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Bluehost Review – A Popular Web Host… But Are They Good?

Bluehost ReviewBluehost Review

9.5 Out of 10
Hosting PlansWeb Hosting, WordPress Hosting, Website Builder, VPS & Dedicated Servers
Tech SupportHelp Desk, Live Chat, Phone, Knowledge Base & Social Media
UptimeExcellent (99.99% past 6 months)
Guarantees30-Day Money Back
Free MigrationYes
Best ForBeginners & WordPress bloggers
StrengthsGreat value & easy-to-use
WeaknessesUpsells & storage limits
PromotionStarting At $2.95/mo

What is Bluehost?

Bluehost is one of the most established and well-known web hosting brands on the internet. Bluehost was founded in 2003 by Matt Heaton and Danny Ashworth. In 2012, it was acquired by the conglomerate Endurance International (now called Newfold Digital).

Bluehost hosts over 2 million websites and employs over 750 employees with offices in Orem, Utah. It is one of the largest and most popular providers of web hosting services on the Internet. In addition to hosting, they have a large product line of hosting products:

  • Domain name registration
  • Shared Hosting
  • WordPress Hosting
  • VPS Hosting
  • Website builder

Bluehost Pricing

Bluehost offers a wide spectrum of hosting plans. Here’s a brief summary of each.

Web Hosting

Web hosting plans (aka shared hosting) is the bread and butter of the hosting world. A shared plan consists of individual accounts on a Linux server. Shared hosting packages are usually powerful enough to run most beginner to moderately visited websites.

They can run WordPress or any application on a LAMP Stack. It’s a cost-effective and reliable way to run most websites. Learn more about shared hosting in this guide. Bluehost has three main shared hosting plan options.

PlanBasicPlusChoice PlusPro
Intial Price*$2.95/mo.$5.45/mo.$5.45/mo.$18.95/mo.
Renewal Price$9.99/mo.$13.99/mo.$18.99/mo.$26.99/mo.
Websites1unlimitedunlimitedunlimited
Storage50 GBunlimitedunlimitedunlimited
Bandwidth/monthunmeteredunmeteredunmeteredunmetered
Free Domain Name1 year1 year1 year1 year
Free SSLyesyesyesyes
CDNyesyesyesyes
Dedicated IP---yes
Daily Backups--yesyes
* Pricing per month for a 12-month subscription

Key Features

  • Free SSL certificate included
  • Free Site Migration
  • Free domain privacy for Choice Plus plan or higher

Since 2005, Bluehost has been recommended by WordPress.org. Bluehost offers basic web hosting that fully supports WordPress, but they also have managed WordPress hosting.

These plans are optimized for WordPress and have the features to support them. The question I get often, is which one should you choose?

If you are just starting out the web hosting plans above should be more than adequate.

I suggest upgrading to Bluehost WordPress plans for a busy blog that gets over 50,000 visitors per month or you need to install many WordPress plugins.

Bluehost Managed WordPress Hosting gives much more dedicated CPU power to your website. Daily backups of your WordPress blog are also another big reason to upgrade.

Managed WordPress Hosting

Even though WordPress can run on shared hosting, many hosting companies have WordPress hosting plans due to customer demand and the hardware demands of WordPress. Many hosting companies offer “WordPress hosting” that is *exactly* the same as their shared hosting plans.

Bluehost offers both hosting plans. Bluehost WordPress hosting plans are *exactly* the same as their shared hosting plans. In fact, if you look carefully at the signup link, they have the same checkout flows.

However, Bluehost offers WordPress plans which have custom features, plans, and resources for running a large or fast-growing WordPress-powered website.

PlanBuildGrowScale
Intial Price*$9.95/mo.$14.95/mo.$27.95/mo.
Renewal Price$19.95/mo.$24.95/mo.$37.95/mo.
Websites111
Storage20 GB40 GB80 GB
Visitors/month50,000150,000500,000
Free Domain Name---
Free SSLyesyesyes
CDNyesyesyes
Dedicated IP---
Daily Backupsyesyesyes
* Pricing per month for a 36-month subscription

VPS Hosting

A virtual private server (VPS) is a great way to get a specific allocation of server resources, without having to lease a dedicated server.

