milliseconds was recorded. In our HostGator review, a faster time was recorded for their comparably priced shared hosting service, too.
For both hosts, the Pingdom testing location nearest to where our test sites were hosted was chosen.
Heavyweight Theme Speed Test Results
If you’d rather use a theme with lots of extra functionality and feature-packed templates, then you may choose a multipurpose option such as Avada. However, because of its increased complexity, this type of theme can take longer to load.
So, to find out how Bluehost and GoDaddy handled hosting a site using a heavyweight theme, I also tested the loading times of two identical sites using the feature-rich multipurpose Avada theme.
For these tests, the Avada Agency demo was imported, and the pre-built homepage layout — that contains videos, animations and multiple images — was monitored by Pingdom.
Bluehost Heavyweight Theme Speed Test Results
As expected, the sites using the heavyweight theme took much longer to load than the site using the lightweight theme. However, for Bluehost the average load time was quite a bit slower than expected.
GoDaddy Heavyweight Theme Speed Test Results
For the same site configuration, but this time hosted by GoDaddy, the average loading time was a significantly faster 3.5 seconds.
Heavyweight Theme Speed Test Results Summary
While these hosts had very similar levels of performance when a lightweight theme was used, GoDaddy did a much better job than Bluehost at hosting a site built with a heavyweight theme. In fact, there was a very significant 1.35-second difference between the two hosts.
While neither GoDaddy nor Bluehost did a spectacularly good job of serving the Avada Agency homepage layout, GoDaddy were clearly the faster host.
However, if you do want to use a heavyweight theme such as this, then, as was seen in our Bluehost vs SiteGround comparison, you could achieve loading times of less than two seconds for a site created with Avada and its Agency demo by signing up with SiteGround.
GoDaddy vs Bluehost Loading Times Summary
Although both GoDaddy and Bluehost did a similar job of hosting the sites using the lightweight theme, it wasn’t until a site using a heavyweight theme was tested that the difference in performance became apparent.
So, if you plan to build a more complex site, or use a multipurpose theme such as Avada and import its demo content, then it could be worth paying a bit extra for the GoDaddy shared hosting plans to achieve a faster loading time.
However, if you sign up with GoDaddy, you still won’t be getting loading times under two seconds — something apparently 47% of visitors are expecting. So, if you really want to use a multipurpose theme, such as Avada, and create a feature-packed, content-rich website, then you should think about upgrading to the higher performance plans from GoDaddy and Bluehost or consider managed WordPress hosting.
GoDaddy vs Bluehost Load Testing Results
As well as monitoring the site speed of the test sites, I also ran some load tests to see how well they handled multiple simultaneous virtual users.
To simulate an increasing number of visitors accessing the test sites at the same time, I used the paid K6 (formerly Load Impact) load testing service.
For these tests, K6 was set to send multiple virtual users to a page on the test sites over a five-minute period. The response times of the sites were recorded by K6 at regular intervals, revealing how these virtual users affected performance. First, I tested two sites using a lightweight theme, then two sites using a heavyweight one.
Here are the results….
Lightweight Theme Load Test Results
For the first set of performance tests, the Twenty Twenty theme was used again, and a basic page on the site was put through its paces by K6.
During the test, K6 was set to increase the number of virtual users accessing the page from one to 99. The chart below shows the results for the site on the Bluehost shared hosting plan.
As you can see from the blue line on the chart above, which represents the response time, it never exceeded 300 milliseconds — although there was some variance in the times. Even when there were 99 virtual users accessing the site at the same time, the response time was an impressive 84 milliseconds.
With GoDaddy, the results weren’t as positive. The site hosted by GoDaddy really struggled as the number of virtual users increased, and I had to scrap the test. I then reduced the maximum number of users from 99 to 50 before rerunning the test.
With the number of virtual users limited to 50, the GoDaddy site still struggled. With only 17 visitors accessing the site, the response time had exceeded two seconds, even when using a modern lightweight theme.
Because of this, if you expect to have more than around 17 visitors accessing your site at the same time, then upgrading to one of the more expensive and higher performance GoDaddy plans, or choosing a standard performance or above Bluehost plan, is recommended — even if you plan to use a minimal theme.
Heavyweight Theme Load Test Results
The next sites to be put under pressure by K6 had the Avada theme installed, with the performance of the Agency demo homepage tested.
While Bluehost did a great job with the test site using a lightweight theme, it really struggled with hosting a page with a larger file size and more resource-intensive content.
In fact, the maximum number of users accessing the site had to be reduced for both hosts to prevent the sites from becoming unresponsive during the tests.
After making the reduction, K6 reported that the Bluehost site using the heavyweight theme was only able to handle six simultaneous virtual users before the response time reached two seconds. By the end of the test, when there were 14 simultaneous virtual users, the response time had reached an unacceptable seven seconds.
When testing the GoDaddy-hosted site with the heavyweight theme installed, similar but worse levels of performance to Bluehost were recorded.
Once the number of virtual users accessing the site at the same time exceeded four, the response time went above two seconds and continued rising. By the end of the test, when there were 13 users on the site, the response time reached a staggering one minute.
Bluehost vs SiteGround Load Handling Test Summary
As our results show, if you plan to use a lightweight theme for your website and expect to receive multiple simultaneous visitors, then you’d get better performance with Bluehost.
