If you’ve done any amount of web hosting research over the Internet, you’ve almost certainly heard of Bluehost. Continuously ranked near the top of all web hosting providers, BlueHost was founded in 2003 and has steadily grown to now be one of the top web hosts on the Internet.
As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, Endurance International Group is a large conglomerate that has created quite the monopoly in the web hosting industry. BlueHost was acquired by EIG in 2010, and while they still retain a high place in the web hosting rankings, there has been some implied criticism of their “selling-out” to the web hosting equivalent of Mr.Robot’s “Evil Corp“. While this shouldn’t completely influence your decision of whether to go with Bluehost Hosting, it certainly is something to remember before purchasing.
On a more positive note, I had an excellent experience with Bluehost’s customer service, while their control panel and general interface was not only well-designed but very accessible and extremely helpful.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at Bluehost Hosting and see if they might be the right hosting company for you!
Plans / Pricing
Bluehost offers a broad range of hosting: Shared, Cloud, VPS, Dedicated and WordPress categories, with three tiers for each package to choose from depending on your needs.
All shared plans have unmetered bandwidth, including the $3.95/ month “Starter” plan (superb value), while there are unlimited e-mail accounts and storage also included (with the exception of the aforementioned Starter plan).
If you are interested in VPS servers, it’s important to note that Bluehost utilizes their own cloud solutions in partnership with open source technology such as OpenStack and KVM. It isn’t a longshot to say that Bluehost VPS servers are among the best in the business in terms of performance and reliability, and for $14.99 / a month for their “Standard” plan, they also aren’t an expensive option.
Dedicated hosting is also available for those looking for increased control and security for their website. Bandwidth limits on dedicated hosting packages are pretty industry-standard (between 5-15 TB), but the prices are quite low ($99/month for 10 TB compared to $132/month for Hostgator’s equivalent plan).
Bluehost also gives customers between $50 and $200 in marketing credits (Google Adwords or other search engines) with each hosting plan. A welcome bonus for your website as search engine advertisements can be extremely helpful at generating traffic for your site.
As with most hosting providers, Bluehost has a 30 money back guarantee so that you can cancel for any reason during in the 30 day period. Once again, this is pretty standard, so I would be worried if it wasn’t offered.
Bluehost has mixed reviews of their customer service on the internet, from complete satisfaction to utter disdain. They advertise the usual 24/7 phone and e-mail support while also offering Helpdesk live chat support. Due to the sheer amount of mixed reviews around the Internet, I decided it would only be fair to give Bluehost a blank slate to prove themselves.
I started with a live chat session at 5 AM EST, thinking it would take at least a few minutes before the session would start. Surprisingly, I was connected to a support specialist in under 2 minutes who answered my VPS-related questions quickly and efficiently. While the speed of the response time was very impressive (especially at that time of the day), we were also thoroughly impressed by the professionalism and simplicity of their live chat feature.
Bluehost also offers 24/7 telephone support, with an international number available (not toll-free) as well. Unfortunately, our telephone support test wasn’t as painless as our live chat experience, as we were forced to wait 16 minutes on hold before being connected with someone. Granted, this was at 7 AM EST, and we also were given a satisfactory and satisfying answer by our (American!) support specialist.
Bluehost also offers a pretty extensive support FAQ section, with hundreds of pre-answered questions in their library. The test questions that we asked in our live chat and telephone sessions were both listed in the FAQ, although at no point where we rerouted to the FAQ or given bland answers.
Bluehost’s customer service reputation is certainly an anomaly, with all kinds of opinions and reviews floating around the internet. While our test size was small, we were thoroughly impressed by Bluehost’s response time and the knowledge of the reps we spoke with.
Since Bluehost builds their own servers and software, they have seemingly the utmost control over customer’s hosting experiences. These differences could be positive or negative, but in our opinion, Bluehost has created an excellent interface for customers to manage their websites.
The opening interface upon logging into your website is clean, well- structured and free of the upsell and advertisement spam that we have experienced before in other hosting providers (GoDaddy or HostGator). We were easily able to add or remove resources from VPS, quickly access our files through their FTP client, and 1 click installs of WordPress, Weebly, Joomla, Drupal, PrestaShop, and WHMCS are available.
We really liked the option to modify the appearance and configure the central control panel to our liking. This means you have the ability to create a custom control panel of only the services that are essential towards running your website. A pretty nice feature after experiencing other host’s cluttered and dysfunctional control panels.
Reliability / Speed
Bluehost has a reputation for being one of the fastest and most reliable hosting providers on the internet. According to Cloud Spectator, Bluehost not only has one of the highest ranked response times (849 MS average) but also one of the highest uptimes in the business at 99.91% uptime.
We conducted our own tests, and while Bluehost didn’t outperform 1&1 Hosting or GoDaddy’s impressive speeds, Bluehost still posted above-average page load times and uptime. The industry standard for page load times is somewhere around 2-3 seconds, so we were very pleased to see the average of our tests hover around the two-second mark.
Bluehost also has a Network / Server Uptime Agreement that acts as protection for the customer, guaranteeing a refund if there are any issues related to uptime with your website. While most hosting companies have similar policies in place, Bluehost is one of the few companies that we have seen actually advertise refunds for uptime-related incidents.
On our separate uptime test, we were pleased and somewhat surprised to see that our test server was up 100% of the time, quite impressive considering that most hosting companies can hardly stay true to their “99.9% uptime guarantee”.
Bluehost is also one of the few hosting providers that include Cloudfare with their base packages, meaning that you get the added performance and security of a CDN all for free!
Bluehost includes the above-mentioned Cloudfare with all hosting plans, along with a free SSL and Dedicated IP if you sign up to any of their “Pro” packages. This is excellent bang for your buck, especially if you consider the shared hosting “Pro” package only will cost you $14.95 a month.
Of course, security isn’t about savings or free stuff, so we took a more in-depth look at how Bluehost ensures that your website stays safe from hackers and malware. SpamAssassin is included with all e-mail services, meaning that you have some of the best e-mail spam and malware protection in the business.
For starters, we were highly pleased to see that Bluehost offers SSH (secure shell) access for administrators, giving more security and greater control over your critical files.
Additionally, Bluehost offers an “IP Deny” service, an easy-to-use IP address blocking tool that can block a particular IP address or even a range of IP addresses from accessing your website.
An add-on that we highly recommend for Bluehost is Site Backup and Restore Pro, a highly useful service that protects your website from data-loss and the headaches of having to recover your lost files.
While EIG’s acquisition of Bluehost certainly cast an ominous shadow over the company’s reputation, we were happy to see that Bluehost has shed the negative reputation gained from EIG by (so far) providing a quality product for customers.
- Custom network infrastructure
- Excellent live chat support
- SSH access
- Plethora of packages / customizations to choose from
We weren’t so sure about
- Telephone support
- Speeds compared to other industry leaders
- EIG acquisition
Bluehost is a quality host that prides itself on being custom built for it’s customers. I was impressed by their hosting and hope you will be as well! Let us know your thoughts below.