If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that BlueHost vs AWS shouldn’t even take place as a competition. It’s like trying to compare a Toyota Prius, the highly successful sedan people use to go to work, with the brand’s legendary pickup, the Hillux. I’m not saying that it can’t be done. However, BlueHost and AWS are different categories of web services, each designed with distinctive goals and purposes in mind.
Users looking to choose the safest, most cost-effective hosting service between BlueHost and AWS shouldn’t even consider the latter. BlueHost gives you a cPanel to help manage your site without the need to hire a team of web developers, Live Chat support to use whenever needed, and an SSL Certificate, all for just several dollars a month.
However, if I’m an agile business that’s expected to grow fast over the next couple of years, my problem shouldn’t even be framed in terms of BlueHost or AWS. Unlike the former, AWS gives enterprises the possibility to set-up a secure and scalable IT infrastructure using their virtual cloud services; no physical equipment required. It doesn’t only carry a company’s website(s), but all of its digital infrastructure.
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Bluehost vs. AWS: A Complete Overview
Amazon Web Services, as an internet services company, has proven dominance in a lot of areas. AWS is the largest Infrastructure-As-A-Service (IAAS) offering and is particularly known for being very third-party integrations friendly. While other platforms have tried to compete, AWS still holds a lot of the market share because of intuitive setup and exceptional management. Basically, AWS provides a whole lot of services like Mobile, Developers Tools, Management Tools, IoT, security and enterprise apps. Basically, AWS offers a whole lot more services than any company in the industry. Thankfully, AWS also offers web hosting services and it’s one of the main Bluehost Alternatives. We’ll mostly be looking at AWS Lightsail service, a part of AWS’s hosting service that is optimized for medium-sized businesses. It’s made up of one server that runs content management systems like WordPress and Joomla.
Bluehost, founded by Matt Heaton in 2003, is one of the biggest players in the hosting market section of the market. With over 2 million websites hosted on its servers, Bluehost is a big player in the business. Known for a high level of reliability (great uptime) and being user-friendly, Bluehost is one of the most recognizable names in web hosting. Bluehost was bought by the Internet hotshot, Endurance International Group, in 2010. While many critics believed that this heralded a slump in quality and consequently growth, Bluehost has proven them wrong for the most part. The host has grown from strength to strength in recent years and has now become one of only three hosts officially recommended by WordPress.
The most important part of any comparison (or at least one of the most important parts) of any comparison is ‘performance’. To gauge exactly how well AWS performs, we purchased a hosting plan and built a basic WordPress website on it. We did the same with Bluehost, and we’ll be checking performance stats like uptime and page load speed.
We built our site and set about testing AWS’s page load speed. For the most part, AWS response time is pretty average, measuring around 430ms. That is when you take locations outside Europe and America into consideration. Inside Europe and America, response speeds are consistently lower than 100ms. We sent about a hundred virtual users to our site to see if a spike in traffic would have any impact on speed. Unfortunately, AWS’s response speed got junky and even got as low as 800ms. Not a good look.
All in all, AWS uptime performance isn’t terrible. It matches the above-average performers in our ratings and we don’t think users will have a lot of problems concerning speed.
We carried out the same speed tests with Bluehost. Over our testing period, we calculated an average response time of 461ms (very similar to the one we got when testing them to get data for our Bluehost Review article, so they are for sure constant when it comes to the speed part). Since most of the hosts we’ve reviewed get below the 500ms mark, Bluehost’s speed is decidedly above average. We wouldn’t call Bluehost’s speed exceptional, but since it’s above average, it’s decent enough for us. We also tried to see whether speed would suffer during a spike in traffic, so we sent a hundred virtual users to our site. We were pleasantly surprised to see that Bluehost maintained stable speeds— something that AWS was missing.
VERDICT; Both hosting services have decent speeds— not great, and certainly not among the top speedsters in our rankings, but decent. It’s a close one, but Bluehost is the best choice for us because of stability during traffic spikes.
If speed is acceleration, uptime is the direction. Even the fastest speed cannot make up for terrible uptime. We don’t believe in a Utopia— we know that no host can guarantee a 100% uptime. The difference is how long downtime, when it eventually happens, lasts for. In this case, some hosts perform better than others. So let’s see which host has a better uptime between AWS and Bluehost.
