Bluehost Web Hosting Review
Best price/performance ratio
Bluehost was founded in 2003 by Matt Heaton and purchased in 2011 by the Endurance International Group. At that time, Heaton stepped down as CEO, saying he wanted to focus more on the company’s design and technical structure.
Instead, COO Dan Handy would step into the role of CEO. To date, it is one of the largest web hosts with over 1.9 million domains. This number includes sites registered with sister companies iPage, FastDomains, and HostMonster.
Bluehost has been no stranger to controversies. In 2009, the company was criticized for censoring webpages of customers they believed to be citizens of countries listed by the US Government as rogue states. They also took down a website being hosted on their server in 2011; after receiving thousands of complaints about the site. The religious page had posted comments against gays and lesbians, stating they were morally responsible for an earthquake that rocked New Zealand that year.
During our Bluehost review, we noted the company offers three different types of hosting services: shared, virtual private server (VPS), and dedicated. Each of these services has different tiers which users can choose from. The company also offers dedicated WordPress hosting, and reseller options, each with different pricing plans and service levels to choose from.
Most Popular Shared Hosting Plans
Shared hosting allows users to build websites using space on a server shared with several other domains. Customers can choose from the starter package which includes one website, 100GB of website space, and unlimited bandwidth. This option starts at $3.40 per month with a three year contract. Those not interested in a long-term contract can choose one or two year contracts for $4.95 or $3.95 per-month–respectively.
They also offer shared hosting plus, which features unlimited websites, web space, and bandwidth. In addition, users also get unlimited parked domains, subdomains, email accounts and storage for $5.95 per-month with a three-year-contract. There is also a one year plan available for $7.95 per-month or two-year agreement for $6.95 a month.
The final option with shared hosting plans is the business pro, which features everything the pro plan has, but also includes one SSL, one dedicated IP, two spam experts and site backup pro. This package costs $13.95 per month for a three-year contract. Users can opt for the two-year contract for $15.95 a month or a one-year contract for $18.95 per month.
Bluehost also offers virtual private servers, which are built on cloud technology. This offers more flexibility in building and controlling with your website. Customers interested in VPS have four different plan choices: standard, enhanced, premium, and ultimate.
Dedicated and Reseller Hosting
If you need more power than a simple shared hosting space can provide you can choose a dedicated server. Also, if you’re an agency who provides web hosting services you can opt for the reseller plans:
Our Bluehost review showed that setting up a new account is fairly simple. Before purchasing a plan, you have to enter a domain name you wish to register with Bluehost. For those who wish to transfer an existing domain, simply enter the information into the appropriate box and click next. This company will tell you if a new domain is available or not, in order to save on hassle after the account is setup.
Bluehost is quick about setting up new domains. It does take time for the new domain to be available to use, however, but it is usually up and running within the hour. You can use your account within minutes to start building webpages, and get something ready to go live when the name has been resolved.
It is fairly easy to use Bluehost’s tools in order to build the perfect website. For those who like to build their site in HTML and then upload the files, the infrastructure does support FTP transfers in order to upload your webpages to their server. You can then point your domain to those files in order to display the site.
Those who don’t want to fight with HTML, can choose to install WordPress, Drupal, SimpleScripts, or Concrete 5. You can also use the Weebly website builder to build a “what you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) page.
Bluehost does offer a variety of features. All plans come with unlimited disk storage and most have unlimited domain hosting, you will have to pay extra for name registration for additional domains. Also, accounts get unlimited web scripts for Moodle, Tikiwiki, polling and surey software, Moodle, Drupal, Joomla and image galleries.
Bluehost email also allows you to either use POP3 or IMAP to push your messages to a mobile device or an outside mailing service. Shared hosting packages have email accounts available to them. For the starter plan, users are able to create up to 100 accounts with 500MB of storage per username. Plus and business pro plans allow customers to create unlimited accounts with unlimited storage.
Bluehost email also allows you to forward messages to different services as you desire. There are also three different webmail solutions for account access.
