Bluehost is a popular web host, best-known for its beginner-friendly services and WordPress hosting.
But speed, performance, and customer support are king. How do they score on these factors?
In this article, you’ll learn what Bluehost offers and how to determine if they are a good fit for you.
More importantly, we present uptime and performance data collected over many months — plus hundreds of real customer reviews.
Spend a few minutes researching the best web hosting providers, and Bluehost will be on your radar almost immediately – it’s widely used and hugely popular. But what sets Bluehost apart from the pack? Does it have exactly what you’re looking for, or would another provider be a better fit?
We’ll cover the most important deciding factors in-depth,
We’ve conducted our own user testing of the top hosting providers, and compared our findings for each provider in order to rank each as accurately as possible. Bluehost’s particular strengths were customer support, server uptime, and value for money.
- Free domain and SSL certificate
- Managed WordPress hosting
- E-commerce plans and convenient marketing services for small businesses
- Doesn’t offer reseller hosting plans
- Regular backups are not guaranteed. Customers are advised to make their own backups
Downtime can be really bad for your website. Not only can it frustrate its visitors and hurt its conversion rate, but it can also have a negative impact on the performance of your site on search engines like Google.
Though I didn’t face a lot of instances of extremely long-lasting downtime with BlueHost, although minor outages are pretty common (see the screenshot below, my inbox is filled with downtime alerts for the site hosted on BlueHost). When servers do go down for the bad, however, it can easily last a few hours.
As BlueHost doesn’t use SSD for storage, and still rely on traditional spinning hard drives, storage failures aren’t that rare on their platform. And that can often result in extended periods of downtime.
This is an entirely different case from my experience with a similarly-priced shared host called MDDHosting (read my full review), where I’ve been hosting TechTage.com since 2011. As they’re a much smaller, independent company (not a part of a bigger operation), they feel much “closer to the customers”, and they proactively upgrade server hardware as newer technologies hit the market.
For example, two years ago, MDDHosting decided to upgrade their storage to StorPool-powered clustered SSD storage. Which not only offers super fast I/O, but is also self-healing and a lot less likely to cause issues due to drive failures, due to data redundancy.
In simpler words, your site’s data is duplicated and synced across multiple individual SSDs in real time, which means even if a particular drive fails (which is very rare for SSDs compared to traditional HDDs), your site will be instantly back up live by utilizing the data from another SSD.
With most shared hosts, downtime is a major concern. Most cheap hosts, especially those part of a bigger holding company like EIG (which also owns HostGator, iPage, JustHost and a lot of other brands) fail to keep their servers up as much as they promise their customers. This isn’t any different with EIG-owned BlueHost.
Some others impose such heavy restrictions on resource usage that as soon as users’ sites receiving any significant traffic, they start getting ‘throttled’ and in some cases, even taken down, often for prolonged periods of time. BlueHost has been accused of throttling server resources many times in the past.
Bluehost ranks highly in our research for value for money, with a score of 4.6/5. The best part? All Bluehost plans come with a 30-day money back guarantee. Shared hosting is Bluehost’s cheapest plan, at $2.95/month for the first year and $7.99/month after that. Dedicated hosting is the most expensive plan, starting at $79.99/month.
Bluehost Starting Prices:
- Shared hosting: $2.95 per month, renews at $7.99 per month
- Shared WordPress hosting: $2.95 per month, renews at $7.99 per month
- WooCommerce hosting: $6.95 per month, renews at $13.99 per month
- VPS hosting: $18.99 per month, renews at $29.99 per month
- Managed WordPress hosting: $19.95 per month, renews at $29.99 per month
- Dedicated hosting: $79.99 per month, renews at $119.99 per month
Which Plan Is the Best Value for Money?
If you’re new to web hosting or your site isn’t massive, then we recommend starting with Bluehost’s Shared or Shared WordPress plans. They’re the cheapest, and still offer a decent variety of features. When your site outgrows these shared plans, you can always upgrade to the pricier but better-equipped options.
