Reading Time: 15 min read

Chris Wagner

“We have been a paying customer for both SiteGround and BlueHost.

We are monitoring both shared hosting’s servers for Uptime and Performance through our website hostingpill-sg.website and hostingpill-bh.website.

This Comparision of SiteGround vs BlueHost is based on actual testing done on their servers.”

Comparison updated: May 2019

If you’ve been looking into shared web hosting, there are two names you’ve almost definitely come across.

SiteGround and Bluehost are two of the POWERHOUSES in the world of consumer hosting.

I mean, THIS is how many sites use Bluehost:

bluehost 2 mil sites

Which is HUGE and makes it one of the biggest providers around.

But SiteGround can also claim a big number:

siteground number

DANG.

So CLEARLY, these two are about evenly matched—about equally popular in roughly the same market.

But are they EQUALLY GOOD?

That’s the question at hand now.

Luckily, I’ve been using both SiteGround and Bluehost for MONTHS, and I’ve got a lot to say about their strengths and weaknesses.

*Note: I am primarily focusing on a comparison of the shared hosting plans in this review.

So without further ado, let’s jump in by looking at one of the MOST IMPORTANT things to consider in a host:

Table of content

Jump to see specific test by click on the following links

Here is the glimpse of Price and Features:

SiteGround
BlueHost
Plan StartUp BASIC
Websites 1 1
Website Space 10 GB 50 GB
Bandwidth Suitable for ~ 10,000 Visits Unmetered
Addon domain Unlimited Unlimited
Parked Domains Unlimited 5
Sub Domains Unlimited 25
Data Transfer Unlimited Unlimited
FTP Account Yes Yes
Email Hosting Yes Yes
Email Storage 200 MB 100 MB
No. of Email Accounts Free 5
Webmail Support Yes Yes
Spam Free Protection Yes Yes
Site Backups Yes Free Basic Backup
Money Back Guarantee 30 days 30 days
Price / mo. $3.95 / mo. $2.95 / mo.
Visit SiteGround Visit BlueHost

Test 1: Facebook Poll

I have conducted a poll on Facebook where SiteGround got 76 Votes, while BlueHost got 23 Votes.

siteground vs bluehost survey

Test 2: Uptime Comparison

Yeah. This is a BIG factor to consider.

While it’s true that not everyone needs perfect uptime, essentially everyone should still expect really strong uptime.

Because fundamentally, you’re buying HOSTING. The job of your host then, is to keep your site UP.

And while even the bests hosts can fail here, it should only be to SMALL degrees. IF that.

So let’s take a look at how our contenders stack up.

First up is Bluehost’s uptime:

bluehost uptime

Mixed results, but overall strong.

Here’s SiteGround’s:

siteground uptime

Even stronger.

Let me break down why.

It’s true that on the face of it, Bluehost’s uptime still seems great. Because it’s still a bunch of high numbers, right?!

The LOWEST uptime score Bluehost had was for September 2018 at 99.91%. Isn’t that still an A-?!

Uh, no. Sorry to break it to you.

99.91% SOUNDS really high, but the truth is that over the course of a month, 99.91% uptime actually means over 38 minutes of DOWNTIME.

Which is a LOT, and if you’re running a business, really not okay.

Now, I personally find 99.95% uptime to be a standard that is both high and reasonable. Of course some people will need higher uptime, and some will care less—but overall, let’s go with that.

This being our standard, Bluehost falls short not once, but TWICE. Aside from September 2018, January 2019 was 99.94%.

In contrast, this is how many times SiteGround fell below 99.95%:

IT DIDN’T.

On top of that, SiteGround had an EQUAL number of months with perfect uptime, and high uptime scores even on the imperfect months.

So overall, SiteGround DOES have better uptime. It’s NOT by a huge margin, but it’s still a clear enough lead.

I will, however, give some credit to Bluehost on something else:

In general, Bluehost had much better RESPONSE TIMES in 2018. As the new year came around, these kind of evened out with SiteGround, unfortunately.

So overall?

Although Bluehost does have somewhat higher response times on average, the cold hard truth is that SiteGround’s uptime is MORE RELIABLE.

By this I mean that you’re less likely to experience a lot of downtime, and even when you do experience downtime, it won’t be too much.

So overall, SiteGround is the better performer here.

And that shouldn’t be too surprising. Although SiteGround and Bluehost might accommodate roughly the same number of websites, they aren’t equally popular.

Check this out:
siteground vs bluehost performance

Bluehost is WAY more popular than SiteGround.

