Bluehost Review 2018
Is Bluehost a good web host? Read our full, unbiased Bluehost review with pros & cons, recommended use, performance stats, screenshots, FAQs, coupons, & more.
|Server O/S:||Linux (CentOS)|
|Control Panel:||Custom-branded cPanel|
|Data center location #1:||Provo, UT|
|Data center location #2:||Houston, TX|
www.bluehost.com is a well-known web host widely awarded on many review sites and by industry insiders as a top choice for web hosting, although it typically is not our first choice. Bluehost currently hosts over 2 million websites globally and provides a wide variety of web server hardware options running primarily on a custom software stack based on cPanel & CentOS. Internally, Bluehost uses OpenStack & KVM virtualization for data center networking at scale. Many web designers and developers prefer Bluehost because of their strong dedication to the open source community. Bluehost is a decent choice for WordPress because of their Optimized Hosting for WordPress (OHWP) platform. Bluehost also provides various options for Shared, Cloud, VPS, and Dedicated web hosting plans for their customers.
Why choose Bluehost:
- Bluehost is awarded #1 for WordPress by WordPress.org since 2005
- Heavy focus on WordPress with WordPress installed by default on all new accounts
- Custom-branded cPanel with all of the industry standard features
- Affordable cloud hosting with solid performance/reliability
- Optimized plans specifically for WordPress and WooCommerce
- Free & paid integrated SSL certificates for eCommerce websites
- Personal & direct customer phone support based in the US
- Numerous add-ons available, such as G Suite, Spam Experts, SiteLock, etc.
What are the disadvantages:
- Monetizes your site by injecting ads onto the 404 pages (although this can be disabled)
- Basic hosting plan only allows you to host 1 website
- Weebly site builder is pointless
- Average speed & reliability scores from our performance testing on shared hosting plans
- Uses MOJO Marketplace which includes a lot of bloatware/upsells
- Charges $149 for migrating your existing website over to them
- The cost of additional dedicated IP addresses can be expensive
- Customer support via email tickets was discontinued
- No pro-rated refund after 30 days
The bottom line:
Bluehost is a decent all-around choice choice for web hosting with professional web development and domain management features that are particularly ideal for WordPress websites and blogs. They have a good reputation as an industry major that invests heavily in new technology and platform innovation. Bluehost has made a lot of improvements to customize their back-end administration (AMP & control panel) by working to improve the usability and design of the browser interface. Bluehost is primarily focused on customers who use WordPress and we would recommend either their hybrid cloud or managed WordPress platform, which provides everything that you need to build and maintain a popular website. All in all, Bluehost is a well-established brand that continually improves their hosting products, regularly upgrades their data center hardware, and is generally considered a leader in the development of new cloud hosting platform services.
Bluehost has a 30 day money-back guarantee so you can try it risk-free. Try it Now
Bluehost was founded in the period just after the initial “dot com” boom, before the advent of Web 2.0 technology, social networking, and cloud computing. In the early 2000’s, nearly all of the web hosting companies provided essentially the same service – they offered basic web hosting with out-of-the-box solutions for serving embedded files with static HTML pages. There was no popular use of MySQL databases or server-side programming languages with shared hosting at that time in the retail sector. When Matt Heaton and Danny Ashworth founded Bluehost in 2003, their goal was simple: build a better web hosting company. Bluehost’s dedication to quality quickly earned the respect of partners in many open source development communities, including WordPress. Its unprecedented approach to providing 24/7 customer support attracted loyal fans worldwide. Soon after, Bluehost’s referral program grew to be one of the largest in the world. In 2010, Bluehost earned its 2 millionth customer. In 2012, the company was acquired by the Endurance International Group (EIG). Since joining the Endurance family, Bluehost has continued to grow dramatically. The Bluehost brand now leverages new channels and markets across the globe with 750+ employees. Bluehost currently has corporate offices located in Orem & Provo (Utah) with new international data centers expanding to meet the need of business demand in regional markets.
