Bluehost is a fantastic choice for beginners who want to build their first website for their businesses or blogs. Their onboarding process and automatic WordPress installation makes everything feel very easy to use. They may not provide the best value or service, but their product just works. Learn more.
Bluehost Review – 7 Pros & 4 Cons of Bluehost (Server Speed Tested!)
July 07, 2020
If you’re flopping about, unsure whether or not to use Bluehost as your web hosting provider, worry not – you’ve stumbled on to the right page.
Here at Bitcatcha, we’re a little obsessed with web hosting (our doctors say it’s borderline unhealthy).
We’ve gone ahead and gotten ourselves a Bluehost account, run some performance tests on their shared hosting plan, and we’re ready to present to you the most definitive Bluehost review you’ll find on the internet.
But before we do that, let’s get you a little more familiarized with the web hosting provider.
A little bit about Bluehost
Founded by a very young Matt Heaton and Danny Ashworth all the way back in 2003, Bluehost has been around a LONG time.
They’re practically dinosaurs in the industry, but that ain’t a bad thing – having been around for so long means that they’ve learned a thing or two about web hosting, and are able to provide their users with a kick-ass user experience.
For a web hosting provider that’s known and used by people all over the world, Bluehost has but 1 datacenter, which is located in the US. That datacenter powers all of their clients’ websites, which adds up to a whopping 2 million, and is growing by the thousands each day!
They obviously made quite an impression in the market, because, in just 7 short years, they got the attention of web hosting giant Endurance International Group, which proceeded to acquire them into the EIG group of companies.
With the support of EIG, Bluehost managed to substantially grow their once small team to a family that’s 750 people large, allowing them to provide much needed round-the-clock support for their customers!
Not impressive enough for you?
Then check this out – Bluehost is also one of the 3 web hosting providers that are actually recommended by WordPress!
If you’re wondering why that’s impressive, it’s because 30% of sites in the entire world wide web is actually powered by WordPress. In other words, they’re the rock stars of the internet and getting an endorsement from them is similar to getting your workout gear endorsed by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
Now that you’re acquainted with Bluehost, let’s find out why, in our humble opinion, Bluehost is a pretty strong web hosting provider!
7 Great Reasons To Pick Bluehost!
1. Bluehost is surprisingly easy to use
If you’ve ever built a website before and used a web hosting service provider with a crappy interface, you’ll understand the pain of logging into the dashboard and… not knowing what to do.
Bluehost surprised us with their onboarding process. After completing the registration process, we logged in to the dashboard and before we knew it, clicked next a few times and then, *poof* magic – WordPress was already installed and ready to go.
But pictures speak a thousand words, so here are some to show you what really went down after logging in.
Bluehost will begin by asking you a series of questions about what kind of site you’ll be creating. Select an option from the drop-down menu, and hit continue. Easy-peasy.
They’ll then ask what kind of site you’ll be creating, whether it’s a blog, e-Commerce site, or a niche website selling poop scented wrapping paper.
Them pesky buggers will want to know more about your site, but worry not, because they have your best interests at heart. Name your site, think of a tagline, and rate your website building level on their noob detector scale.
All you have to do next is pick a theme you like, and then…
…boom, WordPress is automatically installed just like that! No need to worry about getting it installed in the wrong folder, or drastically messing something up.
Bluehost will take care of the backend, while you just need to worry about customizing your site and making it look pretty.
If you’re new to site building, I’m pretty sure you have no problems at all creating your site with Bluehost. Even those of us that are a little more seasoned will appreciate how convenient their dashboard is to use.
Look out how beautiful that custom cPanel interface looks. None of that confusing looking dated mess that comes with stock cPanel.
2. They’re surprisingly fast around the world!
According to thinkwithgoogle, fast site load speeds are important for online businesses to be successful, and server response time plays a HUGE role in getting websites to load up fast.
However, with merely 1 datacenter located in the USA, we didn’t think Bluehost would do very well when put through our proprietary server speed test.
Using our test site hosted on their basic plan, we went to town and started testing their response times – boy, we were dead wrong.
The American hosting provider responded exceptionally well, hitting speeds that are WAY faster than Google’s recommended 200ms in all countries, except for Bangalore.
They’re obviously fastest in the USA as the datacenter is located there, but they’re no slouch in countries on the other side of the world like Singapore, Sydney and Japan!
