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chris wagner

Chris Wagner

“I have been a paying customer for BlueHost since April 2017.

I am monitoring BlueHost’s shared hosting servers for Uptime and Performance through my website hostingpill-bh.website.

This review of BlueHost is based on actual testing done on their servers.”

This Bluehost Review was revised and updated on June 10, 2019.

Bluehost is REALLY popular, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right host for you. Don’t worry—we’re going to figure that out right now.

Here’s why I can help:

I’ve used it on and off over a long period of time and I’ve been formally testing it since April 2017.

And after getting really friendly with Bluehost, it’s time I share my research with the world—so that no one buys hosting they shouldn’t, and so that no one misses a great opportunity.

Let me set the stage: Bluehost is one of the most well-known web hosting companies in the world. How well-known?

We’re talking about over 2 MILLION websites that get supported by Bluehost—the big leagues.

Bluehost Websites

But is Bluehost too big? I mean, clearly it must be doing something right, but doesn’t a certain size also mean Bluehost could be fooling the crowd? Or maybe Bluehost won’t care for your business as personally as a smaller hosting company?

Plus, Bluehost itself is owned by a larger conglomerate. How do you know an unaccountable major corporation is going to look after you and your business? Your site’s information?

There are some reasons to be concerned with Bluehost. Believe me, I took them to heart when I began testing.

More than half a year later, I’ve come out with some mixed feelings.

Why?

Let me show you.

Uptime

Strong uptime is one of the things you should look for the most in your prospective host.

Most sites promise 99.9% uptime, and while this sounds really high, this actually can mean 43 MINUTES of downtime measured per month.

We tested Bluehost’s performance since April 2017 on our test site hostingpill-bh.

Check it out:

bluehost uptime

Here’s the average Uptime:
bluehost uptime 2018-2019

  • May 2019: 99.98%
  • Apr 2019: 100%
  • Mar 2019: 99.99%
  • Feb 2019: 100%
  • Jan 2019: 99.94%
  • Dec 2018: 100%
  • Nov 2018: 100%
  • Oct 2018: 99.99%
  • Nov 2018: 100%
  • Oct 2018: 99.99%
  • Sep 2018: 99.91%
  • Aug 2018: 100%
  • Jul 2018: 100%
  • Jun 2018: 100%
  • May 2018: 100%
  • Apr 2018: 100%

bluehost uptime 2017-2018

  • Mar 2018: 100%
  • Feb 2018: 99.98%
  • Jan 2018: 99.98%
  • Dec 2017: 100%
  • Nov 2017: 99.93%
  • Oct 2017: 100%
  • Sep 2017: 99.85%
  • Aug 2017: 99.78%
  • Jul 2017: 99.96%
  • Jun 2017: 99.97%
  • May 2017: 99.98%
  • Apr 2017: 100%

 
Here’s the average Response Time:

  • May 2019: 720ms
  • Apr 2019: 707ms
  • Mar 2019: 842ms
  • Feb 2019: 801ms
  • Jan 2019: 739ms
  • Dec 2018: 355ms
  • Nov 2018: 450ms
  • Oct 2018: 422ms
  • Sep 2018: 431ms
  • Aug 2018: 437ms
  • Jul 2018: 685ms
  • Jun 2018: 742ms
  • May 2018: 661ms
  • Apr 2018: 736ms
  • Mar 2018: 780ms
  • Feb 2018: 723ms
  • Jan 2018: 949ms
  • Dec 2017: 881ms
  • Nov 2017: 577ms
  • Oct 2017: 318ms
  • Sep 2017: 698ms
  • Aug 2017: 639ms
  • Jul 2017: 344ms
  • Jun 2017: 855ms
  • May 2017: 836ms
  • Apr 2017: 822ms

Bluehost Uptime Score: Last 26 months, detailed data you can see here.

As you can see, the uptime tends to be really good or on the poorer side. Luckily, it’s usually 100%, but September 2018 and January 2019 are uptime scores that I consider sub-par even if they’re technically above 99.9%.

Remember that 99.9% is more a bare minimum of uptime quality than a strong indicator. Not to draw an arbitrary line, but I consider 99.95% or above to be “good.”

