“InMotion Hosting vs. SiteGround vs. Bluehost?” is a common question for anyone shopping for web hosting, especially for anyone planning on using WordPress.
InMotion, SiteGround and Bluehost are all –
- Established, well-known brands in the hosting industry, particularly in the WordPress hosting industry
- Provide a similar menu of products that revolve around shared Linux hosting
- Provide a full spectrum of hosting needs with advanced features
- Provide pricing & hosting products that focus on small to midsize companies
- Are either endorsed by the WordPress Foundation or are ever-present at WordCamps
- Have marquee clients with plenty of endorsements or testimonials
And yet – they are very different companies with different brands and different focuses.
Unlike most reviews, I do not think there is such a thing as a “best” host. There is only the best fit for you based on your goals, expertise, resources, and preferences.
I have current clients who use (and love) Bluehost. Although this specific site runs on InMotion Hosting – I also have several projects that have run on SiteGround for years. I’ve been happy with them.
In this comparison between InMotion, SiteGround, and Bluehost, I’ll try to break down the differences that I’ve found in several different areas ranging from pricing structure to customer service and market focus so that you can decide which is the best fit for your project.
Let’s dive into InMotion Hosting vs. SiteGround vs. Bluehost…
Disclosure – I receive customer referral fees from companies mentioned. All opinion and data are based on my experiences as a paying customer or consultant to a paying customer.
InMotion, SiteGround and Bluehost offer a wide menu of hosting products such as Shared Hosting, VPS hosting, Dedicated Hosting, specialized WordPress Hosting and more. But for pricing – we’ll focus on the most common product that small businesses usually need – shared Linux hosting.
Shared Linux hosting is also known as the “kind of hosting that lets you run WordPress, Joomla and most non-Windows web apps.”
All three use a typical 3 tier pricing structure. The bottom tier focuses on starter websites, the middle on growing sites, and the top tier on sites that need more resources or features.
The frustrating thing for shoppers is that the tiers do not match up at all. All three use different caps and different bonuses on each.
First Tier Pricing Comparison
The first tier is for small websites on a budget.
- InMotion has the Launch plan & renews at $6.99/mo.
- SiteGround has the StartUp plan & renews at $9.95/mo.
- Bluehost has the Basic plan & renews at $7.99/mo.
InMotion uses a domain name and database cap. This means that you can have up to 2 websites and up to 6 databases (e.g. software installs on the same domain). Everything else is unmetered, including email, storages, performance, etc.
SiteGround uses a domain name and storage cap. This means that you can only have 1 website on that plan and can only store up to 10GB. But you emails and databases are unlimited.
Bluehost uses domain name, website space and email account caps. This means that you can connect a single website, but you are also limited on your files stored and email accounts that you can setup.
If you are planning on setting up more than 6 development / sub-websites with minimal storage use, then SiteGround has better first tier pricing.
If you are looking for the most overall versatility and value, then InMotion has better first tier pricing.
Second Tier Pricing Comparison
The middle tiers are the most comparable among the three companies, but still have variations in their focus.
- InMotion has the Power plan & renews at $8.99/mo.
- SiteGround has the GrowBig plan & renews at $14.95/mo.
- Bluehost has the Plus plan & renews at $10.99/mo.
Like their first tier, InMotion uses domain and database caps on this tier with 6 domains and 50 databases allowed.
SiteGround uses a storage cap, but also begins to add on bonus / premium features like free wildcard SSL and “premium support.”
Bluehost removes all core hosting feature caps with unmetered / unlimited domains, databases, disk space and email accounts.
Now – at this level, there is also a good many features that are missing – but, the general plan comparisons are still straightforward.
If your needs fit under InMotion’s caps, then they still have the better second tier pricing.
If you are looking to set up a bunch of sites, however, then Bluehost has better overall value for price per site.
SiteGround’s second tier is so much more expensive than Bluehost and InMotion’s that it makes sense to look at it as a “cheap third tier plan.” So let’s look at that next.