Even though your website lives on the same server as other sites, you have total control over a set amount of resources. Learn more about VPS hosting in this guide. Bluehost has several very competitively priced VPS plans that offer managed and unmanaged options.

Dedicated Hosting

Most aren’t aware that Bluehost offers dedicated hosting for your website. Bluehost has three dedicated hosting options. Pricing ranges from $79.99 – $119.99 per month for the first year. All dedicated plans come with cPanel and WHM so in effect, it’s no different than their shared hosting plans.

Like their other services, you get a free domain name with every plan.

Though keep in mind with Bluehost they are unmanaged servers. This means you must take care of and maintain the software and security yourself or hire a firm to manage it for you.

The disadvantage with any dedicated server is the lack of redundancy should the hardware fail.

Bluehost Alternatives

It should go without saying, that Bluehost is certainly not the only web hosting game in town. There are many other providers to choose from.

Visit InMotion HostingRead the Review
Rating
9.0/10
Price
$2.29 - $299.99 per month
Promotion
Pay As Low As $2.29/mo.
Visit HostGatorRead the Review
Rating
9.0/10
Price
$2.75 - $5.25 per month
Promotion
Cyber Week - Up To 75% Off
Visit GoDaddyRead the Review
Rating
8.5/10
Price
$5.99 - $20.99 per month
Promotion
Get A .COM Domain Name For Only $4.99

Pros of Bluehost

No hosting company is perfect. And like I said in the intro, I’ve always maintained that there is no such thing as a “best hosting company” – it all depends on your goals and preferences.

That said, here are the advantages that I found with Bluehost.

Brand Name Support & Resources

Bluehost is certainly a large web hosting company.

It’s owned by Newfold Digital – the largest hosting corporation in the world. And it certainly has more brand recognition than any other host except for maybe GoDaddy or major website builder companies like Wix & Squarespace that do TV advertising.

A big brand certainly has disadvantages, which I’ll cover in the cons section, but there are also big benefits to using the name brand in the market.

After all, if there weren’t lots of advantages the name brand would not be the name brand.

First, big brands such as Bluehost have the resources that other smaller hosting companies may not have.

They can hire the best network engineers, the best customer support team leaders, and the best executive teams in the industry. They have the capital and financial resources to make large investments in their network and servers – really anything that will help make their service better.

Second, big brands like Bluehost who are in industries where market share is often the number one focus (rather than revenue maximization) usually focus on Net Promoter Score rather than immediate revenue.

What this means for customers is that they are focused on making you happy more than anything else.

Why?

Because when you’re happy, you are much more likely to refer them to a friend.

*That’s why the typical customer survey from big/growing companies always starts with “how likely are you to refer us to a friend?

Now again, the caveat is that making you happy doesn’t necessarily mean providing the best service for your needs. But it is better than maximizing every single penny that they can get out of you. And I’ll cover this caveat more in the cons section.

Third, big brands such as Bluehost are not going to up and disappear overnight. With something like your website data where security is more important than really anything, it’s important to know that your hosting company isn’t going to just go out of business. And a brand like Bluehost has the stability to make sure that’s not going to happen.

Overall, just like in the grocery store, if the brand name isn’t that much more expensive than the generic or low-cost brand, most people will choose to go with the name brand. Same with hosting.

Overall Pricing & Costs

Like I’ve said in other hosting reviews, pricing is important, but you have to look at the pricing in context.

While Bluehost pricing will come up in the disadvantages section, their pricing is affordable and reasonable – especially for a small to mid-size website looking for a good hosting option.

They have a 4 tier pricing structure. Their lowest plan is particularly affordable especially for starter websites, but with caps that I’ll cover in the cons section.

Their mid-tier plan is also affordable, with many unmetered or unlimited features, but slightly more expensive at renewal than some direct competitors. It does include a free domain, free SSL certificate, unmetered bandwidth, and unlimited website installs.

