Hosting

Bluehost: How Does The Budget Hosting Heavyweight Stack Up For 2021

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My Verdict: Outstanding for Beginners

One of the reasons for Bluehost’s popularity is that they offer a wide range of hosting types, including shared, WordPress, VPS, dedicated, reseller, and more. They are also noted for being fast, affordable, and user-friendly, especially for beginners.

Based on my expert analysis and customer reviews, Bluehost is my top pick for the best web host for beginners. However, this article goes in-depth into all of Bluehost’s plans and features, including the pros and cons of choosing Bluehost as your blog’s or website’s host.

You can currently get 65% off all plans. BlueHost offers a 100% money-back guarantee.

Pros:

  • Free domain and SSL certificate
  • Managed WordPress hosting
  • E-commerce plans and convenient marketing services for small businesses

Cons:

  • Doesn’t offer reseller hosting plans
  • Regular backups are not guaranteed. Customers are advised to make their own backups

Is Bluehost the Perfect Host For Your Site?

Bluehost Review

Bluehost is a popular web host, best-known for its beginner-friendly services and WordPress hosting.

But speed, performance, and customer support are king. How do they score on these factors?

In this article, you’ll learn what Bluehost offers and how to determine if they are a good fit for you.

More importantly, I have presented uptime and performance data collected over many months.

Hosting Types

Bluehost offers the following hosting types:

  • Shared Web Hosting
  • WordPress Web Hosting
  • WooCommerce Hosting
  • VPS Web Hosting
  • Dedicated Web Hosting
  • Reseller Web Hosting

Let’s take a more in-depth look at each of these options.

Shared Web Hosting

Bluehost’s shared hosting is perfect for beginners.

Shared web hosting is an excellent option if:

  • You’re just getting started with a website
  • Your website does receive tens of thousands of visits a day
  • You want bargain pricing

With shared hosting, you are sharing the resources of a given server with many other websites. This helps keep the cost down, and Bluehost passes the savings on to you.

However, the downside is that you don’t get a significant allocation of resources to support your site. This is why this type of hosting isn’t ideal for more substantial, busier sites.

Three Tiers On Offer

With that said, not all small sites are created equal, so Bluehost offers three tiers of shared hosting plans, each providing a different allocation of resources.

Bluehost’s shared hosting plans come with everything you need to get a website online. However, other web hosts offer shared hosting, so how does Bluehost compare? What do they offer that’s different?

FeatureBluehostHostGatorSiteGround
Starting price$2.75$2.75$3.95
Renewal price$7.99$6.95$11.95
Free domain nameYesYesNo
SSD drivesYesNoYes
Storage50 GBUnmetered10 GB
SSL certificate includedYesYesYes
Bandwidth limitationsNoNoNo

WordPress Web Hosting

Bluehost offers two specialty plans aimed towards WordPress users:

  1. “WordPress Hosting,” which includes affordable shared hosting plans
  2. “WP Pro,” which is a managed hosting option for those who want a bit more for their WordPress site.

You might be wondering why Bluehost focuses on and offers so much to WordPress users. The answer is that WordPress is the most commonly used content management system (CMS) in the world.

WordPress Shared Hosting

Bluehost’s “WordPress Hosting” plans are shared hosting plans that come with features that would be of interest specifically to WordPress users.

Choose from 3 Plans

Choose from three plans. The option that is best for you depends on how many WordPress sites your hosting, as well as how big your sites are.

These plans are still quite affordable, however, which means they are accessible to most users – even those who are just getting started with a blog or website.

How Are These Different From the Regular Shared Hosting Plans?

WordPress plans differ from the general shared hosting plans in that they

  • Come with WordPress already installed
  • Include a WordPress staging environment so you can create changes and view them before publishing them to your live site
  • Include hundreds of WordPress themes.

You’ll also get some essential managed services, such as automatic updates to the WordPress core.

WP Pro: Managed WordPress Hosting

WP Pro is Bluehost’s managed WordPress hosting option. It is geared toward those who are looking for robust, feature-rich plans for their growing websites and blogs.

What is Managed Hosting?

WP Pro is a managed service, which means that Bluehost is responsible for things like updating your WordPress core.

