Bluehost vs InMotion Hosting is a very common comparison for anyone shopping for a web hosting provider, especially for anyone planning on using WordPress as their website software. I’ve written an InMotion Hosting Review and a Bluehost Review.
|Takeaways||Bluehost Hosting||InMotion Hosting|
|Key Strength||Ease of Use & Setup||Product Features & Options|
|Key Complaint||Peak Performance||Broad Customer Focus|
|Best for…||Beginners & bloggers||Growing Business Websites|
|Current Promotion||Get Current Promo||Get Current Promo|
Bluehost and InMotion are both –
- 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 DIYers to 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 online 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.
In this comparison between InMotion 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.
Bluehost and InMotion offer a wide menu of hosting products such as Shared Hosting, VPS hosting, Reseller Hosting, managed WordPress Hosting, dedicated hosting, domain names, and more. But for pricing – we’ll focus on the most common web hosting services that a small businesses usually needs – a shared hosting plan.
Shared Linux hosting is also known as the “kind of hosting that lets you run WordPress, Joomla, and most non-Windows web apps.” It’s usually bundled with email and other options. It’s versatile – and makes sense for the vast majority of business owners.
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 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, SSD storage, performance, etc.
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 file storage and email accounts that you can set up.
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 they still have variations in their focus.
- InMotion has the Power plan & renews at $9.99/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.
Bluehost removes all core hosting feature caps with unmetered bandwidth, unlimited websites, databases, unlimited disk space and email accounts.
Now – at this level, there are 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.
Third Tier Pricing Comparison
At the third tier of pricing, none of the companies have caps on core hosting features. Both 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.
- Bluehost has the Choice Plus plan & renews at $14.99/mo.
Bluehost’s main bonuses are a “SpamExpert,” “Domain Privacy” and “CodeGuard Backup.” The only one here that is a true bonus is CodeGuard PRO – which will backup and restore your site for free. The contrast here is that site backups are both included with InMotion 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. They also increase the default allocation of memory and CPUs to your account.
InMotion and Bluehost offer comparable pricing & feature sets for the third tier. I’d lean to InMotion because their add-ons are more compelling for the price.
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 company 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, both mix and match these core hosting features based on pricing tier.
They also all maintain new, current hardware. They both 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. Bluehost does do a better job with their WordPress integration with cPanel. Since WordPress users are Bluehost’s focus, it’s the default.
They all have PHP 7 available. They both have automatic WordPress installation and automatic WordPress plugin installation available. Their website builder options are both built on WordPress.
That said, you can start to see a difference between them on more premium/bonus features.
InMotion offers 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 includes free name brand Comodo SSL certificate in their plans. InMotion also includes a free staging environment in their WordPress hosting plan in addition to lots of more technically-focused features.
InMotion has data centers in Los Angeles and Virginia. Bluehost is in Provo, Utah.
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.
As a general rule, both have the features that will run a good website on whatever software you choose.
That said, InMotion comes out ahead with more versatile features that appeal to a broader cross-section of customers, while Bluehost does a good job zero-ing in on customers who just want to build a WordPress website from scratch.
Speed & Performance
The core job of a web hosting solution 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 are 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 Bluehost’s test.
As you can see, InMotion edges out Bluehost.
It is important to repeat that this is one test. The results align somewhat with my historical results for all three. Generally, InMotion is one of the fastest hosts that I test. Bluehost has historically been slower, but have improved in the past year. 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.
Both are within a good speed margin. None are “slow” per se. 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.
Both 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.
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.
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 an 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 the incident on Twitter and email…but it was an illustration of what happens at that size.
All that to say – I give InMotion extra points on uptime – not because they haven’t had downtime, but because I see them having a less overall risk of 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 and Bluehost have fairly straightforward onboarding and good usability. 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 –
Both backends are pretty straightforward. InMotion uses the latest & cleanest version of cPanel. Bluehost has nice custom design scheme with access to cPanel in “advanced tools”.
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.
If you are a first time user, you’ll likely feel more comfortable with Bluehost. If you are broadly familiar with setting up a website (even with a builder or WordPress.com), then InMotion would be great as well.
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 back in 2016, 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: customer service → NPS → $$$
In other words, Bluehost views 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.
That said – InMotion makes 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.
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.
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.
If your audience is global, then either will stil do well, especially if you add a “content distribution network” (CDN) to your website (like StackPath / MaxCDN).
Bluehost vs InMotion Hosting Conclusion
So Bluehost vs InMotion? They both have a solid hosting platform with some differences.