Is Bluehost an Excellent Hosting Choice?
Short answer – YES!
Long answer – Bluehost is one of the most reliable web hosting companies in the world. It is officially recommended by WordPress.org for those who want a self-hosted WordPress-powered website. Bluehost servers are fast, and they have 99.99% uptime.
However, if your website is experiencing fast growth, I will suggest that you go for a cloud hosting plan with myriads of options available in the market. The reason for such a suggestion is the scalability and reliability of cloud hosting, which is much cheaper than a VPS or a dedicated hosting plan.
Bluehost hosting company. The company is quite popular. In fact, it is one of the very few companies that are officially recommended by WordPress.org. That's quite an achievement.
Why am I focusing on WordPress? That's because more than a third of the web is powered by WordPress. That's big!
Does that mean Bluehost is not suitable for hosting other websites powered by other platforms like Drupal, Joomla, Magento, etc.?
I never said that! It is still a great option.'
In this review of Bluehost, I am going to tell why Bluehost comes with high recommendations.
I will also tell you when, if at all, you should decide to move out of Bluehost. Sounds good? Great! Let's start then!
A Quick Overview of Bluehost
|Perfect for?||Shared Hosting.|
|Speed||With a fully-established website on WordPress – approximately 384ms average.|
|Great for which platforms?||WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Magento, PrestaShop.|
|Site transfer||Yes! But NOT FREE.|
|Pricing||Variable for different plans, but basic Shared Hosting starts at $2.75 per month for a long-term plan.|
|Refund policy||30-day money-back guarantee with riders which include:|
Note that if you did get a free domain and you cancel the hosting plan within 30 days, Bluehost will deduct the full price of the domain applicable for a single year in the case you want to retain the domain.
|Support||24/7 chat support available. There is email support, as well.|
|Ease of use||Very easy to use.|
|cPanel availability||Yes, you will get cPanel for all Shared Hosting plans and WordPress Hosting. In the case of VPS and Dedicated hosting plans, it is up to you whether you want to install cPanel or not.|
|Security features||Both plan dependent and optional:|
|Company establishment year||2003|
|Company is owned by||Endurance International Group (since 2010)|
Bluehost Server Uptime
Look, let me be very clear about one thing. If you are looking for a reliable hosting company in the Shared Hosting sphere, Bluehost is a great choice. If you are looking for Cloud Hosting, VPS Hosting, or Dedicated Hosting options, there are better choices.
When you are in a Shared Hosting environment, the server you will use will have many thousands of other websites as well. All of them will be sharing the same resources.
When many thousands of websites use the same resources, the server load increases. This can often render the server dysfunctional.
On top of that, depending on the hardware, the server may frequently stop working until it is rebooted. When a server stops working, it is called downtime.
Downtime is not suitable for business.
Imagine what happens when the server goes offline for several minutes (or hours) exactly when you get the maximum traffic? All your visitors will leave because they cannot find your website.
What if the server downtimes are frequent? Your website visitors will be so frustrated that they will never come back to your website, no matter how good your content is.
This is not an ideal scenario, especially when your website is small and growing. Why so?
When your website has just started growing, many things come into play. They include:
- Trust – when people start coming to your website, they will gradually develop trust. Frequent downtimes will kill that trust.
- Big G's Trust – Not just the readers, even Google will lose trust when it sees frequent downtimes. It will gradually stop showing your website in its search results. That's a scary scenario.
What you need is a server that, preferably, never or very rarely goes offline. A shared hosting never going offline is an impossibility. There will be downtimes, even if that downtime is a result of scheduled maintenance.
This is where Bluehost excels.
I tested the Bluehost server over 7 months (I have a client's budding website hosted there since January 10 of this year, that is 2020). Here are the test results:
|January 10 to February 9||99.99%|
|February 10 to March 9||100%|
|March 10 to April 9||100%|
|April 10 to May 9||99.99%|
|May 10 to June 9||99.99%|
|June 10 to July 9||99.99%|
|July 10 to August 9 and counting||100%|
The average uptime was at 99.994% for the server where my website is hosted. This is promising. You need to make sure that you get well above 99% uptime for whichever hosting provider you are selecting.
As I said, Bluehost excels in this segment, and you can depend on its robust servers to keep your website online.
How do you check server uptime?
There are several easy ways you can use to do that. I use two tools. They are:
- Jetpack – I install it and configure it on my every WordPress site. I usually turn off most of its features, but allow you to monitor the server uptime. Whenever the plugin sees that the website is not accessible, it shoots me an email. When the website comes back online, I receive another mail.
