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Choosing the right hosting service for your website, or websites, can be a nightmare. Sure, there are countless companies that offer hosting at what seems a reasonable price, but it can be difficult to know which company is worth investing in, and which will hit you with added fees and hidden costs after just a couple of months. Whether this is your first time looking for a website hosting service, or you’re a veritable domain veteran, it helps to have all the facts before making an investment in a hosting service. That’s why we’ve gone ahead and reviewed some of the top hosting services on the market, so you can get all the facts you need in one convenient location.
Today we’re focusing on bluehost (we promise we didn’t misspell their name, this company has a thing for lowercase letters). Don’t take this as a sign they’re a newbie to the field of hosting, bluehost got their start in 1996, making them ancient in terms of the internet. bluehost offers shared, VPS, and dedicated hosting plans at a reasonable rate. Within these general categories, they offer multiple different packages which increase in features as you go up in cost. Still, with a basic hosting package that starts at $2.95/monthstarts at $2.95/month, bluehost is hard to turn down. But what exactly can you expect from bluehost, and is this internet hosting veteran worth the investment?
If you are in a hurry, get the lowest price from bluehost.
Before we jump into the nitty-gritty details about this hosting service, we’ve run the numbers and analyzed the pros and the cons of each plan, as well as checked on the overall uptime of the server. For those of you in a hurry, here’s our quick review: bluehost offers a 99.99% uptime, with a 99.9% uptime guarantee, making it one of the most reliable hosting sources on the internet. Their base package comes with everything you need to host multiple websites and offers a free domain name for the first year of service. While their prices do go up after the first year, this is a standard in the hosting world, and their services are well worth the base prices.
Each plan comes with a free SSL certificate, and a 30-day refund policy that includes everything but domain names (and charges a $15.99 fee for the free domain name if used, but it’s still a better deal than most hosting sites out there). While bluehost does have some up-charges for added security services, and is known for moderate up-selling, overall, they’re one of the best hosting services out there and we can’t review them highly enough.
Now that you have the quick of it, let’s get into what bluehost offers its users, and what you should keep in mind when looking over their plans.
bluehost at a Glance
|SPEED:||A reported average of 405 ms from 2018 to 2020 by customers|
|UPTIME:||99.99% reported uptime by customers with a guaranteed 99.9%|
|CUSTOMER SUPPORT:||24/7 live chat plus WordPress support plan options available|
|APPS:||WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, and other website building apps|
|FEATURES:||Unmetered bandwidth, optimal storage, a free domain for the first year of service, email accounts and services, Blue Flash, and Blue Sky|
|HOSTING PLAN OPTIONS:||Shared, VPS, Dedicated, and Cloud hosting servers|
|SITE TRANSFER AVAILABILITY:||Available, but there is a charge|
|PRICING RATING:||Very good, with options starting at $2.75/mo that increase to $7.99/mo upon renewal|
Main Plan Options
Here are the three basic hosting options available through bluehost, and their optimal usage. Note that bluehost does also offer Cloud hosting, should you be interested in that feature.
Shared: Made for a new website or blog, this is a great standard option that is fully managed and provides all the basic needs for your website.
VPS: Ideal for moderate to high traffic, this scalable option offers full root access and a higher level of control. This is ideal for websites that expect high traffic, but do not need the level of speed offered by a dedicated server, and do not need full control over their website down to the root level.
Dedicated: This is the ideal hosting option for high-traffic websites with resource-intensive needs that require added security and depend on the ultimate in performance. This option gives you total control of your website and provides state-of-the-art security features to ensure both your security and the security of your customers.
Shared Hosting Plans
|$2.95/mo for the first year||$5.45/mo for the first year||$5.45/mo for the first year||$13.95/mo for the first year|
|$7.99/mo upon renewal||$10.99/mo upon renewal||$14.99/mo upon renewal||$23.99/mo upon renewal|
|1 Website||Unlimited Websites||Unlimited Websites||Unlimited Websites|
|50 GB SSD Storage||Unlimited SSD Storage||Unlimited SSD Storage||Unlimited SSD Storage|
|Unmetered Bandwidth||Unmetered Bandwidth||Unmetered Bandwidth||Unmetered Bandwidth|
|Free SSL Certificate||Free SSL Certificate||Free SSL Certificate||Free SSL Certificate|
|Standard Performance||Standard Performance||Standard Performance||High Performance|
|1 Included Domain||Unlimited Domains||Unlimited Domains||Unlimited Domains|
|5 Parked Domains||Unlimited Parked Domains||Unlimited Parked Domains||Unlimited Parked Domains|
|25 Subdomains||Unlimited Subdomains||Unlimited Subdomains||Unlimited Subdomains|
|Spam Experts||Spam Experts||2 Spam Experts|
|1 Office 365 Mailbox – Free 30 Days||Domain Privacy + Protection||Domain Privacy + Protection|
|Site Backup – CodeGuard Basic|
1 Office 365 Mailbox – Free 30 Days
|Site Backup – CodeGuard Basic|
|1 Office 365 Mailbox – Free 30 Days|
Shared hosting plans are optimal for anyone looking to host a few websites that do not need a large amount of dedicated bandwidth. While many bluehost plans offer unlimited bandwidth, shared hosting is aimed at websites that anticipate mild to moderate traffic, as the hosting is shared among different clientele. The downside to shared hosting is there is a chance of outages that will affect multiple websites, as well as moderately less security than a VPS or dedicated server. Still, with bluehost’s security options, the inclusion of SSL, and their domain privacy and protection options at a higher level, we recommend the shared hosting plans for anyone looking for a good entry-level hosting option.
