BlueHost is one of the biggest shared hosting providers, today hosting over two million websites on their servers. The company is so confident about the quality of their service, that they implemented a 30 days full refund and an anytime money back policy. The already good hosting experience that you receive from BlueHost is topped with the 24/7 available, well-trained, in-house support team.
Matt Heaton the founder of BlueHost, who has established the company back in 1996. Today it is owned by the Endurance Group (the owner of other big brands).
The company is very proud of its in-house expert team, claiming that nothing is outsourced. BlueHost has its own fiber optic connections, their own 20,000 square feet data-center, and on their servers are powered by the custom developed Linux kernel operating system.
BlueHost currently hosts more than 2 million website, because it is one of the most popular, inexpensive hosting providers out there. But is it really that good, or is all the recommendations and ads you see full of hot air? Well that is why we are here, to look at the facts and establish how good of an option this is for anyone looking to launch and run a website.
What’s Good About BlueHost?
Affordable Starting Plans: whatever you are a beginner or an advanced user, at BlueHost you will find the right plan for your needs. Their most basic, “starter” shared hosting plan starts at $3.95 per month rate; this allows hosting one website. Customers, who need more “room”, can opt for the unlimited “plus” plan for only $5.95 per month starting price, this plan allows hosting as many website you want.
Reliable and Trustworthy: the company has a very long history of almost two decades, that proves the fact that they have been doing a very good job if they managed to stay on the top for such a long time in this constantly changing and evolving hosting industry. BlueHost claims that today they are powering over 2 million website worldwide, which is a very positive aspect of a hosting company.
Using Latest Technology: was always a high priority at BlueHost. For instance, their shared hosting accounts are running on servers with 16-core ADM Opteron processors, 256GB DDR3 SDRAM, 64TB capacity SSD database storage, multiple Gigabit LAN ports and latest software version to ensure the best performance and the higher security for the hosted websites.
Support for Open Source: BlueHost is a big fan of open source software, their control panel offer one-click installation for a wide range of scripts such as Joomla, Drupal, WordPress and others. Since 2005, BlueHost is a great supporter of the WordPress.org project; recently they have launched managed WordPress hosting service that was created, optimized and customized especially for this software.
Option to Expand: at the start, when building your first website there is no need for more than a shared hosting plan, and you may not think of how beneficial is to be able to upgrade your hosting plan later on. BlueHost offers the option to upgrade your current hosting plan to a higher level without going through all the hassle that may come with this process. The company offers multiple virtual and dedicated server plans, you can choose from.
WordPress Hosting: BlueHost offers optimized WordPress hosting as well various packages for WooCommerce hosting.
What’s Bad About BlueHost?
Migration Service: although other hosting providers such as InMotion offers up to 3 website transfers for free, BlueHost is charching $99 for the migration service that includes up to 5 websites and not more than 20 email accounts. The transfer is only offered for shared plans.
Long Subscription Period: to get the lowest price for shared plans at BlueHost, you have to purchase their service for 3 years. No monthly subscription is available for shared hosting.
The starting phase of any business, blog or website can be pretty daunting. There’s plenty of money to invest up front and you want to cut the corners wherever possible. BlueHost helps you do just that, if nothing else perfectly. It provides a steady hosting solution that performs well in all the core aspects but it isn’t perfect. There are plenty of services that are paid for, while other providers give it for free. Maybe you wouldn’t even use them, but things like these can be turnoffs.
Although, BlueHost makes up for it with the hand-holding it provides to beginners and WordPress users. Their services are cheap, let websites run smoothly and efficiently, while their customer support provides all the help you might need to get started. But it does indeed lack a couple of features that can be found at rival companies.
BlueHost Plans & Pricing
BlueHost offers four types of hosting plans which you can choose from according to your website’s requirements and your budget.
This is where BlueHost really shines with their quality of service and their low prices. Their shared hosting plans are what attract most of their customers anyway, because they’re cheap and receive good reviews all around the internet. Their Basic package, which is the most popular shared hosting plan starts at $2.95 per month, which is really attractive. You’ll settle your web hosting expenses with 35.4$ a year. But there’s a catch. You’ll have to sign up for three years of service and stick with them throughout that time. It can be still reasonable, because you’ll end up paying 106.2$ for three years of a quality hosting service.
