2019 September 17th at 5:15
If you're looking for affordable beginner-friendly hosting, Bluehost probably popped up in your search at least a few times.
And you shouldn't be surprised.
Bluehost is one of the biggest web hosting providers in the industry. It offers shared, WordPress, VPS, and dedicated hosting services. All of that, it claims to do for an affordable price and keeping the highest quality standards.
Seems like Bluehost must be doing something right. It's one of the few hosts endorsed by WordPress itself.
So we decided to do a Bluehost review ourselves to see, whether it's as good as it claims to be.
Bluehost is great for beginners - it has exceptional performance, great added values, friendly and professional customer support, and competitive pricing.
Let's review these features in more detail.
Bluehost has 4 affordable shared hosting plans starting at $2.95/month. The Plus plan and Choice Plus cost the same for the initial period - $5.45/month. You can upgrade all the way to the Pro plan with some extra features for $13.95/month.
All of the plans include SSL certificates, unmetered bandwidth, and registration for one domain. Differences come in other features.
- The Basic plan allows you to host 1 website with 50GB storage.
- Both Plus and Choice Plus plans allow unlimited websites, storage, and email accounts. However, with Choice Plus you also get domain privacy service and CodeGuard basic for auto backups.
- The Pro plan gives you unlimited websites, storage, and emails. Bluehost also claims to have it hosted on low-density servers for better performance. You'll also get domain privacy and CodeGuard Basic services, as well as a dedicated IP.
All in all, Bluehost offers quite a lot for the price. You can compare all the plans here:
|Customer Support||24/7 live chat, email, phone
|Free Automated Backups||Extra fee||Extra fee||Yes||Yes|
Unfortunately, if you have a website already and want to transfer it to Bluehost, the service is not included; it will cost you an extra $149.99. And that's a lot for a service other hosts are willing to do for free.
2. Ease of use
Bluehost is very well suited for beginners. Not just because of the price-feature ratio, but for the ease of use as well.
Once you sign up with the host, you can log in to its custom control panel.
It may look slightly unusual but in fact, it's a regular cPanel with a custom skin. Everything is easy to find and the search bar turned out to be quite useful. So if you've used cPanel earlier, you won't have any problems here.
The Bluehost control panel is equipped with everything to manage your website easily. It has a number of features you'll likely use every day put in one place: one-click installs and WordPress installer are even put on the main dashboard.
There's also premium Weebly website builder, installed apps, designing tools, and extensions in one place.
As far as using hosting services goes, you will hardly find anything much simpler than Bluehost.
3. Server speed
Bluehost server speeds are impressive. And although they are located only in Utah, USA, we've got excellent results when testing from different locations.
We did multiple load tests on our website hosted with Bluehost. The first location from which we tested for this Bluehost review from was Ashburn, USA and response times were excellent, remaining at around 20ms even with 50 virtual visitors.
As expected, results from a farther location were worse yet not bad at all. Testing from Sydney, Australia we've got stable results of around 650ms. That's pretty good, considering that Bluehost has servers only in the US.
All in all, Bluehost manages to achieve results better than the industry average of 553ms. And that's incredibly impressive.
4. Cloudflare integration
Bluehost cannot offer multiple server location choices but it compensates the lack by including Cloudflare services for free.
What does it do?
It caches your static website content across the network of global servers.
And when a visitor somewhere on the other side of the world visits your page, the contents are loaded from a closer server. This way, you can see the increase in page speed.
Furthermore, CDN protects you from outages.
Should something happen, your website will simply load from another server.
5. Security and backups
Bluehost does not include premium security features to its low-end plans but that does not mean, it takes care of security poorly.
Bluehost installs SSL certificates on each and every website. It also uses technology that prevents websites from using extensive resources by accident.
And it does not stop there.
Google Postini is used to filter spam out. You can also purchase additional services like SiteLock for $23.88/year protecting from vulnerabilities or CodeGuard for $2.99/month taking daily backups.
Also, you can protect your site from someone else logging in by using Bluehost two-factor authentication or account validation by a 6-digit token.
