Today we'll be talking about Bluehost, an extremely popular company that provides, you know it, hosting services. Why do we say Bluehost is popular? Is it because the company has over two million websites hosted on its servers, or because it is one of the only three hosts officially recommended by WordPress? In fact, that second reason may seem properly trivial to you. Boohoo, WordPress recommends Bluehost— and so what?
However, when you consider that WordPress powers more than half of the internet, things become a bit clearer. But that isn't the important question though, is it? Yes, Bluehost is popular, but exactly how good is the service provided? We know that popularity doesn't always mean quality – it most often just means great marketing.
The most important question now is this; is Bluehost just hype and no quality, or do they walk the walk and talk the talk?
Keep reading to find out.
Before you continue, though, fair warning; this isn't the average Bluehost review. This is a thorough and in-depth analysis of Bluehost. In fact, if we were so inclined, we would call this review dissertation worthy. But we aren't given to such vain thoughts, so we'll just call this the most complete Bluehost review on the internet.
Brief History of Bluehost
First, let's talk about the origins of Bluehost. It is vital to understand the history of a thing in order to put things into proper context, and that's what this section is for.
In the year 1996, when people believed (quite correctly, we think) that the world would go up in flames in three years, a group of tech heads got together and decided that they were not very interested in letting that happen before they founded their company. They tried their hands at building a hosting company, and in 2003 they had the perfect structure and name. They had created Bluehost.
Within a decade, Bluehost grew from a little startup in Provo, Utah to a tech giant employing more than 750 people and responsible for over two million websites. Those years of miraculous and unprecedented growth also saw Bluehost catch the attention of Internet conglomerate, Endurance International Group. EIG purchased Bluehost in 2010 and opened another chapter of massive, disruptive growth in the history of the company. If the name EIG sounds familiar to you, it's probably because you've heard of them before. Besides Bluehost, they also own other big names in the hosting industry like HostGator (even if both of them are owned by EIG, there are some differences between them, if you are interested to find more about that make sure to also read our Bluehost vs. HostGator comparison)
It seems everyone recommends Bluehost – from WordPress, a content management system (if you don't know yet the differences between Hosting and CMS make sure to check out our Bluehost vs. WordPress Comparison before taking any kind of decision!) that powers over half of the internet, to Mike from the Starbucks down the road.
The problem (or is it a problem? It depends on what you think is fair in a free market economy, we think), is that Bluehost has become so popular that they can afford to offer great quality for outrageously low prices. That is one of the main reasons why people continue to choose Bluehost over and over again – a lot of value is offered for ridiculously low prices. It doesn't take an Einstein to see how this side of Bluehost makes it easy to blow other smaller hosts out of the market. Even hosts like Namecheap who have made a name out of cheap prices sometimes struggle to beat Bluehost's prices. We have a full review of Bluehost vs. Namecheap if you want a complete analysis of how Bluehost compares to one of the cheapest hosts on earth (Spoiler alert: Bluehost easily wins this competition, we'll stick to Namecheap just when it comes for cheap domain names for now).
Let's see exactly what services Bluehost offers and the features of those plans, shall we?
Bluehost Hosting Plans Overview
True to its nature as a multipurpose-you-can-actually-get-anything-you-want-from-me-guy, Bluehost offers a wide variety of hosting plans. These include the popular Shared hosting plans, Cloud hosting, WordPress hosting, Dedicated hosting, VPS hosting and WooCommerce hosting. If you're conversant with hosting, you probably know what these packages mean, but if you're not, we've got you covered. We're going to briefly break down what these hosting packages are.
Shared Hosting: Shared hosting plans are the most common hosting plans on the internet. Why? Because they are perfect for small businesses/blogs that don't have the financial strength or even need to control an entire server. As the name implies, a shared hosting plan means that users share a single server with other users. It's called shared hosting because the servers are shared. Get it? That's what I love to call clever naming.
WordPress Hosting: Another piece of very clever naming here as well. Like the name so blissfully implies, WordPress hosting is a hosting environment specially optimized for WordPress powered websites. So basically, if you want your WordPress site to run better, you should probably get a WordPress hosting plan.
VPS (Virtual Private Server) Hosting: “VPS” had us in the first half, not going to lie. VPS hosting is basically a fancy improvement on Shared hosting servers. So what were we saying? Ah, yes. The only difference between a Shared hosting plan and a VPS hosting plan is that you're allowed to host your website on a virtual private server (applause rings in the distance as Captain obvious strikes again).
Dedicated Server Hosting: As the name implies, this means that instead of sharing a server (whether cloud or real), you have a server that is dedicated to only serving the needs of your account. The downside to this, though, is that you'll have to manage your server yourself.
WooCommerce Hosting: This is a bit more tricky. WooCommerce is the most popular e-commerce plug-in for WordPress and with WooCommerce you can quickly and easily get your store online. WooCommerce is a service that is optimized for maintaining an online store – so if you need to open an online store, you really should consider a WooCommerce plan.
Domain Names: Why exactly is this here? It doesn't even look like the others! Yet, it is a service that Bluehost offers. While the company itself doesn't claim to register domains, yet, you can buy domains from Bluehost starting from $17.99.
As a side note, all plans come with cPanel and one-click installations for popular apps + Free Domain.
In-Depth Breakdown of each Hosting Plan
We've listed a brief summary of the plans that Bluehost offers. Let's go into the total breakdown of these plans.
