Bluehost : Web Hosting Reviewed
Bluehost is a web hosting company owned by the Endurance International Group. It is one of the largest web hosting solutions, collectively hosting well over 2+ million domains with its sister companies, HostMonster, FastDomain and iPage (Ipage review here). I have previously reviewed a few Web hosts on this website as well as on numerous Quora A2As. While most of them are really great hosting companies, Bluehost is part of the big leagues. Bluehost has been active since 2003, so it’s one of the older web hosting companies. Why review Bluehost? Well, Bluehost is one of the most reliable hosts given their industry outreach.
How am I qualified to review Bluehost? Well, usually I host websites for clients on different Web Hosting companies. This time it’s a different case, I’ve used Bluehost for an exact year for a personal website, which has now been shifted to Siteground where I’m also hosting this very website. I had to shift to Siteground due to monetary reasons albeit Bluehost gave me a pretty smooth experience.
Bluehost: A quick glance
Bluehost has a wide range of hosting solutions. Let’s have a look at all of them
- Shared Hosting
- WordPress Dedicated Hosting
- Cloud Hosting
- VPS Hosting
- Dedicated Hosting
- WooCommerce Hosting (Unique to Bluehost)
I’ll be discussing the Shared and Cloud hosting solution in this post. I’ll soon review the managed wordpress hosting in a different post(Once I’ve used it for 3-4 months at least).
In their shared hosting category, they have 3 different sub-categories namely “Basic”, “Plus” and “Prime”. They cost you $3.95, $5.95 and $7.95 respectively which is somewhere in the middle of the price spectra. These prices are not too high, basically they are affordable. But if you want to go even cheaper Ipage is the way to go. If you’re paying $1 or $2 extra per month on Bluehost, it is actually worth it if you want a few extra features than the cheaper variants.
Firstly, you get the a web hosting company who know what they are doing and are very good at that. You’ll get pretty fast loading speeds(Discussed below) and you’ll get one of the best and most professional support staff that any web host has.
In their cloud hosting plan, they again have 3 sub-categories namely “Starter”, “Performance” and “Business Pro”. They’ll cost you $6.95, $8.95 and $15.95 respectively. I have personally used the Performance plan for a complete year on a personal blog and it was a pretty decent experience. I was a novice in the “online world” at that time and decided to go for Bluehost because of their impeccable reputation which is exactly what you may be doing too.
Fortunately, after this detailed review, I hope that you’ll realize that Web hosting is much more than just reputation. The “Performance” plan gave me 4 GB of available RAM, out of which, I was never able to use more than 1.3 GB ever. And I only used 1.3 GB even after I conducted a LoadImpact test of 150 concurrent users. The server only using 1.3 GB; that’s almost 33% of the available RAM which I have to admit is pretty sweet.
Now, the question is whether you need all that power? I had started a blog about TV Show recommendations which used to gt some 150 views a day total. In no world did I ever need the power of a 4 GB RAM cloud service. So, for most beginners, even if you’re expecting to get ~6,000 views a day, the “Starter” plan of the Cloud hosting or the “Plus” plan of the Shared hosting would do. If you feel that the number of visitors a day will be even less, then you may consider going with the “Basic” shared hosting.
While working as a freelancer, I hosted 3 different websites on Bluehost, plus I had a personal blog hosted there too. My blog, which had a very basic theme had a load speed of 1.3s (average). This test was conducted from Dallas, Texas using pingdom to check the website’s load speed. When tested from Melbourne, Australia the website loaded much slower at 3.6s which would have been acceptable if it were a shared hosting but was pretty bad for a cloud hosting.
One of my clients also used the Cloud hosting albeit it was the “Business Pro” plan. They had an Online store (and a much larger budget than me 😛 ) and hence they had integrated Cloudflare Pro CDN along with their hosting. Their load test speeds were hence decreased to 0.8s and remained almost constant under the LoadImpact test. That was a pretty big deal as their homepage’s size was 3.2 MB whereas my blog’s homepage was just ~960KB. The shared hosting gave a pretty decent load time of 1.6s+ for my same blog which decreased to 1.3s when I switched to their cloud hosting platform. You can see a clear difference but the difference is much more visible if the size of the page is more than 1 MB.
Bluehost has been in the business for a long time and they have perfected a few things. In fact their TTFB (Time To First Byte) is one of the best in the industry, even in their shared hosting. A client of mine hosted a landing page on WordPress which had a load time of 1.2s with a TTFB of just 130ms which is a pretty awesome TTFB.
There’s still a problem here : My shift to Siteground was mostly prompted by slow overall load times regardless of the fastest TTFB; that’s just sad. It means that Bluehost renders the first byte very fast yet the overall website takes much longer to load. This can be solved by using a CDN but still is a big disappointment from Bluehost’s side.
This will probably be the shortest summary. Bluehost gave me an average 99.5% uptime through the 1-year period. Just to compare uptimes, one of my client’s Godaddy hosted website had a 99.98% uptime for a 4 month period (That’s how long I worked on that project). Bluehost is owned by the Endurance International Group and in the past there have been incidents of the complete Endurance Group servers down. That was a one time problem, but for someone who may lose customers by the second, that’s a BIG deal! Even Ipage, which is priced at just $1.99 a month gives an uptime average of 99.6% which is higher than the Bluehost average uptime.