Third Tier Pricing Comparison
At the third tier of pricing, none of the companies have caps on core hosting features (except for SiteGround’s 30GB storage cap). All three are basically competing on “bonus” or “premium features.”
I’ll cover the different hosting features in the next section, but it’s important to think about what your goals & true needs are. There is no sense in paying for features that you will never use.
It’s also useful to note features that are only “premium” because of contrast. In other words, a company can offer “increased speed” as a premium feature. But is the “increased speed” because the other plans are slow or because there is a substantial change in the account. In short – always ask why before buying the benefit.
- InMotion has the Pro plan & renews at $15.99/mo.
- SiteGround has the GoGeek plan & renews at $29.95/mo.*
- Bluehost has the Plus plan & renews at $14.99/mo.
*I’d also include SiteGround’s GrowBig plan in this group.
Bluehost’s main bonuses are a “SpamExpert,” “Domain Privacy” and “SiteBackupPRO.” The only one here that is a true bonus is SiteBackupPRO – which will backup and restore your site for free. The contrast here is that site backups are both included with InMotion and SiteGround’s plans, so it’s not a super-compelling pitch…unless you need to restore specific parts of your site.
Domain privacy sounds great, but it’s only worth around $24/yr – so it’s not worth the extra price.
InMotion’s third tier has no caps on core hosting features, and adds additional support promises.
SiteGround’s second and third tiers add several layers of worthwhile premium features, but it’s also by far the most expensive compared to both Bluehost and InMotion.
InMotion and Bluehost offer comparable pricing & feature sets for the third tier.
SiteGround’s third tier is worth the money if you know that you want the convenience of pre-built staging, Git Repo Creation, and wildcard SSLs.
All that said – there is much more to hosting than simply price. Let’s look at other areas among the three companies.
Like I’ve outlined in other web hosting reviews, it’s useful to break web hosting features down into two different sets – a “core feature set” and a “bonus / premium feature set”.
I mentioned this idea in the Pricing section, but want to expand on it so that you can shop with a sharp eye for what you do / don’t need.
The core feature set consists of what I call the “3 D’s” – domains, disk space and databases/email.
Domains are how many distinct web properties you can connect to your hosting account. Disk space is how many files you can store on your account, and databases/email is how much software you can install to help manage those files (ie, one install of WordPress requires one database on your server).
As mentioned in the pricing, all three mix and match these core hosting features based on pricing tier.
They also all maintain new, current hardware. They all use industry standard software such as cPanel and mySQL that “run” your core features. These allow for flexible and familiar management. There’s nothing proprietary about their setups (unlike some hosts like GoDaddy or 1&1) – so you can pick up and leave whenever you want. They all have PHP 7 available.
That said, you can start to see a difference between them on more premium / bonus features.
InMotion and SiteGround both offer free migration from other hosts while Bluehost charges for the service. This confirms that Bluehost is focused on acquiring new customers rather than acquiring customers with existing websites.
InMotion and SiteGround both include free SSL certificates in their plans.
For InMotion, it’s a namebrand Comodo SSL certificate, while SiteGround includes access to an already free Let’s Encrypt certificate.
SiteGround has data centers around the world, including Singapore while InMotion has data centers in Los Angeles and Virginia.
Bluehost and InMotion both include a free domain for new customers – which can be convenient for anyone that doesn’t have a domain name from a 3rd party already.
SiteGround has a heavy focus on developer-friendly premium features such as Git rep creation and built-in staging.
As a general rule, all three have the features that will run a good website on whatever software you choose.
That said, InMotion comes out ahead on more versatile features that appeal to a broader cross-section of customers.
SiteGround will be more appealing to developers or freelancers looking for specific features – or convenient access to already free features like Cloudflare or LetsEncrypt.
Speed & Performance
The core job of a web host goes beyond simply storing and delivering files to your website visitors. You’ll also want your web host to deliver the files quickly and all the time.
There are a lot of factors that go into website speed, and many times you cannot blame a slow website on a slow host (e.g., even the most powerful engine cannot go Zero to 60mph in 5 seconds if it’s pulling a massive boat).
