From its humble beginnings back in 2003. Bluehost has become one of the more popular shared hosting providers in the world. Currently, they power over two million websites.
The muscle to support such a wide customer base can be attributed to their parent company Endurance Insurance Group, which gained it in 2010. This is the same outfit that owns HostGator among several other hosting providers.
Bluehost’s popularity can be said to be because of its vigorous marketing or its attractive introductory pricing. Or that they offer a one-stop-shop where would-be website owners can get everything from their domain to their company email.
Bluehost doesn’t just offer shared hosting, they offer WordPress-specific hosting as well as hosting geared towards e-commerce. They also offer VPS and dedicated hosting for those whose hosting needs are more resource-intensive. Those looking for cloud hosting will want to look further, as Bluehost doesn’t offer this service.
While they serve website owners of all walks, Bluehost is popular with bloggers and small businesses seeking to establish online stores for their merchandise. Even WordPress, the go-to CMS for these categories of website owners, recommends Bluehost.
But should you really believe the hype? Is hosting with them a guarantee to a high-performance website that can grow with your business and is safe from hackers? And how good is their support? Let’s find out.
Like many of its competitors, Bluehost offers somewhat misleading promotional pricing. So don’t take the attractively low price at face value- read between the lines. Their most basic shared hosting, for instance, comes at a tempting $2.95 per month.
Shared hosting pricing
For this rock-bottom price, you get hosting for one website, 50 GB of SSD storage, and a year’s free domain registration. This seems like quite the bargain with providers like SiteGround offering something similar (and with a fraction of the storage) at $6.99.
But if you read the fine print, you discover that the $2.95 pricing only applies if you commit yourself to a three-year contract. At the end of this period, Bluehost will revert to regular pricing, which is $8.99 per month. And since you’re on a three-year deal, that will mean $323 automatically docked from your credit card at the beginning of the new period.
Bluehost’s shared hosting comes with four options, the most expensive of which is the Pro plan which comes at an introductory price of $12.95 per month. This more than doubles during renewal. For this, you get hosting for an unlimited number of websites and unlimited storage besides a dedicated IP among other freebies.
Managed WordPress pricing
What if you want to build a WordPress site or web store? While WordPress themselves recommend Bluehost, you will find their managed WordPress offering to be a little pricey.
After the three years of the $14.95-per-month offer pricing elapse, it will require you to renew your plan at $29.99. And this is for the most affordable of Bluehost’s managed WordPress plans.
Contrast this with SiteGround’s $14.99 StartUp plan, to which you will be welcomed with an introductory price of $6.99 per month. But to be fair, you get more with Bluehost’s Build plan. You get a staging area, which you won’t get with SiteGround’s StartUp plan. You also get a visitor limit of 50,000 per month with Bluehost, 40,000 more than SiteGround’s plan offers.
The Build plan also trumps StartUp in terms of storage space. It will be up to you to decide if these advantages justify paying more than double the price.
If you feel your operations can no longer be confined to a shared environment, you can scale up to Bluehost’s virtual private server plans. Standard is the most affordable of these, and Bluehost offers it at a discounted price of $18.99 per month. When renewal time comes around, the price will jump up by $11.
What do you get for almost $30 per month? 30 GB of SSD storage, 2 cores, 2 GB RAM, 1 TB of bandwidth, and a dedicated IP address. This is slightly lower than what some prominent competitors offer. HostGator’s introductory price on their Snappy 2000 offering is $19.95 per month, which multiplies fourfold when the offer period expires.
Expensive as HostGator’s offering is, it comes with beefier perks than Bluehost’s; two dedicated IPs, 120 GB of storage, and unmetered bandwidth. InMotion Hosting appears to offer a sweeter deal on entry-level VPS hosting. their $29.99 per month plan comes with 4 GB of RAM, 4 TB of bandwidth, and three dedicated IPs.
Dedicated server pricing
Should you be running online gaming or file-sharing platform, you will need more control over performing your servers. You will want to check out Bluehost’s dedicated server plans if you’re in such lines of business. Standard is the cheapest of the three dedicated server plans Bluehost offers. It comes at a discounted price of $79.99 per month.
As a member of this plan, you will get four 2.3 GHz cores and 4 GB of RAM to power your site. You will have 500 GB of mirrored storage and 3 dedicated IP addresses. On the expiry of the promotion window, the price will jump to $119.99 per month.
On the higher end of the scale is the Premium plan if you want to give your site a bit more oomph. It will get you four 3.3 GHz cores, 16 GB RAM, and two additional IP addresses. But you will have to stump up almost twice the regular monthly fee.
