Comparing Bluehost vs. Rackspace is a bit like comparing apples and oranges.
In fact, to be even more precise, these two services are like apples and much better apples that are also significantly more expensive.
On the one hand, it’s not exactly fair to compare BlueHost and RackSpace since the latter will greatly outmatch the former in terms of almost all the hosting features you can think of. On the other hand, I wouldn’t immediately settle for RackSpace either. If BlueHost is good enough for your needs, there’s no reason to pay the spicy (and I mean hot!) fees of RackSpace.
BlueHost is tremendously popular among casual users thanks to its affordable pricing, user-friendly interface, and all-rounded service. However, while BlueHost proposes a single hosting plan with mostly pre-determined features, RackSpace offers a wide array of customization tools that include security, client software, online backup, SEO, monitoring, development, and productivity. In addition, the server specs, network, infrastructure, and switches you get with RackSpace are absolutely superior in quality to what you could otherwise get with BlueHost. Just remember that it all comes at a cost.
At the end of the day, you have to decide whether BlueHost or Rackspace is more appropriate for your hosting needs. Still, I’ll be able to tell you how to settle the Rackspace vs BlueHost debate after knowing what kind of hosting you’re after, more details about both services ought to help you make up your mind.
Bluehost is one of the most popular names in web hosting. This is because they’ve carved a niche for themselves in the world of shared hosting. Easy to use, cheap and with decent performance stats, Bluehost could be the best option for you if you’re just starting out.
The bigger your business or page, the more complex your hosting needs become. Rackspace targets big businesses and websites with huge traffic flow. They are one of the most successful web hosts at what they do too, as they manage 40 of the 100 companies on the Forbes fortune 100 list. With lightning-fast speed and incredible uptime, Rackspace is almost a dream come through— however, all this comes at a steep price.
Comparing these web hosts can seem a little like comparing Apples to Oranges. They are specialized in two different areas and have two different clientele in mind.
However, the word impossible doesn’t exist to us.
It’s hard to decide, really. Both Web hosts are popular, but Bluehost is arguably more popular. This is because Bluehost offers services to the average joe, while Rackspace, not so much. In any case, it doesn’t matter. There are far more important metrics to help you make a decision.
As far as categories go, this is one of the most important. Simply put, you want a web host that is fast and reliable. Speed isn’t just a matter of convenience. If you run a small business, a faster web host can significantly increase the volume of business you get. And it is clear that a web host that guarantees that your website is continually up is better than one that doesn’t. So, to measure performance we’ll look at Uptime and Speed.
According to Google, 40% of visitors leave a site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. It follows that the faster a website loads, the easier or greater the retention of visitors is. So speed isn’t just a vanity metric, it does matter.
Generally speaking, web hosts that make use of CDN (Content Delivery Network) or make it available for activation, are usually faster than web hosts who do not. This is because CDN makes sure that caches of websites are kept on servers around the world and requests can be delivered to visitors easily. Bluehost makes use of Cloudflare, a CDN integration system. What’s more? It is absolutely free. This tells us good things in advance about the speed of Bluehost. That is why we were not surprised when we measured Bluehost’s average response time and recorded an amazing average speed of 461mms. While this is not the fastest we’ve seen, it is comfortably one of the fastest— at least faster than 96% of web hosting services we’ve tested. However, we have to be careful with praise especially as Google says that optimal response time should be 200mms. So, while there are websites in another league of speed, Bluehost hasn’t done badly for itself at all. Response time, though, isn’t the same as load time. Bluehost’s average load time is 1.24 secs which, while not terribly impressive, is lower than the 2-sec benchmark and is forgivable— especially as most web hosting services are quite slow. What impressed us most, though, was the fact that when we sent around 100 virtual users to our dummy site, the recorded speed was quite stable. Ordinarily, server speed slows down as the number of visitors climb. It is great to discover that Bluehost servers aren’t suspect to load bearing problems.
Rackspace has 7 data centers on 4 continents including in places like Sydney and Hong Kong. This is important because data locations have a significant effect on server speed. When we tested Rackspace’s speed, we were extremely impressed. At an average speed of 271mms, Rackspace is really, really fast. Full disclosure, though; we didn’t test over a longer period so it is possible that their average could have gone lower (or higher?). Regardless, though, an average speed of 271mms is something to boast of. Server speed within the US is even faster, with TTFB going as low as 4mms.
