Bluehost and Squarespace are two names you’ll come across often when searching for popular and reliable companies that can host your website, blog or eCommerce platform. These providers have been around for a very long time and with good reason. But is one of them inherently better than the other? The short answer is yes and in this article we’re going to talk about why that’s the case.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of things I have to mention something that I think is very important to keep in mind – Bluehost and Squarespace do not target the exact same audience. Bluehost is a jack-of-all-trades that offers a little something for everybody whether you’re new to hosting are already an experienced user. Meanwhile, Squarespace is focused on attracting a niche audience and isn’t a great choice for most people.
In order to help you figure out which of these two is the best option for you, I’m going to break things down as best as I can. By the end of this article, you’re going to know all there is to know about Bluehost and Squarespace’s hosting plans, prices, features, customer support, and more. With that out of the way, let’s just jump straight into it.
Bluehost vs. Squarespace: Ease of Use and Beginner Friendliness
Setting up a new website and filling it with good content is a time-consuming process, so the last thing you want is to fumble around trying to figure out how the cPanel works. Luckily, you don’t have to worry about that if you sign up with Bluehost because the company offers a very intuitive cPanel that can support any CMS (Content Management System) you can think of.
Most people prefer to use Bluehost in conjunction with WordPress, which shouldn’t come as a big surprise considering that the two work very well together. The company even includes a 1-click installer for WordPress so you can set everything up in just a few minutes (check out their step-by-step tutorial on how to do this here). If you don’t like WordPress, you can just as easily use a different CMS like Joomla, Magento or Drupal.
Being able to choose a CSM is a big advantage for new users as well as for veterans who might already be familiar with a certain platform and wish to continue using it. That’s precisely why it’s such a shame that Squarespace doesn’t offer the same level of flexibility. Signing up with Squarespace means that you’re stuck to using only its tools and features, which, among other things, includes a custom CMS. Squarespace’s CMS isn’t necessarily bad but if you happen to not like it you’re out of luck because that’s the only choice available.
Nobody gets a lot of traffic straight from day one. You start off small just like everyone else and growing your website is a continuous process that can take several years. That means you can go for the cheapest hosting plan at first and work your way up from there. Once your website reaches a certain number of monthly visitors, it is highly recommended that you upgrade to a bigger hosting plan in order to support the extra traffic.
Both Squarespace and Bluehost have four shared hosting plans you can choose from. In the case of Squarespace, you can expect there to be a pretty significant difference between the cheapest and the most expensive tiers. You get a lot of additional features with Squarespace if you’re willing to pay a premium but all the prices are overall definitely above average. Meanwhile, Bluehost’s hosting plans are more fairly priced and there isn’t a huge difference between the tiers, especially if you take advantage of their currently on-going 65% off promo.
Bluehost offers better scalability because you can start off cheap and you’ll only have to pay a few extra bucks per month for every upgrade. With Squarespace, you’ll need to pay a pretty penny right off the bat and the hosting becomes quite expensive by the time you reach the final tier. There’s a pretty big difference between these two providers in terms of value for money as with Bluehost you can get pretty much the same thing that Squarespace offers, but at a much lower price.
In addition, Bluehost makes it easy to transfer your website to a different provider should you ever wish to do that. Meanwhile, Squarespace doesn’t support website migration, which means your domain will be forever locked and unable to be used with a different host.
If you’re anything like me, you want to know the price of something before considering anything else. That’s definitely understandable in my book. Web hosting is an important investment and you want to get good value for your money. Bluehost is clearly the cheapest option and offers more types of hosting to boot. Squarespace is quite expensive by comparison regardless of which plan you choose.
Signing up with Squarespace will set you back at least $16 per month provided you go with the cheapest hosting plan. If you want to go with the most expensive plan, you’re going to have to fork out $46 per month. I recommend you start off with the first or second tier and work your way up from there if feel like you need more features. The final two tiers are meant for eCommerce platforms so there’s no really no reason to go for one of these unless you own an online store.
