If you’ve been looking around for a place to host your WordPress site, we can almost guarantee that you’ve come across the name Bluehost, as it’s one of the most popular web hosts in existence, as well as a recommended WordPress host at WordPress.org
Despite its popularity, though, Bluehost often carries a negative perception among WordPress professionals. So as we dig into this Bluehost review, we’ll be looking to figure out whether Bluehost’s performance and features actually justify that reputation.
That is, we’ll be going in with a clean slate and cutting out any preconceptions. Instead of relying on others, we’ll focus only on our actual Bluehost experience and performance data.
So if you want an unbiased Bluehost review with real data, continue on!
Bluehost Review: A Quick Look At Bluehost’s Features
For this review, we’ll be specifically looking at the Bluehost shared Plus plan. This plan starts at $5.95 per month (with promotional pricing) and offers:
- Unlimited websites – you can host as many different websites as you want.
- Unlimited storage – this is helpful if you need to store lots of files.
- Unlimited bandwidth – this is helpful to let your visitors download all of those files.
- A free domain name to get you started.
- Built-in Cloudflare – makes it easy to set up a CDN.
Beyond those core features, there are also a number of smaller features that we’ll specifically mention in the next section.
1. Speed and Perfomance
To test Bluehost’s performance, we set up a test site using an Elementor page builder template (we use this same template in all our hosting reviews for easy comparisons).
In order to gauge page load times, we ran our test site through GTmetrix to see how quickly it loaded.
Our 0.99MB test page loaded in 1.3 seconds:
For a cheap WordPress host that support unlimited sites, 1.3 seconds is a solid result. You can find comparably priced hosting with better performance for a single website. But we haven’t tested a faster host for unlimited websites, yet.
Here are how some of the other similarly priced hosts stack up:
- Bluehost – 1.3 seconds
- A2 Hosting – 1.3 seconds (read our A2 hosting review)
- InMotion Hosting – 575 ms (this plan only allowed one website, though, so it’s not 100% comparable) (read our InMotion Hosting review)
So what does that mean? If you’re only planning to host a single website, you might be able to do better. But if you want a good blend of performance and usability that supports unlimited websites (more on that in the following sections), Bluehost provides a nice middle ground.
Even if this is something most hosting companies pride themselves with great uptime stats, not all of them deliver on those promises. For the amount of time we have tested BlueHost there was a single downtime of 3 minutes and the uptime average above 99.98% for the last 30 days. These are outstanding statistics for a cheap shared host. In all its history, BlueHost had only 2 instances of major downtime, both of them in 2013. Since then there were no other considerable network outages and this is saying a lot.
With this in mind, it seems like with BlueHost you will not have to worry too much about your website being down for long periods of time.
BlueHost offers 24/7 support services through live chat, email, and even phone and you can tell by the informative and clear responses you get that their tech support team is made of professionals with background in IT. However, you have to keep in mind that most of their support team consists of non-native English speakers and it can be somewhat of a challenge to get your point across and get an immediate solution because of this.
However, BlueHost provides its users with a pretty dope and complete documentation along with dozens of video tutorials on their YouTube channel for the most frequently asked questions and issues. Video tutorials are the best way for beginners to get familiar with BlueHost and WordPress while solving their inquiries fast without having to reach out to support.
Support was a bit slow in comparison to similarly priced hosts. To test how responsive Bluehost’s support was, we opened up a live chat session about the free SSL certificate.
The initial response is auto-generated and depending on the number of previous tickets you can wait between 10 to 50 minutes to get in contact with someone. While our support agent was helpful once we got in contact with them, we did have to wait longer to get in touch with a support agent than many other similarly priced hosts we’ve looked at:
In reality, it was probably more like 3-4 minutes (instead of the listed 5 minutes) but this can increase or decrease depending on the number of tickets. However, it’s still a good bit longer than the near instantaneous support responses we received at InMotion Hosting and A2 Hosting.