It isn’t likely that you’d have significant problems with speed if you go with any of these web hosts. However, there must be a first amongst equals (or almost equals, we think. Rackspace is much faster than Bluehost).
Rackspace takes this one for us.
The primary job of a web host is to keep your website up. This metric measures exactly how much you can trust them to keep that particular promise.
Bluehost amazed us with an uptime of 99.99% over the test period. This is far higher than the industry average of 99.95%. Their uptime is almost perfect and to be honest we were really surprised. This is because web hosts who provide roughly the same services as Bluehost such as GoDaddy and HostGator, don’t measure up to 99.99% over a sustained period of testing.
Bluehost doesn’t offer an uptime guarantee. This means that even if their uptime were to become terrible, there would be no consequences to be suffered by them. Users can only complain and pray to God that they get their act right. The fact that many web hosts provide some sort of uptime guarantee that ensures that customers get something in return every time that their website is down doesn’t reflect well on Bluehost. So even if Bluehost’s uptime is great, we are a bit disappointed at their lack of an uptime policy.
What’s better than 99.99%? 100%. What’s better than no uptime guarantee? An uptime guarantee. Rackspace has both. With their redundancy technology, Rackspace claims that they experience “zero-downtime” because they always have multiple servers on standby in case one fails. They also have an uptime guarantee system where customers get credit if they experience downtime. For example, if customers record <99.9% – 99.5% uptime, they get 10% credit for the next month. This demonstrates the confidence that they have in their ability to maintain uptime. However, while uptime is an important metric to use to evaluate server performance, it can too often be a case of how far back are you willing to go. One thing to note, though, is that some do not experience downtimes as much as others and some are willing to back their customers with uptime guarantees.
Regardless, especially with an uptime guarantee, Rackspace wins this duel. It is to be expected, though, as Rackspace should have greater infrastructure than Bluehost since they charge a premium. Bluehost, however, hasn’t done badly for itself and if they had been against any other web host, they might have taken the day.
EASE OF USE
While a higher level of complexity might mean great functionality, very few people want to be lost in the maze of control panels. In the world of web hosting, advanced users are a precious minority and we dare say even they don’t appreciate needless complexities. Web hosts that are easy to sign up on, easy to use and easy to understand are better than web hosts that are needlessly complex.
Bluehost is really great if you are not looking for great complexity. cPanel is the go-to control system for people who aren’t especially versed in the art of web hosting, and Bluehost supports this user interface. They go a step further by configuring their own version of cPanel to be even easier to use. Their sign up process is relatively easy with new subscribers having to go through only two pages of forms. There are no extra confirmation processes too, and this is a relief. Some Web hosts have to call you in order to confirm your subscription. While this can be beneficial for security reasons, it can also be a bit too much.
Bluehost ensures that you do not need to write a line of code in order to get your website going. The drag and drop feature is ever-present and there are one-click installations for over a hundred popular apps through the MOJO marketplace. This includes popular apps like WordPress, Drupal, Magneto and a lot more. This means that even an amateur could get WordPress installed within the span of a few minutes. The updating of WordPress plugins is left to users but Bluehost automatically updates the WordPress core program. This lifts a burden from the shoulders of raw users as they rarely ever have to worry about the hassle of updating WordPress. With the aid of an inbuilt domain manager, Bluehost makes it easier for users to manage their domains with limited hassle.
A new Bluehost account also comes with a lot of freebies. You get a free domain name, free SSL certificate, and free access to the minimum features of Sitelock, a program that secures your website by scanning for and removing malware. You also get $200 worth of advertising credits immediately you subscribe.
It’s isn’t all rosy, though. We think that Bluehost focuses so much on new website owners while neglecting advanced users. The reason is that there are no free site migrations— you have to pay a $149.99 fee to migrate up to 5 websites and 20 emails.
In general, though, Bluehost scores high marks for ease of use. They provide most of the things that you would need for running your website without a lot of trouble. They also provide a lot of freebies for users. It would be difficult to see a web host best them.
Rackspace, as said earlier, are a premium web host service. As such, we expected that it wouldn’t be quite as easy to use as Bluehost and we set to work on this notion.
