Best Small Business Web Hosting: Godaddy vs. HostGator vs. BlueHost

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In this review, we compare three of the most popular web hosts: GoDaddy, HostGator, and Bluehost. We also point out special cases when you may want to consider another provider and give you links to our full reviews of those providers as well.

This review is for the small business that expects less than 500 visitors a day to its website. For a site with this amount of traffic, we recommend going with a shared hosting plan, which costs less than $10 a month.

Best Small Business Web Hosting: GoDaddy

godaddy---Mini

We chose Godaddy as the best small business web host because of their superior customer service, reliability, and affordable pricing.

Visit Godaddy

Godaddy vs. HostGator vs. Bluehost Summary Table

 

Godaddy

HostGator

BlueHost

Current price for first year

$4.99

$5.56

$3.95


Price after renewal

$6.99

$6.95

$7.49


Customer Support

24/7/365

24/7/365

24/7/365


Free domain?

Yes

No

Yes


Free email Accounts

Yes (up to 100 emails)

Yes (unlimited)

Yes (Unlimited)


Bandwidth/Storage

Unlimited Bandwidth /100 GB of Storage

Unlimited Bandwidth/Unlimited Storage

Unlimited Bandwidth/Unlimited Storage


1-Click Wordpress Installation

Yes

Yes

Yes



Website Builder Included?

No, but website builder is available as a separate product starting at $1/mo.

Yes

Yes


Server Speed and Performance

Very Good

Good

Good

Learn More

www.godaddy.com

www.hostgator.com

www.bluehost.com

Why We Chose Godaddy As The Best Small Business Web Host

godaddy---300x76

First and foremost, we chose GoDaddy as the best small business web host because we host a number of our sites with them as well as sites that we handle for some of our small business customers. Our experience has been very positive.

They are the industry leader, hosting over 40 million domains, so their offerings don’t change as frequently as some of the other hosts. In addition, GoDaddy’s customer support is fantastic and will walk you through setting up the hosting, installing wordpress, or whatever else you need.

GoDaddy is also an economical option. While they don’t offer free advertising credits and have a couple of restrictions in the entry level plan (100 email addresses and 100 GB of web hosting storage) that the other two options reviewed do not have, this should be plenty of space for the average small business website.

Try Godaddy

See Our Full Godaddy Hosting Review

When You Should Choose A Service Other than GoDaddy

For most small businesses, GoDaddy is the preferred choice. It’s a reputable provider with a lot of experience in web hosting that translates to excellent customer support. However, there are a couple situations where we recommend another provider.

Best Web Host If Budget is Your Main Concern – Arvixe

ArvixeBanner 

Arvixe offers the best value for money of all the web hosts we reviewed. There are no price hikes when you renew. They offer a wide variety of web hosting features, such as unlimited bandwidth and storage, a free domain name, and unlimited emails. However, Arvixe is the smallest web hosting company we reviewed, which could be a concern in an industry with a history of a lot of consolidation.

Visit Arvixe

See Our Full Arvixe Review



Best Web Host If You Want Maximum Speed and Performance for Your WebsiteA Small Orange

ASmallOrangeFeatured

A Small Orange is the leading web host when it comes to server uptime and response times. This means your website may perform better and faster on A Small Orange than other hosts. The difference is not likely to be noticeable for most websites, but if you are an online business that can’t afford any slowdowns, then you may want to consider A Small Orange. A Small Orange is also very budget friendly.

Visit A Small Orange

See Our Full A Small Orange Review

Web Hosting Costs

Most shared web hosts are very reasonably priced around $5 to $10 per month. The difference between hosts is usually just a matter of a few dollars per month. 

Web hosting providers are always offering discounts, so you can save money by shopping around. However, these discounts are promotional offerings for the first year, and when you renew your plan, your pricing will increase.

All the hosts offer a money back guarantee within 30 to 45 days, so if you’re unhappy with the service, you can get a refund. Bluehost also offers a prorated refund if you cancel at any time.

godaddy---MiniGoDaddy – Current pricing is $4.99/month with an annual subscription. This jumps up to $6.99/month when you renew. No free Google Adwords credits.

