Bluehost and iPage are two very popular hosting companies, and they have more in common than you might realize! Despite similarities, we’ve checked them both out and came to the conclusion that one of them is clearly the better choice for most people, for a number of reasons. We’re going to compare what both of these web hosting companies do great, and we’ll also compare how they’re different and which one is better overall.
We’ll also cover some basic information about hosting in general, to help you identify exactly which host and what type of hosting is going to be your best option.
What Kind of Hosting Do You Need?
When comparing Bluehost vs iPage, we’re going to be focusing primarily on shared hosting, because it’s the easiest and cheapest way to get your new website up and running.
There are other types of hosting, too, and both of these two hosting companies also sell some of those, like virtual private servers and dedicated servers. As a rule of thumb, if your website is brand new and you don’t have a big budget to spend on hosting, shared is easily your best bet. As your site grows and becomes more popular, you can very easily upgrade your hosting plan to a more powerful server.
Shared hosting is the most affordable, because you’re sharing an entire server with other websites, so everybody essentially splits the cost. When your site becomes so popular that it needs a server all to itself, you’ll no longer be splitting the cost, and that’s why dedicated servers cost a lot more.
Bluehost is the younger of these two brands, having launched in 2003 by a couple guys in Utah, who have had a huge influence on the world of web-hosting ever since. Bluehost is home to over two million different websites, and growing daily.
They have massive server rooms to accomodate all of their users, excellent support staff who have seen it all, and over 700 people working around the clock, from physical maintenance of their servers, to ensuring they’re protected against all of the latest security threats, and to help customers with absolutely anything relating to the growth and success of their websites.
Bluehost are obsessed with WordPress, which is awesome because WordPress is the best way to get your site up and running. Bluehost works very closely with WordPress.org in order to stay up to date on all the latest, and to ensure Bluehost’s servers are as closely optimized as possible to run WordPress incredibly.
Not only that, but Bluehost even pays some of their staff to work full-time on WordPress Core, which is a massive contribution to the community as a whole.
Even thought both of these hosting companies have been around for quite a while, iPage is a whole 5 years older, having been founded in 1998. They have two different data centers, which helps a bit with ensuring that your website is hosted closest to wherever most of your visitors are coming from.
They’re hosting over a million websites, compared to Bluehost’s 2+ million. iPage does offer 24 hour around the clock support, however as we’ll point out in a few moments, you have to pay extra if you want their expert support, something that Bluehost includes for free for all of their customers.
iPage has the reputation of being an affordable, “no frills” kind of hosting company.
What They Have in Common…
Both of these brands have been around for ages, offer similar packages, and are even owned by the same parent company, but not everything is the same between them. EIG is a massive company that owns a ton of different hosts, including iPage and Bluehost. Some of their brands are better than others, and Bluehost is one of their flagship hosting banners. Sometimes, it seems like EIG takes over smaller hosts and just kind of leaves them to slowly fade into obscurity, but for some of their brands, they definitely seem to put them at the forefront, such as Bluehost, Hostgator, and a small handful of others.
Both of these brands offer a number of complementary advertising credits for new members, so that you can promote your website on some of the Internet’s largest advertising networks.
Let’s compare both of their most popular shared hosting packages, and then we’ll point out what the major differences are, and which host we prefer overall
Bluehost Shared Hosting Plans
The table below displays Bluehost’s 3 shared hosting plans. Start with basic if you only have one website, and go with Plus or Prime if you want to have more than one site. Prime has some additional advanced features, like domain privacy included, SiteBackup Pro, but Plus is probably a slightly better value overall. Plus will renew at a lower price than Prime, but all of these plans cost a bit more when it’s time to renew, so it’s a good idea to sign up for a longer term, which allows you to lock-in the lower price for the duration of that time period.
The Basic plans only allows you to have one website hosted at a time, but it offers unmetered bandwidth, just like the two higher-end shard hosting packages.
All of Bluehost’s plans come with the easiest setup we’ve ever seen if you plan on making a website using WordPress. The whole setup process is practically automatic, you just answer a few questions and their installation wizard takes care of the rest. Many hosts offer 1-click installs and similar features, but Bluehost has hands-down made it as easy as possible, even for people who have never setup a website before.