By that metric, Bluehost didn’t live up to my expectations for two months. But aside from those months, uptime was either perfect or nearly perfect (99.99%).

and there’s more good news:

Look at those speeds! My site’s response times were consistently pretty good until 2019, for some reason. From 2019 onwards, I have to consider them average response times.

My overall take is that Bluehost is a solid performer. If you want the best uptime possible, Bluehost may not be a top choice. But if you just need good, reliable performance, Bluehost does fine.

Of course, important as uptime is, there’s something ELSE Bluehost is famous for that we can’t forget about:

Ease of Use

Ease of use is something Bluehost easily reigns supreme in.

Oh, sure, it’s not the #1 undisputed champion of easy hosting. But it’s definitely up there, along with GoDaddy. In my opinion, it’s actually EASIER than GoDaddy.

In fact, Bluehost gets the special distinction of being on par with an all-in-one website builder like Wix.

Of course, hosting requires a little more technical knowledge to understand, but as far as the user-interface and features go, things are highly usable.

And, Bluehost actually holds at least one clear advantage over GoDaddy, right from the get-go:

GoDaddy focuses a lot on user-friendliness and low up-front prices, but then piles on extra charges the moment your first year expires.

Bluehost’s ease of use also translates into an easier to understand pricing structure. It’s more transparent about what you pay for, and easier to manage your account.

But even aside from that, it’s super easy to manage the basics of your hosting service. Bluehost’s interface is minimalistic and easy on the eyes, with minimal upsells.

Here’s proof:

bluehost portal

Some of you might be freaking out a bit, especially the more experienced users.

Where the heck is the control panel? How do I do anything in this simple interface?

Don’t worry. Just click on the “advanced” tab and you’ll end up looking at what is considered easy for most other hosts:

bluehost cpanel

Yep, the cPanel.

Some hosts keep the cPanel a bit separate from the main hosting portal, which I find annoying, and a lot just integrate it so fully that cPanel is part of your dashboard when you login to your hosting account.

So that’s a strength of Bluehost—it strikes a nice balance.

You don’t need to get into the details unless you want to, so quick changes and check-ups are very easy. But if you want more serious involvement, you’re never too far away from the cPanel.

Bluehost is also really good at integrating with WordPress. In fact, Bluehost is one of WordPress’ recommended hosts:

siteground wordpress rec

It’s not just performance that counts here, but the ease of use.

Ease of use plus WordPress is an area Bluehost is a MASTER at:

Bluehost makes it extremely fast and efficient to install WordPress and create a new site or transfer an existing one. Once your site’s set up, it’s already integrated to your hosting portal.

bluehost portal

You can easily go straight to your WordPress dashboard or manage some basic details via Bluehost, without involving WordPress. It’s a great mix of simplicity that allows for detailed edits.

bluehost portal manage site

This level of accessibility and flexibility permeates everything else Bluehost does.

Everything? Yep:

Managing your account details, purchases, payment methods, add-ons, etc—all of it’s really easy.

Bluehost’s strengths in usability make its popularity very easy to understand. If you’re looking for an easy host, Bluehost is probably one of the best options around. No wonder it’s such a popular web hosting company.

But of course, you don’t want ease of use to sacrifice what you can do…

Pricing and Features

So while Bluehost has overall good uptime and excellent user-friendliness, the pricing and features are super important.

Bluehost primarily offers three different types of hosting: shared web hosting, Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting, and dedicated server hosting.

You can read more about the differences in the FAQ section, but briefly, shared hosting is more affordable by letting you share server resources with other sites. The other two dedicate more resources to you, but are pricier as a result.

Let’s start with the shared hosting:

bluehost shared web hosting

The shared hosting packages are pretty affordable overall. If you’re looking only at first-year prices, then Bluehost isn’t the cheapest…

ON THE FACE OF IT.

Of course, I don’t encourage everyone to choose hosting based 100% on the lowest price-tag. But if you do, you should still try to get what you can out of it.

For those who simply need a decent host for cheap, Bluehost’s first tier is a pretty decent option: it’s got everything your site needs and good quality for a reasonable price.

Know what else?

This price gets even LOWER if you go through us, to $2.95 a month.

