Bluehost vs. iPage – Prices, Features, Performance, and More Compared
iPage has an attractive no-nonsense approach to web hosting, and its all-in-one shared hosting plan is pretty cheap. However, my tests indicate that Bluehost has what it takes to outshine iPage where it counts – in performance and customer support. Dive in for more details.
Bluehost is often the default choice of those who are looking for a cheap and reliable hosting provider. That’s not exactly surprising given how much time and effort Bluehost invests in advertising in order to make itself as popular as possible. And it definitely works. Even people who aren’t very familiar with hosting providers know about Bluehost. But are the company’s services really as good as they seem at first glance? That’s exactly what we want to find out by comparing Bluehost with iPage.
Why iPage? Despite having been around longer than Bluehost, iPage is a fairly low-key provider. Sure, you may see an ad for iPage every once in a while but, for the most part, the company relies on its services to do the talking and doesn’t seem to invest nearly as much into advertising as Bluehost. Moreover, iPage’s services are similar enough to those of Bluehost that we can draw a fair comparison between the two companies.
In case you’re trying to decide between these two providers, this comparison will help you figure out which of them would be the best choice for your particular needs. In order to make the comparison as detailed as possible, we’re going to look at a wide variety of aspects, including ease of use, pricing, hosting plans, customer support, and more. All of these factors will be taken into account when putting together our final verdict. With that out of the way, let’s start with something that might be of great interest to those of you who are new to web hosting.
Ease of Use
Nowadays, most hosting companies streamline their services in order to make them more accessible to newcomers. That’s definitely the case here as well. If you’re looking for a company that’s easy to work with, you can’t really go wrong with either Bluehost or iPage. However, I do have to say that Bluehost outshines iPage just a little in this particular area.
Bluehost features a very traditional and straightforward cPanel that’s ideal not just for new users but also for those who are thinking about switching from a different provider. That’s because a lot of hosting companies use a very similar cPanel, so you’ll know exactly what to expect here. Another nice thing about Bluehost is that the company offers a shared portal for the cPanel and webmail client.
Just like DreamHost, iPage has its own control panel but it’s a bit different compared to the traditional one you might be familiar with. The company created its own custom control panel known as vDeck, which to be honest is a bit less user-friendly and not quite as aesthetically pleasing as the regular cPanel. The vDeck panel isn’t bad or anything, but it feels like an unnecessary alternative to the cPanel we all know and love.
Since we’re talking about ease of use, I think it’s also worth mentioning a couple of things about WordPress. If you want to make things easier for yourself, you can build your website using the popular CMS, which works well alongside both Bluehost and iPage. Regardless of which company you decide to go with, you will be able to use a 1-click WordPress installer that will help you set everything up in just a few minutes. Bluehost does have better integration with the CMS, but iPage can also host your WordPress website without any issues.
Ease of Use – We have to give Bluehost a slight edge in this department as the company uses a straightforward cPanel while iPage offers a custom control panel that some many find a bit convoluted.
Hosting providers that offer highly scalable services are always extremely sought after. That’s because a good portion of users prefers not to spend too much money on web hosting right off the bat. This is especially true for those with small websites and blogs that don’t generate much revenue. If your site isn’t getting a lot of traffic it’s probably not worth investing in an expensive hosting package. Instead, you should go with a cheap plan and gradually scale up to the more expensive tiers once your site reaches a certain number of monthly visitors and, ideally, starts generating good revenue.
As we also highlighted in our Bluehost Review, scalability is one of the company’s strong suits. You can expect a low entry point for shared hosting and plenty of opportunities to upgrade once you need to. There are four Shared hosting plans to choose from and a few other types of hosting to boot. That’s not the case with iPage because the company only offers one shared hosting package. Granted, this is a one-size-fits-all hosting plan that can be customized with a variety of add-ons. Many of these add-ons are pretty expensive, though, so it’s a bit hard to recommend iPage’s customizable package over Bluehost’s tiered structure.
