Bluehost is one of the world’s biggest web hosts, collectively hosting over two million sites from its Orem, Utah, facility. While it offers VPS hosting and dedicated servers, the primary focus of the business is shared hosting and WordPress hosting.
In our Bluehost web hosting review, we consider its dependability and performance in order to decide if it’s a good fit for small businesses getting started online.
Bluehost: Plans and pricing
Bluehost offers shared hosting, VPS hosting, and dedicated hosting. Though the hosting plans could be used for any website project, Bluehost has specialized plans for WordPress and WooCommerce. All plans are payable monthly, but if you buy two or three years in advance, you get around 10 percent off the price. Note that Bluehost follows the trend of offering a significant discount on your first term before later raising the price. In most cases, the first term plan is about 40-60 percent cheaper than the renewal rate, so be sure to factor that into your buying decision.
For shared hosting, Bluehost has four reasonably priced plans. The cheapest Basic plan has an introductory rate of $3.95/month if you pay upfront for 36 months. With this, you get 50 GB of SSD storage, unmetered bandwidth, and a free SSL certification, but support for one website only. For $5.95/month, you get unlimited websites, unlimited SSD storage, and support for unlimited websites. The $6.95/month Choice Plus plan adds domain privacy and site backup, whereas the $13.95/month Pro plan moves your website to high-performance servers. These servers host fewer websites, so you’re not competing with so many other people for server resources.
For more power and flexibility, you can choose a virtual private server (VPS) plan. With a VPS, you get your own slice of server resources, so your website should run faster and perform more consistently. The Standard plan’s introductory price is $19.99/month for a two-core CPU with 2 GB of RAM, 30 GB SSD storage, and 1 TB of bandwidth. The Enhanced plan, which has an introductory price of $29.99/month, bumps this to 60 GB SSD storage, 4 GB of RAM, and 2 TB of bandwidth. The Ultimate plan, with an intro price of $59.99/month, gets you a four-core system with 120 GB SSD storage, 8 GB of RAM, and 3 TB of bandwidth. The introductory prices are good, but once you start paying full price, the plans don’t stack up so well against the competition.
Finally, for even better performance and versatility, you can opt for one of the three dedicated server plans. The Standard plan starts at $79.99/month for a four-core server with 4 GB of RAM, 500 GB of storage, and 5 TB of bandwidth. The Enhanced plan’s introductory price is $99.99/month for a slightly faster system with 8 GB of RAM, 1 TB of storage, and 10 TB of bandwidth, and the Premium plan starts at $119.99/month for an even faster system with 16 GB of RAM and 15 TB of bandwidth.
Bluehost has a solid feature list and support for a long list of popular web applications. You can install powerful software such as WordPress, b2evolution, Moodle, Tiki Wiki, Drupal, and Joomla by clicking a single link. For e-commerce, there are OSCommerce, Agora, Cube Cart, and Zen Cart, among others. You can use three different webmail solutions right out of the gate.
On shared hosting plans, your website shares server resources, such as the CPU and RAM, with other websites hosted on the server. This can sometimes be problematic if another site is hogging all the CPU time, slowing down your site. Bluehost does have CPU Protection on shared hosting plans, so any site that uses an excessive amount of hardware resources is throttled. It’s rare to be the target of CPU Protection, though, and it makes shared hosting fairer for all customers.
Bluehost also offers a capable drag-and-drop website builder, a free domain name, unlimited storage space, and cPanel control panel administration support. Overall, it has all the features that businesses need.
Interface and in use
Signing up for Bluehost is easy, and its website details all the pertinent features, inclusions, and conditions of each plan. Once you’ve signed up, you’re taken through a wizard that helps you with the initial setup of your site. It’s a smarter system than most web hosts have. For example, if you indicate that you’re looking for a blogging platform with e-commerce support, it’ll set up a full WordPress website with WooCommerce and even offer you a few themes from which to choose.
Bluehost then drops you into its control panel, which feels at the right level of complexity for most new users. It lists several tasks that you might want to do (e.g., customize your site design, add content, set up your store, etc.) and points you in the right direction. So, you can get some hand-holding if you need it, and clicking on Advanced will take you to a more technical control panel. Here, you can manage files using a file manager, set up FTP, administer your SQL databases, create email accounts, see usage statistics, and set up security features.
In our performance testing, Bluehost managed 100 percent uptime. On the most basic shared hosting plan, response times over the course of a week averaged 241 ms, which is not bad. What was impressive was the consistency. We experienced no significant variance in raw response times, which suggests that even the cheapest shared hosting plans are not oversubscribed.
Bluehost has a ticket-based support system alongside 24/7 telephone support and an online webchat. Bluehost also offers paid support services, such as SEO services, pay-per-click services, and website migration. A Blue Sky service for WordPress starting at $29/month gives you on-demand ticket support with expert design guidance. For $99/month, you get content and landing page optimization services with on-demand chat and phone support.
We didn’t pay for this extended technical support, but we found the basic support to be more than adequate. We got responses to webchat queries within minutes, and phone support agents were knowledgeable and happy to take us through the setup of a WordPress plugin.
Besides this excellent support, there’s a knowledge base with articles, guides, and FAQs. It’s packed with useful information, but it’s not particularly well laid out, so it can take time to find the article that answers your particular query.