However, for anyone considering using a heavyweight theme, such as Avada and one of its demos, you’d need to upgrade to a higher-performance plan from Bluehost or GoDaddy, or sign up with a more suitable host. While both hosts did struggle when a heavyweight theme was used, Bluehost did perform better than GoDaddy in the K6 load handling test.
As before, one option would be to choose the slightly more expensive shared hosting service from SiteGround. These plans performed well in the same tests from our recent SiteGround hosting review.
Bluehost vs GoDaddy Uptime Monitoring
As well as testing the speed of these two hosts, I also monitored their uptime in Pingdom to see how reliable they were.
As you can see from the chart above, the four test sites hosted by GoDaddy and Bluehost didn’t experience any downtime during the seven days they were monitored, according to Pingdom.
That’s the end of the performance testing results, but, before I get to the conclusion of this comparison, here are some technical details about the shared hosting plans I’ve been looking at from Bluehost and GoDaddy.
GoDaddy vs Bluehost Shared Hosting Technical Details Overview
If you have any more questions about the GoDaddy or Bluehost shared hosting plans, you should find an answer below:
- Website caching: For WordPress users, Bluehost provide an in-house Endurance Cache service, which has three levels of caching, whereas GoDaddy don’t provide access to a caching tool, and recommend you use a third-party plugin.
- Content Delivery Network (CDN): Both GoDaddy and Bluehost support integration with the free and paid Cloudflare plans, as well as integration with other CDNs. GoDaddy have their own CDN service, too.
- PHP: Both hosts let you choose from a range of PHP versions between 7.0 and 7.4 through a web interface, and with GoDaddy you can also choose 5.6.
- HTTP/2.0: HTTP/2.0 is enabled on the Bluehost shared plans, but not on the GoDaddy shared plans.
- SSL: Bluehost customers can easily apply a free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate, import their own certificate or purchase a different certificate through Bluehost. With GoDaddy, the process of applying a free SSL certificate is a bit more complicated, or you can purchase one directly from them.
- SFTP: Both hosts let you access your webspace for uploading and editing files via Secure FTP.
- Server file manager: You can access your server space via a cPanel browser-based file manager with GoDaddy and Bluehost.
- Database access: Both hosts provide access to the WordPress database via phpMyAdmin through a browser.
- Email service: There’s an email service on the Bluehost and GoDaddy shared hosting plans, including webmail, POP3 and SMTP.
- WordPress website management: Optional automatic WordPress software, theme and plugin updates are available with Bluehost and GoDaddy.
- Plugin restrictions: There are no disallowed plugins with either Bluehost or GoDaddy, unlike with some managed WordPress hosts.
- Security measures: Both hosts monitor their networks for attacks as standard. However, Bluehost have SiteLock and GoDaddy have Web Security paid add-ons that include daily malware scans, automatic malware removal, and more security features.
- Post-hack clean-up services: The shared hosting Bluehost plans don’t include fixes for hacked sites, although the optional paid SiteLock add-on can help with this. GoDaddy have a security subscription paid add-on and a paid Express Malware Removal service.
- Data center locations: Bluehost only have one data center, which is located in Utah, western USA, whereas GoDaddy have servers in North America, Europe and Asia.
- Staging sites: The Bluehost shared plans include access to a WordPress staging tool, but the GoDaddy plans don’t.
- WordPress website migration: Bluehost will migrate one WordPress website for free, while GoDaddy charge $99, although you could use a free migration plugin.
- Uptime checks and guarantee: Both hosts monitor their servers for downtime, but not individual customer websites. GoDaddy guarantee a service uptime of 99.9%, and will provide a hosting discount in the case of downtime, although there are some caveats. Bluehost, unlike many other web hosts, do not have an uptime guarantee.
- Support channels: Both hosts offer 24/7 support via telephone and live chat on their shared hosting plans.
Bluehost certainly have cheaper plans than GoDaddy. In fact, they’re one of the lowest-cost big-name shared hosting providers around.
What’s more, despite the lower prices, Bluehost have quite a few extra features that GoDaddy don’t, such as a useful WordPress staging tool, some additional WordPress management features, and easy-to-apply free SSL certificates.
GoDaddy do have a better backup system on their entry-level plans, with the ability to enable regular automatic backups through cPanel. However, you can overcome this by installing a free WordPress backup plugin.
When it comes to performance and site speed, things get more complicated.
In the Pingdom loading time tests — when no one was accessing our sites — GoDaddy performed better when a heavyweight theme was used. When a lightweight theme was used, there wasn’t a significant difference between the two hosts.
However, in the K6 load handling tests — when multiple simultaneous virtual users were accessing our sites — Bluehost performed better.
Another point to consider is that while GoDaddy achieved faster loading times when the test sites were using a heavyweight theme, at 3.5 seconds it was still too slow.
Based on these tests, it’s recommended that you only choose the entry-level shared plans from GoDaddy and Bluehost if you plan to use a lightweight theme or host a minimal site. If you do that, you should experience similar loading times regardless of which host you choose. However, you’ll get better performance when multiple people are on your site at the same time if you go with the lower-priced Bluehost.
As both hosts have a money-back guarantee, you can try them without risk and get a refund if you’re not satisfied.
Used/using either of these two hosts? Thoughts and experiences?
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