Today we’ll be looking at Bluehost Vs Hostmonster. If you’re here, you are probably interested in seeing which Web-host comes out the best. That means that you’ve narrowed your choices down to these two Web-hosts. While we don’t think, if we were to make a choice, we’d narrow it down to these two, we understand you. So we are going to embark on an in-depth, totally unbiased and politically (?) independent review of both hosts. Hopefully, at the end of it all, we are able to help you make the right decision.
Bluehost vs. HostMonster: A Complete Overview
There’s no easy, or rather objective, way to put this; the truth is that Bluehost is a massive, massive name in Web-hosting. If you are someone easily carried away by big names, just purchase a Bluehost plan already. They don’t just have a big name, though. As one of the three officially recommended Web-hosts by WordPress, Bluehost has a lot going for it in terms of customers (as we mentioned in our Bluehost Review, they’ve got over 2 million customers). The Web-host has over two million websites hosted on its servers. Big numbers, right? In addition to that, Bluehost has a wide variety of plans so there is plenty of room to scale, and Bluehost offers some of the most competitive prices in the market. Bluehost’s prices are so low that they’ve earned the right to be called a cheap Web-host, and for a cheap Web-host Bluehost has really good performance. But do all these make Bluehost better than HostMonster?
Founded in 1996, HostMonster is around the same age as Bluehost and is one of the oldest Bluehost Alternatives on the market. For the most part, HostMonster offers most of the services that Bluehost does. HostMonster’s selling point is almost the same with Bluehost too— plans are really cheap, there are a lot of plans to choose from, and the service is kept simple via a cPanel backend. However, there seems to be a consensus that HostMonster’s time has passed and the Web-host is on a decline since the company was acquired in 2015 by EIG – at least this is what we found out during our preliminary investigations, despite the fact that EIG also owns some “better rated” hosts such as HostGator and Bluehost. However, we know that what is said isn’t always the truth, so we bought a HostMonster plan to see exactly how bad, or how good the Web-host is.
Are we set, then? Let’s dive right into it.
Or not. We have to get this question out of the way first. When it comes to popularity, there is a very short list of Web-hosts more popular than Bluehost.
HostMonster isn’t on that list.
But does it matter? Not really. Like we said earlier, what people believe isn’t always the truth. HostMonster could end up performing better than Bluehost in this comparison. Anything is possible, really.
Performance is important when choosing a Web-host. After all, no one wants a Web-host that is slow, unresponsive and lethargic. Users want their websites to always be accessible and they want it to always be accessible quickly. So we are going to measure both Web-hosts performances using speed and uptime.
Speed is a very important metric, no matter what kind of website is being hosted. Google has shown that sluggish websites usually have low traffic and even lower conversion rates. In fact, if your site loads any slower than 2-3 seconds, you will start losing visitors.
There is only one way to measure a Web-host’s speed. That way involves buying a plan, setting it up with a dummy website and using a tool like Pingdom to measure the speed. Was that exactly what we did? No, not exactly. There is a major difference. We didn’t use Pingdom to measure the website’s speed once— we used it several times and calculated the average speed over our testing period.
Bluehost Speed Tests
Averaging 461ms TTFB (Time to the first Byte), Bluehost is pretty fast. At least faster than most of our tested sites. Is that something? Yes, it is. Don’t get us wrong, though. Bluehost will win no speed awards or enter any top anything list regarding speed. However, users aren’t likely to have any complaints regarding website speed. To further test the authenticity of this result, we sent 100 virtual users to our dummy site to test Bluehost’s speed under traffic. Speed levels remained fairly stable, so users won’t have to worry about speed levels dropping due to an increase in traffic.
Too often, we just measure speed and forget to look at the tech involved. Bluehost makes use of Cloudflare CDN (Content Delivery System) which speeds up the loading time of websites. CDN works by keeping catches of websites at datacenters around the globe so that when a visitor clicks on the web site’s URL, the network finds the location of the visitor and content is delivered from the closest database to the visitor.
