Choosing a web hosting provider is often the last step in the process of getting a website up and running, but it shouldn’t be a case of just picking the first company that comes up in your web search. Web hosting services differ significantly in what features they offer, so it’s important to figure out who can deliver just what you need.
We do the work here for you as we research and compare two large web hosting service providers – GoDaddy and Network Solutions. We ask the important questions and detail the features you should be looking for.
Both GoDaddy and Network Solutions are well-known companies that have a similar range of services: domain name registration, websites, eCommerce, web hosting, professional email and online marketing.
The hosting services of Network Solutions are aimed at businesses and organizations, and this focus is front-and- center on their website. GoDaddy’s market is more general and covers everyone who wants to have a website.
There’s no real difference in the length of time GoDaddy, and Network Solutions have been in business: GoDaddy was founded in 1997, while Network Solutions moved into the Internet arena in 1993.
Hosting about 730,000 websites, GoDaddy is almost twice as large as Network Solutions with just over 440,000 sites – but these are both significantly large numbers in comparison to some of these companies’ competitors.
Uptime and Reliability
Uptime. Uptime and reliability are two of those features that you don’t question until your website is down and your readers or customers can’t get to it. Both GoDaddy and Network Solutions exceeded they’re advertized, and industry-standard, uptime of 99.9%. Network Solutions has the slight edge with a measured 100% uptime over the six-month period viewed by an independent monitoring company.
Performance. Experts rate GoDaddy highly for speed in third-party measurement tests; however, user reviews are mixed and report both very slow and fast loading speeds. Each of GoDaddy’s hosting plans has limited access to fast Solid State Device servers for storing data.
Network Solutions offers twice the regular speed of processing with its Professional Hosting and Professional Plus packages.
Reliability. Multiple data centers, preferably in different countries, enable a web hosting service to switch the location of websites to take advantage of small loads as well as power and other outages.
GoDaddy has seven data centers in the US as well as one in Europe and another in Asia. Network Solutions is not forthcoming with the location of its data centers, nor how many it maintains. Reliability is also ensured by both companies with redundant power, cooling, isolated electrical systems and building monitoring systems at their data centers.
Opinion on GoDaddy and Network Solutions Performance
It’s a tie here – Network Solutions gets points for speed and GoDaddy for world-wide data centers.
Compare Key Features
Note: Although web hosting services offer a broad range of features, we focus on the ones of prime importance to your web hosting success.
Domain Registration. There’s nothing to choose between GoDaddy and Network Solutions here. You can purchase your domain name from both companies and they both let you transfer in any domains that you already own.
In addition, they each give you one free domain name with a one year contract. Just be aware that currently, the renewal price for a domain name with Network Solutions is an incredible $37.99 a year for a .com address.
Website Builder. You don’t need to go elsewhere to build your site if your use either Network Solutions or GoDaddy.
GoDaddy’s Website Builder (that’s its real name) is very popular and well-reviewed to provide attractive sites. However, it has a monthly fee attached.
Database. GoDaddy offers SQL Databases with all their plans. The top-tier GoDaddy Windows plan (the Ultimate) has unlimited MySQL databases. It’s unclear which Network Solutions plans have SQL databases attached to them.
WordPress Hosting. Fully-managed WordPress hosting is available from both GoDaddy and Network Solutions.
GoDaddy allows you to create your WordPress site in the GoDaddy environment or to bring in your existing WordPress site. The managed WordPress hosting gives you free daily backups (with 1-click restore) of your WordPress sites and interactive walkthroughs and training videos.
There are 4 WordPress plans with GoDaddy. The Basic plan with one WordPress website starts at $3.99 monthly and the top-tier plan, the Developer, handles five sites and up to 800,000 visitors for $13.99 per month. The top two plans include an SSL certificate (a $70 value). As with the regular hosting plans, a free domain is provided with contracts of twelve months or more.
Setting up WordPress on Network Solutions is relatively straightforward: there’s an ADD button for the application, and you’re guided through a set-up Wizard. Users report, however, that it’s difficult to find the option to do this.
Network Solutions has WordPress Secure, which uses servers that are configured for maximum WordPress performance. WordPress Secure provides a very high level of security which scans for and removes malware and creates daily backups. Also, it provides security updates to the WordPress platform and plugins.
The WordPress Secure plans come with an SSL Certificate, unlimited storage and bandwidth and 60-day set-up assistance. The cost starts at $35 a month for an annual contract, though it’s discounted if you buy an annual contact.
eCommerce Solution. Network Solutions Hosting and GoDaddy approach eCommerce a little differently.
With GoDaddy you effectively buy your eCommerce store in a box – a website, hosting and QuickCart (their own proprietary shopping cart) for a monthly fee. Your store can remain with GoDaddy as it grows, with unlimited products, your own coupons and the ability to open a store on Facebook,
Network Solutions offers three eCommerce packages that start at $7.89 per month and include a control panel from which you manage everything. All three plans have unlimited data transfer, perfect for when your store transactions increase. There are various payment options, including Paypal and Google Checkout. The storefront builder tool isn’t as user-friendly as Network Solutions’ web builder tool.