If you’re looking to build a WordPress-based website, Bluehost is definitely the best choice here. The company offers cheap WordPress hosting along with a few more expensive managed WordPress Pro packages. Meanwhile, iPage only has two WordPress plans available and there are no managed versions.
If you’re looking for something more advanced, it’s worth noting that Bluehost and iPage also offer VPS and dedicated hosting plans. Both companies make a smooth transition between the final tier of shared hosting and the cheapest VPS package so expect to only pay a little extra when you upgrade. The situation looks a bit different when it comes to dedicated servers. At Bluehost, you only need to pay an extra $20 per month to upgrade from the most expensive VPS plan to the cheapest dedicated package. At iPage, the difference is $40/mo in the exact same scenario.
Scalability – It’s easy to see that Bluehost designed its services with scalability in mind as the price difference between the various packages and hosting types on offer is always fairly small. At iPage, the difference is a bit bigger and there’s essentially no scalability when it comes to shared hosting.
Prices & Plans
If you’ve been paying attention to the previous section, you already know why you should carefully consider the price before signing up with a hosting provider. And, more importantly, why you should start off small instead of going for an expensive package from the get-go. Naturally, there are situations when you do want a plan that costs a lot but comes with many advanced features and support for a huge number of visitors. However, that generally only applies if you’re transferring an already established and popular website. If you’re just starting out, there’s no reason not to go for a cheap hosting plan and upgrade only when it’s absolutely necessary.
If the price is your main concern, you’ll be happy to know that you won’t have to break the bank when signing up with either of these two companies. There’s a good reason why both Bluehost and iPage made it on our list of top 10 cheapest hosting providers.
Bluehost’s cheapest shared hosting plan (Basic) will only set you back $2.95 per month while the most expensive one (Pro) will cost you $13.95 per month. As mentioned, Bluehost is very scalable so expect to only pay a couple of bucks more per month if you decide to upgrade from Basic to the second or third tier. The price difference between the third and final tiers is a bit more significant so my advice is to just skip that and go for a VPS when it’s time to take your hosting to the next level.
iPage offers a single shared hosting plan, which will only set you back $1.99 per month. Right off the bat, this seems like a better value proposition compared to Bluehost’s Basic shared hosting plan, however, there is a little caveat. Some of the features that are available for free at Bluehost need to be purchased at iPage. These are the add-ons I mentioned earlier. For example, you can enhance your iPage package with a website security suite or add domain privacy. Some of these add-ons are quite cheap but others, such as the advanced website builder or the all-in-one WordPress optimization package, will cost you anywhere between $3 and $11 per month.
The entry points at Bluehost and iPage are pretty standard as most providers generally charge between $2 and $3 per month for their shared hosting services. iPage is cheaper but can potentially get a lot more expensive if you choose to include a bunch of add-ons with your package, some of which are pretty essential if you ask me. At the very least, you’ll want to add domain privacy and the site backup & restore add-ons. Bluehost has its own optional services you can add to your package but they are very cheap compared to some of the add-ons offered by iPage.
Add-ons aside, you can expect unmetered bandwidth, a free domain name for 1 year, a free SSL certificate, a basic website builder and a 30-day money-back guarantee regardless of which company you choose to side with. It’s a bit unfortunate that both companies chose to stick to the standard 30-day refund policy because some of their competitors have gone well beyond that. A2 Hosting and its anytime money-back guarantee are great examples of this. You can read more about that in our Bluehost vs. A2 Hosting comparison.
If you go with iPage, you also benefit from free email addresses and support for an unlimited number of websites. Bluehost also lets you create domain email addresses but you’ll need to pick at least the second shared hosting tier if you want support for more than one website. If you’re looking for professional email solutions, both providers offer business suits for an extra fee, though Bluehost does include a free 30-day trial with most of its hosting plans.
As far as the differences between Bluehost’s various shared hosting tiers are concerned, there are a few important ones you’ll need to be aware of. Unlimited storage is included with all plans except the cheapest one. The second tier also grants you access to spam experts and the aforementioned professional mailbox trial. Meanwhile, the third tier also comes with free domain privacy and a site backup tool. These two features are available as paid services with the first two tiers. Finally, the last tier includes all of those features along with a dedicated IP and a significant boost in server performance.