I’ll look at their feature caps and pricing structure in the cons section, but for now, if you are looking for an affordable host that you can just get started with – then Bluehost fits with a special discount.

*Additional pro on pricing – Bluehost’s international options. They provide payment options in several currencies, including Euros, Pounds, Australian Dollars, and Indian Rupees. Compared to other hosts, this provides a small bonus for ex-US customers who can avoid foreign transaction fees & currency swings against the US dollar. Bluehost India is especially popular and unique focus.

Bluehost International Pricing

Creating A Website

Even though setting up a website is nowhere near as complicated as it was in the early 2000s, it still can be a daunting process for anyone who has never set one up from scratch.

The process of moving a new customer through that process is called “onboarding.”

There’s a lot of aspects to onboarding. It includes everything from how confusing your checkout process is to how clean your user interface is to the emails that a new customer receives.

Often, the onboarding experience is where a hosting provider can lose a new customer. If expectations are not met, or features cannot be found, or new jargon is not explained well, then no matter how good your product is, your customers will probably hate you.

Usually, all the anecdotal bad experiences that you see on forums, review sites or social media come from experiences that should or would have never happened had the web hosting provider set expectations or communicated better with the website owner.

Bluehost has done a good job making sure all the technical tools are available for customers who want them – while also maintaining a clean user interface. Their onboarding process is straightforward for new customers who may not want to see the technical tools right off the bat.

Bluehost Dashboard

Additionally, Bluehost uses industry-standard tools such as cPanel. This makes problems simpler to solve because there is a lot more documentation around the Internet to guide you. Here’s a screenshot of the new, fresh Bluehost dashboard.

cPanel Access

Bluehost has an excellent knowledge base and education center to help customers get started on the right foot.

And as an aside, the other advantage to being a big brand is that there are plenty of people who have had problems with your product in the past – but have gone on to solve those problems on forums. That means that when you do a Google search for your problem, there is a high likelihood that a helpful answer has already been posted.

Bluehost Support

Bluehost Customer Service

That said, there will be a time when something goes wrong. And when something goes wrong it’s important to know that you have access to good customer support.

Like I’ve mentioned in all of my other hosting reviews, customer support is nearly impossible to judge unless you actually know the customer support team and the customer support team culture.

Every negative and positive customer support anecdote that you may see or hear online is just that – an anecdote. You never know if you’re dealing with the one true expert on the entire team, or if you’re dealing with a rookie who was simply having a really bad day.

Instead of saying that a company’s customer support is good or bad, I like to judge it based on access and investment levels.

I have found both to be good indicators of whether or not a company views customer service as a cost, a sales opportunity, or an investment.

Bluehost does well on both marks.

Bluehost has 24/7 customer support via multiple options: phone, live chat, and even social media support. I’ve found Bluehost live chat to be the most responsive and best option for my needs.

Bluehost Support

However, as I said in my HostGator vs. Bluehost comparison, they do seem to use the phone more as a triage solution than a “let’s let everyone talk to an expert immediately” kind of solution.

That’s not a good or bad thing, but I think it’s good to know that you’re still going to go through their phone tree and you’re still going to be put on hold.

But a phone number is an advantage compared to other hosts, rather than working through chat or email tickets.

Additionally, as I mentioned in the education section, Bluehost has done a lot of investment in its knowledge base and support options within product screens.

Bluehost Support Resources

They can head off a ton of problems before you even feel like you need to talk to customer support.

Hosting Account Add-ons & Extras

Bluehost does provide a lot of add-ons and Extras to all their products – from basic things like SSLs and Google Ad credits to advanced features like Cloudflare integration.

Now, I wouldn’t suggest choosing Bluehost just for these add-ons or extras themselves, but they do bring them up to par and even push them up beyond many low-cost competitors.

Hosting Product Suite & Expertise

Bluehost offers a full product suite from domain names to shared hosting to managed WordPress hosting to VPS hosting all the way up to dedicated hosting.

Additionally, they provide slightly customized hosting for website owners who run WordPress and WooCommerce together or even customers who run WordPress sites and need help with specialized things (like increasing speed or security on their WordPress website).

