Bluehost Review: Our Real Test Data + Pros And Cons

/Bluehost Review: Our Real Test Data + Pros And Cons

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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.

6 Things We Like About Bluehost

We’ll get to the cons in a second, but for now, let’s start with the things that we liked about Bluehost.

1. Solid Performance, Especially For Offering Unlimited Websites

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:

bluehost review performance data

For the cheap WordPress hosts 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:

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.

2. Bluehost Makes It Easy To Pre-install WordPress

One thing that we really liked about Bluehost is how easy Bluehost makes it to get started.

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.

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.

3. 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:

bluehost dashboard

If you drill-down, you can manage a single website in a custom interface that’s much nicer than cPanel:

bluehost helpful options

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.

4. The Bluehost Plugin Gives You Access To Staging

Here’s something pretty much no other host offers at this price point:

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:

5. 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 this dashboard area:

bluehost caching

6. Bluehost Now Supports Free SSL/TLS

For a long time, one valid criticism of Bluehost is that Bluehost 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 Bluehost dashboard:

bluehost ssl

2 Things We Didn’t Like About Bluehost

While Bluehost generally did pretty well, here are a couple things we didn’t like about our Bluehost experience.

1. 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.

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:

bluehost support

In reality, it was probably more like 3-4 minutes (instead of the listed 5 minutes). But it’s still a good bit longer than the near instantaneous support responses we received at InMotion Hosting and A2 Hosting.

2. Lots Of Upsells And Cross-Sells + Pre-Installed Plugins

This one is a bit of a minor annoyance. But it was a little bit frustrating how much Bluehost consistently tries to upsell you on additional services.

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:

  • Jetpack
  • MOJO Marketplace
  • OptinMonster
  • WPForms

We definitely don’t think this is a dealbreaker, but it does feel a bit pushy.

How Much Does Bluehost Cost?

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.

Here is the promotional (first billing) starting price for each plan:

  • Basic – $3.95 per month for one website.
  • Plus – $5.95 per month for unlimited websites (this is the plan that we reviewed).
  • Prime – $5.95 per month for unlimited websites + some advanced features like SiteBackup Pro and Domain Privacy.

Should You Choose Bluehost?

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. Give it a try!

Colin Newcomer is a freelance writer for hire with a background in SEO and affiliate marketing. He helps clients grow their web visibility by writing primarily about digital marketing, WordPress, and B2B topics. You can find him at www.cnewcomer.com

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