BlueHost Review : A Complete guide before buying

BlueHost Review : A Complete guide before buying

One of the oldest web hosts started in 1996, Bluehost has become the largest brand name when it comes to WordPress hosting. They are an official ‘WordPress’ recommended hosting provider. With Bluehost, you never have to worry about your website being slow even when there is a lot of traffic. Their 24/7 expert support is always there to help when you need it by phone, email, or live chat. They are rated #1 in web hosting for small businesses. On top of that, they are offering Affiliate Journal users an exclusive 63% off discount, a Free Domain, Free SSL, and a free Site Builder with templates.

Table of Contents

Pros and Cons

Bluehost Pros

  • Dependable server uptime: Bluehost offers a super-competitive uptime guarantee of 99.98%
  • Seamless WordPress integration: it couldn’t be easier to set up a WordPress site through Bluehost
  • Budget-level pricing: prices are still competitive even after the first year, and a variety of tiered pricing plans means there’s an affordable option for every site

Bluehost Cons

  • Additional costs: tons of optional add-ons will sneak into your cart at checkout, and it’s up to you to uncheck those items before you buy
  • Storage: Bluehost offers a small amount of storage on its Basic plan compared to competitors

Is Bluehost a reliable hosting for WordPress?

Bluehost WordPress Hosting

My first interaction with Bluehost occurred in 2010 when I migrated my client from BlogSpot to WordPress.

Bluehost’s easy installation and nice, simple interface allowed me to install WordPress in less than five minutes! You can read more in this guide on how to install WordPress on Bluehost.

The best thing about Bluehost is that their servers are well optimized for a WordPress blog, and this is one of the reasons they are a top recommended hosting service on the official WordPress hosting resource page .

For a reliable WordPress host, apart from running the latest version of PHP and MYSQL, servers should be configured to handle the extra load that typically occurs with WordPress.  I can verify that Bluehost handles it all very well.

In fact, I have seen Bluehost hosting handling traffic up to 20000/day without any downtime at all. (Using Bluehost In-built caching and Cloudflare to speed up my blog, and recommend the same to you.) Moreover, you don’t have to worry about setting up your caching system.

BLUEHOST PROS & CONS

Let’s find out what the pros and cons are. Because you should never put all your eggs in one basket and this also applies to buying web hosting.

I have lost many eggs over the years due to the fact that I didn’t do the initial research of a web host and check all the facts.

So when you are getting web hosting make sure you do your research before you buy. You should weigh the pros and cons of using them and let the facts speak for themselves.

What does stand out about this company is that they’ve been around since 2003 and host over 2 million websites. They’re one of the most popular, inexpensive, shared hosting options available.

But are they any good?

bluehost review

Originally they just offered shared hosting plans, but they now provide a variety of services including domains, cloud hosting, and a variety of hosting options including hosting for WordPress and WooCommerce.

Like every company, they come with both pros and cons. And, being one of the largest hosting providers in the world, it proves many have faith in them. According to the Consumer Rankingsthey are ranked at 9.7 out of 10 by users.

Some highlights from the Consumer Rankings review were that they are easy to use, it’s easy to sign up, and their cPanel makes it easy to install WordPress and is very well organized.

But I’m afraid it’s not all roses and sunshine. There are some major downsides too.

So below are more of the good, the bad, and the ugly of using their web hosting services.

BLUEHOST PROS

They have a couple of really good things going for them.

 Really cheap web hosting

They have some of the cheapest hosting plans in the industry. Plans start at $2.95/month at the time of this writing.

It’s a really cheap web host. However, and it’s a bit shady, you have to pay 36 months upfront to get that price.

Good for WordPress sites

Bluehost is a good option for WordPress because its new Bluerock platform is a WordPress focused control panel offering an integrated experience with WordPress websites.

Installing WordPress is a breeze, you can either go through the 1-click automatic WordPress installation process, or you can get WordPress installed on account set up when you sign up.

Bluerock delivers WordPress pages 2-3 times faster than the prior technical stack, and it comes with built-in NGINX page caching.

Every WordPress site will benefit from the latest security and performance features such as:

  • Free SSL certificate
  • PHP7
  • WordPress staging
  • SSD drives
  • NGINX+ caching
  • Free Cloudflare CDN
  • HTTP/2
Bluehost Bluerock Control Panel

Endorsed by WordPress

One of the largest hosting platforms, WordPress, recommends them. FYI SiteGround is also a WordPress.org endorsed web host.

