For the past several years, we have been a web hosting customer of Bluehost. During this time, we used the “basic” hosting plan, which is the cheapest option offered. Throughout our use of Bluehost, we have paid careful attention to performance, as well as learned many of the things that make this company’s service unique, both positive and negative. We combined our observations and the data we gathered to create this review.
Introduction to Bluehost
As a Bluehost customer, you get access to unmetered bandwidth, five email accounts, and 24/7 live chat. You also get one year of a free domain. All plans also include free SSL certificates, backups, and improved security to help your website stay safe. Plans start at just $2.75 per month, although that renews at $7.99 per month.
Bluehost works with certain website builders as well as other apps, like Drupal, Joomla, and WordPress. The hosting plans include shared, dedicated servers, cloud, and VPS.
Our experience with Bluehost shows the hosting service to have excellent performance. In the past 24 months, there was 99.99% uptime and a load time of just 0.4 seconds (or 405 ms).
To give you a better idea of what to expect from Bluehost, here are the most important things we have noticed, divided into advantages and disadvantages for your convenience.
Pro: 99.99% Uptime
We already mentioned that the last 24 months of our time with Bluehost have included 99.99% uptime. This is one of the biggest things to look for in a web host since you need uptime for your site to be accessible.
To put those figures into perspective, a common benchmark that indicates “good” uptime would be 99.93%, which is just a little under average. That 99.93% uptime would mean you have a minimum of 26 minutes of downtime every single month, which adds up to more than five hours in a year.
You will notice that not only do the figures we recorded from Bluehost average out to much higher than this benchmark but so do the individual figures from every single month. In other words, Bluehost has extremely reliable web hosting.
Pro: 405 ms Load Speed
Another highlight is that fast load speed of just 405 ms. This is particularly important considering a recent Google report.
Last year, Google reported that most mobile websites are significantly too slow. This is problematic because you are likely to have a higher bounce rate on your website if it loads slowly. As such, slow websites tend to have lower sales. Additionally, the mobile-first index from Google will adjust your site’s ranking in search results depending on the loading speed. In other words, a fast loading speed will increase your rank.
To put that in perspective, out of the various web hosts that we have tested, Bluehost’s 405 ms average load time makes it the fifth fastest.
Pro: Affordable Starting Price
That low introductory price of just $2.75 per month is yet another advantage we noticed with Bluehost. This is among the most competitive prices that you will find anywhere.
The starting price is usually $7.99 per month for the most basic plan. However, on its website, Bluehost lists a sale rate of $3.95 per month, a sale that is consistently offered. While that price is already very good, you can easily find a promotion where Bluehost will just cost $2.75 per month.
If that seems like a low price, it is, as it is the lowest price you are likely to find online. Even better, that low starting price does not skimp on features.
If you have a single website, that $2.75 plan should cover it, as it includes the free SSL certificate, unmetered bandwidth, 50 GB of SSD storage, and more.
Pro: Money-Back Guarantee
If the low price was not already enough financial reason to strongly consider Bluehost, the 30-day money-back guarantee should be. Most web hosts require you to pay for a longer contract to get a better deal, and not all have trial periods. Bluehost stands out with its 30-day money-back guarantee, which gives you the same confidence as a trial period.
Just keep in mind that this policy has some very important caveats. Most importantly, you will not get a refund if you request it after 30 days. Additionally, the refund only applies to the web-hosting cost. If you buy add-ons or domains, those will not be refunded. The refund will also feature a deduction of a $15.99 fee if your plan included a free domain name.
Pro: Strong Security Options
In addition to not skimping out on general features due to the low price, Bluehost also does not skimp on its security features. We already mentioned that your plan automatically includes a free SSL certificate.
This is supplemented by the Bluehost domain privacy feature. This feature ensures that the personal information you provided when you signed up for your domain remains private. In other words, hackers cannot find that personal information. Without this protection, you may be subject to phishing schemes that could convince you — or someone else — to give out sensitive information.
CodeGuard comes with your Bluehost plan, giving you daily backups. This feature means that if the other security measures fail and your site gets hacked, you can just roll back the site’s previous versions.
Bluehost also includes SiteLock with the plans. This feature provides protection against malware attacks, something that is a real concern with WordPress sites.
You also get to use Postini, which is a Google security feature that delivers spam protection in your email. This way, suspicious emails stay out of your inbox.
When combined, all of those security features give you additional peace of mind — and without you having to pay an arm and a leg for them, as they are included in the affordable Bluehost monthly plans.