- Pingdom – It is a website. It monitors a lot of things like webpage speed, load time, webpage size, server uptime, and more. Pingdom has both free and paid plans. As you can guess, the free plan is limited. I have a paid plan. You don't need to have it now. Jetpack and the free version of Pingdom will do just fine.
Bluehost Server Speed
Since you are already in this blog or website thing, I will assume that you are already aware of Google's focus on website speed and overall user experience.
If you have already visited Google's PageSpeed Insights page, you must be aware of Core Web Vitals and the assortment of other factors that are considered for providing a speed score for a website or a specific web page.
One of those factors is the server response time. It calculates how quickly the server is responding to user requests
The lower the server response time, the better. When the server response time is low, it helps to improve the website speed.
But do remember that server speed is only one of the many factors. It is not the only factor.
You will often come across various reviews that attempt to test the webpage speed using Pingdom. I feel that they do a few things wrong, which include:
- They always use a test website.
- They never consider factors like ads running on the page, the plugins that are used, the impact of web fonts, and more.
It is ridiculous to say that a server is very fast using a test website that has nothing installed on it.
What will happen when I use:
- Ads on my website?
- Use more than 15 plugins on my site?
- Use web-fonts?
- Use external scripts like Google Analytics?
What will happen if I don't use things like:
- A caching policy?
- A plugin or a service to serve webm videos or webp images?
You must consider all these factors when you are testing your website speed. You need to understand how your server responds when all these things pitch in at once.
Using the basic WordPress theme (Twenty Twenty) with no plugins, no images, no web-fonts, the server will indeed look fast.
So, I take the other route – a more realistic one. I use a full website to test the speed using Pingdom.
Ideally, your website should not take more than 3 seconds to load completely. The lower the time taken, the better it is.
Here are a few screenshots that you must look at very carefully:
Pingdom Test Result:
It is not a test site. It is a full website. It has the following attributes:
- It has a caching plugin in place. It uses Rocket Cache.
- It uses CloudFlare CDN to deliver static content.
- It serves only webp images and webm videos using Optimole.
- It uses 8 plugins to achieve full functionality.
- It uses the freemium Hueman theme for WordPress.
That's the lowest this website can achieve while keeping all its functions intact.
What you should be concerned about is the load time. It takes only 1.34 seconds to load (less than half of 3 seconds as preferred by Google).
The website is performing great. Pingdom gives it a performance grade of ‘A.'
The server definitely plays a great role here.
Look at this image below:
Focus on the red boxes in the image.
You can see different color codes and their respective meanings. You will also see the time breakup for each of them.
What does that mean?
It shows that the server takes a total of 393.8 milliseconds to respond to a user's query.
Now the question is, ‘is it consistent?'
The speed test result that you see here will not necessarily remain constant. There is one crucial reason. IT IS A SHARED HOSTING.
In the case of shared hosting, there are thousands of websites on the same server. There is no way of knowing which website is involved in what practices. Some of them may run a script that uses a lot of server resources.
Since, in the case of shared hosting, all websites use the same resources, even one website using more resources will slow down the remaining of the websites.
Also, if one website on the server starts receiving more traffic, other websites will experience a slowdown.
So, testing the speed once will not make sense. You have to test it multiple times over several days, or perhaps, months.
Here is a table that shows how a server on Bluehost Shared Hosting performs over some time:
|Period||Average Server Response Time|
|January 10 to 20||353.8 milliseconds|
|January 21 to 30||320.0 milliseconds|
|February 1 to 10||400.5 milliseconds|
|February 11 to 20||421.2 milliseconds|
|February 21 to 28||401.4 milliseconds|
|March 1 to 10||514.2 milliseconds|
|March 11 to 20||328.9 milliseconds|
|March 21 to 30||330.6 milliseconds|
Did you notice the periods when the server response time increased significantly? Do you recall that the time frames correspond to the time of rising concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic?
Too many people were searching for coronavirus. That was the time when terms like ‘coronavirus,' ‘COVID-19,' ‘Wuhan virus,' etc., were trending.
So, I will cleanly assume that there were many websites on the server which covered those topics and experienced a spike in their visitor count.
This slowed down the server to some extent, and the server response time increased.
There may be other reasons as well, but the assumption was quite reasonable.
Irrespective of what happened, the Bluehost server held quite well, keeping the overall server response time to less than 1 second.
Did I stop there?
No! I am paranoid. I want speed. So, I wanted to make sure that Google holds the same notion as Pingdom.
This made me test the same website using Google PageSpeed Insights. This is the result I achieved:
Take a good look at the Speed Index factor. It shows how long your website is taking to load completely.
