Bluehost: web hosting review
Founded in 2003, Bluehost has spent the past two decades establishing itself as one of the largest web hosting providers, home to over two million domain names. In addition to providing a range of shared, VPS and dedicated hosting plans, the provider has focused its energy over the past 10 years on being the best WordPress hosting provider in the market.
The hosting provider prides itself on plans optimized for WordPress and WooCommerce hosting. Bluehost has an experienced team of WordPress specialists available to tackle any queries you may throw at them to get the most out of your server deployment.
While the plans may seem slightly more expensive than its peers, a quick look at the features on offer will dispel such notions. Unlike some other hosting providers that charge a premium for some of the most basic features such as SSL certificates, Bluehost offers a number of such features as part of all its plans.
Bluehost doesn’t offer low-priced under-powered plans that lack essential features, forcing you to upgrade to the more expensive premium plans. You can take advantage of the 30-day free trial to determine if Bluehost’s plans can serve your needs before making a long term commitment.
Pricing and payment methods
You can get the Basic hosting plan for £2.42 per month for a three-year term, but it renews at £8.20/month excl. VAT per month thereafter. Although the 50GB storage space should suffice for most professionals and even SMBs, you can only deploy a single website on this plan, which isn’t geared for ecommerce.
|1 year (promo)||£2.42 /Month||£4.47 /Month||£4.47 /Month||£11.45 /Month|
|1 year (renewal)||£8.20 /Month||£12.30 /Month||£15.59 /Month||£23.80 /Month|
If you wish to deploy more than one website, the ChoicePlus plan makes more sense. You can get it for £4.47 /Month for a one-year subscription. Apart from everything else on offer with the Basic plan, you also get automated backups for a year, free domain privacy, unlimited storage and websites and even Office 360, albeit for only 30 days.
Bluehost also offers Managed WordPress hosting, which makes sense for those that don’t want to devote time and resources to maintaining their WordPress deployment. The three plans on offer restrict the number of WordPress sites you want managed, one, three or five. The cheapest managed WordPress plan is priced at £2.42 /Month and boasts of 20GB storage space but caps the monthly visitors to 50,000.
Additionally, Bluehost offers a choice of two WooCommerce plans, which are optimized for hosting an ecommerce website and come with standard features for the same such as an online store, email marketing, payment processing, etc. If you want even more features such as subscriptions and product customizations, amongst others, you must opt for Bluehost’s premium plan, priced at £23.80 /Month per month for a one-year subscription.
If you want more CPU and storage resources, your only recourse is to choose from Bluehost’s VPS or Dedicated hosting plans.
Depending on the plan you choose, Bluehost will automatically load add-on products to your cart that it thinks might serve your needs, such as CodeGuard, Spam Protection, SEO tools, etc. Make sure to double-check your cart and purchase before you make the payment.
The hosting provider offers a 30-day free trial for all the hosting plans. Should you cancel the subscription before the end of the trial period, you get a full refund of the hosting service. That said, add-on expenses such as a domain name, and most additional features are not refundable.
While Bluehost doesn’t support payment through Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, it accepts all other forms of payments such as most major credit and debit cards, PayPal Instant Payments, Cheque & Money Order (US only).
Bluehost support starts on the website with a convenient system alert page. Not only does this provide general warnings about major outages, but you can also use it to check information on any domain or server (this even lets you see server load.)
Bluehost’s knowledgebase organizes its content into various well-chosen categories: FAQ, Domains, Email, WordPress, Control Panel, Account and more.
Click any category and the site displays a decent choice of starting articles. For example, click Email and you’ll see articles including Create An Account, Setup An Email Client and Manage Your Accounts – just what you’re most likely to want to know.
You can search for your preferred keywords, too, and the engine does a reasonable job of finding sensible results.
When we searched for ‘import WordPress’, for instance, the site listed ‘How To Migrate An Existing WordPress.com Site’ and ‘How To Migrate A WordPress Site’ as its first two articles, and there were other relevant articles just a little way down the list (‘How To Transfer Blogger To Your WordPress’).
There’s some quality content here, too. Articles like ‘How To Install WordPress’ are short but get straight to the point, and (when possible) give you several options to solve your current issue. They typically link to related content, too, so once you’ve found one relevant article, it’ll usually point you to many more.
If the website can’t help you, support is available 24/7 via email, telephone and live chat.
We tried the live chat support, providing our email address and details and posting a simple product question. Within a couple of minutes, an agent arrived, told us everything we needed to know, and fielded a couple of follow-up questions with ease.
To test Bluehost’s performance, we set up a very simple static website and used Uptime.com to check its availability and response time for a week.
The company managed 100% uptime, which works for us. Keep in mind that we were testing the most basic shared hosting plan, too – if Bluehost is going to have problems, we’d expect them to show up here.
Response times ranged from 257ms to 629ms, with an average of 332ms, placing the company 19th out of 27 providers we were monitoring at the time. While that’s not great, keep in mind that the differences in response times between good providers are generally very small (only 60ms separates the ten hosts immediately above Bluehost.) Unless you’re running benchmarks of your own, you might not notice any difference.
Bluehost scored better in Dotcom-Tools’ Website Speed Test, which measures site download speed from 16 locations in Europe and the US. Average page load times were 748ms, up with the best providers and twice as fast as some of the low-end competition.
To round off our tests we ran Bitcatcha’s Server Speed Checker on our test site. This kind of one-off test can’t tell us as much as Uptime.com’s continuous monitoring, but it was still good to see Bluehost return excellent speeds, particularly from US locations. Bitcatcha was certainly impressed, awarding our server its highest A+ rating.
Bluehost products aren’t as configurable as some of the competition. Its plans are well-specified, though, with 100% uptime and fast download times during testing, and quality live chat support available if you need it.