Bluehost Web Hosting Review
Bluehost is one of the web hosting service behemoths everybody seems to know and use, from personal bloggers, small business owners to larger corporations. We'll have an in-depth look into the nitty-gritty of this provider and compare the alternatives.
By Jacob Roach – Last Updated: 02 Nov'17
When it comes to name recognition, Bluehost is the web-hosting service that almost everyone seems to know. It’s no wonder: the company has been around since 2003 and currently boasts over two million subscribers. On top of that, Bluehost packs more features and provides a better user experience than just about any other provider. It also works great with WordPress.
These advantages comes at a price, though — literally. Many Bluehost plans are more expensive than most of the competition. However, for those serious about building an attractive, smooth-running website, it’s a price you should consider paying. Read on to see more precisely how Bluehost compares the best web hosting providers and why it should be on your web-host shortlist.
- Very easy to use
- Best WordPress hosting provider
- Multiple hosting options
- Useful help center
- Inexpensive dedicated plans
- Expensive shared plans
- No email support
Bluehost packs so many features into its various web hosting plans that to go over all of them would require an entire article by itself. So, we’ll just hit on some of the highlights.
First, all plans offer enhanced cPanel. This is Bluehost’s own version of cPanel, which actually improves on an already great design. We’ll talk more about cPanel in the ease-of-use section, below.
On shared plans, one of the most important features is automated backup. Bluehost will create daily, weekly and monthly backups of your entire account for free. There are restrictions, though: you can only restore everything at once. To restore specific files or databases, you’ll need to pay for Bluehost’s PRO backup service (or find out how to backup WordPress).
Of all the plans offered, Bluehost’s specialized WordPress plans are the most feature-packed. Included with every plan is a free SSL certificate, SiteLock Pro and Sitelock CDN. However, the best feature for me is the MOJO marketplace integration. This marketplace is built into your cPanel so you can browse plugins, themes and more for WordPress without having to open another tab.
On the high end, dedicated hosting comes with the servers configured in RAID 1. This means that a copy of information stored on one server is mirrored on another. Whenever a server hard drive fails, your website operations won’t be disrupted while another is swapped in and set up.
These features are just a sample of what Bluehost offers. When compared to other web-hosting reviews, Bluehost is top of the class, granting practical features that make the experience more user friendly and your website more secure.
|Plan:||Price per month:|
|Shared Hosting Basic||$2.95|
|Shared Hosting Plus||$5.95|
Bluehost has one of the more confusing pricing schemes out there. However, prices are good, especially if you pay for multiple years upfront.
Shared plans are the lowest-level subscription you can get and come in three flavors: basic, plus and prime. A basic plan costs just $3.95 per month, but it doesn’t offer much for the money. Like A2’s “Lite” plan, it only comes with support for a single domain and a handful of email addresses.
The plus plan offers better value, letting you set up unlimited websites, and costs only $2 more. However, it’s still priced above market. GreenGeeks, for example, provides a shared plan with similar specs for only $3.95 per month.
You’ll need a long-term commitment for any of the shared plans, too, because Bluehost doesn’t offer a month-to-month payment option. The advertised rate is for a three-year commitment. If you just want a one-year subscription, you’ll pay substantially more.
You can get month-to-month pricing for WordPress hosting plans. However, the month-to-month cost is $39.99. A longer commitment reduces that to $19.99. Even discounted, it runs a few dollars more than DreamHost’s WordPress hosting.
Included with each plan is a free domain, SiteLock CDN, SiteLock Pro and a free SSL certificate. We’ll talk more about all of these in the security section below.
WooCommerce hosting provides quite a lot of value for e-commerce platforms. You get a dedicated IP address, a free included domain, positive SSL and WooCommerce pre-installed. There isn’t much to compare the rates to from other providers, but know that, like shared plans, you’ll need to make a commitment of at least 12 months or more.
Cloud hosting follows the trend of being a few dollars more than the competition. Comparing specs to a lower-cost option like HostGator, you’re not getting anything extra for your money, either.
VPS plans are a different story. Bluehost’s base VPS plan runs $19.99 per month, a whole $12 less than A2’s base VPS plan. Bluehost also breaks the multi-year commitment trend here, so you can pay per month if you’d like.
Dedicated hosting is very competitively priced. Bluehost’s $79.99 per-month base plan is priced below HostGator, InMotion and GreenGeeks. That price is for a three-year contract, but the month-to-month price of $149.99 is still reasonable relative to similar services.
Bluehost offers six different hosting plans: shared, cloud, WordPress, WooCommerce, VPS and dedicated. While there are no specific reseller plans, Bluehost covers all of what’s expected from a hosting company, with a couple extra plans dedicated to certain platforms.
Shared hosting is where your domain is hosted on a server with others. In short, you’re sharing the server. As mentioned in the pricing section, shared hosting doesn’t show much value unless you’re okay with a multi-year contract.
While shared plans may not offer a lot in terms of specs for your money, they still offer Bluehost’s suite of features. With any shared plan, you get email, automatic backups and the enhanced cPanel, all for no extra money.
Next comes cloud hosting. Not every hosting company offers this service right now, so it’s nice to see Bluehost stepping up to the plate. Bluehost cloud hosting spreads your web data across three different servers. Should one fail, you’ll be automatically switched to another while the failed server rebuilds.
Another advantage of cloud hosting is scalability. You can easily add more CPU power or more RAM to improve performance. Instead of purchasing a new plan and waiting for the migration to occur, you can have more power right away.