If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to Squarespace, Bluehost is definitely the way to go. The basic hosting package will only set you back $2.95 per month while the most expensive one costs $13.95 per month, but only if you sign up thought their promo page and take advantage of their discount. In other words, Bluehost’s most expensive hosting plan costs just a couple of bucks more than Squarespace’s cheapest package. If you visit Bluehost’s website you may notice that the company has two hosting plans – Plus and Choice Plus – priced at $5.45. It’s worth noting that those prices only apply for the first term. Once that expires, the Choice Plus plan will be a bit more expensive than the regular Plus package, which makes sense.
Bluehost is clearly cheaper but there is one little detail that I think might make some people actually consider Squarespace instead. Unlike Squarespace, Bluehost doesn’t allow users to pay for their hosting on a month-by-month basis. Instead, you’ll need to pay for one, two or three years in advance when you sign up or when you renew your hosting plan. That means there’s a larger upfront investment required, however, you would be paying a lot less in the long run compared to Squarespace, which works with both monthly and yearly billing cycles.
Both Bluehost and Squarespace offer unmetered bandwidth with all of their hosting plans. Unlimited storage along with support for any number of websites are also included with most packages save for one. The exception is Bluehost’s cheapest plan, which only comes with 50 gigs of storage and support for one website. That works for a lot of people but unless you’re a small-time blogger, I recommend going for the $5.45/mo Plus package at the very least as the Basic plan isn’t meant for larger websites; Check out their article about the unlimited hosting usage policy here.
A couple of other freebies you can expect from both providers include an SSL certificate and a free domain name. Squarespace also offers free website analytics and SEO tools along with paid business emails. Bluehost doesn’t include any analytics tools and you’ll need to pay a couple of bucks per month if you want SEO tools.
However, if you’re building a WordPress website you don’t have to worry about that because you can simply grab a couple of free plugins instead and gain access to everything you need. As far as the business emails are concerned, you can get them for free at Bluehost for the first month and then continue to use them as a paid optional service, just like you would with Squarespace.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a key factor that every successful website owner needs to keep in mind these days. Good SEO will help your content and website as a whole show up more often and before your competitors in search results. Most websites rely heavily on traffic from search engines to grow, so SEO is something that all webmasters should pay close attention to.
Both Squarespace and Bluehost offer basic SEO tools to help you get started but those will only get you so far. The easiest and most efficient way of making sure your search engine optimization is always up to par is by using WordPress in conjunction with an SEO plugin like Yoast. Although SEO tools are extremely important, there’s no real reason to pay for them when you can get some of the best ones currently available completely for free.
Needless to say, Bluehost comes out on top once again because it is the only one of the two companies I’m comparing in this article that supports WordPress, and consequently SEO plugins like Yoast (read more about how Yoast can help your website from day one here). As mentioned, you do get access to some SEO tools by signing up with Squarespace but they are clearly inferior to what WordPress can offer.
Additional Hosting Plans
Shared hosting is the default choice for blogs and small websites but this type of hosting will only get you so far. As you website gets bigger and more popular, you’ll need to consider advanced types of hosting plans if you want to maintain your growth.
One big disadvantage Squarespace has over many of its competitors is the fact that the company only offers shared web hosting. Bluehost, on the other hand, is a lot more versatile in this regard and also offers WordPress hosting, VPS, and even dedicated servers. The WordPress hosting, in particular, is very popular as Bluehost has great support for the platform. In fact, Bluehost is one of the three providers recommended by WordPress itself for their quality and reliability. Just in case you’re curious, the other two are DreamHost and SiteGround.
So what’s so great about Bluehost’s WordPress hosting plans? For starters, you can expect the same cheap prices I mentioned in the previous section. The only difference here is that there is no Pro plan, so your choices are Basic, Plus, and Choice Plus. Once again, I recommend going for the Plus or Choice Plus plans because they offer better value for your money compared to the Basic plan but the choice is up to you.
The Basic plan suffers from the same drawbacks as its regular shared hosting counterpart. Namely, you only get support for one website and the storage is limited to 50 GB. As far as the difference between the other two plans is concerned, there’s really only one that needs mentioning. The Choice Plus plan comes with an automatic website backup system while the regular Plus plan doesn’t. You can still back up your site if you’re a Plus user but you’ll need to do it manually. Among other things, all three plans include 200$ worth of marketing credit that you can use to launch advertising campaigns via Google Ads or Microsoft Advertising. Feel free to read more about the features of Bluehost’s WordPress plan here.
