46% of people will not revisit a poorly performing website and a 1 second delay reduces customer satisfaction by 16%. If your site is not properly backup you can lose your business.
Your hosting is very important and changing your hosting is very inconvenient so it’s critical to put some time into researching your options thoroughly and making the right decision now to avoid massive problems down the road.
This is going to be a systematic, organized and honest review that will includes both pros and cons so that you can make the best decision for your circumstances.
Bluehost is part of a massive corporation called Endurance International Group (or “EIG”) that also owns Hostgator and multiple hosting providers. A lot of people recommend Bluehost. Even WordPress recommends them – but are they really as good as everybody says they are?
Firstly, let’s go to clear about what Bluehost offers.
They do offer a domain names. They are definitely not the cheapest domain name registrar but you can buy domain names directly from Bluehost. It will cost you $18.99 when you renew the domain and you will need to add an extra $15 per year if you want to enable privacy. We usually recommend Namecheap for managing domains because it costs less and it’s easier to manage.
Bluehost is mostly known for its Shared Hosting. As the name implies, you’ll be sharing a server with other customers. If you’re managing a large project or you need to configure your own server you’ll need to stay away from shared hosting. For everybody else, this is usually a good way to get started while keeping your costs low. At the time of this video the price of shared hosting on Bluehost is between $9.99 and $28.99 per month.
Bluehost also offers WordPress Managed Hosting. This type of hosting is a little different from shared hosting because shared hosting can work with any type of website but WordPress managed hosting has been optimized specifically for WordPress and it includes a staging area so you can work on developing your site off-line then push all of your changes to the live site when you’re ready. At the time of this video it costs $24.95 pm which is higher than some of our preferred options but it’s also lower than a lot of other options.
Bluehost also offers a Virtual Private Server. This is like a hybrid of shared hosting and dedicated hosting. You will be sharing a server with other customers but there’s a virtual wall between your website and everybody else’s website so you’re less likely to interfere with each other. At the time of this video the VPS plans range from $29.99 to $119.99 per month.
Bluehost also offers Dedicated Servers. This is what you will need if you have a website that generates a lot of traffic or you need a high performing server. These plans range from $124.99 per month up to $209.99 per month.
Most people will be interested in shared hosting so that’s what I’m going to focus on the rest of this review.
Plans And Pricing
This is the regular pricing for Bluehost shared hosting. So let’s talk about what you get for your money. The first point to note is that Bluehost offers a big discount in the first year so you need to keep in mind that your hosting costs will increase to the regular price after 12 months.
[chart outlining pricing and features]
The Basic plan is a good option if you only have one website and can get away with using less than 50 GB of storage. It also limits the number of email accounts, the amount of email storage and the number of databases that can be created.
The Plus plan allows you to have as many websites as you want and of the storage is unmetered. You’ll also be able to set up an unlimited number of email accounts.
The Choice plus package includes all of the features from the Plus plan but you’ll also get free domain privacy for 12 months.
The Pro plan is a good option for people looking for higher performance. The maximum number of files that you can host with this plan increases from 200,000 to 300,000. You’ll also have access to some advanced backup features.
Pros And Cons
Price: The first and most obvious pro is that it’s cheap. But you need to keep in mind that the renewal rates are not cheap.
Good Uptime: Bluehost has solid up time but you will need to remember that there is no minimum uptime guarantee.
Lots Of Storage: The amount of storage offered from Bluehost is a generous compared to its competitors.
Unmetered Bandwidth: You will get unmetered bandwidth so your website can receive unlimited visitors.
Annoying upsells: Bluehost constantly interrupts you to try to sell you something. If you the sort of person that doesn’t like that, Bluehost might not be for you.
Speed is okay (at best): Bluehost is not one of the fastest web hosts so, if speed matters to you, you might need to consider a different option.
US only servers: If people from all over the world to visit your site, Bluehost might not be your best option because they only have servers in the United States.
Site backup: there are no good backup solutions in the entry level plans.