That said – server speed is still critical. There’s not really a good way for non-network engineers to measure server speed between hosts (since again, lots of factors).
Here’s the results from my most recent tests with all three. They all have the same non-cached plain WordPress install with a test from Dallas, TX (about the same distance to the respective data centers).
Here is InMotion’s test.
Here is SiteGround’s test.
Here is Bluehost’s test.
As you can see, SiteGround edges out InMotion Hosting, but both beat Bluehost by a wide margin.
It is important to repeat that this is one test. The results align with my historical results for all three. Generally, InMotion and SiteGround are the fastest hosts that I test. They are usually tit for tat and within a very tight margin. You can use and optimize either one and get a very fast site.
Bluehost is usually slower, but by no means a “slow” host. If you implement basic speed improvements, you can beat any competitor on a “fast” host who does not implement basic speed improvements.
Now – raw speed is not the only performance variable to look at. You also have to look at uptime / downtime.
All three hosts guarantee their uptime. They will all credit you free months if you have downtime. But uptime / downtime is a tough topic to discuss.
The trick here is to figure out if downtime is more or less likely due to culture, technology or raw size.
SiteGround focuses on radical transparency. They have an uptime monitor on their homepage. They are open and upfront about it. Their primary risk is that they are growing so fast that internal errors can happen – either on the human or hardware side.
InMotion also provides uptime monitoring. They however focus on the customer support side of downtime. They had some downtime in May 2017 due to a bad routing device that interfaced with their bandwidth provider. From email alerts to updates to customer support response, they were open and upfront and helpful. Like SiteGround, their risk remains identifying unknown risks as their technology and size grows.
Bluehost is a bit different. They are owned by the largest hosting provider in the world (Endurance International). They have the resources and capital to fix infrastructure and provide quick solutions. However, they also represent and enormous target for hackers. Also – due to their size, when things go wrong…they go really wrong. In 2016, they had a “spanning tree protocol” issue due to a potential DDoS attack that led to 12+ hours of downtime for millions of accounts. They were open and transparent throughout on Twitter and email…but it was an illustration of what happens at that size.
All that to say – I give InMotion and SiteGround extra points on uptime – not because they haven’t had downtime, but because I see them having less overall risk for massive downtime.
Usability & Onboarding
Any good product can turn bad quickly if you can’t figure out how to actually use it. And this point is especially true with web hosts.
InMotion, SiteGround and Bluehost have fairly straightforward onboarding and good usability. They all use cPanel. They all maintain similar account portals and they both send out similar onboarding emails.
And they both make it straightforward to install common web apps like WordPress. Here’s what their respective “backend” setups look like –
All three backend’s are pretty straightforward. InMotion uses the latest & cleanest version of cPanel. Bluehost has nice design scheme while SiteGround has the older, more functional looking cPanel.
All three have solid onboarding during signup. InMotion has the most versatile signup process. It is straightforward, but also has plenty of options.
Bluehost’s onboarding is focused on first time users with a pretty narrow, but well-designed process. SiteGround’s process is focused more on existing site owners.
If you are a first time user, you’ll likely feel more comfortable with Bluehost or InMotion. If you have signed up for hosting before, you’d honestly be fine with any other them.
Usability and onboarding can solve a lot of problems. but not every single issue. And that’s where customer service comes in.
The tricky thing about customer service is that it’s all anecdotal. No single comparison (including this one) can state definitively if one company has “good” service or “bad” service.
You never know if your customer service agent just started yesterday (or was their one seasoned pro) or was having a terrible/awesome day – or if it’s a deeper indication of company culture.
Instead, I try to look at indications on whether a company treats their customer service as a cost, a sales opportunity or as an investment.
I like to look for an indicator or proxy that will show this. I’ve found that access and content investment are usually good indicators.
Or, in the case of Bluehost, you can look at public investor reports.
According to the EIG’s Investor’s Day report, they are obsessed about their Net Promoter Score (NPS). In short – that is a metric that measures how likely your customers are to recommend you.