Whether you’re using WordPress, or something else, there are super easy installers, and all of the important stuff is taken care of for you.
Typically, when setting up a new server from scratch, you’ve got to do all sorts of things, from installing the operating system itself, to installing databases and the infrastructure to run your site, but the nice thing about shared hosting is that all of that is handled by the hosting company, and they take care of maintaining the servers.
iPage Shared Hosting Plans
Next, let’s take a look at the WordPress hosting plans offered by iPage. You don’t HAVE to use WordPress with iPage, they have some regular shared hosting packages available as well, that start at a lower price. This is where we start to see some of the differences between Bluehost and iPage.
As you can see, you don’t get expert support, enhanced security, or improved speed if you start with the less expensive package. It’s understandable that a company would offer enhanced support options to higher paying customers as an incentive to get people to sign up for more expensive hosting plans, and it’s something we see every now and then, but frankly we believe in a support infrastructure that allows every single customer to get great service, not just some of them. Whether you have a basic/starter hosting plan, or a high-end plan, your problems still matter and you still deserve fast, high-tier customer support.
It’s one thing to have premium support for people with dedicated servers that cost hundreds of dollars a month, but to have different tiers of support for people on your shared hosting plans just seems like a way for iPage to try to save a few bucks, but we definitely give the nod to Bluehost here, because you can get fast, expert WordPress support regardless of who you are or how much you pay them each month.
Other than that, their offerings are relatively similar. It seems that Bluehost has better performance with their servers. This can vary, since both companies operate a ton of servers, and it’s entirely possible to get allocated to a slightly slower one, or to be on the same server as a few other sites that are using more than share fair share of resources which can cause a temporary slowdown.
So, it’s kind of hard to compare, since you could end up on iPage’s best available server, and end up comparing it to a slower one from Bluehost, and not really getting a result that’s reflective of both options overall. None the less, we believe you’re more likely to end up on a faster server with Bluehost, and to get a ton of support with optimizing your site and server to ensure it’s running smoothly, with the help of enthusiastic WordPress experts, without having to pay extra for better support.
Comparing their Support Staff
We’ve just discussed the availability of their support teams and how iPage reserves their most knowledgeable staff for only certain customers to take advantage of, but beyond that, let’s compare other aspects of the tech support staff for both of these hosts. When you’re comparing companies that have somewhat similar offerings, the big differentiating factor is usually their support departments.
Both companies offer 24/7 support via telephone, as well as live chat on their websites. Response times are important, and both of these brands have great response times – you shouldn’t end up waiting around all day for somebody to get back to you. Be careful, there are some smaller hosts out there where it’s literally one person in their basement running things, and if something goes wrong with the hardware, they’re not even in the same country as their servers.
Not to say there aren’t smaller hosting companies out there that do great work, because there are plenty, but one of the nice things about going with a heavy-hitting massive hosting company is the fact that there’s people working around the clock, on-site.
Which one is better OVERALL?
Overall, Bluehost is the Winner.
We’ve found their support to be more intuitive, and enjoyed the overall setup process better. That said, iPage has improved a lot over the years, and have a similar account setup process.
If you’re setting up an eCommerce site, iPage has some features that could be useful if you’re looking for a standalone shop. Otherwise, Bluehost integrates very conveniently with WooCommerce, a popular method for turning your WordPress blog into a store, so if you want articles, a blog, or more on your site (Or to add eCommerce to an existing site), Bluehost is a good choice. Otherwise, if you’re starting a store from scratch and aren’t as concerned about having it on WordPress, we’d probabally learn towards iPage in that case.
For everyone else, go with Bluehost, the added performance is worth the slightly higher initial cost, and in the long run you’ll get a ton of value from them.
At the end of the day, iPage is a solid choice for certain situations, and they’re certainly better than some of the other cheap shared hosts we’ve looked at, but Bluehost edges them out in a few categories, making Bluehost the clear winner in this comparison, and our top recommendation.
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