But you don’t need to limit yourself to the lowest price either:

The latter two tiers are good options, especially if you only want to hold onto your site for a year. They’ve got low first-purchase prices and a lot of resources.

Of course, we’re dealing with hosting. Hosting plans, and especially shared hosting plans, almost always have lower prices for the first year but are significantly higher every year afterwards.

So if you want to hold a site longer than a year, you need to take all that into account. And if you do that, guess what?

Once you get interested in holding onto a site longer than a year, Bluehost becomes one of the more affordable hosting options. The first tier, for example, renews at about the standard price of an entry-level shared hosting package—a little lower, actually.

The latter tiers are all well-within the normal range of shared hosting prices, or are cheaper than some of the competition.

So the prices for shared hosting are pretty decent. The bigger question now is whether the features are good.

Guess what?

The features are good.

Frankly, even the entry level is impressive. 50GB of SSD storage is pretty generous for an entry-level plan supporting one website.

Don’t forget this:

Competing plans with other companies might say they have unlimited storage, but that’s unrealistic. And SSD storage is higher quality than traditional HDD (hard disk drive) storage.

And aside from that, one domain is included, plus SSL, unmetered bandwidth, and 25 subdomains and 5 parked domains. I’ve seen more allowances on other plans, but anyone looking at an entry level option will find it decent.

Higher shared plans basically make everything unlimited and increase performance, plus add spam exerts, marketing offers, and better security.

The result, overall:

Bluehost’s shared hosting plans are well-equipped with resources and features, and are pretty reasonably priced.

And there’s another hidden bonus a lot of people don’t know about:

Bluehost, because of its popularity, is frequently partnered with different companies and softwares. This brings discounts and freebies at times.

For example:

Some customers can get 1GB of free cloud storage by making a free JustCloud account. Because JustCloud has partnered with Bluehost, some customers can get a freebie like that.

That’s hardly the only feature, but it’s the sort of thing worth looking out for.

Bluehost also has a set of managed WordPress plans—meaning Bluehost takes care of almost everything for you—that are similar to the shared hosting plans but allow you a little more server space.

It’s kind of an in-between option.

bluehost wordpress hosting plan

Keep in mind this isn’t the only way you can do WordPress on Bluehost, but if ease of use is a priority, these plans are a great deal.

100 free premium themes, for example, is good when you consider that you also have access to a lot of free WordPress themes as well.

The plans come with some security add-ons included, and some decent business tools out of the box.

WordPress is a powerful platform that can sometimes include a lot of moving parts, so having it managed is a good way of using WordPress easily without sacrificing its power.

What about VPS hosting?

bluehost vps hosting plan

Honestly, Bluehost’s VPS registration prices are pretty low. Unfortunately, the renewal prices are pretty high.

“But you just told me hosts have high renewal prices!”

WELL, some hosts keep initial and renewal prices the same for higher quality hosting like Cloud, VPS, or dedicated. Not Bluehost, I guess.

As far as resources go, it’s pretty decent, and here’s why:

They’re relatively proportionate to the price. Pretty simple.

For some, the 8GB RAM or 4 cores cap is pretty low. Even though it’s VPS, not dedicated, some of Bluehost’s competitors offer higher capacities.

If you need to host a resource-heavy project for a shorter amount of time, Bluehost’s VPS prices are probably a great option. If you’re looking for something longer-term, I don’t think Bluehost is bad, but not standout.

Now, we’ve got one monster left to go over: the dedicated server plans.

bluehost dedicated server

Dedicated servers on Bluehost are similar to Bluehost’s VPS services in that they’re relatively well-priced for what they bring you.

Actually, these first-term prices are really affordable.

If you want to renew?

Then, the prices aren’t that out of range—dedicated servers are pretty expensive, and even Bluehost’s renewal prices are affordable at this end of the spectrum.

But the features are important, and here’s how they stack up:

They’re good for what you get, BUT it’s too bad Bluehost doesn’t offer additional tiers. A lot of people would pay more for extra RAM, cores, and storage.

So in general, Bluehost’s VPS and Dedicated plans have a bit in common: they’re overall affordable, especially for the first term, and bring a good allocation of resources.

