Best Overall Hosting Provider
Is Bluehost Web Hosting for You?
Spend a few minutes researching the best web hosting providers, and Bluehost will be on your radar almost immediately – it’s widely used and hugely popular. But what sets Bluehost apart from the pack? Does it have exactly what you’re looking for, or would another provider be a better fit?
We’ll cover the most important deciding factors in-depth, but to start, here’s Bluehost at a glance:
We’ve conducted our own user testing of the top hosting providers, and compared our findings for each provider in order to rank each as accurately as possible. Bluehost’s particular strengths were customer support, server uptime, and value for money.
Who Is Bluehost Best For?
Bluehost’s customer support, strong uptime, and affordable beginner plans make it a dependable hosting provider. If you’re looking for old-fashioned reliability, Bluehost is a great choice. That’s why we’ve rated it the best overall hosting provider on the market. Bluehost is also the best choice you can make if you’re hosting a WordPress site – it’s earned the title of best for WordPress hosting in our research, and WordPress.org itself has been recommending Bluehost since 2005. We also think it’s pretty great for photography website hosting, if that’s your kind of thing.
Utah-based Bluehost came onto the scene in 2003. Since then, it’s become one of the leading providers of web hosting services, and is currently owned by The Endurance International Group, which also owns competitor HostGator. Bluehost currently powers more than two million websites worldwide, primarily out of its data center in Utah.
- Dependable server uptime: Bluehost offers a super-competitive uptime guarantee of 99.98%
- Seamless WordPress integration: it couldn’t be easier to set up a WordPress site through Bluehost
- Budget-level pricing: prices are still competitive even after the first year, and a variety of tiered pricing plans means there’s an affordable option for every site
- Additional costs: tons of optional add-ons will sneak into your cart at checkout, and it’s up to you to uncheck those items before you buy
- Storage: Bluehost offers a small amount of storage on its Basic plan compared to competitors
We said Bluehost was dependable, and we meant it: Bluehost has a great uptime guarantee of 99.98%. No web host can provide 100% uptime, so 99.98% is a strong showing – it translates to roughly one hour and 45 minutes of downtime per year. That’s second only to Hostgator, which offers 99.99% uptime.
Bluehost offers six different types of hosting: Shared, Shared WordPress, WooCommerce, VPS, Managed WordPress, and Dedicated. We’ve broken down the details of each type in our Bluehost Pricing Review, but generally, you can think of the differences like this:
- Shared: the cheapest and easiest general service
- Shared WordPress: the cheapest and easiest way to host a WordPress site
- WooCommerce: the best way to host an online store with WordPress
- VPS: not as expensive as dedicated hosting, and still good for business sites that need to go beyond the basics
- Managed WordPress: even more features for your hosted WordPress site
- Dedicated: the most expensive, but also the most powerful hosting service
WordPress and Bluehost
WordPress recommends Bluehost as its number one web hosting provider – and that’s no small feat, coming from a company that’s dealt with innumerable web hosts in its time. If you’re already set on having a WordPress site, then Bluehost is the best web host to go with. And if you’re already set on Bluehost, then you should definitely consider setting up your site with WordPress.org – you can install it through your Bluehost dashboard with just one click.
Other Bluehost Features
Seamless WordPress integration is Bluehost’s most impressive feature, but definitely not its only feature. We’ve compiled the rest of Bluehost’s best offerings below:
|Domain registration||Bluehost offers a free domain to certain users when they sign up for a one-year plan. However, that perk does not include the domain registration fee (between $10 to $15), which you’ll still have to pay for.|
|Website builder||There’s a drag-and-drop site builder for those who have an idea of what they want to create, but don’t have sharp enough HTML and CSS skills.|
|Data transfer||Bluehost offers unlimited data transfer on many of its plans. However, Bluehost also provides CPU Protection – more on this below.|
|cPanel||Bluehost uses the “cPanel” Control Panel, which is a popular site management system. The company also offers free backups so you don’t lose any key site files.|
|Storage||Depending on the plan you use, Bluehost offers anything from 50GB up to unlimited storage space for your site files. If all you plan to do is run a WordPress blog with words and images, then the 50GB plan will be fine, as it will take a while to use up that much storage.|
One common web hosting feature that Bluehost lacks is free migration. If you’re looking to migrate an existing site to Bluehost, the provider will only do so at a cost of $149.99. The good news is that this charge covers the migration of up to 5 websites and 20 email accounts.