These are, of course, paid endorsements ( at least indirectly as both Bluehost and SiteGround sponsor lots of the WP conferences around the world) , but nonetheless it’s still an official endorsement.

wordpress endorsement

Generous money back guarantee

Contrary to negative reviews, they are sticking behind their products and services by offering a 30-day full refund policy.

Even after 30 days, you receive a prorated refund of your plan. If you do decide to leave you also won’t find any pesky penalties or hidden fees.

Good uptime

Bluehost’s uptime track record is really good. I’m monitoring the uptime of 3 random websites. 4 out of 5 websites have had zero outage, i.e. a 100% uptime, over the last month. 1 out of 5 has had a 99.6% uptime (this would equate to an approx 4h outage during the month).

BlueHost Review : A Complete guide before buying
BlueHost Review : A Complete guide before buying
BlueHost Review : A Complete guide before buying
Security is a priority

They offer good protection for your website. They provide secure shell access (SSH) so web devs and admins can access config files securely. SpamExperts, Apache SpamAssassin, and Spam Hammer are their anti-spam tools of choice.

They offer other security features such as an IP address blacklist, password protected directories, email account and user account filters, and access to manage digital certificates and private keys.

Helpful user support portal

They provide 24/7 technical support. In addition to that, they have a knowledge database where users can check out video tutorials, review supportive documentation, and more.

Honestly a lot of people hate on @bluehost. It’s sad they had a bad experience. Ours was great. 2+ years of awesome service on their shared basic plan. We did not even consider changing hosting companies until we topped 100,000 page views in a single month.

Affiliate program

Bluehost is among one of the most sought after web hosting affiliate programs. $11 million in commissions was paid in 2018 to affiliates.

affiliate program

It’s easy and free to sign up; no requirements are necessary to meet. There is no cap on commissions, and they pay you $65 per referral.

A variety of hosting options

If you’re looking to stick with just one hosting company as your business grows, Bluehost has an answer for that. They provide four plans, so you don’t have to switch for server upgrades as your site grows: shared hosting, cloud hosting, WordPress hosting VPS, dedicated, and reseller hosting plans are available.

Quick Start Plan

For those that have no clue where to begin, they have a Quick Start Plan for $79.99. This 45-minute session gives you 1-on-1 training with a company expert.

You’ll learn how to use all the tools in the account such as a cPanel guided tour, web builder recommendation, theme and plugin installation assistance, page creation tips, email account guidance, and other general advice you may have.

Now many hosting providers offer free training, so some could consider paying for the Quick Start Plan as a bad feature. But if you don’t have time to wait around and need all of this training in one sitting, it could be a plus for you.

Generous extras

As a part of their hosting plan, you get a free domain name for the first year. Also, for those looking to boost their business marketing, they offer advertising credits on Google’s AdWords, Bing, and other leading sites.

BlueHost Review : A Complete guide before buying

Bluehost WordPress Pro

WordPress Pro is Bluehost’s newly launched managed WordPress hosting platform that is optimized for WordPress websites to load fast and to be secure. WordPress Pro comes with an all-in-one marketing center and dashboard, where SEO, email marketing, and social media tools all come included.

bluehost wordpress pro

WordPress Pro is more expensive then Bluehost’s other plans and prices start at $19.95 per month. Speed and security are the main features but it also comes with geeky features such as automatic WordPress core and plugin updates, and regular backups and a staging environment.

Go and check out the WordPress Pro page to see what is included. It’s worth noting that you get live support with Grow and Scale, and these plans also give you hands-on assistance with design, functionality, or general questions from real WordPress experts 24/7.

BLUEHOST CONS

They got loads of positives, but they do have their drawbacks as well.

Confusing pricing

As cheap as $2.95 may sound, users often do not read the fine print to notice this is an introductory price based on a term of 36 months. You do have options to select 12 or 24-month plans, but those monthly prices are more.

For example, you can select the most popular Plus plan at $4.45 for 36 months. However, for 24 months or 12 months, the price increases to $5.45 and $6.45 respectively. There are no three and six-month deals to choose from.

No free automatic backups

While they do offer backups, the backups are considered a courtesy. This means you can’t depend on your data to be backed up daily – so no guarantees here. You must set up and run your own backup via the cPanel and to your own local device.

Another bad feature here is that any data they back up within the past 30 days is overwritten. Their Terms clearly state that they will hold no responsibility for this.