WordPress is a feature that many people are interested in. All of Bluehost’s hosting plans include Wordpress free of charge. However, there is a plan providing something more for those who are avid bloggers and want to host several WordPress sites on a VPS.
For those interested in having only WordPress hosting and want to take advantage of all the program has to offer, their hosting platforms uses VPS to make blogs shine. The tiers: blogger, professional, business, and enterprise come at a reduced rate from the VPS and allow for a different amount of visitors and users per month.
With Bluehost, coupon plans start at $12.49 for the first month. Regular prices begin at $24.95. This plan gets 100 million visits and 5 managed sites. Other WordPress hosting plans include:
During our Bluehost review we found that this hosting service has an uptime of 99.99%. According to webhosting stuff.com, which monitored the site for over 3,000 days, the claim is accurate. Since monitoring began in September of 2005 service was interrupted 15 times, for a total of 273 minutes, or roughly four and a half hours. The longest service disrupt at one time was 37 minutes.
We also checked into speed. All of Bluehost’s plans offer unlimited bandwidth, however that doesn’t necessarily mean it operates at the speed of light. Testmy.net did a third-party test on the hosting company and found the average downloading speed was about 4.9Mbps (614kB/s). Current download speed index was 10.3Mbps (1.3MB/s). The average upload test speed was 2.3Mbps (283 kB/s). The current upload speed index is 2.8Mbps.
However, what’s most important to any web site owner is site speed. Overall, we’ve been very happy with our array of sites that are hosted on that platform. Simple WordPress sites load fairly quickly for the average Internet user, mostly below 2 seconds which is acceptable.
We could further enhance site speed with a CDN (content delivery network) that comes at an extra cost but might be worth it if you site depends on conversions, e.g. an e-commerce store. Don’t expect to a standard shared hosting plan to cope with extensive data base juggling – you’ll need a dedicated web hosting service, most likely a VPS.
Bluehost does offer secure servers, even on their shared plans. The company routinely updates their security protocol, which can take the server down for approximately 15 minutes. Security updates can be to Apache, the server operating system, kernel, applications running, or cPanel.
The company also offers a variety of ways for you to ensure that your site is secure. While they don’t perform site scanning themselves, they do offer a reduced rate for SiteLock site scanning, at $14.99 a year. If you sign up on SiteLock’s website, the cheapest you’ll pay is $9.99 a month.
Customer support for Bluehost is pretty good. Users can choose different ways to contact their service department. Customers can email, open support tickets, search their extensive knowledgebase, converse with others on the user forums, call support directly or use their chat feature.
We used the chat feature in order to gain clarification on some issues, such as implementing SSL on one of our web properties. Wait time was only a minute both times we used it. The support personnel were knowledgeable and friendly. They are usually answering multiple chats at one time, so they are not focused on one person at a time.
However, they do tell you upfront that they are assisting multiple chatters at once. There was some delay in answering, but all our questions were answered within ten minutes, so the delay wasn’t too bad.
When compared to other Bluehost reviews of 2014, we found that most people were happy with their service. Those who complained had problems with their WordPress sites or discovered the cPanel hard to navigate.
We noticed that they do offer a variety of plans to meet any need and just about any budget. Their variety is unmatched by other providers, however, for the average user those additional plan options are worthless. Most users don’t need five dedicated WordPress sites, dedicated hosting, or virtual private servers. However, for pro bloggers and businesses– these plans will work great.
Since WordPress is one of the most popular platforms out there, it is good to know that all their hosting plans have built-in support, even if it is more difficult than a one-click set up. They do offer a tutorial on how to migrate your blog to their hosting service.
The Bluehost coupon will help save you money on any service. Remember, the discount works differently for different plans. Some only get a discount on the first month, while others get a discount for the length of the service. Also, the billing requires you to pay for the chosen service length upfront. They do offer a money-back-guarantee, which means you can cancel at any time, without cause, and the remainder of the terms funds will be refunded.
Bluehost is probably not the easiest host to work with. There is a lot you have to do on your own. However, if this is not your first website, then Bluehost is worth a try.