Bluehost is one of the most popular web hosting alternatives on the market. It serves different market segments and users with various needs. However, today, I’m here to report to those who need email hosting.
Today’s competitive market offers many email hosting solutions. Consequently, you might be wondering which one is the best for you and your business? In this series, I will test out different providers to report to you and help you along the way.
Usually, email hosting is included in web hosting packages. However, with Bluehost, you can also get a separate service that allows you to set up a custom email address and use it to send and receive emails. The email domain name you use will match your website; or, more precisely, your domain. Better yet, these services come with lots of advanced features, explained in detail in this review.
While some email hosting providers deliver you the basic features, others take things to another level. So, let’s check whether Bluehost is a good choice for email hosting. Furthermore, in which category does the provider fall into – the basic or advanced offer?
Getting Started with Bluehost Email Plans
Bluehost offers three Email plans: Email Essentials, Business Plus, and Business Pro.
With all three plans, you can expect a professional email that matches your domain in the form of ‘firstname.lastname@example.org.’ Furthermore, they all come with a single mailbox & calendar (Exchange Online), Outlook web access, 24/7 technical support, world-class security, and disaster recovery protection.
The Email Essentials plan includes a 15GB Mailbox.
The Business Plus plan takes things to another level, offering a 50GB Mailbox, along with 1 TB Cloud Storage and file-sharing: OneDrive for Business, Microsoft 365 (online), Microsoft Teams, Sharepoint, but more on these features later.
And at last, the Business Pro plan also comes with a 50GB Mailbox. However, it further adds Access, Publisher (desktop version), Multiple device access per user, Appointment Bookings, and Microsoft Lists and Forms, Mile IQ to the offer.
Now, it’s time for the purchase. As usual, I will go for the cheapest plan, in this case, the Email Essentials. Once you click on Add to Cart, you will see the following.
As mentioned, you have to have a domain on which you will set up the email service.
At this point, you can either create a new domain or leave this task for later. I will go for the first option.
The next step is to create your account.
First, you need to enter your first and last name, business name (optional), country, street address, city, state, ZIP code, phone number, and email address.
Next, in Package Information, you can choose the term of your account plan. Bluehost offers email plans for 12 or 36 months. I will go for the lesser evil – the annual plan.
I have to mention that I was so disturbed by this information that I contacted customer support. I am used to seeing monthly offers with all providers, and Bluehost really falls behind in this aspect. There’s no monthly offer, no trial period, and no money-back. Can it be worse? I will have to commit to a whole year, just to present you with my findings.
As soon as you select the term (12 or 36 months), Bluehost will automatically calculate your total hosting price. As you can see, the provider also offers a free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate.
Next, you can choose from Package Extras. Bluehost offers Codeguard Basic, Bluehost SEO Tools Start, Single Domain SSL, and SiteLock Security Essential. Here’s yet another thing I don’t like.
Finally, if everything is in order, enter your payment information. Bluehost accepts credit cards and PayPal.
The one last step to activate your domain is to check your email.
And voila! You’re all set.
Bluehost will also send you another email at this point, containing important info, such as domain, username, password, email server, host, FTP username, etc.
Setting Up a Bluehost Email Plan
Once you click on Create Account, you will see the following screen.
After you enter the information, you can immediately log in to your account.
At this point, you need to log in to Webmail.
And that’s it; welcome to Webmail!
First, you can open your inbox or check the box to automatically open the inbox each time you log in to Webmail. If you click on open, you will see the following screen.
Here, you can find Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Settings, or return to Webmail Home in the top right corner.
In Mail, you can find Inbox, Drafts, Sent, Junk, Trash, and Archive. You can also refresh, compose, reply, reply to all, forward, delete, archive, mark, and more. You can print a message, download, edit as new, show source, move, copy, open in a new window, or save as an event within the last option.
In the bottom left, you can also find the Settings option to manage folders, import messages, mark all as read, empty the inbox, or compact.
Next, in Contacts, you can add contacts or groups.
