2019 November 28th
In this Bluehost review, I tested the services of perhaps the most popular hosting provider in the industry.
Promising speed, security, and affordable pricing, Bluehost has a wide list of services. It includes shared, Cloud, VPS, and dedicated server hosting packages with optimizations for WordPress.
So if you were ever looking for an affordable host, Bluehost has definitely popped up in your search results. Backed by the biggest hosting corporation, Endurance International Group, Bluehost is a popular option to host WordPress blogs, business sites, and eCommerce stores.
After all, it's a true one-stop-shop. Users can get not only hosting but security, marketing, and web design services.
So is it all worth it? I purchased and tested the provider to see whether its popularity matches the quality. And as far as I can see right now, there are more pros than cons.
Before we start, Emit shared the most important aspects of hosting with Bluehost in his Youtube video:
Bluehost has a bunch of pros. It's pricing is very much affordable, user dashboard is intuitive, performance - outstanding, and extra features - useful. And I'm not even talking about its professional customer support.
Let's review these features in more detail.
1. Bluehost Pricing is Affordable
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 chat, email, phone||24/7 chat, email, phone||24/7 chat, email, phone||24/7 chat, email, phone|
|Free Automated Backups||Extra fee||Extra fee||Yes||Yes|
Bluehost includes quite a lot even in its cheapest Basic plan. 50GB of disk space is more than enough for a website. In fact, if you're launching a blog you'll hardly step over 2GB of disk space.
Also, essentials like a domain name, SSL, and email accounts are included for free - that's 3 main things you need for a professional website.
But there's one thing. You'll get the best price choosing the longest billing period. The 3-year plan is the cheapest, the 2-year plan adds $1 extra per month, and the yearly plan is $2 more expensive.
So in case you need a site for a couple of months, Bluehost is a very good option.
Bluehost has very affordable pricing and scalable plans with a bunch of tools and features included. That includes optimizations for WordPress, essentials like domain names, and security services.
2. Ease of Use
Bluehost has one of the best-designed dashboards in the whole industry. If you're creating a WordPress site, it's even better.
The first sight you see once logged in to the Bluehost account is an interactive step-by-step guide for launching a WordPress site. It comes pre-installed - all that's left to do is filling-in personal information, designing the site, and publishing content.
The tutorial is not limited to basic design and article writing tips. There are also instructions for setting up an email account and using SEO tools.
But if you're not interested in WordPress specifically, there's also Bluehost's version of cPanel.
From the cPanel, users have much more flexibility - from the choice of different CMSs to file manager and database management. At the same time, it's intuitive and easy for beginners to use. Bluehost implements Softaculous - 1-click script installer for hundreds of applications like Joomla or Drupal.
So while Bluehost is primarily a WordPress host, it has options for the needs of all users.
For complete beginners who might feel overwhelmed with WordPress customization options, there's a marketplace. There, premium website builders can be used for free.
Weebly's premium features are included completely for free and Constant Contact business website builder is free for 3 months.
As far as using hosting services goes, you will hardly find anything much simpler than Bluehost.
Bluehost has designed an intuitive dashboard with a lot of options for users of various experiences. Primarily focused on WordPress, the provider has both more advanced options and beginner-friendly website builders too.
3. Excellent Server Speed
Bluehost server speeds are impressive. And although it's located only in Utah, USA, I've got excellent results when testing from different locations.
To get accurate results, I used an advanced speed testing tool imitating virtual visitors to see the performance changes when the traffic peaks.
The first location from which I tested for this Bluehost review from was Columbus, USA and response times were excellent, remaining at around 125ms even with 50 virtual visitors.
The result is great - it fits in Googles recommended 200ms to be seen as fast by the search engine.
However, the result of testing from Europe was very unexpected. It actually performed better than the US location. Testing from Frankfurt, I've got an average response time of 88ms.
This shows how well Bluehost services and especially the Content Delivery Network (CDN) works. This means, that even if your targeted audience is scattered all across the globe, the website will load equally fast for all of them.
