Bluehost has been around for a long time - a very long time. With about 20 years of support and service under its belt, the company was known for fast speeds, solid uptimes, reliability and consistency.
Lately, though, customers have had a different take on the service provided by Bluehost. I’ve used Bluehost for some of my niche sites and decided to share my Bluehost review with you so that you can make the best possible decision for your business site.
My Bluehost Review - Should You Go With Them?
Brief History of BlueHost
One of the 20 largest Web hosts on the market today, Bluehost is providing service and support to more than 2 million domains through Bluehost and its sister companies FastDomain, HostMonster and iPage.
The concept for Bluehost was started in 1996 when Matt Heaton started working on his own Web statistics program. Heaton wanted to create a program that offered more space and flexibility for customers, and in 2003, Bluehost was born, with Heaton and Danny Ashworth at the helm.
In the early years, it was consistently at the top of the charts for small- and mid-sized Web sites, with great speed, expert support, and top features.
The company prides itself on the extensive 10-year support for WordPress, with in-depth technical expertise. Leaders are committed to open source platforms, and the company takes part in forums for both of those areas.
In 2010, the company was acquired by the Endurance International Group (EIG), a larger hosting company that counts more than 4.2 million users as customers (EIG owns almost all big hosting brands in the world!).
Bluehost is housed in Orem, Utah, and is currently led by CEO James Grierson. There are more than 750 employees dedicated to customer service, and they are available 24/7/365 to help customers of all abilities get their sites up and running.
Low Introductory Pricing
Bluehost offers a variety of different packages and plans for users of all abilities. Whether you’re new to Web site maintenance and administration, or are an experienced pro, the options give you the flexibility you want with the benefits and extras.
I found that they had a good number of choices, but also expect that, as they are so large, and are owned by such a large company.
Data centers are around the world, with east and west-coast servers in the United States, and centers in Japan, London, Pune, Sao Paulo, Singapore, and Sydney.
All of the centers are fast, in our test, we found out that, with the U.S. west and east coast centers loading hosted sites in 23 to 26 milliseconds.
Bluehost started as a shared hosting company, and that’s where they continue to promote their services, even though they’ve added new levels and upgraded packages.
In shared hosting, you get a block of space on a server with many other customers.
With Bluehost, there are three different shared hosting plans, all of which offer standard performance and unmetered bandwidth. Free domain registration is included in each plan, no matter what size or option you choose.
Basic, the lowest plan, includes 50 GB of Web site space. Under the main domain, you can have five parked domains and 25 subdomains. Users can also have up to five e-mail accounts, with 100 MB of storage for each account.
The plan is usually $7.99 each month, but is often on sale, and drops down to as little as $2.95 each month.
Their most popular plan is the plus, which normally costs $10.99 each month, but can drop to $4.45 each month. Between this plan and their prime plan (normally $14.99/month but on sale for $6.95/month), there are many similarities:
- Unlimited Web sites with unlimited Web site space
- Unlimited parked and subdomains
- Unlimited e-mail accounts with unlimited storage for each account
- $200 in marketing offers
The plus includes 1 SpamExperts subscription, while the prime adds one domain privacy subscription and one SiteBackup Pro subscription.
The next step up, virtual private servers, give customers a set block of space on a shared server. Each customer’s account runs with a unique, individualized operating system, so it acts like a dedicated host.
VPS servers integrate cloud technology to give you greater control over your Web site’s host server. There are four different plans, all of which offer one domain, a money-back guarantee, and 24/7 support.
- The standard plan typically costs $29.99 each month, but has an introductory price of $14.99 each month. It has 2 CPU Cores, 30 GB of SAN storage, 2 GB of RAM and 1 TB of bandwidth. Customers get one unique IP address.
- The enhanced plan, which is the most popular plan, also has 2 CPU Cores, but gives customers 60 GB of SAN storage, 2 TB of bandwidth and two IP addresses. This plan normally costs $59.99 each month, but the introductory plan discount drops the price to $29.99 each month.
- The premium plan starts at $89.99 each month, and introductory pricing lowers that to $44.99 each month. Premium customers have 3 CPU Cores, 120 GB of SAN storage, 6 GB of RAM, 3 TB of bandwidth, and 2 IP addresses.