If you click on the plus button within Contacts, you will encounter the following. It’s incredibly easy to add a contact. You need to enter the properties (email, phone, and address). You can also add a field – prefix, middle name, suffix, display name, nickname, organization, department, or job title.
You can specify whether it’s home, work, or other in email and address. However, you can choose from home, work, mobile, main, home fax, work fax, car, pager, video, assistant, and others for the phone.
Next, in Personal Information, you can even add the gender and birthday of the contact, and finally, write Notes.
Within Contacts, you can also import/export, compose, QR code, assign/remove from a group, and use the Advanced feature. Advanced Search is a great tool for filtering and targeting specific people.
In Calendar, you can filter by day, week, month, or agenda.
You can easily add a new event, import/export, edit, delete, and display the calendar URL.
When you click on a particular field anywhere on the calendar, say a certain hour, you will see the following window.
For each new event, you can enter Summary, Location, Description, URL, Start, End, Reminder (None/Message), Calendar (if you have more than one), Category (Personal, Work, Family, Holiday), Status (Confirmed, Cancelled, Tentative), Show me as (Busy, Tentative), Priority (Highest, High, Normal, Low, Lowest), and Privacy (public, private, confidential).
Next, you can choose the Recurrence of the event (never, daily, weekly, monthly, annually, on dates).
You can also add participants and assign them roles.
At last, you can add attachments for the event.
Going on to Settings.
In Settings, you can manage your preferences regarding the User Interface, Mailbox View, Displaying Messages, Composing Messages, Contacts, Special Folders, Server Settings, CardDAV, and Calendar. You can also find Folders, Identities, and Responses.
Let’s return to the Webmail Home. Here, you can select the device you will use and enter an email address that you can access from your device. Furthermore, you can select the configurations that you would like to set up or let Bluehost automatically configure your device.
Webmail Home also grants you access to Autoresponders, Email Filters, Forwarders, Configure Calendar and Contacts Client, Contact Information, Account Preferences, Spam Filters, BoxTrapper, Configure Mail Client, and Manage Disk Usage.
In the top right corner, you can also find the option to go to cPanel.
Then, within the cPanel, you can find further options regarding Email, Files, Databases, Metrics, Security, Software, Advanced, Preferences, and Softaculous Apps Installer.
You can also track Statistics, or your resource usage, within the cPanel. And that’s more or less all about it!
Security and Backups
The first thing you should look for in an email hosting provider is security features. Your email hosting provider should protect your content and data from potential attacks, follow certain regulations, and own certificates that further add to your account’s security. Furthermore, it would help to protect yourself against sudden attacks and potential data loss. Here’s where backups come into play as a second security layer.
Bluehost offers world-class security and disaster recovery protection in all email hosting plans so that you can rest assured knowing your email and calendar are secure and backed up.
Furthermore, the plans come with automatic Microsoft updates. You might be wondering, how does this add to my security? Well, newer versions or updates usually address critical issues or the loopholes discovered in the outdated programs. So, it’s essential to install security updates to access new features and protect your systems from malicious attacks.
With Bluehost, you won’t have to worry about this issue – your software will be up to date at all times.
Customer Support and Simplicity
Security is worth nothing if you cannot easily navigate and control your email settings. Regardless of the size of your business, you should select an easy-to-use email hosting service with available customer service to assist you at all times. As the customer, you should be able to reach the support team in case you need guidance or issue resolution.
Bluehost offers an intuitive management board. As the user, you can manage the Microsoft 365 account from a single, user-friendly dashboard without multiple logins.
You can also manage customer information and track business mileage in a centralized dashboard using the Outlook Customer Manager, MileIQ within the Business Pro plan.
And if you ever need help, the Bluehost support team will come in handy. They are available 24/7 to offer extra assistance, walk you through your account setup, and answer any additional questions over chat or phone support.
Let’s test whether this is true. I will contact the Bluehost team to check their response time and knowledge or expertise regarding the service.
Once you click on the live chat option, you will see the following screen. Here, you can choose whether you are an existing or a new customer, then enter your first and last name and identifier.
If you are a new customer, you cannot use the phone but only domain and email.