One of the best things about Bluehost is their wide variety of hosting plans to choose from. Bluehost sells numerous Shared, VPS, Dedicated, and Cloud hosting types based on the CentOS Enterprise Linux operating system which serve the needs of small businesses, start-up companies, non-profits, educational groups, enterprise corporations, and independent web publishers.
Shared web hosting
Cloud web hosting
VPS web hosting
Dedicated web hosting
In addition to web hosting services, Bluehost also offers a wide range of professional services to help customers grow their businesses online. Their support team will work 1-on-1 with users to deliver better strategies for platform security, sales & marketing, SEO, or web traffic management at scale. They also provide multiple third-party development tools and software products such as backup services, spam protection, SSL/TLS certificates, & content delivery networks (CDNs).
Below is a brief overview of all the Bluehost web hosting plans and what they are normally recommended for:
Shared Web Hosting Plans
Bluehost offers 4 different levels of shared web hosting plans, differing mainly in addons and server density levels. The Basic plan is meant for customers who need to host a single site. The main difference between the Plus plan and the next level Prime plan is the addition of SpamExperts, SiteBackup, and 1 domain privacy certificate. With the Bluehost's Pro account, a dedicated IP address and SSL certificate are included with the other free options, along with an additional upgrade to a high-performance server. However, the way the Pro plan works is that there is no actual difference in the hardware, software stack, or any extra server optimization vs. the other shared hosting plans. What they actually do, is promise a low-density server environment with 80% less customers than found on other plans, which leads to better & faster performance by allowing each website to use more of the pooled system resources at any given time. Bluehost reports that this configuration alone leads to 5x faster website speeds on the Pro plan. Lastly, we should mention there is technically one more shared web hosting plan – and that is the WooCommerce plan, which is essentially equivalent to the Basic plan, but with eCommerce specific functionality and support.
Here's a quick price overview of the shared web hosting plans that Bluehost offers:
|Shared Hosting Plans:||Introductory Price:||Renewal Price:||Compare:|
Key Features We Like:
- Account creation is extremely fast – anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes (case by case of course).
- WordPress is automatically installed via account creation – a convenient feature for WP users. Of course, this could be a con if you're not using WordPress.
- All shared plans come with SSDs in a RAID 10 configuration.
- With a free domain name, unlimited websites, storage, bandwidth, & email accounts + $200 ad credits, the Plus plan is one of the best introductory deals available on the market.
- The Pro plan includes a dedicated IP address, SSL certificate, & SiteBackup Pro, along with guaranteed low-density servers for some of the best page-load speeds available.
- cPanel + CentOS is an industry standard for web server and domain administration, making it easy to manage settings for web development.
- Git and WP-CLI are on all boxes with some custom commands like wp bluehost sso.
What We Don't Like:
- The cost of renewal rates on the Basic and Prime plans are over twice the introductory discount price.
- Dedicated IP addresses and website transfer fees on shared hosting plans are overly expensive.
- The default PHP version on any account is currently set to 5.4. Bluehost supports PHP 5.4, 5.6, and 7.0. We'd like to see PHP 7.2 enabled by default.
- The Basic plan is only allotted 100MB of email storage and allowed only a single domain name.
- Bluehost offers courtesy daily, weekly, & monthly backups for shared & cloud, but they are not guaranteed and customers are still responsible for their backups.