However

Bluehost doesn’t offer any additional higher tiers with better capacities. And that’s a bummer, cause plenty of people would pay for it.

As it stands now, Bluehost’s shared hosting options are really solid deals.

The existing VPS and dedicated server plans are good deals for those whose resource requirements fit, but people in need of a lot more RAM, cores, or even storage will probably have to look somewhere else.

Things are looking good for Bluehost overall. But they’re about to start looking a lot better.

Customer Support

How are things gonna get better?

Because Bluehost is great at ease of use, and that’s a good sign that Bluehost will be great at customer support, too.

As far as hosting companies go, Bluehost is one of the BEST with customer support.

We’re talking about a bunch of things here. There are multiple ways of contacting representatives, plus plenty of onsite resources and information.

Here’s one of the onsite resources:

bluehost support

The knowledge base has a lot of information, butttttt it’s not my favorite knowledge base. It LOOKS fine, but there’s underlying that, there’s a problem:

I’ve seen more articles and more detailed articles with other companies.

Then again, Bluehost’s is STILL comprehensive enough to be useful in MOST situations. But I reiterate: it could go further.

Luckily, Bluehost does have some more on-site resources. This is cool:

bluehost wordpress hosting guide

This is Bluehost’s WordPress hosting guide, if you couldn’t tell.

Anyone can access this, so even if you don’t want to use Bluehost, it’s a good resource to check out.

Aside from that, Bluehost is one of the best hosts for talking to representatives:

bluehost support

And yeah, I mean literally talking. Bluehost is one of the few hosts to have a ton of phone support, so instead of just a couple numbers that make you wait forever, Bluehost has a lot of extensions for more specific types of questions.

You still might have to wait, depending on the time, of course. And I know, I know—how are Bluehost reps’ customer service skills?

In my experience, support staff have been very helpful and generally quick to respond on the phone.

It sort of depends on the problem, but serious problems will involve skilled customer service representatives…though you may need to push a little.

You can also get support by sending tickets:

bluehost support ticket

Which is good more in-depth answers and serious problems. The ticket system is good, but there’s a catch…

bluehost support ticket

This SUCKS.

I know what you’re thinking: this doesn’t sound like a big problem! Fair enough. Well, imagine THIS:

You’ve got a tech support problem. Situation A: your problem is urgent, so phone and chat work out fine.

Situation B: you’re busy, and you can’t wait around. Tickets WOULD be a great measure if you could use them, but now you’ve got a carve a block of time out of your day to talk to support.

So that’s really unfortunate, because in my opinion, tickets are great for tech support. But at least aside from that, the ticket system is pretty solid.

And how can we forget about live chat?

 

bluehost chatbluehost chat

As you can see, I was logging in from a different computer than usual, and had to verify my account. So there was a slight delay.

BUT even with that slight delay it only took a couple minutes for a quick answer. Granted, it was a simple question, but you get the idea—answers are quick and to the point, even when they’re more technical.

So what else can I say?

Bluehost’s on-site resources could be a little more robust, but they’re still pretty good. Especially for beginners, they’re good.

Plus, Bluehost has got a ton of phone support, and responsive ticket and live chat options. So all in all, Bluehost rocks when it comes to customer support.

Security

You’ve seen the uptime already. I’ve told you, from my honest experience, that Bluehost performs well. And you know that the customer support is a strong point, so that means you can get help when you need it.

But is that enough?

Sorry, buddies. Performance and uptime are related to security, but not the same thing.

Especially when you consider the possibility of maintenance failures or a cyberattack, it’s not just your site’s uptime that’s at risk—but your information (and potentially your customers, too).

And customer support is great, but preventing a problem is better than having people solve a problem in the first place.

Now, it’s time we talk about one of the big clouds hanging over Bluehost:

You might know that Bluehost is owned by Endurance International Group.

EIG is one of the conglomerates of the hosting world, and owning both Bluehost and HostGator plus a lot of smaller hosts means it supports millions and millions of domains.

I know what you’re thinking. Can I trust EIG, a major corporation, to handle security well on all its subsidiaries?

These aren’t empty questions:

Bluehost

EIG got a lot of flak in 2013 when four major subsidiary companies, including Bluehost, experienced severe outages.