Like account addons and extras, these are not necessarily reasons to choose Bluehost, but they do separate them from their very low-cost competitors and allow you to stay and grow with a single hosting company (as in the case of my client).

Cons of Bluehost

Here are the cons or complaints that I found working with Bluehost.

Brand Name & Big Company Problems

The section headline sort of says it all.

Big companies come with their own set of real and perceived problems. Since they operate on a big scale, they are also going to have big problems, and Bluehost is no exception. There are six issues that I’ve seen repeatedly come up regarding Bluehost mainly due to their size, scale and relationships.

First, they are still feeling the brand effects of their more-than-24-hour downtime for millions of accounts in August of 2013 . They are still catching bad press for their network glitch back in the Winter of 2016 .

Second, since they have millions of accounts, they also have lots of potential for security & downtime incidents. Like I said in the Pros section, they have the expertise to solve these problems. But they are problems inherent to being a big company. If 0.01% of your customers have issues…they’ll make it known online.

Third, every big company has the temptation to cut expenses at scale, because that can produce large profits right at the bottom line. In Bluehost’s case, there will always be an incentive to cross-sell one more product or run just a few extra websites on each server to cut down on your overall capital cost.

That’s not something that I, or Bluehost competitors or anyone commenting online can confirm. But it is a fact that operating on that kind of scale means that Bluehost network engineers have to optimize for the majority – and not the minority – who might need extra resources or specialized needs. This issue shows up regularly in Endurance International’s Annual Investor Reports. They have several major outstanding infrastructure upgrades that regularly get delayed because of pressure to cut expenses.

Fourth, Bluehost is inherently going to have lots of people trash-talking them everywhere online, even if most of their customers are more or less happy with them. That is a fact of Internet behavior – people are more likely to talk about their bad experience than their “yeah, pretty good” experience.

Fifth, Bluehost and Newfold do have to fend off conflicts of interest such as having a stake in Automattic, the parent company of WordPress.com + the main contributor to the WordPress open source project. WordPress.org has done a good job of clarifying and fixing potential issues, but it’s still something people will always bring up.

And lastly, as a customer, there’s always the trade-off of buying from an independently-owned, smaller company where you are inherently more important to them, rather than a big company where you are just another account. It’s the Starbucks vs. local coffee shop tradeoff.

Again none of these things are good or bad… but they are simply built-in disadvantages to being a big company just like there are built-in advantages to being a big company.

Hosting Speed & Performance

The core job of a web host is to store your website files and deliver them to anyone who requests them. But there is a key adverb that you should really care about – you want your website server to deliver those files quickly. And that’s where website speed and performance really come in.

There are a ton of variables that go into website speed. Some of them you can control; some of them you cannot control.

But one of the variables that you can control is using a web host that handles performance on the level that your site needs (given how resource-intensive your site is and how many visitors you have).

Bluehost is fairly transparent about the hardware that they use on their shared servers. On their sales page, they give out the exact specifications.

Bluehost Specs

And yet I haven’t been able to find exactly what level of resources they run on each server, (e.g. how many websites they have on each server). Additionally, the only people who really have access to their basically unlimited bandwidth levels and network performance are their own internal network engineering team.

They run up-to-date versions of PHP and MySQL. However, on Basic plans, they do also limit the default amount of allocated memory.

Bluehost Server Stats

It’s an easy fix , but it’s still something to fix if you start to run plugins with heavy demand.

That said, compared to other hosting companies that do focus on speed and performance, Bluehost usually comes in around average.

The simplest way for non-network engineers to measure speed and performance has to look at the time to first byte or TTFB .

It’s the time that it takes a server to respond and deliver the first bite of information after it receives the first request for information. Basically, it’s a turnaround time for website files.

TTFB is a very rough measurement.

It’s best looked at as a trend rather than as a single snapshot. But over the years, my Bluehost snapshots have usually tended around average or below average…though my 2021 test ran really fast.

