Bluehost vs. AWS Comparison – Which One Should You Pick in 2020?
If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that Bluehost vs AWS shouldn’t even take place as a competition. It’s like trying to compare a Toyota Prius, the highly successful sedan people use to go to work, with the brand’s legendary pickup, the Hilux. I’m not saying that it can’t be done. However, Bluehost and Amazon Web Services (AWS) are different categories of web services, each designed with distinctive goals and purposes in mind.
Users looking to choose the safest, most cost-effective hosting service between BlueHost and AWS shouldn’t even consider the latter. Bluehost gives you a cPanel to help manage your site without the need to hire a team of web developers, Live Chat support to use whenever needed, and an SSL Certificate, all for just several dollars a month.
Update October 2020: We decided to update this article with some up-to-date test results, but also because our winner is currently offering 65% off their first invoice deal. Before buying make sure to check out this promotional landing page that has the discount applied. This deal makes our winner of this competition deserve its #1 spot even more than before because of the lower price they have right now.
Bluehost is well known for its cheap and reliable hosting that comes complete with cPanel and one-click install for WordPress, while AWS focuses more on the needs of app developers and offers some pretty unique features. When compared to Bluehost for web hosting, they are more expensive and not so easy to use.
Bluehost vs. AWS: A Complete Overview
Amazon Web Services, as an internet services company, has proven dominance in a lot of areas. AWS is the largest Infrastructure-As-A-Service (IAAS) platform and is particularly known for being very friendly towards third-party integrations. While other platforms have tried to compete, including the likes of DigitalOcean, AWS still holds a lot of the market share thanks to its intuitive setup process and exceptional management.
AWS provides a wide variety of tools and services, including Mobile, Developers Tools, Management Tools, IoT, security, enterprise apps, and more. Basically, AWS offers many more types of services than any company in the industry. And while it's not necessarily one of our top Bluehost alternatives, the company does offer some very solid hosting services.
For the purpose of this comparison, we'll mostly be looking at Bluehost vs Amazon Lightsail, a component of the AWS suite that is optimized for medium-sized businesses. It's made up of one server that runs content management systems like WordPress and Joomla.
Bluehost, founded by Matt Heaton in 2003, is one of the biggest players in the web hosting industry. With over 2 million websites hosted on its servers, Bluehost is a force to be reckoned with. Known for its high level of reliability (great uptime) and user-friendliness, Bluehost is one of the most recognizable names in web hosting.
Bluehost was purchased by tech giant Endurance International Group back in 2010. While many critics believed that this heralded a slump in quality, and consequently growth, Bluehost has proven them wrong for the most part. The host has consistently improved the quality of its services in recent years and has now become one of only three hosts officially recommended by WordPress.
If you want to learn more about the company's fascinating history we encourage you to check out our in-depth Bluehost review.
One of the most important parts of any comparisons is analyzing the performance of each of the two contenders. To gauge exactly how well AWS performs, we purchased a hosting plan and built a basic WordPress website on it. We did the same with Bluehost afterward. Doing us allowed us to monitor the speed and uptime of both services over a long period of time.
We built our site and set about testing AWS's page load speeds. For the most part, AWS response time is pretty average, measuring around 380ms. That is when you take locations outside Europe and North America into consideration. Within Europe and North America, response speeds are consistently lower than 100ms. We sent about a hundred virtual users to our site to see if a spike in traffic would have any impact on speed. Unfortunately, AWS's response times slowed down significantly, eventually reaching values as low as 3800ms. Not a good look.
All in all, AWS uptime performance isn't terrible. It matches the above-average performers in our ratings and we don't think users will have a lot of problems concerning speed.
We carried out the same speed tests with Bluehost. Over our testing period, we ended up with an average response time of 215ms. The average speed is similar to the one we observed when testing for our Bluehost vs. Rackspace comparison. It was actually a bit faster this time around, likely due to the fact that this latest testing period was shorter.
Since most of the hosts we've reviewed get below the 500ms mark, Bluehost's speed is decidedly above average. We wouldn't call Bluehost's speed exceptional, but since it's above average, it's decent enough for us. We also tried to see whether speed would suffer during a spike in traffic, so we sent a hundred virtual users to our site. We were pleasantly surprised to see that Bluehost maintained stable speeds— something that AWS was missing.
Both hosting services have decent speeds - not great, and certainly not among the top speedsters in our rankings, but decent. It is a close one, but Bluehost is the best choice for us because of stability during traffic spikes.
