When it comes to web hosting, there are a lot of options out there. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when trying to pick the one best suited to your needs, but there are a few names out there that take the spotlight. One of these top web hosting services is Bluehost.
Bluehost is one of the 20 biggest web hosting services on the planet, with over 2 million domains linked to it. The service has enjoyed the privilege of being one of the very few web hosting providers officially recommended by WordPress.org since 2005, and we all know just how much of the web runs on WordPress! This certainly means that it has a reputation to uphold. Now, the question is, does Bluehost live up to its reputation?
There are a few factors that go into making a great web hosting provider. To sum it up, what we want is the best set of features at the best price and the best customer support in case we need a little help. Let’s see how Bluehost does in all these areas.
When it comes to features, you can see that Bluehost doesn’t skimp. Features and support for software are packed to the brim, so most users will have few complaints on that end.
High Uptime Percentage
A high uptime percentage is one of the crucial factors to consider when choosing a web hosting provider. Bluehost currently boasts an impressive industry-leading uptime percentage of 99.99%, which means that the chances of your website being inaccessible are very slim.
The high uptime is because of superior hardware deployment by Bluehost, which includes dual-core and quad-core processor backed high-performance servers running on Linux, with customized Apache web servers. Bluehost claims to have multiple power backups including UPS and Diesel generators, and 10 gigabit Ethernet connections, all monitored 24/7.
Another standout feature Bluehost offers is that all their hosting tiers include daily backups and website restorations. In case something breaks your website, this feature by Bluehost will mean that you can quickly restore your site without losing your data. Not all web hosting services will offer a daily backup system, even in the more expensive hosting plans.
Basic Software Features
Of course, Bluehost has the basics covered as well. It includes an account cPanel, FTP and SSH access, hotlink protection, custom error pages and Cron Jobs, and robust spam protection.
Bluehost also offers a lot of unlimited services — full POP3 and IMAP email support (including secure versions of both), forwarding email accounts, domain hosting, add-on and parked domains, subdomains, and even unlimited unmetered disk storage for some hosting plans. In addition to these, Bluehost has a free drag and drop site builder, three different webmail services to choose from, support for international domain names, and also a free domain name for one year, on select plans.
Bluehost also provides a ton of options with CGI/Databases, with CGI-BIN and CGI Library present, along with MySQL and PostgreSQL Database support, with servers for both. There’s support for PHP5, Perl 5, Python and Ruby/Ruby on Rails as well, so you get to pick your flavor.
Additional Software Support
Bluehost also comes with the full suite of E-Commerce features. The E-Commerce support comes with an SSL Secure Server with a free generated certificate, complete with OpenPGP/GPG encryption, and password-protected directories, so you can be assured that there won’t be any security issues with transactions. Bluehost offers four different Shopping Cart options for you to choose from — osCommerce, Agora, CubeCart and Zen Cart.
Bluehost also has extensive scripting support which includes Form-mail, Social Networking, Project Management, and Help Center/Support Ticket system. Additional software support includes Moodle, Tikiwiki, Drupal, Joomla, image galleries, mailing lists, and of course, blogging support.
Hosting Plans and Pricing
Bluehost not only offers a great set of features but also some of the most competitive pricing for any web hosting service in the world. Let’s take a look at the various plans Bluehost offers under different types of hosting.
Shared Hosting is the most basic and most common type of web hosting that is offered by Bluehost, or for that matter, by any web hosting service. Shared hosting is a type of web hosting that runs several websites off of a single server. However, shared hosting also means that the resources of the server are shared, so this type of hosting is usually recommended for light/casual users that want the ease of use.
Most users go for Shared Hosting because of the very low cost that the plans offer, which makes them a great starter option, and because most websites end up never requiring the higher tiers of web hosting.
