Bluehost Review 2017
Is Bluehost a good web host? Read our full Bluehost review with pros & cons, complaints, recommended use, FAQs, coupons, & more.
|Data center location:||Provo, UT|
A Quick Overview:
www.bluehost.com is a well-known web hosting company widely awarded on many review sites and by industry insiders as a top choice for web hosting. Bluehost currently hosts over 2 million websites globally and provides a wide variety of hosting plans based on cPanel, CentOS, OpenStack, & KVM. Many web designers and developers prefer to use Bluehost because of their strong dedication to the open source software community. Bluehost is also highly respected for WordPress, holding the #1 recommendation from WordPress.org since 2005. In terms of the types of web hosting they offer, Bluehost provides shared, VPS, hybrid cloud, reseller, and dedicated web hosting for their customers.
Why choose Bluehost:
- Often highly recommended by many web designers & developers
- Popular choice with bloggers as Bluehost is awarded #1 for WordPress by WordPress.org
- Improved usability for AMP & custom-branded cPanel with all of the industry standard features
- Secure hosting with free & paid integrated SSL certificates for eCommerce websites
- Personal & direct customer support via phone & live chat
- Optimized plans specifically for WordPress and WooCommerce
- Enhanced WordPress management tools & improved WordPress installer
- Numerous add-ons available, such as Google Apps for Work, 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
- Uses MOJO Marketplace which includes a lot of bloatware/upsells
- Charges $149 for transferring your website over to Bluehost
- Customer support via email tickets was discontinued
- Bluehost has stopped offering a pro-rated refund
The bottom line:
Bluehost is a decent all-around choice for web hosting with development and management features ideal for WordPress websites and blogs. It's a well-known web hosting company with a good reputation. They've made a lot of improvements to their back-end administration (AMP & control panel) working to improve customer usability, although they still have a ways to go. We wouldn’t suggest using the Weebly website builder and would like to see their own proprietary website builder from EIG implemented free of charge. All in all, Bluehost is best for their managed WordPress site hosting and provides all the tools you need to build and maintain your WP site with an easy upgrade path as your site grows. Bluehost is an established brand that's here to stay.
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Bluehost was born during the dark ages of web hosting. In the early 2000’s, all 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 use of databases or server-side programming languages with shared hosting in those times. 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 earned the respect of partners in many open source development communities, including WordPress. Its unprecedented approach to providing 24/7 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 700+ employees. Bluehost currently has offices located in both Orem and Provo, Utah.
One of the largest pros for Bluehost is their wide variety of web hosting plans to choose from which serve the needs of small businesses, start-up companies, non-profits, educational groups, enterprise corporations, and independent web publishers. Bluehost sells numerous shared, VPS, dedicated, and cloud hosting plans based on the Linux operating system. In addition to web hosting services, Bluehost also offers a wide range of professional services (of course, these services do cost extra) to help customers thrive online. Their support team will work 1-on-1 with users to deliver better strategies for security, marketing, SEO, and more. They also provide all the necessary tools and products to meet every other online objective – from backup services to spam protection. In terms of hosting plans, most users will typically sign up for a shared hosting account, although their VPS & dedicated plans are also very popular with owners of high-traffic sites. Below is a brief overview of all their web hosting plans and what they are normally recommended for:
Overview of the Bluehost Shared Hosting Plans
|Shared Hosting Plans:||Introductory Price:||Renewal Price:||Compare:|
|Prime||$5.95/mo||$14.99/mo||View Details||Pro||$13.95/mo||$23.99/mo||View Details|
Bluehost offers 4 shared web hosting plans with not a lot of significant difference between the accounts. The “Basic” plan starts at $2.95 per month for a single domain, but renews at $7.99. This is not a particularly good deal for a single website hosted under cPanel compared to other hosting companies. For $3/mo more, it is possible to host unlimited sites on the “Plus” plan, but again this will renew at $10.99 per month. The only significant difference between the “Plus” plan and the next level “Prime” account is the addition of SpamExperts, SiteBackup Pro, and 1 domain privacy certificate. Site owners can easily enable site privacy at their domain registrar if they require it (average price around $10.95 per year). Even if the other “Prime” features are worth an extra $1 per month, they may not be worth an additional $48 per year under the renewal rates.