In other words, you can only access the most recent backup they have, even if it’s not the one you need to restore your site.

Site Backup Pro is a paid add-on. It creates regular and automated backups of your site. But, it’s a premium feature you have to invest in.

‘Unlimited’ really means ‘limited’

The Plus, Prime, and Business Pro plans boast of their unlimited number of websites, and “unmetered” storage, email accounts, email storage, and subdomains given to clients.

However, their User Agreement, Clause 7 Usage Policies and Definitions explain otherwise. It’s only unlimited up to a certain level.

Their unlimited plan is comparable to most providers (i.e. Bluehost isn’t the only web host that promises “unlimited” web hosting).

Draconian CPU throttling / protection

They rolled this out in 2009 and had a few customers bewildered. You may not have heard of CPU throttling beforehand either. You can find your CPU throttling when you log into the cPanel.

Simply put, if they think your website is taking up too many resources, they might decide to preserve the server resources by freezing your CPU usage.

However, this isn’t unique to just this web host. In fact all shared web hosts restrict over-usage of resources.

No Windows hosting

They only offer Linux-based servers. In other words, you can’t get Windows hosting. This isn’t a huge concern as Linux is the most used and popular operating system for web servers.

But for those that prefer Windows hosting, this is a problem.

No uptime guarantee

They do not offer an uptime guarantee. When selecting a hosting provider, you want an uptime of as close to 100% as possible. They do not give you a guarantee, but their Network/Server Uptime Agreement states that “most issues are resolved in approximately 15 minutes”.

They average about a 99.94% uptime. This .05% outage means that over a full year your site is down for 4.4 hours. Overall, their uptime is reliable, but again, there is no guarantee that your site will be up and running most of the time.

Load times can be slow

Their load times are not always the fastest either. According to a Kissmetrics study, 47% of consumers believe a site should load in less than 2 seconds. And 40% of consumers will leave the site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

If your web host cannot provide you fast loading times, and you aren’t optimizing your website for speed and performance, you risk losing out on a lot of site traffic.

Up-selling is a business model

Their up-selling practices are designed to make you purchase them. In other words, there will be annoying popups and alerts appearing trying to convince you to buy more.

For example, they have up-sells to select before you check out and finish signing up with them. Also, there are install add-ons you’ll have to purchase that are normally are included with other hosting providers as built-in features.

Slow support response times

Although they do have 24/7 technical support, they aren’t always easily accessible. The response times can vary from ten minutes up to an hour. The initial response is auto generated in some instances.

slow support

The good news is that they have made significant investments in their support channel with an emphasis on customer experience and success. The support team’s voice support channel has grown customer satisfaction scores to a historic high at 4.86 (out of 5) for 2018.

Expensive renewal rates

Like other hosting companies, their introductory pricing is to lure customers in. It’s also quite misleading. So, when it’s time for renewal, you’ll be shocked to discover the pricing increases by nearly 90%!

If you decide to sign up you are better off signing up for a 24/36 month period on the discounted introductory pricing.

Free site migration is not included

If you’re looking to switch hosts keep in mind they do offer site migrations, however for a fee.

BlueHost Review : A Complete guide before buying

They will transfer up to 5 sites and 20 email accounts for the price of $149.99. Comparing this to other web hosting providers, this is a rip-off as most do not charge anything at all for migrating your site.

Bluehost Hosting Plans and Features

Bluehost offers a variety of hosting plans for all budgets and sizes. This includes shared hosting, VPS, dedicated server, cloud hosting, WooCommerce hosting, WordPress hosting, and more.

Let’s take a look at Bluehost hosting plans and their features.

  • Shared hosting: Shared hosting is the perfect way to start a new website with low traffic volume. In a shared hosting environment, your website shares server resources with other websites.
  • Cloud hosting: A more reliable upgrade to the shared hosting plan. It allows you to utilize multiple cloud servers, allowing your website to automatically switch to a different server in case of a hardware failure or high traffic.
  • WordPress hosting: A hosting package designed specifically for WordPress powered websites. It is optimized to run WordPress and can even protect your WordPress site against common threats.
  • WooCommerce hosting: WooCommerce is the most popular eCommerce plugin for WordPress, it allows you to easily start an online store with WordPress. WooCommerce hosting offers you all the essential features to kick start your ecommerce store.
  • VPS (Virtual Private Server) hosting: An upgrade to shared WordPress hosting, VPS hosting allows you to virtual dedicated resources in a shared environment.
  • Dedicated server hosting: A dedicated server to for your website, means you will have all the resources of the server to yourself. The downside is that you will have to manage the server on your own.