Bluehost has live chat, phone, and email ticket support available 24/7 and it is serious about it.
For the majority of the time, it takes less than a minute for an agent to join the chat.
The software often says you'll have to wait around 5 minutes, only for an agent to join immediately.
Representatives are professional and helpful as well. They had all the answers immediately.
The sales team impressed me as well. They were not nagging me to buy a plan, which often is the most annoying part about contacting the support before purchasing the service.
Talking about ticket support, it's a story worth mentioning.
So let's remember the prehistory.
Back in 2017, when we first registered with Bluehost, it took them on average 2 days to reply to a support ticket.
So obviously you wouldn't see customer support as a pro if the response times remained like this.
We kept checking and by November 2018 the issue was solved. Right now, Bluehost routinely answers the request in less than an hour.
That's not even an improvement. That's a Cinderella story.
7. Weebly website builder
One of the best features Bluehost offers is a premium Weebly website builder. It means, you can build your site without any coding knowledge.
Weebly has a bunch of user-friendly features - drag-and-drop editor, hundreds of professional themes, design elements like parallax sliders and more.
It's also great for online stores. Recently Weebly started focusing on eCommerce features and now has enough functions to build a full-fledged store.
And this makes Bluehost an ultimate beginner choice.
You get professional and fast hosting alongside with one of the biggest names in the website builder market.
I've probably never met a perfect host. Bluehost has some drawbacks as well - questionable uptime, aggressive pricing strategy, as well as lack of short term plans for shared hosting.
Check the details below.
1. Unstable uptime
Bluehost offers 99.99% uptime guarantee meaning your server shouldn't be down for more than a minute each week.
But do they keep the promise?
Apparently, not so much. During the last month, Bluehost averaged at 99.78% uptime not keeping their promise.
We can see that micro-downtimes of a minute or so are constant. Often several of them happen per day. This shows that server health is not in the best state.
Beginners most likely won't even notice these downtimes. But it may hurt larger websites with intense levels of traffic. You really don't want your eCommerce to be constantly unavailable and lose conversions.
2. Aggressive upsells and renewals
First of all, you'll only get the advertised pricing if you choose the longest period plan. And after the initial period, prices will go up to their standard rates.
But that's not all.
Be careful with the upsells as well. They are automatically marked in the shopping cart and might cost you some cash. If you don't want to pay extra - read all the conditions and uncheck the boxes.
There's one more thing where you might lose some cash.
What other hosts manage to offer for free, Bluehost cashes in. The service of website migration at Bluehost costs $149.99.
Which is a lot, considering others do it for free.
Fortunately, Bluehost at least guarantees to do that without any downtime. But it's not that difficult to migrate the site yourself.
3. No month-to-month plans
Bluehost does not offer traditional month-to-month plans for its shared hosting services. And that's pretty inconvenient.
What does it mean for you?
You'll most likely have to stick with Bluehost for at least a year.
Even longer, if you want the advertised price.
Offering this kind of pricing Bluehost makes sure you've got to stick with them for a long period even if the quality of the service is not what you've expected.
Also, you'll have to pay the whole amount immediately. So even with affordable pricing, this may hurt your budget significantly.
Fortunately, Bluehost has 30-day money-back guarantee. You'll most likely be able to notice if the performance and quality of Bluehost are sufficient for your project.
Bluehost Review - our Verdict
As we figured in this Bluehost review, it's one of the better choices for beginners. Bluehost offers speedy and secure hosting service that can be managed easily, as well as affordable pricing. The list of premium services like Weebly website builder is also impressive.
But is it the best choice for everyone?
Bluehost has some downsides that could become drawbacks for more experienced users hosting larger projects. It includes pretty unstable uptime and aggressive upsells, as well as renewal pricing.
However, Bluehost still remains one of the best hosts in the industry and it's definitely worth trying. Especially for beginners!
- Great server speed
- WordPress optimised hosting
- Additional security features
- Premium Weebly website builder
- Renewal prices increase after the first contract
- Shortest available plan is 12 months
Disclosure: We earn a commission if you make a purchase through referral links in this review. This helps to cover the expenses for running ongoing performance tests.