Backups. Whatever your web hosting service provides in the way of backups, we firmly advised that you are responsible for backing up your site in your way. (We just wish that we could insist on it!).
That said, both GoDaddy and Network Solutions do provide some backup services for you.
GoDaddy charges for its backup and restore services. You receive an automatic daily backup with a set amount of data storage available for the backup.
Network Solutions provides free nightly backups but, again, you’re limited to how much data you can store in the process. These backups are kept for seven days. For a monthly fee, you can access AnyTime On Demand Backup which lets you store three additional backups to a maximum of 5 GB of disk space.
Hosting Security. Security is a serious consideration for web hosting and moves beyond the physical safety of a company’s servers in their data centers to your data itself.
GoDaddy provides SiteLock, for a monthly fee, to daily seek out any malware on your website and to remove it. You can also purchase an SSL certificate to protect the sensitive data entered on to your site.
Security at Network Solutions also comes at a (monthly) price. Only the top-tier Professional Plus hosting plan comes with a free SSL certificate; all other customers have to purchase their own through Network Solutions.
Control Panel. GoDaddy and Network Solutions both use a variation of the industry-standard cPanel as their control panel interface for their Linux web hosting. Also, GoDaddy provides the Odin Plesk control panel for its Windows web hosting option.
Opinion on GoDaddy and Network Solutions Key Features
GoDaddy wins out in the features department. Its website builder is easy to use and can produce some beautiful sites; its eCommerce solution is a store-in- a-box that’s easy to set up.
Hosting Plans & Pricing
Note: Our advice here is to always read the fine print when comparing prices. Most network providers offer discount pricing for your initial period, but the low prices are usually for a two- or three-year contract. The prices then jump up to the regular cost, which can often be quite high. Watch out also for add-ons, such as security and a website builder tool.
GoDaddy. GoDaddy offers three Linux web hosting plans, the Basic, Deluxe and the Ultimate, and the default contract for each is 36 months. All the prices here are the discount prices for this three-year term.
The Basic plan is $3.99 a month for just one website and 100 email addresses – good for starting out with. Moving up is the Deluxe at $4.49 per month with unlimited websites and 500 email addresses. For heavily-visited sites or eCommerce stores, the Ultimate at $7.99 monthly is worth a look. All plans come with unlimited bandwidth and a free domain with an annual, or longer, contract.
The Windows web hosting plans with GoDaddy are similar but include various numbers of SQL and MYSQL databases with each plan. Discount prices and three-year contracts apply here again. The Economy plan for one website is $3.99 a month, and the Deluxe plan (unlimited sites, bandwidth, and storage) comes in at $4.49 a month. Unlimited everything is the hallmark of the Ultimate plan at $7.99 monthly. As before, all plans have a free domain with a 12 month-or- more contract.
GoDaddy offers VPS, Cloud and Dedicated web hosting plans through the Pro section of its website.
Network Solutions. You have the option of three Linux hosting packages with Network Solutions. The basic plan, called Web Hosting, is $9.96 monthly for a 1-year term. Disk space is limited, and you have 1000 email boxes. Professional Hosting at $15.78 per month (1-year contract) adds unlimited disk space and email boxes and faster speeds. The top plan is Professional Plus for $21.62 monthly (also a 1-year term) which just adds an SSL certificate. Each package comes with a complimentary (their spelling) Technical Adviser to help with technical FTP and security stuff.
But this is where it gets very confusing with Network Solutions. The hosting packages on the FAQ page are identified as Essential, Professional, and Premium, along with prices that are much more expensive that the ones quoted on the home page.
However, the linked-to comparison chart of the three plans shows yet another version of the monthly prices. These may be the Advanced Hosting plans, but it’s not very clear. The Hot Deals page has yet another price without any explanation as to the difference.
Network Solutions offers two VPS hosting packages: Essential Hosting is for starter websites, and Professional Hosting is better for high traffic sites.
Money-Back Guarantee: GoDaddy has a well-stated refund policy for web hosting subscribers. Month-to-Month subscribers with GoDaddy have 48 hours to request a refund. Those with annual contracts have a relatively generous 45 days to get all their money back; after that time, their refund is pro-rated. You have to give a reason you’re canceling your contract.
The Network Solutions refund policy is not available on its website, and the customer service person we contacted about it couldn’t find the information either.
Opinion on Hosting Plans Pricing
GoDaddy is the undisputed winner here with precise information about its prices and polices. Network Solutions’ information is contradictory and even non-existent, so it’s difficult to know much you’ll owe them or whether you can get your money back if you change your mind.
Ease of Use
Control Panel. Network Solutions and GoDaddy have both based their control panels on the industry-standard cPanel.
The Network Solutions version provides a thorough but complex interface. The advanced features of this control panel may be too confusing for newbies, and it’s so crowded with things you can do that it’s sometimes difficult to find anything: the applications library itself has buried four clicks down.
GoDaddy made cPanel its own by changing the look to match GoDaddy styling and by adding custom icons to make the interface easier to use, And this has worked, according to both expert and user reviewers who praise its intuitive navigation.