Bluehost Additional Costs
Unfortunately, most hosting providers will fill your virtual basket with add-on items during checkout. These odds and ends will hike up the price of your plan, but you can always uncheck them before making your purchase.
However, some of these additional items will be worth the money, depending on the type of website you’re looking to get off the ground.
Canceling Your Bluehost Plan
Bluehost’s 30-day money back guarantee means that you get some time to test out the platform and see if it’s for you. But it’s important to make this decision within the first 30 days, because afterwards, Bluehost doesn’t offer any refunds or cancellations.
Bluehost’s security features are pleasantly surprising. It offers three antispam tools—Apache Spam Assassin, Spam Experts, and Spam Hammer—as well as hotlink protection. You can also create filters for email accounts and users, password-protect directories, create IP address blacklists, and manage private keys and digital certificates. I’m always pleased to see secure shell (SSH) access, because it means administrators have a secure way of accessing specific configuration files.
I’m impressed that Bluehost offers CloudFlare, which enhances performance and security features. If you want SSL on your site, or you are worried about distributed denial of service attacks against your site, CloudFlare is worth considering.
WordPress Web Hosting
WordPress is the content management system that powers a good portion of sites on the web. It’s easy to use, and has a thriving theme and plug-in ecosystem for expanding your site’s functionality. If you’re looking to create a WordPress-powered website, consider Bluehost’s three Linux-based packages: Basic, Plus, and Choice Plus.
Basic (starting at $7.99 per month) lets you host one website, and includes 50GB of SSD storage, a free SSL certificate, and a free domain for a year. Next up the ladder is the Plus plan (from $10.99 per month), which includes unlimited site hosting and unlimited SSD storage. The top-tier Choice Plus plan (starting at $14.99 per month) tosses in CodeGuard Basic backup software.
Bluehost has an advanced WordPress hosting category: WP Pro. Available in three tiers, WP Pro is a managed WordPress offering that gives your site’s back end the white-glove treatment, and includes SEO, social media, and email marketing tools. WP Pro’s three plans (Build, Grow, and Scale) all boast unlimited site hosting, monthly data transfers, domains, subdomains, and storage. WP Pro accounts also come with staging areas to test sites before they go live to the web. Build, Grow, and Scale start at $29.99 per month, $39.99 per month, and $59.99 per month, respectively.
The Build plan comes with 100 free WordPress themes, daily scheduled backups, malware detection and removal, and domain privacy protection. The Grow plan uses the Build plan as a foundation and adds SEO tools, 10GB of video compression, and live ticket support. Scales tops all WP Pro plans by adding live chat support, unlimited video compression, PayPal integration, and unlimited backups and restore.
Bluehost doesn’t require you to install the content management system, as it comes preinstalled. Once you’re logged into WordPress, you can create posts, pages, and galleries as you would with any other self-hosted WordPress site.
Bluehost’s WordPress plans are quite good, but the Linux-based A2 remains the PCMag Editors’ Choice for WordPress hosting. A2 offers four excellent WordPress hosting tiers, starting at $7.99 per month, offers unlimited storage and monthly data transfers across the board. The plans top out with the $24.46 per month Managed package that includes unlimited databases and websites. You also get a free SSL certificate with all plans, too.
For more on the fantastically popular content management system, you should read How to Get Started With WordPress.
You can grab email-marketing tools such as DaDa Mail (starting at $34.95 per year), software that lets you send email-based newsletters to a subscriber list. For an online store or the ability to accept payments, you can get e-commerce applications such as Magento, ShopSite (for shopping cart software), and TransFirst payment gateway. With Magento, I was able to create an attractive store by dragging and dropping website elements. Magento has more flexibility than ShopSite, but if you aren’t looking for an elaborate online storefront, ShopSite’s simpler interface may get you up and running faster. For small businesses, that time saved may be worth it.
