Bluehost Review: Is It the Best Host for Your Site? | 2023
Best Overall Hosting Provider on the Market
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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 research of the top hosting providers, and compared our findings for each provider in order to rank them as accurately as possible. The good news is that Bluehost secured the number one spot, scoring 4.8 out of 5 overall. Bluehost’s particular strengths are VPS, dedicated, and WordPress hosting.
Who Is Bluehost Best For?
Bluehost’s range of hosting types, strong features, and affordable beginner plans make it a dependable hosting provider. 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, scoring 4.6 out of 5, and WordPress itself has been recommending Bluehost since 2005. We also think it’s pretty great for ecommerce website hosting, if that’s your kind of thing.
In the video below, Bluehost customer ‘Melty Way’ (a grilled cheese sandwich restaurant in Utah) discusses how Bluehost has helped to grow their small business:
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.
Pros and Cons
- Seamless WordPress integration: It couldn’t be easier to set up a WordPress site through Bluehost
- Budget-level pricing: Bluehost has an overall value score of 4.7 out of 5 – 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
- Dependable features: Bluehost’s plans are rich in features, including unmetered bandwidth, a free domain, and cPanel access
- Limited basic plans: Bluehost’s cheapest plans won’t be enough if you’re looking to grow online, but it can get you started on your journey
- Unreliable uptime: Sadly, Bluehost performed poorly in our site speed and uptime testing, despite an advertised uptime of 99.98%
Reliability and Performance
Bluehost has an advertised 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.
Don’t get too excited, though! We tested Bluehost’s site speed and uptime, and despite it having the wow factor in other hosting areas, Bluehost is hugely let down when it comes to uptime performance, scoring only 3 out of 5. Other hosting providers, such as HostGator and IONOS, received scores over 4!
Types of Hosting and Features
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
Bluehost is a strong choice for any hosting type, but we know, thanks to our research, that it excels at VPS, dedicated, and WordPress hosting. In fact, in some areas Bluehost has shot up from third place into the winning spot – for example, it now scores 4.6 out of 5 for VPS hosting and a whopping 4.9 out of 5 for dedicated hosting!
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.
This step-by-step tutorial shows just how easy it is to setup a WordPress website with Bluehost:
Other Bluehost Features
Seamless WordPress integration is Bluehost’s most impressive feature, but definitely not its only feature. Though Bluehost only scores 3.3 and 3.8 out of 5 for shared and VPS features, respectively, its dedicated and WordPress hosting plans have excellent features, both scoring 4.4 out of 5. 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 doesn't include the domain registration fee (between $10-15), 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 10GB 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 10GB plan will be fine, and you can always upgrade if you need more space.|
The fact that you can get so much in one place is a big draw for customers. When we reached out to our email database for first-hand experiences of Bluehost, Steffi, a consultant, said:
“I used Bluehost, because I could do it all in one place: domain registration, email-admin, hosting, unlimited sub-spaces. The documentation was very good and what I needed at the time.”
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.
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Bluehost ranks highly in our research for value for money, with a score of 4.7 out of 5 overall. Additionally, Bluehost scores the best for price when it comes to VPS, dedicated, and WordPress hosting. The best part? All Bluehost plans come with a 30-day money back guarantee.
Shared hosting offers Bluehost’s cheapest plan, at $2.95 per month for the first year and $9.99 per month after that. Dedicated hosting, understandably, offers the most expensive plans, starting at $99.99 for a 12-month term.
Bluehost Starting Prices:
For consistency across our hosting reviews, we’ll be focusing on Bluehost’s starting prices with a 12-month term. If you commit to a longer period of time, the price will usually be cheaper!
- Shared hosting: $2.95 per month, renews at $9.99 per month
- Shared WordPress hosting: $2.65 per month, renews at $8.98 per month
- WooCommerce hosting: $7.95 per month, renews at $24.95 per month
- VPS hosting: $24.99 per month, renews at $39.99 per month
- Managed WordPress hosting: $24.95 per month, renews at $29.99 per month
- Dedicated hosting: $99.99 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. After all, Bluehost is the best hosting provider for dedicated hosting, scoring 4.9 out of 5 in our testing. The answer to the question 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
Take a look at the table below to compare our top three hosting providers when it comes to pricing. Again, we’ve focused on 12-month subscriptions to keep the comparison fair.
|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 that massive, then we recommend starting with Bluehost’s shared or shared WordPress hosting plans. They’re the cheapest, and still offer a decent variety of features, but Bluehost’s shared hosting does only score 3.1 out of 5 in our price testing.