Bluehost offers four tiers under their Shared Hosting plans. Take a look at the plans, below:
Bluehost’s Basic Shared Hosting plan is great if you’re just looking to test the waters of running a website, like having a website for a small pet project, or a personal portfolio site that will not get too many clicks. You can grab the basic plan for as little as $2.95 per month if you go with the 36-month plan, making it some of the cheapest web hosting out there which comes with the quality of a provider like Bluehost.
Bluehost’s Plus Shared Hosting plan is for users that don’t mind spending a bit more to get that extra functionality, as it offers unlimited websites, storage and domains. The Plus plan is the most value-for-money plan among Bluehost’s shared hosting plans, as it offers a lot more room than the Basic plan. The Plus plan starts at $5.45 per month for the 36-month term.
The Choice Plus plan offers the same features as the Plus plan, but with a couple of important add-ons like site backup, and Domain Protection — which is recommended if you don’t want your contact information to be available online, as a lot of marketing spam is bound to come your way without it. The great news is that the Choice Plus plan will cost you the same price as the Plus plan thanks to a promo Bluehost has, but the renewal will be about 50% costlier. The add-ons can be purchased separately, but the Choice Plus plan offers a better value on the pricing.
Finally, you can get the Pro plan for as little as $13.95 per month, and includes a dedicated IP address. This isn’t really a requirement most users going for shared hosting will have, even though the Pro plan offers the IP address add-on for cheaper than if bought separately. This is the only Shared Hosting plan by Bluehost that promises ‘high performance’, which means your website will be deployed on a more powerful server.
However, if your requirements make you want to choose the Pro plan, you might want to consider that you will have little scalability and convenience with it in comparison to the other types of hosting services Bluehost offers.
Bluehost also offers these exact plans under the Shared WordPress Hosting label, customized for users that want to host a WordPress site off of shared hosting.
VPS Hosting stands for Virtual Private Server, and this type of hosting provides the user with a virtual server system that mimics the environment of a dedicated server, making it much more customizable and thus powerful, in comparison to Shared Hosting. Bluehost’s VPS Hosting is a great option for users that need more control over their hosting. VPS Hosting offers you your own CPU, RAM and disk space, unlike shared hosting.
Bluehost’s VPS hosting comes with a great level of customizability. You also get a more advanced cPanel, letting you set up the server according to the needs of your website, and monitor the resources assigned to you, to tweak the performance of your server and thus, website.
Bluehost offers three tiers of VPS Hosting. Check out an overview of the plans, below:
All plans come with a domain free for one year, and a free SSL certificate. The Standard plan is for users that need the flexibility that Bluehost’s VPS Hosting provides, but don’t necessarily need too many resources to play around with. If you’re opting for VPS Hosting, it’s likely that you know the requirements for your website, and if those requirements exceed what the Standard plan provides, you should take a look at the Enhanced and Ultimate plans.
The difference between Bluehost’s VPS Hosting plans mostly has to do with the system specifications of the virtual server you will be assigned, so you can choose according to your needs. The Enhanced and Ultimate plans both come with two bundled IP addresses instead of the one that the Standard plan provides. The Ultimate plan goes up to $59.99 per month for 36 months, which is quite costly. If you want a really powerful system, you might want to look at Bluehost’s Dedicated Hosting plans.
If you are a power user who wants web hosting that will not be limited, then Dedicated Hosting is the way to go. The name is self-explanatory — this hosting plan will host your website on its own dedicated server, which means your hosting can be scaled up quickly. This does mean you have to pay more, but the feature set may be worth it. Bluehost’s Dedicated Hosting plans offer features similar to their VPS Hosting plans, with the difference being the dedicated server and mirrored storage with RAID 1 — which means your data is even more secure.
Bluehost’s Dedicated Hosting plans are available in three tiers. Check them out, below:
Bluehost’s Dedicated Hosting is the most powerful and scalable hosting option that the provider sells, and thus the plans are quite expensive. The plans differ in terms of system specifications and number of bundled IP addresses. The Standard plan will cost you $79.99 per month, the Enhanced plan $99.99, and the Premium plan, $119.99.