With the Bluehost “Pro” accounts, a dedicated IP address and SSL certificate are included with the other free options, along with the additional upgrade to a high-performance server. The introductory rate is $10 more per month for the extra speed and optimized server environment, which renews at $13 more than the “Plus” plan ($23.99 per month). However, the way the “Pro” plan works is that there is no actual difference in the hardware or any extra server optimization vs. shared hosting on the plan. All they do is promise a server environment with 80% less customers than found on shared hosting for the “Pro” accounts, which leads to better/faster performance through the traffic reduction, allowing each site to use more of the pooled hardware resources at any given time. Bluehost reports that this alone leads to 5x faster website speeds vs. their other shared hosting plans.
Shared Hosting – Basic: Free domain, 1 website, 50 GB storage, unmetered bandwidth, 5 email accounts
The Basic shared hosting plan at Bluehost we would not recommend because it is limited to a single domain and five email accounts. While there are some situations where it could be attractive, most users host multiple-domains on cPanel at a similar price with other companies and it is only $1 more for an unlimited account ($36 extra per year at renewal rates).
Shared Hosting – Plus: Free domain + unlimited websites, storage, bandwidth, & email accounts + $200 ad credits
The shared hosting Plus plan is most popular at Bluehost and we would recommend it highly vs. all of the other options. However, the lack of a dedicated IP address is problematic, especially where Bluehost charges $5.99 per month for each additional dedicated IP address. This works out to ~$72 per year for what other hosts normally charge about $15 for annually, and if you need more than one dedicated IP address to host multiple ecommerce sites under one shared hosting plan, the costs are going to spiral. Considering that Google's Chrome browser will mark all http sites as “unsecure” next year in order to encourage the use of https in site hosting, and that each website running a SSL/TLS certificate will need its own dedicated IP address, this issue could become even more problematic if Bluehost does not reduce the cost. Read Bluehost's statement on the use of dedicated IP addresses with shared hosting accounts here.
Shared Hosting – Prime: Free domain + unlimited websites, $200 ad credits, 1 domain privacy, & SiteBackup Pro
The Prime account at Bluehost is exactly the same as the Plus account with the addition of domain masking services for a single site, plus enabling the use of the SiteBackup Pro & SpamExperts services. Some users will take advantage of the back-up facilities, which can be beneficial for multi-domain portfolio management. However, if you regularly use other services for back-ups and can enable masking on all required domains at a cheaper rate through a third party registrar service, there is no real need to upgrade to this acount.
Shared Hosting – Pro: Free domain, unlimited websites, $200 ad credits, 1 domain privacy, 1 Dedicated IP, 1 SSL certificate, & SiteBackup Pro
As noted above, the Bluehost Pro account does not provide any different hardware or software optimization vs. the standard shared plans. However, they do guarantee 80% less customers on your server for the extra $10 per month, leading to faster processing times on shared server resources, and about 5 times better page load speeds. While there is definitely some additional benefit here, site owners will need to consider whether a cloud hosting or an introductory VPS plan at similar prices offers better value. Because $120 is not a lot in terms of website development costs over the course of a year (~5 lattes per month), this plan can be considered an easy-to-enable speed boost for profitable websites where performance matters the most. Also, when subtracting the $5.99 per month for a dedicated IP address, site owners who would purchase a dedicated IP address from Bluehost anyway for use with a shared hosting account are getting a superior deal on this plan.
Overall, while we like the ease of use of cPanel hosting under Bluehost's shared plans, they are providing the same services as the rest of the companies in the industry. The ad credits can be found with other hosting company plans, and the use of dedicated IP addresses, domain masking, site back-up facilities, & SSL certificates are as basic or fundamental as it gets in the data center industry. The extortionate pricing on dedicated IP addresses and site transfer fees is very out of line with the costs charged by other companies. Most webhosts provide free site transfers even on shared hosting plans to bring new customers in from competitors, and $12 to $15 per year for a dedicated IP is fairly standard. Bluehost's prices for add-on services create a functional limitation on how effective you can be in web development on the service without breaking the bank on https upgrades. These type of overcharges add up significantly for those hosting multiple ecommerce websites under a single “unlimited” web hosting account. SpamExperts and SiteBackup Pro should not really be considered as paid upgrade features, as many other webhosts provide similar or equivalent services at no extra cost. You can view all of the features included in the Bluehost shared hosting plans here.