All Bluehost hosting plans allow you to install WordPress with 1-click.

All plans come with an easy to use hosting control panel where you can manage your hosting, create databases, etc.

Breakdown of Bluehost’s Shared Hosting Plans

Bluehost offers a shared hosting package suitable for starter websites. Their shared plan is available in three different levels.

Bluehost shared hosting plans

Let’s take a look at what’s included in each plan.

  • Basic: The basic plan only allows you to host one website. It hosts one domain and 25 subdomains, 50GB storage, 5 email accounts of 100 MB storage for each account. For the first term you’ll pay $3.95 per month. When you renew the account, you’ll have to pay $7.99 per month.
  • Plus: The Plus plan includes unlimited websites with unlimited web space and bandwidth. You’ll also get unlimited email accounts. The price for the first term starts from $5.95 per month. When you renew the account, you’ll have to pay $10.99 per month.
  • Prime: The Prime plan includes all features of plus plan. You will also get domain privacy and SiteBackup Pro as extras worth over $80/year. Prime also has the same first term price of Plus, $5.45 per month. When renewing, you’ll have to pay $13.95 per month.

If you are just starting your website, then you can select any of these plans. You can easily upgrade your hosting plan as your website grows.

Is Bluehost easy to use?

Bluehost uses cPanel, which is so far one of the easiest hosting panels that I have come across. In 2020 they have revamped their dashboard to make it WordPress centric. You can still access cPanel from Bluehost Dashboard, but probably you may never have to use it with a newly advanced Bluehost dashboard.

Bluehost Dashboard

Just for info, most of the shared hosting companies use the standard cPanel, and you will not find it hard to use. In fact, cPanel makes managing your hosting account easier.  Also, Bluehost is one of very few shared Web hosting companies which will allow you to access SSH.

As I heard, BlueHost are going to constantly upgrade their infrastructure for WordPress. It also makes sense as WordPress is now powering over 27% of the websites in the world. Since Bluehost is now WordPress centric, we can expect superior services in coming months.

In-built caching feature:

Another cutting-edge feature of Bluehost is the inbuilt caching feature. With Bluehost hosting, you don’t need to use any 3rd party caching plugin like WP Super Cache or W3 Total Cache. Also, depending on the kind of website that you have, you can configure the level of caching.

BlueHost Review : A Complete guide before buying
BLUEHOST PRICING COMPARISON
PlanTermRegular PriceSpecial Price
Basic plan12 months$8.99/mo$5.45/mo (39% off)
Basic plan24 months$8.49/mo$4.95/mo (41% off)
Basic plan36 months$7.99/mo$2.95/mo (50% off)
Plus plan12 months$12.99/mo$8.95/mo (31% off)
Plus plan24 months$11.99/mo$7.45/mo (37% off)
Plus plan36 months$10.99/mo$5.95/mo (45% off)
Prime plan12 months$16.99/mo$8.95/mo (47% off)
Prime plan24 months$15.99/mo$7.45/mo (53% off)
Prime plan36 months$14.99/mo$5.95/mo (60% off)
Business Pro plan12 months$25.99/mo$18.95/mo (27% off)
Business Pro plan24 months$24.99/mo$15.95/mo (36% off)
Business Pro plan36 months$23.99/mo$13.95/mo (41% off)

CHECK OUT THE LATEST PRICES

  BLUEHOST’S ADDON PRICING
Add-onPrice
Additional Domain Names:$15.99 per year of registration
Dedicated IP Address:$5.99 per month
SSL Certificates:$49.99 per year
SpamExperts Mail Filtering:$2.99 a month per domain name
Whois Domain Privacy:$11.88 Domain Privacy per domain per year
SiteLock:$1.99 per month (Billed annually at $23.88 per year)
Site Backup and Restore Pro:$2.99 per month (Billed annually at $35.88 per year)
Expired Account Reactivations:$30.00
Search Engine Jumpstart:$2.99 per month (Billed annually at $35.88 per year)

BLUEHOST’S HOSTING PLAN COMPARISON

Which plan should I get? That is what this section aims to help you find out …

So what are the differences between the Basic, Plus, Prime and Pro hosting packages? Here is a comparison of Basic vs. Plus plan, Plus vs. Prime plan, and Prime vs. Pro plan.