But heck, that’s just the last year of search interest. It’s been this way forever–for the last 5 years anyway:
siteground vs bluehost performance

So maybe it’s not so surprising Bluehost’s shared hosting suffers performance issues more than SiteGround’s:

Bluehost is always accommodating a lot more users, and a lot more new users. Popularity can sometimes mean an assurance of quality.

But in hosting, it can also mean worse performance.

Now, to take this back to the overall view… you may have noticed I said SiteGround doesn’t win by a huge margin—that’s true. It’s a win, but Bluehost is still a good performer.

Which means it’s time to take a look at the next big item:

Test 3: Pricing and Features Comparison

Yep. What makes pricing good?

The answer, of course, is not ONLY low pricing. Low pricing CAN be great.

But if you’re investing in hosting, you know that higher prices are OFTEN justified when they bring performance and TOOLS that help you or your business.

And of course, many people prefer low prices, period, when their hosting needs are light. This dichotomy matters a lot in our comparison of Bluehost and SiteGround.

So THIS is what SiteGround’s prices look like:

siteground shared price

Not too bad, right?

I’ll break down how good they are in a moment. But first, let’s take a look at what Bluehost offers:

bluehost price

Okay, let’s get into it:

The first thing a lot of you will have noticed is that Bluehost’s STARTING price is lower than SiteGround’s.

And if you kept looking across the tiers, you probably noticed that the middle options are about the same, but Bluehost’s final plan is a couple bucks pricier than SiteGround’s final plan.

And if you were REALLY looking, you will have been paying attention to THIS:

bluehost price close

In gray are Bluehost’s RENEWAL prices.

If you’re unfamiliar with shared hosting, this means that for the FIRST year you may pay as low as the blue number.

But once your first year is up, it will probably renew at the gray number.

Ouch—that’s still quite a price increase, huh?

Well, take a look at SiteGround’s:

 

siteground shared price close

Oof.

Now, I don’t mean to discourage you—remember that hosting is an investment, and we already know that both are good performers—especially SiteGround.

While I don’t want to focus too much on price in isolation, I know some of you are, for various reasons, looking for the most affordable bottom line. And that’s fine.

For those people, note that SiteGround’s renewal prices are significantly higher than Bluehost’s…even though the initial prices aren’t so different.

The simple truth is that Bluehost is generally one of the MOST affordable hosts around. In fact, I’d say it’s really GoDaddy and Bluehost that offer the most reliable “cheap” hosting.

Personally, I still think SiteGround makes up for its prices—which are pretty average, by the way—by offering a ton of advantages.

And if you’re a small business, or otherwise willing to invest a little more into hosting, you probably know that the difference in a few bucks between these hosts is ultimately not so significant.

As stated, what matters for a lot of you is what a price GETS you.

So because we already know about the uptime—let’s take a look at the features.

I’ll start us off with a look at the basic resources you get for each hosting provider.

This is what Bluehost’s plans will get you:

bluehost features

Honestly, it’s pretty good. Despite being the “budget” host, Bluehost gives you basically the industry standard for hosting plans: one site and limited storage for the first tier, and unlimited storage afterwards.

But what’s GREAT is that Bluehost also gives you unlimited sites from the second tier onwards—not all hosts do that. So that makes Bluehost a great deal right off the bat, if you just want good bang-for-your-buck.

Now, let’s see how SiteGround compares:

siteground features

Well, the sites are unlimited after the entry level, but the storage isn’t.

AND, Bluehost gives you unmetered bandwidth, whereas SiteGround

CLEARLY, SiteGround is the worse deal here, right?

Not so fast.

First of all, unmetered bandwidth does NOT mean unlimited bandwidth, and SiteGround’s numbers are NOT hard lines.

The truth is that if you’re on a shared server, you WILL have some limits on how many resources you can take up.

So even if your plan says unlimited ___, if everyone actually used as much storage and bandwidth as possible, the whole shared server system wouldn’t work effectively.

Meaning that on paper, Bluehost LOOKs like a much better deal, but in practice, SiteGround is not really far off.

Nonetheless, I DO find SiteGround’s storage limits kind of low—especially because Bluehost reliably offers 50GB of SSD storage on the cheapest plan, more than what SiteGround offers on its most expensive.

So that’s a bummer. But it still does NOT mean SiteGround is a bad option for you.

Because there are a lot of other features to take into account.

These are some of Bluehost’s less basic features:

bluehost features

Okay, to be honest, these are…still kind of basic.

An included free SSL certificate is great, but pretty standard nowadays. The same goes for the included domain and parked domains or subdomains.