HostMonster Speed Tests
Next up, is HostMonster. Using the same methods used to measure Bluehost’s speed, we went to work on HostMonster’s servers and were, to put it mildly, disappointed. At an average page speed of 950ms, HostMonster is decidedly below average. An average response time of almost one second is poor by any standards. But there is some consolation for HostMonster though— as unlikely as it might be, we’ve seen worse.
The fact that HostMonster makes use of SSDs makes this performance even more shocking. Maybe there is something else going on behind the scenes? We don’t know.
VERDICT; Without a doubt, Bluehost is the faster Web-host. It’s not even a competition.
It is important that your website is accessible quickly, and it is equally important that it is accessible at all. It goes without saying that a poor uptime affects conversion rates and traffic pretty steeply— people cannot visit a site that isn’t up.
We tested Bluehost’s Uptime
Throughout our testing period, Bluehost maintained an uptime of 99.99% which is about as close to perfect as anyone can get. What conclusion can we get from this? Bluehost is extremely reliable. However, this score isn’t without blemish. Bluehost doesn’t have one thing that most other Web-hosts have, and that’s an uptime guarantee. While it doesn’t look like users may have problems with Bluehost’s uptime today, the story can quite easily change. And when it does, users would want a compensation policy for poor uptime. Bluehost doesn’t offer this. Perhaps this is because the Web-host is so confident in their uptime.
We tested HostMonster’s Uptime
HostMonster performed marginally better with regards to uptime. We measured uptime of 99.96% during our testing period. This isn’t really great and would result in tangible downtime during the course of the year, but it isn’t quite terrible either. In fact, we use the words “thoroughly average” to describe it, and for a Web-host that has below-average speed, an average uptime is something of a step up. But that is where the positives end for HostMonster. There is no uptime guarantee as well so this means that users have to deal with tangible downtime and also have no way of addressing it.
Now that’s what we call yikes.
VERDICT; Hardly a competition, and Bluehost is looking quite the Web-host. HostMonster, on the other hand, is looking quite the thing you get when the host is removed from HostMonster. Bluehost takes this one for us too.
Ease of Use for Bluehost compared to HostMonster
Whether advanced or not, users are generally averse to complicated backends. Without a doubt, the Web-host that is easier to use is better than one that is difficult to use. Simplicity, while simple, can be a difficult task to accomplish when designing a Web-hosting backend. Let’s see how HostMonster and Bluehost fare in this regard.
Bluehost makes use of cPanel, which is a good sign. cPanel is the most popular user interface for Web-hosting and it is quite easy to use and understand. The most important thing about cPanel, though, is that a lot of Web-hosts make use of it so it is easier for users switching Web-hosts to get to work without having to figure out where everything is on a new backend. Bluehost’s cPanel has been heavily customized by the Bluehost team to be even easier to use. It also has some exciting features like My Sites, a feature that allows you manage your websites via the account you’ve logged into, Marketplace where you can find new add-ons, WordPress themes, and professional services if you’re looking to purchase them. You can also access your domain manager from Domains, a feature that allows you to monitor the registration status of your domains, discover and register new domains, set up redirection, and update information. Advanced users can find all the advanced settings they want under the advanced section. Bluehost also automatically updates the WordPress core software so that users have one less thing to worry about.
Bluehost has a drag and drop functionality— which means that most tasks can be accomplished without the user having to write a single line of code. Bluehost doesn’t have a proprietary website builder, but users interested in building their own website can make use of Weebly, a third-party website builder provided by Bluehost. One-click installs and WordPress installer is easily accessible from the dashboard so setting up should be a breeze. Generally, we found it easy to control our website from Bluehost’s backend and that is the important thing, ease. It was very easy for us.
Unfortunately, Bluehost doesn’t offer free site migrations. That’s something that we usually hope to find with our choice of Web-hosts, but Bluehost, sadly, doesn’t appear to offer that service. Users will have to pay a one time fee of $149.99 (this enables the migration of up to five websites, 20 email accounts and database files) to migrate their sites
Let’s compare our experience with HostMonster’s.