Prices – It’s a bit hard to declare a winner in this category given that our two competitors use fairly different business models. iPage does seem cheaper at first glance but may cost you more than Bluehost because of the add-on system. Overall, though, Bluehost does seem to offer a better bang for your buck.
Who’s Best for SEO?
These days it’s almost mandatory to be familiar with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) at least to some extent if you want to attract new visitors to your website. Optimizing all your content for search engines like Google can be a bit of a hassle but it’s something that you’ll need to learn how to do if you want to stay ahead of the competition. Don’t worry, though, because certain providers offer tools that can help you out with that.
An all-in-one website builder like Squarespace might be better than Bluehost or iPage at helping you with SEO, so it might not be a bad idea to try looking into one of those if you’re completely unfamiliar with search engine optimization. Otherwise, a service like Bluehost will do just fine, provided you don’t mind paying a little extra.
Unfortunately, Bluehost doesn’t offer SEO tools for free with its shared hosting plans but they are available as an optional service that only costs $2 per month. In addition, you can get Bluehost SEO tools for free by subscribing to the second or third tiers of managed WordPress Pro hosting. These packages are quite a bit more expensive compared to the shared plans but they include a lot more features, with the SEO tools being just a nice little bonus.
Speaking of WordPress, you can get plenty of great SEO plugins for the CMS without spending a dime. The easiest way of getting your hands on SEO tools is to simply build a WordPress website and download a plugin like Yoast, which is available in both free and premium variants. As you already know, Bluehost has better WordPress integration and is, in fact, the company’s number 1 provider of choice. If you decide to go with one of Bluehost’s WordPress Pro plans, you will also get access to the premium version of JetPack, which is another must-have plugin.
Of course, you can also build a WordPress website hosted by iPage without any issues. The company has its own WordPress plans along with an all-in-one WordPress optimization add-on for the shared hosting packages. The add-on comes with plenty of themes and plugins, automatic malware detection, WordPress expert support, and more. The drawback is that the add-on will set you back an additional $3 per month on top of what you’re paying for the actual hosting. These types of add-ons are no longer common these days, with main rivals like Bluehost or Hostgator now choosing to optimize their services for WordPress for free.
SEO – Considering that iPage doesn’t offer any SEO tools of its own, Bluehost wins in this category by default. Bluehost also has better support for WordPress, which can grant you access to powerful SEO plugins for free.
Additional Hosting Plans
If you’re just starting out and have a small website you’ll probably be looking into a cheap shared hosting plan, which is a very good choice. However, once your site gets to a certain point you’ll want to upgrade to a more expensive package before eventually switching to a new type of hosting altogether. That’s because you’re going to need more resources than a shared plan can offer in order to support all the extra traffic.
Just to be clear, we’re going to be discussing hosting plans optimized for the WordPress CMS (content management system) in this section. There’s also a WordPress hosting service but that’s something entirely different. If you want to learn more about that, we encourage you to check out our Bluehost vs. WordPress comparison.
Anyone looking to build a site using WordPress should definitely get one of these hosting plans. As you might expect, WordPress hosting packages come with features specifically designed for the popular CMS. Providers that offer these types of plans tend to optimize them by including 1-click installers for WordPress, themes, plugins, WordPress staging environments, and more.
Bluehost actually offers two types of WordPress hosting packages – managed and unmanaged. The unmanaged plans are very similar to Bluehost’s shared variants and even cost the same. So what’s the difference? Well, there are only three tiers to choose from here and each package includes $200 worth of marketing credit. In addition, these plans come with a WordPress staging environment, automatic WordPress installation, and automatic WordPress updates, among other things.
