Even if you’re brand new to web hosting, you’ve likely heard about BlueHost. They’re one of the most popular web hosting providers in the world, with an emphasis on user-friendly design and flexible, budget-friendly pricing.
Is BlueHost the best hosting provider for your needs? Read on to learn about its features, performance, prices, and much more.
What are the Pros & Cons of BlueHost?
Here’s a quick rundown:
User-friendly and intuitive operation: It’s easy to set up and manage even if you’re new to the world of web hosting. Additionally, BlueHost offers a huge range of features specifically related to WordPress.
Reliable server uptime: You want a web host you can rely on, and BlueHost offers an uptime guarantee of 99.98%.
Competitive pricing: With several tiers of pricing, you’ll have no problem finding a price plan that fits your needs and budget.
Limited storage space with certain plans: If your site has significant storage needs, the Basic plan likely won’t suit them, so you’ll need to spend extra.
Pressure to buy a variety of additional features: BlueHost isn’t shy about pushing add-ons during the checkout process. While you can decline these options, wading through their upsells is annoying at times.
BlueHost is one of the most popular and widely-used hosting providers in the world. Founded in 2003, they provide hosting for over 100 million people in 190 countries. Their headquarters and data centers are located in Utah. Interestingly, BlueHost is owned by the Endurance International Group, which also owns HostGator.
As you might expect from such a popular, mainstream hosting provider, BlueHost is versatile and easy-to-use. It offers an intuitive interface and a wide variety of design options suitable for all types of web sites including:
- Personal Sites
- Small, Medium, and Large Businesses
- Ecommerce sites
Before diving deeper into the details, let’s take a quick look at the big picture:
What is Web Hosting?
Web hosting services provide space on servers for individuals and organizations to host their respective websites. Because most entities don’t need a full server, hosting companies offer a variety of plans that involve sharing space on a server, which helps keep costs down. Most hosting providers own and maintain their own server farms.
Throughout this review of BlueHost, you’ll learn about its features, reliability, pricing plans, and overall value. Is BlueHost the provider with the best options for your hosting needs? Let’s take a detailed look:
Who is BlueHost Best For?
BlueHost is designed for mainstream appeal. As a result, they offer a wide range of services designed for both individuals and organizations. Here’s a closer look at who BlueHost is best for:
Are you an individual looking to host a small site, such as a site dedicated to family photos or a personal blog? BlueHost’s Shared Hosting plans offer shared server access starting at just a few bucks a month. While you won’t have total control over the server, these plans make hosting easy and affordable, especially for sites that aren’t intended to turn a profit.
BlueHost offers plans suitable for businesses of all sizes, from small businesses owned by an individual to large, multinational corporations.
Most small to medium-sized businesses will likely prefer BlueHost’s Virtual Private Server (VPS) services. They cost just under $20 a month and can handle moderate to high traffic.
Does your business sell products or services directly from your site? BlueHost caters to ecommerce sites of all sizes. They offer a variety of extra security options so you can protect data and financial transactions.
Reliability and Performance
When comparing web hosts, you want to look at each one’s guaranteed uptime. Uptime is the amount of time your site is accessible online. Almost all hosting providers offer an uptime guarantee, where they’ll provide a refund if a hosting issue results in your site going down for a certain amount of time.
BlueHost has an uptime guarantee of 99.98%. Typically, uptime between 98% and 99.99% is considered standard for any major web hosts, so BlueHost is a bit above average.
If you’re comparing web hosts, you’ll likely find companies that tout a 100% uptime guarantee. Isn’t a host with no downtime superior to one with any downtime at all? In theory, of course. The problem is that 100% uptime isn’t possible, so any company claiming to offer no downtime at all should be regarded with a large dose of skepticism.