Bluehost response time is impressive across multiple locations across the globe. The average response time barely reaches 100ms making Bluehost one of the fastest providers I've ever tested.
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.
Bluehost includes Cloudflare CDN to increase website loading speed in locations further from the datacenter. CDN also helps avoiding outages as multiple servers (rather than one) are capable of delivering site content.
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.
Bluehost also performs courtesy daily, weekly, and monthly backups. However, they are not guaranteed and the provider does not take the responsibility of damaged backups. That's why users are encouraged to use paid services or perform backups themselves.
Apart from website security, Bluehost is very serious about account privacy too.
Users can protect their accounts from someone else logging in by using Bluehost two-factor authentication. It's an extra layer, that, combined with difficult passwords will definitely protect accounts from being hacked.
Bluehost also uses account validation by a 6-digit token. To initiate any kind of contact with customer support or perform actions that require a higher level of account authority, you'll need to use the token. It is sent to email and also can be generated using a special link available to website owners.
Bluehost takes care of the security seriously - SSL certificates, account security, and high-level account privacy are included. It also encourages using premium services to take website security even further.
6. Professional 24/7 Customer Support
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.
Bluehost has all the possible support options available 24/7 and currently the response times are amazing. Although a couple of years ago the support was slower, the provider has improved a lot.
7. Weebly Website Builder
One of the best extra features Bluehost offers is a premium Weebly website builder. It means you can build your site without any coding knowledge. For free.
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. Designing a site becomes more like a game rather than a difficult chore.
You get professional and fast hosting alongside one of the biggest names in the website builder market.
One of the killer features for users not interessted in WordPress is a premium Weebly website builder. It's included for free and is designed for beginners with no web development knowledge.
A perfect hosting provider does not exist. 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. No Uptime Guarantee
Bluehost does not have an uptime guarantee which leaves users unprotected in case big downtimes happen. But knowing the history of great server performance, that shouldn't happen. Right?
Apparently, not so much. During the last month, Bluehost had quite a few downtimes. To be exact - 8, resulting in 9 minutes of outage in total and 99.98% uptime rate.
That's not a bad result itself. In fact, other providers struggle to keep their servers up for 99.9% of the time. However, with no uptime guarantee, users wouldn't be able to complain if there are more serious outages.
Beginners most likely won't even notice these downtimes. But larger websites are constantly striving towards 100% uptime and might feel insecure about a non-existing uptime guarantee.
Bluehost performs really well, however it does have regular micro downtimes. With no uptime guarantee that's not great and might cause some problems for big high-traffic sites.
2. Aggressive Upsells and Renewals
First of all, you'll only get the advertised pricing choosing the longest period plan. And after the initial period, prices will go up to their standard rates.
For instance, the Basic plan costing $2.95/mo for an initial billing period will increase to $7.99/mo.
But that's not all.
Be careful with the upsells as well. Once I went to the shopping cart to purchase a plan for this Bluehost review, I noticed a big increase in the price. The reason? Quite a few paid services were automatically marked and put in my shopping cart.
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.
Or you might not even need the service in the first place to launch a brand new website.
Bluehost's biggest con is its pricing strategy. Pricing is designed to increase after the first billing period and the provider really pushes extra premium features at the check out.
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 a 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 is not an option for short-term hosting. The shortest billing period is 12 months - payed in advance. And while the monthly pricing is affordable, paying the whole year in advance may be a burden of start-up budgets.
Bluehost Review - Our Verdict
As we figured in this Bluehost review, it's one of the best 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 that include 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 a no uptime guarantee, and a pretty inconvenient pricing strategy.
But putting everything together, Bluehost is one of the best hosts in the industry and it's definitely worth trying. Especially for beginners and WordPress users!
- Great server speed
- WordPress optimised hosting
- Additional security features
- Premium Weebly website builder
- No uptime guarantee
- Renewal prices increase after the first contract
- Shortest available plan is 12 months