That being said, Bluehost’s dedicated hosting plans are unbeatable when it comes to value for money, scoring 4.4 out of 5. Expensive, yes, but cost-effective!
Plus, Bluehost’s dedicated plans have only improved over time. As we’ve already said, Bluehost’s dedicated hosting scores 4.9 out of 5 in our latest research, but it had a previous score of 4.5!
Besides, when your site outgrows these shared plans, you can always upgrade to the pricier but better-equipped options, such as Bluehost’s excellent dedicated hosting offerings.
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:
When we reached out to our email database for reviews of Bluehost, the price of add-ons came up as an area for improvement. One reader said:
“[Bluehost is] pricey. The more add-ons you buy, the more expensive it is.”
When asked about the one improvement they’d make to Bluehost, the same reader suggested:
“Create different level bundles for add-ons and features.”
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.
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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 from $49.99 per 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.
We know a large proportion of you read our hosting reviews because you’re unhappy with your current hosting provider, and looking to switch. With this in mind, we’ve examined how easy it is to make the switch to Bluehost.
The good news is, it’s pretty simple. There’s a DIY approach we’ll cover in brief below, or you can pay Bluehost to move your site for you. There’s even a bonus free migration on offer for qualifying websites:
1. Moving your own site to Bluehost
Doing the migration process yourself is pretty simple with Bluehost, because it uses the standard cPanel dashboard, so you can follow a general guide to migrating your site (like ours!) without encountering any surprises.
It’s a step-by-step process which can take some time, and people without much technical confidence may feel nervous giving it a go.
2. Paying for site migration
For $149.99, Bluehost will take complete control of moving your site to its servers (you can actually move up to five websites and 20 email accounts for this price).
Bluehost guarantees no downtime in this process, and 24/7 support during and after it’s complete. For many people, just having someone else own this process will be worth every penny.
It’s worth noting that this service is not available for reseller, VPS, or dedicated server accounts.
Not many hosting providers offer such an end to end migration service, so that’s a huge tick in the box for us!
3. Free site migration for (most) WordPress sites
Some WordPress sites are actually eligible to be migrated to Bluehost free of charge! Just fill in the form on Bluehost’s website once you’ve signed up for a hosting plan, and as long as there aren’t any complicated extras, a Bluehost expert will migrate your site free of charge!
Help and Support
Bluehost has a variety of support options, including live chat, email support tickets, and 24/7 phone support. For each hosting type, Bluehost scores an average 3.5 out of 5 for help and support, but it peaks at 4.6 out of 5 for WordPress hosting 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.”
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 is an excellent choice if help and support are important for you. That being said, no hosting provider can beat HostGator for quality support.
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, features and WordPress integration are also standout strengths for Bluehost. It performs well in value for money too, scoring an overall 4.7 out of 5 for price – just 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 with every Bluehost plan. In fact, the most basic, bare-bones plan you can purchase with Bluehost (the Basic shared hosting plan, $2.95/month introductory price) still comes with:
- 10 GB SSD storage
- Unmetered bandwidth
- Free SSL certificate (remember those?!)
- Free domain for 1 year
- 1 domain
- 5 parked domains
- 25 sub domains
And if you venture one tier upwards to the Plus Shared plan (at an introductory price of $3.95/month), the number of websites, domains, parked domains, and sub domains all become unlimited, plus you’ll double your storage amount. Plus Bluehost’s shared hosting plans also gives you 30 free days with one Office 365 mailbox, and anti-spam email filtering through Spam Experts.
Heads up!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.
- How Much Should a Domain Name Cost?: Take a look at our article to get the lowdown on how much a domain could cost.
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Bluehost Review: Summary
Thanks to our hosting research, we can confidently say Bluehost is the best overall hosting provider, scoring 4.8 out of 5. It comes in first ahead of hosting heavyweights such as HostGator, InMotion, and GoDaddy.
In individual categories, Bluehost ranks first for VPS, dedicated, and WordPress hosting. It’s also the best hosting provider to manage an ecommerce site with.
If feature-rich plans, reliable help and support, and affordable plans are what you’re after, look no further! Despite additional costs and extras to consider, Bluehost’s our top choice for a reason.
Our conclusion? It all depends on your site goals – but if you’re looking for affordability and reliability, Bluehost is a solid hosting provider.
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