Looking at the competition, InMotion seems to offer a much better deal. Pricing for their dedicated servers starts at $169.99 per month, with offers and discounts aside. For this, you will get specs similar to what Bluehost’s Premium plan offers- 16 GB DDR3 RAM, 4 Core Intel Xeon processors, and five dedicated IP addresses.
WooCommerce hosting pricing
Bluehost offers a plan for WooCommerce hosting for entrepreneurs interested in being able to sell their products online. They offer two plans in this category: Standard and Premium. Pricing for the latter is about two times that of the former but varies depending on the billing cycle you select.
The most affordable deal is if you make a three-year commitment to the Standard plan. This will cost you $12.95 per month only for those first three years, but on renewal, it will revert to $24.95 per month.
For this, you will get WooCommerce and the Store-front theme pre-installed as well as payment processing.
You will also get several tools to help you reach your target market more effectively. They include website traffic analytics and an email marketing tool. Besides this, you will get to use CodeGuard, to assist with your backups, for one year at no extra cost.
You will also have a month’s free use of Office 365. Upgrading to Premium will get you a tool to manage your customer subscriptions and online appointment scheduling besides the above. The headache of applying local and federal taxes to your sales will also be taken care of.
Those extras will bring your discounted three-year pricing to $24.95 per month. Upon renewal, the price will jump to $39.95 so be sure to monitor your calendar if you wish to downgrade or opt-out altogether.
Looking at what competitors like SiteGround offer, Bluehost’s WooCommerce hosting appears to be overpriced. SiteGround’s StartUp plan currently comes at a discounted price of $6.99. Yet it comes with all the bells and whistles you find in Bluehost’s offering, which comes at twice the price.
You get WooCommerce pre-installed as well as a payment processing platform that integrates with 140 gateways. You get a raft of security features and perpetually free daily backups. They can gain the website traffic analytics you have to pay extra for with Bluehost through free Google tools.
Uptime tests conducted on sites hosted on Bluehost showed they were available 99.95 percent of the time. Looking through the hosting provider’s website, though, you won’t find an uptime guarantee as you will find with some of their competitors.
While it may not be a big deal to some, it is reassuring to work with a service provider willing to put their money where their mouth is. Speed tests on Bluehost sites yielded less than satisfactory results, with an average load time of 3.32 seconds being recorded. This is not only slower than the 3-second load time recommended by Google, it is way behind what the competition offers.
This may be because Bluehost only has one server location in Utah, close to the company headquarters.
Bluehost has tried to mitigate this by offering a free CDN (content delivery network) with all its plans. With this feature, they will store copies of your website in over 200 server locations around the world. Bluehost makes up for the sub-par speed to some extent with the Resource Protection feature. This gives you some measure of assurance that even though you’re hosted on a shared server, the activities of other websites won’t affect yours.
You can reach out to Bluehost’s support team day or night via phone or live chat whenever you have a query.
If you’re more the DIY kind, you can get all the information you need to navigate any issue from Bluehost’s vast knowledge base. Here you will find an assortment of articles and guides dealing with everything from email setup to domains.
Information in the knowledge base is well categorized, and there is a search engine if you wish to get straight to the point. You can get additional information or some tips to improve your site’s performance from the Bluehost blog.
Video tutorials along with more articles and instructions are available in their resource center. If you need pointers on how to better promote your brand or products or how to boost e-commerce sales, you will find them there. You will even get ideas on how to better work your social media to your advantage.
With all this in place, you would think customer support would be one of Bluehost’s strong points. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Many have complained about having to wait up to 20 minutes for a response from the support team. And when they get to attend to you, the service feels rushed.
All plans, even entry-level shared hosting, come with a free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate. This will secure communication between your visitors’ browsers and your website using encryption. This is important when you have an e-commerce site transmitting transaction data online.
Among other security measures are SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) and SSH (Secure Shell) which ensure you can move files to and from your site securely. It also uses the HTTP/2 protocol to transmit messages, which is more secure than HTTP/1.1, which transmits messages in plain text.
To enjoy automated daily backups by CodeGuard, subscribe to the $16.99-a-month Choice Plus shared hosting or higher. Even with Choice Plus, you only get backups free for one year. To get satisfactory backups, you will need to invest in the SiteBackup Pro add-on.
There are several other security-related paid-for add-ons including SiteLock, SiteLock 911, additional SSL certificates, and Domain Privacy + Protection. Some are expensive and pointless as other tools already covered their security functions.
Domain Privacy will hide your personal information that was linked to your domain during registration from hackers trying to extract it from the public ICANN domain directory. Be subscribed to the Choice Plus or Pro plans to benefit from this feature.
All Bluehost plans feature 1-click WordPress installs, which makes it easier to get started with creating your website. When you get started, you will find several WordPress themes to choose from to give your site a professional look.