I also like the fact that Bluehost supports PostgreSQL along with the more popular MySQL. This means I’m not limited to installing software that runs only with MySQL.
If shared hosting is like renting a place with a few friends, VPS hosting is like upgrading to your own apartment.
This style of web hosting, although still located on the same physical server, partitions the server space between customers to ensure that you no longer have to worry about your pesky “roommates” stealing all of your glorious bandwidth.
The prices for this service vary from $30-$120/month depending on the amount of processing speed and storage you need.
If your website is starting to grow and you’re writing the occasional viral article (or song), then this will be the service that is right for you.
If you’ve successfully graduated from the Little Leagues and are now playing in the frigging MLB, then dedicated hosting is what you’ll need.
Using a dedicated host is like buying your own house. You will have your own physically separate server that will be used by you and only you. This is only necessary if you have an extremely high amount of traffic each month (like 100,000+ visitors) or a myriad of features and advanced website wizardry that goes beyond what a VPS service can handle.
Starting at $149.99/month Bluehost’s dedicating hosting is definitely the priciest option on the table… But it’s still cheaper than buying a dedicated hosting service through their competitors.
If you’re looking to get into the web hosting business, but you don’t want to deal with infrastructure matters, check out Bluehost’s reseller hosting packages. The four plans, starting at $18.99 per month, boast unlimited email, website hosting, and cPanel creation across the board.
The servers are of the Linux variety, but Bluehost doesn’t supply them with unlimited storge and monthly data transfers at each tier, as the Editors’ Choice Hostwind does with its offerings. On the upside, Bluehost lets you apply your own branding to the servers you rent, and it also supplies 24/7 tech support.
Bluehost has a lot of tools for building sites, filtering spam, managing email, collecting site statistics, and managing domains. For building a website, you can use the WordPress content management platform or Weebly (an excellent website-builder), upload files using FTP or File Manager, or use the goMobi Mobile Web builder if you bought the add-on.
Weebly’s drag-and-drop functionality let me quickly build an attractive page complete with slideshows, contact forms, social media links, and more. Weebly’s free version gives you basic functionality (you can create six pages and add custom HTML), but upgrading to the $8.99 per month Professional tier offers even more flexibility (custom themes, password protected pages, and more). Check out the PCMag Weebly review for a deeper dive.
You can also go to the Mojo Marketplace to download other content-management systems or site builders. It’s an entirely separate interface, but if you want to expand your site’s capabilities, the marketplace is a good place to start. Using Bluehost’s Mojo Marketplace is a similar to running sister-site iPage’s marketplace.
Founded in 2003, Bluehost is one of the 20 largest web hosting companies, powering over 2 million websites worldwide. Bluehost is also #1 recommended web hosting company by WordPress.org.
Bluehost has a vast knowledge base consisting of articles, guides and how-to’s that can answer to all your questions regarding your web hosting account.
Bluehost friendly 24/7 support team is available via phone and live chat to resolve your hosting related issues quickly. They also have an in-house team of WordPress experts who can resolve any WordPress related inquiries.
The big downside of Bluehost support is that recently they’ve made the decision to discontinue ticket support in an effort to focus more on providing personal and direct support through phone and chat. This can be frustrating to users with more advanced issues that may take a bit longer to resolve.
Bluehost is one of the best web hosting companies for small businesses. With all the different hosting options, you can easily find the plan that works for your business. They’re also an officially recommended host by WordPress.org, so if you’re thinking of using WordPress, then you can’t go wrong with Bluehost.
What I really like about Bluehost is that they grow with your business. Beginner users can start small to keep the costs low and upgrade as their website grows.
If you’re looking for a host that offers robust performance, uptime, and a complete feature set at a fair price, then Bluehost is for you!
- Free domain name registration
- 1-click WordPress install
- Unlimited Disk Space and industry-leading hardware
- Regular price $7.99 / mo but our users pay $2.75 / mo!
- 24/7 Chat and Phone Support