1. Bluehost Shared Hosting
Shared hosting is perfect for people who do not have a lot of money to splash on their website and people who do not get a lot of traffic. If you fit these requirements, then a shared hosting plan is the best for you. Like we said earlier, a shared hosting plan means that you're sharing a single server's resources with a lot of other people. That means that you and other people will be covering the cost of renting that server, and that would bring the price you have to pay down. Obviously, the only downside would then be that your site wouldn't have access to a lot of resources— keep in mind, though, that if your site doesn't get a lot of traffic it's unlikely that'll you even need a server's complete resources in the first place.
While that is true, Bluehost makes the choice even easier for users by providing four tiers of shared hosting. This means that you can choose the level of a server's resources that you want to be allocated to you. Bluehost's four tiers are the Basic, Plus, Choice-Plus, and Pro plans. Most hosts only offer three tiers of shared hosting plans, and that's a shame because four tiers allow for a better level of scalability. In fact, only Squarespace immediately comes to mind as a host that also offers four shared hosting plans. On the other end of the spectrum, iPage actually offers only one tier of shared hosting plans. If you want to find out other ways that hosts generally deviate from the well-beaten path, you can read our Bluehost vs. iPage comparison.
Now, before we go into pricing, the thing to note is that initial pricing is kinda wiggly. That means it is subject to changes every now and then. This is because Bluehost runs a lot of programs and specials throughout the year— and most times, if you search diligently enough, you'll find a discount of around 30-35%. The renewal price is what is constant and is what you should focus on if you're planning on anything long term.
Shared Hosting Pricing in November 2019:
- The basic plan costs $2.95 today and is the perfect plan for small websites with only a few hundred visitors per month. This plan comes with a single website, 50GB of storage, 25 sub-domains, 100 MB of email storage, five email accounts, and a basic site backup (courtesy, not guaranteed). Renewal for this plan costs $7.99 per month. However, you should probably note that you're only entitled to the $2.95 price if you pay 36 months in advance. The renewal of the initial payment doesn't cover 36 months, though, as the option is only for 24 months.
- The next plan is the Plus plan and it costs, at present, $5.45 per month. This plan comes with unlimited websites, unlimited SSD storage, unmetered bandwidth, free SSL certificate, unlimited domains, unlimited parked domains, unlimited sub-domains, Spam Experts, and 1 office 365 mailbox, free for thirty days. The renewal fee for this plan is $10.99.
- The third plan that Bluehost offers, which is also the plan that they recommend for medium-sized businesses/websites with average or slightly below average traffic, is the Choice-Plus plan. The initial price for this plan, as of today, is $5.45 per month. It comes with all the features of the Plus plan, plus (sorry, we had to) Domain privacy, and Codeguard basic site backup. Codeguard is the add-on that Bluehost uses to carry out guaranteed backups for customers while Domain privacy is a security tool that keeps the private information of domain owners off public WHOIS hosting lists.
- The final plan, which is for much bigger businesses or websites that are too big for the Choice-Plus plan but are still too small for VPS hosting, is the Pro plan and it costs $13.95 per month. Of course, that is initial pricing if you're paying for three years in advance. Upon renewal, you are charged a fee of $13.95 per month. It comes with all the features of the Choice-Plus plan plus two Spam experts and a dedicated IP. Additionally, the Pro plan has “high performance”. According to Bluehost, this means that Pro plans are allocated more resources per server than other shared hosting customers. It's a great plan if you have the money to spend, otherwise, we'd advise you to take the Choice-Plus option.
2. Bluehost WordPress Hosting
Why, you might be wondering, does Bluehost have a plan especially for WordPress? The answer is simple really. A normal shared hosting plan is like a blank canvas where users can build anything they want on – unfortunately, that is something a lot of people don't really fancy. For this set of people, Bluehost offers the WordPress hosting and WP PRO plans. The WordPress hosting plan is just like the shared hosting plans but optimized for WordPress. The WP PRO plan, though, is a managed system for those who want a bit more ease in managing their website.
The obvious question then would be what makes WordPress hosting plans different from regular hosting plans? There are three things that make WordPress hosting plans stand out from the regular shared hosting lineup. The first is that WordPress comes installed. The second is that the plans come with a WordPress staging environment where users can make changes to their sites and test run the effects before going live with these changes. Another difference is that you have access to a lot of WordPress theme choices – choices that users of Shared hosting plans may not have access to.
Bluehost offers three WordPress hosting plans and they are the Basic, Plus and Choice-Plus plans.
WordPress Hosting Pricing in November 2019:
- It appears that Bluehost doesn't think it especially clever to switch up the names of their Shared hosting packages. The Basic plan costs $2.75 per month and comes with One website, a free SSL certificate, 50 GB of storage, a free domain for a year, 5 parked domains, 25 subdomains and $200 marketing credit. Renewal of the plan costs $7.99. This package is best for beginners who are just starting out and haven't started to command a lot of traffic yet. Of course, you should only consider this plan if you're going to build a WordPress account.
- The next plan is the Plus plan which costs $5.45 for an initial purchase. The plan comes with unlimited websites, free SSL certificates, unmetered SSD storage, unlimited parked domains, unlimited subdomains. As usual, the renewal price jumps almost a hundred percent to $10.99. This plan is suitable for sites experiencing a little more traffics than that of beginners.
- The apex plan under the WordPress hosting package by Bluehost is the Choice-Plus plan and it costs, for initial payment at least, the same price as the Plus plan which is $5.45. Renewal prices aren't the same though, as the Choice-Plus commands $14.99. The plan comes with all the features of the Plus plan plus Codeguard basic for backups. If you think that these terms look familiar, that is probably because they do. Bluehost offers roughly the same package as the Shared hosting pricing structure, except of course, for the last Pro option. Like we've said before, the basic difference between Shared hosting plans and WordPress hosting plans is that WordPress comes pre-installed. If you have no problems performing a one-click installation of WordPress yourself on a regular shared hosting plan, we see no reason why you should opt for a WordPress hosting plan. However, it matters little either way— the differences in prices and structure are almost negligible.