ALSO SEE: Check out our guide to shared web hosting to learn more on this type of web hosting
Cloud Web Hosting Plans
The introduction of cloud hosting services at Bluehost is part of a larger industry trend that has seen innovation in data center management and server optimization techniques become part of Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) products offered by the larger companies in the sector. Bluehost's cloud hosting platform offers a greater amount of dedicated RAM resources to each account similar to a VPS plan. They also allocate 2, 4, or 6 CPU cores to each account. The cloud platform is managed through OpenStack with NGINX, Varnish Cache, and a global CDN for better performance. With this comes a proprietary control panel that provides more detail for site analytics and the ability to order seamless upgrades of more server resources when required. Bluehost's cloud platform runs on the same server architecture as their shared hosting plans: 16-core AMD Opteron servers with 8 processors clocked at 2.4 GHz, 256 GB of DDR3-1600 ECC/REG SDRAM, and 64TB of enterprise-level database storage SSDs. The cloud servers use “instant resource management” to handle traffic spikes and slashdotting events. At prices competitive with shared hosting, we feel that Bluehost's cloud hosting plans represent the future of web hosting and would highly recommend it over their shared hosting plans. Bluehost is one of the pioneers in creating this type of managed cloud service for the retail market, representing some of the best innovation in the industry for contemporary web publishing needs and is optimized for WordPress websites.
Here's a quick price overview of the cloud web hosting plans that Bluehost offers:
|Cloud Hosting Plans:||Introductory Price:||Renewal Price:||Compare:|
|Business Pro||$15.95/mo||$25.99/mo||View Details|
Key Features We Like:
- The Performance plan offers a free domain + unlimited websites, storage, bandwidth, & email accounts + 4 GB RAM + $200 ad credits available at a fraction of the price of a typical VPS plan.
- Powered by a NGINX and Varnish Cache integration, these cloud plans are well worth the minimal price of the upgrade over standard shared hosting plans due to the better performance speeds – especially for WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Magento, and other CMS driven websites.
- OpenStack, cPanel, & CentOS combined with NGINX, Varnish Cache, & CDN optimizations.
- The fixed price basis avoids unexpected cost overruns common on “pay-as-you-go” cloud plans.
- Managed security upgrades + dedicated IP address & SSL/TLS certificate on Business Pro plan.
What We Don't Like:
- The cost for Dedicated IP addresses are too high on the Starter & Performance plans ($72 per year)
- The Starter plan is limited to a single website regardless of total traffic used by the domain
ALSO SEE: Check out our guide to cloud web hosting to learn more on this type of web hosting
VPS Web Hosting Plans
Bluehost's VPS plans run on a slightly different web server architecture than their shared and cloud hosting services. The main difference is 4 processors vs. 8 installed with the 16-core AMD Opteron framework, RAM scaling up to 1TB per server, and smaller SSD allocations based in 9 drive RAID 60 arrays of 12.8 TB each. The VPS platform runs on OpenStack and KVM for virtualization, making it a managed service where the user only has the choice of the pre-installed CentOS Linux as an operating system. With this comes a free cPanel license and the ability to host unlimited domains and databases with the same server management tools found on the shared hosting plans. Users receive full root access with SSH and instant activation of the account with all of the developer tools pre-loaded. Bluehost's technicians also manage the platform security updates for installed server extensions. Bluehost uses a proprietary VPS administration panel with site statistics, resource monitoring, and seamless upgrades, as well as providing access to a full suite of analytic tools offered through cPanel. VPS plans are priced at competitive introductory rates but renew with much higher monthly costs.
Here's a quick price overview of the VPS web hosting plans that Bluehost offers:
|VPS Hosting Plans:||Introductory Price:||Renewal Price:||Compare:|
Key Features We Like:
- Default support for PHP, Perl, Python, Ruby/Rails, & MySQL on Apache with the ability to install any other web server extensions required by developers or programming teams.
- Fast hardware with SSD storage and real-time analytics that monitor website user traffic.
- Immediate provisioning with no need to spend hours installing the OS and setting up the server.
- Inclusion of Dedicated IP addresses and cPanel/CentOS license saves money over other companies.
- Easily organize, edit, and manage databases directly on the server with Bluehost's custom-designed database manager.
What We Don't Like:
- VPS plans max-out at 4 CPU cores & 8 GB RAM, forcing an upgrade to dedicated servers.
