We’ve been a paying Bluehost web hosting customer throughout 2017 – 2020.
That means we’ve been monitoring their cheapest “basic” shared hosting plan performance (both average load time and uptime) for 3+ years.
This Bluehost review relies heavily on data, as well as the overall experience with their hosting features and customer support.
In a nutshell, all Bluehost plans offer their customers 24/7 live chat, unmetered bandwidth, and five email accounts. Similarly to many other website hosting companies, they too offer their new users a free domain for the first year. Their plans start from $3.95/mo and include improved security, backups, and free SSL certificate. These help to keep your blog or website protected and safe.
Overall, their last 24-month performance has been good. Bluehost is clearly at the top with its uptime (99.99%) and a fast load time of 405ms (0.4 seconds).
Read all the “Pros” and “Cons” below:
General Info & Hosting Overview
|OUR VERDICT:||Best Overall Shared Hosting|
|SPEED:||405 ms (February 2018 to January 2020 average)|
|UPTIME:||99.99% (February 2018 to January 2020 average)|
|SUPPORT:||24/7 Live Chat|
|APPS:||WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and some website builders|
|FEATURES:||Unmetered bandwidth and storage, email accounts, free domain 1st year|
|HOSTING PLANS:||Shared, Cloud, VPS, and Dedicated Servers|
|SITE TRANSFER:||Not free|
|PRICING:||Starting at $3.95/mo (renews at $7.99/mo)|
Pros of Using Bluehost Hosting
1. Best Uptime – 99.99% – Throughout the Year
Uptime is one the most important aspects when choosing a web host – after all, if your site is down, your users can’t access it. So consistently good uptime should be one of your top priorities.
Our benchmark for “good” uptime is 99.93%. That might seem pretty high, but it’s actually even slightly below average. Type those numbers into a calculator, and you’ll quickly see it translates into at least 26 minutes of downtime each month or just over five hours over the course of a year.
So ideally, we don’t want to see anything less than that.
The good news is that Bluehost easily surpasses this benchmark, comfortably keeping our test site live for 99.99% of the time during the last 24 months (2018-2020).
Here’s the monthly breakdown of the past 12-months:
- January 2020 average uptime: 100%
- December 2019 average uptime: 100%
- November 2019 average uptime: 100%
- October 2019 average uptime: 99.96%
- September 2019 average uptime: 99.99%
- August 2019 average uptime: 99.99%
- July 2019 average uptime: 100%
- June 2019 average uptime: 99.98%
- May 2019 average uptime: 100%
- April 2019 average uptime: 100%
- March 2019 average uptime: 99.99%
- February 2019 average uptime: 100%
Conclusion? Bluehost is one of the most reliable web hosting provider according to our uptime study.
2. Top 5 Website “Load” Speed – 405ms
A report from Google last year found that the vast majority of mobile websites are way too slow.
That’s a problem for two major reasons. Google’s mobile-first index can either elevate or hide your site in user searches based on its loading speeds. Studies show that slow websites almost always translate into lower sales.
So, after uptime, your host’s page loading times are the second most important thing that can literally make or break your site’s success.
We have been keeping track of Bluehost’s performance since February 2018 using a third-party tool, Pingdom. And once again, we were pleased with the results — an average page loading speed of 405ms which places them as the 5th fastest site out of everybody that we’ve tested.
3. Low Introductory Pricing ($3.95/mo)
We’ll look into Bluehost’s full pricing and plans in just a moment.
However, if you were to go check out the starting prices, you’ll notice the lowest advertised price is $3.95/month. That’s a pretty good deal considering they’ve supposedly reduced it already from $7.99/month originally.
For that price, you get pretty much everything you need for a single website. That includes 50 GB SSD storage, unmetered bandwidth, a free SSL certificate, and more.
So you’d be getting a pretty good value for the price, plus their consistent uptime and page loading speeds.
This is the lowest rate we’ve seen anywhere online (and trust us, our team spends way too much time online as it is). So it’s a great deal if you’re in the market for a new affordable host.
4. Good Security Options
Even though Bluehost is one of the “cheaper” options on the market, we have been pleased to see that they don’t cut too many corners or skimp on critical features like security.
Bluehost provides a lot of good security options by default, including the free SSL certificate for each plan like we mentioned earlier.
All plans also include a domain privacy feature that will help keep the personal information you used to sign up for a domain private. This prevents hackers from finding and using these personal details for phishing schemes to trick you or others into handing over sensitive information.
SiteLock is included to help prevent malware attacks, which are unfortunately fairly common on WordPress sites. CodeGuard is another form for protection, which also provides daily backups so you can roll back previous versions of a site if it does get hacked.
Postini, from Google, is the final security tool worth noting. It provides spam protection for your email, so anything suspicious is prevented from getting in your inbox.
Altogether, this is a pretty decent security package to keep your site safe and sound.
5. Many Integrations, Apps, and eCommerce Features
Beyond the included security features, Bluehost also provides access to a huge number of different apps and integrations so you can use the most popular services on the web.
For example, they have a domain manager if you’d rather just purchase and manage multiple domains through them. You can set daily, weekly, or monthly backups just in case.