- The ultimate plan amplifies the premium package by giving customers 4 CPU cores, 240GB of SAN storage, 8 GB of RAM and 4 TB of bandwidth. Customers also have 2 IP addresses. The ultimate has a regular price of $119.99 per month, but their offers can drop it to as low as $59.99 per month.
The VPS servers run open source programs like OpenStack and KVM, are up and running for customers immediately after starting your plan, and allow you to add storage as you need through the enhanced cPanel interface. Bluehost notes that soon, they’ll be adding CPU and RAM.
Hosting your site on a dedicated server is like renting the server itself for your hosting needs. Three different package levels offer 1TB of mirrored storage for one included domain.
The Bluehost dedicated servers run on Intel Xeon servers that are built and maintained in-house. Servers run CentOS 6, Linux Kernel 2.6.32, Apache Web server, and cPanel 11.42x. Dedicated hosts offer RAID level 1 support, with mirrored drives to increase security.
Dedicated hosting customers also get additional help and support from specialists, including the engineers who have built and regularly maintain the servers.
The plans are unmanaged, allowing customers full control over every single component of their server.
The standard plan normally costs $109.99 each month, but can drop to as low as $79.99, for 4 x 2.5 GHz CPU, 4 GB of RAM, 5 TB bandwidth and three IP addresses.
The most popular plan, the enhanced, starts at $159.99 a month, but specials can drop that to $99.99 each month, and offers the same speed as the standard, but includes 8 GB RAM, 10 TB bandwidth and four IP addresses.
The premium plan normally runs $209.99 per month, but can be purchased for as little as $119.99 per month, offering 4 x 3.3 GHz CPU, 16 GB of RAM, 15 TB of bandwidth and five IP addresses.
For being a WordPress recommended host, Bluehost is certainly pricier than other WordPress hosts. One reason may be because they run the WordPress optimized plans on VPS, rather than shared servers.
Each plan includes enhanced cPanel for one domain and one IP address.
The standard plan, which is also the most popular, is ideal for small to mid-sized Web sites. It starts at $39.99 per month, but a new customer purchasing a multi-year plan can pay as little as $19.99 per month for up to 100 million visits per month, 30 GB each of storage and backup, 2 GB RAM, along with enhanced cPanel, SiteLock CD and SiteLock Pro.
The enhanced plan ($29.99-$59.99/month) allows up to 300 million visits per month, 60 GB of both storage and backup, and 4 GB RAM, and adds WAF Pro.
The premium plan ($39.99-$89.99/month) give you up to 600 million visits per month, 120 GB of storage and backup, and 6 GB RAM. There is increased security through SIteLock Premium, and Positive SSL.
The Ultimate plan ($49.99-$129.99/month) offers unlimited visits per month, supported by 240 GB storage and backup, and 8 GB RAM. It offers SiteLock Enterprise and Positive Wildcard SSL.
Three Cloud hosting plans offer a wide variety of options, allowing customers one free domain per plan.
Starter ($4.45-$9.99/month) is ideal for one small Web site, with 100 GB storage space, unmetered bandwidth, 2 GB memory, 2 CPU, and up to 100 e-mail accounts with 500 MB of e-mail storage.
The performance plan is the most popular ($5.95-$13.99/month), with unlimited Web sites, unlimited e-mail accounts and storage, unmetered storage space and bandwidth, along with 4 CPU, local caching and one-click resource scaling. This plan includes SpamExperts, as well.
The highest Cloud hosting plan, business pro ($15.95-$25.99/month) builds on the performance plan, increasing memory to 6GB, CPUs to 6, and adding a dedicated IP, SSL certificate, domain privacy and backup and restore component.
Lot of Site Creation Tools
Their content management system, along with their domain management and Weebly integration to build your site makes it very easy to get your site up and running. You can also use to upload files with the file manager or FTP, or pay extra for the goMobi Mobile Web builder.
Bluehost has Mojo Marketplace enabled for WordPress sites by default, that lets you search for other site builders, and you can download content management systems that you prefer. They’ll usually use a different interface, but they will have more choices.