Over our testing period, our Bluehost account was up for 99.99% of the time. That’s about the closest to 100% that any Web-host can guarantee, and Bluehost gets top marks in our book. However, we don’t just like to check uptime stats as they are fickle and can change quickly. We also like to check whether a host has an uptime guarantee. That is, do customers get compensated if downtime is higher than a certain percentage? For Bluehost, the answer is no. Bluehost doesn’t have an uptime guarantee. That wouldn’t bother us though, as a 99.99% uptime is pretty great.
But what if it all changes tomorrow? (cue existential crises)
Our site with AWS also recorded an impressive uptime of 99.99% over our testing period, which is great. Like we said earlier, 99.99% is the closest any host can get to perfect. It gets even better as we ran through AWS’s server agreement and discovered that the host actually has an uptime guarantee— a 99.9% uptime guarantee.
If uptime is less than 99.9% but greater than or equal to 99.0%, you get 10% service credit. If it’s less than 99.0% but greater than or equal to 95.0%, you get 25% service credit. If it’s less than 95%, you get a 100% service credit. As far as uptime guarantees go, what AWS offers isn’t terrible.
VERDICT; Both hosts haven’t slacked at all in the matter of performance, and we’ve been really impressed. However, we have to pick a winner, and AWS takes this round for us. An almost perfect uptime + an uptime guarantee is an unbeatable combination.
Generally, we like to assume that most web hosts have good security measures in place. While this is true, some hosts are more effective than others in securing your site. It’s important to take this into consideration before picking a host.
Bluehost Security Features
Bluehost has effective measures in place to ensure great security. This includes free SSL certificates from Let’s Encrypt, and Codeguard— a tool that helps automatically backup accounts. A domain privacy tool is available to help keep personal information used to sign up off public WHOIS hosting lists. This helps to prevent hackers from getting a hold on these details for phishing schemes. Postini from google is also provided to give spam protection to your mail.
To effect secure sending and receiving of files, Bluehost supports PGP/GPG encryption. Bluehost also offers Sitelock, a third-party product serving as both malware and firewall scanner. Sitelock is also enabled to remove malware from your site. A very detailed checklist of what should be done to protect your site is also provided for, so you can keep things secure from your end.
AWS Security Features
AWS host also provides great security services. Identity and access management (IAM) helps create users, rules, groups and uses permission to deny and allow their access to AWS resources. You can also grant unique credentials to users within your AWS account by giving individual access only to the required AWS resources and services. Another security feature is Virtual Private Clouds (VPC) that gives you total control over all inbound and outbound network traffic. VPC’s can be used to secure applications by restricting where appropriate, access to and from the Internet.
Security groups is another feature that can help you create rules controlling incoming and outgoing traffic on your firewall. AWS direct connect allows you to establish a private virtual interface between your on-premise network and your Amazon Virtual private cloud which is a private and secure network connection. All these are features that you can’t get from a basic host such as Hostgator or Bluehost.
VERDICT: Both web host has good security features, however, Bluehost’s features seem more reliable and efficient than that of AWS.
Plans & Pricing
One of the first things to consider before picking a host is the money. Is it affordable for you? Is it worth the services that are being delivered? Let’s check out the pricing structure of AWS and Bluehost to see exactly what we’re getting.
AWS has 7 levels of pricing, and these seven levels are available either under Linux servers or Windows servers. Generally, we would recommend Linux servers and you really should only use Windows servers if you have a particular reason. Linux servers are cheaper and perform just as well. Unlike other hosts, AWS doesn’t have fancy names for their packages. It’s just level one through to level seven.
- Level 1; 512mb memory, 1 core processor, 20GB SD card, 1 TB transfer ($3.50 per month)
- Level 2; 1 GB of memory, 1 core processor, 40 GB SD disk and 2 TB of transfer ($5 per month)
- Level 3; 2 GB of memory, 1 core processor, 60GB SD disk, 3 TB transfer ($10 per month)
- level 4; 4 GB of memory, 2 core processors, 80 GB SD disk, 4 TB of transfer ($20 per month)
- Level 5; 8 GB of memory, 2 core processors, 160 GB SSD transfer, 5 TB of transfers ($40 per month)
- Level 6; 16 GB of memory, 4 core processors, 320 GB of SSD disk space and 6 TB of transfers. ($80 per month)
- Level 7; 32 GB of memory, 8 core processors, 640 GB SSD card, 7 TB of transfers ($160 per month).