Not getting domain privacy til the third tier is a bit stingy, and a good reason to get a domain outside of Bluehost.

Spam experts can be useful…but the marketing offers vary in their usefulness from person to person.

Site backups and a dedicated IP are GREAT features, but fairly common for high-tiered hosting packages across the board.

And the fact that the mailbox is only free for a month for the last three tiers (and not even included for the first)…that sounds a bit greedy to me.

Here’s why:

You’re ALREADY not getting a ton of features with these packages. AND, most other hosts include mailboxes with even entry level packages—typically at least for a year free.

So to be honest, I’m not super impressed with Bluehost’s set of features. It’s good for beginners who want less to deal with, but not as much for people looking for lots of tools.

Now, SiteGround is a different story:

siteground features essentials

These are JUST the “essential” features, that come with all the plans. Some of them are just there to fill up space, and aren’t too different from Bluehost—for example, Bluehost also has cPanel, unmetered traffic, and free SSL.

BUT, you get a lot more that Bluehost doesn’t offer. For example, unlimited MySQL databases, an impressive point toward resource allocation.

AND, you get a free site builder, email accounts, and daily backups.

Note: Bluehost DOES offer regular backups, but the site builder is a paid add-on.

Not to mention, CloudFlare CDN can really boost your site’s speed and performance worldwide.

In all, SiteGround’s entry level gives stuff that Bluehost’s highest tier SHOULD give you.

The second and third plans come with “premium” features:

siteground features premium

These basically include better support that will make setting up and securing your site way easier. SuperCacher can seriously boost your performance.

And then THESE features are reserved for the highest tier only:

siteground features geeky

The Geeky features get you even better support, better security, and better performance.

Now, it’s true that Bluehost has higher performance on its highest plan—in fact, the highest tier gets you a less populated shared server, thus allowing you more resources than you’d normally get on a shared server.

Plus, you can purchase some upgrades without upgrading from shared hosting entirely:

bluehost feats advanced

BUT, I don’t think that compares to the combination of CloudFlare CDN, SuperCacher tech, and additional server resources that SiteGround gives you BY DEFAULT.

So when we put this together, it’s pretty clear…

SiteGround simply has better features BY DEFAULT.

Now, the thing that’s important to understand is that Bluehost CAN give you all the functionality you’d get with SiteGround…but you’d have to pay extra.

So the way to think about Bluehost is it aims for a combination of ease, simplicity, and low pricing.

Bluehost’s shared plans are still a very efficient and attractive option: you don’t get too many restrictions in terms of resources, you don’t need to be too involved with the hosting process, and best of all—it’s very AFFORDABLE.

SiteGround, on the other hand, offers you more features out of the box, some performance-boosters, but less in the way of resources and higher prices.

Now, that may sound conclusive, but we’re not done yet!

You’ve probably heard me mention Bluehost excels at ease. Which leads us to our next factor:

Test 4: Ease of Use

Yep. Ease of use is interesting: a lot of people look for it, and a lot of people underestimate its importance.

Even if you know a lot about hosting, an easy to use host can save you a lot of time and energy. It can also reduce some of the control users can exert.

But a certain amount of it is definitely ideal.

And the proof of it is in how both Bluehost and SiteGround market themselves as easy to use. SiteGround, for example, says this:

siteground easy

Now here’s the honest answer:

BOTH platforms are pretty easy to use. Both are user-friendly enough.

BUT, generally Bluehost does win this one out.

Don’t stop reading though—there’s some importance nuance here. Here’s what I mean:

Although Bluehost is REALLY easy to use—one of the easiest hosts around—it’s also really SIMPLE.

bluehost dashboard

It’s got the type of user interface and navigation setup that will make more experienced users feel a little stifled.

And if you really like to take control of your hosting and see tons of details, Bluehost won’t fill that role as well as SiteGround will.

But for beginners, Bluehost will deliver a fantastic user experience.

You may have noticed that I never said SiteGround is HARD to use…and that’s because it’s not hard to use.

Remember how SiteGround offers a lot more features out of the box? That’s a pretty good indicator of the difference between the two for user-friendliness as well.

Because while SiteGround IS easy, fundamentally, to use, it also hands more stuff to you to take care of.

siteground dashboard

SiteGround actually has the user experience I prefer because of this: it strikes a great balance between being allowing users flexibility WITHOUT being too complicated.

