Bluehost Review: The Best Web Hosting?
From humble beginnings in 1996, Bluehost has become a powerhouse in hosting. The company has been particularly strong in the shared and WordPress hosting spaces, gaining an explicit recommendation from the WordPress Core Team in 2005 as one of their hosting providers of choice.
However, this does not imply that Bluehost is unable to cater to larger businesses who may require dedicated or VPS hosting. It excels in this space too with a reputation for affordability, usability, and a host of added features.
But does the reputation of Bluehost match its level of service? Is the recommendation from WordPress – who power over 455 million websites – well-founded? Or is it just marketing spin?
In this comprehensive Bluehost review, we’ll answer these questions and determine whether it is indeed the best web hosting provider that money can buy.
Table of Contents
- Hosting plans and pricing
- Shared – ideal for small businesses or those with a personal blog or website who are just starting out.
- VPS – a great middle-range option where hosted sites share a physical server with others through a virtual operating system.
- Dedicated – ideal for high traffic websites that need a high level of performance, security, and control on their own servers.
- WordPress hosting plans and pricing
- The pros of using Bluehost
- The cons of using Bluehost
Hosting plans and pricing
Installed on over 2 million websites across the internet, Bluehost offer a range of hosting plans split across multiple tiers that are some of the cheapest on the market. The plans on offer are comprehensive, in the sense that they cater to a wide range of experience levels and intended purposes.
When considering Bluehost plans, it’s important to note that every plan has an introductory price for new customers. This price can only be locked in by purchasing a 3-year (36-month) contract up front and in full. After three years has elapsed, all plans revert to standard pricing.
With that said, let’s begin by looking at each tier of Bluehost’s standard web hosting.
Within the Shared tier, there are four plans that will suit the vast majority of users:
- Basic ($2.75/month for the first three years, then $7.99/month) – 1 website, with 50 GB SSD storage and unmetered bandwidth.
- Plus ($5.45/month, then $14.99/month) – unlimited websites and SSD storage with unmetered bandwidth and unlimited domains and subdomains. Users on the Plus plan also receive 1 Microsoft 365 Mailbox – free for 30 days. This plan is great for those who plan to host multiple sites.
- Choice Plus ($5.45/month, then $14.99/month) – this plan builds on the Plus plan by offering domain privacy and protection. It also features a basic site backup facility.
- Pro ($13.95/month, then $23.99/month) – the Pro plan has all of the features of the Choice Plus plan, in addition to a high-performance server and a dedicated IP.
This ensures the server functions as if the site had its own, dedicated server.
Bluehost’s next generation of VPS hosting encompasses 3 plans:
- Standard ($17.99 for the first three years, then $29.99/month) – 2 cores with 30 GB SSD storage and 2 GB RAM. There is also 1 TB of bandwidth and 1 IP address on offer.
- Enhanced ($27.99/month, then $59.99/month) – 2 cores with 60 GB SSD storage and 4 GB RAM. The enhanced plan also offers 2 TB bandwidth and 2 IP addresses.
- Ultimate ($57.99/month, then $119.99/month) – 4 cores with 120 GB SSD storage, 8 GB RAM, 3 TB bandwidth, and 2 IP addresses.
Dedicated – ideal for high traffic websites that need a high level of performance, security, and control on their own servers.
Here, Bluehost offer dedicated hosting in 3 plans:
- Standard ($73.99 for the first three years, then $119.99/month) – 4 cores @ 2.3 GHz with 500 GB (mirrored) storage. The standard plan also offers 4 GB RAM, 5 TB bandwidth and 3 IP addresses.
- Enhanced ($88.99/month, then $159.99/month) – 4 cores @ 2.5 GHz with 1 TB (mirrored) storage, 8 GB RAM, 10 TB bandwidth and 4 IP addresses.
- Premium ($108.99/month, then $209.99/month) – 4 cores @ 3.3 GHz with 1 TB (mirrored) storage, 16 GB RAM, 15 TB bandwidth and 5 IP addresses.
WordPress hosting plans and pricing
At the introduction, we alluded to Bluehost and their strong connection to the WordPress content management system.
This is no better exemplified than in their specially tailored, two-tier WordPress hosting plans.
Here is a look at each and why Bluehost customers love them so much.
WordPress hosting – which includes the fast, secure and easy installation of WordPress.
In terms of pricing and features, these hosting plans are virtually identical to the Basic, Plus, and Choice Plus Shared plans outlined earlier. However, there are some key differences including:
- A free domain name for one year.
- Automatic WordPress updates.
- Microsoft 365 email – branded with the website domain name.
WP Pro – the newest addition to the Bluehost plan line up that offers more in terms of website development.
All WP Pro plans include complete marketing packages and tools to guide you through SEO, social media, review systems, and social marketing. To that end, all WP Pro plans feature Yelp, Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft Advertising integration.
Happily, site performance is also optimized for speed and thus has positive effects on user experience and site ranking.
Specific WP Pro plans include:
- Build ($17.95 for the first three years, then $29.99/month) – including the basics for establishing a WordPress site. Here you will find JetPack Site Analytics plugin, Marketing Center analytics, and 100+ free WordPress themes. There is also peace of mind in the form of malware detection and domain privacy and protection.
- Grow ($27.95/month, then $39.99/month) – featuring everything in Build plus Jetpack Premium, business and SEO tools and an extra level of customer support. There is also the ability to upload 10 GB of compressed video.