 

hostgator-logo (1)HostGator – Current pricing is $5.56/month with an annual subscription, which increases to $6.95/month upon renewal. Comes with $100 of free Google Adwords credits when you spend $25 on Google Adwords.

 

bluehost-logoBluehost – Current pricing is $3.95/month with an annual subscription, which jumps to $7.49/month after renewal. Comes with $ 50 of free Google Adwords credits.

 

Customer Support

When your website goes down or faces an issue, it’s important to be able to get someone on the phone quickly. GoDaddy, HostGator, and Bluehost all offer 24/7/365 phone support to help you manage your website and keep it at peak performance.

Although the channels of support are more limited on GoDaddy, the quality of support is excellent. One of the reasons we chose GoDaddy as our recommended provider is because of its excellent customer support. We have personally called GoDaddy (late at night even) for help with our clients’ websites, and they’ve walked us through everything from setting up email to Wordpress installation without upselling us on a costlier plan. 

And it’s not just us that praise GoDaddy customer support. We reached out to other small businesses. Kisha Mays, CEO of Just Fearless, had this to say about GoDaddy: “I chose Go Daddy, mainly because of the 24 hour customer support. I have had my site hacked before and have had other technical issues. Each time, no matter what time of day or night it was, I was able to get technical support and more. Their follow up is really significant as well.”

Orun Bhuiyan, co-founder of SEOcial, said, “GoDaddy has great support. They always answer the phone quickly. The quickest of the 5 [shared hosting platforms we reviewed] probably.”

godaddy---MiniGoDaddy24/7/365 phone support (US based) + live chat 5 AM – 12 AM MST + self help

hostgator-logo (1)HostGator – 24/7/365 phone support (US based) + live chat 5 AM – 12 AM MST + email + self help

 

bluehost-logoBluehost – 24/7/365 phone support (US based) + live chat 5 AM – 12 AM MST + email + self help

 

What’s Included In Small Business Web Hosting

Free Domain

A memorable, catchy domain is often the key to attracting customers to your website. You can get a free domain registration with Bluehost and GoDaddy. The domain name is free for your initial plan term on GoDaddy and for 1 year on Bluehost. After that, you must pay around $10 to $15 per year to keep renewing your domain.

One big drawback of HostGator is that it doesn’t include a free domain name. You have to pay $12.95/year or more to get a domain from HostGator.

godaddy---MiniGoDaddy – One free domain for initial term. Renewal starts at $8.99/year.

 

hostgator-logo (1)HostGator – No free domain. Domains start at $12.95/year.

 

bluehost-logoBluehost – One free domain for 1 year. Renewal starts at $14.99/year.

 

Free Email Accounts

Each of the three hosts provide free business email accounts (e.g. juliesmith@yourbusiness.com). The host can be your email client, but for ease of use, we recommend you follow our instructions to manage your inbox in Gmail.

godaddy---MiniGoDaddy – provides 100 emails for free.

 

hostgator-logo (1)HostGator – provides unlimited emails

 

bluehost-logoBluehost – provides unlimited emails.

 

Web Hosting Bandwidth/Storage

Bandwidth and storage are probably the most misunderstood terms in web hosting. The promise of “unlimited bandwidth and storage” leads people to believe that their website will run fast even if it gets lots of exposure or stores lots of files. This is not true. 

By definition, when you sign up for shared hosting, you are sharing the server’s computing power and memory with hundreds of other websites. If any website on the server gets really popular, it will consume more resources. As a result, your website will run more slowly. 

That being said, most small businesses that get around 500 or fewer visits to their website a day will be fine on a shared server. There will just be occasional moments when your website runs more slowly because of a surge of activity to your website or other websites sharing the server. If you get lots of traffic or store hundreds of images or videos on your website, that’s when you may want to consider cloud hosting or a Virtual Private Server.

To see your resource usage, as well as do many other things related to website (manage email, manage domains, transfer files to your website, etc.), go to your control panel. The most popular control panel is cPanel. For example, here is how GoDaddy’s cPanel screen looks like:

 

godaddy---MiniGoDaddy – Unlimited bandwidth and 100 GB storage (sufficient for most small businesses).