A quick tangent: BOTH Bluehost and SiteGround are really great with WordPress. So great, in fact, that WordPress actually RECOMMENDS both of these platforms as UNIQUELY suited for WordPress.

bluehost web hosting

Part of this has to do with the performance these platforms offer (not just for shared hosting).

But a lot of it has to do with user-friendly approaches to setting up WordPress.

For example, SiteGround offers WordPress hosting plans that are essentially shared hosting plans but specifically geared towards WordPress.

And all those plans come with features like THESE:

siteground features

As you can see, free auto-updates and WP migration are included. Higher tiers can get you advanced WordPress support by staff.

Bluehost offers essentially the same program:

bluehost feats wp

WordPress is a powerful and popular platform, but it can still be tricky sometimes—which is why WordPress-friendly hosts can be life-savers.

So to bring it back to the overall comparison, Bluehost is in general easier and simpler—better for beginners and those who want a very laid-back hosting experience.

SiteGround offers users more flexibility, but it’s not too difficult either. Just a bit less simple.

And BOTH are great if you want an easy time handling WordPress.

So far, the competition is close, but still not done. All that talk about WordPress management has reminded me of the next thing we need to talk about:

Test 5: Customer Support

Customer support follows naturally from ease of use: accessible and good customer support makes a service much easier for customers.

And as I’ve mentioned, WordPress is a pretty good indicator of that: both offer a lot of premium support from experts on handling WordPress sites.

But OVERALL, you may be wondering if there are significant differences in the customer support each provides.

I don’t want to spoil anything, but the short version is that there ARE differences in the quality, but it’s not super significant.

Both of our contenders provide ways to contact representatives directly. For both, you can contact via live chat, phone, and/or ticketing/email support.

The live chat works pretty well.

For example, this chat with SiteGround only took a couple minutes:

siteground chat

And this chat with Bluehost only took a couple minutes as well:

bluehost chatbluehost chat

So I’ve got no complaints for the live chats of either platform.

The phone or ticket/email assistance is better for more serious issues on both platforms, but I’ve found no substantial differences in response times or the quality of answers.

Although I will note that SiteGround’s email/ticket support is faster:

siteground tickets

And that’s great, but in the scheme of things, not a major difference.

So as far as contacting reps goes, the differences are probably just going to come down to luck and be pretty minute.

BUT, there are some differences for the on-site support that the two companies provide.

This is Bluehost’s support center:

bluehost support resources

I’m NOT a huge fan of Bluehost’s support page layout. This is basically because:

It could use some better categorization. Click a topic and there will be a bunch of articles below it.

But these feel kind of crammed into their categories, and could use more niche organization.

There is a more important issue though:

A lot of articles I’ve seen can be a bit short. SOMETIMES, this is fine—because the information should be straight to the point.

But other times, you get the sense Bluehost’s onsite support is really only for basic things, and everything else needs to be relegated to customer representatives.

Don’t get me wrong: OVERALL, Bluehost’s onsite info is still pretty good.

But we’re comparing it to SiteGround’s, and SiteGround is another story:

siteground resources

SiteGround just plain offers a richer on-site support experience.

Now, does Bluehost offer different types of support beyond text articles?

Yeah, for sure. And it’s great. But again—the organization makes it inconvenient. But SiteGround’s stuff is CLEARLY ORGANIZED and easy to access.

I mean, compare THIS organization and detail to Bluehost’s:

siteground knowledge base

Some of you won’t care, but a lot of you will be like me, and find the added hierarchies of topics (which are easily visible from the get-go) to be much easier to browse.

But that’s just the knowledge base. SiteGround ALSO has this:

siteground tutorials

A tutorials page SEPARATE from the knowledge base. Although I personally like everything as centralized as possible when it comes to support, that’s a minor complaint.

The more important thing is that SiteGround offers a really good set of tutorials for those who prefer to figure things out on their own (like me).

Both Bluehost and SiteGround have blogs—basically all hosting companies do—which may or may not be useful to you.

They’re not resources with UNIQUE information, but beginners could gain some valuable insights on hosting and site-building in general.

Plus, SiteGround’s blog has some webinars.

So overall, both Bluehost and SiteGround have really good customer support. This is mainly because both of them are good at delivering solid representatives, and both of them have adequate online information.

BUT, I think SiteGround’s customer support is still BETTER because support tickets tend to be more responsive AND the online information is much more robust than Bluehost’s.

Customer support isn’t the end of the story though.

But our next item IS going to bring this competition to a close:

Test 6: Security

Yep. Security is essential to hosting.

Okay, I admit: it’s not equally essential to everyone.