Overview of the Bluehost Cloud Hosting Plans
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|Business Pro||$15.95/mo||$25.99/mo||View Details|
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 hybrid shared hosting platforms 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 depending on which plan you sign up for in the same manner as VPS provisioning, where the cloud platform is also managed through OpenStack. Otherwise, the main differences between the cloud hosting plans and shared hosting is the mirroring of website files in three copies at the datacenter in case of systems failure and the optimization of each site with Nginx, Varnish Cache, & 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. This means that the platform will optimally function to support around 3,000 simultaneous users on the server at max-level specifications. There is no ability to scale a single server instance into multiple server clusters for higher traffic sites, but most site owners will not need to worry about that at this exceptional price for a hybrid managed cloud hosting plan. At prices competitive with shared hosting, we feel that Bluehost's cloud hosting plans represent the future of web hosting and would recommend them highly. 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.
Cloud Hosting – Starter: Free domain, 1 website, 100 GB storage, 2 GB RAM, unmetered bandwidth, 100 email accounts + $50 ad credits
At a fraction of the price of a VPS plan, and the same cost as most shared hosting accounts, the “Starter” plan is available as a seamless transfer for existing Bluehost customers on a shared plan. Both services run cPanel and CentOS 6.4, so the same domain management tools are available. However, because this plan only permits one website, most users are going to need to begin with the “Performance” account anyway.
Cloud Hosting – Performance: Free domain + unlimited websites, storage, bandwidth, & email accounts + 4 GB RAM + $200 ad credits
The “Performance” cloud hosting plan provides around 12 times the power as a comparable shared hosting account on a similar pricing scale with access to Nginx, Varnish Cache, and CDN optimizations built into the platform. This is exactly what most web developers and site owners have been searching and hoping for over the last few years, as custom development teams to build this kind of environment for websites can be extremely costly. Note that there is no industry standard framework available on the market yet that provides all of these services for managed cloud hosting like cPanel and WHM offer for shared hosting on Linux. This means that Bluehost has built the system from the ground-up on a proprietary basis, using the best of open source cloud tools. This plan will provide superior performance for CMS-driven websites as well as guaranteeing that the sites stay online in traffic spikes without the risk of being over-charged for extra resource usage as found on “pay-as-you-go” plans. This plan has everything that we are looking for in a managed cloud approach with cPanel, unlimited domains, storage, and bandwidth. Because Bluehost manages the security upgrades for all the installed software on the platform, site owners are saving literally thousands of dollars in custom development and systems administration with this plan.
Cloud Hosting – Business Pro: Free domain + unlimited websites, storage, bandwidth, & email accounts + 6 GB RAM + $200 ad credits + extras
Because Bluehost has a unique cloud control panel with this service that allows for server resource monitoring of site traffic statistics in real time, we would recommend signing up for the “Performance” plan and only upgrading to the “Business Pro” plan if required. Site owners with multiple high-traffic domains running CMS scripts will benefit the most. Since this is the only one of the cloud hosting plans that includes a dedicated IP address, and ecommerce sites require a SSL/TLS certificate for every domain, Bluehosts's exorbitant costs for additional dedicated IP addresses could impose a cost bottleneck on the efficient use of these services for multi-site hosting under https.
Site owners with high-traffic CMS websites have been paying huge costs to custom code solutions like Bluehost's cloud hosting plans on VPS and dedicated servers over the last few years. By pulling together OpenStack, Nginx, Varnish Cache, and CDN support with cPanel, Bluehost has created an excellent service that they can scale with and offer to millions of customers at a time as a “Platform as a Service” (PaaS) product. The company deserves a lot of credit for developing these features and bringing them to the market to support customer websites with higher performance and traffic needs than shared hosting provides. Compared to a VPS or dedicated server plan, these managed cloud accounts can save thousands of dollars in custom coding, systems administration, and web development costs by providing everything required for website performance optimization in a single package. Unfortunately, until Bluehost changes their dedicated IP address pricing, site owners will have to budget an extra $72 a year on top of these costs for every site that they need to run https encryption on for data security.