Additionally, it’s important to understand that uptime guarantees don’t apply to every situation. For example, you won’t get any money back if your site is down due to:
- Scheduled maintenance
- Natural disasters
- Third-party software
- Issues related to your site design (including add-ons)
Even if the downtime is due to a hosting issue, and you’re entitled to a refund, actually getting your money back means you have to contact BlueHost directly.
Generally, when considering the uptime guarantee, you don’t want to focus too much on what you’ll get if the site goes down, as the refund itself is often relatively small. Instead, you want a site that typically only goes down for scheduled maintenance and other routine matters.
BlueHost’s guaranteed uptime is competitive and reliable. At 99.98%, their sites go offline an average of one hour and 45 minutes each year. Keep in mind that’s the total downtime for the year, so any downtime is usually only a few minutes at most.
Tools & Features
Here’s a rundown of the standout features found on BlueHost:
Types of Hosting
BlueHost offers three types of hosting, each broken down into subcategories.
Shared hosting allows multiple sites to reside on the same server. By maximizing use efficiency, hosting providers save space, which means shared plans almost always have the lowest prices. Shared hosting is the most cost-effective way to keep your site online.
On the downside, shared hosting does limit the amount of space available. While shared hosting typically provides enough space for a small business or personal site, it’s not always suitable for larger businesses.
Another potential problem is security. Shared hosting doesn’t give you complete control over everyone who uses “your” server. Instead, you’ll have to share the server with other sites. Fortunately, BlueHost utilizes a variety of reliable security procedures, but shared hosting still does pose some security concerns.
Virtual Private Server (VPS)
You can also have your site hosted on a Virtual Private Server. A VPS is similar to a physical server, only software-based. They’re ideal for handling moderate to high levels of traffic, making them popular among growing and established businesses.
When your site is on a VPS, you have far more control compared to a shared server. You can install and customize any apps you want to put onto the server. Also, you have more control over who can access the server.
Finally, if you want complete control and the highest level of performance, BlueHost offers dedicated hosting. With dedicated hosting, you lease an entire server for your exclusive use. You have full control over the operating system, hardware, and all other applications used on the server.
Additionally, BlueHost offers custom support for all users who rent a dedicated server. If you ever have any problems, you can reach a support representative immediately. It’s the best option if you want the least amount of downtime and if you have a large site with many technical needs.
BlueHost offers the most comprehensive WordPress integration of any major hosting provider. They’re the only hosting provider WordPress explicitly recommends. After selecting a hosting plan from BlueHost, you can install your WordPress site with one click.
Their Shared WordPress hosting option is an affordable and simple way to get your site online fast. If you want more personalized service, they also offer a Managed WordPress plan. The Managed plan is generally geared towards medium to large businesses but provides custom help for anyone with a complicated site or situation.
Additionally, BlueHost offers fully-integrated support for WooCommerce. WooCommerce is an e-commerce plugin designed specifically for WordPress. If you have an online store that runs on WordPress and WooCommerce, BlueHost offers the easiest hosting experience because it’s built from the ground-up to work with those platforms.
If you sign up for a one-year plan, BlueHost will give you a free domain. While that’s a pretty common practice among web hosts, it still makes life easier for you because you don’t have to deal with a separate domain provider. However, you’ll still have to pay a domain registration fee, which is typically around $10 to $20.
If you already have an existing website and want to transfer from your existing hosting provider to BlueHost, you’ll appreciate their data transfer policy. Most of their plans include unlimited data transfer.
However, note that data transfer is different from site migration. If you want to move an existing site over from a different host, BlueHost will charge you $149.99. However, it’s a one-time fee that covers up to five websites and 20 email accounts.
You can always move a site over manually. It’s not terribly complicated but might seem a bit confusing if you’re totally new to web hosting and site management.
CPU Protection is a policy you’ll want to understand, as it provides both benefits and potential drawbacks.
CPU Protection helps ensure that all the sites on a shared server have equal access to resources. If your site has an extra need for resources, CPU Protection might kick in, temporarily slowing or pausing your site’s operations. A few reasons this might occur include:
- A sudden, temporary increase in traffic. For example, a blog or product on your site might relate to current events.