You can install WordPress with a single click (more on that in the next section below). You can also install other popular content management systems (CMS) like Drupal, Joomla, run an e-commerce shop, and more.
Plus, Bluehost will even include access to a Content Delivery Network (CDN). These host your images and large files, taking that work off your servers, to deliver them faster to users around the world and keep your site quick at the same time.
6. ‘Official’ WordPress.org Recommended Host
WordPress is the most widely used website platform on the market.
And they only “officially” recommend Bluehost web hosting to use with a WordPress site:
Of course, you can use almost any web hosting provider to create a WordPress site. But the fact that Bluehost is one of the few officially recognized partners is encouraging.
7. Easy to Use for Beginners
Some of the web hosts we’ve seen are best only for advanced users.
LiquidWeb, for example, is great if you know what you’re doing. But they lack a user-friendly interface for non-technical people. So if you’re a beginner, you’d have a tough time getting a site live.
The layout of Bluehost’s control panel (cPanel) makes it easy to use. You just need to point and click in most cases.
It also has features for advanced users, but beginners too can easily install and start-up WordPress.
Or, they can use the Bluehost website builder tools(such as Weebly or Drupal) to start with a template that you can customize by just dragging-and-dropping features.
8. 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
Getting the best deal on web hosting usually means prepaying for a few months, a year or several years at a time.
Bluehost is no different — more on that below. But they do offer a 30-day money-back guarantee on their plans.
You can try out the service to gauge their performance for yourself, and then still ask for a refund if you’re not completely satisfied. We have a few words of caution, though.
According to their terms, here’s what does and doesn’t fall under that guarantee:
- You can only get refunds on the web hosting cost, not any other products like domains or other add-ons.
- A $15.99 fee will be deducted if you received a free domain name in your plan.
- Any requests after 30 days will not be refunded.
It’s not exactly a no-questions-asked policy like we’ve seen from some hosts. So make sure you’re OK with those points before signing up.
9. Customer Support
Bluehost offers everything from a knowledge base, to live chat, email ticket support, and even phone support. We tried out the live chat and Vinutha from Bluehost connected within two minutes.
There were slight delays between each reply, but overall, Vinutha was extremely friendly and offered direct answers to each question. It was a painless experience, which is exactly what you want out of a host’s customer support.
Cons of Using Bluehost Hosting
Bluehost performs pretty well across the board. There are two big areas, however, where the costs get a little steep. Let’s dive deeper into each one.
1. Higher Renewal Rates (Common in the Web Hosting Industry)
The best way to get the lowest possible price for hosting is to prepay for one, two, or even three years upfront.
On the one hand, the monthly price is low, but on the other hand, prepaying for a longer period of time (between 12–36 months) means that you’re not just committing to a few dollars, but around a hundred dollars.
Another thing to consider is the higher renewal rates after your introductory period expires. In this case, prepaying for a full three years at $3.95 is a good deal because you’re locking in that low rate for as long as possible.
However, at the end of that term, the rates will jump back up to their “Normal” rates. These range from $7.99 – $8.99/month on the most basic shared plan depending on how long you prepay.
2. Site Migrations Are Not Free
Most web hosts we’ve reviewed will move your existing website over to their service for free. They see it as a friendly service that helps make new customers happy, so they’ll wave any fees.
Unfortunately, Bluehost doesn’t do free migrations.
They have a one-time fee of $149.99 that includes the migration of up to five websites, 20 email accounts, and any other database files for these sites.
They claim it’ll be quick and seamless, so you won’t experience any delays or downtime.
However, the fact that you have to pay for it, and pay so much, is a big “Con” to consider.
Bluehost Pricing, Hosting Plans & Quick Facts
The Plus plan increases to $5.45/mo — the same price as the Choice Plus option for unlimited websites, SSD storage, and bandwidth. They also allow you to manage unlimited domains, parked domains, and subdomains on these plans, too.
The Pro plan starts at $13.95/month with all of these features and high performance from their servers.
In addition, Bluehost has all major web hosting types, including VPS, cloud, and dedicated data centers.
- Free domain? Yes for 1st year, then renews at $15.99.
- Ease of Sign-up: Easy two-page sign-up process.
- Payment Methods: Major credit cards and PayPal.
- Hidden Fees and Clauses: No refund on any domain names. Renewal rates for both domains and hosting increase.
- Upsells: Some Upsells. Unfortunately, it’s a common occurrence in the web hosting industry and happens with a lot of different big-name hosting companies.
- Account Activation: Most users enjoy instant activation. If the information is inaccurate or there’s suspicion of fraud, activation might get delayed.
- Control Panel and Dashboard Experience: Simple and easy-to-use control panel.
- Installation of Apps and CMS (WordPress, Joomla, etc.): Mojo Marketplace makes app installation quick and easy.
Do We Recommend Bluehost?
Yes, we do.
Bluehost has ranked at or near the top for both uptime and loading times for more than a year.
In addition, they offer strong security support, a money-back guarantee, and plenty of user-friendly apps, all for one of the lowest rates in the industry ($3.95/month).
They’re not perfect, though. Renewal rates will increase after the introductory pricing ends. Also, they charge extra for site migrations, which other hosts throw in for free.
But overall, Bluehost delivers strong performance and good value.