First off, the sign-up process was a breeze. We only to go through one page before we had our account up and ready.
Like Bluehost, HostMonster offers cPanel support, and like Bluehost’s cPanel, the interface has been customized heavily. Upon logging in, users are greeted with a clean, simple and uncluttered space to work with. You are able to see the sites you’re controlling, get themes and add-ons from the marketplace, manage and check emails and so on.
For those with a bit more experience and would like to deal with the traditional cPanel interface directly, there’s a link that opens up the cPanel interface on the hosting tab. It is very user-friendly and it makes it really easy for newbies and advanced users alike to complete their tasks. To make life easier for the beginner, HostMonster offers free domain names even with the most basic plan. However, it is only free for the first term as subsequent renewals will have to be paid by the user.
After set up, HostMonster provides users with some quick options to get their website up and running in no time. Some of these options include free DIY site builders, a one-click WordPress installation package that is easily accessible from the backend and an instant account setup. HostMonster also provides access to several site scripts via the popular Mojo marketplace— just like Bluehost. Apps such as Joomla and Drupal are available through the marketplace. That makes it easier for users to install the necessary apps. HostMonster supports MySQL, PostgreSQL databases, and database servers.
Unfortunately, like Bluehost, HostMonster doesn’t offer free site migration either. In fact, HostMonster’s paid migration service is eerily similar to that of Bluehost’s; you can only migrate 5 websites, 20 email accounts and file databases per payment. We are sure you’ve read that somewhere. And guess what? It costs exactly $149.99. You really couldn’t make it up.
VERDICT; It is difficult to compare apples to oranges, but it is even more difficult to compare apples to apples, especially when there is hardly a difference. Bluehost and HostMonster basically have the same interface, policy concerning file transfer, and so many other things in common. We have to find something to stand either of these Web-hosts out though, and we believe when it comes down to raw user experience, at least in our opinion, we found Bluehost to be easier to use than HostMonster. So it’s the third win in a row for Bluehost.
Money-Back Guarantee Policy
You liked what you read on the internet. You paid for the Web-hosting plan. And then you discovered that you’ve been lied to, bamboozled, and swindled. The performance isn’t at the level you expected, you’d find better customer service at a county jail, and the interface is more confusing than. . .something really confusing. You get the picture now, don’t you? So what happens then? Can you ask for a refund? Is there a time frame? Are there terms and conditions connected to asking for a refund?
With Bluehost, it is pretty simple. If you buy a shared hosting plan, you have the grace to test run the plan for a month. If you aren’t sure, you can request a refund within the first thirty days of your plan. Pretty sleek, right? But is thirty days enough time to really be sure of your choice of Web-host? The answer is relative, of course, but seeing as other Web-hosts offer up to 97-days money-back guarantee period, we think Bluehost could do better.
Terms and conditions apply too. According to them, you only get refunds on Web-hosting cost and not other products like domains and add-ons. Also, a $15.99 fee will be deducted from the refund if you’ve received a free domain name. And lastly, which seems kind of obvious, refund requests will only be honored when made within the first thirty days of purchasing a plan.
How does this compare to HostMonster’s policy?
Like Bluehost, HostMonster offers a 30-day money-back guarantee period. The same conditions that apply with Bluehost apply to HostMonster too; things like add-ons and free domain names aren’t included in the refund package.
VERDICT; We don’t often have situations where we don’t have a winner. But sometimes, it can’t be avoided. Bluehost and HostMonster are so similar in this category that there is literally nothing to separate both Web-hosts. It’s a draw, for us.
HostMonster vs. Bluehost: Customer Support and Reliability
When choosing a Web-host, there are three things that should absolutely not be ignored and they are Performance, Pricing structure, and Customer support. Even the most advanced users often have the need to ask for help, talk less of beginners. And when this time comes, it is important to be comforted in the fact that the tech support arm of your Web-hosting service is available and able to solve your problems. Therefore we will be measuring customer support from two important angles; availability and ability. How easy is it to get hands-on a live rep, and are live reps able to solve problems quickly and efficiently? Let’s find out.