Bluehost further takes care of optimizing the hosting infrastructure to make sure that the WordPress sites using those resources perform well.

Three Plans to Choose From

There are three WP Pro options from which you can choose. The one that is best for you depends on the extra features and functionality you want – basic options include analytics and marketing tools, daily backups, and malware detection and removal.

All WP Pro plans support unlimited sites.

By upgrading, you can get additional tools like SEO aids, e-commerce integrations, and specialty search features for your site.

You also receive all of the resources you need to support your websites, staging environments to test your changes before pushing to production, and no limits on the traffic you can receive.

WooCommerce Hosting

WordPress users who are looking to dabble in the world of online sales have the option of trying out the number one WordPress e-commerce plugin: WooCommerce.

WooCommerce, like WordPress itself, is entirely free of charge.

Bluehost offers three different WooCommerce hosting plans. You could host WooCommerce on a general-purpose shared hosting plan, but Bluehost’s specific plans mean that:

  • WooCommerce comes auto-installed as does its popular Storefront theme
  • You get a dedicated IP address, which protects you from others who might be sharing a server with you
  • You get an environment that facilitates safe and secure online payments

Pro Tip: As your online store grows, you might consider moving all of your e-commerce functionality off of your primary hosting environment into its hosting environment. This helps ensure that both your blog and your store perform well.

VPS Web Hosting

VPS hosting is an excellent option for those who have outgrown shared hosting options and need more powerful hosting or want more control over their hosting environment.

Bluehost’s VPS plans can be provisioned instantly, which means that you can get started with your new environment as soon as you finalize your purchase.

Performance and Security

You’ll be guaranteed your share of resources (RAM, CPU, and disk space), which means that your website is more stable and performant.

VPS hosting is suitable for clients whose applications require advanced security.

Dedicated Web Hosting

Dedicated web hosting is a great option for someone with an extensive website that receives high levels of traffic.

As a general rule of thumb, if you’re not experiencing hundreds of thousands of website visitors a month it’s unlikely that you’ll need this level of hosting service.

With dedicated hosting, you’ll get:

  • The most performant servers
  • The most secure environment for your website
  • The most control over your environment.

Bluehost also offers rapid provisioning, so your server will be ready to use within 24-72 hours after you finalize your purchase.

Reseller Web Hosting

Bluehost doesn’t offer reseller hosting, but the company has partnered with ResellerClub to offer such services.

Also Read: SiteGround Web Hosting Review

Hosting Features

In addition to providing you with the appropriate hosting environment for your websites, Bluehost plans come with the following standard features.

Domain Services

Most Bluehost hosting plans come with a free domain name.

Subdomains

Bluehost allows you to create subdomain names for different pages (though the number of subdomains you can create varies based on the plan you have).

BlueHost Domains

Getting a new domain from Bluehost is straightforward. You simply type in the desired domain name and click “next.” Follow the prompts.

Parked Domains

You’ll also get parked domains, which you can think of as aliases for your website. For example, if your primary domain name is Example.com, you can set Example.net as a parked domain and have it redirect to Example.com.

Like subdomains, the number of parked domains you get depends on the allowances of the plan you’ve purchased.

Managing an Unlimited Number of Domains

If you want to manage an unlimited number of domain names – including parked domains and subdomains – you can do so with the Plus and Choice Plus plans. Both of these are shared hosting plans.).

Domain Manager Tool

All Bluehost customers get access to the company’s domain management tool, which allows you to control your domain and do the following from one interface:

  • Purchase
  • Track
  • Update
  • Manage
  • Transfer.

Cloudflare CDN (Content Delivery Network)

Bluehost provides the Cloudflare CDN, which speeds the loading time of your site.

Content delivery networks keep a cache of your site at datacenters around the globe. When a visitor clicks on your URL, the network can detect their location and “serve” your website to them from the network node that’s geographically closest to them.

Page speed (load time) is a critical factor. Sluggish speeds can drive impatient visitors away. And they have been shown, by Google’s research and others’, to directly impact conversions and sales.

Control Panel

To manage your web hosting environment and website, Bluehost offers its customers a customized variant of the cPanel control panel.

The Bluehost team has tweaked the cPanel to make it easier for its customers to use.