You should probably consider the fact that Bluehost is an officially recommended host by WordPress, so WordPress hosting should be extra good. If you are interested in other officially recommended WordPress hosts, you can check out our Bluehost vs. Dreamhost comparison.
3. Bluehost WP PRO
WP Pro is just like WordPress hosting, but it is a managed platform. A managed platform means that most of the technical stuff about your website is managed by Bluehost. Bluehost also takes care of things like optimizing the hosting infrastructure. This ensures that your platform makes use of the resources that are allocated to it.
Bluehost has three WP Pro hosting plans that you can choose from. Since one of the most important features of managed hosting is the extra functionalities that the plans come with, your choice should depend mostly on the level of extra functions that you need to be added to your site. Importantly, all WP Pro plans support unlimited websites, unlimited domains, unlimited storage, unlimited subdomains, a staging environment, and zero traffic limits. Generally, WP Pro plans are much more expensive than Shared hosting or WordPress hosting plans.
WP PRO Hosting Pricing in November 2019:
- The first WP Pro plan is the Build plan which costs $19.95 on the initial purchase. As the name implies, the build plan is mainly for people looking to build a professional WordPress website. The plan comes with jetpack site analytics, a marketing center, 100+ free WordPress themes, daily backups, malware detection and removal, domain privacy + protection, and 1 office 365 mailbox free for thirty days. The plan costs $29.99 for renewal.
- The second plan is the Grow plan which costs $29.95 per month for new customers paying three years in advance. After that period, though, the renewal costs $39.99. The plan comes with everything in the build plan plus Jetpack premium, business review tools, Bluehost's SEO tools, jetpack Ads integration, 10GB video compression, Blue Sky Ticket support, and 1 office mailbox free for thirty days. If you're looking to build an audience for your WordPress website, this plan gives you all you need to maximize your traffic.
- The third and the final plan that Bluehost offers under WP Pro is the Scale plan. This plan is perfect an e-commerce WordPress website. It is a bit pricey, though, at $49.95 per month for new customers paying at least three years in advance. It comes with Jetpack pro included, unlimited backups and restores, PayPal integration, Unlimited video integration, Elastic search, and Blue Sky chat support.
4. Bluehost WooCommerce Hosting
If you want a plan optimized for e-commerce, you can choose to go with the WooCommerce hosting option that Bluehost provides. WooCommerce is basically a WordPress e-commerce plug-in, and like WordPress, the platform itself is entirely free.
Bluehost offers the standard three tiers of plans with the Woo Commerce hosting platform. Of course, you can have Woo Commerce on a normal shared hosting plan, but using Bluehost's optimized WooCommerce hosting plan has a number of advantages. For example, WooCommerce and it's popular storefront theme comes pre-installed. You also get a dedicated IP address that protects your site from others who might be sharing your server and lastly you get an environment that is optimized for facilitating quick and safe online payments.
There are three tiers of WooCommerce hosting offered by Bluehost and they are the Starter, Plus, and Pro plans. All plans come with a free domain, WooCommerce auto-install, free SSL certificates, unmetered bandwidth, dedicated IP address, and $100 marketing credits.
WooCommerce Hosting Pricing in November 2019:
- The Starter plan costs an initial price of $6.95. It jumps to $13.99 for renewal, though. The plan comes with 1 online store, 100GB of storage, domain privacy + protection, free setup call, and 1 office 365 mailbox free for the first theory days.
- The second plan is the Plus plan and the price of initial three-year purchase is $8.95 per month. It normally costs $17.99 (renewal price). The plan comes with unlimited online stores, unlimited SSD storage, Storefront theme installed, Codeguard backup basic and all the other features of the Starter plan. This plan is perfect for people who have already attracted a sizable level of traffic to their site and are looking to leverage their traffic already.
- The apex plan under the WooCommerce hosting platform is the Pro plan, and as the name implies, it is for Pros (probably. We think). The plan costs $12.95 per month for new customers who are paying three years in advance and costs $31.99 for renewal of the plan. Quite a leap there, isn't it? The plan comes with all the features of the Plus plan plus Bluehost's SEO tools start. Personally, we don't think the addition of just one feature warrants the difference in the price of the Plus and Pro plan. We'd recommend the Plus plan rather than the Pro plan.
Before we move on, we have a tip for you. As your online store grows and gets more traffic, you should try moving all of your e-commerce functionality off of your primary hosting environment into its hosting environment. This ensures that your blog and your store perform optimally despite higher traffic levels.
5. Bluehost VPS Hosting
Before considering purchasing a VPS hosting plan, you should be satisfied that your site has outgrown the resources of a shared hosting plan. If not, purchasing a VPS hosting plan would be like dumping a 10-year old into a Shaquille O'Neal suit – it might cover all the proper parts, but the child would just look ridiculous.
After making sure that your site has outgrown a shared hosting platform, then you can decide to purchase a VPS plan. VPS plans are basically upgrades on shared hosting plans. With VPS, you get more control over your hosting environment and you get more resources to power your website. A VPS plan is still hosted on a shared server, however, the only difference is that this time you get a guaranteed share of resources (RAM, CPU, and disk that are dedicated to your website alone). This ensures better performance and stability for your site. One of the most important advantages of VPS hosting is the high level of security that the plan affords. If you have a site in need of advanced security features, VPS hosting is probably your surest plug. All Bluehost's VPS plans come with a free domain name for the first year, a thirty-day money-back guarantee and 24/7 customer support.