If you need something with unlimited storage space and extra advertising credits, you can go with their Plus plan for $5.45 per month or their prime plan for also $5.45 per month. I can’t really tell the difference between these two, but while the Basic plan ($2.95/mo) comes with limitations like 50GB of storage space, these are completely unlimited. You also get $200 worth of advertising credits that you can spend on marketing your website.
If you have a website that needs more of the server’s resources and you’re willing to spend a bit of extra cash, than you can leverage BlueHost’s cloud hosting services. They’re much faster and you’ll have dedicated resources that you don’t have to share with anyone else on the server. For $6.95 per month you’ll have the Starter Cloud Service, which offers 2 GB of RAM, 100 GB storage space, 2 CPU cores and unmetered bandwidth. You’ll also get a single domain, 100 email accounts with 500 MB email storage and $50 in marketing credits. The Performance and Business Pro plans come at $8.95 and $15.95 per month. They come with double and triple the resources, so it’s really worth investing into them if you need it.
As I mentioned, BlueHost’s specialty is WordPress and they really know every knot and jolt of the system. Not everyone feels like doing all the maintenance required to run a website. If you’re running a WordPress blog, you’ll be spending enough time with maintaining it and keeping it up to date and protected at all times. With BlueHost’s managed WordPress hosting plans, you don’t have to put up with that, but it costs quite a lot of money.
The WP Standard costs $19.99 per month and it will give you 30GB of storage, 30GB of backup storage, 2 GB of RAM, a domain name and plenty of additional software, such as a Free SSL, to keep your website running smoothly. You’ll constantly have experts making sure that it’s always operating at top speed and efficiency. There are three other plans that cost from $29.99 to $49.99, which come with a lot more resources. In short, these packages allow you to have a top-notch website, without having to move a finger. All you have to do is contact the support team when you feel like it.
BlueHost offers a VPS hosting service for those who need complete control over their server’s resources. Although it is important to mention that you need to be knowledgeable in server administration to actually make use of it. You’ll have to install the control panel and any other software you would like to use.
VPS hosting plans have a price similar to managed hosting plans, with the Standard Plan costing $19.99 per month. It offers the standard 2 GB RAM, 2 CPU cores 30 GB of SSD storage, unlimited bandwidth along with one domain and one IP address. The other two packages cost $29.99 and $59.99, offering double and four times the resources as the standard package. If you need more control and more power for a web app or a more complex online service and have the skills to manage it, this is the one for you.
If you’re looking for the ultimate in terms of performance and want to share resources with nobody else, dedicated hosting is the one you should choose. Although, it definitely goes heavy on the good old wallet, so you should have a solid business plan intact. You can get a truly powerful server with 4 CPU cores and 8 Threads, 4GB of RAM, 500 GB of storage and 5TB of premium bandwidth for $79.99 per month. This package also includes 3 IP addresses and one domain. The other two packages, the Enhanced ($99.99 per month) and the Premium ($119.99) offer more RAM, storage space, bandwidth and more IP addresses you can use.
So if you really need to go all out with an online service, BlueHost’s dedicated hosting service will prove to be one of your most cost effective solutions.
BlueHost offers plenty of great features that makes your subscription into a worthwhile deal. There are a few turnoffs to mention as well, but I’ll go into those in the next section.
- Good Security Options – BlueHost does well in terms of security options and offers tools that can combat your website’s most common threats. You can prevent spam with tools like SpamAssassin, Spam Experts and SpamHammer. You’ll also have CloudFlare, which will prevent DDoS attacks that would overwhelm your website with traffic. Any problematic individuals and cybercriminals will be blocked from your site, thanks to the IP address blacklist. You can also create filters yourself.
- You’ll also have link protection that will stop people from stealing your images or any of your content. If you want to make sure that absolutely nobody else has access to your server, you can use a two-factor authentication. So you basically have everything to keep your website and your data safe and sound at all times.
- Free Drag And Drop Site Builder – If you’re not looking to tinker with WordPress and want the cheapest and simplest solution to build a basic website, than you’ll have the tools for it. This drag and drop tool lets you put together the elements of a website in an easy to use interface. Really, even a 5 year old can use it!
- A Free Domain Name – Almost every one of BlueHost’s plans comes with a free domain name, which means it will spare you about $10 to $50 on your website’s launch. There’s a limit to it of course, because you probably won’t be able to use a domain that would otherwise cost $500 per year.