With an average worldwide score of 153ms, Bluehost is one of the fastest A-ranked hosting providers we’ve ever had the pleasure of reviewing. You can rest assured that no matter where your target audience resides in the world, Bluehost will be able to deliver!
Well… except if your audience is in India. You might want to check out our piece on the best web hosting for India instead.
3. They’ve got High-Performance servers
Those of you with plans to run large scale e-Commerce websites or reddit-like forums would be happy to know that Bluehost offers High-Performance Servers that are suitable for your needs.
Why is this important?
Well, with shared web hosting, the purpose of the server is literally in the name – you’re sharing the space with other users, which helps reduce the cost.
However, some users might accidentally (or intentionally) use up way more resources than allocated, which means that everyone else sharing the server with that user will experience site slowdowns – sometimes their sites won’t even load at all.
With High-Performance Servers, Bluehost allocates fewer users per server, and each user is given a file count of 300,000 – this means more computing resources per user, consistent site load speeds, and less downtime caused by rogue users!
As it is with all things good, there’s always a catch.
Their High-Performance servers are only available with their Pro plan, which is a whole lot pricier than the rest of their shared web hosting plans.
Guess if you want good performance, you’ve gotta pay for it.
Quite frankly, we have every confidence in their servers. Our test site is hosted only with their Basic plan, and even then, the uptime for it has been 100% since April 2018!
Uptime since April 2018
If their shared hosting servers can produce such uptimes, we can easily expect the same from their High-Performance servers.
4. Fantastic security features
When we say security, we don’t mean features that just keeps your website safe from those fiendish, ne’er do well hackers.
We’re talking about security in terms of peace of mind, and keeping spam away from the sanctuary of your brand new email inbox.
Let’s look into peace of mind first.
You don’t want to spend days, weeks, months, customizing and tweaking your business website to get it to look perfect and suited to rank on the front of page Google, only to load it up to discover that someone screwed the pooch and your entire website is gone.
For this, Bluehost provides their users with CodeGuard basic – at $2.99 a month.
The name sounds cool, but it’s actually just a fancy name they came up with for their daily backup service. It’s not bad at all – monitoring your website/database frequently, notifying you if there are any changes, and automatically performing backups.
The basic version provides 1GB storage space, daily backup and monitoring, and 3 restorations a month.
If you need more, CodeGuard comes in Professional, Premium, and Enterprise versions too, but be prepared to pay higher prices for those.
We assure you, Bluehost won’t be sending someone that can tell you the nuances between different types of pork used in SPAM products.
Instead, SpamExperts is their term for an advanced email filter. It scans incoming emails for spam, viruses, phishing, and other email-related attacks by spammers, and filters them with a rockin’ 99.98% accuracy, all before it reaches your inbox.
Basically, it helps your mailbox stay squeaky clean and junk-free.
In terms of actually protecting your website, Bluehost comes with a basic firewall that offers a minimal level of protection against external threats.
However, If you want enhanced protection, you can get it in the form of SiteLock.
SiteLock comes in three tiers: Essential, Prevent, and Prevent Plus.
With Essential, you’ll get to enjoy automatic Malware removal, which does exactly nothing against DDOS attacks or anything major.
With Prevent, the security level is upped a little with Automatic Malware Removal, DDoS Protection, 6-hour response time and….Image Optimization. Quite frankly, I don’t know what image optimization has to do with security, but it’s a feature I won’t be complaining about.
Prevent Plus does everything Prevent can, but with the added benefit of having daily scan frequency.
SiteLock is good and all, but the thing is, they all come as an add-on, meaning we’re gonna need to fork out more money to enjoy it. Come on Bluehost, you can afford to give your customers a little extra security for free!
5. They’ve got a buffet of benefits
Gone are the days where you have to carefully plan out the number of sites you’re planning to launch, and the kind of resources needed to run all of it effectively.
Bluehost’s shared hosting plans come with all sorts of benefits, and best of all, almost everything is unlimited! We’re talking:
- Unlimited websites
- Unlimited SSD storage
- Unlimited parked domains
- Unlimited subdomains
- Unmetered bandwidth
You are basically free to create as many sites as you want with them! And you won’t have to worry about the number of visitors to your site!