We are pleased (and considerably smug) to announce that we weren’t wrong.
First off, Rackspace’s website offers a lesson on disastrous space management. If you do not know what you want or where you’re going, it is easy to get lost in subchannels of subchannels. Their backend is also a bit like that but to a lesser degree. We don’t wholly blame Rackspace, though. Their target market is certainly not small businesses with limited needs, but big businesses with complex needs and complex infrastructure. Therefore, it makes sense that their control panel offers the sort of complexity that advanced users will appreciate. In addition, before you can get any meaningful information you have to sign up. Signing up means that your email gets bombarded with promotional emails, and we’d advise that you do not sign up with your primary email. In addition to that, it isn’t easy to do some things like changing your account status. You’ll have to discuss things like this with a dedicated account manager. We weren’t quite impressed this. And before we forget, Rackspace has its own backend control panel. They do not make use of cPanel, so if you’re used to using cPanel, we’ve got some news for you. You’ll have to get prepared to get used to another system. If you have multiple accounts, you can’t manage them all from the same interface. You’ll have to sign in and out of those accounts. We don’t imagine that this is a particularly stress-free arrangement.
Generally, we did not find Rackspace easy to use. However, if it is any consolation, it does appear that Rackspace wasn’t created to be easy to use. There is a reason most of their clientele are big businesses and advanced users with a lot of traffic.
Bluehost is by far the easier to use web host. They win this round.
The best of us make mistakes. It is possible that after signing up or purchasing a plan from a web host, you discover that you’d rather teach a doorknob french than to continue “enjoying” their services. What choices are available to you if such a situation were to arise?
Bluehost has a simple answer to this problem; a thirty days money-back policy. This means that if you pay for an annual plan, you get a maximum of thirty days to decide whether you want to continue using Bluehost services. A thirty day’s money-back window is the standard period for refunds, and Bluehost is actually just satisfying the bare minimum here. We won’t heap praise on them because of it. Additionally, if you’ve received a free domain name with your plan, a fee of $15.99 will be deducted from your refund. That sounds fair enough, we think.
For a long time, we scoured the Rackspace website and terms and conditions for a policy on refunds.
We found nothing. Except, of course, some legal jargons about intellectual property rights. Basically, the only way you can get your money back is if someone goes through the trouble of taking Rackspace to court over it.
Rackspace has no refund policy. So if you sign up and discover that teaching french to doorknobs would be a more rewarding venture, you best start collecting doorknobs.
One is infinitely better zero, and thirty days is certainly thirty times greater than zero days. Bluehost takes this round for us.
CUSTOMER SUPPORT AND RELIABILITY
The best web hosts are responsive and have great customer support infrastructure. This means that they understand that part of their duties is to make using their services a hitch-free adventure. If a web host has an unhelpful and unresponsive customer care, it is possible that users might spend time solving problems that could easily be solved with a call. Most people would much rather avoid such a situation
It is difficult to compare customer support reliability for all manner of reasons, but we’ll accomplish this using our own experience and reviews from trusted sources.
Bluehost, for example, has several channels that they can be contacted on. These channels are the live chat, email, and ticketing system. Before users are forced to take any of those routes, though, there exists an extensive knowledgebase filled with articles and tutorials on how to combat basic problems. On the whole, we had no problems with Bluehost; live reps got to us quickly (under two to three minutes), our emails were promptly attended to, and the rep we got to on the phone channel was pleasant and knowledgeable.
Bluehost has a special customer support feature called Blue flash. This feature ensures that you are immediately connected to WordPress experts who will help you solve all manner of WordPress problems. We think this was well thought out, and we were quite impressed.
Bluehost impressed us, and once again, we think it’d take a lot to best Bluehost at customer support and reliability.
Rackspace claims to have 5,000 workers working around the clock in their customer service department, with most of them attending to customers. There is no way to verify this claim, but we suppose it has something to it. Companies do not often tell bald-faced lies without some factual backing (or do they? we do not know). In any case, Rackspace offers 24/7 customer support and are known for being quick to respond to questions. Response time, at least in our case, was around two minutes and the live reps that we contacted were friendly and knowledgeable. We had no trouble with them. They also maintain a great knowledgebase that ensures that customers rarely have to go through the trouble of contacting live support.