BlueHost Control Panel

Your Bluehost control panel is divided into the following sections:

  • My Sites: Under My Sites, you can manage the websites that you’re hosting with the account you’re logged in to. You can also create a new site. If you’re hosting a WordPress site, this is one way for you to get to your WordPress admin dashboard.
  • Marketplace: If you need to add features and functionality to your site, or you’re looking to hire help, the Marketplace is where you’d go. You’ll find new add-ons, options to purchase professional services, and themes for your WordPress site, and more.
  • Email & Office: If you purchased any productivity tools, you could access them here. You can get cloud-based word processing, spreadsheet tools, and email clients from Microsoft (Office 365) or Google (G Suite), or you can get basic email services that utilize your website’s domain name.
  • Domains: Access your domain manager, where you can monitor the registration status of your domains (and get notifications if any are about to expire), find and register new domain names, see a list of domain names you own and view a summary of the domains and their affiliated name servers. You can also update which domain name is assigned to which site, set up redirection, transfer domains, and manage your subdomains.
  • Advanced: The Advanced section hides the more complex features associated with your web hosting. This is where you’ll find all your file and database management options, as well as email settings. You’ll also come here if you want to manage your security or see metrics regarding your resource use and site traffic.

Account Security

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Bluehost has taken several steps to make sure that only those who should access your Bluehost account can do so.

  • Bluehost offers single sign-on, so you don’t have to reuse the same insecure password you use elsewhere
  • Two-factor authentication is available
  • You can choose to validate your identity with a custom token you generate whenever you sign in.

Additionally, Bluehost supports the use of OpenPGP/GPG encryption so you can send and receive files securely.

Security: SSL Certificates, SiteLock, and More

Bluehost offers SSL certificates and malware protection. They also update the WordPress core software so you don’t have to.

But do note: Website owners are responsible for securing some things on their end. Bluehost makes this easy with their online checklist.

Protection Against Hacks

Shared hosting: Bluehost deploys an isolation tactic to websites that suddenly start using massive resources. This is a risk mitigation strategy and it helps to preserve the performance of your website on a shared server.

What WordPress users need to know: Bluehost automatically updates the WordPress core software, a benefit for all customers hosting WordPress sites with them.

WordPress and its plugins are worth keeping an eye on and updating.

However, as is expected, updating WordPress plugins is your responsibility as a site owner. Failure to keep these up-to-date will make your site vulnerable to hacks.

When it’s time for you to update a plugin, you’ll be alerted, via messages in your WordPress dashboard. You can’t miss these: you’ll see them immediately after you log in.

SiteLock by Bluehost

Bluehost offers SiteLock as an add-on: This is a third-party product that serves as a firewall and malware scanner. It also has the ability to remove malware from your site.

Since protection against hacks is a shared responsibility between the host and the site owner, Bluehost has provided a detailed checklist of what you should be doing to secure your site.

Bluehost does not offer any assistance with restoring your site in the event that your site gets hacked, so it’s best to prevent such problems from occurring in the first place.

Pro Tip: Beginner WordPress users will want to check out the WP Live service available via the control panel. This paid service can assist you with any site problems including security. You pay a monthly fee and can cancel at any time.

SSL Certificates

SSL certificates serve two primary purposes:

  • They protect your visitors, as well as the data they transmit to you (and vice versa)
  • The prove that your site is legitimate, helping foster customer trust and improving your search engine rankings slightly (search engines prioritize sites that are secure).

All Bluehost customers get a free SSL certificate from a company called Let’s Encrypt. You’ll need to install and activate your certificate yourself.

Private SSL for E-Commerce

If you want your site to be even more secure, you can purchase and use a private SSL certificate.

Note: The use of the private SSL certificate requires the purchase of a dedicated IP address from Bluehost. The two work together.

A Variety of Additional Options to Choose From

Bluehost can help you with the purchase of additional SSL certificates.

The cost of additional certificates varies based on how many domains, subdomains, and parked domains you want to secure with a single certificate.

Site Migrations

One downside with choosing Bluehost is that they do not provide free website migrations like many other hosts.

They do, however, provide a paid site migration service. It covers up to 5 websites and 20 email addresses. The price is fairly high, however: $149.99.