Let me share with you a story, a story of a young boy who was unable to set up auto-responders for his blog. Yep, that was me a couple years ago. So anyways, I contacted the Bluehost customer crew and after a waiting period of ~30s, I was greeted by a support staff and my problem was solved within a 3 minute period. Considering my problem was a pretty straightforward one, this was a nice experience. Now, let’s jump back to June 2016, when there was a bigger issue on a VPS server. After a wait time of ~2 minutes the issue was solved within 15 minutes. Again, depending upon the intensity of the issue, this was again a great experience.
So, personally I have not had any bad experiences with Bluehost but if I am to review them, I also have to consider other people’s experiences
I am an Indian resident and hence, whenever I’ve contacted Bluehost it has been in their traffic-low periods. According to other online reviews, if you contact them during a peak hour, they usually have a ~15-20 minute wait period. It’s quite possible, considering they host more than 2 million websites but it’s not something that you can dismiss. If you’re not fine with such long wait periods, I will suggest you go with Siteground. Siteground has the most friendly support crew that I’ve met and they’re fast too.
Now, why should you choose Bluehost over any other host ?
There are a lot of secondary benefits of going with Bluehost that you won’t get with many other hosting companies. Let’s have a look at some of them:
- Free SSL certificate: You get a free SSL certificate even at the cheapest $3.95 basic shared hosting plan. You WILL NOT get a SSL certificate for such a low price with any respectable host anywhere else. Most plans that include SSL certificates start from $5.45+. This is where Bluehost’s partnership with many other companies works good for you.
- Free Cloudflare integration: This is another very “cool” feature provided by Bluehost. Cloudflare delivers your website’s static content from their CDN network instead of your web server. This reduces the load on your local server. The real Cloudflare magic can be noticed on websites with very large traffics. It marginally decreases the load times on ecommerce websites.
- Numerous security features: Bluehost will offer you multiple security options. Bluehost has integrated Postini, SiteLock and many other spam filters which basically means that your website will 100% be protected if you host it with Bluehost. No question on that, this is one of the safest place to host your website period.
- Regular Backups: Even in their cheapest basic shared hosting plan, they have included backup options. You can avail the free backups option which backs up your website data every month or you could spend a few extra bucks to upgrade that to daily backups.
- Marketing offers worth $200: Starting from their “Plus” shared hosting plan, you get $200 worth of free marketing offers. You’ll receive $100 worth of Google Adwords credit upon using $100 of Google Adwords. Basically, unless you spend $100, you won’t be getting the free $100. This is a pretty rough deal for starters but if you do have a marketing budget, consider adding $100 to it. You’ll also get $100 worth of Bing credit, again at the same terms.
The Truth that no one will tell you
From the very beginning I’ve told you about the monthly prices of different tier plans. But what no one will tell you is that these are not fixed prices, in fact Bluehost calls these “Introductory Prices”. Once your initial hosting period has expired, the renewal charges for most of these hosting plans increase marginally, in some cases even doubles.
Notice that “Normally $10.99” price which has been slashed off in the “Plus” tier to show you how much of a discount you are getting. Well, that’s the price per month that you’ll have to pay per month once you renew your hosting.
Also, the price that’s shown here is only available if you buy a web hosting for a period of 3 years! If you want to buy it for just a year, the $3.95 turns out to be $5.95. This is one reason that I suggest that you go with Ipage, Siteground or Inmotion
People who are sure that they want to stick with Bluehost should still buy the hosting for just one year. I know it sounds stupid, you’ll be wasting a lot on hosting if you buy it for just one year. As I tell all my clients, you never know how you’ll feel an year into the future. Maybe, you would be happy with Bluehost, if that’s the case, you wouldn’t mind paying an extra buck or two. But, if you’re unhappy with them, you’ll surely regret spending that much. So trust me, Never buy a hosting package for more than a year.
Bluehost will cost you $3.95/month at their cheapest tier and a hefty $15.95 for the “Business Pro” Cloud hosting. These prices are for a 3 year plan. For one year, you would effectively be paying $5.95/month which is much higher than their competitors. These prices are somewhere at the center of the price spectra making it a perfect choice for those trying to expand their business and those looking for better opportunities. For beginners with a small budget, Bluehost is not for you. There are many other choices, the cheapest one being Ipage [review here] (No SSL). Another solid choice is Siteground, which I’m using right now. It’s also priced at $3.95/mon but has much better loading speeds than Bluehost.
If you have a website that already has a good amount of visitors and you have a good enough budget for hosting as well as advertising, I’ll highly recommend you to go with Bluehost. just make sure to upgrade to Cloudflare’s pro version instead of using the free version. This is the perfect setup for websites with high traffic although it’ll create a big hole in your pocket. Yet, for those who have a good budget, don’t think twice, go with it. Bluehost have proved themselves with high credibility and for the one year that i hosted my personal blog with them, I faced no problems.
P.S : Buy hosting <<—– BIG scary affiliate link! Yes, that’s an affiliate link which means you buying a plan using this and other links will help me buy a box of cookies 🙂
P.P.S : I love Cookies (and cake) [and all other sweet things 😛 ]