 

hostgator-logo (1)HostGator – Unlimited bandwidth and storage.

 

bluehost-logoBluehost – Unlimited bandwidth and storage.

 

Security/SSL

E-Commerce businesses and any business that stores sensitive information on its website should avail themselves of certain security features. The most important are SSL certificates and secure file transfer.

SSL certificates are required if you process credit or debit card payments on your website (instead of sending payments to a third party processor). SSL encrypts the credit card data and other personal information. A shared SSL is not sufficient because it doesn’t protect your domain–a private SSL certificate protects your domain. 

Free SSL certificates are only included in the costlier shared hosting plans, or they can be purchased separately for around $60/year. Don’t skimp on security. If you store sensitive information on your website or process credit card payments, you need to get SSL protection.

Secure file transfer is important when transferring files into and out of your website. Most hosts have SFTP or FTPS technology. These encrypt confidential data and allow you to easily drag and drop files into your website.

 

godaddy---MiniGoDaddy – One free SSL certificate in Ultimate plan for 1 year. Supports SFTP technology.

 

hostgator-logo (1)HostGator – One free SSL certificate in Business plan for as long as you’re on the plan. Supports SFTP technology.

 

bluehost-logoBluehost – One free SSL certificate in Business plan for as long as you’re on the plan. Supports SFTP technology.

 

1-Click Wordpress Installation

Millions of small businesses now create websites on Wordpress. Providers have made it easy to host a WP website with single click installation from your control panel. For example, here’s a short video showing how easy it is to install a Wordpress site or blog using our recommended provider GoDaddy: 

1-click installation is not just for Wordpress. It is also available for hundreds of other applications (including Joomla, Drupal, shopping carts, online discussion forums, and more), so you can build a website that works for your business.

GoDaddy and Bluehost offer a separate product from shared hosting for Wordpress websites. It is called managed Wordpress hosting. This can be a good choice for small businesses with Wordpress sites that get thousands of visitors every day and that are central to the business. Managed WP hosts run your site on Wordpress-optimized servers and handle the technical backend of Wordpress for you by running WP updates and doing regular backups. 

godaddy---MiniGoDaddy –  Offers 1-click installation for Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla, Zen Cart, Magento, and hundreds of other applications. Also offers managed Wordpress hosting.

 

hostgator-logo (1)HostGator – Offers 1-click installation for Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla, Zen Cart, Magento, and hundreds of other applications. No managed WP hosting.

 

bluehost-logoBluehost – Offers 1-click installation for Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla, Zen Cart, Magento, and hundreds of other applications. Also offers managed Wordpress hosting.

 

Server Speed & Performance

The speed and performance of your website are only as good as the server that hosts your website. One of the reasons we recommend GoDaddy is that it consistently ranks in the top three shared hosting providers for uptime and server response time.

GoDaddy commissioned an independent study of shared hosting performance by Cloud Spectator. The results for each provider are shown below. Uptime is the time during which the server is up and running. Response time is how long the server takes to deliver content to visitors to your website. While GoDaddy performs the best of the three, Bluehost and HostGator have decent uptime and server response times as well.

GoDaddy and HostGator offer a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee, which means they will credit you for any excess downtime.

godaddy---MiniGoDaddy – Very Good. 99.95 % uptime and 593 ms response time.

 

hostgator-logo (1)HostGator – Good. 99.94 % uptime and response times around 1038 ms response time.

 

bluehost-logoBluehost – Good. 99.84 % uptime and 924 ms response time.

 

Website Builder Included With Hosting?

Before you can host a website, you have to create one. Hosting providers try to make this a simple process by giving you website building tools. GoDaddy has a good website builder that we recommend for small businesses on a budget. It starts at just $1/month. 

HostGator and Bluehost include Weebly website builder, our overall recommended website builder for small businesses. Weebly comes free with these hosting providers if you want to build a website with 6 pages or less. More than that, and you have to pay $8.99/month (in that event, you’re better off just subscribing to Weebly directly instead of going through HostGator or Bluehost). For larger websites, therefore, GoDaddy is easier on the budget.