Even the fastest hosting service cannot make up for terrible uptime. We don't believe in a Utopia – we know that no host can guarantee a 100% uptime. The difference is the duration of the downtime, when it eventually happens. In this case, some hosts perform better than others. So let's see which host has a better uptime between AWS and Bluehost.
Over our testing period, our Bluehost account was up for 99.99% of the time. That's about the closest to 100% that any Web-host can guarantee, and Bluehost gets top marks in our book. However, we don't just like to check uptime stats as they are fickle and can change quickly. We also like to check whether a host has an uptime guarantee. That is, do customers get compensated if downtime is higher than a certain percentage? For Bluehost, the answer is no. Bluehost doesn't have an uptime guarantee. That wouldn't bother us though, as a 99.99% uptime is pretty great.
Similar to the server speed, Bluehost proved that it can be consistent with its uptime on more than one occasion. Case in point, we also got the exact same results when testing for our Bluehost vs. Weebly comparison, and that's just one among many other examples.
Our site with AWS also recorded an impressive uptime of 99.98% over our testing period, which is great. Like we said earlier, 99.99% is the closest any host can get to perfect. It gets even better as we ran through AWS's server agreement and discovered that the host actually has an uptime guarantee – a 99.9% uptime guarantee.
If uptime is less than 99.9% but greater than or equal to 99.0%, you get 10% service credit. If it's less than 99.0% but greater than or equal to 95.0%, you get 25% service credit. If it's less than 95%, you get a 100% service credit. As far as uptime guarantees go, what AWS offers isn't terrible.
Neither host is slacking off when it comes to performance, and we have been really impressed by both series of results. However, we have to pick a winner, and Bluehost takes this round for us. An almost perfect uptime that comes at a very low price and in combination with great ease of use is not something you see every day
Security Comparison between Amazon Web Services and Bluehost
Generally speaking, we like to assume that most web hosts have good security measures in place. While this is true, some hosts are more effective than others at securing your site. It's important to take this into consideration before picking a host.
Bluehost Security Features
Bluehost has effective measures in place to ensure great security. This includes free SSL certificates from Let's Encrypt, and Codeguard— a tool that helps automatically backup accounts.
A domain privacy tool is available to help keep sensitive information off public WHOIS hosting lists. This helps to prevent hackers from getting ahold of these details for phishing schemes. Postini from Google is also provided to give spam protection to your mail.
To enable secure file transfers, Bluehost supports PGP/GPG encryption. Bluehost also offers Sitelock, a third-party product serving as both a firewall and a malware scanner. A very detailed checklist of what should be done to protect your site is also provided, which should help you keep things secure from your end.
AWS Security Features
AWS also provides great security services. Identity and access management (IAM) helps create rules, groups, and user permissions to deny or allow their access to AWS resources. You can also grant unique credentials to users within your AWS account by giving individual access only to the required AWS resources and services. Another security feature is Virtual Private Clouds (VPC), which gives you total control over all inbound and outbound network traffic. VPC can be used to secure applications by restricting, when appropriate, access to and from the Internet.
Security groups is another feature that can help you create rules controlling incoming and outgoing traffic on your firewall. AWS direct connect allows you to establish a private virtual interface between your on-premise network and your Amazon Virtual private cloud, which is a private and secure network connection. Most of these features are pretty high-end and not something you're going to find at traditional hosting providers like HostGator or Bluehost.
Both web hosts have good security features, however, Bluehost features seem more reliable and efficient than those of AWS.
Plans & Pricing
One of the first things to consider before picking a host is the pricing. Is the host affordable for you? Is the price worth the services that are being delivered? Let's check out the pricing structure of AWS and Bluehost to see exactly what we're getting.
AWS has 7 levels of pricing, and these seven levels are available either under Linux servers or Windows servers. Generally, we would recommend Linux servers and you really should only use Windows servers if you have a particular reason. That said, not many companies offer Windows-based servers, with Hostinger being one of the rare examples that pop to mind. So if you ever find yourself in need of such servers, it's worth keeping AWS in mind.
Unlike other hosts, AWS doesn't have fancy names for their packages. It's just level one through level seven.