Bluehost Speed Test

All in all, Bluehost speed and performance are fine for a starter to a mid-size website – but it’s certainly a disadvantage for sites that expect higher performance (ie, media-heavy sites).

Marketing-heavy Plan Features

Bluehost’s plans are structured so that they seem understandable, but I honestly don’t like the phrasing that they used around their plan structure.

If I give them the benefit of the doubt, I’m sure they’re trying to make it less daunting for beginners and people doing a starter website to evaluate plans.

That said – for someone who does care about the features and the specifics, their plan structure and pitches are very vague and marketing-speak heavy.

For example, I have no idea what a SpamExpert or CodeGuard Basic is. And without digging, I have no idea the actual difference between standard performance and high performance (is it an increase in default allocated memory?).

They have options for Managed WordPress hosting and options for WooCommerce + WordPress hosting. And yet their shared hosting is also the easiest way to run WordPress…even though WordPress hosting is the same as shared hosting, plus they have WooCommerce hosting (which should need more resources) is cheaper than Managed WordPress hosting.

If that’s a confusing paragraph, that’s because the plans are confusing to me.

I feel like I have a hard enough time comparing apples and oranges between hosting companies. Bluehost has confusing competing products with no way to compare apples to apples within their own plans.

Bluehost Plans
Bluehost Hosting Plans

If you know what you need (i.e., probably just basic web hosting), then Bluehost probably has it, but it’s a little frustrating and creates a little bit of buyer’s remorse. There are so many overlapping competing products that all have the same marketing speak.

Buying hosting can be daunting & confusing – anything that makes it more so is a disadvantage in my book.

Upsells & Professional Services

As an Endurance company, Bluehost does upsell other Endurance International products, such as MOJO themes, Constant Contact, and partnerships with OptinMonster.

For some customers, these cross-sells are very useful and handy, but for others like me, they are a little annoying…even though you just have to deactivate them real quick to get a clean install.

WordPress Setup Bluehost Autoinstall

As of now, Bluehost does not automatically install as many plugins on your WordPress quick install as HostGator does, and I hope they reduce the few that they run now.

But even now, the upsells and cross-sells are a complaint for me.

Backups, Guarantees & Brand Focus

Bluehost does a few other things okay but not as good as direct competitors.

For example, they do backups, which is great. But they don’t do daily backups like some competitors. They have a 30-day money-back guarantee, which is great. But it’s not as good as Dreamhost’s or InMotion’s 90-day money-back guarantee.

Additionally, Bluehost has a good clean “everyone” brand, but they don’t really have a single market segment that they focus their products around.

They’re great for a starter website or for someone who wants to be on a straightforward simple brand name hosting. But since they’re for everyone, sometimes they also aren’t for anyone.

They are cheap but aren’t the cheapest. They have good performance but don’t have the highest performance. They have good advanced tools but are not the developers’ favorite. They have WordPress-specific products, but not like managed WordPress hosting.

They are just a solid, name-brand host. In a crowded market, that is an (ironic) disadvantage to me.

My Recommendation

Bluehost is a web hosting company that everyone loves to hate.

Bluehost is a very popular hosting provider and maybe that’s part of the problem. So many use Bluehost that you are bound to find an unsatisfied customer.

Is Bluehost perfect? Definitely not but from my testing it’s perfect for most beginner to mid-level website owners. This is especially true if you are creating a WordPress blog.

If you do outgrow their shared hosting plans, Bluehost has more dedicated options available.

If you are looking for better performance and independently owned host (ie, not Newfold Digital-owned), then I’d recommend checking out InMotion Hosting.

If you want a host that has the absolute cheapest plans (and allows monthly payment plans), then check out my HostGator review. Check out HostGator’s plans.

Not sure which to pick? Read up on all of the best web hosting companies.

FAQs

Nate Shivar

About Nate Shivar

I'm Nate Shivar - a marketing educator, consultant, and formerly Senior SEO Specialist at a marketing agency in Atlanta, GA. I try to help people who run their own websites...run them a little better.

I like to geek out on Marketing, SEO, Analytics, and Better Websites.

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