As far as managed WordPress hosting is concerned, this specialized type of hosting comes with many advanced features that will make your life a lot easier. Some of the highlights include daily scheduled backups, malware detection and removal, domain privacy, SEO tools, ads integration, marketing center, unlimited video compression, expert support, and more. You can also expect to benefit from unlimited web storage, no traffic limits, spam protection, and support for an unlimited number of domains and subdomains.
iPage only offers two WordPress packages, which are priced at $3.75 and $6.95 per month, respectively. Both of these plans include a free 1-year domain registration, unlimited storage and bandwidth, a customized control panel, and a handful of pre-installed themes and plugins. The more expensive tier also features SiteLock professional security, an automatic malware removal tool, and WordPress expert support.
Shared hosting comes with a number of drawbacks and isn’t an ideal choice for those who are worried about performance. Going for a VPS (Virtual Private Machine) instead will pretty much guarantee better uptime and page loading speeds as you won’t have to share your server with anyone else. VPS plans are more expensive but offer great value for your money.
Bluehost has three tiers of VPS hosting – Standard, Enhanced, and Ultimate. The cheapest tier will set you back $18.99 per month and grants access to a dual-core machine with 30 GB of SSD storage, and 2 GB of RAM. The other two packages give access to much more powerful servers but, of course, you’ll need to pay quite a bit more for them. Regardless of which package you choose, you can expect to have root access, an advanced control panel, instant provisioning, and the ability to add additional resources on the fly, among other things. You can learn more about these plans by reading our Bluehost VPS review.
Similar to Bluehost, iPage offers three tiers of VPS hosting of its own – Basic, Business, and Optimum. Prices here start at $19.99 per month, so only $1 more than what Bluehost charges. The basic machine comes with more storage (40 GB) but only 1 GB of RAM and a single-core CPU. The other two servers are also comparable to the Bluehost equivalents but cost significantly more, so they’re pretty hard to recommend. In terms of features, there’s nothing really to write home about here with the exception of the free 1-year domain registration.
Dedicated hosting is fairly similar to VPS but you can expect even more resources to work with and, of course, a server that you have exclusive access to. You can find additional information regarding these by reading our article on dedicated servers.
Renting such a server isn’t cheap so I wouldn’t recommend going for a dedicated hosting plan unless you can afford it. If you can, you’ll never have to worry about performance again because this is the ultimate hosting solution.
Bluehost has remarkably low prices for dedicated servers compared to most of its competitors. The cheapest tier costs $79.99 per month and gives access to a quad-core virtual machine complete with 4 GB of RAM and 500 GB of storage. On the high end of things, you can pay $119 per month for a server with a faster CPU, double the amount of storage, and four times the amount of RAM. The additional features are nearly identical to the ones I’ve mentioned in the VPS section so you already know what to expect here.
iPage also offers three types of dedicated servers, which are once again more expensive than the Bluehost equivalents. The price difference is even more significant in this case, with iPage’s cheapest dedicated server costing as much as Bluehost’s most expensive one. Namely, $119 per month. The specs are also a bit weaker and there are no other standout features with the exception of the free 1-year domain registration.
Additional Hosting Plans – Bluehost and iPage both have a large variety of hosting plans to choose from, including VPS, dedicated servers, and WordPress hosting. Regardless of which type we’ve looked at, Bluehost always seems to offer a better bang for the buck. For a full breakdown of the costs involved, we recommend looking into our Bluehost pricing guide.
The price is the deciding factor for many people when it comes to choosing a hosting provider. However, that’s often the last thing you need to worry about, especially in the case of shared hosting. Shared hosting is almost always cheap and there are no major price differences between one provider and the next. In order to remain competitive, companies try to attract customers by including appealing features and tools with their plans. In this section, we’re going to cover some of the most common ones and take a look at what Bluehost and iPage have to offer in this department.
You can register a new domain at Bluehost for $11.99 for the first year. The renewal cost is $17.99 per year and you’ll need to pay an extra $11.88/year if you also want to add domain privacy. If you sign up for a Bluehost hosting plan, you will benefit from a free 1-year domain registration and you can also get free domain protection with certain packages.
