2021 January 8
Bluehost is a beginner and WordPress focused company. They offer a lot of freebies to newcomers, decent performance, and great customer support.
stands for “superb”. This provider is amongst the best in the market
stands for “superb”. This provider is amongst the best in the market
SPEED — 270ms
Above average speed with high reliability score
UPTIME — 99.99%
Great, Bluehost will keep your site online the majority of time
PRICING — 8.0/10
Affordable prices with plans suited for beginners
Bluehost, Bluehost, and Bluehost again. You've probably seen like 100 other Bluehost reviews before, all recommending the provider. Like they are the holy grail of web hosting.
But are they?
That’s another article, namely, Bluehost review, that’s on the way to find that out.
Oh, not again!
No, but seriously. In this review, I’m going to cover everything there’s to know about Bluehost. Pricing, interface, features, performance, support, flaws, and everything else in between.
Let’s find out if this heavily marketed provider deserves a purchase.
Bluehost is among the cheaper web hosting providers with prices starting at $2.95 a month. In comparison, other reliable companies like Hostinger have plans under $1 and there are choices like SiteGround that have more expensive entry plans starting at $7 a month. So, Bluehost is a nice middle ground between the 2.
Bluehost will give you a free domain and an SSL certificate with each of their plan. This makes it a very good option for beginners.
Bluehost’s shared hosting plans range from completely beginner-suited options to business-ready solutions. That doesn’t make it much clearer whether it’s actually a good option.
So let’s break it down.
In general, Bluehost targets beginners that have never used hosting before. For that, it has a variety of tools that help newcomers. But not all plans are created equally.
In my opinion, the best value plan is Choice Plus. For the same initial price, you’ll get features like automatic backups and domain privacy that can be worth more than $10 a month.
Basic also offers really great value for complete beginners creating their first blog or a portfolio. It has all things necessary to start a website with no additional expenses – an SSL, domain name, and enough storage to store all of the images and posts you’ll ever create.
That said, Plus and Pro plans are best to be avoided. The first one is expensive compared to Choice Plus and Pro doesn’t feature enough value and power to be worth the price.
So the best bet is to choose Basic if you want to create one and just one website. If you’re building a site for a business – Choice Plus offers the best value in terms of features.
But to take advantage of the best prices, there are some calculations to be made.
Just like most of the providers, Bluehost asks you to stick for a longer period to get the cheapest price.
You have the choice of buying their plans for 1 year, 2 years, or 3 years. The longer the period, the lower the cost per month. But you’ll have to pay for the full period upfront.
To make this look less scary, I have checked some other providers and their prices in comparison to Bluehost. So, this is how it looks getting the cheapest possible price with a couple of well-known names:
Only Hostinger is a way cheaper option than Bluehost. HostGator is close by, A2 Hosting is almost the same, while SiteGround’s offer is valid only for 1 year.
Bluehost uses a mix of cPanel and its own custom dashboard. That’s a user-friendly solution that will guide beginners that are creating and managing their first website.
This is how the main dashboard window looks like when you log in. The middle part is dedicated to an interactive tutorial that will help you create the first website while the main management tools are on the menu on the left.
If I click on “My Sites”, I’ll be able to see every single website I have created with Bluehost.
But that’s just a pit stop. Hovering over the website will allow me to enter the “Site Management” area with all the tools required to manage your site.
Here you can launch Google ad campaigns, do basic performance optimizations, work on security, and if you’re using WordPress – manage plugins, themes, and comments.
The horizontal menu on the left allows reaching all these settings.
While this area allows you to do basic site management, you’ll reach cPanel by clicking on the “Advanced” tab. That’s where all the features you’d normally expect from a hosting provider hide.
Bluehost uses the standard version of cPanel so it has everything to manage a successful website.
For example, you want a custom email that uses your website name? No problems. Head to the “Email Accounts”, fill out the form, and here you have it.
Autoresponders, forwarders, and other tools are managed similarly easy.
Overall, the duo of cPanel and the site management area work together to make managing websites easy for beginners.
In this part of the Bluehost review, we’ll see if they perform well enough for the money you are paying. I set up speed, stress, and stability tests to find that out and have some pretty good data to share with you.
For the first test, I used just a basic WordPress installation and tested it with GTMetrix.
The site loaded in 2.9 seconds. Which is not fast.
More speed-focused companies like A2 Hosting or SiteGround can load an empty WordPress installation twice if not more, faster.
For the second test, I added content. In other words, simulated a real heavy website you’d visit anywhere online. The speed dropped to 3.8 seconds. Not too bad but still not fast.
Again, Hostinger, A2 Hosting, and SiteGround loads this same website twice as fast.
But is this bad? No, not necessarily.
You see, Bluehost is a beginner-focused company. If you are creating just a personal site like portfolio, you won’t get visitors flooding in at enormous rates. And it’s actually a good enough speed for this kind of website.
The reason why Bluehost is slower than the competition is that they had their last upgrade performance-wise in 2017. Not too long ago, but since then, a lot of breakthroughs have been made, technology evolved, and the competitors who timed their upgrades better, left Bluehost behind. At least for now.
Another test I wanted to share, shows how Bluehost would react if not 1 but 20 users would visit the site at the same time.
No issues at all. The blue line representing speed stayed super stable as the grey line representing bots increased.
This shows, that even on a very cheap plan, Bluehost can handle a surge of traffic very well. So maybe a little slower, this provider will be able to keep your site online no matter what.
And finally, I’ve been monitoring Bluehost for the whole year.
There were ups and downs, but in the total, Bluehost was up for 99.87% of the time which isn’t bad.
You can see that most downtime is from March to May. I think that at the time, it got a huge influx of new users. Considering the whole pandemic situation, I think they handled it quite well because both response time and uptime stabilized quickly.
So while Bluehost is not the fastest provider, it is stable and reliable. Also, it proved to be handling stress and overload of users really well.
More to add, Bluehost was one of the very few providers that managed to keep their support agents available throughout the pandemic.
Bluehost has 24/7 live chat, email, and if you’re in the US – toll-free phone support. That’s a bunch of options to choose from and you can also find an answer for your questions in the knowledge base too.
I decided to nag the support a little bit pretending to be a first-time web hosting user who doesn’t know which plan to get.
To my surprise, the interaction went extremely well. There was completely no wait time and the agent was both knowledgeable and pleasant. No redirects to the knowledge base or “figure it out yourself” answers. Even though, 5 to 6 pm should be quite a busy time for the support department.
But not all was super brilliant. Apart from the interaction itself, the agent did use my “inexperience” to offer me a plan that was way out of my league.
You see, I asked for a recommendation for one super small website and he offered me almost the most expensive plan.
To the agent’s credit, that plan does offer the best value. On the other hand, my website would do just fine on the cheapest one.
So while I am entirely satisfied with the help I have received, I wouldn’t say that you should trust Bluehost’s advice when it comes to sales.
So are you getting the best value for your money choosing Bluehost or should you look elsewhere?
Well, if you are just getting started. If you don’t know how all the hosting stuff works and you’re unsure about your web management skills – there’s no better company than Bluehost at the moment.
You’ll get a cheap price, decent performance, and plenty of beginner-friendly features, tips, and support. Basically, they will guide you through creating and managing the website.
But if you are a seasoned web developer, you definitely need more power. Bluehost shared hosting will not bring you the best value and looking at providers like SiteGround or A2 Hosting might be a better option.
I hope this Bluehost review was helpful in deciding what kind of hosting you need. Consider making your purchase through one of the links in this article and as always – good luck creating your sites!