If you’re a Weebly fan, you should also consider A Small Orange more closely because it includes the Weebly site builder with no page limit.

godaddy---MiniGoDaddy – No site builder included, but you can purchase it separately starting at $1/month.

 

hostgator-logo (1)HostGator – Weebly included for websites under 6 pages. After that, it costs $8.99/month.

 

bluehost-logoBluehost – Weebly included for websites under 6 pages. After that, it costs $8.99/month.

 

Godaddy vs. Hostgator vs. Bluehost Bottom Line

Each of these providers is a good web host, offering many features that a small business would want. Ultimately, we recommend GoDaddy because they have the best customer support in our opinion and are a reasonably priced option. However, at the end of the day, you probably won’t go wrong by choosing any of these providers.

Try Godaddy

Comments

  1. says

    Should have included which company is the least intrusive. Also, who doesn’t sell your information to 3rd parties should have been part of the the selection criteria. It would have been interesting to know why being well known is a part of your selection process.

    • says

      Thanks for reading and for the comment! I chose to rate well known companies because there is a lot of information out there on them from others who have used the services so I feel that I can make an intelligent recomendation without having personally used all three. While not always the case, I think in general bigger companies are bigger for a reason. If they offered a bad product, particularly in an industry like this where there are lots of options, that they would not be one of the better known options.

      Regarding privacy according to their privacy policies none of the firms we reviewed sell your information to third parties, however they may present co-branded offers to you. So for example if Godaddy has a partner who has something they want to try and sell you, godaddy may present a cobranded offer to you that comes from Godaddy.

      Keep in mind however that the default with domain names is that the person’s info who registered the domain name is public information. If you want a private registration for a domain name then this costs extra, generally around $10 a year.

      Hope that helps. If you have any other questions or concerns let us know!

      Best Regards,
      Dave

  2. says

    Hostgator is excelent hosting company. I worked with them over 3 years. Never had any problem, When you ask something they reply very fast with your local language. Unfortunately I moved my websites to my country. Recommend them. Have not any experience with others.

    • bryan james says

      are you sure they NEVER had problems?!!! For the past 2 years their server has been DOWN for 1-2 hours at least 1 time a month. i am looking for a new hoster but it seems that most of the popular ones are under the Endurance International Group cap, which will obviously have the same problems ashostgator

  3. Abdullah Saleem says

    Hi David

    I have read your your article ,it’s good but it’s not been updated .I believe you are the right person to help me out . I want to have reliable hosting site for my web and e-mail but I am confused in which is the best between godaddy and blue host .blue host is offering 4.95$ for shared hosting and unlimited e-mails but I don’t it’s reliable or not.

    • says

      Hi Abdulla, Thank you for the comment. I have updated the post with the new pricing info for all three services. I still recommend Godaddy for the same reasons outlined in my post. Like Bluehost they also dropped their pricing. Keep in mind however that this is first year pricing only. With Bluehost, after the first year they increase to $11.99 making them BY FAR the most expensive option.

      Hope that helps. If you have any other questions let me know!

      Best Regards,
      Dave

  4. Bhavesh Patel says

    Never use BLUEHOST ! Very BAD customer Service and False Advertizement. I Was using Hostgator since long time , but just wanted to try bluehost because of Cheap VPS pricing, but they are really cheap. Their Sales team said, they offer Unlimited Inodes on VPS and there’s Limitation when I actually buy. When contacted support they said it can not be increase. Even bluehost VPS server is running SLOW as well, never use them!

    • bryan james says

      bluehost & hostgator are operated by the same company! i am currently dissatisfied with the downtime of hostgator and was checking bluehost but since they are run by the same company…

      • says

        Hi Bryan,

        Yes that is the case however they are operated as different brands still so there are differences in terms of pricing etc. Have you checked out Godaddy?