CPU Protection typically only applies to unexpected, short-term events. Most users won’t experience any issues. In many cases, CPU Protection is a benefit because it helps protect regular sites on a shared server from experiencing slowdowns related to massive data usage by another user.
BlueHost uses cPanel, which is probably the most popular type of web hosting management software. The cPanel user interface is designed for maximum user-friendliness. It’s an intuitive control panel that lets you control basically all aspects of hosting. Additionally, it allows you to automate many features.
BlueHost provides plenty of storage space for most individuals and small businesses. Even their lowest-priced plan offers 50GB of storage space for users. That’s plenty of space for text, images, and video.
Additionally, upgrading your site’s storage is quick and easy. If you suddenly find yourself in need of more storage, it’s available in affordable tiers. Likewise, you can downgrade your storage needs just as easily. Overall, BlueHost excels at providing flexible storage options.
BlueHost includes a site builder. It’s an easy-to-use platform that requires no need for HTML or CSS knowledge. While there’s nothing particularly wrong with BlueHost’s site builder, most people prefer WordPress, which offers a huge array of features and effortless integration.
When selecting a hosting plan, start small. There’s no need to pay for space or services you don’t need. Plus, you can upgrade your plan quickly and easily as your site grows.
Here’s a breakdown of the different pricing plans available from BlueHost:
Shared hosting plans are the cheapest. Four tiers are available:
- Basic – $2.95 a month
- Plus – $5.45 a month
- Choice Plus – $5.45 a month
- Pro – $13.95 a month
The Basic Plan hosts one site with 50 GB of Solid State Drive (SSD) Storage. It includes one domain name and a free SSL certification. It’s an easy, secure option for blogs and personal sites.
The other plans have far fewer restrictions. They each have unlimited websites, unlimited SSD storage, unmetered bandwidth, unlimited domains, and a free SSL certificate. The Plus option includes a dedicated IP, robust spam protection, and a few other extra features.
If you’re looking for the increased speed and control of a Virtual Private Network, you’ll need to pay a bit more than the shared plans, but the costs are still competitive.
The Standard VPN plan is $18.99 a month. It includes:
- 30 GB SSD Storage
- 2 GB RAM
- 1 TB Bandwidth
- 1 IP Address
At $29.99, the Enhanced plan is a better option. It doubles the features without doubling the price. With the Enhanced plan, you get:
- 2 Cores
- 60 GB SSD Storage
- 4 GB Ram
- 2 TB Bandwidth
- 2 IP Address
Finally, the Ultimate plan offers top-of-the-line VPN hosting. It runs $59.99 a month. Subscribers get the following:
- 4 Cores
- 120 GB SSD Storage
- 8 GB RAM
- 3 TB Bandwidth
- 2 IP Addresses
While the Ultimate Plan is packed with features, before you commit to it, you’ll want to check out the Dedicated Storage Options.
You have three options for Dedicated storage.
Standard – $79.99 a month. It includes:
- Four cores (2.3 GHz)
- 500GB Mirrored Storage
- 4 GB RAM
- 5 TB Bandwidth
- 3 IP Addresses
Enhanced – $99.99 a month. You get:
- 4 Cores (2.5 GHz)
- 1 TB Mirrored Storage
- 8 GB RAM
- 10 TB Bandwidth
- 4 IP Addresses
Premium – $119.99 a month. It includes:
- Four cores (3.3GHz)
- 1 TB Mirrored Storage
- 16 GB RAM
- 15 TB Bandwidth
- 5 IP Addresses
Keep in mind VPNs and Dedicated Servers don’t always line up for a fair direct comparison. With a dedicated server, you’ll have the maximum level of control of the server. VPNs can have increased storage space and other benefits, but you’re not the sole site on a physical server.
