But, as is the case with many other fields apart from web hosting, the most popular option isn’t necessarily the best one in terms of quality. Is this true for BlueHost as well? I decided to find that out in this unforgiving BlueHost review.
Decent server performance, especially for the price. Not for very heavy sites.
Downtimes are rare, and usually don’t last long. Good enough for most sites.
Lots of readily available answers in knowledge base, but support is slow at times.
Prices are low at first, but renewals are expensive.
No monthly payment option.
Speed – Page Load Times
In my testing, I’ve found BlueHost’s servers to be fairly fast. It’s certainly not the fastest among all shared hosts, neither does it manage to make the test site load under 300ms unlike A2 Hosting, but at that entry-level price point, the performance is more than you’d expect. The initial server response time (<200 ms on average) is pretty impressive for a shared host, too.
It seems like BlueHosthave recently upgraded their server hardware adequately and thereby improved performance for end-users. This is good to know, considering they were at one point in the past accused of overselling and overcrowding their servers.
Still, BlueHost’s shared hosting servers aren’t equipped with cutting-edge technologies like LiteSpeed. At the end of the day, they’re a budget host and will do the job just fine for most small to medium websites, unless your site is rather heavy or resource hungry.
In my testing period with BlueHost, the test site experienced just a single instance of downtime, and that was for 2 minutes. This is really impressive for a cheap shared host.
Downtime can be really bad for your website. Not only can it frustrate its visitors and hurt its conversion rate, but it can also have a negative impact on the performance of your site on search engines like Google.
With most shared hosts, uptime is a major concern. Most of them fail to keep their servers up as much as they promise their customers.
Some others impose such heavy restrictions on resource usage that as soon as users’ sites receiving any significant traffic, they start getting ‘throttled’ and in some cases, even taken down, often for prolonged periods of time.
In short, from my testing, it seems that uptime is unlikely to be an issue if you decide to host your site on BlueHost’s platform.
Price – BlueHost’s Shared Plans
BlueHost’s shared hosting plans are very competitively priced. The plans mainly vary based on the number of add-on domains (i.e. the number of unique websites) that you can host on them. BlueHost currently has 3 main shared hosting plans, and they are as follows:
Their Basic plan, coming in at $3.49/mo is the most popular one with beginners. It gives you the option to host only one unique domain and offers 50GB of storage space. It’s a practical plan for many, because not everyone has multiple websites to host.
Their mid-range plan, Plus, costing $5.95/mo, is the most value for money one of the lot. It allows you to host an unlimited number of websites, with no storage or bandwidth limits whatsoever.
They also have another version of the Plus plan called Prime, which is essentially the same plan as Plus (even costs the same after discounts), but comes with some of their premium features like SiteBackup Pro and Domain Privacy (in case you grab a free domain from them or register a new one with them).
Their highest offering is called Pro, and it is priced at $13.95/mo, which is more than a shared hosting customer usually spends. It comes with a dedicated IP, an SSL certificate bundled-in, a complimentary subscription of their optional SiteBackupPro service, and a few other perks.
It also offers significantly more server resources than the lower-end plans, which allows you to keep hosting your site on a shared hosting platform even when it outgrows their entry-level and mid-range plans.
BlueHost claims that the Pro plan achieves this by hosting around 80% less accounts per server compared to their entry-level plans.
For most users, the Plus, or even the Basic plan would be more than sufficient, as even any serious blogger or webmaster hardly gets time to handle more than a couple of sites. For the more hard-core users out there, however, BlueHost has the Prime plan on offer.
BlueHost are one of the few web hosts that offer 24×7 phone, live-chat and email support. I’ve found their support department to be adequate when it comes to answering general tech queries or looking up for site-specific issues.
The support response times aren’t that impressive, however, and they varied quite a bit, from 10 minutes to two hours (in case of support tickets). The first response has been an auto-generated response in quite a few cases, too.
BlueHost couldn’t remind me of the fact that they’re actually a very cheap shared host when I tested out the other parts of their overall service, but support was an exception. I really missed the efficient, fast, 100% skilled human-powered support that hosts like InMotion Hosting provide.
BlueHost, like many other EIG-owned companies, is known for outsourcing technical support to developing countries like India, which result in a rather frustrating experience at times. It’s not as easy to communicate about technical troubles with a non-native English speaking person who often has a hard time understanding your problem.
With the main aspects of BlueHost’s hosting covered, let’s take a look at a few other things I found out about BlueHost while trying them out.
Pre-made Support Videos & Text Tutorials
BlueHost has a pretty extensive knowledge base, which has information about almost anything and everything related to BlueHost’s offerings. This is particularly useful if you’re good at searching your way to find what you need, rather than chatting with relatively slow-to-respond support staff to get even the most basic queries answered.
Limited ‘Unlimited’ Hosting
Just like many other hosts that claim to offer ‘unlimited’ hosting, BlueHost’s ‘unlimited’ does come with several limitations. They include the following:
Hefty Renewal Rates
BlueHost’s discounted prices are only good for the first year (or till the time you bought it for). Whenever your plan is due for renewal, you’ll be forced to pay their ‘default’, non-discounted price for that respective plan, which tends to be quite hefty compared to what you’d have paid the first time.
