They obviously have the financial muscle to pour millions into marketing. That probably accounts for the huge amount of (overly) positive Bluehost reviews online.
I read several of those reviews and most talk about their fabulous support (really?), good prices and scalability options. But in those reviews, there’s very little about their actual flaws.
Hey, even WordPress recommends Bluehost.
But does this mean that Bluehost is a reliable service and a good match for your project?
Let’s look around under Bluehost’s hood and intensively test their (shared) hosting.
Table of Contents
What Products Does Bluehost Offer?
This US-based hosting provider offers loads of different hosting-related products,from domain names to dedicated servers. Let me quickly go over their large catalog.
- Domain names: Although they are not the cheapest domain name registrar, you can buy domain names directly from Bluehost. They start at $17.99 a year. A personal all-time favorite of mine for domain names is Namecheap as it’s cheaper and easier to manage.
- Shared hosting: Unless you are managing a really large project or you need to geek around with your server’s configuration, a shared hosting plan is the one you ought to consider. Think of this as sharing a flat; you’ll share a server (flat), but you’ll have your own hosting space (room) – cheaper but noisier. At Bluehost their shared prices go from $8.99 to $25.99 per month.
- WordPress hosting: Bluehost has a WordPress focused hosting service. It’s optimized for WordPress sites and comes with several perks like a staging area. It’s a bit pricey as it starts at $29.99 a month, more expensive than SiteGround.
- VPS: A Virtual Private Server is something in between a shared hosting and a dedicated one (read below). You’ll share a server with other clients, but there’s a (virtual) wall between your projects and theirs. This type of hosting is recommended for those needing special server configurations (e.g. using a particular programming language). VPS hosting plans go from $29.99 to $59.99 a month at Bluehost.
- Dedicated servers: Adequate for those websites that generate tons of traffic and/or need a top-performing server. You can think of this as having your own house; no neighbors or roommates to bother you.
These are the most important hosting related products that Bluehost offers. I was surprised to see that they don’t have cloud hosting services.
Note: This Bluehost review focuses on their shared hosting services, so from now on I’ll be sharing my own experience and knowledge about this Bluehost product.
The first thing to notice about Bluehost prices is that they have enormous discounts during the first year. Bear in mind that the renewal costs are much higher and they may put you off. Here I mention both prices so you can compare them and decide.
|Support||Phone and live chat||Phone and live chat||Phone and live chat||Phone and live chat|
|Max. files amount||200,000||200,000||200,000||300,000|
Max. DB size
|Backup||Basic||Basic||Advanced *||Advanced *|
* Integrated system that lets you create and restore your own backups.
The Basic plan is good if you are only going to have 1 website and 50 GB of storage is enough for your project.
With the Plus plan, you can have as many websites as you need and the storage is unmetered. It also comes with unlimited email accounts.
If you get the Choice Plus package, you’ll be awarded with the Plus features, plus free domain privacy and better backup options.
The Pro tier is suitable for those looking for higher performances. The maximum files you can host with this plan jumps from 200,000 to 300,000.
For more information about Bluehost’s products and prices, please check our guide.
Bluehost Pros & Cons
Let me quickly tell you what I think are the most important advantages and disadvantages of Bluehost shared hosting:
When to Use Bluehost Hosting?
If you are looking to host a small-medium project (e.g. a bakery site) and you won’t be getting tons of traffic, Bluehost can be an OK alternative. Be warned about their slow support though.
But being 100% honest, I think there are similar alternatives with better prices.
When Not to Use Bluehost?
If you are managing a project that depends on your website and you need the best performance, Bluehost isn’t for you. Look for alternatives if you own an ecommerce, are a thriving blogger or provide Software as a Service.
Bluehost won’t be for those looking for advanced hosting features like staging areas or Git repositories either.
It’s probably not the best match for beginners either as their support is not the most helpful. Additionally, they won’t help with your site’s migration unless you pay extra.
|Ease of use||OK||The registration process is somehow challenging, I find their form not intuitive and designed to trick you into buying expensive extras that you won’t need. Their backend was redesigned in 2019, it’s an easy-to-use cPanel customized version. But I really dislike their constant upsell proposal banners, popups and sneaky links. Once you are used to all these, it’s fine.|
|Bluehost includes a free domain name registration the first year. After that, you’ll have to pay $17.99 per year. Be aware that their Basic plan only allows you to have 1 site (domain name), the other plans offer unlimited sites (domains).|
|Excellent||With the Basic tier, you are limited to 5 email accounts, unlimited with higher plans. Be warned that you won’t be able to send more than 500 emails per hour – not suitable for sending bulk emails.|
|Databases||Very good||With the Basic package, you can create up to 20 databases. Unlimited databases with the other plans. There is a generous maximum database size of 3 GB (5 GB for Pro plans).|
|Applications||Very good||Using their automatic installer, you can add all sorts of software: WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Magento and many more.