The beauty is that you will customize these themes to suit your exact specifications. You will be the leeway to change everything from the layout of items on the site to the size and color of the text. They well laid the admin area of your Bluehost account out with clear menus. Their cPanel is equally a joy to use.
However, you won’t be able to get around the many ads and upsells there.
If you don’t have web design skills and don’t know where to get a professional developer you can trust, Bluehost can create your site for you. Not only will they design your site, but Bluehost’s development team will also help you market it.
They will do all the SEO groundwork to get your site in the results pages of Google, Yahoo!, Bing, and other search engines. You can even request SEO services as a package on its own. If you wish the Bluehost marketing gurus to help you devise ad campaigns, they can render this service as a standalone service.
Not all the tools Bluehost offers to boost your business are premium. Whichever plan you subscribe to, you will get a Google My Business listing at no extra cost. Having your customers and potential customers know where you’re physically located and your hours of operation will contribute to walk-in traffic.
Bluehost offers free migration for just one website, but if you need help to move more sites, you will need to pay for this service as a separate add-on. Migration involves more than just transferring your files to the Bluehost servers. There will be a consultation with the Bluehost migration experts before and after the process. Prior to the actual transfer, your site will be backed up.
You can get professional email customized with your domain powered by Microsoft 365 with Bluehost. This is a separate service that is only offered to those under a Bluehost hosting plan. There are three email plans ranging in price between $4.99 and $14.99 per license per month.
Besides basic email, you get access to OneDrive cloud storage, Microsoft Teams, and Microsoft 365 for desktop among other tools, depending on which plan you opt for.
While Bluehost’s email add-on sounds great and feature-laden, that some competitors offer free email accounts as part of their hosting plans takes some gloss off it. If you have the resources to take up the Pro plan (the most expensive of the shared hosting plans), you will get a dedicated IP address. There are many advantages to not sharing an IP address with other websites.
For one, if one of the other sites you shared an IP with is hacked and starts sending spam mail, the IP may be blacklisted. This means that the mail you send may be rejected by the recipient because the destination ISP has blacklisted your IP address. All Bluehost plans come with a domain manager, which will be of great help in transferring domains or purchasing new ones for other sites.
Reviewers in some quarters have cast aspersions on the authenticity of some of the glowing Bluehost reviews you will find on the Internet. Several previous customers have expressed dissatisfaction with the responsiveness of Bluehost’s support.
- Apart from the basic shared hosting plan, Bluehost’s plans come with hosting for unlimited websites and unlimited storage.
- One-year’s free domain with all plans.
- Free CDN with all plans means faster load times.
- Unlimited storage with all but the most basic plan.
- Unmetered bandwidth with all plans.
- $100 Google Ads credit with all plans.
- Google My Business is provided as a free add-on.
- Several free security features with every plan.
- Exceptional performance in terms of uptime.
- Offers a plan geared specifically towards online stores.
- Customizable WordPress themes to suit your unique needs.
- The range of plans allows for easy scaling as your business grows.
- Automated daily backups only with costlier plans.
- Buy backup add-ons for your comfort.
- Renewal prices for discounted plans are quite high.
- Upsells and ads can annoy and lead you to pay for services you don’t need.
- Slow load times can jeopardize your SEO ranking.
- The quality of customer support can be better.
- The email comes as a paid-for add-on.
If you’re just getting started as a blogger and need a host that will give you the bare minimums at a reasonable price, Bluehost is worth considering. Most bloggers use WordPress and running a WordPress site on Bluehost is fairly easy. To begin with, you won’t have to register your domain elsewhere. They will even offer you a domain free for a year. Unlike some competitors, Bluehost is pretty generous with storage space.
Even the base shared hosting plan comes with 50 GB of storage (all higher plans offer unlimited storage). But if you’re looking for high-performance hosting to help boost conversion rates, Bluehost may not be ideal for you. While your site will rarely suffer any downtime, tests have shown it is likely to load slowly if you host with them.
Load time averages are decidedly below average, and this could spell doom for your entrepreneurial ambitions. With load times below Google’s recommended three seconds, your site risks remaining invisible on search results pages. And research has shown that with each millisecond a visitor has to wait for your pages to load, the less likely they are to purchase anything from there.
Whether you’re looking at basic shared hosting or a dedicated server for more traffic-intense operations, there are competitors who offer a better deal than Bluehost. And their sluggish customer service certainly doesn’t help their cause.
Neither does Bluehost shine in terms of security. Besides the basic SSL certificate and commonly used security-enhancing protocols, they’ve done little to shield their customers’ sites from online threats. If you wish to have a little more peace of mind, you will need to select a raft of add-ons during checkout that will inflate your subscription substantially.