Domain registrations at iPage are a bit cheaper and will only set you back $10.99 per year along with another $9.99/year if you choose to add domain privacy. iPage doesn’t charge extra for renewals so you don’t have to worry about paying more than the standard price after the first year. iPage also offers free domains when you sign up for a hosting plan, however, domain privacy is not included with any of the packages.
Overall iPage is offering a good deal on domains, not trying to overcharge in any way, that’s why they deserve their place as one of the top Bluehost Alternatives. At least as far as domain registrations are concerned.
Bluehost is an avid supporter of WordPress and, as such, recommends the CMS to all its customers. That said, the company does include a different website builder with its hosting plans. The builder in question is known as Weebly and comes with a few neat features, though nothing to write home about. Moreover, you only get access to the free version of Weebly so you’ll need to upgrade it if you want to take advantage of all its features. Personally, I would recommend just sticking with WordPress instead because you’ll get more out of it without having to spend a penny.
iPage has pretty good support for WordPress as well but the company also put a good amount of effort into creating its own website builder. The basic version of the builder is included for free when you purchase a hosting plan. In addition, there are two paid versions that will set you back $6.99 or $15.99 per month depending on which one you choose. As you might expect, these versions come with plenty of features that are not available in the free version. A few noteworthy examples include Google Analytics integration, support for embedding HD videos, and integrated site stats.
Bluehost and iPage are evenly matched in this department as both companies offered unlimited MySQL databases with all their hosting plans. You can create and manage your databases directly from the cPanel or vDeck, respectively.
Domain emails and webmail access are available for free at Bluehost and iPage. If you’re looking for something a bit more professional, however, you can pay a couple of bucks extra per month to unlock access to professional business suites. Bluehost works with Microsoft Office 365 while iPage works with Google Workplace (formerly known as G Suite). Bluehost offers a free 1-month trial for the Office 365 suite with most of its plans. iPage doesn’t have a similar offer at the time of this writing.
Bluehost offers automatic website backups via a tool known as CodeGuard. The tool is available for free if you sign up for one of the more expensive hosting plans. You can also add the tool to any of the other plans by paying $3 per month. iPage has its own backup tool, which isn’t included for free with any of its hosting plans but only costs $1 per month if you want to add it to your package as an optional service.
Bluehost has three special plans on offer designed to support customers who want to build their own eCommerce platform. The plans cost between $6.95 and $12.95 per month and are based on the WooCommerce plugin for WordPress. These packages include some neat features but are, for the most part, identical to the regular shared and WordPress hosting plans. If you don’t need help setting up an online store, you could just build a WordPress website on one of the regular hosting plans and install WooCommerce on top. Our Bluehost eCommerce review can tell you everything else you might want to know about building an online store with Bluehost.
If you go with iPage, you can unlock eCommerce functionality by opting for the third tier of the company’s website builder, which costs $15.99 per month. This will unlock a number of additional features for the builder that are specifically designed with eCommerce in mind. A few examples include inventory management, coupon codes, shopping cart, and the ability to choose between several different payment processors.
Both Bluehost and iPage offer a standard refund policy that guarantees you can get your money back within 30 days in case you are dissatisfied with their services.
Key Features – Bluehost and iPage are surprisingly evenly matched when it comes to key features. iPage has a better deal on domain registration but Bluehost is a more appealing option for eCommerce. Everything else is either even or only slightly in favor of one of our competitors.
Performance and Reliability
A cheap hosting plan with lots of great features won’t get you very far if your site is constantly experiencing downtime or slow loading speeds. That’s why it’s very important not to ignore these aspects when choosing your hosting provider. Now, most companies don’t do a great job at disclosing information related to the speed and performance of their services or if they do, it’s usually very biased. However, we did our own research on Bluehost and iPage and we’re eager to share our findings with you down below.
Bluehost prides itself on being one of the fastest hosting providers around, which is frankly a bit of an exaggeration. That said, the company does not disappoint when it comes to page loading speeds. On average, you can expect speeds that range between 406 and 689 ms depending on your location, whether the site uses shared or dedicated hosting and a few other factors. Anything under 1 second is generally considered good so it’s safe to say that Bluehost is doing alright in this particular area. Even better, the company’s speeds tend to be very consistent, as evidenced by the fact that we got similar results when we did tests for our Bluehost vs. Rackspace comparison a while back.