Bluehost has three VPS hosting plans and they are the Standard, Enhanced and Ultimate plans.
VPS Hosting Pricing in November 2019:
- The Standard plan costs $18.99 for an initial purchase while renewal costs $29.99. The plan comes with 2 cores, 30GB storage, 2GB ram, 1 terabyte of bandwidth, and one dedicated IP address.
- The next plan and the one that we would recommend is the Enhanced plan. It costs $29.99 per month for new customers purchasing a 36-month plan in advance. The plan comes with two cores, 60GB SSD storage, 4GB ram, 2 terabyte of bandwidth and two IP addresses.
- The Ultimate plan is a bit more pricey, going for an initial cost of $59.99 per month. Renewal is higher still, going for $119.99. The plan comes with 4 cores, 20GB SSD storage, 8 GB ram, 3 terabytes of ram and 2 IP addresses.
6. Bluehost Dedicated Server Hosting
Dedicated server hosting is for people who have thousands of visitors per day. So if you have an extensive website and you receive insane levels of traffic, then a dedicated server is probably the one for you. And when we mean insane levels of traffic, we mean up to several hundred thousand visitors per month. So what do you get with dedicated servers? Number one, you'll get the most secure environment since you'll be the only one using a particular server. You'll also get high levels of performance since your server's resources are only used to service your website. In addition to all that, you'll enjoy having an insane level of control over your server environment. In fact, specialized hosts like Rackspace (we have an article comparing Bluehost vs Rackspace, and you can read it if you like).
Ordinarily, it takes a while for most Web-hosts to provide a dedicated server after purchasing a plan, but since Bluehost offers rapid provisioning, your website is usually ready to use 24-72 hours after your purchase. Talk about quick and efficient. All Bluehost's dedicated server plans come with a free domain name for the first year, 30-days money-back guarantee and a free SSL certificate.
Bluehost offers three levels of dedicated hosting plans. They are the Standard, Enhanced, and Premium plans.
Dedicated Server Hosting Pricing in November 2019:
- The Standard plan costs about $79.99 for initial payment while renewal costs $119.99. The plan comes with 4 cores @ 2.3 GHz, 590 GB (mirrored) storage, 4 GB ram, 5 Terabyte of Bandwidth and 3 IP addresses.
- If you're going to get a dedicated server hosting plan, we'd recommend the more expensive Enhanced plan. The initial price is $99.99 and renewal costs $159.99. The plan comes with four cores @ 2.5 GHz, 1 Terabyte of mirrored storage, 8 GB of Ram, 10 terabytes of bandwidth, and 4 IP addresses.
- The most expensive plan that Bluehost offers is the Premium plan which goes for an initial price of $119.99 per month. Renewal for this plan costs $209.99 per month. It comes with four cores at 3.3 GHz, 1 TB of mirrored storage, 16 GB ram, 15 TB of bandwidth, and five IP addresses.
Unfortunately, this tier of Bluehost's hosting has experienced little growth in recent years. This is probably not unconnected to the fact that most huge businesses would now rather make use of AWS than Bluehost. Why is this so? Well, you can browse through our Bluehost vs. AWS comparison to find out more.
7. Bluehost Domains
Almost all Bluehost's plans come with a free domain (in fact, we are yet to review a plan that doesn't come with a complimentary domain paid for the first year).
With Bluehost, you can create Subdomains for different pages that you have. However, the number of subdomains that you can create is usually limited by the plan that you have purchased. Users also have access to Parked domains. Parked domains are somewhat like aliases for your website. They are domains that redirect traffic to your normal site. For example, if your website is Website.com, you can have Website.site as a Parked domain— that is, if people go to Website.site, it automatically redirects to Website.com. The number of parked domains you can have is also usually limited by the kind of plan that you have purchased.
Bluehost has a number of plans (Plus and Choice-Plus plans, for example) that allow users to operate unlimited domains. You can manage your domains using a domain manager tool that Bluehost provides. One good thing about the tool is that all Bluehost customers can access it, and it is free of charge. With this Domain manager tool, you can update, buy, track, transfer and manage your domains easily.
You can either get a domain through Bluehost or use more traditional means and buy one through Google Domains. Luckily, we have just the right comparison article to teach you how to make the best choice.
8. Bluehost Reseller Hosting Plans
If you want reseller hosting plans, you'll have to look into another Web-host. Reseller hosting is one of the very few hosting services that Bluehost doesn't offer.
Bluehost Shared Hosting Plan Comparison
So… we are going to be a bit biased here. How do we mean? We are going to compare only Bluehost's shared hosting plans, not their other packages. Oh, the horror, the absolute unfairness of it all! Why ever would we do something so despicable? Little one, it's simple calculus. The universe is finite, it's resources finite; If life is left unchecked, life will cease to…
Okay, let's be straight. Most people get shared hosting plans. In fact, if you're reading this and want to purchase a hosting plan, there's a 96.57% chance that you would want to purchase a Shared hosting plan. Don't ask me how I came up with that statistic – ask Matt from accounting. He's the one in charge of all that stuff.
Okay, where were we? Yes.
Bluehost Basic vs. Plus plan
The basic plan is Bluehost's cheapest plan, so as you would expect of a cheap plan, it comes with the least resources. I mean, a single website, 50 GB of storage and 25 subdomains aren't exactly mind-blowing stats. The Plus plan, on the other hand, is a step up from the basic nature of the basic plan. Through to its name, the Plus plan has a few pluses like unlimited websites and unlimited storage.