- Useful Apps and Integrations – BlueHost offers a dashboard with plenty of integrations, such as Google Apps and many eCommerce features. You’ll also get a free SSL security certificate for your website and OpenPGP/GPG Encryption to make your site even safer. All you have to do is install a payment gateway through a step by step process and use the MOJO Marketplace to install a shopping cart software and you’ll have a fully functional eCommerce website.
- Ease Of Use – BlueHost’s control panel is one of the simplest I’ve ever seen. It’s incredibly easy to use for a beginner because it’s so comprehensive.
- 30-Day Money Back Guarantee – You have a month to try out BlueHost’s services and get your money back if you’re not satisfied with it. Though some companies offer 90 days, BlueHost remains with the standard 30.
BlueHost Customer Support
BlueHost’s customer support isn’t the fastest, but you’ll definitely get a response within an hour. While some hosting providers take less than 5 minutes to respond to a client’s query, BlueHost takes about 45 minutes to give an answer. Long delays like this make support pretty much useless if you’ll fall asleep in front of your computer while you wait.
Though it’s positive that they have plenty of online resources, such as their YouTube channel, that has plenty of helpful videos.
Performance & Uptime for Websites Hosted at BlueHost
To ensure that BlueHost service performance well overtime, we constantly monitoring their service by tracking uptime. We use UptimeRobot for this purpose and works really good. We like to give updates time to time, so users can have an up to date information about the companies we review. Here is our recent uptime and performance report:
BlueHost Uptime & Performance Test for 2018:
Today is September 12, 2018 and I’ve decided to take a look to our test website which is running on BlueHost. The first thing I noticed when checked UptimeRobot is that it was showing 100% uptime for the last two month. Well, this is great news!
Our test website is not a standard WordPress installation. It is a production website, loaded with lots of images and content. Have Google Analytics installed and many plugins. That said, it loads in just 3 seconds on average according to UptimeRobot.
I’ve gone further with my tests and checked the website with Pingdom speed test tool. Pingdom also shows a 3.55 seconds load time, however the website received only a C performance grade. This is due to the big page size (almost 4MB) and several external files that are loaded on the website (jQuery, Google Analytics, ShareThis, AddThis, etc…). This website could be optimized for speed, but let’s be honest, if a website seems fast enough for the user, who cares about spending a lot of time and effort to speed it up with 1-2 seconds? In my opinion, this website loads fast enough.
I did not stop there. I did a test with LoadImpact, to see how the website performs when multiple users are accessing it. On average, the website was loading under 1 second. For a very short time, with 18 virtual users, the loading time was around 7 seconds. After this it went back to 1 second and was stable until the end of the stress test with 25 virtual users. In my opinion this is a great result, considering that our test website is still running on shared hosting.
Again, BlueHost has shown their value on our random test. I still highly recommend BlueHost!
Older Uptime & Performance Reports:
We have been monitoring one of BlueHost’s shared server for over six months now (March 2016), and decided to share our results with you. We used UptimeRobot to track the uptime and response time. Here is a screenshot taken from UptimeRobot that shows the total uptime for the last 30 days as well for the last 7 days:
The last downtime was recorded to be of one minute. In mid of February 2016, the tested website was down for about 37 minutes according to UptimeRobot, resulting of a 99.95% uptime for the last 30 days period. Which is great for a shared plan. The average response time for this period was 714 milliseconds, which is also very good result. As you can see from the above screenshot, time-to-time there are fluctuations in performance but these are getting back to normal very quickly.
To see how fast websites hosted with BlueHost are actually load, we performed couple of tests with the website speed tool from Pingdom. Here are the results:
This website is actually an online shop and it is built with Prestashop. It is a smalls shop, having less than one hundred products added to it. The size of homepage is pretty large, mostly because of the high quality images. According to Pingdom, this site takes 2.6 seconds to fully load, which does not feel slow at all when visiting the website for the first time. This site does not use cache and files are not optimized either. So with a bit of extra work it could be improved to load under two seconds.
BlueHost is one of the largest WordPress hosting company (hosting over one million WordPress sites on their servers). We wanted to see how a WordPress site performs at BlueHost. The above screenshot is taken also from Pingdom, showing the requests, load time and page size of the tested WordPress site. Although the size of the homepage is larger than the site tested before, and there are more requests as well, the WordPress site loads faster. The better performance and faster loading speed is because of the W3 Total Cache plugin used on this website. If you want to learn more about how to speed up your WordPress site, please check out our linked tutorial.