In addition, AWS doesn’t offer a free domain name like other web hosts. That’s something that you have to get through other channels. In fact, AWS isn’t a freebie kinda guy, as users aren’t entitled to free site migrations either.
All in all, as we said earlier, AWS is pretty pricey and is suitable for big corporations, not businesses looking for cheap hosting options.
Bluehost offers four Shared hosting plans. Most Web-hosts just offer three, but Bluehost leaves a lot of room for scalability. The four plans are the Basic plan, Plus plan, Choice-Plus plan and the Pro plan.
The Basic plan comes with;
- 1 website
- Free SSL certificate
- 1 free domain
- 5 parked domains
- 25 subdomains.
- 50GB of storage
- Unmetered bandwidth
The plan costs $2.75 (renewal costs $7.99 per month).
The Plus plan comes with all the features of the basic plan plus;
- Unlimited websites
- Unlimited parked domains
- $200 marketing offer
- Spam experts.
- Unlimited storage
- Unlimited domains
- Unlimited subdomains
The plan costs $5.45 per month (normally $10.99).
The Choice-plus plan comes with all the features of the Plus plan plus;
- Domain Privacy and protection
- 1 office 365 mailbox – free 30 days and Codeguard basic site backup.
The plan is the same price as the Plus plan but renewal costs $14.99
The Pro plan is the most expensive shared hosting plan offered by Bluehost. The plan costs $13.95 per month (renewal is $23.99 per month) and it comes with all the features of the Choice-Plus plan with a dedicated IP address and high performance. Bluehost says that high performance means that Pro servers allow for a 300,000 file count and are deployed with fewer users per server than the standard shared hosting servers. Therefore each user gets more resources allocated than with normal lower their hosting plans.
Bluehost’s pricing is more suitable for small businesses and offers a whole lot more free options than AWS.
VERDICT; Since we are basically comparing apples to Oranges, this is a case of needs and preference more than anything. If you’re going to be handling your website yourself, it’s better to go with Bluehost. If you have an IT team and complex hosting needs, it’s better to go with AWS. Overall, though, we think Bluehost offers more value than AWS.
Let’s look at the extra features that both hosts offer.
AWS has the following features
- Decent Customer Support; AWS has the basic 24/7 customer support that most hosts offer. The channels are live chat, Email and ticketing channels. While there have been some complaints about the quality of AWS’s support, our experience was not terrible.
- Choice of Server; You can choose whether you want a Linux server or a Windows server
- Choice of Server Location; You can choose where you want your servers located from a number of locations worldwide
- AWS has scheduled backups and virtual cloud storage
- AWS supports a lot of platforms including Joomla, Ruby, WordPress, and Magento.
Bluehost has the following features
- One-click installations for over 100+ apps from MOJO
- Bluehost supports the use of Perl modules, Cron jobs, PHP PEAR packages, and Apache handlers.
- Bluehost has both MySQL and PostgreSQL databases and you can use either phpMyAdmin, Remote MySQL, or phpPgAdmin to manage your databases.
- In case you need to manage your domains through them, Bluehost has a domain manager.
- The Blue flash feature is a special customer care feature that allows you access to experts dedicated to helping you get your WordPress website up and running.scheduled backups and virtual cloud storage
- $200 Marketing offers
- Bluehost is an officially recommended web host by WordPress.
- Bluehost offers CDN access.
- Bluehost offers the web building services of Weebly for free for all users.
VERDICT; Bluehost has more impressive features than AWS— we were especially impressed with the Blue flash feature.
Bluehost vs. AWS: Our Pick
AWS may be perfect for certain services, 9/10 times, the host to go with is Bluehost. In fact, if you’re going to be running your site yourself, you really shouldn’t be considering AWS at all.
Bluehost vs. AWS? Bluehost for sure.