Overview of the BlueHost WordPress Hosting Plans
|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|
Bluehost has created a unique managed hosting platform for WordPress based on VPS, Nginx, & a custom PHP-FPM (FastCGI Process Manager) configuration that promises “extreme speed” and support for 100 to 600+ million page loads per month. All of these plans include unlimited domain hosting with cPanel/CentOS, as well as integrated CDN services. Using OpenStack and a KVM hypervisor, Bluehost has combined elements of their VPS and cloud hosting platforms with the technical knowledge they have of WordPress from employees actively developing for the CMS core codebase. Together, this provides best-in-the-industry web hosting performance for WordPress with expertise not found in any other company. We would highly recommend these plans for any company searching for the highest standards and latest innovation in WordPress hosting. This out-of-the-box Nginx integration will save high-traffic site owners thousands of dollars in web development costs vs. hiring an outside team to custom-code the same solution on another provider.
WordPress Hosting – WP Standard: 1 Free Domain, 2 GB RAM, 30 GB Mirrored Storage, 1 Dedicated IP Address, SiteLock CDN, 100 Million Visits per Month
WordPress Hosting – WP Enhanced: 1 Free Domain, 4 GB RAM, 60 GB Mirrored Storage, 1 Dedicated IP Address, SiteLock/WAF Pro CDN, 300 Million Visits per Month
The Bluehost WP Enhanced managed hosting plan will power 99% of the most demanding ecommerce sites on the web under this plan. Business owners can easily manage the traffic spikes that come with print ads or social media promotions for holiday sales using this platform. Site owners that previously spent tens or thousands of dollars to custom-code these solutions on VPS or dedicated servers can now lock into a service plan at $29.99 per month. The ability to support 300 million page views per month at this price is amazing, definitely a breakthrough in web hosting and platform development that many site owners and developers have been searching for ever since the advent of Web 2.0 technology.
WordPress Hosting – WP Premium: 1 Free Domain, 6 GB RAM, 120 GB Mirrored Storage, 1 Dedicated IP Address, SiteLock/WAF Pro CDN, 600 Million Visits per Month
WordPress Hosting – WP Ultimate: 1 Free Domain, 8 GB RAM, 240 GB Mirrored Storage, 1 Dedicated IP Address, SiteLock/WAF Pro CDN, Unlimited Visits per Month
While only the top 1% of websites in the world generate anything close to the amount of traffic supported by the WP Ultimate managed WordPress hosting plan at Bluehost, many site owners are going to take advantage of the service for the best website performance available. Most CMS platforms are unable to sustain this type of traffic without significantly more expensive, custom-developed solutions, as there is no out-of-the-box PaaS offerings available for the scripts. As these type of hosting plans for WordPress will also be duplicated at other hosting companies and further standardized around open source applications, look for more breakthroughs in web hosting based around Nginx optimization for CMS sites using cloud hosting innovation.
The managed WordPress hosting plans at Bluehost show the power of open source software and community-based development at its highest level of current implementation. Independent web publishers can scale to meet the same user traffic as corporate media outlets at a cost of less than $100 per month. These service plans validate Matt Mullenweg's vision for the WordPress CMS at Automattic, showing how powerful the platform can be operating as a digital printing press. These breakthroughs in cloud computing offered by Bluehost level the playing field between the largest companies and start-ups who can grow their sales and marketing operations to compete with them. Overall, the managed WordPress hosting plans at Bluehost provide the best performance for value that is currently available on the web.
Overview of the Bluehost VPS Hosting Plans
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Bluehost's VPS plans run on a different 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. 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 6.x 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.
With Bluehost's VPS plans, users do receive full root access with SSH access 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. The default settings are PHP 5.4, Perl 5.10, Python 2.6.6, Ruby + Ruby on Rails, & MySQL 5.5 running on Apache. Bluehost uses a proprietary VPS administration panel with site statistics, resource monitoring, and seamless upgrades, as well as providing access to the full suite of analytic tools offered through cPanel. VPS plans are priced at competitive introductory rates but renew with much higher monthly costs.
VPS Hosting – Standard: 2 CPU Cores, 2GB RAM, 30GB SAN storage, 1TB bandwidth, 1 free domain, 1 dedicated IP address, unlimited websites
With the Bluehost Standard VPS plan, site owners can expect about 6 times the RAM of an average shared web hosting plan, suitable for about 120 simultaneous users at max rates without the risk of being throttled, going offline, or crashing the server. Single sites and small traffic domain portfolios will perform much better than shared hosting with the same user rates at about twice the comparable monthly cost. Administration of the domains for development is the same with a cPanel license included in the platform plan.