Dedicated Hosting is great for heavy traffic websites, and if you want to get the highest level of performance from your web hosting, then Bluehost’s Premium Dedicated Hosting plan is the way to go. If not, you might want to choose between the Standard or Enhanced plan depending upon your requirements.
Managed WordPress Hosting
As noted earlier, Bluehost is officially recommended by WordPress.org, so of course, it has custom-tailored WordPress Hosting plans aimed at users that want to set up a website using WordPress. As noted earlier, Bluehost has Shared WordPress Hosting plans, but the Managed WordPress Hosting plans are for users that want more features and customizability.
Bluehost’s Managed WordPress Hosting offers ease of use with features like easy installation, automatic updates, tools to manage SEO, and marketing, daily backups, and malware protection. There are three tiers in Bluehost’s WordPress Hosting plans:
The plans are aptly named for the purpose for which they are best suited. The Build plan is aimed at basic users that want to build a WordPress site with the basics. This plan is ideally suited for users that want to run a personal/small scale blog.
On the other hand, if you’re thinking about running a website that is likely to get more traffic, and be monetized, then you might want to opt for the Grow or Scale plans. The Grow plan is a nice middle ground, but the Scale plan offers the Pro version of Jetpack — considered to be one of the best WordPress plugins, PayPal integration, and a superior tier of support from Bluehost, which can be key for certain power users.
Powered by ResellerClub, Bluehost offers Reseller Hosting. This service lets you resell Bluehost’s shared, VPS, dedicated and WordPress hosting under your brand. Under this program, you get access to resell over 800 offerings from Bluehost with customizability, and get their 24/7 support.
Upgrades, Add-ons and Other Offerings
Bluehost also offers a bunch of add-ons and other offerings. There are several additional costs that come with buying web hosting, which show up during renewal and when you want to get extra features.
WooCommerce Online Stores for WordPress
WooCommerce is an eCommerce WordPress plug-in that is offered as a separate plan by Bluehost. All plans are offered with a free SSL certificate, the Storefront theme installed, a domain free for one year with Domain Privacy and one Office 365 Mailbox account free for 30 days. Here are the three WooCommerce plans Bluehost offers:
If you’re looking to set up an online store, then WooCommerce is among the best platforms you can choose to power it. Many websites that run on WordPress use WooCommerce for their eCommerce stores — the platform has a proven track record. Bluehost’s WooCommerce plans also have a free setup call to assist you with the initial installation.
The Starter plan is good enough for small stores with a limited inventory, as it offers only one store. The Plus plan, which Bluehost recommends, is the balanced offering that should be good enough for most users. The only advantage the Pro plan has over the Plus plan is that it comes with Bluehost’s SEO Tools, which can be bought separately, and won’t be a requirement for all users.
All Bluehost plans come with one domain name free for the first year, but Bluehost also provides additional domain names if you need them. While this is a convenient offering, you can get domain names for much cheaper from other registrars.
Bluehost is a great web hosting service, but it’s not the cheapest domain registrar. You might even be better off buying your original domain from another provider, like Namecheap, because you’ll be able to save quite a lot of money in renewal costs.
Bluehost also sells Domain Privacy & Protection for $14.88 per domain per year, but just like the domain names, you can get better deals on it with other registrars.
Here are the prices for some Original Top Level Domains (TLDs):
.com — $11.99 per year, $17.99 after renewal
.net — $12.99 per year, $18.99 after renewal
.org — $8.99 per year, $17.99 after renewal
Dedicated IP Addresses: A dedicated IP address provides more security and a direct connection to your server. A shared IP is bound to slow your website down, so you might want to opt in to getting a dedicated IP, especially if you’re on a Shared Hosting plan, for which Bluehost offers one for $5.99 per month. For VPS and Dedicated Hosting the pricing is $17.99 per month, so you might want to opt in for plans that bundle the number of dedicated IP addresses you need.
