Bluehost Review: Getting started with your first business website can be daunting. Of course, you can communicate with your customers via Facebook or any other social media platform. Still, if you are serious about doing business online, you want to take the plunge and sign up for a top-notch web hosting service. Bluehost does a good job finding the right balance between price and features for companies that need a bit of skill while also offering many experienced administrators options.
The customer service is also excellent. Still, the Bluehost lacks Windows-based servers and the price we like to see on shared plans. This is our Bluehost Review.
Paying our Bluehost plan was quick and easy, and after handing over our money, a wizard walked us through the site’s initial setup. This was much more interesting than the regular ‘what’s the name of your site?’ questions, for example, if we needed a blog, where the messages should appear (the home page, somewhere else), and much more. That’s good news because it allows Bluehost to tailor the site much better to your needs.
Another prompt asked if we needed a web store. Agreed, and the wizard also installs and activates WooCommerce, the competent WordPress e-commerce platform. After asking about our web site’s objectives and the possibility to choose a theme, the wizard finally installed WordPress and directed us to Bluehost’s control panel.
Bluehost Review: Creating a website
While many web hosts either dump you into a limp home page with necessary details about your account or perhaps a highly technical control panel, Bluehost starts with a simple task-based control panel. For example, the site presented us with five actions:
- Customize the site’s design (colors, fonts, layouts).
- Add a contact page.
- Add content.
- Set up your store.
- Add a product or service (to the store).
This approach cannot do everything for you. For example, when we chose ‘Add content,’ we went to the WordPress ‘Pages’ manual, but it was left to us to figure out how to add or edit a new page. Still, this is only to be expected, and in general, Bluehost’s system offers much more help and assistance to beginners than what is customary in the course.
Experienced users probably won’t be interested in this handhold, but Bluehost hasn’t forgotten them. Tapping the Advanced option in the sidebar takes users to a full cPanel setup with a file manager, FTP setup, phpMyAdmin and MySQL management, email account creation, metrics, security options, and much more.
If you haven’t installed WordPress before, Softaculous is ready to set up hundreds of top apps automatically: Joomla, Drupal, PrestaShop, osCommerce, and various other blogs, wikis, forums, photo galleries, and more (see the complete list on the Softaculous site).
Bluehost Review: Performance
To test Bluehost’s performance, we set up a straightforward static website and used Uptime.com to check the website’s availability and response time for one week. The company managed 100% uptime, which works for us. Keep in mind that we were also testing the most basic shared hosting plan – if Bluehost will have problems, we expect them to show up here.
Response times ranged from 257ms to 629ms, with an average of 332ms, making the company 19th out of the 27 providers we were monitoring at the time. While that’s not great, keep in mind that the differences in response times between the right providers are generally minimal (only 60ms separates the ten hosts directly above Bluehost.) Unless you benchmark yourself, you may not notice any difference.
Bluehost scored better in Dotcom-Tools’ Website Speed Test, which measures the site’s download speed from 16 locations in Europe and the US. The average page loading time was 748 ms, increasing with the best providers and twice as fast as some of the low-end competitors.
In our tests, we ran Bitcatcha’s Server Speed Checker on our test site. This kind of one-time testing can’t tell us as much as the continuous monitoring of Uptime.com. However, it was still good to see Bluehost returning excellent speeds, especially from American locations. Bitcatcha was certainly impressed and gave our server the highest A+ rating.
Bluehost Review: Pricing and plans
The company doesn’t try to fool you by offering a substandard start-up plan to get a low headline. Even the low-end Basic plan gives you 50GB of storage space, unmeasured bandwidth, and a free SSL certificate, and throws in a free domain.
Email hosting options are limited with only five supported accounts and a small 100MB inbox for each, and unfortunately, this is not spelled in the website comparison table. Still, otherwise, it is a perfect product for many users and reasonably priced at $2.95 a month over 36 months, rising to $7.99 on renewal. (Sign up for a minimum of 12 months, and you pay an initial $4.95).
The Choice Plus plan supports unlimited email accounts, can be used with as many domains as you need, and adds site backup, domain privacy, and protection. It is available from $5.45 per month over 36 months, which is tempting, although it renews for $14.99 (choose the annual plan, and it’s initially $7.95 per month).