For example, if you’re a user of their basic plan, you’ll be billed at $7.99/mo when it’s time to renew, instead of the discounted $3.95/mo rate.
Great Security Options Out of the Box
If there’s one area where you can’t complain about BlueHost, it’s the security of the overall hosting environment. BlueHost is very serious about security, and it shows in the number of their security-related features, even in the low-end plans.
SpamAssassin, Spam Hammer, and Spam Experts are three effective tools to fight email spam.
They also offer hotlink protection to prevent someone from stealing or otherwise using your hosted images (and other files) and draining your bandwidth.
You can also block/unblock specific IPs and IP ranges, in case you suspect any specific IP or range being harmful for your website.
With its two-factor authentication (2FA) setup, it’ll be an additional peace of mind knowing that no one else can log into your BlueHost account and make unintended changes, without having access to your phone.
A similar safety feature is the ‘account token validation’ feature, which requires you to submit a six-digit account security token code to BlueHost’s support staff to validate your identity as the rightful owner, before you submit any confidential information, like passwords, to them.
Auto-installers and App Integrations
BlueHost’s customized cPanel comes with a ton of app integrations and allow you to install almost any popular script (be it WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Magento and anything else you could possibly imagine) with just a few clicks.
This saves beginners, who don’t need the extra flexibility of a manual installation the, a considerable amount of time and help them get started with a new website much quicker.
Apart from auto-installers, there’s also Google Apps integration built into cPanel. This is helpful if you want to use Google Suite for your email or your corporate Google Drive cloud storage, for example.
Setting up a CDN is fairly easy, too. You have a CloudFlare integration built into cPanel, which lets you setup CloudFlare on your websites with a few clicks. CloudFlare can help a lot in reducing your website’s load time and resource consumption by serving your website from the closest CloudFlare server from a visitor.
For e-commerce sites hosted on BlueHost, it’s easy to get a free SSL certificate, as well as more advanced things like OpenPGP/GPG Encryption.
Site Migrations Aren’t Free
Most shared hosts will happily transfer your website from your existing host’s server to your new server for free. Not BlueHost!
They charge a hefty fee of $149.99 PER site if you don’t know how to do the site migration yourself. Even then, they have a condition citing that they won’t transfer more than 5 websites for you in any case. This is extremely unusual for a company growing as fast as BlueHost, especially because a constant influx of new customers is crucial for their business.
Tons of Upsells
While it’s not uncommon in the web hosting world to observe almost every web host pushing endless upsells, with BlueHost it just seems a bit too much at times.
Due to your first invoice with them being heavily discounted, they don’t make any compromise in trying to sell you as many additional upgrades and add-on services as they can. This can include SEO services, extra site security services, domain registration, advanced site backup service, and many more.
Want an SSL certificate? Pay just fifty bucks per year. Want to restore individual files from your daily site backups? Pay $35.88 per year. Want to re-activate your expired account? Pay thirty bucks for nothing.
Some of these are extremely disappointing, because things like free SSL certificates (by courtesy Let’s Encrypt) and individual file restoration from backups are offered for free by many BlueHost alternatives, like MDDHosting, StableHost and others.
Fast Setup & Onboarding
Unless your transaction is flagged as fraud, your purchased plan will be instantly set up and you’ll shortly receive an email from BlueHost with your account details as soon as you finish signing up.
Once you log in to cPanel, you’ll find a familiar, but visually tweaked interface of cPanel which is fairly easy to understand and use. Unlike other budget hosting brands like iPage who use cheaper solutions like vDeck, the use of a standard control panel like cPanel definitely makes me recommend BlueHost more.
Summary – BlueHost Advantages
BlueHost have been around in the shared hosting game for more than 20 years since they were originally founded in 1996. Not only have they managed to stick around all these years while becoming one of the most well-known shared hosts worldwide, they’ve also successfully managed to keep their quality of service consistent through all these years. Though, they did have to overcome a few minor hiccups along the way, like aggressive CPU-throttling.
BlueHost is your typical budget-friendly web host that offers a standard cPanel and LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) setup for people looking for a budget host without too many bells and whistles. With that in mind, let’s take a look some of BlueHost’s most prominent features:
Concluding this BlueHost Review
By the looks of it, this review has already become the most comprehensive BlueHost review on the internet. Since I’m very passionate about web hosting, I could go all day about the different aspects of BlueHost’s shared hosting. But, since this has already become so long, I’d like to quickly conclude this review.
BlueHost’s hosting plans are quite cheap compared to most of their competitors. But, apart from the not-so-great support department, I found BlueHost to be decent in most other aspects.
One negative point to consider is the limited availability of add-on domains in their most basic plan. But, that probably wouldn’t concern the target audience (new bloggers / webmasters who are just starting on their web journeys) much.
Overall, BlueHost is a decent host, especially for the money. I would definitely give them a try if I were looking for a reliable, feature-packed, aggressively priced shared web host without wanting to know too much about the technical tidbits that go behind hosting a website.
If you’re looking for a higher-priced, better alternative, however, I’d definitely recommend InMotion Hosting (a tad bit pricier) without thinking twice. Because they offer everything that BlueHost does, and only perform even better in most aspects.