Is Bluehost the Right Hosting For You?
Bluehost is one of the most popular web hosting providers; they power more than two million sites worldwide and are the number one recommended web hosting by WordPress.org. They offer shared hosting, VPS hosting, dedicated server hosting, and cloud hosting plans ranging in price from $2.95 to $119.99 a month. But how do they compare to other hosting providers?
As do many hosting companies, Bluehost strives to deliver fast speeds. It seems like they have recently updated their server hardware which has improved the overall performance for their users. The increase in performance is a considerable improvement from what it was in the past because Bluehost was accused of overselling and overcrowding their servers at one point.
While Bluehost is not the fastest of all shared hosts, it can perform well. The initial server time is under 200 ms on average which is a useful statistic for a shared host. But because their servers do not have the latest technologies like LiteSpeed, they will not perform as well as other servers. However, their level of speed and performance should suit a small or medium sized website as long as you aren’t using too many resources.
Unlike many hosting companies, Bluehost does not release any uptime guarantee percentage.
Uptime is a massive concern for website owners because the lower the uptime percentage is, the most time your website will be down. For shared hosts especially, uptime can be a significant problem because of unexpected spikes in traffic, hardware failure, and file corruption.
On their website, Bluehost states that:
- Support fixes most issues in 15 minutes or less, but sometimes they can take up to 8 hours
- They will not compensate you for downtime, but if you do cancel your contract early due to downtime issues, you won’t be charged, and Bluehost will give you a pro-rated refund
- They will also notify their customers of any upcoming maintenance that may cause downtime
- Maintenance that could cause downtime is scheduled to affect the least amount of customers.
- If there is an emergency security fix, then they will notify you as far in advance as possible.
Bluehost reports they have invested millions of dollars in installing as many redundant systems as possible such as routers, Internet connectivity, ups power backups, and backup generators. However, they do not offer redundant or clustered servers because they would then be able unable to keep their costs down low.
Bluehost is competitively priced, and they offer a wide variety of plans, depending on the additional features you want.
With their most basic plan, they offer one website, 50 GB of website space, unmetered bandwidth, and five email accounts. You also get one included domain. As you upgrade plans, you get more marketing offers, email storage and website space, additional security and backup, and an unlimited number of parked and subdomains.
With all of their plans, they provide a free SSL Certificate and 1-click WordPress install with access to their around-the-clock customer service.
One place where they do get you is their discount is only good for your initial contract. When your plan is up for renewal, you default back to their non-discounted price for that plan, which is typically much more expensive than your initial plan.
Bluehost does offer 24/7 phone, chat, and email support. Their support department does respond fairly quickly and does a decent job of answering general queries or site-specific issues.
However, the problem lies in their support response time, which can vary widely from 10 minutes to two hours (or more!). The slow support times are most likely because they are a cheap hosting provider who is known for outsourcing technical support.
They do have a video knowledge base which has information to help you with hosting your website through Bluehost. However, the video selection is not very strong, and you might have to deal directly with support rather than fixing the issue yourself.
Security is something that Bluehost takes seriously. They offer SpamAssassin, Spam Hammer, and Spam Experts to reduce the amount of spam you are seeing. Additionally, they offer hotlink protection to stop someone from stealing your hosted images or files and draining your bandwidth.
With Bluehost’s two-factor authentication (2FA) setup, you can rest easy knowing that no one can log into your Bluehost account without also having access to your phone.
One more security feature that Bluehost offers is an “account token validation” feature which means you will have to submit a six-digit account security token code to their support staff. The token validates your identity before you have to send in any confidential information.
What Else Does Bluehost Have To Offer?
Bluehost uses the popular and easy-to-use cPanel which comes with many different app integrations. You can install almost any favorite script such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, or Magento easily.
If you want to host an e-commerce site through Bluehost, you receive a free SSL certificate, which will encrypt the data of your visitors. They also offer OpenPGP/GPG Encryption for added layers of security.
Bluehost does allow you to scale reasonably quickly from your current plan to a VPS or dedicated server plan. You can also customize your site decently well.
Bluehost does not do free site migration. While many other hosting providers will provide this free, Bluehost is not so generous. They charge a hefty $149.99 to transfer up to five websites and 20 email accounts.
Since Bluehost does not cater directly to newbies and their support team seems to be a little weaker than others, than it might be better to look into other options. Because of their slower response times to maintenance issues, downtime can be extremely costly for a business who needs a reliable host to make a living.
However, with their low-cost packages, unlimited essential features, and single-click installation of WordPress and e-commerce solutions, Bluehost could be worth investigating.