Bluehost Basic vs. Plus Review

Their Basic plan is their cheapest plan so it comes with the least resources and features The main difference between the Basic and Plus plan is that with the Basic plan you are only allowed to host one website, but with the Plus plan you can host unlimited websites. If you intend to run multiple websites then you should choose the Plus plan.

Another main difference between these two plans is the amount of web space you are allowed to store on the server. The Basic plan only comes with 50GB of disk space, whereas the Plus plan comes with unlimited space. 50GB is quite a lot of space and should be enough in most cases but if you store lots of images and videos then it can quickly add up.

Finally the number of email accounts and amount of email storage on the Basic plan is quite limited. Perhaps not so much the number of emails as most users never use more than 5 email addresses, but having only 100MB of email storage space is quite low and you can quickly run out of space.

You should consider choosing the Plus plan if:

  • You want to host unlimited websites on your hosting account
  • You want unlimited disk space instead of the 50GB that comes with the Basic plan
  • You need unlimited email accounts with unlimited email storage space
  • You want SpamExperts which is their spam protection tool

Bluehost Plus vs. Prime Review

There are very few differences between the Plus and Prime hosting packages. In fact there are only things that set these plans apart. That is with the Prime plan you get free domain privacy (also known as whois privacy) for your domain name, and the Prime plan also comes SiteBackup Pro which is their website backup and restore service.

If you are tossing up between these two plans then you are way better off choosing the Prime plan.

You should consider choosing the Prime plan if:

  • You want free domain name privacy, whois privacy
  • You want SiteBackup Pro which is their website backup and restore service

 Bluehost Prime vs. Pro Review

There are a couple of differences between the Prime and Pro hosting plan that are worth knowing about. The first one, and an important one if you intend to run an ecommerce or more resource-intense WordPress site is that sites on the Pro plan will be hosted on high-performance servers.

High-performance servers on the Pro plan has 80% fewer accounts per server which allows the use of more resources per account (more CPU usage, disk usage, bandwidth). It offers more speed, more power, with fewer users.

The Pro plan also gives you a dedicated IP address and a private (non-shared) SSL certificate.

bluehost pro plan

You should consider choosing the Pro plan if:

  • You want high performance servers (i.e. a fast loading website) and fewer users that share the server resources
  • You want a free dedicated IP address and a private (non-shared) SSL certificate

Help and Support

Bluehost ranks number one in our research for customer support, earning a perfect 5/5. It has a variety of support options, including live chat, email support tickets, and 24/7 phone support. One user rated Bluehost’s customer support as “top notch,” citing his own experiences with the live chat option:

“I’ve had a few issues caused mainly by my own errors, and they’ve always helped me rectify them. They’re easy to contact via live chat, and I genuinely don’t think I’ve had to wait more than ten minutes to chat to someone.”

bluehost support homepage

The company offers three different technical support numbers depending on your needs:

  • General enquiries
  • VPS and dedicated hosting
  • WordPress assistance

A nice thing about Bluehost’s website is that it offers instant answers right on the primary help page for some of the more common issues. Say, for example, you can’t figure out how to transfer your WordPress site from another host – you can click on that issue on the help page, then be shown multiple ways to solve your issue, including a help article, live chat, and the specific phone number you should call.

If you’re feeling especially tech-savvy, it’s worth trying to find the answer yourself on Bluehost’s support forums. It’s often quicker to do the research independently, and it will ultimately provide a better understanding of how a site works. We tested Bluehost’s live chat ourselves, and found that the instant responses actually were tailored to our specific questions, and didn’t skimp on quality.

bluehost live chat landing page

Is Expert Support Important to You?

We’ve used Bluehost support ourselves and found it to be quick, helpful, and easy to use. If you need a helping hand, Bluehost is there 24/7.

Yes! I Want to See Bluehost

Final Thoughts

In our overall hosting rankings, Bluehost comes in first, ahead of hosting heavyweights such as HostGator and GoDaddy. In individual categories, Bluehost ranks first for customer service, second for uptime, and second for value for money. It’s also the best hosting provider to manage a WordPress site with.

If seamless features are your top priority, then you may be better off with InMotion rather than Bluehost – as we’ve seen, Bluehost’s extras and additional costs can be confusing. 

Our conclusion? It all depends on your site goals – but if you’re looking for affordability and reliability, Bluehost is a solid provider.