Bluehost employs a policy called CPU Protection for all plans that use shared hosting. When you use shared hosting, it means that your site is not the only one on a given server. That’s why Bluehost (and other providers) can offer web hosting so cheaply: no one is paying to run their own server.
However, this does mean that all the sites on a given server need equal access to hardware resources. That’s where CPU Protection comes in. If your site makes excessive demands on the server, then it is deliberately denied access to extra hardware resources. The end result is that your site may become inaccessible, or incredibly slow.
Bluehost ranks highly in our research for value for money, with a score of 4.6/5. The best part? All Bluehost plans come with a 30-day money back guarantee. Shared hosting is Bluehost’s cheapest plan, at $2.95/month for the first year and $7.99/month after that. Dedicated hosting is the most expensive plan, starting at $79.99/month.
Bluehost Starting Prices:
- Shared hosting: $2.95 per month, renews at $7.99 per month
- Shared WordPress hosting: $2.95 per month, renews at $7.99 per month
- WooCommerce hosting: $6.95 per month, renews at $13.99 per month
- VPS hosting: $18.99 per month, renews at $29.99 per month
- Managed WordPress hosting: $19.95 per month, renews at $29.99 per month
- Dedicated hosting: $79.99 per month, renews at $119.99 per month
With such a steep introductory price, you might be wondering if Dedicated hosting is a worthy investment for anyone. The answer is yes, it is, but only for someone running a massive site. A dedicated server means that your site is the only site on the server, and can use all of its resources. Dedicated plans make sense for sites that generate huge levels of traffic (like a successful ecommerce brand). It’s definitely something you work your way up to, though – no website has to start out on a dedicated plan!
Bluehost Pricing vs Competitor Pricing
|Provider||Shared Hosting||VPS Hosting||Dedicated Hosting||WordPress Hosting|
Which Plan Is the Best Value for Money?
If you’re new to web hosting or your site isn’t massive, then we recommend starting with Bluehost’s Shared or Shared WordPress plans. They’re the cheapest, and still offer a decent variety of features. When your site outgrows these shared plans, you can always upgrade to the pricier but better-equipped options.
Bluehost Additional Costs
Unfortunately, most hosting providers will fill your virtual basket with add-on items during checkout. These odds and ends will hike up the price of your plan, but you can always uncheck them before making your purchase.
However, some of these additional items will be worth the money, depending on the type of website you’re looking to get off the ground. Here’s an overview of the most common extras you’ll run into:
Learn more about these extra items, and whether or not you’ll need them, in our full Bluehost Pricing Review.
Canceling Your Bluehost Plan
Bluehost’s 30-day money back guarantee means that you get some time to test out the platform and see if it’s for you. But it’s important to make this decision within the first 30 days, because afterwards, Bluehost doesn’t offer any refunds or cancellations.
The best indication of a secure website is an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate. SSL certificates let users know that any information they share on your site will be safe, and these certificates are indicated by the padlock icon and the “https” at the beginning of a web address.
Every Bluehost plan comes with a free SSL certificate, so you never have to worry about visitors getting a warning that your site is insecure. For more advanced security, you can also purchase a premium SSL certificate at $49.99/year. This would be a worthy investment for ecommerce sites, or any site where users will be logging in with a username and password and/or providing sensitive information (like credit card details).
Other free Bluehost security features include Spam Assassin protection, hotlink protection, and Secure Shell access. Basically, Bluehost includes more than enough security measures to get a standard site off the ground – but if you’re looking to scale your site or sell online, you may want to invest in a few extras.
Bluehost offers a lot of additional security measures to choose from, but they can quickly add up and increase your bill, so it’s important to choose wisely. For example, SiteLock Find (advanced security for ecommerce) only costs $1.99/month, but if you want to buy it, it must be billed annually at $23.88/year. That’s still not a lot to ensure the protection of your online shoppers, but it can be hard not to feel blindsided at checkout.
Bluehost ranks number one in our research for customer support, earning a perfect 5/5. It has a variety of support options, including live chat, email support tickets, and 24/7 phone support. One user rated Bluehost’s customer support as “top notch,” citing his own experiences with the live chat option:
“I’ve had a few issues caused mainly by my own errors, and they’ve always helped me rectify them. They’re easy to contact via live chat, and I genuinely don’t think I’ve had to wait more than ten minutes to chat to someone.”
…But we wanted firsthand knowledge of Bluehost’s customer support, so we tried it out ourselves. Specifically, we tested the ease-of-use and effectiveness of two important features: Bluehost’s knowledge base, and Bluehost’s live chat. Overall, these features exceeded our expectations by 9%. Although we were impressed in both areas, we were more impressed by Bluehost’s expansive, searchable knowledge center than its live chat capabilities. We would have liked Bluehost’s live chat team to make it clearer how we could reach the same team member again in the future, in case we had more questions.