Exclusive BlueHost Coupon for 2018
If you’re looking for budget WordPress hosting, you’ll probably be most interested in Bluehost’s shared plans. This is also the type of plan we tested, so it’s the most applicable category to this Bluehost review. With Bluehost you can choose from 3 different plans depending on your needs.
Here is the promotional (first billing) starting price for each plan:
- Basic – $2.95 per month for one website. (this is an exclusive deal for our readers, get it here). The basic plan is their most popular one highly sought after by beginners because it comes with a free domain and 50GB storage space. This is the best choice if you are just starting out and are looking for something affordable to host your website.
- Plus – $5.45 per month for unlimited websites (this is the plan that we reviewed).
This is our preferred plan and the one we tested. Without discount the Plus plan is $10.99 per month. The Plus plan also offers a free domain along with unlimited storage, unlimited accounts, unlimited websites, and unlimited addons domains.
- Prime – $5.45 per month for unlimited websites + some advanced features like SiteBackup Pro and Domain Privacy.
The Bluehost Prime plan is very similar to the Plus plan, and after discounts the starting price is the same. However, apart from the unlimited options you get with the Plus plan you also benefit from some more advanced features mentioned above. The usual price of this plan is $14.99 a month.
Check out the table below to see each plan’s pricing with and without the discounts and how much you can save in 3 years.
Bluehost Shared Hosting
Savings in 3 years
A good thing to remember and keep in mind is that all the discounts are applicable only for the first purchase. Once you will renew your plan you will have to pay the full non-discounted price for that specific plan. Their non-discounted renewal prices tend to be a bit more expensive, especially if you compare it to the first purchase. To exemplify this, if you first purchased the Basic plan using a discount you paid $2.95/month upon renewal you will be paying $7.99/month.
5. Actual Hosting Limits
Even if Bluehost prides itself with offering unlimited websites, accounts, and storage for their Plus and Prime customers, this does not mean they have an infinite amount of resources. You, of course, can use as many as these features as you need but you also need to bear in mind that there are technical limitations even to an unlimited plan, which can be a downside for some customers. Recommended would be to ask questions before purchasing to make sure Bluehost is the right option for you.
Below is a table showcasing Bluehost’s plans and their limitations.
6. Nagging Upsells
Because competition is so fierce between hosting companies and prices so low upsells have become pretty common. You see upsells everywhere and you get used to them but sometimes they can also be minor annoyances. But with Bluehost it was a little bit frustrating how much it consistently tries to upsell you on additional services. They promote everything from upgrades to add-on services to site back-up and security.
For example, if you are a WordPress beginner and want help on demand you can get their WP Live service for $29/month. Or are you looking for daily site back-ups? Only $35.88/year.
This is a pretty common occurrence in your dashboard:
And another slightly annoying is that Bluehost automatically installs several plugins on your new WordPress site that you may or may not want. These plugins are:
- MOJO Marketplace
We definitely don’t think this is a deal-breaker, but it does feel a bit pushy.
7. Security Options (Free SSL Included)
For a long time, one valid criticism of Bluehost is that they made it difficult to install a free SSL/TLS certificate (if you’re not familiar, this makes your website more secure and earns you the “green padlock” in a web browser’s address bar).
Thankfully, that’s no longer the case. Now, you can install a free SSL/TLS certificate right from the user account dashboard:
In terms of security they have greatly improve it by adding the possibility of SSL/TLS certificate. Furthermore, their security options include blocking certain IPs that may prove to be harmful to your website and hotlink protection to stop various people from using or stealing your images. Additionally, to help protect you from spammers they offer tools such as Spam Experts, SpamAssassin, and Spam Hammer.
To prevent your account from being accessed or hacked Bluehost has in place a two-factor authentication (2FA) setup.
8. Auto-Install WordPress
One thing that we really liked about Bluehost is how easy it is to get started thanks to its auto-install WordPress. We focused on WordPress, but you can install just as easily Drupal, Magento, Joomla, and much more.