Both web hosts boast of stellar customer support structures, and we have no problems. However, one web host has to win. In this case, Bluehost edges it for us because of their special Blue flash feature.
One of the most important things to take note of when choosing a prospective website is their security infrastructure. Generally, web hosts take security seriously. However, the difference lies in whether they offer the basics, like website security, backups and SSL certificates at no extra charge. Web hosts who offer these features free of charge are better than those who do not, as it would cost the end user more money to secure their website.
Bluehost, out the gate, offers a free SSL certificate, Sitelock features, and Domain privacy. The Domain privacy feature ensures that personal information of users aren’t available on public WHOIS listings and Sitelock is a third party software that scans for malware and protects your website from attacks. SpamExperts, a security feature offered by Bluehost, protects your mail from spam and malicious emails. To some extent, Bluehost also provides free backups. However, these backups are not guaranteed. That means, while Bluehost might provide you with a backup, it is advisable that you back up your account yourself. This is their official position on the matter;
“Bluehost does not offer redundant or mirrored backups. Bluehost will run courtesy backups at our discretion. Any backups that Bluehost runs are in addition to our Terms of Service and are not guaranteed.”
Does it get definite than that? We do not think so. However, Bluehost’s security infrastructure, while not ideal, is certainly one of the best we’ve come across. For sure, many web hosts provide better and additional security, but the main difference is that you have to pay for these additional services. Bluehost offers most of them at no extra charge.
Rackspace has a managed firewall service that allows customers to manage/monitor their website in real-time. This means that customers can choose whether to change permit rules or to view destination server IP addresses and other such things. Rackspace’s vulnerability management feature tries to understand the infrastructure of customer websites and use that information to create tailor-made defenses. Rackspace, however, doesn’t offer automatic backups. Customers are advised to make their own backups as that is not one of the responsibilities of Rackspace. However, they have a feature called Cloud Backup which allows users to backup data and even schedule data backups. However, this feature is not free and costs $0.10/GB/MO. All the other features that Bluehost offers for free come at an extra cost with Rackspace. We have to say, though, that the quality is far higher than that of Bluehost. For example, Rackspace offers premium SSL certificates while Bluehost’s SSL certificates are from a company called Let’s Encrypt. Let’s Encrypt provides SSL certificates that are appropriate for small businesses and blogs with only a little traffic, but their SSL certificates may prove to be inadequate for bigger businesses.
While Bluehost has exactly the sort of security infrastructure that smaller businesses would appreciate, Rackspace security infrastructure is more suited to bigger businesses. This is one metric where it might seem like we are comparing Apples to Oranges. In any case, though, a winner must emerge.
We are going to choose Bluehost simply because their security features perfectly align with the needs of a wider percentage of the market. No hard feelings, Rackspace, but the voice of the people is the voice of God.
Vox populi, Vox Die.
This is perhaps the toughest metric we are going to be looking at. This is because, even between two web hosts who offer roughly the same services, it can be a herculean task to compare prices because of all sorts of reasons. But the fact that Bluehost and Rackspace offer two different services in terms of web hosting (or have different market targets in mind, at any rate), makes this comparison more difficult to make.
But impossible is nothing. Regardless of the difference in the price range and offered services, we know a good deal when we see one.
May the best deal win.
Shared hosting plans are the most common web hosting services, so we’ll analyze that part of Bluehost’s structure.
Bluehost’s shared hosting plans are; Basic, Plus, Choice Plus, and Pro.
The Basic plan is the cheapest plan at $2.95 per month (however, the renewal price is $7.99). The plan comes with 1 website, 50GB of data, Unmetered bandwidth, 25 Subdomains, 1 free domain registration, free SSL certificate, and 5 Email accounts. Great value at $3.95, wouldn’t you say?
The Plus plan can be purchased at an initial price of $5.95 per month. (Renewal costs $10.99). It comes with the following; Unlimited websites, Unlimited storage, Unlimited domains, Spam experts, Unlimited subdomains, Unlimited parked domains and a $200 marketing offer.