VPS Hosting – Enhanced: 2 CPU Cores, 4GB RAM, 60GB SAN storage, 2TB bandwidth, 1 free domain, 2 dedicated IP addresses, unlimited websites
The Bluehost Enhanced VPS plan provides on average around 12 times the performance capabilities of a shared hosting plan, able to support approximately 250 simultaneous user connections under maximum specifications across all domains. Active social networking sites, ecommerce stores, forums, blogs, and business sites will all receive excellent service under this plan, but site owners with more than 10 popular domains in a portfolio may still prefer to go with a higher tier plan.
VPS Hosting – Premium: 3 CPU Cores, 6GB RAM, 120GB SAN storage, 3TB bandwidth, 1 free domain, 2 dedicated IP addresses, unlimited websites
At around 20 times the performance of a shared hosting plan for less than $100 a month, the Bluehost Premium VPS plan is for power users who need to budget for managing up to 400 simultaneous users at any given time across all hosted domains. The addition of a 2nd dedicated IP address with this plan adds some extra value. With optimization of all hosted web sites, developers should be able to manage approximately 10 to 15 million page hits per month at the max level of specifications adequately.
VPS Hosting – Ultimate: 4 CPU Cores, 8GB RAM, 240GB SAN storage, 4TB bandwidth, 1 free domain, 2 dedicated IP addresses, unlimited websites
The Bluehost Ultimate VPS plan is top-of-the-line with an equivalence to many dedicated servers. The specifications support around 500 simultaneous users and processes per minute across all hosted websites, databases, and services such as FTP & email. This plan is great for popular web and mobile applications or for portfolios with over 25 low traffic, non-encrypted domains. Systems administrators and web developers with optimized sites will target about 20 million page hits per month under this service plan.
The VPS hosting plans from Bluehost range from introductory accounts that provide more processing resources and memory for CMS-driven, database intensive websites to configurations that will support many of the most popular websites and mobile apps in the world. Since the top level VPS plans are functionally little different than the dedicated servers offered by Bluehost under the same managed framework with the same operating system and configuration, while also providing much more power than a shared hosting plan, they are good value for the money invested for site owners that need these facilities. In many ways, however, the new cloud hosting plans at Bluehost offer a better value than VPS for most websites.
Overview of the Bluehost Dedicated Server Hosting Plans
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Bluehost's dedicated servers are fairly affordably priced compared to 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 development, meaning no set-up time is required and Bluehost data center technicians will manage all of the security upgrades. Because the plans also offer root access to the servers, any extensions compatible with CentOS and cPanel can also be installed. Basically these servers are a mirror image of the rest of the hosting plans on Bluehost, with the same administration tools, software add-ons, and bonus features. The extra dedicated IP addresses provided with each account make them excellent for multi-site domain portfolio management and ecommerce.
Dedicated Server Hosting – Standard: 4 CPU Cores (8 threads), 4GB RAM, 1TB storage, 5TB bandwidth, 1 free domain, 3 dedicated IP addresses, unlimited websites
The Dedicated server plans at Bluehost are the only ones currently running Intel Xeon hardware. All of the shared, cloud, and VPS plans operate on AMD's Opteron line of CPU chips. With the Standard plan, an Intel® Xeon dual-core server clocked at 2.5GHz (3.5GHz under “Turbo” mode) with 4GB 1333MHz DDR3 ECC SDRAM, and a 1TB SATA 7200RPM SSD is provided.
Dedicated Server Hosting – Enhanced: 4 CPU Cores (8 threads), 8GB RAM, 1TB storage, 10TB bandwidth, 1 free domain, 4 dedicated IP addresses, unlimited websites
The Bluehost Enhanced Dedicated server plan offers an Intel® Xeon quad-core server clocked at 2.5GHz (3.2GHz under “Turbo” mode) with 8GB 1333MHz DDR3 ECC SDRAM, and two 1TB SATA 7200RPM SSDs. This is quite a lot of power at $99.99 per month, but the renewal rates are at $159.99. As their Ultimate VPS plan has similar specifications with less storage space, and a cost of $59.99 per month ($119.99 renewal rate), site owners not requiring the two extra dedicated IP addresses ($12 per month) will receive similar performance at about 10% discount. The main difference is 1.76TB of SSD storage priced at $17 more per month between the two accounts with 4 dedicated IP addresses on each.