VPS Hosting Plans
|$18.99/mo for the first year||$29.99/mo for the first year||$59.99/mo for the first year|
|$29.99/mo upon renewal||$59.99/mo upon renewal||$119.99/mo upon renewal|
|2 Cores||2 Cores||4 Cores|
|30 GB SSD Storage||60 GB SSD Storage||120 GB SSD Storage|
|2 GB RAM||4 GB RAM||8 GB RAM|
|1 TB Bandwidth||2 TB Bandwidth||3 TB Bandwidth|
|1 IP Address||2 IP Addresses||2 IP Addresses|
VPS stands for Virtual Private Server. This is the ideal hosting method for anyone looking at moderate to high traffic to their website, who wants to guarantee uptime and faster speeds. In many cases, the speed of your website dictates how much traffic you get and can impact your overall ranking on search engines, especially when it comes to mobile speeds. VPS offers faster load times and more consistent up times, though with bluehost’s 99.99% track record you can rest easy knowing you’re getting one of the best uptime records on the market today. The base option for VPS hosting is a great option for those looking for added speed on a few websites, without jumping in head-first to the ultimate plan or moving on to a dedicated server. Still, for anyone looking for that added jolt of speed, the ultimate plan can compete with a dedicated hosting plan in terms of RAM while still providing a reasonable amount of bandwidth for the price.
Dedicated Hosting Plans
|$79.99/mo for the first year||$99.99/mo for the first year||$119.99/mo for the first year|
|$119.99/mo upon renewal||$159.99/mo upon renewal||$209.99/mo upon renewal|
|4 cores @ 2.3 GHz||4 cores @ 2.5 GHz||4 cores @ 3.3 GHz|
|3500GB (Mirrored) Storage||1TB (Mirrored) Storage||1TB (Mirrored) Storage|
|4 GB RAM||8 GB RAM||16 GB RAM|
|5 TB Bandwidth||10 TB Bandwidth||15 TB Bandwidth|
|3 IP Addresses||4 IP Addresses||5 IP Addresses|
The crème de la crème of hosting plans, dedicated hosting allows you the most control over your website, as well as a higher level of security. Unfortunately WordPress sites are common targets of hackers, and for those looking to protect themselves and their customers from identity theft and crucial information leaks, bluehost’s dedicated hosting service is ideal. This option allows you to fully customize your website experience from the ground up, and is perfect for those who know the ins and outs of website building by heart. While this plan is not recommended for beginners, it is perfect for people looking to take their website up a notch to serve a larger client base, without worrying about the occasional outages from a standard plan and looking for more control than is offered in a VPS plan.
What’s a great review article without the pros and cons? Here is our overall review of what’s offered by bluehost, before we break down why we’ve rated them as highly as we have.
|Free domain for the 1st year, with a $15.99 renewal||No refund on any domain name|
|Low starting pricing||Renewal rate increase for domain names and hosting prices|
|30-day money back guarantee||Some upsells|
|Easy sign up||No free website transfer, a one-time fee of $149.99 to migrate 5 sites and 20 email accounts|
|Accepts major payment methods and PayPal|
|Instant account activation|
|Simple and easy dashboard|
|Mojo marketplace access for quick app installation|
|99.99% uptime through the year, one of the best on the market|
|Exceptional load speed of 405ms on average|
|Low starting pricing of just $2.75/mo on the base plan|
|Good security options, including SiteLock, CodeGuard, and Postini|
|Plenty of integrations, apps, and eCommerce options available|
|One of a limited number of hosting options officially recommended by WordPress|
|Dedicated 24/7 customer support|
|WordPress support options available|
Incredible Uptime Record
bluehost offers one of the most reliable uptime numbers on the market, with a 99.99% uptime rate, compared to the industry standard of 99.9%. That means that per calendar year your website will only experience a total of 1 hour of downtime. That’s far better than the 9 hours of downtime a year offered by a 99.9% uptime rate. Clearly, bluehost takes their commitment to uptime very seriously, and for good reason! Uptime directly impacts the overall traffic to your site, and increased downtime can reduce your overall site ranking, as well as drive away potential clients. A commitment to consistent uptime is a commitment to the longevity of your website, and bluehost offers you one of the very best deals on the market, no strings attached.