The Choice Plus comes with all the features of the Plus plan but with the additional security of Codeguard basic. It is relatively cheap too at the same price as the Plus plan. However, renewal is $14.99. The most expensive plan which is the Pro plan is priced at $13.95 and renewal costs $23.99. It comes with all the features of the Choice-Plus plan plus high performance. We suppose that this means greater so and bigger traffic bearing capacity.
Bluehost offers great value at moderate prices. Are there better shared hosting deals than this? We don’t think so.
Perhaps it’s a good thing that Rackspace doesn’t offer the kind of services that Bluehost offers with their shared hosting plan.
Rackspace has four general tier plans. They have managed and unmanaged plans. In the managed plans, they help you with most of the technical stuff, while in the unmanaged plans you’d have to take care of most of the technical tasks yourself.
The General1-1 plan starts at $4 per month, and it comes with 1vCPU, 20GB space, 1GB ram, and comprehensive anti-DDoS protection. The General1-2 plan costs $7 per month and includes 2 vCPU’s, 2GB of ram, and 40GB of disk space. The General1-4 plan with 4vCPU’s costs $15 per month. It comes with 80GB disk space, and 4GB ram. The most expensive plan is the General1-8 plan which costs $29 a month and comes with 160GB of disk space and 8GB of ram. These, however, are the prices for managed infrastructure. If you want raw and unmanaged infrastructure, you’d have to be prepared to pay $23 – $187 per month. However, to make use of the managed services, you’ll have to pay at least $50 per month. In addition to this, bandwidth is priced separately. For the first 10TB, you are charged $0.12. The price goes down from there, as the more you use the less you are charged.
The value is there, but it is far too expensive, in our estimation. Especially as there are competitors like Amazon Web services who offer roughly the same service but cost a lot less.
Bluehost wins this one for us once more.
All companies have that extra factor that might make them stand out. Let’s take a look at the extra features of Bluehost and Rackspace and see if they are of any consequence.
Bluehost has a running partnership with Weebly, a premier website builder. Weebly is one of the best at what it does, and this feature makes it even easier for amateurs to get their websites up and running. In addition, Bluehost’s security infrastructure allows you to set up SSH access to your account, block IP addresses and install your own premium SSL certificate if you so wish. Bluehost also supports the use of PHP PEAR packages, Perl modules, Cron jobs, and Apache handlers. Their Blue flash feature which allows you access to experts dedicated to helping you get your website up and running is also an important extra feature. One thing we like about these features is that they come at no extra charge. To make life even easier for content developers, Bluehost has a managed WordPress plan called WP pro. This ensures that users are allowed to focus on managing content rather than the technicalities of running a website.
Rackspace has a colocation feature. This means that if you have existing hardware, you can contact Rackspace and have them set it up for you at any location of your choice. Your website would be hosted on your hardware, but Rackspace would be responsible for maintenance, management, and security. Rackspace isn’t only a web hosting company. They also offer application-related services such as business intelligence, customer relationship management, databases and more. Professional services like cloud migration, reliability engineering, and data-related services are also offered by Rackspace. If you’re worried about your carbon footprint, then Rackspace is the web host for you. They are an environmentally aware company and as such have initiated tree planting schemes throughout the united states and the United Kingdom. They also provide the option of carbon-neutral web hosting.
We are aware that this is a very subjective matter, but we are impressed by Rackspace’s green policy. Rackspace has a better collection of extra features for us.
Just to recap, these are the major differences between both web hosts.
- Rackspace caters for big business or medium-sized business looking to scale, while Bluehost has a more broad clientele.
- Rackspace has data centers all over the world, while Bluehost’s only known data center is in the US.
- Rackspace has an uptime guarantee, Bluehost doesn’t.
- Bluehost plans come with free SSL certificates from Let’s Encrypt, Rackspace plans do not.
Rackspace and Bluehost are two web hosting providers who focus on providing services to two different types of customers. But, we can decide which web host, on a whole, offers a better deal. While Rackspace performs better in terms of speed and uptime, Bluehost has the advantage of better auxiliary features. At the end of the day, it boils down to what you want. If you’re trying to host a page that wouldn’t command a lot of traffic, Bluehost is the perfect service for you. However, if your business makes a few millions a year and you’re looking to scale, you’d find a better service package with Rackspace.
However, for us, on the question of BlueHost Vs Rackspace, Bluehost is our winner.