So when it comes down to the Basic vs. Plus, which one should you go for? The plan you should choose comes down to the services that you need. If you plan on running a few websites (read as more than one), you should probably get a Plus plan rather than a Basic one. On the other hand, if you have only one website to run, the basic plan fits you perfectly.
Bluehost Plus vs. Choice-Plus plan
For the most part, both of these plans have the same specifications. In fact, to show that they are almost the same, they cost the same in the short term. The only difference is the level of security in the Choice-Plus plan. With the Choice-Plus plan, you get free Domain privacy and Codeguard basic, a backup tool. If you understand the internet as we do, you'll have a healthy fear of hackers and malware, and you'll also understand the need for backing up everything you can possibly backup. If you are considering choosing between these two plans, you're seriously better off taking the Choice-Plus plan.
Or you could choose to live dangerously. It is totally up to you.
Bluehost Choice-Plus vs. Pro plan
The number one difference between the Choice-Plus and Pro plan is that websites on the Pro plan are hosted on high-performance servers. This means that more resources are allocated to your account. High-performance servers have 80% fewer accounts per server than regular hosting plans, so that means more resources (ram, CPU, disk usage, etc) for your site. Basically, with the Pro plan, you're getting better speed, more power, and generally improved performance.
The Pro plan also comes with a dedicated IP address and a private SSL certificate – the fancy one, not the free one by Let's Encrypt (sorry Let's Encrypt). Bottom line is, you should only consider a Pro plan if you're convinced that you absolutely need a high-performance server because of the volume of the traffic that your website commands. You should also consider getting a Pro plan if you'd like a private SSL certificate and a dedicated IP address. If you're not particularly interested in the above features, you should probably stick with the Choice-Plus plan.
The Best Plan for Your Needs
Now that you know all the features of the shared hosting plans that Bluehost offers, it's time to make your choice. Which plan, exactly, is the best for you? There is no absolute best plan, and the best plan for you depends on what features you'd like. But we are going to give our own advice, based on the years of hosting experience that we've had.
If you are a beginner without a lot of visitors, and you just want to set up a single website, the Basic plan has all the features that you need. If you want to run multiple websites or a WordPress site, I would recommend the Plus plan. If you want to run multiple websites and would like extra security features and Spam protection, you should probably go for the Choice-Plus plan. If you want to run an e-commerce site and would want a dedicated IP address and a private SSL certificate, you should probably go with the Pro plan.
Is Bluehost Beginner Friendly?
Okay, we planned on writing a long flowery introduction to this section, but we canned that idea. Why? It's too much effort if we are being honest. Basically, this section is about using Bluehost. Is it a great experience or is it an experience that makes you want to pull your hair out and pray for a generous henchman to relieve you of your head? We'll find out soon enough.
Bluehost Custom cPanel
First off, how do you manage your account? The ideal answer to that question should be cPanel (or Plesk at least), for a plethora of reasons. cPanel is easy to use, and most hosts make use of cPanel. That means people migrating from other hosts won't have a problem with the user interface. So what is Bluehost's answer? cPanel, but a heavily customized variant that makes it even easier for beginners to find their way around major controls. Bluehost's cPanel is divided into 5 sections. They are the advanced (which means exactly what you think it means), MySites, Marketplace, Email and Office, and Domains sections.
- The MySites feature allows you to access and manage the websites connected to the account that you're logged in with. You can also create a new website with this feature. It is also a way to get to your WordPress Admin dashboard if you are hosting a WordPress website.
- The Marketplace, like the name implies, is a market place for new functionalities, add-ons, plug-ins and other things like that. If you're interested in adding additional features or even hiring professional services, the marketplace is the place to go.
- If you have purchased productivity tools, you can access them under the Email and office feature. This feature gives you access to basic email services, or if you're in need of more advanced services, you can get spreadsheet tools, cloud-based word processing, and Google (G Suite). You can also access email clients from Microsoft (Office 365).
- The Domain feature allows you to access the domain manager. Here you can monitor the registration status of your domains, find and register new domains. You can also update which domain name is registered to which site, set up redirection, transfer domains and even manage your subdomains.
- The Advanced Section means exactly what you would expect it to mean. Here you have the advanced options like database choices that beginners should have no business with. You can also manage your email settings and view useful metrics regarding resource use and site traffic.
Bluehost's user panel is actually quite easy to use, and we didn't have any problems accomplishing basic or even complex tasks. Now that we're done with that, let's move on to other nuanced aspects of the Bluehost user experience.
For one, Bluehost offers one-click installations for WordPress. Installing WordPress used to be really annoying, not talk to of complex and slow. But today, most hosts offer one-click installations which means that you can get your WordPress site online faster than before. If you're using a WordPress plan, it's even better because WordPress comes pre-installed. You do not even have to enter the cPanel. Updating your WordPress core is also easy, as you only need to click on an update icon (perhaps we should call that one-click updates too?), and if you're using a Bluehost WordPress plan, Bluehost takes care of updates for you as well.