Dedicated Server Hosting – Premium<: 4 CPU Cores (8 threads), 16GB RAM, 1TB storage, 15TB bandwidth, 1 free domain, 5 dedicated IP addresses, unlimited websites
The main difference between the Enhanced and Premium dedicated server accounts at Bluehost is with the Premium account you get a more modern quad-core chip with a faster processing speed and twice the RAM. The Premium plan is based on an Intel® Xeon quad-core server clocked at 3.3GHz (3.7GHz under “Turbo” mode) with 16GB 1333MHz DDR3 ECC SDRAM, and two 1TB SATA 7200RPM SSDs. Bluehost also provides 5 dedicated IP addresses with this plan, a value of about $30 a month if purchased separately. Site owners should be able to manage well over 50 times the traffic of a standard shared hosting account, or around 1000 simultaneous users under maximum specifications. This could be less depending how the sites are configured under the CMS with multi-domain hosting. With proper website optimization, this server should support over 40 million page hits per month.
With the Dedicated server plans at Bluehost, site owners save money by not having to employ a dedicated systems administrator to manage the server environment. Users looking for a cPanel install on a dedicated server can also avoid the $45 monthly license fee. However, those looking to run Ubuntu, FreeBSD, Red Hat Linux, or Windows OS on a dedicated server framework will need to look elsewhere. Bluehost's bulk pricing and wholesale industry discounts guarantee some of the better costs for hardware in the sector on these Dedicated server plans.
Regardless of which hosting plan you purchase from Bluehost, you’ll first login to their Account Management Panel (AMP). Their AMP feels rather spread out with too many menus, but is easy enough to use and coded to match the design of their other proprietary administration sections. After a short learning curve, web developers, site owners, and domain managers will all feel comfortable using these tools. Below is a screenshot of the default page you’ll see after the first login to the site. While the menus & tabs are a bit cluttered overall, the administration sections are all 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 directly integrated into the AMP interface.
Review of the Control Panel
Bluehost uses a custom designed cPanel to match the design of their AMP. Naturally you can still do all the same things you normally would with the standard cPanel theme. From cPanel, you can do various tasks – such as adding email accounts, configuring your FTP to transfer website files, installing WordPress through MOJO Marketplace, manage MySQL databases, and more. Below is a screenshot of Bluehost's use of 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 utilization.
Servers: Bluehost uses a 50,000 square foot data center located in Provo, Utah. This space is also shared with its sister company, HostMonster. Bluehost uses custom built servers with state-of-the-art network equipment to help provide customers with a hosting account that is fast and reliable. Below is a breakdown of the hardware configurations used on their shared and cloud hosting plans.
Type: 16-Core AMD Opteron
Type: DDR3-1600 ECC/REG SDRAM
Type: Enterprise Level SSD Database Storage
Form: 3.5 inches
Interface: SATA 6GB/s
Controller: 4x LSI 92xx 1GB Cache Raid Controller
Power: 1.65W Idle, 3W Active
Network: Bluehost offers solid performance all around, although their shared hosting plans naturally offer the lowest level of performance. We’ve noticed page load speeds could be better on their shared hosting accounts, but are still above average. You’ll get much faster speeds with their cloud hosting or higher tier plans. Sites also very rarely suffer outages with Bluehost and we’ve seen very little downtime with our own sites. Though Bluehost does not release a lot of information publicly about their data center, you can get an inside view of operations here.
Performance: 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:
Hosting Type Tested: Shared
Hosting Plan: Basic
Location Tested: North America
Description: Performance stats of the last 30 days from our Bluehost test account.
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 low-end shared hosting accounts for each web host reviewed to showcase the most modest performance stats.
Helpful FAQs About Bluehost
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.