WordPress hosting with Bluehost is arguably the best out there. What makes it so special is how WordPress integrates into cPanel. You can control many features of your admin panel from the Bluehost website, such as installing templates or managing plugins. The integration is second to none, giving you an overview of WordPress without opening another tab.
WooCommerce rides on the back of WordPress hosting. Since it runs on WordPress, Bluehost has both pre-installed at your domain when you sign up. You’ll also get a positive SSL certificate, which is more secure than a free one, so you can safely sell online.
VPS hosting sits in between shared and dedicated hosting. You still share a server, but instead of dynamic resources, you get a set amount dedicated just to you. This is done with a virtual machine that acts as a dedicated server, only using part of a physical server’s resources.
At Bluehost, the VPS plans are managed, meaning you can run your site from cPanel like you would with any other plan. However, the option to have root level access is also available, so you can configure your virtual server if you’d like to.
Dedicated hosting is the top-of-the-line option, giving you not just a chunk, but an entire server to yourself. All of Bluehost’s dedicated servers provide RAID-1 storage, which mirrors information stored on one drive to another. You can learn more about RAID here.
Bluehost is the simplest web-hosting provider I’ve reviewed. Everything from managing your account to accessing cPanel to contacting support is laid out in a way that I’ve never seen before, but would like to see more of.
Starting at the top, choosing a plan is simple. Bluehost puts the most important information first on product pages, with more technical details organized behind other tabs. New users won’t feel lost in the jargon, while more tech-oriented users can find the information they want to know.
After signing up and logging in, you land right inside of cPanel. Most web-hosting providers give some sort of dashboard for managing your account, where you have to log into cPanel separately. At Bluehost, it’s all in one place.
It’s claim of having an “enhanced” cPanel is surprisingly accurate. It’s a bit of a cross between the dashboard at DreamHost and cPanel, giving a user-friendly interface that has a lot of power behind it.
For WordPress sites, cPanel is especially impressive. The MOJO marketplace is built into it so you can browse new themes, plugins and security features directly through the dashboard. Instead of hunting around for different sites, it’s all built in.
WordPress users can also find a lot of site management options without actually logging into WordPress. From cPanel, you can set up things like how many content revisions to keep, automatic updates and caching preferences. I’ve never seen that with any other hosting provider.
Bluehost’s cPanel has to be used to be fully appreciated. Even those who are comfortable digging around a bit will benefit from the design. The ease of use here is the best I’ve seen.
Security can be very good at Bluehost, depending on what plan you select. Not all plans hold the security features I would have hoped to see, making this area feel slightly disjointed. However, where Bluehost hits, it hits big.
Across all plans, you’ll find Cloudflare free. Cloudflare is a content delivery network (CDN) that uses a network of proxy servers to deliver more complex web objects quickly.
A CDN has another advantage: protection against DDoS attacks. The network can disperse the incoming traffic so the server you’re hosting on doesn’t crash. (Head here to learn more about DDoS attacks and how to protect yourself).
Where security really shines is with WordPress plans. Included with every one is a free SSL certificate. An SSL certificate protects information that is being transferred from the user to the host. If any personal information can be entered on your site, an SSL certificate is a must as web browsers are beginning to warn users about websites without one.
You also get SiteLock CDN with WordPress plans. SiteLock has data centers around the globe ensuring that content can be delivered quickly to users on your site. For example, if your hosting server is in the United States but someone is trying to access it from Australia, they will be served content from data centers in Australia, vastly improving load times.
The final thing you get with WordPress hosting is SiteLock Pro for the lowest plan and SiteLock Enterprise for the highest plan. SiteLock is an all-in-one place for security on your site. It will scan your website daily for vulnerabilities, automatically remove any malware and even provide basic DDoS protection.
Unfortunately, all of that doesn’t carry over to other plans. Things like SSL certificates and SiteLock are available, but must be purchased. WordPress plans are more expensive because of it, but I would rather BlueHost raise it’s prices and just include them in all plans.
There are two ways to contact Bluehost, whether you’re a customer or not. Live chat and phone support are available 24/7. For self-help, Bluehost has an extensive list of articles, as well as video tutorials and walkthroughs.
The support-site navigation is the best I’ve seen from a hosting company. When visiting the contact page, you see every department listed. Below each is the option for live chat, as well as a dedicated phone number. No more phone trees.
Technical support and sales staff are always available, but there are operating hours for support in other areas. These are things like questions about the terms of service (which still has a dedicated phone number), so it’s really not that big of an issue.
Live chat is further tailored to your precise issue. After selecting your department, you’re asked what specific area you’re having issues with and then what issue you’re having in that area. That works most of the time, but I would have liked to see an “other” option for issues that don’t fit in the lines.
The self-help center mirrors the options found in live chat and phone support. Simply search for your issue and Bluehost will pull up a list of topics that match that query. Instead of just pulling up a list of articles, Bluehost shows you all of the options for that issue, so you may find an article, video and walkthrough for a particular problem.
Bluehost will also recommend content that it thinks is the best option for you. You’ll see a big green box around the recommendation.
The only thing missing is email support. Bluehost recently discontinued its ticketing system to dedicate its customer service staff solely to phone and chat support.
Bluehost is, undoubtedly, one of the best web hosting providers out there. The amount of features packed into each plan combined with great ease of use make this platform ideal for both novices and advanced users.
While low-end plans can be a bit pricey, VPS and dedicated server options sit below market price while still providing an experience unmatched by any other hosting company. If you want to host a high-impact website, then Bluehost is probably a good place to start.
Have you used Bluehost before? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.