Bluehost has a lot of channels for contacting live reps and they are available on all hosting plans. They offer live chat, phone, email tickets, and knowledgebase support 24/7 so users have a lot of options in resolving issues. In order to see how available Bluehost’s live reps are, we decided to attempt to solve a technical problem via their live chat support. We tried connecting to a live rep several times and we were grateful to be connected to one in five minutes or less. Putting into consideration the fact that Bluehost is pretty much one of the largest Web-hosting service providers in the world, an average wait time of five minutes is really impressive. So Bluehost isn’t doing so badly on availability.
For the most part, the reps that we spoke to were knowledgeable and looked like they knew exactly what they were doing. However certain questions got them stumped and we were forced to wait for several minutes to get an answer. In our opinion, Bluehost’s customer support can probably help out if you run into some minor issue, but with the bigger problems you’re gonna have a less than ideal experience.
Bluehost has a special WordPress customer service channel called Blue flash. It is free for all users and is only available on the phone channel. Customers can call and request to begin their Blue flash call and would instantly be connected to WordPress experts on hand to walk them through absolutely any problems they might have.
HostMonster offers the same channels as Bluehost, and when we tried their customer service, we got almost the same feeling as with Bluehost. However, wait times in between replies were a bit longer than wait times with Bluehost. This brought us to the conclusion that is possible that HostMonster customer reps are attending to multiple customers at once, or worse, they have to consult some handbook or literature to answer the simplest questions. Whichever it is, it doesn’t look good. Additionally, before having access to customer service options, users will have to go through a long verification process (although this is a really good security measure). We think that most people would rather just Google their problems than ask HostMonster for a solution. Does that look good? Of course not.
VERDICT; It is fine margins, but we found talking to Bluehost’s live rep to be easier, and more importantly, quicker than talking to a HostMonster live rep. So, yet again, Bluehost wins this one.
For most people, their website is an integral part of their business and their business is an important part of their livelihood (Yes, we do have our philosopher hats on). It follows that it is important for websites to be secure from the actions of mischievous people on the internet. While users can take their own precautions, most of the work rests with the security of the entire hosting infrastructure. And building and maintaining that infrastructure is the job of the Web-host.
Bluehost Security Features
Bluehost has great security options, even though you might have to pay extra for some of them. SSL certificates from Let’s Encrypt come free with every plan, and Domain Privacy, a feature that hides the personal information of Website owners from hackers, is provided on select plans. Bluehost also has Sitelock, a security feature that scans for malware, and prevents attacks. Asides that, Bluehost makes use of Codeguard. Codeguard’s job is to provide daily backups ready for one-click restoration in the unlikely scenario that your website is tampered with by external attacks. There’s also a Google tool called Postini which provides spam protection for your emails. Postini safeguards your email by making sure that spam emails and suspicious-looking mail for do not find their way into your inbox. Bluehost has OpenPGP/GPG support so that users can send and receive files securely. There is also support for single sign-on so that users don’t have to make use of the insecure passwords that they might have used elsewhere. There is also support for two-factor authentication. Users also have the choice of choosing to identify with a custom token whenever they want to sign in.
Bluehost believes that half of the responsibility of security lies with users, and users have to secure things on their end to ensure comprehensive security. Bluehost makes it easier to do your part by providing you with a checklist of all the things you need to secure your website from your end. Your website is protected from hacks by an isolation technology that isolates accounts on the same server. This a type of risk mitigation as it helps to preserve website performance.
Unfortunately, Bluehost doesn’t provide backups. Well, backup is provided, but you’d be better served thinking that it isn’t. This is because backups are done on a courtesy basis and not as a matter of obligation.
HostMonster Security Features
Let’s check out the security infrastructure put in place by HostMonster.