Exceptional Website Load Speed
As mentioned previously, how fast your website loads directly impacts the overall quality of your website, especially when it comes to mobile speeds. bluehost offers an astounding 405ms average load speed over a 24-month period, as reported by a dedicated customer, far above many options available on the market. While they’re not the fastest website hosting service out there, for their overall price and the number of features offered their consistent load speed is phenomenal and well worth the investment.
Low Pricing, Consistent Value
We’ve already gone through bluehost’s different plan options, but let’s take it a step back and say that their basic shared hosting plan is one of the best deals on the market. At $2.95/mo for the first year and a renewal price of only $7.95/mo, bluehost blows most other plans out of the market. Don’t let the low price worry you, this plan comes with everything you need for hosting a website. With 50 GB SSD storage, unmetered bandwidth, an SSL certificate, as well as 5 parked domains and 25 subdomains, you’re getting an incredible value for the cost, and that’s not even considering their uptime and loading speeds. We’re not kidding when we say you won’t find another deal like this on the market; trust us, we’ve looked. Hands down, this is a great deal if you’re looking for a new website host.
Security Options Included
Lower pricing doesn’t mean less security, and thankfully bluehost hasn’t neglected the security features of their plans to save money. And trust us, their security options go a lot further than their free SSL certificate, which is a great deal in it of itself.
Every one of their plans offers a domain privacy feature that keeps your identity safe, and prevents people from stealing your information through phishing schemes or other hacking scams. They also include SiteLock and CodeGuard to protect against malware attacks and to provide a backup for your website, so you don’t lose all of your work in case of a hacking attempt. Postini is another feature included in their base package, which isolates potential spam emails for later review, to keep you from accidentally clicking on a dangerous link from a suspicious source. All in all, bluehost’s security features are nothing to scoff at, especially for the price.
Apps, Apps, and More Apps
bluehost allows you to install and use countless apps to customize your website, including WordPress complete with single-click installation. bluehost also offers popular content management systems like Drupal and Joomla, and allows you to run your own eCommerce shop.
As an added bonus, bluehost provides a CDN (content delivery network) to host images and large files, which can reduce the overall workload of your servers and help increase your overall loading speed, especially on mobile.
Worried about how well bluehost works for WordPress? Worry no more: they’re one of three officially recommended hosting sites for WordPress. They also offer a WordPress introductory session (called Blue Flash) to help new users learn the ropes, as well as access to a paid plan called Blue Sky for 24/7 professional WordPress help from their dedicated team.
Trust us, we get how terrifying and confusing it can be to try and host your own website, and so does bluehost. Their control panel (called cPanel), is easy to use, and is made with beginners in mind, so you can customize your website without becoming overwhelmed. While they still offer advanced options for their userbase, bluehost offers countless features for beginner website builders, and offer website design tools like Weebly for a drag-and-drop design system ideal for those unfamiliar with coding.
Don’t Like It? Get a Refund!
While the idea of committing to a website hosting service can seem daunting, especially with plans stretching out to three or five years down the road, you can invest in bluehost with confidence knowing they offer a 30-day money-back guarantee on any of their plans. While this does not include things like domains and add-ons, it does include the cost of hosting. It is worth noting that if you do cash in their free domain offer, and then decide to cancel your plan, they will charge you $15.99 for the domain, so it’s not exactly a no-questions-asked deal, but it is still a comforting option for those on the fence about committing to a plan.
Questions? Concerns? 24/7 Customer Service to the Rescue
bluehost offers 24/7 live chat customer service for their customers, as well as an easy-to-use knowledge base and ticketed support, not to mention phone service. While their live chats are slightly delayed, customers raved about how quickly their questions were answered, and how willing the customer service representatives were to work with them through their problems, no matter how complex or lengthy the concern. For anyone who has struggled with customer service representatives in the past, the peace of mind that comes with bluehost’s incredible support team is well worth the investment.
The biggest, and main con with bluehost is the pricing increases. While their hosting services start out at an incredibly reasonable price, they do increase after the first year, which is a common issue throughout the industry. Since they offer better deals for committing to a longer payment window, you aren’t just getting the one-and-done intro cost, meaning hosting can cost a fair chunk of change at once.
Another thing to consider is that site migrations have a fee associated with them. While the overall process is painless and well worth the cost, as many customers have agreed, you can only migrate 5 sites and 20 email accounts, making it less than stellar for those looking to change their base of operation.
The final con is that bluehost does like to upsell, which is again a common practice in the industry. These upsells can be largely avoided and their base plans contain everything you need to run your website effectively and seamlessly. Still, if you’re on a tight budget or are not a fan of seeing added costs pop up when searching for alternate options, this may drive you a little crazy.
Still, with all of these factors considered, bluehost is one of the top hosting options on the market, and we cannot recommend them highly enough. Their overall performance record, ease of use, beginner friendliness, security features, cost-effectiveness, and general positive features make them easily one of our top choices for hosting, hands down. No matter the website, bluehost can help you take your domain to the next level with consistent load speeds, reliable uptime, and cost-effective plans that have everything you need to start your website with style.
For a quick, easy-to-understand overview of many of the terms used in the world of website hosting, check out this video created by PC Magazine: