Static Website Hosting: GoDaddy vs Netlify

I just wanted to share a recent experience I had with GoDaddy and why I’d advise you to not pick them for hosting your websites.

Backstory

A few years ago, my sister-in-law started a preschool which she runs out of her house. It’s small – she only has about 6 students in the class. She signed up for GoDaddy and was using their website builder to create a site but having trouble, so she contacted me (which I wish she’d done before choosing a hosting provider). I took a look at their website builder and it was terrible. So I made her website from scratch, based on the design she’d been trying to create. She ended up paying $144 for hosting for 3 years which included a free domain and email. I can’t say that I know this was a good deal at the time, but I think it was.

I redid her site a few weeks ago to make it more mobile friendly and to practice more with Bootstrap. She was really happy with how it looks. I signed up with Google Search Console to try and work more on the SEO aspect of things, since I knew her website didn’t rank particularly well. I should also mention here that in her case, it’s not a big deal. She isn’t trying to reach the whole country or anything and she is very social and so a lot of her customers come through networking. This was something I was just trying to do in order to learn.

There was, however, one thing that was bothering me. She didn’t have an SSL certificate so her website showed as not being secure. This website is completely static and very simple – no one submits anything on there or logins in or anything – but it bugged me all the same and I was thinking I’d like to fix it. I realize this is also something that affects Google search rankings.

GoDaddy Renewal Experience

A few days ago, my sister-in-law tried to update her credit card details on GoDaddy because her renewal date was coming up. She was encountering an error so she called them. She then called me to merge the call because the man she was talking to was telling her it was going to cost over $500 for five years hosting, which was quite a change from what she’d paid previously.

What did this amount include? Well, for starters, it included an SSL certificate and anti-malware protection, which are currently on sale for $64 and $67 a year as add-ons to her current hosting if purchased from GoDaddy. Since I was already thinking about securing her site, I did initially think that maybe it was a good deal.

I need to mention here that while this phone call was taking place, I didn’t have a good idea of how much hosting or SSL certificates should cost. I didn’t know if this was a good deal or not and I wasn’t able to effectively research while talking to this guy on the phone.

He said that he was giving her a discount and I did see later that the plan he was selling her was usually $15 a month – so yes, that’s quite a discount. I’ll also point out here that upon this later review I saw that the plan was called GoCentral Business Plus and was far more than she needed – something he had to have realized while talking to us. She would have been fine with the cheaper $6/month version of this plan.

Then came the real catch – the new plan does not let you upload your website files. Instead you have to use their website builder. I don’t know why they have this restriction. I was immediately against it, but he pointed out that this was a better deal for my sister-in-law, who isn’t really in a position to spend extra money if she can help it. He was right, too – to renew her original hosting and get the SSL and anti-malware she’d have to pay more than the plan he was offering. I was pretty upset, having just redone her website. She was too. Additionally, I was pretty sure there had to be a better deal elsewhere.

This guy kept talking about all the extra people she’d be able to reach and how the website builder’s interface was super easy and she’d be able to upload photos herself whenever she wants. She said she has a Facebook page for that; the website is more a basic source of information for prospective customers.We stressed the fact that hers is a very small business and her website very simple. She doesn’t need a lot of extra functionality. He was determined to sell her this plan though, regardless of the doubts both she and I had.

The plan also comes with a year of Office 365 email for free. He said the current email she was using was being phased out because it was very old (POP3) and there were lots of issues with it. But the Office 365 was going to cost $60 a year after the free trial which seemed a bit much on top of what else she was paying. (Note: although I’m sure the number he gave was $60, I could not find an email plan on the GoDaddy site that cost that exact amount. There was a $24/year one and a $48/year one).

Ultimately, he said that we could get a refund within 45 days if we didn’t like it. That was the only thing that made us go through with it.

I logged into the GoDaddy account and took a brief look at the website builder. It was an improvement on the one I’d tried using before – in fact, I could probably make a decent-looking site with it – but I couldn’t customize it enough. I needed full control. And, of course, I’d just redone her site, from scratch.

New Hosting

I got to researching right away. I found many cheaper hosting plans, but I was unsure how many also forced you to use a website builder or WordPress (not that I’m against WordPress in general but we just wanted to put up the static website I’d made).

My husband came home from work and joined in the research. He said his sister should get an Office 365 email but that was the only good thing he had to say about the GoDaddy encounter. He was looking at Siteground for hosting, which people seem to like a lot. But although their basic hosting was only $4 a month, it went up to $12 when renewing. That seems to be a common issue with hosting providers. I do realize that this isn’t necessarily expensive in the grand scheme of hosting but when the site we’re talking about is static and only 5 pages then it seemed too much.