Philosophically speaking, security “should” matter to everyone. Because fundamentally, purchasing hosting is about trusting another company to handle YOUR site’s space on the web.

But PRACTICALLY speaking, only so many people will face site hacking, and only so many people will care about the level of their host’s security.

This difference is going to be REALLY important in explaining the difference between Bluehost and SiteGround in terms of security.

Let’s start with Bluehost.

This looks GREAT:

bluehost system status

For the most part, Bluehost’s servers are up. You saw that already with the uptime, but it’s just a good reminder.

And:

Just kidding. There’s no “and.” That’s basically it for Bluehost.

I mean, there are some security FEATURES that come with all shared hosting accounts:

bluehost security

And that’s great and all, but it’s basically all there is. And it’s pretty standard for web hosts, to be honest.

We kind of need to know more about what Bluehost does on its own end of things—but whether it’s an intentional hiding of information or a mistake, Bluehost doesn’t say much about its own practices.

SiteGround doesn’t have the same problem.

Check it out:

siteground security

ASIDE from the included security features like SSL or backups, SiteGround has invested a lot of resources into a firewall and anti-bot protocols.

That’s kind of basic, though. Most hosts probably have some form of these protections.

SiteGround also has this to say:

siteground security

Now, I don’t want to make this too polarized. I’m NOT saying Bluehost doesn’t have its own firewalls or anti-bot systems.

And to be fair, SiteGround COULD tell us more about its security practices. In fact, I want to know more about how they secure their servers.

But fundamentally, SiteGround tells us much more than Bluehost does, which automatically makes it more trustworthy.

Because the main reason you have to trust Bluehost is its name and popularity—that if so many people can use it, there must be some basic level of security you can trust.

And that’s effectively true for a lot of people, but may not be enough for everyone—especially people with ecommerce needs.

There’s one other point I’d like to make about Bluehost, though:

It’s not just the lack of information or transparency. There have been actual instances of security breaches.

For example:

bluehost security breach

The time when Bluehost, along with sibling companies (owned by its parent company Endurance International Group) were hacked by the Syrian hackers, ostensibly because they hosted terrorist’s sites.

There was also this time:

Bluehost

When an error in a single data center took millions of sites down, including a lot managed by Bluehost.

Now, you may or may not have guessed why: the data center was property of Endurance International Group, a hosting conglomerate that is also Bluehost’s parent company.

And EIG has come under a lot of fire for this—consolidating hosting companies’ servers into a smaller number of data centers has been cost-efficient.

And risky for consumers.

Now, I’m fair. These events are old news in internet terms—years old. There very well could’ve been substantial changes to Bluehost’s security practices between now and back then.

But nonetheless, the track record of Bluehost isn’t terrific, and being owned by a hosting conglomerate is a good reason for mistrust.

Especially when we’re comparing to SiteGround.

So let me be clear (and hopefully, fair):

Bluehost is NOT a terribly unsecure host. It’s popularity and age in the hosting world make it a reliable enough choice.

BUT, if you care about your site’s security, SiteGround is DEFINITELY the better choice—it isn’t owned by a hosting conglomerate known for risky practices, and doesn’t have the track poor track record Bluehost does.

And with that, I think it’s time we wrap things up:

Conclusion

SiteGround and Bluehost are both GIANTS in the world of hosting.

Combined with their domain name management, they support MILLIONS of websites. But which is better?

I’d have to say that SiteGround is OVERALL better at web hosting.

I grant this overall win to SiteGround because it provides better value for the price:

It has overall better uptime and response times, offers more features out of the box, has better customer support, is probably more trustworthy in terms of security, and offers the user a little more control than Bluehost does without being too difficult to use.

HOWEVER, it’s not going to be the better choice for everyone:

And that’s because Bluehost is SIGNIFICANTLY more affordable if you’re ALREADY trying to get good hosting on a budget.

And that’s what Bluehost is good at: it’s still a solid, reliable host that offers really great pricing.

A lot of businesses see hosting as something to invest in, and the difference of a few bucks a month is not consequential.

But some businesses DON’T need the best shared hosting experience ever, they just need something straightforward and if it saves money, so much the better.

Because Bluehost still overall performs well, is reliable enough in terms of security, is very simple and user-friendly, still has decent customer support, and offers enough features with great prices…

It’ll be a great option for those who’d prefer to save a bit.

And again: if you want the affordability of shared hosting but a nicer quality shared hosting, SiteGround is a GREAT choice.

But hey—it’s understandable if you’re still not sure. You can try SiteGround AND Bluehost RISK-FREE for 30 days!

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