The First Contentful Paint shows how quickly the first fold of the website loads. First fold refers to the first part of the web page that a visitor sees when he or she opens the website.
Largest Contentful Paint shows how long the website takes to load the main content of the page. This includes all elements like images, the text you wrote, etc.
The website takes only one second to become interactive. That means that users can click around and navigate the website without any problem.
One of the factors contributing to website speed is the server speed as well.
Now, if you compare the speed results for both Pingdom and Google PageSpeed insights here is what you get:
|Tool||Speed (Time take to load the website completely)|
|PageSpeed Insights||1.3 seconds|
After testing the website speed, I had to test a few more things. There were two questions that I had to address. They were:
- I used Bluehost's Shared Hosting. So, how will it hold up when the traffic increases?
- How long will the server take to respond when people from far off places in the world come and visit the website.
To find the answer to the first question, I used a tool called LoadImpact. The idea here was to send virtual users with a gradual increase in visitor count, and see how the Bluehost server hold up against such an increase.
The screenshot below tells the whole story:
The blue line shows the gradual increase in virtual traffic. The green line shows the load time. It consistently remains slightly above 1.2 seconds. If you see the graph properly, the load time axis shows a jump of 300 milliseconds in each slab. This indicates that the load time is somewhere in the range of 1.3 seconds.
This is also consistent with the results I found in the Pingdom test and PageSpeed test.
Finally, I had to check what happens when people from far corners of the world visit the website. How fast will the server respond? For this, I used a service called Bitcatcha.
Here is the result:
Note that the server that I use for Bluehost is located in the US (West). So, when a visitor from the US (West) visits the site, the server responds very quickly. When the visitors come from far off places, the server response time increases but stays comfortably within 600 ms.
This confirms the results I found from the Pingdom test.
So, I can say, without an iota of doubt that Bluehost's shared hosting servers are really fast. You can count on them.
Ease of Use – How Easily Can You Install WordPress?
So far, so good, but what about the ease of use? It is quite normal that most of the people starting out with blogging journey are new to this field.
If the hosting provider doesn't make it easy to set up and launch a site, the overall experience will be terrible.
So, ease of use should be one important factor that you must consider. Luckily, Bluehost makes it very simple. You don't need to be an experienced person to install your first WordPress site.
Here is a quick step-by-step guide for you to let you know how easy it is.
Step 1: Select a hosting plan
The first step is to select a hosting plan. There are many options available with Bluehost. You can opt for the following options to start with:
- Shared Hosting.
- WordPress Hosting (Shared Hosting with servers optimized for WordPress).
- WordPress Pro (fully-managed WordPress hosting where you don't have to worry about anything technical).
Of course, WordPress Pro is pricier. Whatever you choose is up to you. I prefer the simple Shared Hosting plan because of two reasons:
- It is not necessary that I will install only WordPress. I have websites running on Joomla too! So, I need servers where I can install the Joomla CMS. WordPress Hosting or WordPress Pro is not what I will need.
- I like to carry out the optimizations by myself. I don't rely on others for this. However, this may not be an option for you. In such a case, opting for WordPress Hosting or WordPress Pro is far better.
Since I use the simple Shared Hosting feature, I will base this segment on that. Sounds good?
To select a plan, head over to the Bluehost homepage and from the top menu, hover your mouse on “Hosting”. From there, select Shared Hosting.
Once you click on Shared Hosting, you will see this page:
You can select whatever you want. I selected the Choice Plus option for 24 months. Why? Because I know that I will change the server and move my client's website to Cloud Hosting after two years. I will not stay with Shared Hosting. I don't need a plan for 3 years.
Once you make up your mind and select a plan, move on to the next step.
Step 2: Create a new domain or use an existing one
The good thing is that Bluehost will give you one domain for free for a year. So, if you don't have a domain, you can claim the free one here.
Once you have selected a plan, this is the screen you will see:
You can see from the image that I have entered a new domain name (I didn't really go ahead and do that. I chose the option of creating my domain later). Once you do that, you need to click on the Next button.
Once you do that, you will see this screen:
Once you complete the purchase, you will move to the next step.
Step 3: Installing WordPress
Once your purchase is completed, you will see this screen:
Go to your email account and click on the confirmation screen.
Once you do that, come back on this screen and click on the Create Your Password button. Once you do that, you will see this screen:
Once you create the password, click next. You will see this screen:
This is the Bluehost interface.
Here, you can create a WordPress site with a one-click installation. All you need to do is to click on the ‘Create Site' button.