They draw a clear correlation between customer service → NPS → $$$
In other words, Bluehost view customer service as an investment that leads to both more sales and more upsell opportunities.
That’s a good thing for you as the customer with a catch (ie, the upsell part). If you don’t mind putting up with the upsells, you’ll likely experience fine customer service from both Bluehost.
Now – that’s fine and all. But there is still the part about access.
Bluehost does phone support and chat support and DIY knowledgebase. But everything is setup to triage your question. Overall, it’s fine but also the kind of typical customer service you’d expect from a big company.
As the smaller, private companies in this comparison, I can’t see any internal documentation from SiteGround or InMotion.
That said – they both make customer support Their Thing. They set expectations pretty high – and in my experience, hit those expectations.
InMotion goes above and beyond with access. They do phone, chat, email, social media, and DIY – but they also do Skype and even provide help in the comments section.
InMotion also provides customer support on topics that they technically are not responsible for. For example with WordPress – they are not obligated to provide support for specific plugins or software. But they still do – like a lot. They even rank in Google for common software questions due to their extensive knowledgebase.
SiteGround also provides excellent support. They have a wide range of access with incredibly fast response times. You are also likely to talk immediately to a specialist rather than a support triage person.
The main support difference between SiteGround and InMotion’s support is that InMotion tends to provide broader and more flexible support. SiteGround’s specialists are usually more technically focused on performance over versatility. For example, here’s an email from a reader who eventually ended up with InMotion –
Thank you for this article on InMotion hosting. I am looking for a solution to the many problems I have had recently with SiteGround.
The main problem has been that I am using the Avada theme – (which IS a hog – but works great for my needs) SiteGround seems unwilling to make correct adjustments to the max input vars that the Avada theme requires. It took several frustrating days of back and forth between Avada and Siteground to resolve this problem and it turns out that Siteground has already been told of how to fix.
I don’t know SiteGround’s exact response, but I did find that InMotion has covered specific instructions on this issue in their Knowledgebase.
If you are looking for the best customer support, you should use InMotion Hosting.
Even though every host says that they are for “everyone” – the open secret is that no single brand can serve everyone’s needs.
When you are looking for a host, it’s important to understand exactly who their core market is so that you can work with a company that will focus on your needs over the coming years.
Here’s how I categorize the companies –
InMotion Hosting – They are focused on the business side of running a website. In other words, performance, features, and price matter – but they all serve the broader business use of a website. They invest in hand-on support, practical features and versatile pricing that appeal to website owners / developers who are running a business that happens to be a website.
SiteGround – They are focused on the technical side of running a website. In other words, raw performance, features and support all matter – because that is what constitutes a high-quality website. they sweat the technical details and focus their marketing materials to appeal to website owners who are proud of running a good online operation.
Bluehost – They are focused on usability side of running a website. In other words, pricing, performance and features matter – but only because they help website owners get started and keep going. They invest in good pricing, approachable design and good features that appeal to anyone that feels daunted by setting up a website. They want a self-hosted site to be achievable.
The Internet is global, but your audience is often not. If your audience (not your business) is located primarily in a single region, it makes sense for your website to “live” there…if you have a reputable host nearby.
InMotion’s data centers are in Los Angeles, USA and Virginia, USA. Bluehost’s data center is in Utah, USA. SiteGround has data centers in Chicago, USA and Singapore in addition to several in Europe.
If your audience is primarily in Europe or Asia, then you should give additional points to SiteGround.
If your audience is global, then any of them will do well, especially if you add a “content distribution network” (CDN) to your website.
Here’s grab bag of other factors to consider.
- InMotion has the longest money-back guarantee (90 days).
- InMotion provides a “clean” WordPress autoinstall (ie, no ads or unwanted pages or plugins)
- SiteGround provides NGINX on all plans by default
- SiteGround and Bluehost are officially endorsed providers by the WordPress Foundation
InMotion vs. SiteGround vs. Bluehost Conclusion
So InMotion or SiteGround or Bluehost? They’re all fine hosts with some differences.