While most web hosts these days give you access to a one-click Installer, Bluehost makes things even simpler by giving you the option of having WordPress pre-installed on your domain name. While it is pretty easy to install WordPress, this is the perfect solution for beginners who do not wish to spend too much time setting up their website.
That means you can get started with your WordPress site right away – without needing to figure out the technical details of how a one-click installer works.
Moreover, with Bluehost you also have integrated Google Apps into your cPanel. This is a welcomed feature especially if you need to use Google Suite and Google Drive.
9. Fast Setup and On-boarding (the BlueHost Dashboard Experience)
The Bluehost dashboard beats most cheap shared hosts.
With many cheap shared hosts, you pretty much manage your website through something called cPanel. Bluehost does also use cPanel, but they wrap it inside a custom interface that makes it much more user friendly than most affordable hosts.
For example, here’s what the core Bluehost dashboard looks like:
If you drill-down, you can manage a single website in a custom interface that’s much nicer than cPanel:
One really nice thing in that screenshot above is how you can manage updates directly from the Bluehost interface, instead of needing to head to your WordPress dashboard.
You can, of course, always access the traditional cPanel interface, if desired.
10. More about BlueHost
Here’s something pretty much no other host offers at this price point:
The Bluehost plugin gives you access to staging.
A staging site is basically an identical copy of your site that lets you safely test changes before you make them live. If you want to avoid breaking something for your visitors, it’s an awesome tool.
Bluehost gives you easy access to staging right from your WordPress dashboard:
Easy Cache Management Via Bluehost Dashboard
Another nice thing that you can do from your dashboard is manage caching. If you’re not familiar, caching basically helps speed up your site. Usually, you would need a plugin to implement caching, but Bluehost eliminates that with their dashboard area:
Bluehost does not offer site migrations for free.
While usually hosting companies will offer this option for free and move your website from one server to another, with Bluehost this option comes with a fee of $149.99/site. Even if you pay this charge, they have a rule of only transferring up to 5 websites per account.
Synopsis: Bluehost Advantages
Bluehost has been a major hosting company for over 20 years and they are increasingly becoming more and more popular thanks to their competitive prices and overall quality features. They are constantly improving their services and adding new enhancements to keep up in this competitive market. Bluehost has come a long way since their aggressive CPU-throttling but there is still room for improvement.
As you will see below Bluehost comes with a bunch of advantages and features especially for their prices. Despite having a couple of cons (support and upsells), Bluehost is a hosting company that will deliver on its promises keeping their customers content. To keep it short and to the point, Bluehost is the perfect choice if you are searching for a reliable and solid web host.
Bluehost’s advantages are:
Exclusive BlueHost Coupon for 2018
Conclusion: Should You Choose Bluehost?
While Bluehost might not be just as famous as other hosting companies, it is worth your trust as it will prove out to be one of the best decisions you take in regards to your website. Bluehost is especially ideal for beginners who have only one website to host and are looking for a cheap and reliable web host.
If you are searching for a professional, high-quality, and well performing hosting company you should check out Bluehost. It will meet and pass your expectations mostly because it comes with such an affordable price.
Apart from the sometimes slow support and pushy upsells, I cannot think of another noticeable con for this web host. It would be good if the basic plan would allow a bit more in terms of storage, but at this price this is just a small inconvenience since they are already offering a great deal overall.
In terms of pure page load times, we’ve tested faster similarly priced hosts for a single website.
But Bluehost does have a few things going for it that might make up for that, depending on your exact situation:
- It’s much more user friendly than most cheap hosts. If you’re a beginner, this is a pretty huge benefit because you’ll have a significantly easier time managing your website.
- You can host unlimited websites. That means if you need to host a whole network of websites, Bluehost may well be the best option.
In the end, if you’re just getting started with hosting a website or need to host a large number of websites, Bluehost offers good value for the money in terms of performance and features.