Premium SSL Certificates: Bluehost gives a free SSL certificate with all its plans, but just in case you need a higher tier of SSL certificates, you can grab one of the four offerings that Bluehost sells as an add on:
Positive SSL — $49.99 per year
Positive Wildcard SSL — $149.99 per year
Comodo SSL — $79.99 per year
Comodo Wildcard SSL — $299.99 per year
Additionally, Bluehost sells the popular website security solution SiteLock under three different plans:
SiteLock Find — $47.88 per domain per year
SiteLock Fix — $239.88 per domain per year
SiteLock Prevent — $359.88 per user per year
Bluehost covers every base of website security. As we had noted earlier, the web hosting service provider has a great backup service, which is all thanks to CodeGuard. This service is also provided as an add-on for plans that might not include it by default, in four different tiers, for different classes of website:
CodeGuard Basic — $32.95 per domain per year
CodeGuard Professional — $59.95 per domain per year
CodeGuard Premium — $99.95 per domain per year
CodeGuard Enterprise — $239.95 per domain per year
Bluehost also doesn’t miss out on any marketing features, offering Office 365 starting at $59.88 per user per year, with Spam filter prices at $2.99 per month per domain name. There’s also two tiers of SEO Tools available, with the Start plan priced at $71.40 per domain per year, and the Grow plan priced at $239.40.
All these add-ons can be added to your purchase when checking out, depending upon your plan. The promotional prices are bound to be cheaper, so you might save some bucks for the first year of purchase.
Not only does Bluehost offer a great feature set, and very competitive pricing, it also offers 24*7 support. The support includes live chat, ticket-based support, telephone, and email support. While Bluehost’s customer support seems excellent on paper, the real-life reviews are generally mixed.
Bluehost has a substantial amount of support articles in their knowledge base, which users can refer to in case of issues, which should help many users without the need for a live support assistant. However, if you still have issues, you can use the live chat or phone support to get assistance. If the problem is persistent, then the ticket based support and email systems are in place to help with that, as well.
Blue Sky Premium WordPress Support
Bluehost also has a premium offering of its support, called BlueSky, specifically aimed at WordPress users. It’s offered under three different plans, so depending upon the level of support you require, you might want to grab one of these plans. If you want to get a Bluehost hosting plan and need priority access to the best support Bluehost can provide, the Blue Sky Pro plan is your ticket to it.
If you think you require a great customer support team but don’t want to pay for the support, you might want to give Bluehost a try for a month and see how your support experience is. The best part is that Bluehost has a no questions asked 30-day money-back guarantee, which means there is some room for trial and error. Note that the money-back guarantee doesn’t apply to Domain Name purchases.
Bluehost is definitely a web hosting provider you should consider when making your choice. Here are a few pros and cons to consider when making your decision.
- Offers a ton of features — There are not many web hosting features that you can name that Bluehost doesn’t offer
- Pricing is competitive with lots of promotional offers — Most services are heavily discounted for the first year/term of usage, and a lot of plans have free add-ons
- High uptime percentage — The 99.99% uptime is among the highest any web hosting service can provide
- Most plans are easily scalable — Bluehost provides flexibility, so you can switch up your plan if your requirements start to grow beyond your existing plan
- Support reviews are mixed — Many users and reviews claim that the support can be bad at times
- Server speeds can be slow — Bluehost only has servers in the US for now, which can cause slow site speeds at times
- No free site migration — Unlike many web providers, you will have to pay to have your site migrated to Bluehost, or do it yourself
- Only Linux hosting, no Windows hosting options — Bluehost runs only Linux based servers, and there is no option for Windows-based hosting
Like any other web hosting provider, Bluehost has a few quirks that might make you second guess your choice. However, the feature offerings and pricing of Bluehost’s plans are very competitive.
Technology and Entertainment Writer and Editor.