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Startup Tools: Gandi.net Easily Beats GoDaddy.com

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Over the past decade or more, I've been developing various websites, so I've had some experience with a bunch of different services for registration, hosting, and promotion. And in that time, only two such services really stood out: GoDaddy.com and Gandi.net

I don't know how to say this nicely, so I'll just unload: GoDaddy.com is the biggest crapfest of online services that I've ever had the sorry pleasure of dealing with. By comparison, Gandi.net is a breath of fresh air.

Let me explain why, because there is a lesson in this for all of us who deliver services over the internet.

Whenever I visit GoDaddy, I always feel like I'm visiting a used car lot, or going to one of those promotions where you win a free gas grill in return for listening to a sales pitch about timeshares. I know that I am going to be pushed into doing things that are not in my best interest, and I don't like it one bit.

Here's an example from yesterday.

I have about 35 domains expiring in another week, so I took some time and decided which ones to keep and which to discard. I decided on just keeping 3 of them -- not a great percentage but the vast number of startup and website ideas I have don't pan out, so nothing unusual there.

Over the past several months I've grown interested Gandi, and even though I haven't given up totally on GoDaddy, I thought it would be an interesting experiment to transfer these three domains from GoDaddy to Gandi. What's involved in transferring a domain, anyway?

I won't give you the details, but eventually I came across this help page over on GoDaddy.

You can't transfer a domain unless that particular domain is updated to make sure your email account appears. Then there's all this other stuff.

Now I haven't done anything with the domains since I bought them, so you'd think that my details would be there from the time of purchase.

Nope. Just blank boxes.

So that means I have to add my personal details in order for GoDaddy to approve the transfer.

But wait! On the screen where you add your personal details to the domain, there is a box that says something like "by checking this box you agree not to transfer the domain for 60 days"

So to transfer the domain -- you have to complete a form agreeing not to transfer the domain.

I completed it anyway. The damn form wouldn't accept unless I agreed, and I completed it so I could complete the rest of the process.

Today I get an email from GoDaddy explaining that they denied my transfer request because I had legally obligated myself to keep my domain with them for the next 60 days.

Maybe GoDaddy is on the side of the angels, but that's not the way it looks from here. From here the names that come to my mind when I'm treated like this are not pleasant. "Pricks" "Assholes", and "scumbags" are some of them. You make me spend 2 hours digging through documentation so that you can trick me into agreeing not to leave your service? Ouch.

And that's just the problem. Every time I have dealt with GoDaddy I have felt that they are desperately trying to milk every possible penny from my bank account. If you go through the default domain purchase process, you end up going through 3 or 4 screens who's sole purpose is to upsell you add-on crap that you don't need. The interface is so bad -- the first time I used GoDaddy it took me many hours to just purchase a couple of domains. It wasn't clear what was in my shopping cart or not. (Although once I called tech support they were very friendly. Go figure)

I'm never sure I've completed a purchase at GoDaddy as much as escaped their clutches.

Compare this to Gandi.net

Over on Gandi, I fill out an easy form and purchase my domain. Credit card not working because it's a foreign purchase? (Gandi is located in Paris). No problem. They take PayPal.

Have a problem with your DNS? No problem. Here's your entire record if you like, adjust it how you want. Or -- if you're a noob, here's an easy wizard to do the same thing.

And Gandi's logo? "No bullshit"

You think maybe they were thinking of somebody else when they came up with that logo?

Here are some people I can understand and like. I visit, quickly do my business and leave. If I have problems the answers are easy to find. The website is clean and functional. But most importantly, Gandi mostly does one thing, be a registrar, and they do it well. There's truly no bullshit involved.

When you build a webapp, there are three philosophies you can choose:

  • Everything is free.
  • We do one simple thing and you have to pay for it.
  • We will do anything we can and will charge you for all of it. We will continue to add features and complicate pricing in an effort to extract the maximum amount of money from you

Each of these philosophies has benefits and drawbacks. Gandi is going for the second option. GoDaddy is going for the third.

If you go for the third option, you had better be careful not to let your greed get in the way of your mission.

So now it looks like I'm moving the rest of my domains over to Gandi. I could spend some time arguing with tech support over at GoDaddy, but they are not worth my time anymore.

If you choose option 3, whatever you do, don't let your customers end up like me.

Just to be clear, for all I know GoDaddy is the best registrar on the planet. But from my experiences outlined above, they've left a very bad taste in my mouth. These things matter, and they matter to more than just people looking for registrars, hence the purpose of this post


I can't understand why GoDaddy reached the level that it has. The site is horrible, the user interface is horrible, their policies are horrible and their pricing isn't _that_ competitive. Reading this was funny and painful all at the same time, because I've had similar experiences.

I currently use Directi, I've used them for years and I'm sad to say that they are starting to go down the "SlowDaddy" route when it comes to complexity. I signed in last night just to buy a domain on a whim, and it took me fifteen minutes to figure out where and how to do that (the process had changed since the last time I did it). Still, in their defense, Directi has to cater to their re-sellers who provide the bulk of their revenue. Enom is the same way.

Interestingly, I went and checked out Gandi based on the recommendation of another friend. I work for a large web host, so I don't need hosting .. but I prefer to keep my domains to myself. This is the second time in 24 hours that the name has come up, so I think I'm going to give them a shot.

I ran away from GoDaddy years ago - like you say, it gave me that used car lot feeling. These days I host at nearlyfreespeech.net and also use their domain registration service. How shall I put it - ah yes, sanity: the pricing, the interface, the ideology. It's the kind of service I would build.

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This page contains a single entry by DanielBMarkham published on November 29, 2010 10:48 AM.

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