Disadvantages Explained – Things Bluehost Could Improve
As with any web host, there are pros and cons. We’ve discussed many of the pros for Bluehost, but here’s a further explanation of the cons:
Ads on the 404 Pages: Surprisingly, we noticed Bluehost monetizes customer sites by displaying ads on their 404 pages. This is pretty sneaky and it feels like Bluehost is trying to squeeze out more profit from their customers. Furthermore, many customers do not even realize Bluehost is monetizing their site until they accidentally visit a 404 page. The ads are enabled by default, but can be disabled. You can turn this feature off in your AMP under account settings. We would highly recommend disabling the ads and display a more relevant 404 page.
Limited to 1 Website on the Starter Plan: Their Starter plan unfortunately only allows you to host 1 website on the account. Since the unlimited plan is just $1 more per month at sign-up ($3 more per month at renewal rates), just look at it as a discount plan for single domain use.
MOJO Marketplace: This is more of a personal preference, but as with most EIG brands, Bluehost uses MOJO Marketplace. Although this is not necessarily a con, we still call it one. MOJO Marketplace typically tends to add more bloatware within their software installs & displays more ads to sell/monetize products.
Weebly Website Builder: Bluehost integrated the Weebly website builder into the control panel so customers could have easy access to a premium website builder. While Weebly is a great choice for beginners who need an easy drag and drop site builder, using Bluehost with Weebly is rather pointless. You would basically be paying for both Bluehost & Weebly. It would make more sense for you to signup directly with Weebly without Bluehost.
Over Priced Renewals: Bluehost is a bit overpriced, even including the introductory rates. Renewal rates are also higher when you compare them with other similar web hosts. Their VPS and Dedicated hosting plans are the most expensive, however there is still a wide range of pricing between competitors in the industry.
$149 Site Migration Charge: Some web hosts will help transfer your website over for free, but Bluehost charges a hefty fee for this service. Although free would be great, it also depends on the size and number of sites you’re seeking to transfer over. In comparison, you can get a year of cloud hosting for the same price as a site transfer.
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.
Additional Features Worth Mentioning
Bluehost recently discontinued their reseller hosting services and now offer these accounts through a partnership with Reseller Club. Bluehost customers receive a 35% discount on a Reseller Club account, which includes over 800 different hosting and domain products. Reseller Club is an India-based company with headquarters in Mumbai led by GM Shridhar Luthria that was also acquired by EIG in 2014. Bluehost has also recently launched an Indian branch of the company (bluehost.in) with the same web hosting services priced in rupees and a data center located in the sub-continent. You can read the Bluehost India blog here.
WordPress Platform Support: Bluehost's support for the WordPress platform is best in the business, which is a major reason they have been the number one recommendation for web hosting on WordPress.org since 2005. Bluehost manages over 1 million WordPress websites, employs numerous full-time WordPress Core developers on staff, as well as providing sponsorship for WordCamps worldwide. This commitment to the open source community through code improvements, platform security, and performance optimization keeps Bluehost very popular with WordPress site owners & developers.
Improved Customer Service: Bluehost recently hired over 100 new people to fill technical support positions. This will theoretically eliminate longer wait periods on the phone or in the browser chat service so that customers can get a hold of technical support much quicker. In practice, however, the quality of the service still depends significantly on which agent you get connected to for information.
Google Apps for Work Integration: Bluehost has partnered with Google to provide customers with a seamless integration of Google Apps for Work. This means customers can professionally use Google services like gMail, Hangouts, Calendar, Drive, and more, all at their domain name. This service costs an extra $5/mo per user.
Improved Network Performance: Bluehost has improved their entire network by adding higher capacity routers. Security, load balancing, and throughput have all been fine-tuned to better serve their customers.
Full Power Redundancy: Bluehost has improved their power redundancy on all levels of the DC power grid. UPS units, PDUs, and other bare metal infrastructure has been both upgraded and replaced with the best technology available.
“Daily Effort” Management: Bluehost makes an ongoing daily effort to improve performance and security with things like their kernel, application layer, platform, and client login.
Conclusion – To Host or Not to Host?
As we reach the conclusion of our Bluehost review, we hope that it helped you decide whether or not you should host your site with them. Bluehost is a popular choice, but not always the best one. Every site is different and you’ll need to determine the right balance between price, features, and performance. For a full list of all Bluehost supported features, you can visit their website at www.bluehost.com.
Let Us Know Your Thoughts
Have you used Bluehost before? Have any positive or negative experience you’d like to share with us? Email us your honest feedback at