Bear in mind that their WordPress installer will add some plugins you most likely won’t want, make sure you delete them after the installation.
|Webspace limit||Excellent||The Basic shared plan comes with 50 GB of web space, not bad at all. The other plans don’t meter the storage. However, the maximum amount of files allowed is 200,000 (300,000 files for the Pro plan).|
|Monthly data transfer limit||Excellent||Not metered.|
|FTP accounts and secure FTP||Very good||Create as many FTP accounts as you wish. However, be aware that SFTP (secure) is only allowed with the main FTP account.|
||Bad||They only seem to have data centers in the US. This may not be ideal for clients outside North America – your site could load very slow outside the US and Canada.|
|Security features||Solid||Bluehost offers a couple of extra paid add-ons to enhance security. For example, SiteLock prevents hacker attacks and CodeGuard gives you more backup options. I liked the fact that they have an optional two-factor authentication system, even if a hacker breaks your password, they won’t gain automatic access to your Bluehost account.|
|Server speed||Bad||In my experience, Bluehost’s speed isn’t terrible, but it’s not the best either. Difficult to understand their lowish performance as they are quite expensive – more about this below.|
|Uptime||Very good||In our tests, Bluehost showed solid uptime results. This is important to offer solid user experiences and SEO.|
|Backups||Bad||‘As a courtesy’, Bluehost creates monthly, weekly and daily backups that you’ll be able to download and restore. So yes, only 3 backups and they can’t assure you they’ll have them – other providers offer over 20 backups to choose from.
If you want extra backup options (e.g. on-demand backups), you can purchase their pricey backup add-on.
|CDN (content delivery network)||CloudFlare integration||Bluehost don’t offer a CDN themselves, however, CloudFlare is pre-integrated so you can easily enable it – I would suggest you do.|
|Server features||Very good||It’s possible to use PHP 5.6, 7.0, 7.1, 7.2 and 7.3. Databases run on MySQL 5.6. Other programming languages like Perl or Ruby on Rails are also allowed.|
|Refunds and guarantees||30 days||There is a 30-day money-back policy, no questions asked. Unlike top hosting providers, they don’t seem to offer any uptime guarantees.|
|Assistance and support||Bad||You can contact support via live chat and phone. At times I found myself waiting over 20 mins. The support agents are slow to answer – looks to me like they are overloaded.|
3.7 out of 5
|Although Bluehost’s performance is acceptable and their system OKish, I think they are a bit overpriced. But for me, their support is a clear no-go if you think you’ll need their help often.|
Bluehost Performance Tests
Is Bluehost a slow provider? Is their uptime OK?
To be able to answer all these questions, I’ve closely monitored Blueshot speed and uptime for months. Let me show you my findings.
Bluehost Speed Test
As a website owner, I don’t have to tell you how important speed is for providing the best user experience and improving your search engine rankings.
I compared Bluehost speed to the most popular (shared hosting) competitors. I used GTmetrix, Pingdom and Webpagetest to check their loading times.
Let me sum up the results.
|Test||Average Ranking||Average Speed|
|5 GTmetrix test||6 out of 7 providers were faster||2.08 s|
|5 Pingdom test||6 out of 7 providers were faster||2.58 s|
|5 Webpagetest test||5 out of 7 providers were faster||5.28 s|
These tests were carried out under the same circumstances (e.g. same page and content) spread out over almost 2 months.
As you can see, Bluehost isn’t top of the class when it comes to speed. Several providers outperformed them in our tests. If you are concerned about speed, SiteGround and DreamHost are, in my experience, the best performing providers.
Is Bluehost’s Uptime Good?
Believe it or not, your hosting provider (most likely) won’t have a 100% uptime. Due to technical reasons (e.g. server maintenance), your site will be down for (hopefully) short instances of time.
A bad uptime is terrible as your visitors and search engines won’t be able to reach your site. Your goal should be to have an uptime higher than 99.95%.
|A2 Hosting||99.93 %|
To monitor uptime I use StatusCake, a tool that checks each website every 5 minutes.
As you can see, Bluehost offer solid uptime results. I am quite happy with Bluehost’s performance here. However, be aware that they don’t offer any uptime warranty, other hosting providers will compensate you (e.g. a free month) if their global uptime drops below certain levels (usually 99.9%).
Bluehost Review: Do I Recommend It?
You’ve probably noticed already that Bluehost is not my favorite provider. However, if you want a hosting service with unmetered storage and unlimited bandwidth, Bluehost could be a suitable option.
As you can see in the above tests, their speed wasn’t the best. However, I was impressed with their uptime scores as they got similar results to top providers like SiteGround and DreamHost.
Their (first-year) pricing is remarkably cheap, but please consider the renewal prices as these sky-rocket.
Finally, I want you to be aware that their support can take too long to answer your questions and may not always resolve your issues.
Alright, if you go with Bluehost, your site is probably going to be OK, at least if your visitors are mainly located in North America.
However, it’s not the cheapest option out there, and I think for the same money you could get better performing providers that come with advanced options (e.g. backup or staging areas).
- If you are looking for a balanced hosting service (low price and good performance), I’d suggest you check out A2 Hosting or DreamHost. They are a bit cheaper and perform similarly or better than Bluehost.
- In my experience, you’ll find the best support at SiteGround, InMotion and (again) DreamHost.
- Without a doubt, the best performing providers are SiteGround and DreamHost. In my opinion, SiteGround comes with a couple of features that make it slightly better (e.g. more backup options).
- You’ll be able to run WordPress in all these providers. However, SiteGround has the best system to empower WordPress site owners (e.g. built-in caching plugin and speed optimization options).
> But, if you still want to use Bluehost, remember that you can try Bluehost for free for 30 days
Note: I’ve created a Bluehost and HostGator comparison so you know which EUG product is better for your project.
05 Sep 2019: New dashboard
27 Jun 2019: First review
Please note that we are using affiliate links in this review. Some of the companies mentioned in this text pay us a commission if you make a purchase. This doesn’t influence our ratings and we will never shy away from pointing out weak spots in a product.