Since Bluehost uses cPanel, it shouldn’t be too hard to transfer your own sites.

Infrastructure and Datacenters

Unfortunately, it is next to impossible to find any information about Bluehost’s datacenters. This includes where they are and how they are secured.

The only thing that Bluehost says about its servers is that everything is managed in-house. They also seem to have a primary datacenter in Provo, UT.

E-Commerce Features and Functionality

Bluehost offers WooCommerce plans for those interested in selling online. You can pick from 3 plans. These come with a WooCommerce store packaged with the plan.

If you’re not a WordPress user, you might consider options like:

  • Magento
  • OpenCart
  • Zen Cart.

PCI Compliance With Bluehost

Bluehost supports PCI compliance, but it is not PCI compliant. Unlike other all-in-one e-commerce platforms (such as Shopify or BigCommerce) that handle everything associated with your online store, including infrastructure and hosting, Bluehost isn’t set up to meet PCI-DSS standards.

Most of Bluehost’s options can be configured to be PCI compliant. You may be responsible for some of these tasks, but the technical team can assist.

Bluehost does provide secure payment gateways for its WooCommerce stores.

Marketing Services

In addition to providing you with the services and infrastructure you need to get your website online, Bluehost offers professional marketing services to help drive visitors to your site.

Bluehost offers full-service digital marketing services. The company can help you with:

  • Search engine optimization, including the insertion keywords and the appropriate use of title tags and meta descriptions
  • Managing local listings to make sure that you can be found by those around you
  • Monthly content marketing, where Bluehost writers will write articles and create content to support organic increases in your search engine rankings.

Bluehost’s marketing services are fairly basic, but if you need help (maybe you’re too busy to tackle even one more project or you are wholly unfamiliar with the digital marketing landscape), these services might be a good option for you.

DIY for the Budget-Minded

Nevertheless, Bluehost doesn’t offer anything that you couldn’t learn to do on your own, so you can certainly go the DIY route and save yourself some money.

Alternative Hosts that Offer Marketing

  • GoDaddy offers more marketing and business services and tools than Bluehost.
  • 1&1 IONOS is another budget host that offers a decent variety of marketing services.

Weebly Site Builder

Bluehost has partnered with Weebly to provide users with an easy-to-use website builder. Since Bluehost offers a 30-day free trial, you can sign up to try out the site builder.

It features a drag-and-drop interface which makes it easy for someone with no experience to create their own website. You’ll get a selection of pre-designed websites to choose from. Then you swap out the images and text with your own content.

All the designs are “responsive” – which means they’re designed to adapt to and look good on any screen size, including mobile phone screens.

You can access the Weebly site builder from the Site Builders section of your cPanel.

If you’re trying to decide between building your site with Weebly or WordPress, here’s how the two compare:

WeeblyWordPress
Product TypeWebsite BuilderCMS
Blogging FunctionalityYesYes
Templates/Themes AvailableYesYes
Add-onsYes (Widgets)Yes (Plugins)
CostFree; can upgradeFree
Ease of UseEaseAverage

In short, Weebly is easier to use, but WordPress is more powerful and can be used in many different ways.

Email Accounts and Email Hosting

The company’s hosting plans include basic web-based email services. You can create up to 5 accounts with the Basic plan. The other accounts come with as many accounts as you like – up to the limit specified in your contract.

You have the ability to specify the parameters of each account (i.e., you might want one account to have access to more storage than the other accounts).

Bluehost’s email services support both the POP and IMAP protocols, so you should be able to use the email client of your choice without any hassle.

SpamAssassin

To help protect you from spam, all Bluehost accounts come with SpamAssassin. SpamAssassin reviews all incoming messages to identify content that indicates the message is likely to be spam.

It is available to all customers free of charge – you simply have to enable SpamAssassin in your control panel.

Business Email

If you want enterprise-grade email services, Bluehost has partnered with Microsoft Office 365 to offer you a basic package supporting email and calendar functionality for all but their lowest-level plan.

It includes 15 GB of storage for your email, as well as Outlook Web Access.

This feature is available for 30 days; after that, you have to purchase it.

Features for Developers

Bluehost’s developer tools and related interfaces are clean and easy-to-use.