- Cloud Hosting plans are cheaper & more feature packed, with a greater ability to support traffic spikes at scale, while providing similar hardware allocations, developer tools, & third-party add-ons.
ALSO SEE: Check out our guide to VPS web hosting to learn more on this type of web hosting
Managed WordPress Web Hosting Plans
Bluehost has created a unique managed hosting platform for WordPress based on NGINX, Varnish Cache, and a custom PHP-FPM configuration that promises “extreme speed” with support for 100 to 600+ million page loads per month. All plans are based on OpenStack servers with KVM virtualization on a managed VPS platform, with CentOS Enterprise Linux & cPanel administration. This platform was developed by professional in-house programmers who also build new plugins and extensions for the CMS core codebase. Together, this provides a strong choice for WordPress with expertise not typically found in other companies. This out-of-the-box Nginx/Varnish Cache integration will save high-traffic website owners thousands of dollars in development costs vs. hiring an outside team to custom-code the same server stack solution independently on another provider. The managed WordPress hosting plans at Bluehost show the major benefits of open source software and new cloud hosting innovation. Independent web publishers can scale to meet the same user traffic as corporate media outlets at a cost of less than $100 per month.
Here's a quick price overview of their WordPress web hosting plans that Bluehost offers:
|WordPress Hosting Plans:||Introductory Price:||Renewal Price:||Compare:|
|WP Standard||$19.99/mo||$39.99/mo||View Details|
|WP Enhanced||$29.99/mo||$59.99/mo||View Details|
|WP Premium||$39.99/mo||$89.99/mo||View Details|
|WP Ultimate||$49.99/mo||$129.99/mo||View Details|
Key Features We Like:
- Bluehost optimizes the server configuration and technical stack (LAMP to LEMP) to be what's best for WordPress. PHP, MySQL, NGINX, and even page caching are all optimized around WordPress and exclusively for WordPress.
- WordPress Optimized is built on top of Bluehost's standard VPS platform and is a managed system with no root access, making it easier to use for beginners.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS) model saves thousands of dollars on system administration costs.
- Ability to support 20 million hits per day or over 13,000 page views per minute at under $100 per month for high traffic websites, eCommerce portals, and blogs at scale.
- Long-standing professional partnership of in-house developers with the WordPress community.
What We Don't Like:
- The platforms still implements Mojo Marketplace for “one-click” installs and plugins.
- Renewal rates are twice the introductory cost and legacy website migrations are not free when transferring existing WordPress sites from other web hosts.
ALSO SEE: Check out our guide to WordPress web hosting to learn more about WordPress & web hosting.
Dedicated Server Web Hosting Plans
Bluehost's dedicated servers are fairly affordably priced (compared to some competitors), but with a fully managed approach, site owners will be limited to using CentOS Linux and cPanel on the platform. For most clients, this is an advantage, as the machines come fully provisioned with an advanced configuration environment for web and mobile development, meaning no set-up time is required and Bluehost data center technicians will manage all the platform security upgrades. Because the plans also offer root access to the servers, any software extensions compatible with CentOS and cPanel can also be installed manually. Basically, these servers are a mirror image of the rest of the hosting plans on Bluehost, with the same administration tools, software stack, and bonus features on isolated hardware. The extra dedicated IP addresses provided with each account make them excellent for multi-site domain portfolio management and ecommerce. With the Dedicated server plans at Bluehost, site owners save money by not having to employ a systems administrator to manage the server environment and platform security. Bluehost's bulk pricing and wholesale industry discounts guarantee some of the better costs for hardware in the sector on their Dedicated server plans.
Here's a quick price overview of the Dedicated web hosting plans that Bluehost offers:
|Dedicated Plans:||Introductory Price:||Renewal Price:||Compare:|
Key Features We Like:
- All configurations are up and running in under 5 minutes, fully automated with instant provisioning.
- Bluehost's dedicated servers run on high-performance Intel Xeon CPUs.