Like Bluehost, HostMonster doesn’t offer guaranteed backups. Backups might be done, by they are done at entirely the discretion of HostMonster (and presumably the IT guy in charge of your server). They aren’t mirrored backups either, as HostMonster only keeps one copy of your site in their files. HostMonster also deletes backups older than 30 days.
The smart option, if you were to purchase a HostMonster plan, would be to add site backup pro to your plan at check-out. This allows you to perform daily backups yourself and makes it easier for you to perform restores to your website from any point in history. This will cost you about $1.99 per month, though.
It isn’t all doom and gloom though, as HostMonster has a few security features like Hotlink Protection, SSH Access, free SSL certificates, and Spam Assassin Protection. HostMonster also has a “site doctor” feature (you have to pay to get access to it), that helps to remove viruses. It gets interesting. This service has a Money-back policy— if your problem can’t be fixed, you get your money back. There is also protection against DDoS attacks, BitNinja support, and ModSecurity. Users also get access to a free version of Sitelock, a feature that works like a Pseudo-antivirus for your website. Users are free to upgrade their version of Sitelock or purchase more backups through Codeguard.
All in all, HostMonster isn’t seriously lacking in the security department. While we would certainly not call the Webhost’s security infrastructure world-class, we could call it something…not world-class. There is no great departure from the general story that HostMonster is telling, though. Thoroughly average once more.
VERDICT; Both Web-hosts won’t win any awards concerning security, but that doesn’t mean they are the worst in the world at it. HostMonster for us, though, was least impressive. Bluehost takes this one again.
Plans & Pricing
When you want to purchase something, the first thing that probably comes to your mind is the price. How much is this thing? Can I afford it? Is it worth the price I am paying for it? These are probably the questions you’d want to be answered. The good news is that we can answer two out of those questions for you right now.
Bluehost has a lot of plans (VPS, dedicated hosting, WP pro, etc), but we will be considering their shared hosting plans alone because that’s the most common type of hosting plan. They have four shared hosting plans which are the Basic, Plus, Choice-plus and the Pro plans.
The Basic plan costs $2.75 (renewal costs $7.99 per month) and comes with
- 1 website
- 50GB of storage
- Unmetered bandwidth
- Free SSL certificate
- 1 domain
- 5 parked domains
- 25 subdomains.
The Plus plan costs $5.45 per month (normally $10.99) and comes with all the features of the basic plan plus
- Unlimited websites
- Unlimited storage
- Unlimited domains
- Unlimited subdomains
- Unlimited parked domains
- $200 marketing offer
- Spam experts.
The Choice-plus plan is the same price as the Plus plan but costs $14.99 upon renewal. It 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 Pro plan is the most expensive shared hosting plan that Bluehost offers. It costs $13.95 per month (renewal is $23.99 per month) and comes with all the features of the Choice-Plus plan with a dedicated IP address and high performance. According to Bluehost, high performance means that Pro servers allow for 300,000 file count and are deployed with fewer users per server than standard shared servers, allowing for greater compute resource availability per user. Neat.
All Bluehost shared hosting plans come with a domain manager, resource protection, and scalability. Bluehost’s resource protection feature means that websites using too many resources are temporarily relocated to isolated systems.
There is one snag, though. And depending on your hosting needs, it can turn out to be a very big one; Bluehost doesn’t offer by month payments. This means that you can only pay for more than a month. And if you want to get a great deal, you might have to pay for more than a year at once. It is also important to note that Bluehost’s introductory prices are just that— introductory prices. After your first payment, the price gets more expensive. So, you are forced to pay for at least three years in advance to make the best use of really low prices, and by the time renewal time comes along, you just fork out the money because you’d have been so impressed with Bluehost’s performance. This is probably what the sales guy at Bluehost thinks is going to happen. We kinda agree.