Bluehost Developers

File Management

In addition to distinct tools for file and image management, you’ll get support for various types of FTP connections (including anonymous ones).

File Manager

Databases

Bluehost offers support for both MySQL and PostgreSQL databases. To manage your databases, you can use the provided wizards, or you can opt for phpMyAdmin, Remote MySQL, or phpPgAdmin.

Email

You can do more than just set up email accounts and change the amount of storage allocated to each account.

You can set up autoresponders, forwarders, and filters. You can manage mailing lists, take advantage of the calendars and contacts feature, and tackle spam.

Security

The security area allows you to set up SSH access to your account, set up hotlink protection, block IP addresses, and install SSL certificates.

Other Software and Advanced Features

Your Bluehost account also supports the use of:

  • PHP PEAR packages
  • Perl modules
  • Cron jobs
  • Apache handlers.

You don’t have full root access to your environment (unless you have a VPS or dedicated hosting package), but you still have quite a bit of control over your server even at the shared hosting level.

No Windows Hosting . . . Except in India

One thing that is conspicuously missing, however, is Windows hosting. Bluehost operates Linux servers exclusively.

Interestingly though, Bluehost India offers Linux and Windows.

Customer Service and Technical Support

Bluehost offers 24/7 technical support.

The support team can be reached via telephone, live chat, or support ticketing center.

If you prefer to begin with self-help resources, Bluehost maintains a robust knowledgebase.

Self-Help Support

In addition to the usual how-to articles, you’ll find education resources on topics like email and login management.

You’ll also find in some places video tutorials that walk you through tasks like how to install WordPress. These tend to be fairly simplistic, though they are certainly a good place to start if you’re new to web hosting.

If you want to see the full suite of Bluehost-created videos, you can take a look at the company’s YouTube channel.

Uptime, Speed, and Performance

Bluehost mentions that it offers reliable hosting, but the company does not offer specifics, nor an uptime guarantee.

However, I’ve been monitoring Bluehost’s uptime performance over the past few years, and here’s what I have seen:

  • In the past year, average uptime was 99.97%
  • The average response time was 422 ms.

Note, however, that I have changed my testing parameters in January of 2020 so that all the demo sites use a standardized WordPress install. Since that time, most hosts have seen their website speeds increase.

Bluehost was no different. Its page load times increased by roughly 300 ms – still a reasonable time. It’s uptime has not changed at all.

BlueHost Uptime

Overall, I am pleased with what I’ve seen from Bluehost. However, I’m not under the illusion that there won’t ever be problems with its hosting.

Troubleshooting Times

If there are issues, Bluehost claims that it can fix things within 15 minutes, though there are some cases where it might take longer to troubleshoot.

Bluehost won’t compensate you for any downtime, but they will allow you to cancel your subscription and receive a pro-rated refund for any time that you don’t use.

Affiliate Program

If you’re interested in partnering with Bluehost, consider joining its Affiliate Team. If you refer someone to Bluehost and they sign up, you will earn $65.

Conclusion

Bluehost is a budget-friendly provider of web hosting services that will meet the needs of many.

However, the company’s WordPress offerings are especially notable, so those using this CMS should definitely look into Bluehost.

Shared BasicShared PlusCloud Starter
Disk Space10GB100GB100GB
Bandwidth5GBUnlimitedUnlimited
Price209.85 / mo415.80 / mo530.25 / mo
PlanDisk SpaceBandwidthPrice
WooCommerceShared100GBUnlimited1067.35 / mo
VPS StandardVPS30GB1TB1143.65 / mo
WP StandardShared30GBUnlimited1525.10 / mo
VPS EnhancedVPS60GB2TB2288.05 / mo
VPS PremiumVPS120GB3TB3432.40 / mo
WP EnhancedShared60GBUnlimited4567.65 / mo
Dedicated StandardDedicated500GB5TB6102.65 / mo
Dedicated EnhancedDedicated1TB10TB7628.50 / mo
WP PremiumShared120GBUnlimited8772.90 / mo
Dedicated PremiumDedicated1TB15TB9154.35 / mo

Also Read: 2021’s Best WordPress Hosting Companies Compared (Manually Tested)

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