If you own a sizeable website that’s starting to get a lot of traffic you’ll need to consider moving away from shared hosting sooner or later. The sooner the better if you ask me. The next logical step is to go for a VPS (Virtual Private Server) hosting plan. Hosting your website on a server that you don’t have to share with other users will improve its stability and allow it to handle more traffic. Unfortunately, Squarespace doesn’t offer VPS hosting but don’t worry because Bluehost does.
Bluehost offers three VPS hosting plans to choose from, with prices ranging from $18.99 per month to $59.99 per month. Needless to say, VPS is more expensive than shared hosting but the investment is well worth it. Bluehost is more flexible with this type of hosting and supports monthly payments in addition to yearly billing cycles; More information about Bluehost’s VPS Plans and features you can find out here.
If you don’t know how VPS works, you basically pay the provider to host your website (and only your website) on a machine of your choice. The most expensive machines have the best specs. In the case of Bluehost, the most expensive machine comes with twice the amount of CPU cores and four times the amount of storage and RAM compared to the cheapest one. Subscribing to a VPS package will also grant you dedicated IP addresses and a few other benefits that are not included with shared hosting plans.
Dedicated servers work just like Virtual Private Servers in the sense that you pay for a machine that exists solely for the purpose of hosting your website. Unless you decide to switch providers or abandon your website of course. Dedicated servers have significantly better specs than VPS and are the ultimate hosting solution for enterprises and large websites. Squarespace doesn’t offer dedicated servers either so I’m only going to talk about what Bluehost is offering in this department once again.
You have three dedicated hosting plans at your disposal – Standard, Enhanced, and Premium. Prices start at $79.99 per month and reach up to $119.99 per month. Certainly a lot more expensive than the other types of hosting I talked about earlier but Bluehost’s prices are actually pretty affordable compared to a lot of other providers out there. Just like with VPS, you can pay on a monthly or yearly basis, which is always nice.
In addition to access to a very powerful machine, you can also expect all the other benefits Bluehost is known for by getting a dedicated server. I’m talking dedicated IPs, SSL certificate, free domain name for 1 year, 30-day money-back guarantee, and more. You can also choose to add a few optional paid features to your package, including privacy protection, SiteLock, automatic backups, SEO tools, and domain emails. These optional features cost between $0.99 and $2.99 per month so you definitely won’t have to break the bank if you decide to add them to your package.
Squarespace vs Bluehost: Key Features & Extras
Now that you know the prices it’s time to talk a bit about the features you can expect from Bluehost and Squarespace. Personally, I often find the features to be more important than the price because you can find a lot of cheap hosting providers out there but there aren’t many companies that offer all the features that I would consider essential. Not all of these features will be equally useful for everybody but I think they are all important in their own right.
Registering a new domain with Bluehost will set you back $11.99 for the first year and $17.99 when you renew, or you could take advantage of this “free domain + 65% off hosting price” promo they have currently going on. You get a free SSL certificate with any of the company’s hosting plans but domain privacy is only included with certain packages. If you choose a plan that doesn’t come with domain privacy, you can add it as an optional service for $11.88 per year for the first term and then $14.88 upon renewal. All of Bluehost’s hosting plans come with a free domain name for 1 year.
Squarespace is a bit more expensive than Bluehost and offers domain registrations for $20 per year. Renewing the domain will cost you the exact same amount every year. That’s more expensive compared to Bluehost, however, Squarespace includes both domain privacy and an SSL certificate for free so you could end up getting a better deal in some situations. Just like Bluehost, Squarespace includes a free domain for the first year if you sign up for any of its hosting plans.
Squarespace’s comprehensive website builder is one of its main selling points. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that a lot of the people who sign up with the company do it primarily for this feature. The website builder is extremely simple to use and includes a lot of beautiful themes and templates. Many of the themes were created by experienced designers specifically so that users can make their own professional-looking websites with very little effort. There are also a ton of customization options to play around with here so you can truly make the website of your dreams with this builder.