AWS Linux Servers
- Level 1: 512mb memory, 1 core processor, 20GB SD card, 1 TB transfer ($3.50 per month)
- Level 2: 1 GB of memory, 1 core processor, 40 GB SD disk and 2 TB of transfer ($5 per month)
- Level 3: 2 GB of memory, 1 core processor, 60GB SD disk, 3 TB transfer ($10 per month)
- level 4: 4 GB of memory, 2 core processors, 80 GB SD disk, 4 TB of transfer ($20 per month)
- Level 5: 8 GB of memory, 2 core processors, 160 GB SSD transfer, 5 TB of transfers ($40 per month)
- Level 6: 16 GB of memory, 4 core processors, 320 GB of SSD disk space and 6 TB of transfers. ($80 per month)
- Level 7: 32 GB of memory, 8 core processors, 640 GB SSD card, 7 TB of transfers ($160 per month).
In addition, AWS doesn't offer a free domain name like other web hosts. That's something you'll have to get separately from a domain registrar like Namecheap or similar alternatives. In fact, AWS isn't known for offering freebies in general, as users aren't entitled to free site migrations either.
All in all, as we said earlier, AWS is pretty pricey and is suitable for big corporations, not businesses looking for cheap hosting options.
Bluehost offers four Shared hosting plans. Most Web-hosts just offer three, but Bluehost leaves a lot of room for scalability. The four plans are the Basic plan, Plus plan, Choice-Plus plan, and the Pro plan. You can find a full breakdown of these plans in our Bluehost pricing guide, but down below we have a quick summary just so you'll know what to expect.
The Basic plan comes with:
- 1 website
- Free SSL certificate
- 1 free domain
- 5 parked domains
- 25 subdomains.
- 50GB of storage
- Unmetered bandwidth
The plan costs $2.95 with the discount (renewal costs $7.99 per month).
The Plus Plan comes with all the features of the basic plan plus:
- Unlimited websites
- Unlimited parked domains
- $200 marketing offer
- Spam experts.
- Unlimited storage
- Unlimited domains
- Unlimited subdomains
The plan costs $5.45 per month with the discount (normally $10.99).
The Choice-plus plan comes with all the features of the Plus plan plus:
- Domain Privacy and protection
- 1 office 365 mailbox – free 30 days and Codeguard basic site backup.
The plan is the same price ($5.45 with the discount) as the Plus plan (normally $14.99).
The Pro Plan is the Most Expensive Shared Hosting Plan Offered by Bluehost
The plan costs $13.95 per month with the discount (normally $23.99 per month) and it comes with all the features of the Choice-Plus plan along with a dedicated IP address and high performance. Bluehost says that high performance means that Pro servers allow for a 300,000 file count and are deployed with fewer users per server than the standard shared hosting servers. Therefore, each user gets more resources allocated than with normal lower their hosting plans.
Bluehost's pricing is more suitable for small businesses and offers a whole lot more free options than AWS.
Since we are basically comparing apples to oranges, this is a case of needs and preference more than anything. If you are going to be handling your website yourself, it is better to go with Bluehost. If you have an IT team and complex hosting needs, it is better to go with AWS. Overall, though, we think Bluehost offers more value than AWS.
Let's look at the extra features that both hosts offer.
AWS has the following features
- Decent Customer Support; AWS has the basic 24/7 customer support that most hosts offer. The channels are live chat, email and ticketing system. While there have been some complaints about the quality of AWS's support, our experience was not terrible.
- Choice of Server; You can choose between a Linux server and a Windows server
- Choice of Server Location; You can choose the data center of your server from a number of locations worldwide
- AWS has scheduled backups and virtual cloud storage
- AWS supports a lot of platforms including Joomla, Ruby, WordPress, and Magento.
Bluehost Has the Following Features:
- One-click installations for over 100+ apps from MOJO
- Bluehost supports the use of Perl modules, Cron jobs, PHP PEAR packages, and Apache handlers.
- Bluehost has both MySQL and PostgreSQL databases and you can use either phpMyAdmin, Remote MySQL, or phpPgAdmin to manage your databases.
- In case you need to manage your domains through them, Bluehost has a domain manager.
- The Blue Flash feature is a special customer care feature that allows you access to experts dedicated to helping you get your WordPress website up and running.
- Scheduled backups and virtual cloud storage
- $200 Marketing offers (read more about this here)
- Bluehost is an officially recommended web host by WordPress.
- Bluehost offers CDN access.
- Bluehost offers the web building services of Weebly for free for all users.
Bluehost has more impressive features than AWS - we were especially impressed with the Blue Flash feature.
Bluehost vs. AWS: Our Pick
AWS may be perfect for certain services, but nine times out of ten, the host to go with is Bluehost. In fact, if you're going to be running your site yourself, you really shouldn't be considering AWS at all.
Bluehost vs. AWS? Bluehost for sure.