Next, select the Topic of the conversation or your inquiry. I will go for Other. The provider automatically entered Other – Presales in Description, so I am good to go now. And finally, enter your question within Additional Information.
After you enter the request, Bluehost will offer you helpful articles from their Knowledgebase to answer you immediately. However, if you don’t find them sufficient, you can start with an agent.
Now, trust me when I say I am amazed. The agent responded in a few seconds; way to go, Bluehost!
But let’s see if I will get a good response. The agent took only a few minutes to answer my questions, which is excellent.
After the initial response, I asked another question to get the full picture.
And finally, it’s safe to say; Bluehost does stand true to its promise for expert support, available round-the-clock.
Compatibility and Flexibility
Next, the question is, how easily can you access your email, tasks, lists, shared contacts, and calendars?
First, using Outlook web access, you can access your email from anywhere. Better yet, Bluehost allows for this feature across all three plans.
Next, Bluehost provides what it calls the Microsoft 365 (online) feature. It allows you to access all tools you might need, wherever you need them, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and more. However, you can only find this option within the Business Plus and Pro plans.
You can also download these apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) directly to your device and work offline, but exclusively in the Business Pro plan. The Email Essentials and Business Plus plans don’t include the Microsoft 365 (desktop) feature. The Pro plan also offers the Access, Publisher (desktop version) feature, a familiar database management software.
The Sharepoint feature sets a centralized digital workspace so that team members can work on files collaboratively.
With Bluehost, you can also use multiple devices to access your mail, calendar, and office apps. Furthermore, Appointment Bookings is an excellent online invoicing and scheduling tool for your business.
Finally, Microsoft Teams allows for integrated video meetings and shared working documents. In turn, your team can spend less time worrying about lost data and miscommunication and more time seamlessly collaborating toward the same goal.
If you are browsing email hosting services, chances are, you need the account for storage and collaboration space, not only communication purposes.
Bluehost offers 15 GB at a minimum, far exceeding the standard.
At this point, you should also consider whether you have the option to archive important emails so that your inbox isn’t cluttered. If you can, your inbox will only have the current conversations, while the important mails will be stored in the archive box.
Furthermore, check whether you can move the old messages into the archive and whether this is automated. And at last, are the archived emails backed up regularly?
As you have seen from my interaction with the live chat agent, Bluehost offers all these options, which is a green light. The provider automates these processes and performs the daily backups on the archived emails.
Better yet, Bluehost offers one unique feature in this regard, ‘Cloud storage and file-sharing: OneDrive for Business’. It allows you to store files securely. In turn, team members can quickly access them at all times.
Availability and Uptime
If you are at least a bit familiar with the web hosting industry, you are well aware that you and your business cannot afford downtime. In today’s competitive market, time is money.
With Bluehost, you can expect a Microsoft 99.9% Uptime Guarantee as a cornerstone of its service.
Pros and Cons of Bluehost Email
- An Excellent Set Of Features
- Easy To Use And Navigate
- Full Transparency In Offers
- Excellent Customer Support
- Free Let’s Encrypt SSL
- Free Primary Domain Registration
- Prices Increase At Renewal
- No Monthly Terms Are Available
- No Money-Back Guarantee for the Email
Bluehost has me confused in so many aspects of their operation regarding professional email. On the one hand, the provider has a lot to offer – ease of use, the industry-standard cPanel and Webmail, free SSL certificates, and primary domain registration. I was also amazed by their customer support team. I contacted them three times for separate issues and talked with three different agents. All were fast to respond and knowledgeable enough to respond to my questions. I have to say; they might even be my favorite.
However, I hate (this might be a harsh word) the term limitations regarding Bluehost’s professional email offers. There are no monthly offers, and the existing ones are a bit expensive. The prices also increase at renewal, and there’s no refund on the email plans. On the good side, you will get a refund for hosting and domains.
So, my advice would be, if you are certain of Bluehost qualities (which I can recommend), you can enter for the long term. It will indeed pay off! Still, be cautious regarding the add-ons, which are automatically added to your basket. If, however, you are still browsing and testing the email hosting niche, Bluehost is a no for you and your business.