Pro: Ease of Use with Advanced Features Available
Many web hosts claim to be easy to use, but that is not always the case, especially not for those who are new to using these services. Then there are more complicated web hosts that would be overwhelming and nearly impossible to use for beginners. LiquidWeb is the perfect example, as nontechnical people will not find an interface that is user-friendly
By contrast, Bluehost went out of its way with its design and cPanel (control panel) to ensure that anyone could easily use it. Most actions are incredibly obvious and only require a simple point and click. Additionally, the compatibility with tools for building a website, like Drupal and Weebly, means that you can easily drag-and-drop to customize a template.
At the same time, Bluehost has enough advanced features to help it appeal to those experienced users who want to get more from their web hosting.
Pro: Numerous Features, Apps, and Integrations
One of the many key features you want to look for in a web host is the available integrations and compatibilities, an area in which Bluehost excels. Our experience has shown that Bluehost has a vast range of integrations and applications that let you incorporate the most popular web services.
Among these is the ability to install WordPress in a single click. You can also easily install your favorite content management system, including Joomla and Drupal. Integrations also make it easy to run an e-commerce shop with Bluehost. There is also a domain manager that lets you use the service to buy and manage various domains using Bluehost, along with backups monthly, weekly, or daily.
You even get access to a CDN (Content Delivery Network) with Bluehost. For those unfamiliar, a CDN hosts your large files and images, so your servers do not have to take care of that task. This results in ensuring your website stays fast and that users can view that content more quickly.
Pro: WordPress Recommendation
Not only does Bluehost support WordPress, letting you use the most popular website platform, but it is one of the few hosting partners that WordPress officially recommends. This is highly favorable for Bluehost since out of the hundreds or thousands of web hosting services, WordPress only recommends three officially.
Given the popularity of WordPress, most people take this official recommendation as a very good sign, as you should.
Pro: Strong Customer Support
We have also had reason to be impressed with Bluehost’s customer support. You can choose from phone support, live chat, and email ticket support. You typically get friendly, useful responses from support, at least in our experience.
Con: Renewal Rates Are Higher and So Are Shorter Contracts
While the low introductory pricing of Bluehost is a very strong advantage for this web host, it does have the same cost-related downsides that are common to the industry. Specifically, to get the lowest price, you need to choose a plan with longer terms, and renewal rates are higher than the introductory rates.
Longer Contracts Save Money
Looking at the first point, you will get the best price on hosting if you prepay for three years, with prepaying for two or one year(s) offering slightly higher rates that are still better than what you would pay otherwise. You will need to trade off the value of the low monthly rate with the fact that you pay a hundred dollars or more upfront. This is not ideal if you want to try out Bluehost, but it works to your favor if you know you will want to continue to use their services for years to come.
Taking a closer look at the renewal rates shows you yet another reason to be cautious about the pricing. Like most competitors, that $2.75 or $3.95 rate is just an introductory one. Once you finish your introductory period, you will go back to paying the normal rate. This rate would be $7.99 to $8.99 per month for the basic plan, depending on the length of time for which you prepay.
As mentioned, this is standard in the industry, so it is not unique to Bluehost. Additionally, you can extend the benefits of that low introductory rate by prepaying for a longer period of time, up to three full years.
Con: Paid Site Migrations
One of the features you may have noticed missing from those we mentioned for Bluehost is site migration. Many web hosts let you migrate your website for free. The idea behind this is that they get a new customer so they will make a profit in the future, and this helps make you happier.
However, Bluehost does require you to pay for your website migration. This comes with a one-time fee costing $149.99. That price includes migrating as many as five websites along with 20 email accounts and the database files for the sites in question. This may be a major consideration for some, especially since the fee is so high compared to the monthly fee for service. Of course, some of it is negated by the very low introductory prices for Bluehost, so it is something to weigh.
An Overview of Plans
With all that information in mind, take a quick look at the three main plans available from Bluehost.
The Basic plan typically costs $7.99 but has an introductory rate of $3.95 or $2.75 with your special deal. You get one domain, five parked domains, 25 subbed domains, five email accounts with 100 MB storage per account, unmetered bandwidth, standard performance, a free SSL certificate, and 50 GB of website space on one website.
The Plus plan is normally $10.99 per month but is usually on sale for $5.45. You still get one domain but also get unlimited parked and sub-domains. You also get unlimited websites with unmetered space and unlimited email accounts with unlimited storage. This plan also gives you value-added extras.
The Pro plan upgrades the servers to high performance and starts at $13.95 per month.
Our Verdict: We Recommend Bluehost Between the low pricing, consistently high rankings for loading times and uptime, strong security features, numerous integrations, user-friendliness, and a money-back guarantee, we recommend Bluehost. However, before you sign up, be aware of the increased rates for renewal and that you will have to pay for site migration.