To-Do List for New Websites
Bluehost also has a cool feature that makes the work of managing a website easier, especially for beginners. Too many hosts leave you alone to manage your business once you've done the basics, like installing WordPress and connecting your domain. Not Bluehost, though. You get a detailed To-Do list for every new website. So you'll get a list of what to do to get your website online, and you'll find detailed steps to accomplish these tasks. After setting up your account, your Bluehost dashboard will display the list and you can cross actions off the list after accomplishing them. It's like getting a tutorial session before getting into the nitty-gritty of playing a battlefield game, or any game at all, for that matter. Steps, like designing your page, configuring backups, SEO configurations and Optimizations and all of that, can skip the mind of even more experienced users. It's really thoughtful of Bluehost to provide a nice checklist. We guarantee that if you're managing a site for the first time, you'll find Bluehost's help to be of inestimable value.
All the other things like managing account details, purchases, payment methods and all of that are also pretty easy to get too.
All in all, Bluehost is one of the easiest hosts we've reviewed. In fact, some people might say Bluehost is the easiest host to use.
Other Bluehost “Features”:
Under this section we'll be looking at the features of Bluehost and how exciting or terrifyingly dull they are.
(HINT; Having dull features aren't a good thing)
30 Days Money-Back Guarantee
Hosting is service-based, and when you purchase a service, it's possible that you don't get exactly what you expected. A money-back guarantee ensures that you aren't stuck with a bad sell for long. Generally, we'd prefer long money-back guarantees, but most hosts offer a thirty-day money-back guarantee, which isn't very long to us. Unfortunately, Bluehost also follows this trend. While some other reviews would call this “generous”, we wouldn't. It's the standard money-back guarantee that most hosts offers and we get the feeling that Bluehost only offers thirty days because it literally isn't possible to offer lower. There are other hosts who offer far longer and more exciting money-back guarantees. Besides Bluehost, a good example is Inmotion hosting, with a great ninety day money-back guarantee or an “anytime” money-back guarantee like Justhost offers.
However, we can find solace in the fact that the money-back guarantee is of the “no questions” asked variant so you do indeed get your money back. However, there are some conditions. For example, if you've received a free service, like a domain name, about $15 will be deducted from your refund. You get to keep the domain name, though, so that's good news.
Not quite the exciting feature, that.
Not a lot of hosts offer free site migration. Why that is so, is something we fear we'd never truly be able to fully grasp. I mean, if we owned a web hosting service, we would be interested in encouraging websites to leave their hosts and come over to our side of the garden where the grass is undoubtedly greener. We surely wouldn't charge them a one time fee of $149.99 for the migration of five websites and twenty emails.
So you can imagine our surprise when we discovered that that is exactly what Bluehost does. Perhaps that might be one of the reasons we do not, in fact, own a hosting service. Bottom line, Bluehost doesn't offer free site migrations. Would we be interested in paying $149.99 to move our website over to another host? Would we be interested in moving our website ourselves manually over to another host especially when many other hosts offer to do it for us for free?
Of course not, what is this, the clown republic?
Regardless of the kind of site(s) that you run, you'd eventually have to use the email services offered by Bluehost.
Bluehost allows you to create up to a hundred emails with its basic plan, and you can even create unlimited email addresses with other higher-tier plans. For those who want more powerful features, Bluehost has partnered with Microsoft office 365 to provide users with basic package supporting email and calendar functionality as well. Bluehost also has a tool called Spam Assassin that comes with all plans. This shouldn't be confused with Spam Experts, another spam protection tool that Bluehost provides. In any case, Bluehost makes sure that you don't have to deal with spam in your email inbox.
Beginners need this more than anything. People won't just come to your site because some angel dropped your domain name in the browser or their dreams— marketing is needed to drive traffic to your site. To aid marketing, Bluehost actually offers full-service digital marketing services. This means that Bluehost can help you with monthly content marketing— which means Bluehost will get writers to create content that will lead to higher SEO ranking for your site. Bluehost can also help manage local listings to make sure that your website is easily found by people in your locale. Of course, marketing isn't complete without search engine optimization and the insertion of relevant keywords into content. Bluehost can help with that and also help come up with appropriate title tags and meta description.
All of these services are actually things that you can learn if you had the time and willingness to, so you could actually learn how to market your website yourself and get on with it without Bluehost's help.
What Bluehost offers you that that is of true significance, at least to us, is the $200 in free and credits (Google, Bing and Twitter). It is a lot of money in ads, and if you know how to play your cards right, it might give you a steady flow of visitors.
Despite the fact that Bluehost thinks very highly of its special connection to WordPress (Bluehost, like we are always reminded, is one of only three hosts recommended by WordPress), the host offers support for integration of numerous other apps. You can install a host of other apps like Joomla, Drupal and Magneto from the marketplace easily. To make things even easier for you, Bluehost offers CDN access. This means that your site will load faster as content will be delivered to visitors quicker than before.
Asides the fact that you can easily install most apps, Bluehost also offers Google Apps integration that is built into cPanel. This allows interested users to use Google suit or Google drive cloud storage. Like we've said earlier, you also get a free SSL certificate with all plans.
If you want to build your website from scratch, Bluehost offers free access to the Weebly website builder. Like most website builders today, Weebly has drag and drop functionality. This means that even beginners who heard about website development an hour ago can create a website within a relatively short period. Weebly provides a collection of pre-designed websites for you to choose from, after choosing you can swap out the content and images with your own content and images. Weebly's designs are responsive— this means that they are designed to adapt to any screen size, whether mobile, tab or PC. Weebly can be accessed through the site builders section of your cPanel.
The obvious question, of course, is which site builder to use in building your website. While the more popular choice is WordPress, Weebly is actually easier to use. Weebly and WordPress aren't the only site builders that exist, though. A lot of people make use of Wix, and if you'd like to see our Bluehost vs. Wix article, all you need to do is click.