Email (You can create up to 100 corporate email)
Unlimited e-mail on many of the plans is a wonderful feature; even the smallest Cloud hosting plan allows you to create up to 100 e-mail accounts.
They include POP3 and IMAP support, along with third-party compatibility. The e-mail set-up is easy to navigate, with several noted and obvious steps in the control panel, adding e-mail addresses one at a time. You’ll also set passwords and storage limits at that point.
With the ability to create and add so many addresses, it would be nice to have a bulk e-mail tool that lets you create more than one e-mail address at a time.
Solid Server Performance
BlueHost servers are relatively fast!
While they don’t beat some, they are quick. I mentioned before that the servers in their two U.S. data centers were loading in 23 to 26 milliseconds.
In our test, their other data centers were slower, but that also depends on where the user is located. With shared servers, an initial response time of about 300 milliseconds is pretty good, and they regularly exceed that.
Unfortunately, though, when they are slow, they are very slow, and in a world where your customers expect fast loading times, you can expect to lose traffic if your site isn’t up in the times your customers want to visit.
In fact, nearly three-quarters of your visitors will leave if your page hasn’t loaded within five seconds.
Bluehost has really good uptime, scoring an average of 99.9 percent, with some months reaching 100 percent, something that’s nearly unheard of in Web hosting. It’s a highly stable option.
The customer support provided by Bluehost is excellent. I’ve never run into a problem reaching one of their technicians or specialists, although they’ve been better about providing support in the past than in recent years.
Response times aren’t the most consistent.
I’ve seen them answer some in a few minutes, and others in a few hours. They are able to answer technical questions, and have given excellent support to new customers who have mistakenly caused serious damage to their own sites.
The fact that they offer phone support is a great benefit for many customers; most hosting companies don’t include this as a support benefit.
What I love, though, is their database for customer support. It’s truly expansive, and includes video tutorials on the company’s YouTube channel, documentation with graphics and drawings, step-by-step instructions, and a great search tool.
Good Security Options
When it comes to security, you want to know that your site is protected. Bluehost offers three different tools to make sure your site is secure. Apache Spam Assassin, Spam Experts, and Spam Hammer are all solid options.
Bluehost has hotlink protection to keep your images and content safe, digital certificates, IP address blacklists, password-protected directories, and e-mail account filters, as well as secure shell access to give administrators even more protection when configuring files.
I’ll talk more about CloudFlare later, but it has a very high level of security for Web sites. It’s great for preventing and heading off DDOS attacks.
Many Integrations and Apps
Bluehost has partnered with a large number of other companies to offer integrations and apps that mesh well with their own plans and structure, which supports both MySQL and PostgreSQL.
They really support e-commerce, with a variety of integrated tools, like Magento, ShopSite, TransFirst for payments and DaDa Mail for e-newsletters and e-marketing. They also support Agora, Cube, OS Commerce, and Zen. They also offer SSL security for transactions, and different levels of encryption.
I like the CloudFlare integration that works seamlessly with their built-in content delivery network, because that helps to make sure static resources from the CloudFlare worldwide network have fast load times.
‘Official’ WordPress.org Recommended
HostBluehost was recommended by WordPress.org as one of their three official hosts because of their experience and history. Bluehost offers a WordPress optimized plan on VPS, and help and support specific to WordPress.
Feature Packed cPanel / Enhanced User Control Panel
Bluehost was built on cPanel, and then created an “enhanced interface” (think, super-charged, easy-to-use cPanel) that makes site and e-mail management, file administration and more easy-to-use benefits.
It’s very user-friendly, and self-explanatory. They have taken the time to group together the apps that you frequently use, including a variety of anti-spam solutions. It’s very attractive, with white space, clean lines, and a friendly navigation system. I like it more than many other cPanel skins, including cPanel’s own default.
They’ve also managed integrations with a variety of different services. Some are free, others have a charge, but they include:
- 404 settings
- Language preference ability
- Domain management system
30 Days Money Back Guarantee (a bit of negative side, competitors offer upto 90 days guarantee) Bluehost used to have an anytime money-back guarantee, but in recent years, that’s been changed to a 30-day money-back guarantee. Considering that even now, there are Web hosts who offer up to 90 days for a money-back guarantee, the 30 days provided by Bluehost seems very short.