- The inclusion of multiple dedicated IP addresses on each plan is optimal for running many eCommerce websites together with SSL/TLS certificates that require extended validation.
- High storage allocations along with ECC SDRAM provisions for financial transactions.
- Uses the same software stack, developer tools, & administration as other Bluehost plans.
What We Don't Like:
- No SSDs, although they are likely to be provided in the near future.
- Many users may be able to secure similar hardware allocations on VPS plans with the same functionality and developer tools at a better overall price.
- No ability to run Ubuntu, FreeBSD, Red Hat Linux, Windows, etc. as the operating system.
ALSO SEE: Check out our guide to dedicated web hosting to learn more on this type of web hosting
Bluehost has a custom designed AMP & control panel to match their branding. Most website owners are already familiar with cPanel as it has become an industry standard that can be used to easily manage server, domain, & email settings. Bluehost has made some proprietary customization to the default cPanel theme to match their AMP interface which allows for a total integration of all of the services on the platform on a single page. The design is streamlined and clean, although many will probably prefer the original stock icons. There is only a minor amount of advertising displayed in the administration sections, primarily highlighting company promotions for products & services.
The Account Management Panel
Regardless of which hosting plan you purchase from Bluehost, you’ll first login to their Account Management Panel (AMP). The AMP may feel rather spread out with too many menus and drop-down tabs, but it is easy enough to use overall and coded to match the design of their website. After a short learning curve, web developers, site owners, and domain managers should all feel relatively comfortable using these tools for work.
The screenshot above shows the default page you’ll see after an initial login to the site. While the menus & tabs are a bit cluttered overall, the administration sections are broken down into different categories for reference and access by GUI. Under their hosting menu, you can click on the cPanel sub-menu to gain access to your control panel, which is then easy to use to manage domain name, email, FTP, & server settings.
The Control Panel
Bluehost uses a custom cPanel interface to match the design of their AMP and website. Naturally, you can still do all the same things you normally would with the standard cPanel theme. With cPanel, it is easy to manage all of the configuration settings required for domain names, programming languages, and email accounts, configuring FTP or using FileManager, installing WordPress through MOJO Marketplace, managing MySQL databases, and setting up the free CloudFlare CDN for website caching. The screenshot above shows Bluehost's custom theme for cPanel, which is directly integrated into their proprietary AMP framework.
If you used cPanel in the past, you should still feel comfortable with Bluehost’s customized theme. However, those familiar with the default icons and layout may find the graphics a bit confusing. The vector images do not always accurately reflect the content and services that they link to, being overly generic with somewhat random artwork chosen for the symbolism.
Performance is key for any web host. Below is an overview of what you'll get with a base Bluehost account.
Bluehost offers a combination of Dell and HP servers. Bluehost uses primarily AMD Opteron processors on their Shared, VPS, & Cloud plans with Intel Xeon processors available on their Dedicated Servers.
Below is a breakdown of the basic hardware configurations currently used on their shared and cloud hosting plans.
- CPU: 16-Core AMD Opteron @ 2.4GHz
- RAM: 256GB DDR3-1600 ECC/REG SDRAM
- Capacity: 64TB SATA 6GB/s 3.5″ drives
- Type: Enterprise Level SSD Database Storage
- Controller: 4x LSI 92xx 1GB Cache Raid Controller
- Power: 1.65W Idle, 3W Active
Bluehost uses a 50,000 square foot data center located in Provo, Utah with some additional server hardware located in Houston, Texas and also internationally in colocation centers. New VPS & Dedicated customers are now being provisioned typically more within the Houston data center. Bluehost's primary data center (in Provo) is also shared with other EIG owned brands such as HostMonster and JustHost. We were told that Bluehost typically distributes both new and old customers among the data centers based on server density and reliability.