HostMonster has a host of plans too (VPS, dedicated hosting, cloud hosting) but we’ll look at their shared hosting plans alone because of obvious reasons. HostMonster has three shared hosting plans and they are the Basic, Plus and Prime plans. Like with Bluehost, HostMonster is constantly running discounts on their introductory process so they are always considerably lower than renewal prices.
The Basic plan costs $4.95 per month (normally $9.49) and comes with the following features
- One website
- 50GB of storage
- Unmetered bandwidth
- 1 included domain
- 5 parked domains
- 25 subdomains
- and 100mb email storage per account
The Plus plan costs $6.95 per month (normally $12.49) and comes with all the features of the Basic plan plus
- 10 websites
- 150Gb of website space
- 20 parked domains
- 50 Subdomains
- 100 email accounts
- 500mb of storage per email account
- $150 marketing credits
- 1 Spam experts
The Choice Plus plan comes at the same price with Plus plan at $6.95 per month ($14.99 per month upon renewal). The plan comes with all the features of the Plus plan, plus
- Unlimited websites
- Unmetered website space
- Unlimited Subdomains
- Unlimited parked domains
- Unlimited email accounts
- Unlimited email storage
- $200 in marketing credit
- 1 domain privacy
- Site backup pro.
HostMonster’s prices are low, but are they low enough to allow us to choose HostMonster over Bluehost? No, not really. In fact, plan to plan, Bluehost’s plans actually pack more quality— and are cheaper too.
VERDICT; Bluehost’s plans are cheaper than HostMonster’s, and while we always say cheaper doesn’t necessarily mean better, it kind of means so in this case. HostMonster’s plans offer roughly the same value as Bluehost’s but are inexplicably more expensive. Bluehost’s plans aren’t only cheaper but better too. Bluehost, once again, wins this round.
There are so many aspects of web hosting. So many that we might not have been able to cover some of the important features that both Web-hosts offer. That’s why we have this special section for exactly that— features we haven’t been able to cover.
Bluehost has a host (we saw a chance and we took it) of extra features. Catch a glimpse of them below;
- To manage your domains through them, Bluehost has a proprietary domain manager
One-click installations for over 100+ apps from MOJO.
- It has CDN access;
- Offers hotlink protection to protect your data;
- Supports both MySQL and PostgreSQL databases and you can use either phpMyAdmin, Remote MySQL, or phpPgAdmin to manage your databases;
- Bluehost is one of the three officially recommended Web-hosts by WordPress;
- Does not make use of SSD’s for shared hosting servers, and if you know your tech, that might eventually translate into some speed problems;
- Bluehost supports the use of PHP PEAR packages, Perl modules, Cron jobs, and Apache handlers;
- It offers the services of website builders like Drupal and Weebly.
HostMonster also has a host of extra features.
- There is a user forum where interested customers can ask for advice and interact with a community of HostMonster users;
- It has a pay-per-click marketing service available;
- Offers an SEO report that tells you exactly how well your website is doing on search engines;
- Supports lots of e-commerce features and they include Zen Cart, Video streaming services, Audio streaming, SSL Secure Server, oS Commerce, and Custom MIME services;
- HostMonster is a partner with FileZilla. FileZilla is a very useful FT transfer application and comes really handy when if you need to move your files;
- HostMonster has CDN support;
- It has access to the MOJO marketplace.
VERDICT; Overall, we were more impressed with Bluehost’s extras. They take this one, again.
Major Differences between HostMonster and Bluehost
Just to recap, let’s look at the major difference between these two Web-hosts
- Bluehost performs better than HostMonster in all ramifications;
- Bluehost’s plans are cheaper than HostMonster’s;
- Bluehost has a managed WordPress hosting plan called WP pro, HostMonster doesn’t;
- Bluehost has better customer support than HostMonster.
Bluehost vs. HostMonster: Our Pick
We’d like to say this was something epic, like the battle of titans or something. But it wasn’t. The floor was wiped with HostMonster, and Bluehost was quite thorough. Bluehost is by far the better Web-host.
And we have a host of reasons to prove it.