As far as iPage is concerned, the results are a bit more inconsistent. The speeds you can expect from the company tend to fall anywhere between 1.44 and 2.6 seconds. Those results are pretty bad when compared to most of the other big hosting providers, such as HostGator, for example. Again, anything under 1 second is considered good so by that metric, iPage’s loading speeds would be seen as average if not outright bad depending on who you ask.
Uptime is just as important as speed and essentially represents the amount of time a site is up and running. Ideally, you would want your site to be accessible 24/7 but the reality is that every website experiences downtime every now and again. That’s why most providers don’t guarantee 100% uptime, instead sticking to a more realistic 99% or even 99.99%. That’s still a pretty bold claim but one that certain companies are indeed able to stick to.
In the case of Bluehost, the 99.99% uptime guarantee is actually pretty accurate. The company very rarely experiences periods of downtime and when it does, they don’t last for very long. iPage is very close to being able to fulfill its 99.99% uptime guarantee as well but our research concluded that the actual uptime is closer to 99.97%. Still very good, mind you, but that does make iPage just a bit less reliable than Bluehost.
Performance and Reliability – The two providers are very close when it comes to uptime but Bluehost clearly has the superior page loading speeds. As we discovered time and time again when conducting research for our comparisons, Bluehost is next to unbeatable when it comes to uptime.
Nobody likes to contact customer support for assistance but sometimes you simply have to. When that happens, it helps to have an experienced team of support agents on the other end that can give you a hand at a moment’s notice. If you’re lucky, you’ll never need to contact customer support because your site will always run smooth as butter. But just to be on the safe side, I recommend signing up with a provider that has multiple support channels to choose from and a reliable staff that’s always ready to assist you. You know when you might need the help.
Bluehost prides itself on having one of the best customer support teams in the industry. Support agents can be contacted 24/7 via ticket, live chat, and even phone. The only thing that’s missing here is email support. iPage is in a similar situation, with live chat, phone, and ticket system all being readily available but no email support. iPage is known for being a bit slow when it comes to live chat so if that’s your preferred method of contacting support, you’re better off sticking with Bluehost.
Customer Support – Bluehost and iPage offer the same customer support channels but Bluehost’s agents are known for generally being more knowledgeable and faster to respond.
Bluehost vs. iPage: An Obvious Winner
Looking back at everything we’ve covered in this article, it should be pretty obvious why Bluehost outshines iPage in virtually every department. The company offers a great bang for the buck, an award-winning support team, reliable performance, and plenty of hosting packages to choose from. Bluehost’s hosting plans also scale very well and the service is very beginner-friendly, which is always a major benefit.
That’s not to say that iPage doesn’t have anything to offer. On the contrary. The company actually has a very appealing all-in-one shared hosting package that’s incredibly cheap. The lack of variety might be seen as a drawback by some people but others will probably enjoy the simplicity that comes with having a single hosting plan that can be customized with a variety of add-ons.
When it comes to some of the other types of hosting, iPage can hold its own pretty well against Bluehost or any other provider. The only thing that holds the company back in this area is the price point. Many of the packages offered by iPage cost more but offer less than what competitors like Bluehost are able to deliver. iPage would be pretty easy to recommend if it was to lower the prices on some of its plans and improve the speed of its services.
As it stands, though, Bluehost is the clear winner of this competition. The company could make its services even more appealing by adding monthly billing cycles, email support, and a better in-house website builder. In addition, Bluehost also has an excellent affiliate program that you can join for free. However, even without those things, it’s easy to see why Bluehost is the better option here and why it’s currently the most popular web hosting provider on the market.
Overall – Although iPage can be a good fit for some users, Bluehost is definitely the best choice for most people. The company outshines iPage in every department and overall offers better value for a similar price in the case of shared hosting, and a much lower price in the case of VPS and dedicated hosting.