Some Negative Sides Too:
Site Migrations Aren’t Free…
And not only are they not free, they are expensive and limited. Expect to pay a $149.99 migration fee to transfer over a maximum of five sites and 20 e-mail accounts. When they want to bring in new customers with their low prices, you’d expect that Bluehost would make transferring your site over relatively painless, especially because most companies will transfer your site for free.
Expensive ‘QuickStart’ Training
Rather than a nice tutorial on how to use Bluehost, expect to shell out $79.99 for a 45-minute introduction to their services and programs.
Not Truly ‘UNLIMITED’
As with many other sites that offer unlimited bandwidth or unmetered data, Bluehost isn’t completely unlimited. What they mean is that, as customer, we aren’t billed based on the bandwidth or disk space we are using. They note that for most customers — 99.95 percent, to be exact — there is more than enough of both to meet their daily needs with normal operation.
Normal operation is tested and gauged each month using a variety of analysis methods. If they do find that someone is hogging space by not following the terms and conditions, they’ll try to give them 48 hours to adjust their site — or they might shut them down. The biggest issues come in when customers use their unlimited and unmetered sites for storage and file sharing. They note that there are not “infinite resources”, and that there are “inherent maximums” that come along with technology.
Limits seem to come up when an account has more than 200,00 files, more than 1,000 MySQL/PostgreSQL database tables, or more than 2GB in a single MySQL/PostgreSQL database).
Pros & Cons: Bluehost Review in a Nutshell
- Bluehost is one of the lowest-priced hosts on the market, without discounts. With discounts, they are extremely reasonable.
- They are very popular, hosting more than 2 million Web sites from around the world.
- They do have unlimited and unmetered plans that, for most customers, are more than sufficient for their ongoing needs.
- Security options are excellent. Bluehost offers security options that are far superior than those offered by other hosts, especially for the price.
- The number of apps and integrations available, from both set-up and as add-ons, is impressive.
- The limits placed on their unlimited plans are pretty restrictive compared to other unlimited sites — especially when there are some that offer greater space and flexibility.
- Renewal rates are fairly pricey, and can sometimes include a steep price increase. Unfortunately, though, this doesn’t seem to be a Bluehost-only issue, but one that takes place among many other popular hosts.
- They don’t offer free site migration, something that is becoming industry standard. Even among the hosts that require payment, Bluehost is much higher.
- Many customers have reported extreme levels of upselling. From pop-ups to phone calls, they have found that Bluehost pushes them to upgrade their plan or add-on certain features in order to maintain their functionality.
- WordPress plans, which high quality, are very expensive, especially when compared to similar plans from their competitors.
- They only offer 12-, 24-, and 36-month plans. There are no month-to-month options, or multiple month options.
- They’ve deleted some customers’ accounts without warning for exceeding their unlimited thresholds.
Best WordPress Hosting?
Bluehost is recommended by WordPress, but I think that there are definitely other, more thorough hosts out there for you, especially if you’re a new web site manager. I have tried to share my experience with them on this Bluehost review.
The positive traits that made Bluehost stand out in the past have been replaced with slower speeds, poor customer service, and for many customers, a negative experience.
Okay now onto THE popular hosting service provider Bluehost then. This company is hugely popular as a network that hosts more than 2 million websites, and that is a fact! The database is even growing as we speak. Now this is due in large part to the low hanging price with some other perks out there.
You can fly really low with Bluehost. The cheapest package is REALLY Cheap. Also, the company has had somewhat of a “Medium Ranged” uptime mark with 99.94%, and I’m speaking in light of extensive testing of more than a year.
If you are into Niche Site Business, you’ll love the packages it offers. Introductory prices are low when you compare them with others. But price hardly compromises on your safety. Bluehost Hosting protects you against spam threats, hack threats, and continuous DDoS barrages.
You can integrate virtually any app and CMS using this one. Also, WordPress officially recommends it for long term use. Pretty neat to have a recommendation badge beside your name. Especially if it is from WordPress.