Squarespace is so focused on its builder that it encourages users to first set up their websites before choosing a hosting plan. Access to the builder is included for free with any of the company’s hosting plans. There are no premium templates or anything like that so you can expect to have access to everything even if you sign up for the cheapest plan. If there’s one area where Squarespace does a much better job than most of its competitors, it’s definitely with its website builder.
Bluehost doesn’t have its own in-house website builder but it does provide integration with a couple of third-party builders. One of them is Weebly, a solid website builder with plenty of great templates, customization options, and useful tools. Unfortunately, Bluehost only includes access to the basic version of Weebly, which is surprisingly limited in certain areas. You can upgrade the website builder in order to gain access to more advanced features but it will cost you between $5 and $20 per month depending on which plan you choose.
The other website builder that works well with Bluehost is, of course, WordPress. WordPress is the most popular builder out there and my personal favorite as it really does allow you to create any sort of website you can possibly imagine. That said, creating a good looking website with WordPress is more difficult than if you were to use a builder like the one offered by Squarespace. The number of themes and plugins available to users can be truly overwhelming at first glance. WordPress itself is free, you can read more about how to build a website with it on Bluehost here.
Bluehost makes it easy to create, delete and manage MySQL databases directly from the control panel. The company doesn’t impose a limit on how many databases you can have but does limit the size of each database to a maximum of 2GB, which should be more than enough for the vast majority of users. Squarespace doesn’t appear to offer MySQL database support with any of its hosting plans.
You can get @domain emails with both Bluehost and Squarespace but they won’t be free in either case. At least, not for prolonged periods of time. The closest you can get to obtaining domain emails without paying anything is by signing up with Bluehost as the company offers free access to Microsoft 365 mailbox for the first month.
Meanwhile, Squarespace offers emails via Google’s G Suite but doesn’t have a free trial so you’ll need to pay for the privilege straight from the get-go. If you need more information on this topic feel free to check out Bluehost’s guide on custom domain emails, what are they and how they benefit you?
Squarespace has a pretty bad backup system in place that doesn’t allow users to make full copies of their websites from inside the control panel. That means you’ll often need to resort to FTP if you want to download your files, which can take a very long time. Squarespace does periodically make automatic backups of all websites hosted on its platform but doesn’t store them for longer than 30 days.
I found Bluehost’s backup system to be a lot more robust compared to that of Squarespace. For starters, you can easily back up your websites from the cPanel without jumping through any other hoops. The company also offers an automatic backup service that’s included for free with certain packages and available as an optional paid service with the rest. That said, Bluehost also only keeps your files for 30 days so it’s always a good idea to periodically download and store your backups on your local system just to be on the safe side.
Both Squarespace and Bluehost offer a nice variety of tools aimed at helping users set up an eCommerce platform quickly and easily. Squarespace puts a pretty big emphasis on eCommerce as two out of its four hosting plans come with tools and features centered around creating and managing an online store. These two packages (and the previous one to some extent) feature full eCommerce integration so you’ll get access to all the tools needed to set up an online business just by paying for your hosting.
Bluehost does things a little differently and uses the more traditional approach to eCommerce. By this, I mean that the company gives you the option of adding an online store on top of your hosting package. Bluehost provides eCommerce functionality via the WooCommerce platforms, which works particularly well with the WordPress hosting plan. You’ll need to pay a monthly subscription in order to get access to the platform and it will cost you between $6.95 and $12.95 per month depending on which package you choose.
Performance and Reliability: Bluehost or Squarespace?
As much as I like a cheap hosting plan that comes with a lot of features, I have to say that I often focus on performance more than anything else. If my websites run well at all times I’m okay with paying a little bit extra if needed. Luckily, you generally don’t have to worry too much about performance with neither Bluehost nor Squarespace because both companies are pretty solid in this department (especially when compared to some of the Bluehost Alternatives out there). That said, Bluehost does have a slight edge over Squarespace when it comes to speed and uptime.