Be wary though – having too many visitors at the same time might take up too much resources, and Bluehost is notorious for deactivating/deleting rogue sites.
6. Support responds very fast!
One of the most infuriating things in life is waiting for support to respond to you, especially if your site needs attention NOW.
While we were setting up our test site, we were quite pleased to find that support responded via Live Chat very quickly. We’re accustomed to waiting at least 15 minutes for live chat support staff to respond, but the Bluehost support team consistently responded in less than 5 minutes.
We didn’t try phone or email support, but with live chat responding as quick as they do, we hardly think that those methods of support are necessary, although it’s nice to have in case of emergencies.
You won’t have to worry about support in different time zones either, because Bluehost’s support is available 24/7.
Excellent job, team!
7. Freebies that matter
Some companies will entice you to sign up with their service with shallow free gifts. We’re talking about those that market regular services as “free”, such as “free” 24/7 support, or “free” WordPress installation.
With the all-American web hosting service provider, you’ll actually get freebies that’ll make a difference in your bank account.
With every shared hosting plan purchased, Bluehost will throw in a domain name, free for the first year. To put things in perspective for you, domain names can cost anywhere from $8 to $872 million – yes you read that right. Here’s proof.
Aside from that, you’ll also get the enjoy free SSL – now this might not be much, but every little bit definitely helps to make a difference to the small business owner!
4 Disadvantages Of Bluehost
They say that every rose has its thorn. Well, turns out Bluehost is quite thorny.
1. Bluehost only has 1 datacenter
We mentioned previously that we were quite impressed by how fast Bluehost’s 1 datacenter performed, and we still are.
However, every millisecond counts when it comes to site load speed, and we know they can actually perform WAY better if they had datacenters in other continents to support audiences living further away.
They might have one of the best worldwide average speeds among all the web hosting services we’ve reviewed, but if another hosting provider like SiteGround has a datacenter in Asia, it’s a given that sites will load up faster for target audiences located there.
2. Untrained trainees
I hate to say this because we all start out somewhere, but you really have to be wary of support that are a little wet behind the ears.
Bluehost doesn’t really make an effort to hide that they outsource their support team to India, which isn’t really a big deal anyway. I don’t mind, as long as they’re efficient and fast.
But what I do have a problem is incorrect advice given by trainees.
While setting up our test site, we asked the support team one really simple question:
“Does Bluehost provide us with an Uptime Guarantee?”
The support didn’t know what an uptime guarantee was.
Fine, maybe it got lost in translation. We explained what we were looking for and their reply was YES, Bluehost has an uptime guarantee!
So we asked him to point us to the terms of the guarantee and after going through it, we discovered that the provider does not actually guarantee uptime.
Lucky that this is just a minor issue. God forbid this young support chap gives the wrong advice regarding something major and causes some real damage to our sites.
Bluehost, if you’re reading this, PLEASE train your trainees. This is not acceptable.
3. No uptime guarantee
After ranting about it in the earlier point, I can’t really not talk about the lack of uptime guarantee here.
Downtime is quite detrimental to any website. You lose potential sales or conversions if your site is experiencing downtime, and if it’s consistent enough, search engines might not even bother listing your site.
This is why an uptime guarantee is important.
It shows you that the provider is committed to keeping your site up and running, and they’re willing to compensate customers if they face downtimes of below a certain percentage.
Not having one is a giant red flag in our books.
That being said, we have to give Bluehost props – their uptime is actually fantastic, as evidenced by the uptime data collected from our test site.
For the lazy, it’s been at 100% since April 2008. Quite an impressive feat!
4. Dodgy checkout practices
Pretty sure everyone reading this will be familiar with the sleazy used car salesman that tries to slyly upsell you things you don’t really need just to make a higher sale.
Making a purchase with Bluehost feels a little bit like we’re dealing with people of that sort.
Upon checkout, the box for SEO tools and Sitelock will be checked, which pushes the price up to close to $60 a year.
These things are nice to have but are completely unnecessary, and unsuspecting buyers might just click next and make the purchase unknowingly – which happened to me.
Make sure you uncheck these boxes before making your purchase (unless you actually want these features).
Bluehost Plan & Pricing
Bluehost’s shared hosting comes with (but not limited to) 3 plans – Basic, Choice Plus, and Pro.