However, there’s still a lot to like about Bluehost’s live chat feature. When we tested it ourselves, agents’ responsiveness to our questions singled Bluehost out from other top competitors:
“All my questions were answered quickly and accurately, and the conversation felt friendly and natural throughout.”
But it wasn’t just response time that impressed our testers, it was also response quality:
“The agent always responded with relevant and helpful information, often including links and longer replies than I was expecting. They definitely seemed knowledgeable, and in a good position to help me.”
And if live chat isn’t your preferred method of communication, Bluehost offers three different technical support numbers that you can call instead, depending on your needs:
- General enquiries
- VPS and dedicated hosting
- WordPress assistance
A nice thing about Bluehost’s website is that it offers instant answers right on the primary help page for some of the more common issues. Say, for example, you can’t figure out how to transfer your WordPress site from another host – you can click on that issue on the help page, then be shown multiple ways to solve your issue, including a help article, live chat, and the specific phone number you should call.
If you’re feeling especially tech-savvy, it’s worth trying to find the answer yourself on Bluehost’s support forums. It’s often quicker to do the research independently, and it will ultimately provide a better understanding of how a site works.
In general, Bluehost surpassed our customer service expectations the most compared to the three other hosting providers we tested. For example, where Bluehost exceeded our expectations by 9%, HostGator only exceeded them by 3%. Other providers like A2 Hosting and InMotion didn’t even meet our customer service expectations, which started at a baseline of 80%.
Bluehost customers are most impressed with the platform’s help and support services. One user named Robin wrote:
“I’ve used Bluehost for over five years on my WordPress website. I’ve had a couple of times when my site has gone down due to installed plugin problems, and I couldn’t figure out what to do. Each time they helped me fix the issue quickly. Highly recommended.”
Michael, another Bluehost user, had this to say:
“I’m not a website expert, so I think it’s better to ask someone before I click around and break something. Whenever I’ve had a question, I’ve used the live chat – with an average waiting time of three seconds for someone to join me. I’ve always received a quick, clear answer from a friendly rep in under five minutes.”
Aside from customer support, uptime and WordPress integration are also standout strengths for Bluehost. It performs well in value for money, too – as long as you remember to keep your eyes peeled for add-on costs during checkout. Michael even went on to write:
“Just read everything carefully to know what you’re signing up for. Also, pay attention to the plans and extras – know what your website requires, and simply avoid the rest.”
And we’d have to agree!
Many Bluehost customers have expressed frustration with the lack of pre-installed features. It’s true that Bluehost has a lot to offer, but it’s also true that you have to actively pick and choose which of those offerings you want on your site – and often at an additional cost.
We now know about the additional costs that must be purchased outside of your Bluehost plan. But there are a lot of additions that do come included in every Bluehost plan. In fact, the most basic, bare-bones plan you can purchase with Bluehost (the Basic Shared plan, $2.75/month introductory price) still comes with:
- 50 GB SSD storage
- Unmetered bandwidth
- Free SSL certificate (remember those?!)
- 1 domain included
- 5 parked domains
- 25 sub domains
And if you venture one tier upwards to the Plus Shared plan (at an introductory price of $4.95/month), the number of websites, SSD storage, domains, parked domains, and sub domains all become unlimited. Plus Shared also gives you 30 free days with one Office 365 mailbox, and anti-spam email filtering through Spam Experts.
Bluehost isn’t just a hosting provider – it also functions as a domain name registrar, which means you can search for and purchase a domain without using a third-party service. It also means you can manage your domain registration and hosting services from the same account.
In our overall hosting rankings, Bluehost comes in first, ahead of hosting heavyweights such as HostGator and GoDaddy. In individual categories, Bluehost ranks first for customer service, second for uptime, and second for value for money. It’s also the best hosting provider to manage a WordPress site with.
If seamless features are your top priority, then you may be better off with InMotion rather than Bluehost – as we’ve seen, Bluehost’s extras and additional costs can be confusing.
Our conclusion? It all depends on your site goals – but if you’re looking for affordability and reliability, Bluehost is a solid provider.
Yes! While Bluehost is particularly easy to use for WordPress sites, it’s not a necessity, and other website builders will work just fine.
Server status refers to the state of your web server – in other words, a good status means that there are no outages that could lead to downtime. Bluehost allows you to check your website’s server status at any time by searching your domain here.
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