BlueHost offers a 30-day money-back guarantee for all plans. You can try the plan out and see if it meets your needs. If you’re not happy, you can cancel for a full refund. No explanation is necessary.
However, make sure you make a note on your calendar. After 30 days, you won’t get a refund for any reason. You probably don’t want to commit to a long-term plan if you’ve never used BlueHost before, or you might get locked into something that doesn’t serve your needs.
Which Plan is the Best Value?
While BlueHost has a variety of high-end options, the best value for most users is the lowest-priced plans. If you need hosting for a personal site or a site for a small business, a Shared plan is usually the best bet. If you use WordPress, consider spending just a bit more for the extra features found in the Shared WordPress plan.
Security is key to protect both you and your customers. If visitors don’t feel safe using your site, they’re unlikely to buy your products or services.
All BlueHost plans include a free Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate. SSL is an authentication and encryption protocol used to keep sites secure. Visitors to your site won’t receive a security warning when they navigate to your page. (Not receiving a warning is a good thing because it indicates your site is trustworthy.)
You can recognize an SSL by these two features:
- The web address starts with “Https”
- The navigation bar displays a padlock
BlueHost also offers a premium SSL certificate for $49.99. It’s recommended you upgrade to a Premium SSL certificate if you operate an ecommerce site, as it provides additional protections for sensitive info such as login information and credit card details.
Additional security options include:
- Spam Assassin
- Secure Shell
- Hotlink protection
- SiteLock Find
Keep in mind these additional features do have additional costs.
If you’re running a personal site, you probably don’t need any security features beyond the basics. If you’re running a small to medium-sized site, you’ll want to upgrade to a premium SSL certificate. However, the necessity of the other security features depends on your security needs and overall budget.
BlueHost offers a variety of customer support options. If you have an issue, you can reach them by
- Live Chat
Phone service typically has a long wait, and they’ve reduced their hours of availability due to COVID-19. However, their live chat and email support team members are responsive, friendly, and knowledgeable.
Additionally, they have a large online knowledge base. Their support forums cover a wide range of materials. While you have to search through the forums yourself, the built-in search function works well.
Here are the answers to several frequently asked questions about BlueHost web hosting:
Do I Need Paid Web Hosting?
Almost all personal and business sites benefit from paid web hosting. You can find free hosting options – Blogger and Tumbler are popular – but they do have disadvantages.
Free hosting platforms often limit user control over functionality and design. The host will likely put their logo on your site, which diminishes your credibility. Plus, a free hosting platform can pull your site for practically any reason and at any time.
Do I Need to Use WordPress with BlueHost?
While BlueHost offers amazing WordPress integration, it’s not required. BlueHost also works well with practically all other major website builders. If you have a preference for another site builder, there’s no reason to switch.
How Do I Check Server Status?
The server status is your site’s current online availability. With BlueHost, you have a guaranteed uptime of 98.99%, so you can expect that your site will stay up-and-running most of the time.
You can check the state of the server hosting your site at any time. BlueHost lets you check server status from your hosting control panel.
What if I Need Help?
BlueHost offers top-of-the-line customer support. You can contact them by email, chat, or phone. Their support staff provides detailed, friendly help on everything from initial setup to advanced technical issues.
Additionally, BlueHost has an extensive knowledge bank. You can read through their forums to find detailed information on practically every aspect of site hosting.
Do I Need a Dedicated Server?
Having complete control over your server might sound like the best option, but the benefits are almost never worth the extra cost. Shared plans offer a scalable solution that suits practically any budget.
BlueHost is an industry leader for a reason. They offer a variety of flexible plans suitable for practically any budget. Plus, their hosting services include many reliable security features with options for significant upgrades, if necessary.
Finally, their customer service is knowledgeable and easy to reach, which is unusual for a company of this size. Whether you’re looking to host a small personal site or a large ecommerce operation, BlueHost is a hosting provider worth a closer look.