Verify your BlueHost Account
Because BlueHost takes security seriously, each new customer has to verify their web hosting account. After you purchase your first hosting plan at BlueHost, you will need to verify it before full access is granted to your account. There are multiple options to verify your purchase, but the simplest and fastest way is to give them a call during office hours.
If you are outside the US and prefer not to call, you can use email verification as alternative. More more information about account verification please visit BlueHost.com
Pros & Cons of Using BlueHost
We got mixed feeling towards BlueHost, because on one hand, it’s a really cost effective and solid solution for anyone who is looking to start a website. But on the other hand, it lacks a lot of things that we’ve liked at some of their rival companies (InMotion Hosting), such as free migrations and an award winning customer support team. Not all hosting companies are the same. Let’s see how the pros and cons add up.
The Pros – Why Choose BlueHost
- Strong Uptime– The core of BlueHost’s service is very much high quality, especially if you take how cheap it is into consideration. Their uptime is nothing short of amazing with servers being online 99.98% of the year. This means that your webpages will always load without a question, while with other hosting providers, they might be down.
- Fast Page Loads – Webpages are also incredibly fast to load, not taking more than 520 milliseconds to load. That’s pretty amazing, because 1200 milliseconds is the industry standard. You’ll get nothing less than lightning fast page loads.
- Low Introductory Price – BlueHost has massive popularity due to this simple fact. You can get a quality hosting service for $2.95 per month. You can spare a lot of money by choosing them.
- They’re One of WordPress.org’s Top Hosting Recommendations – WordPress recommends three hosting companies if you’re looking for a place to host your WordPress website, SiteGround, DreamHost and BlueHost. Which is why it is many people’s favorite too.
- Ease of Use – The control panel is made so that anyone with no technical background can use it and get everything accomplished.
The Cons – Why Not Choose BlueHost
- Costumer Support Takes Time To Respond – You’ll have 24/7 customer support with every plan you purchase, but they’re aren’t always easy to reach. Plenty of people have reported that they had to wait more than an hour to get a response from one of BlueHost’s representatives, which makes solving problems a more lengthy process.
- Low Introductory Price Only Comes With a 3 Year Subscription – There’s no surprise here, because every hosting company uses pricing tricks to lure in new customers. Most companies require a 2 year subscription though. But BlueHost is cheaper than most of them, so you actually end up with more money in your hands in the long term.
- No Free Site Migrations – This is a major bummer, since almost every hosting provider offers free migrations. It’s good for the user and the company as well. The user gets a free service and the company gets a new client with an already established website and a need for hosting. But BlueHost doesn’t see it that way and demands $149.99 for a migration. They also won’t migrate more than 5 websites and 20 email accounts. Also, you’ll have to pay $79.99 if you want to have a less than an hour long introductory course that will help you understand all of their services. These things are major turnoffs for me, because they come for free at most hosting providers.
- Not Everything is Truly “Unlimited” – Most hosting providers use this trick too. They advertise “unlimited” hosting which isn’t actually unlimited. If you just look into their Terms of Service, it will reveal the ugly truth. You should check it out if you’re interested in the details. In short, you can only use 3GB of databases space and cannot exceed 1000 databases, because they’ll terminate your account. Maybe even without notice.
Conclusion – Is BlueHost a Good Hosting Company?
BlueHost has been in business for over two decades, which proves that they are doing something right. Our tests and experience also indicates that BlueHost is a reliable hosting company. They has been recommended by WordPress.org and other reputable websites, as the number one hosting service provider for WordPress. BlueHost is definitely a good choice for new as well growing websites. It is developer friendly, supporting many programming languages and is also great for newbie users.
BlueHost might not be for everyone though, because they are not cheap and features on their shared plans are limited. If you are looking for a budget host which allows hosting multiple domains, you should check out HostGator or iPage. We highly recommend BlueHost for WordPress sites!
Even though the cons aren’t that pretty, BlueHost is still a very much decent hosting provider and we can recommend them. Although there are much better deals out there for those who are looking to run an already established website, BlueHost is excellent for beginners. Running a simple website or blog is as cheap as it gets with this company. Overall, BlueHost is among the best and you won’t go wrong by joining them.