We continually test and monitor the performance of Bluehost with Pingdom site monitoring tools to get a more technical measure of performance data. The results below are dynamically pulled from Pingdom:
NOTE ABOUT TEST STATS: Keep in mind the above data is not fully representative of all the websites hosted on Bluehost. There are too many factors that influence performance stats – including the specific server the site is hosted on, the web hosting plan chosen, the optimization of the actual website, scheduled maintenance, geolocation, etc. Our tests are performed on the base shared hosting accounts for each web host reviewed to showcase the most modest performance stats.
Bluehost's customer support is overall very good with a reported customer satisfaction survey of 4.7 out of 5.
Bluehost recently hired over 100 new people to fill technical support positions in their Customer Care center. This will, theoretically, eliminate longer wait periods on the phone or in the browser chat service so that customers can get in contact with a qualified service technician much quicker. In practice, however, the actual support received still depends significantly on which agent you get connected to for the information.
Key Customer Support Features:
- Vertical division of Helpdesk contacts for billing, tech support, sales, affiliates, etc.
- Help Center with user forum, video tutorials, & knowledgebase for quick reference material.
- Toll-free phone number & online browser chat as primary customer support method.
- 4 to 5 minutes of average wait time via phone support & live chat.
- Phone support is located in Tempe, AZ and live chats are outsourced to India/Philippines.
- Email tickets have been discontinued and customers can no longer use them as a means of support.
- Currently no premium support available for purchase.
- Server status page with 24/7 hotline to check for reports on data center uptime issues.
- Bluehost has an ongoing “Daily Effort” management policy designed to improve services.
- WordPress Expertise: the company has considerable experience in debugging common issues.
DID YOU KNOW? Bluehost averages around 5 GB of traffic during work hours and 3.75 GB of traffic overall. This is for any given second.
All of Bluehost's service plans are based on managed data center network security, which means that the web server firewalls, operating system patches, and physical hardware integrity are all managed by remote technicians on a daily basis. Bluehost has implemented a number of optional website and personal account security features for clients to implement according to their individual needs. Here are some key features:
- Single Sign-On (SSO), Two-Factor Authentication, & Token Validation for all accounts.
- The ability to establish separate passwords for billing, technical, and administration users.
- SiteLock Anti-Spam, Blacklist Monitoring, & Malware Protection services for websites.
- Free, Self-Signed, & Trusted Private SSL/TLS Certificates including Dedicated IP addresses.
- Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) & SQL injection attack protection for WordPress CMS integration.
- Automatic backup & restore services for websites with archival storage of files & database info.
Here are some frequently asked questions about Bluehost you may find helpful:
You can order a web hosting plan from Bluehost by visiting their website, www.bluehost.com. You can also order over the phone, via their sales department at 888-401-4678. We recommend ordering online as it is easier and faster. You can also find a full breakdown of their prices & features on the website.
Bluehost accepts all major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, & Discover) as well as PayPal.
You can cancel your account at any time. Simply call, email, or live chat their billing department and they will send you a cancellation form that will need to be filled out.
Conclusion – To Host or Not to Host?
Choosing the best web hosting company to host your website is an important decision with a lot of factors to take into consideration. Be sure to carefully compare what Bluehost offers to see if their services are right for you.
Bluehost is one of the most popular web hosts and comes highly recommended for WordPress users.
In terms of web hosting types, most users will typically sign up for Bluehost's shared web hosting account, although we would strongly recommend either their cloud or WordPress Optimized platforms instead.
One major advantage of Bluehost is that their prices undercut many similar plans offered by rivals in the industry. However, the downside is that these discounts do not last beyond the initial contract, making it imperative to lock-in to a longer term contract to secure a good deal. Nevertheless, the plan will eventually turn over and then budget conscious consumers are presented with a real choice: whether to pay double the initial price for the same service or transfer to another web host that offers a free migration service, similar features, and cheaper rates.
For a full list of all Bluehost supported features, you can visit their website at www.bluehost.com.
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