The Pro account increases performance, offers a dedicated IP, and delivers a premium SSL certificate starting at $13.95 per month for 36 months ($14.95 per year), $23.99 when renewed.
A 30-day money-back guarantee protects payments. This is the industry standard and should be enough to confirm that Bluehost is the right host for you, but some providers go further. For example, InMotion Hosting offers an exceptional 90-day warranty.
Bluehost Review: Application hosting
Bluehost has only a very minimal range of application hosting plans, but it more or less manages to cover the essentials: WordPress and simple e-commerce.
The WordPress hosting plan is little more than the same shared hosting plans, with the exact pricing (from $2.95 per month initially, $7.99 on renewal), and more emphasis on some WordPress-specific features (Bluehost updates WordPress automatically, plus there are some decent WordPress documentation and support).
Bluehost’s WordPress Pro plan is better suited and gives you unlimited storage space, bandwidth and websites, spam filtering, CDN integration, and much more.
Powerful WordPress related extras include a staging environment, a convenient way to create and edit a copy of your existing site. If you make some significant changes – replacing a theme, changing one plugin for another – the staging feature allows you to test it out without running the risk of causing problems on your production site.
Business-focused features include Jetpack Site Analytics, Premium or Pro (depending on your plan), a marketing center, PayPal integration, and more. These are competent products, and prices are reasonable, from a standard $19.95 per month over three years ($29.99 on renewal) to $49.95 ($59.99).
If you only manage one site and don’t need the business features, check out IONOS’ WordPress Pro. It limits your storage space and supports only one website, but it gives you unique resources (from 1 vCPU and 1GB of RAM) and Varnish-based caching on the Pro plan. Prices start at $18 per month; no long-term contract is required.
Bluehost’s e-commerce product is essentially shared hosting with WordPress, WooCommerce, Storefront themes pre-installed, a dedicated IP address, and a few marketing credits (spend $25 on a Microsoft Advertising or Google Ads account, get $100 credit).
Again, prices are reasonable, starting at $6.95 per month (renewal at $13.99.) The plans can be useful if you’re an e-commerce newbie. Still, experienced users can get many the same results by finding their favorite shared hosting package and using Softaculous (or another auto-installer) to set up a web store for themselves.
Bluehost Review: Servers
Bluehost’s VPS plans may not look cheap, at least initially, but that’s because the company doesn’t try to cut corners to get a low course.
VPS products start at $18.99 over 36 months ($29.99) on renewal, for example, more expensive than some. But the specifications are decent and include 2 CPU cores and 2GB of RAM, twice the allocation you get with many startup VPS setups, along with 30GB of storage and 1TB of bandwidth. Bluehost’s custom control panel also makes your service easy to manage.
If you accept a more basic system, Hostwinds’ managed VPS plans are priced from an initial $5.17 per month (renewed for $10.99). But that only gives you 1 CPU core, 1GB of RAM, 30GB of storage, and 1TB of bandwidth. Upgrade to a Hostwinds plan with two cores, 4GB RAM, and 2TB bandwidth, and you pay $18.80, renew for $39.99, similar to the Bluehost price considering the specifications.
Bluehost’s dedicated hosting range is limited, with only three basic plans and no significant configuration options. However, the hardware specifications are decent, and with prices starting at $79.99 a month over three years (renew for $119.99) for a four-core, 500GB storage, 4GB RAM, and 5TB bandwidth setup, they are cheaper than high-end VPS products from some providers.
Bluehost Review: Customer support
Bluehost offers 24/7 telephone support, online webchat, a ticket-based system, and a knowledgebase – another way Bluehost is comparable to HostMonster. I tested Bluehost’s webchat weekly to ask about the differences between regular WordPress and WP Pro. The rep quickly asked my questions about the differences between standard WordPress hosting and managed WordPress hosting, and I was satisfied with the person’s answer.
Bluehost is a good and very stable WebHost that makes setting up a website a breeze. Bluehost products are not as configurable as some of the competition. However, the plans are well specified, with 100% uptime and fast download times during testing, and quality live chat support available if you need it.
Bluehost does not have the most configurable products, but the plans with lots of possibilities, and the impressive download speeds are a good reason to let it whirl.
- Speedy download times during testing
- Lots of features with all plans
- Easy-to-use control panel
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- No option to pay monthly
- Limited configuration options
- Average response times