Why did this happen?

Uh, because EIG had concentrated everything in a few data centers. In 2013, a problem at one data center knocked out four of its major subsidiaries.

Look, that’s terrible. It’s exactly the downside consolidation is prone to, the one that EIG should have been looking out for. But…

It’s 2019 now. Are things better for Bluehost?

Two answers. Bluehost does well with security add-ons and software for its customers.

bluehost addons security

These are just a sampling of what’s available on Bluehost. Most of them are very easy to install and use, and can go a long way for those who care about them.

Things like SiteLock, spam protection, a dedicated IP, SSL, and so on, are commonly used and important security tools.

Plus, certain tiers include some of these add-ons for free.

So that sounds great, but here’s the catch:

It’s just not a ton of add-ons.

True, if you’re creative, you can probably figure out some other extensions that help your site’s security (e.g., WordPress plugins) aside from the small default Bluehost marketplace. But should you have to go to those lengths in the first place?

And…things are even iffier when it comes to actual server security. I say iffier not because I know for a fact Bluehost has poor practices. It’s a deeper problem:

Bluehost simply DOESN’T say much about its server maintenance or security protocols.

If a major hosting force can’t put basic information like that on its site, I’m hesitant to trust it.

And knowing that EIG has suffered security failures in the past from cramming everything into a small number of data centers, would you feel comfortable just trusting Bluehost, when it doesn’t even say anything?

Yeah, exactly.

So the gist:

Bluehost may be good enough in terms of basic security because it has successfully powered millions of sites for years. Bluehost provides some security add-ons that can be useful, even though they’re kind of basic.

But when it comes to the nitty-gritty maintenance of servers, the stuff on the host’s end, we simply don’t know enough to make an accurate judgment. Which scares me, considering its history.

Pros

Okay, we’ve talked about a ton. Let’s get back to the basics.

Here’s the stuff Bluehost is GOOD at:

  • Ease of use. More than anything else, Bluehost is great for people who are new to hosting, looking for an easier hosting experience, or who just overall prioritize a simpler user interface.
  • Overlapping with ease of use, Bluehost has really solid customer support, primarily in the ways you can contact representatives.
  • Overall, Bluehost has good performance. Every now and then, things can drop below standard. Most of the time, however, Bluehost’s performance is top notch.
  • Bluehost integrates REALLY well with WordPress. It’s easy and fast to use WordPress on Bluehost. Plus, the performance is good.
  • Overall, Bluehost has good value and allocation of resources for the plans it offers. This is especially true for shared hosting, but people who want a more affordable VPS or dedicated experience can also find Bluehost a good option.

Cons

There’s a lot of good to go around with Bluehost, but nothing’s perfect. Here are the cons of Bluehost:

  • You can’t use tickets for technical support, only phone and live chat.
  • The simpler user-interface will be a turnoff for some who like a more hands-on approach. But I suspect many such people will be satisfied as long as cPanel is present.
  • As I’ve stated, when Bluehost doesn’t perform perfectly, it performs below standard (at least by my measurements).
  • People who need top-quality hosting with the latest specs and tons of resources may not find Bluehost has any suitable plans. If you’re looking for the best dedicated or even VPS hosting, Bluehost isn’t the place to go.
  • Bluehost doesn’t say enough about its security practices. Combine that with the fact that Bluehost is owned by a less-than-transparent conglomerate and has had server problems before (albeit 6 years ago), and I can’t say things look great.

Conclusion: Do I Recommend Bluehost?

No need to dilly-dally folks. Do I recommend Bluehost?

Yeah, without a doubt. But NOT to everyone. Here’s why I don’t recommend it to connoisseurs of prime dedicated servers or VPS plans:

Bluehost lacks some of the harder specs and user controls available on other hosts. Bluehost is probably too mid-range for you, if you’re looking for a top tier VPS or dedicated server.

AND, the fact that little is known about Bluehost’s security or datacenter practices should also make those with premium standards think twice.

And while I do think the uptime and response time is good enough even for ecommerce, if your #1 priority is getting the best uptime possible, Bluehost shouldn’t be your pick.