If there are problems with your site, Bluehost claims that it can be fixed in fifteen minutes. However, they are reports saying that Bluehost takes longer than fifteen minutes to fix. We should also probably add that Bluehost isn't in the business of giving compensation for downtime, so that's one downtime for you to consider.
Bluehost has an inbuilt caching feature so you don't need to use third-party caching features. It doesn't end there— you can also configure the level of caching depending on the kind of website that you have.
A lot of people don't really care about the backup policy of prospective Web-hosts. However, speaking from experience, it is something you should really care about. The ideal is automated daily backups, but since very few hosts offer that for free, we'll make do with less.
Bluehost offers daily backups on all plans, however, this is offered on a courtesy basis. What that means is that backups aren't guaranteed, so you should either use a backup tool like Codeguard (which Bluehost offers as an add-on) or find other ways to backup your site.
Bluehost's Performance Reviewed
One of the most things to consider when reviewing a host is the level of performance that the infrastructure provides. There are two main metrics that you need to consider, and they are speed and uptime. While some people think that uptime is the more important metric, we think that both are equally as important. For example, studies have revealed that even as much as a second drop in average page load speed can decrease the coversion rate by 7%. A three-second delay can cost you as much as half of your conversion rate. So, speed, as well as uptime, is very important to your website.
Before we go into the raw data of speed and uptime statistics, it is important to look at the infrastructure put in place by Bluehost to achieve whatever performance stats we record. Why are the infrastructures in place important? Statistics are fickle and subject to change, good day infrastructure, though, isn't.
In our opinion, the best performing host is WP Engine. Will Bluehost surpass the stats of WP Engine?
As a rule, Bluehost doesn't publish a lot of information about their data centres, or particular security measures put in place. From what we were able to glean from sparse information on the internet and from the information we got from speaking to Bluehost representatives, it appears that Bluehost has a data centre in Provo, Utah. We were not able to get much more than that. We also stumbled upon a video of Bluehost claiming that servers aren't bought from third-party retailers, but are actually built in-house from carefully chosen components. We spoke to a live rep about this, and it appears that Bluehost does indeed build their own servers. Bluehost has CDN access, so users ideally should not be worried about a lack of global data centres (that is if Bluehost doesn't have global data centres). Cloudflare has a network of global data centres and users can rely on that network instead. Asides this, we were able to find additional information about Bluehost's data centres. Apparently, they have UPS power backup, diesel generator backup and 24/7 network monitoring— all pretty basic features that most hosts have.
To make sure that our speed stats are correct and accurate records of Bluehost's speed, we purchased a shared hosting plan and set it up with our testing tools. Over our monitoring period, we recorded an average speed of 461ms. (response speeds are much lower within the US and Europe, however, we took global locations into consideration before reaching our average score). But response time isn't the only indication of speed, so we checked out average load speed as well. Over our monitoring period, we calculated an average page load speed of 1258ms, which is higher than most of the hosts that we've reviewed. In fact, if we were to make a list, Bluehost would certainly make the top half. Of course, the top spot would be held by A2 hosting, and if you'd like to see how Bluehost and A2 hosting stack up in our rankings, you only have to click.
It isn't enough to know speed performance when traffic is low, though. Since you would hope that your site always drives healthy traffic, we decided to test Bluehost's speed stability under a traffic spike.
To accomplish this, we used a tool called Load Impact to see how well our site would perform during traffic spikes. We sent about 100 virtual users to our site, and we were pleased to see that the speed we recorded remained stable. What does this mean for the user? It's unlikely that Bluehost's speed would make you lose visitors— the servers are fast, and speed remains stable even during traffic spikes.
Uptime measures how long your site is actually up and reachable. This is important because, well, keeping a site online is the primary function of a host, and you would want to know to what extent a host performs this task. First off, it is virtually impossible to have a 100% uptime, especially when you are monitoring over a sufficiently long period.
We should, however, pay attention to how close a host gets to 100%. Bluehost performs extraordinarily with regards to uptime, posting an uptime of 99.99% over our monitoring period. That is probably the highest uptime that any host can offer, so there are no problems there either.
Simply put, Cloudflare (CDN) is a content delivery system that stores caches of your website on a network of servers around the world. If a visitor tries to access your website, instead of the content coming from your host's server directly, it comes from the CDN point closest to them. Thus, the amount of time that it takes for a page to load is cut short.
Let's have a short example. If you're visiting a website hosted on Bluehost's server at Utah, and you're in Bangladesh, it doesn't take too many brain cells to know that page load speed wouldn't be the best. What CDN does is that, instead of getting content from Utah, you get it from the closest CDN point to you— somewhere like, let's say Mumbai.
Since Bluehost offers CDN, you have the option of enabling it and enjoying even better response times and page load speeds. To make use of Cloudflare CDN, all you need to do is to enable CDN integration in your cPanel and provide your credentials to Bluehost, then you're good to go.
We don't have a lot of information on Bluehost's security infrastructure, but we do know that Bluehost offers some great security options by default. For example, Bluehost offers free SSL certificates on all plans. Users also have several security options like Domain privacy (a tool that allows users to keep their private information off public WHOIS listing), Spam Assassin and Spam Experts (both anti-spam tools for email accounts), Sitelock (a tool that scans for malware) and Codeguard (a site backup tool).
All Bluehost directories are password protected and Bluehost gives you the option to blacklist IP addresses if you want to block access to your site. Bluehost also has secure shell (SSH) access, which allows you to configure files individually and securely. In addition to all this, Bluehost also offers single-click integration with Cloudflare. How does this affect security, you might be wondering. The answer is that Cloudflare has security features that are particularly efficient at preventing DDOS attacks. Last but not least Bluehost also offers two-factor authentication.
