I’m not sure there are many people who like GoDaddy, but there are plenty who still use the web registrar and host because they don’t know any better. I can’t fault them. I’m pretty sure I used GoDaddy to register my first domain name, either because I heard the company’s name on a commercial and associated them with “how to get a domain name” in my head, or I saw some deal online. (Probably that.)
Following Kromin’s report, GoDaddy decided to kill Real User Metrics until it can transform the “feature” into an actual opt-in program—you know, the kind of thing you have to check a box to accept. Now is as good a time as any to rethink your relationship with GoDaddy. Or, at the very least, to consider how you use the service.
Whether you’re sticking with GoDaddy or moving to a new host entirely, GoDaddy’s “opt-in” practice is a good reminder to regularly check your website for oddities. Craft up a sample page and look at your code. Is there anything in there that looks strange? You might not be able to escape code insertions from your host, but it’s important to know what they are, what they’re doing, and whether they’re impacting your site’s functionality in any way.
Also, take some time to pore over your host’s settings for your site. You might not understand all of it, and you might really have to dig to uncover any other programs you’ve unknowingly “opted into.” Click all the menu buttons in the interface, open up all the contextual prompts, and root through every option your host offers so you aren’t missing annoying extras you could otherwise disable. As far as code injections go, you can also try looking into crafting a strong Content Security Policy for your website, but it’s not a panacea, as one commenter in Kromin’s post notes:
You can if you don’t trust your host, CSP and stuff is great, but it’s a response header so the server provider can append any scripts into the CSP list before sending the header to the client, thus allowing what ever they want. They can also easily just back proxy their own script using NGINX or Apache so that yoursite(dot)com/inject.js loads their own script every time. Unless you trust your host no header will save against this problem.
You can always drop GoDaddy like a bad Tinder date and sign up for a site that gives you premade templates to play with—like Squarespace or Wix—and just point your domain to whatever address they create for you. This will limit your creativity and your bank account, but it’s an option if you just need a basic website that looks good and functions well.
As for picking a host that lets you fill space with whatever you want, you have roughly a million different options to pick from. I’m not going to pretend as if I have a definitive list of the very best. However, I have seen a number of recommendations around the web for companies like iwantmyname, DigitalOcean, Cloudways, Gandi, Bluehost, Siteground, InMotion Hosting, Dreamhost, Namecheap, A Small Orange, Hostgator, Nodehost, Midphase, and Siteground... to name a few.
Above all else, make sure the host and plan you select aligns with your needs. If you’re not quite sure how to set up a basic site, don’t go with a host that gives you space on a server and sends you off to figure out what to do with it. A host that offers more hand-holding, or pre-configured content management systems, might be a better bet.
Don’t go crazy, either. If you’re building a small WordPress site to host your résumé and some pictures, you probably don’t need to spring for an expensive package that promises unlimited storage and bandwidth. You can probably get away with a more basic package.
Of course, it helps to know a bit about the technology behind a host’s offerings. Will your site sit on a shared server alongside a thousand others? Will your website live on a virtual private server? Do you think you’ll have enough traffic to warrant a dedicated server? Should you opt for a cloud server where you’re only charged for bandwidth people use? How easy it is to switch between these setups if you get more (or less) than what you need?
If you find a host with a sweet promotional deal for service, make sure you read the fine print. The low rate you see for hosting your site might only apply for months, or the first year, and the real rate might be more than what you’re willing to pay for a website. Don’t pull a Lando Calrissian and get suckered in by a deal that turns bad.
Finally, go hunt down some reviews. Whether you’re scanning Google. Reddit, Stack Exchange, or wherever, find actual, legitimate reviews based on users’ actual experiences, not just their cursory scans of a web host’s offerings. This might take a little digging, but it’s one of the best ways to get a feel for a web host, and it also helps ensure that you’re on top any news you might need to know about your potential pick. If users start commenting that your top hosting choice started, say, injecting code into their websites that causes them to crash, you might want to investigate your second-choice selection.