Don’t worry though. Plenty of people stand to benefit from Bluehost’s hosting:

If you want an affordable dedicated server or VPS plan and you don’t need top-of-the-line specs or resources, Bluehost has relatively affordable options and decent performance.

Bluehost’s shared plans are also great for those in search of more basic hosting. Bluehost’s shared plans are relatively affordable without sacrificing much.

In fact, they get a good allocation of resources without too many restraints. They’re not overloaded with features, but they’ve got enough, and there are some add-ons for those who don’t mind paying a bit extra.

I mostly recommend Bluehost to those who are new to hosting. Bluehost goes out of its way to be easy to use without sacrificing too much user control, though naturally some is lost.

It’s got great customer support in addition to its user interface, and it’s especially great for easily using WordPress (whether or not you’re on the managed plan). Plus, it’s performance is overall pretty good.

But you don’t need to take my word for it. Bluehost lets you try the first 30 days risk-free and you can get started in no time. Happy hosting!

FAQ

Keep in mind that everything’s relative:

Almost every hosting company has renewal prices that are much higher than the initial purchase price. The exception here is FastComet, which does not raise renewal prices but has questionable performance.

The question of affordability goes way beyond the first-term price…UNLESS you only want to hold onto your plan with that host for a year.

If you’re only looking to host something for two years, then a low initial price and standard or affordable renewal price is a good way of being cost-effective.

But if you want something longer term…

You should look more at what “free” features suddenly become paid add-ons after a year, and also be prepared to make peace with higher renewal prices as the cost of quality performance.

Bluehost fits in here as follows:

The first-term prices are standard/on the more affordable side, and the renewal prices are on the more affordable side as well. In the long run, Bluehost is at worst average, but usually a little less expensive.

Uptime should be important for everyone, but not equally important to everyone. Online stores, for example, will find uptime a huge priority. Hobbyists may not as much.

This is the bottom line:

You still want your site to be up and running the vast majority of the time.

This is especially true if you’re paying for a host separately from a domain and content management system or website builder, because then it sort of defeats the point of paying for a host.

Nonetheless, don’t feel pressured to take 100% uptime. If you can find a host that works for you and has excellent uptime, it’s a good candidate.

But more realistically:

Some people find other aspects of hosting more important to their site: ease of setup and use, or affordability, for example. These people don’t necessarily need impeccable uptime, they just shouldn’t be paying for something that rips them off.

Bluehost is good for those people, because they’ll get pretty good uptimes for a decent price, but it’s not for people who need the closest thing to perfect possible.

Although a full explanation is a bit complicated, generally speaking, these options provide different scales of resource-allocation, and accordingly have different prices.

This is a pretty good analogy:

Shared web hosting is the most affordable because your site is sharing server resources with other sites. It’s like renting in an apartment complex. The company takes care of a lot of stuff from their end, usually.

VPS hosting carves out more resources of a server and dedicates them to you, guaranteeing a certain amount of service that is pretty robust. It’s more like getting a townhome.

Dedicated hosting is like renting or purchasing a full house—you get a lot more space dedicated to your website, rather than sharing server space with a bunch of other websites.

For a lot of people, including businesses, shared hosting is fine. It can perform very well and is relatively affordable.

For those anticipating high amounts of traffic and who want optimal performance for such visitors, or just plain need more space for their projects, VPS and dedicated hosting are pricier but more assured guarantees of performance.

It goes without saying that I can’t recommend perfectly, as I don’t know your situation. But, I can tell you a few things that can point you in the right direction:

If you prioritize ease of use, you can look into a website builder. Website builders can coexist with a separate hosting service, but more often they contain their own hosting. So a plan on a website builder usually means also purchasing hosting in addition to website creating software.

If you think Bluehost is still a bit pricey, AND you want a host separate from your builder or content management system, FastComet’s shared plans are probably the most affordable hosting plan beyond a year of use. However, the performance isn’t as good.

SiteGround and GreenGeeks are good alternatives to Bluehost because they have better performance, similar prices, similar or more/better features, and are roughly easy to use (depending on your taste).

I can go on, but that should do for now. You can check out my more comprehensive list of Bluehost alternatives here.

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