        Best Regards,
        Dave

  5. says

    Debate between pros and cons never ends, some belong to godaddy tribe and belong to hostgator and some busy in advocating bluehost. All this making it a never ending debate but David what is your personal take on all this. Why don’t you share your own personal experience. Do share with us if you want to.

    • says

      Hi,

      Thanks for reading and for the comment! My personal opinion and experience is basically what I put in the article. For small business websites Godaddy is the best option based on price, reliability, and awesome customer service. I host several small business websites with them and have tried both Bluehost and Hostgator as well. Bluehost is way more expensive after the first year, which I feel like is kind of a trick. While not as expensive as Bluehost, Hostgator is also significantly more expensive after the first year than Goaddy without offering anything extra in return.

      Hope that helps. If you have any other comments or questions let me know!

      Best Regards,
      Dave

  6. Bruce says

    I am surprised to see that Dreamhost was not mentioned in the review or in any of the comments. I have been using them for about 10 years now, pricing is about $10/month (less if you don’t do month to month) and you end up with a LOT more features, even for small business, almost unlimited on everything, space, bandwidth, email, domains hosted, mysql databases, etc. Just my opinion, might help someone who isn’t sure about the 3 listed above.

    I can’t comment on their customer service/tech support however, mainly because I have never had to contact them for anything.

  7. Lynnette Hartwig says

    Hmmm, I read the above ‘ad’ which is what it is, and I didn’t have that experience with GoDaddy at all. I called technical support to get a sitemap visible to Google. The tech guy was looking at a different screen than I, and when I told him none of that was visible, how do I get to the screen he’s looking at, he fell quiet and then said I needed to hire somebody who knows how to make websites. Really? Not even send me a link? Lazy bum.
    I had to study and learn code to do a GoDaddy site, and now I’m stuck with the first template and layout I picked out.
    All my future websites are on Weebly, worth every dime. Took me one day to get 3 pages up, and not even a sweat! I swapped around formats for fun. I searched their huge collection of photos for headers. I drag a photo where I want it–not like GoDaddy, where if it doesn’t want to stay put, it wanders to a new location if I add a sentence to the text box. Why ? Who knows!
    From odd wrapping in photo captions to a bizarre home page–not editable like all the others, but only possible in html in ‘Theme Options,’ something that took me hours to discover. On Weebly, all the Home pages are editable the exact same way as every other page. And ‘editable’ is the operative word, because GoDaddy’s are not; graphics, text color and layout are stuck unless you drill down to html coding and look up color numbers. On Weebly I change them like I do in Word, from a long list or chart of fonts and colors.

    • says

      Hi Lynnette,

      Thanks for reading and for the comment!

      As you can see in the below article, we like Weebly too :)

      http://fitsmallbusiness.com/website-builder-review-wix-vs-weebly-vs-squarespace-vs-wordpress/

      The reason we do not talk about them in this article is because we view them as a website builder company and not a hosting company. Yes hosting comes with Weebly when you use their website builder, but you cannot host a site there that is not built using the Weebly platform.

      While Godaddy also has a website builder, their primary business is not Website builders (which we do not recommend using them for), it is hosting (which we do recommend using them for).

      Hope that helps.

      Best Regards,
      Dave

  8. says

    Dave,

    Here are few a new items to consider evaluating the next time you review hosting sites. Ask them how many URL’s they let expire, how many customer litigated disputed they have and what their limitation of liability is.

    At GoDaddy we never lost a domain in 8 years and at Hostgator they let two of our domains expire in two years. Don’t expect Hostgator to renew your domain under their Auto renewal promise even when you have a valid credit card on file. They let our two active main URL’s expire under their Auto renewal guarantee – one we caught in time the other missed by a day. Even though Hostgator admitted they have a date driven glitch in their system, they wouldn’t lift a finger in helping us retrieve the lost URL from the Marketing Company that purchased it on the day it expired. A letter to the Hostgator CEO and operations head was ignored.

    Under their user agreement they have no responsibility even though they admitted their error. They wont be held responsible for liability beyond three month of paid service. Now we’re testing their agreement in the Texas courts. If you value your URL, don’t trust it to Hostgator.
    Talent Partners

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