One-click Installer. GoDaddy has more than 125 Linux apps and 50 Windows apps, all with a 1-click installation. But there’s not a complete list of these apps available before you sign up for the web hosting service. Network Solutions advertises 1-click install for WordPress.
Website Navigation. Neither the GoDaddy nor the Network Solutions website present information front and center for ease of reading. GoDaddy’s website is cluttered, but the tabs are clearly labeled and the information is there even though you may have to drill down to find it.
In contrast, the Network Solutions website has contradictory information, especially about the plans and prices, and is missing some essential information, including a full list of what features each plan includes.
Opinion on Ease of Use
GoDaddy comes out ahead here again. Choosing a web plan is easy, and you know what you’re getting. While GoDaddy’s cPlanel is non-standard, it’s learning curve is slight and the custom icons are quite intuitive. In contrast, you’re pretty much in the dark with Network Solutions, in what you’re buying, how much it’s going to cost and in how to use what you get.
Technical and Customer Support
Sometimes, unfortunately, the customer support team members become your new best friends, so it’s essential that you can reach, and understand them when you need to. Neither GoDaddy nor Network Solutions have stellar customer support options.
To reach GoDaddy’s support team, you can use the phone or reach out through their live chat function – and the phone number isn’t toll-free. All the GoDaddy support team is US-based, in Iowa and Arizona. The quality of the support is quite high, especially for straightforward and less-complex problems. GoDaddy also has a relatively extensive knowledge base and video tutorials.
Network Solutions also offers phone support, this time with a toll-free number for those in the United States and Canada; some lines are only available for limited hours. Phone calls are toll-free for customers in the United States and Canada. If you want help via email, you must already be a client. The knowledgebase has a selection of FAQs and video tutorials, and you can purchase MyTime Support from advanced web experts for a monthly fee.
Opinion on User Support
Of the two, GoDaddy has the better customer support options, with a live chat feature for those who are uncomfortable speaking English to a technical support person. Neither company is known for its excellent support.
Note: Hearing the inside story from current users of web hosting providers can help you identify the strengths and weakness of the services. Just keep in mind that people are more likely to complain about problems than praise what is working well for them.
Negative Reviews for GoDaddy and Network Solutions
GoDaddy. Downtime and ‘website not available” problems generate the most negative attention for GoDaddy. Also annoying to people are the sometimes confusing billing practices and the difficulties in reaching people to undo double charges or to cancel contracts. The somewhat aggressive upselling techniques on the GoDaddy website also draw complaints.
Network Solutions. Upselling is also a complaint leveled against Network Solutions by people who are unhappy that they have to purchase a fairly standard basic hosting package and then pay to add on the bits and pieces that they need. The cPanel interface also comes in for criticism from young webmasters for its long learning curve and non-intuitive navigation.
Positive Reviews for GoDaddy and Network Solutions
GoDaddy. People who want a starting-out website and don’t mind dealing with a large company, and all that involves, praise GoDaddy. The prices are competitive and being able to buy everything in one place, and even bundled together as a package, makes their web-creating life simple.
Network Solutions. Reviewers like Network Solutions for its focus on business owners and the features that are directed towards them. The wide range of eCommerce features, in particular, find an enthusiastic audience. WordPress users appreciate the great security of Network Solutions’ WordPress managed to host.
Opinion on User Reviews
There are mixed reviewers for both web hosting providers, with more negative reviews than positive ones. Many of the companies against GoDaddy relate to it being a large company, and people hate the upselling focus found on both websites.
Which hosting is best for you?
Both of these hosting companies have their advantages and disadvantages.
Reasons to Choose GoDaddy over Network Solutions:
- Can buy all web building needs in one package
- Large, proven, established company
- Both Linux and Windows web hosting available
- Professional hosting packages give room to grow
- 1-click installation for hundreds of apps
- Integrated eCommerce package
Reasons to Choose Network Solutions Hosting over GoDaddy:
- Focus on business
- Secure, managed WordPress hosting
- Has a very slight edge in uptime
Network Solutions focuses on people with business applications who want to establish a web presence. If you’re an experienced WordPress owner, then the security of the managed WordPress hosting on Network Solutions might be worth a look.
Other than that, we can’t really recommend it over GoDaddy as a hosting provider based on this comparison review. The convenience of one-stop- shopping for creating and running a website found at GoDaddy will appeal to beginner website owners as well as those who don’t want to focus too much on the mechanics of being a webmaster.
The GoDaddy plans are also cheaper (we think) than the many versions of the plans available on Network Solutions.
GoDaddy and Network Solutions are attractive options as web hosting services, but neither may offer quite what you need. If you’re looking for a smaller company and more flexible hosting plans, check out A Small Orange.
All the hosting plans come with unlimited domains but limits on the disk space and bandwidth, so you don’t pay for resources, you will never use. You also get the very popular and highly-rated free Weebly web builder tool.
Do you have any questions about GoDaddy or Network Solutions? Do your experiences differ from what our research shows? Are your allegiances with an entirely different provider? Leave your comments and let us know.