Limitations: the entry level plans limit the number of sites, the number of databases and the number of email accounts you can create.
Who should (and should not) use Bluehost?
If you have a small project and you’re not expecting an enormous amount of traffic Bluehost can be a good option for you. For everybody else, we recommend hosts that can offer a better performance and more advanced features.
Now, let’s rate Bluehost on all of the major criteria for a hosting provider.
Ease of use
Registering with Bluehost is not as simple and intuitive as it could be. They’re also a little bit sneaky when it comes to trying to convince you to buy expensive extras that you probably won’t need. The backend includes a customized version of cPanel that has been re-designed and is easy to use. But, as I mentioned earlier, be prepared for the constant barrage of ads and sneaky links.
You can get one free domain name registration for the first year. Then you’ll have to pay $18.99 per year to keep the domain name. You should also remember that the basic plan only allows you to have one site.
The basic plan is limited to 5 email accounts along with 100 MB of email storage. You’ll need to go with a higher plan if you want unlimited.
The basic package allows you to create up to 20 databases. You’ll need a higher plan if you want unlimited. In the meantime the maximum database size is 5 GB – which is generous.
You’ll have access to an automatic installer that makes it easy to install WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Magento and many others with just a few clicks. Keep in mind that the WordPress installer will add some plugins that you won’t need so you should remember to delete them when the installation is complete.
The basic plan includes 50 GB of web space – which is generous. The other plans are unlimited but the maximum amount of files allowed is 200,000 – or 300,000 files for the pro plan.
Data transfer limit
It’s unmetered so there are no issues here.
You can create as many FTP accounts as you like but keep in mind that SFTP – the secure version of FTP – can only be set up with the main FTP account.
As I mentioned earlier, they only have servers in the United States. If you have a lot of people visiting your site from outside of the United States, this might not be a good option for you. As a general rule, all businesses will have visitors from outside of their own country except local businesses. So, keep this in mind if you’re not a local business.
Bluehost offers some additional security features but you’ll have to pay extra to get access to them. You can buy a subscription to SiteLock which prevents attacks from hackers and CodeGuard which gives you some additional backup options. Bluehost also offers an optional two factor authentication system if you want to use it.
Bluehost is not at the top of this list. I’ll get into more detail about server speed a little later.
The results of the uptime tests for Bluehost are solid. I’ll come back to this a little later.
Bluehost creates daily, weekly and monthly backups that you can download to restore your site. Of course, 3 backups is better than nothing but many of Bluehost competitors offer more than 20 backups to choose from.
Bluehost doesn’t have its own CDN but they have integrated with Cloudflare so it is easy for you to enable it.
Bluehost is set up with PHP 7.3, 7.4 and 8. You can run databases on My SQL 5.6. You can also use other programming languages like Ruby On Rails and Perl.
Guarantees and refunds
Bluehost offers a “no questions asked” 30 day money back guarantee. But, keep in mind that, unlike some of their competitors, they don’t offer any uptime guarantees.
You’ll be able to contact customer support by phone and live chat. The support agents seem to be helpful and easy to deal with.
So this results in an overall rating of 3.8. If you’re thinking that sounds okay but it’s not fantastic, you’re probably right.
If you’re watching a review video like this you know that speed matters. This chart compares the speed test results of the major hosting providers. As you can see, Bluehost is not the worst performer but it’s a long way from being the best. And yes, in case you wondering, these tests were all performed using the exact same content, at the same time, from the same locations.
A lot of people are surprised when they find out that websites don’t have 100% uptime. There’s a lot of factors that contribute to this issue and most of them are under the control of your hosting provider and not under your control. 100% uptime is unrealistic but you should be expecting uptime higher than 99.95%. This chart compares the uptime for all of the major hosting providers. Again Bluehost is not the worst but it’s a long way from being the best.
So the conclusion is that we think that Bluehost is a good hosting provider for people that have a small project and aren’t expecting crazy amounts of traffic. If you want to go ahead and sign up with Bluehost, you can get a massive 70% discount here.