- Scale ($47.95/month, then $59.99/month) – this plan includes everything in Grow plus the capacity for unlimited backups and video compression. There is also PayPal integration and 24/7 live chat support.
Bluehost WooCommerce plans
For those looking for a complete eCommerce solution, Bluehost has you covered also.
All feature WooCommerce online store integration.
Again, there are three possible plans to choose from:
- Starter ($6.95 for the first three years, then $13.99/month) – the Starter plan is perfect for those who only need one online store. It features 100 GB SSD storage, free SSL and comes with a storefront theme installed. Bluehost also offers a free online store set up phone call to get you running as quickly as possible.
- Plus ($8.95/month, then $17.99/month) – this is Bluehost’s recommended plan in the eCommerce space, and it is not hard to see why. It features unlimited online stores and SSD storage, domain privacy and CodeGuard site backup capability.
- Pro ($12.95/month, then $31.99/month) – the Pro plan is basically a clone of the Plus plan. Given that the only difference is the addition of Bluehost SEO tools, we suggest that the Plus plan represents better value for money.
The pros of using Bluehost
Now that you’ve got a basic idea of the various plans on offer, let’s take a look at how Bluehost performs after you’ve signed up.
Here are some of the numerous demonstrated pros of using Bluehost.
Diversity of plans
In case you hadn’t noticed, Bluehost has a plan for virtually every scenario. Whether it’s a bricks and mortar store needing an online presence or a giant news website with 10 million viewers a month, Bluehost has you covered.
Bluehost offer superb uptime in the range of 99.9%, second only to Dreamhost. When considering the price of Bluehost plans, it would be almost impossible to find another provider offering a similar value to reliability ratio.
Ease of use
Bluehost uses cPanel, which by itself does not separate them from many other providers who also use cPanel. However, Bluehost have recently revamped their dashboard to be very much WordPress centric, with a focus on an intuitive and functional layout for less experienced site owners. In fact, it would be difficult to imagine a less daunting hosting provider for beginners.
To that end, Bluehost also offers free WordPress site migration if you sign up to any of their plans.
Useful added features
Every consumer understands that invariably, added features are a marketing gimmick designed to prize a few extra dollars from their wallets. However, Bluehost’s added features are a different story. Marketing credit is offered on all shared plans, with $100 credit in Google Ads and a further $100 in credit for Bing Ads. This is obviously extremely useful for a new business trying to gain exposure.
Bluehost also offers inbuilt caching which can also be customized, negating the need for third-party plugins that seem to conflict with existing plugins quite often. They also offer CloudFlare to prevent inbound DDoS attacks while also making the site faster and safer for visitors.
Bluehost customer support is available on a range of channels, including email, telephone, or live chat. They also have an extensive knowledge base where users can find FAQs and other tutorials. In cases where extra support has been required, most current Bluehost customers report friendly, prompt, and professional support.
The good news here is that Bluehost representatives know hosting inside and out because they have been doing it for almost 20 years. With its WordPress pedigree, the company is also well versed in the particular quirks of this content management system.
Bluehost speeds are certainly not the fastest, but they will be more than adequate for the vast majority of site owners. An independent study into Bluehost between 2018 and 2020 found an average page loading speed of 405 ms. This puts the company firmly in the top 5 fastest hosting providers. Faster load speeds increase user experience and ultimately, SEO ranking.
Now that we’ve looked at the pros, what isn’t so good about Bluehost? Happily, there isn’t much.
The cons of using Bluehost
Expensive WordPress hosting
While there is no doubt that Bluehost’s WordPress hosting is functional and feature-packed, it is nevertheless twice the price of similar plans offered by SiteGround.
Having said that, WordPress hosting is clearly popular with those who want an all-in-one solution, with more than 1 million sites hosted on one of the associated plans.
Confusing and somewhat expensive renewal prices
In most cases, introductory pricing for Bluehost plans is incredibly cheap. However, prices do rise quite dramatically thereafter – so consider whether you can absorb the higher price after 3 years have passed. Perhaps more importantly, consider whether the plan still represents value for money after the introductory pricing ends.
As we noted earlier, the introductory pricing is only enabled once the first three years have been paid upfront. Even the much advertised $2.75/month shared hosting plan requires that a equates to a single payment of $99, which may deter some customers from signing up. Happily, there is also a 30-day money back guarantee offered on all plans for peace of mind.
With all of that said, has Bluehost earnt the right to be called the best web hosting?
We suggest that it has.
For one, Bluehost have longevity on their side. The company understands its market and how to best serve its customers, offering a range of plans suited to beginners and veterans alike.
Bluehost is also one of only three companies to be officially recommended by the WordPress Core Team. This recommendation has been in place for 15 years and has been solidified by a team of Bluehost experts who are willing and able to help site owners with every step of their WordPress journeys.
As a hosting company in more general terms, Bluehost have the fundamentals in place. They offer speed, security, functionality, and usability in one complete package. Support is also well above industry standard and all Bluehost plans feature useful, non-gimmicky add-on features.
Bluehost is a strong performer in the hosting space and while no one company is perfect, there is not a lot to dislike about them in any case. Higher renewal rates and the cost of “done-for-you” WordPress plans may be a worry to a small percentage of owners, but those with the budget to absorb either will find tremendous value in what Bluehost has to offer.