# of Website
* Price shown is based on 12-month subscription rate.
Pro tip – sign up for 36 months to enjoy lower prices, else you’ll be paying quite a fair bit more for renewals. Renewal prices (monthly) are $7.99, $14.99 & $23.99, in that order from Basic to Pro.
If you’re in need of VPS hosting, Bluehost’s virtual private servers are sure to please. Supported with SSD storage, you’ll enjoy all the power, flexibility and control you’ll need for your VPS needs.
Plans range from $18.99 – $59.99 a month.
Bluehost’s dedicated hosting plans allow users to have unrestricted access to their servers. With their industry-leading robust platform, you’ll get to enjoy powerful flexible hosting at decent prices.
Their dedicated hosting plans range from $79.99 – $119.99 per month.
How Does Bluehost Fare Against The Competition
Bluehost VS SiteGround
So, how do we compare Bluehost against SiteGround? Well, via our server speed test of course. Let’s see how they perform when compared side by side.
Right off the bat, we can see that SiteGround’s global average is already quicker than Bluehost’s, by a whopping 16.1 ms!
16.1 ms is actually a very short amount of time if you think about it (to provide context, a single blink takes about 100 ms) but as we mentioned earlier, every millisecond counts when it comes to web hosting, and 16.1 ms makes a HUGE difference in site load speed.
SiteGround also has the upper hand when it comes to datacenters – they’ve got 6 of these bad boys spread across 3 continents, so if you’re targeting overseas audiences, you can just pick the server closest to them and you won’t have to worry about sluggish response times.
Bluehost also loses brownie points because SiteGround utilizes their Supercacher and optimized software to deliver data quickly – things Bluehost are sorely missing in their arsenal.
For more in-depth comparison, read our write-up on SiteGround VS Bluehost.
Bluehost VS Hostinger
In terms of pricing, Hostinger provides a whole lot more bang for your buck, as their prices are way lower AND they’ve got more features.
Our Hostinger test site utilizes their Premium Shared Hosting plan which only costs $2.89 a month with their 48-month contract.
Bluehost’s Basic plan costs $3.95 a month with their 36-month contract.
In short, Hostinger’s Premium plan is priced lower than Bluehost’s Basic plan.
Let’s have a look at what each company has to offer, side by side.
* Price shown is based on lowest rate available.
In terms of datacenters, Hostinger has the upper hand with 6 all over the world, catering to audiences everywhere.
Hostinger also has an uptime guarantee as a commitment to keep your site up at all times, and a localised support team that knows what they’re doing!
Having said all that, we do prefer Bluehost’s custom UI over Hostinger’s though.
Verdict: Bluehost is good, but not the best choice!
Just because we didn’t pick Bluehost to be the best web hosting brand, doesn’t mean that they’re not a good service provider.
They’re actually pretty decent, providing their users with fast enough speeds worldwide to ensure their users’ sites are loaded fast enough to generate a healthy amount of sales.
With superb useability and great UX, Bluehost is fantastic for beginners. Their WordPress recommendation should speak volumes about their service.
One thing we need to mention is that Bluehost is still using cPanel, which is great news for those of us that are accustomed to using it. Since cPanel increased their prices, most web hosting providers have decided to dump them, but so far there seems to be no indication of Bluehost dropping cPanel.
However, the lack of an uptime guarantee got us pretty peeved, as most major providers have the balls to provide some sort of compensation if their users’ sites are down for a certain amount of time.
The very fact that the companies are willing to put their money where their mouth is, inspires confidence. Bluehost does exactly the opposite without an uptime guarantee… what if the websites hosted with them go down for an entire week?
Anyone can promise to “strive to maintain network and server uptime” but it means completely jack if they can’t sack up and foot the bill when shit hits the fan.
However, credit where credit is due – we’ve never had a problem with Bluehost’s actual uptime before. As a matter of fact, the uptime has been 100% on our test site since April 2018!
Our humble opinion is that Bluehost is a pretty strong hosting provider. They may not be the fastest and they may not be the best, but if you’re just looking to host a simple website, they’ve got all the tools you’ll need to do so effectively.
- ✓ Fantastic Speed
- ✓ Great UX
- ✓ Sufficient Resources
- ✓ Free Domain
- ✓ SpamExpert
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