Sometimes in life, what seems like the best option, ends up disappointing you more than the worst possible option! In the case of GoDaddy’s much-vaunted “4th Generation” hosting, this holds truer than ever. Unreliable servers, DNS issues, lack of a cPanel, archive limits and other severe performance limitations they’ll never tell you about when you sign up, fly in the face of GoDaddy’s claims of an advanced “4th Generation” network.
The following is a detailed account of the problems I faced with GoDaddy, and why I ended up cancelling my GoDaddy hosting account within a week of signing up.
A friend of mine was setting up an online business. Being knowledgeable about setting up websites, I offered to set up his site for him. I had already experienced a couple of web hosts by now, but had been itching to try GoDaddy’s hosting as I was really impressed by their long list of so-called 4th generation hosting features such as built-in CDN support, built-in site redundancy, quick account setup and unlimited bandwidth, with the added advantage of superior 24×7 tech support. So when the opportunity presented itself, I signed up for GoDaddy hosting immediately.
1. Birth pangs
The problems started immediately, albeit rather innocuously at first. After signing up, I was directed to setup my hosting account from the GoDaddy Account Manager. I clicked on “Launch” next my hosting account, and was informed that it would take 30 minutes to set up my account. Well, that wasn’t so great, but never mind.
Next, I needed to install WordPress, which is my preferred content management software. I followed the instructions to install WordPress, and again I was told that it would take 30 minutes for the installation to complete! Now this was baffling. On all the other web hosts that I had used before, it didn’t take more than a few seconds to set up WordPress. And here a so-called 4th generation host was asking for 30 minutes! But even this was nothing compared to what lay ahead.
2. Email delivery problems
So eventually the site was setup and, after another week of work, was ready to go live. Being an online business, the site had an online form that customers were supposed to fill and submit to register and get started. And when a form was submitted, WordPress would send an email to our support email ID.
I decided to do a dry run and see if everything worked fine. So I filled the online form and submitted it, and then checked our support email ID. Nothing arrived at all. Five minutes passed, then half an hour, and then an hour, and still nothing! Eventually, after two hours, the mail landed in my inbox. I tried a couple more times, and the same result was observed. And worse, the auto-responder emails sent to the customer’s email ID on registration too were taking the same time to reach.
Now this was simply unacceptable! Imagine an e-commerce site taking two hours to send a registration mail to a customer. Such a thing had never happened even on any of the other cheaper, lesser known web hosts that I had tried before.
Frustrated, I raised a support ticket with GoDaddy and informed them of the problem and how serious it was for us. To my utter shock, this was their nonchalant reply:
Go Daddy Support
Thank you for contacting online support. Due to the nature of a shared hosting server, email generated by the server may take up to 24 hours to be sent. This is so that the servers do not overload. Thus, email may queue until the server is available to send the messages in question. We appreciate your patience and understanding on this matter.
Please let us know if we can help you in any other way.
Online Support Technician
Lesson learnt! And while we were contemplating our next course of action in the face of this unexpected finding, another problem hit us.
3. Extended downtime
That weekend, we had organised a small party to do a soft-launch of the site. Our first “customer” was a friend of ours, and we planned to inaugurate the site by registering him. But when we tried to open the site, it just wouldn’t open! We kept getting an “Unable to connect to server” error. We thought perhaps it was a problem with our DSL Internet connection and tried accessing the site from our 3G mobile phones. Same result. And the problem continued for the next few hours, causing us to involuntarily postpone the launch to the next day. So much for GoDaddy’s 99.9% uptime!
4. Connectivity issues
The next day, we were able to access the site and finally launched it. But the problem wasn’t over. A few of our friends whom we had engaged for feedback and beta testing informed us that they were unable to access the site from their office networks. Hell, neither was I!
A little debugging showed that the server IP (indicated by the A record) was not accessible. However, my personal site and all other sites were accessible without any issues.
C:\>ping sg2nlhg112c1112.shr.prod.sin2.secureserver.net Pinging sg2nlhg112c1112.shr.prod.sin2.secureserver.net [22.214.171.124] with 32 bytes of data: Request timed out. Request timed out. Request timed out. Request timed out. Ping statistics for 126.96.36.199: Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 0, Lost = 4 (100% loss)
Then I did a reverse IP lookup to see which other sites were on the same server IP (see result here). I tried to access some of the other domains and faced the same problem. Which meant that the entire server (sg2nlhg112c1112.shr.prod.sin2.secureserver.net) was inaccessible.
I brought this up too with GoDaddy, only to be given a standard response that they did not observe any issues with my site or their server.
This was the last straw. Most of our target clientele would be from major software companies in Bangalore, so the site not being accessible from their VPNs would be suicidal for our business. There was no other option but to shift to a different web host, and do so immediately. We didn’t have time to indulge GoDaddy support and wait for a resolution.
So I opened a hosting account with BigRock (which incidentally was setup in no time) and began the process of shifting our site’s data to the new server.
5. Server migration is a pain!
Anyone familiar with moving a WordPress installation to a new server knows that the process involves two steps:
- Backing up your MySQL database
- Backing up your website’s HTML root directory
Normally, this shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. But not so with GoDaddy!
The MySQL backup resulted in a 20 KB file, which obviously wasn’t right. Debugging revealed the root cause to be that the mysql and mysqldump path wasn’t auto-detected by the backup plugins (both WP-DBManager and WP-DB-Backup couldn’t detect this). Setting the path fixed the issue. Apparently, this was a known issue with GoDaddy (click here to read about the problem and solution).
Next, I tried to take a backup of the root directory by creating a ZIP archive of the folder, only to be greeted by another bombshell. Archive files were restricted to 20 MB in size! Read on…
6. Archive files restricted to 2o MBs
Apparently, GoDaddy doesn’t allow you to create archives over 20 MB. I could not take a backup of my home directory as it was almost triple the size. This was another bizarre limitation I had never even heard of with other web hosts. And would you believe what GoDaddy suggested as an alternative? Good ol’ FTP! Read about the issue (and customers’ shocked responses) here.
It took me about an hour to download all files via FTP to my computer, even with a download manager. It was a trip down memory lane to the old FTP days, but one that I didn’t quite enjoy! I’m just glad that I was forced to migrate at a very early stage. I shudder to think how painful it would’ve been to migrate once orders started pouring in!
The only saving grace in all of this was that changing the DNS servers to BigRock’s servers was a breeze, as one would expect.
7. No cPanel, built in Control Panel sucks!
Another shocking thing I found is that GoDaddy doesn’t even offer cPanel, which is an industry standard feature and available for free on other web hosts. The Control Panel that GoDaddy offers is absolutely useless, and even browsing files or doing simple management tasks is a major pain. The interface reminds me of how sites used to be ten years back.
To summarise, although GoDaddy claims to have a 4th generation hosting platform, they don’t even offer basic facilities that we take for granted on other web hosts. If you want peace of mind, avoid GoDaddy like a plague! You can easily get far better features and facilities for much cheaper elsewhere. Probably the only good part of my experience was that thankfully the refund process was smooth and quick.