Our speed tests revealed that Squarespace’s page loading speed sits at around 627 ms on average. Generally speaking, anything under 1 second is considered pretty good so 627 ms is a fairly decent result. More importantly, though, Squarespace’s loading speeds tend to be very consistent, likely due to the fact that the company runs such a tight ship.
Bluehost’s loading speeds are a bit better at 406 ms on average. The company used to be a lot slower in the past but that seems to no longer be the case because its overall performance in 2019 so far has been excellent. I do have to note that Bluehost’s speeds tend to fluctuate more than those of Squarespace but I haven’t noticed any significant spikes for the past year or so.
A lot of the big hosting providers promise a 99.99% uptime guarantee but Squarespace is a bit of an exception. The company doesn’t make any promises regarding its uptime, which might be considered a red flag by some potential customers. However, there’s no real reason to worry because Squarespace’s average uptime in 2019 sits at around 99.95%, which is definitely not bad.
Bluehost, on the other hand, does promise 99.99% uptime guarantee and has managed to keep that promise over the past year. We have noted some fairly significant downtime in November of 2018 but apart from that, the company’s uptime was very solid. There isn’t any provider that can maintain perfect uptime over long stretches of time so realistically speaking, 99.99% is the best you can hope for.
Customer support is an important aspect that often gets ignored by a lot of users. However, it only takes one bad experience to quickly realize how valuable it is to have experts ready to assist you whenever something goes wrong with your website. And trust me, things will go wrong sooner or later. So, can you rely on Bluehost and Squarespace’s support agents to give you a helping hand when you need it most?
The short answer is yes and both companies can be contacted through a variety of different channels. If you need help from Squarespace you can contact the company 24/7 via email or Monday through Friday via live chat. Bluehost doesn’t include email support but the company does have 24/7 live chat and phone support. The company has a toll-free number you can call them at if you’re based in the US along with a separate number for international customers. Neither of the two companies has a ticket system in place, though Bluehost did use to have one before it decided to remove it. For more information regarding Bluehost Support and our experience with them read our Bluehost Review.
Some Major differences between Squarespace and Bluehost
Bluehost offers a 30-day money-back guarantee for all their plans; Squarespace, on the other hand, offers a 14-days free limited trial.
Bluehost is much cheaper compared to its competitor. Squarespace offers an easy to use website builder, but it’s very limited when compared to Bluehost.
After one year you can transfer away from Bluehost if you want, while with Squarespace you have no easy way out as you can’t transfer your domain or your website away from them.
Bluehost vs Squarespace: A Clear Winner
Although Squarespace has a lot to offer, Bluehost is definitely the best choice for most people. The main problem with Squarespace is that the company has created a very closed ecosystem that tends to attract a niche audience. That’s not inherently a bad thing, however, it does mean that you’ll have to deal with a number of limitations if you decide to sign up with the company, that’s also the main reason why Bluehost is our #1 Squarespace Alternative.
Bluehost is a lot more versatile, a fact that becomes immediately obvious when you consider that a large portion of the websites it hosts are built using WordPress. Don’t get me wrong, Squarespace’s website builder is certainly very good but at the end of the day, it can’t really hold a candle to WordPress. But even if you’re not a fan of WordPress, I would still recommend going with Bluehost simply because the company offers more useful features and is a lot cheaper.
Another important thing to consider is the refund policy. Bluehost offers 30-day money-back guarantee while Squarespace will only refund you if you cancel within 14 days. Two weeks if often not enough time to decide if you should stick with a provider for the long haul so I recommend always going with a company that offers the full month. Besides, 30 days has been the standard for some time now so I find it a bit strange that Squarespace is so stingy when it comes to its refund policy.
|Adress:||10 Corporate Drive Burlington||Manhattan West Village 8 Clarkson Street|
|Tyes of Support:||Phone/Chat/Mail/Ticket/Knowledgebase|
|Unlimited Data Storage:||Yes||No|
|Money-Back Guarantee:||30 days||5 days|
At the end of the day, the choice is entirely up to you but there’s a good reason why Bluehost is the most popular hosting provider in the world in 2019. The company isn’t perfect but you would be hard-pressed to find a better-rounded provider on the market right now.