I was investigating free options, which I’ve always been skeptical about. I knew that GitHub pages lets you use a custom domain and I wondered if they also let you secure your websites. It turns out it’s possible – only recently though I gather, from all the articles saying it wasn’t. It looked like it may be a bit complicated to set up with a custom domain though.

Then I came across Netlify. People said good things about it, and I figured I had nothing to lose by just signing up and checking it out, it being free and all.

I was able to upload the website just by dragging and dropping the file to the Netlify dashboard. Then it immediately worked on the link they provided. Well, that was easy! You can also link to a Git repository and upload your files that way.

Then we had to point the domain to the new location. There were instructions provided by Netlify regarding what to change in the DNS record. My husband did that part though since he does that kind of thing a lot at work. He said it was easy (and he didn’t mean it was just easy for him). Although we were told it could take 24 hours to work, the website was working on the new domain almost instantly. We added a Let’s Encrypt certificate through Netlify – also free – and then we were done. So easy, and the free plan covers what is needed for this particular website.

As for the email, my husband handled that. He settled on a $4/month plan which is limited – as in, it’s web-only – but it’s enough for his sister’s purposes. Now we just have to move her emails over, which we’ll do today. Then we get to email that GoDaddy guy back and get my sister-in-law her refund!

We’ll probably transfer the domain to someone else too, but we’re just trying to handle everything else at the moment.

Conclusion

Main takeaway from this – a GoDaddy representative sold my sister-in-law a plan that she did not need or even really want. The plan she wanted included less bells and whistles but it was more expensive since it wasn’t discounted. Additionally, the man didn’t even mention that there were two cheaper versions of the plan he was trying to sell her, even though the cheapest one would have been all she needed. And he can’t feign ignorance here – we stressed multiple times how small her site was, how it was static, etc.

Aside from this there’s the fact that she’s received a lot of spam since signing up with them, where people were trying to get her to pay money for indexing her site with search engines and such. After she called me regarding the first few such emails I told her to just ignore anything that’s not directly from GoDaddy – and even then, talk to me about it before doing anything. She isn’t particularly internet-savvy.

If there are any issues getting the refund my sister-in-law was promised if she was unhappy, I’ll be sure to post about it!

2 thoughts on “Static Website Hosting: GoDaddy vs Netlify

  1. I’m glad that you and your husband were able to help your SIL with getting things set up right. That GoDaddy guy really didn’t have her best interests at heart at all.

    I use Network Solutions as our domain provider, at work. We have two domains – a .com for the corporate website and a .net which hosts the actual application. Two co-workers took over the .com, which I wasn’t too happy with. They’re not tech-savvy (they’re both from a marketing background). They turned it from a self-hosted, static website to a hosted one that used a wordpress.org template, but there was no gain from their changes – it hasn’t affected our online presence and they don’t update it. There’s also a monthly cost now, which we didn’t really have when we hosted it from our IP at the office.

    The .net site has an SSL certificate. We use NetSol for that, too. Their tech support is really good. They seem to know everything, like most of the Quickbooks support people I’ve spoke with. Our programs are hosted on AWS. There have been occasions in which we’ve been moved to other virtual servers on AWS – like when they retired hardware. When that happens, you lose your IP and get a new one. I’ve been able to update it on Network Solutions’ side and have it replicate out to the rest of the internet within a matter of hours (updating it took like a minute – its just punching new IP addresses into the DNS settings, propagating out took a little time). Its relatively smooth, although I don’t enjoy setting up SSL whenever we have to renew.

    There should be a ton of companies willing to host your SIL’s website for cheap, but if you’re comfortable with it, you can always host if yourself. All she needs is a static IP address and a domain. You can set up a PC wherever that static IP is and host the website on it.

    For email, I used to run our mailserver, but found that it wasn’t worth it in the long run because of the amount of effort I was putting in fighting spam and hacking attempts. We switched to Gmail and pay a little less that $5/month to use our domain with them, so its the Gmail interface with our domain in the right-hand side of the email address and I added some custom colors and our logo to the interface. Its been rock-solid for years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The site is running pretty well on Netlify with their SSL for the low price of free, so we’ll stick with that for the moment. I especially like how easy it is to use; I’m not good at setting that stuff up.

      Haven’t done the refund yet because we want to get her email sorted first and she wasn’t around on Sunday to get it done like we’d planned. We’re planning to try this weekend. Hopefully it goes well.

      Like

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