So let's take a little detour. If you don't know a lot about web hosting, it's very likely that you don't know what an SSL certificate is either. So before we continue our review, we are going to break it down.
SSL certificates are basically an encryption protocol and it stands for Secure Socket Layer. It's basically a guideline or a series of instructions that your web browser and your server must follow when exchanging information. The main job of SSL certificates is to ensure that the information being exchanged cannot be intercepted by third parties.
The quality of customer support of a host is extremely important, especially big you're purchasing a plan that gives you access to complex controls. It is easy to run into situations that you don't quite understand, and at that moment it is vital that you have access to customer support that is quick and knowledgeable.
Bluehost has great customer support options, and the first is the Knowledgebase. Bluehost's knowledge base is actually well arranged according to FAQs, Domains, WordPress, Email, Control Panel, and a whole lot more. Clicking in any of these categories shows you a lot of articles that deal with the most basic and many complex issues that you might face in the course of your role as a web admin. There are also video tutorials too if you're someone who is visually inclined. Ideally, Bluehost's knowledgebase should solve most problems that you might have while hosting. There is also a search feature that isn't half bad at finding helpful articles that might get you out of present quagmires.
However, if you would like hands-on support, Bluehost has three channels where you can get the help of a live representative and these are the ticketing phone and live-chat channels. These channels are available 24/7, so users can get help at any time.
We tried to connect to a live rep repeatedly several times during the day, and we experienced about 5 minutes of wait time on average. This isn't that bad for a big company like Bluehost. In fact, we steadily experience worse with other hosts. Many of the live reps that we spoke to sounded knowledgeable enough and answered our questions immediately.
Bluehost's customer support doesn't come close to the best we've reviewed, which is SiteGround's. If you want, you can compare Siteground vs. Bluehost and see if you'd rather have SiteGround.
Canceling your Bluehost Account
After testing Bluehost, we no longer had any use for the hosting environment so it was time to do the ole cancel-and-dazzle. The process was quick and painless, we had no need to explain ourselves to anyone and our site went down with no problems. All we had to do was to contact support via live chat, provide authentication and confirm that we actually wanted our site closed down. It was as easy as taking candy from a baby – or taking a site from a host, at any rate.
Bluehost supports PCI compliance but we wouldn't describe Bluehost as PCI compliant. Confusing? Stay with us. There are platforms like Shopify that are optimised to meet PCI-DSS, however, most of these platforms are primarily e-commerce platforms. Since Bluehost is not like that, users will have to configure Bluehost's options to be PCI compliant.
As a side note, Bluehost provides secure payment gateways for its WooCommerce stores.
Bluehost Pros Recap
Just in case you didn't get it because we didn't S-P-E-L-L it out, here are Bluehost's pros.
For every new purchase, you get a new a free domain name included.
- You have access to tons of apps (scripts) like Drupal, Magneto, Joomla, etc through the marketplace feature.
- Free SSL certificate from Let's encrypt on basic plans. Higher-tier plans come with more advanced SSL certificates, also free of charge.
- Bluehost is by no means a speed demon A2 hosting (for more information read our in-depth Bluehost vs. A2 hosting comparison), but it does hold it's own against major players. With Cloudflare CDN, it's bound to even be faster.
- Users have access to numerous databases like MySQL, PostgreSQL, PHP, Python, CGI-BIN and so many more.
- You have access to great security options like Sitelock, Spam Assassin, Spam Experts, Codeguard etc
- Most plans come with unlimited everything— from disk space to bandwidth to domains.
Bluehost Cons Recap
Did you really think we'd have a Pros section without a cons option? No, did you really? Kill that thought.
- Customer support isn't top-notch and an average wait time of five minutes isn't the best
- No free site migrations.
- Bluehost doesn't have Windows-based servers, only Linux servers are available.
- Backups aren't of the guaranteed variety.
- Who owns Bluehost?
Bluehost is owned by Endurance International Group and was bought by the company in 2010. EIG also owns other hosting companies like HostGator.
- What language is support provided in?
Bluehost customer support only speaks English and there are three channels of contacting them; the phone, live chat and ticketing channels.
- Where are Bluehost's data centers located in?
Bluehost tries to keep this hush, so we don't know. We do know that Bluehost supports Cloudflare CDN integration and has data centres in Provo, Utah.
- What are the best Bluehost alternatives?
We seriously thought you'd never ask. A2 Hosting, GoDaddy, HostMonster, WP Engine, and SiteGround are some of the hosts that you can check out. Or, for a more comprehensive understanding of the pros and cons of your options, you can read about Bluehost's alternatives.
- Does Bluehost have a managed hosting plan?
Yes. If you'd rather not be disturbed with the technical jargons of hosting, you can buy a WP Pro plan.
- Does Bluehost register domain names?
No, not particularly. Bluehost isn't a domain registrar. However, you can buy domains via your Bluehost admin dashboard.
Conclusion on our Bluehost Review
Choosing the right host for your website is a serious business, as a wrong choice can haunt your dreams, hurt your business and put a hole in your pocket. In order not to have such uncomfortable things happen to you, it is important to properly research a prospective web host. And we believe that's what we've done.
In the final analysis, though, would we recommend Bluehost? Of course. Although they do have some cons, chief of them being no free site migrations, Bluehost is actually one of the top performers in the hosting business. The fact that they also offer great prices doesn't hurt either.
To round it up, Bluehost doesn't cut the figure of a problematic host, so we don't think you'll regret purchasing a plan.