Once you do that, you will see this screen:
Add the site name and the tagline and then click on the Next button. You will see the following screen:
Since I already had a domain, I will enter the domain URL in the ‘Domain' field. I will leave the directory so forward-slash ( / ). This indicates that I want to install WordPress on server root and not on any subfolder.
You can add the free plugins you want or uncheck the boxes. I will suggest you uncheck them at this point. You can add them later if you need them. Adding plugins right at the beginning doesn't make sense. You may eventually not need them.
Once you are done adding the necessary details, you can go ahead and click the Next button to initiate the WordPress installation process.
After you click the Next button, this is what you will see after about 5 minutes:
Here you can see the website URL, admin name, user name, and password. Copy the password and remember the username, and then click on Login to WordPress link.
Once you click on the link, you will log into your WordPress site. In case they ask for the username and password, provide the details and login.
After you log in, you will see the following screen:
This is the quick launch wizard that you will see. I don't connect to WordPress.com. You can! Or, you can skip it by clicking on the ‘Not Now' button.
You can choose to connect to WordPress.com as it will connect your Jetpack profile to your website. Jetpack allows server uptime monitoring, protection against spam, and CDN features. These are only a few. There are many other features.
I prefer to use Jetpack at a later stage.
The wizard will walk you through the setup process to eventually take you to the screen that looks like this:
Now, look at the Bluehost segment on the right menu. Click on it.
Once you do that, you will see this screen:
It is the usual WordPress dashboard with extra Bluehost menus. You can skip using this segment if you want because most of the things that you find in the Bluehost segment is possible directly from the WordPress dashboard.
What's unique here is the Staging site option, which creates a staging environment for testing your website. Most likely, you will never need it, but you can give it a try.
Things you can do from the Bluehost segment include:
- Adding a new post.
- Creating a new page.
- Setting up a website menu.
- Create an e-Commerce site using WooCommerece.
- Creating a staging environment.
- Disabling the ‘Coming Soon' page, and launch the website.
There is also a Marketplace from where you can install various plugins and themes for your website.
This is how the Bluehost marketplace looks like:
Click around and see what treasures you can find. It is not necessary to make a purchase from here. You can purchase themes from other market places like Themeforest, MyTheme Shop, Engine Themes, etc. It is up to you. You may even settle for a free theme if you want.
You can install themes and plugins directly from the WordPress dashboard instead of going for the Bluehost options.
You can find themes under the ‘Appearance' menu on the left, and plugins under the ‘Plugins' menu on the left.
This is how it looks if you want to add a theme:
I will suggest one of the following free themes:
- Hueman Theme (a multipurpose theme)
- Hestia (a one-page theme)
What theme you choose is up to you. It should resonate with the overall content theme of the website you are building, and it should be pleasing as well. Make sure that you are using a lightweight theme that has easy navigation and offers a clutter-free experience to readers.
This is how it looks if you try to install a plugin:
Happily click around. It is easy! Don't install unnecessary plugins. I will suggest that you go for these plugins to start with:
- Yoast SEO (for on page or content SEO)
- WP Rocket or W3TC (for caching)
- Sucuri (for website security)
- Optimole (for image optimization)
- Updraft Plus (for site backups)
- WPForms (for creating contact form)
- Cloudflare CDN (for serving static content from Content Delivery Network servers)
You can do that from the Bluehost segment of the WordPress dashboard or from the default WordPress options.
Bluehost organizes things clearly. So, I will suggest you use the Bluehost segment. It will look something like this:
Once you are done adding pages and posts, you will have to launch your website. This is the last step.
Step 4: Launching Your Website
Even though you created pages, you added a theme and several plugins, you added a few posts, your website is still not live.
This is what you will see when you visit your website:
Any visitor who visits your website will see this page. To show your actual web page, you need to launch your site.
You can do that from the Bluehost segment of the WordPress dashboard. Simply click on the “Launch Your Site” button.
Bingo! You are done!
Now go back to your website, and you will see the full website instead of the Coming Soon page.
Be honest, was it difficult?
It is a very simple process. Bluehost has made the process so simple that you don't have to be an expert or take some expert help. Carefully follow the setup screen, and do whatever you are asked to do! Your site will be up and running in no time.
Bluehost Pricing Plans
Bluehost offers some excellent low introductory prices to woo new customers. The lowest price for a hosting plan starts at $2.75/month.
However, don't get too excited about this. It is a common policy that every hosting company uses, but behind the astonishingly low prices, there are many hidden things that will burn a hole in your pocket.
Take a look at the two images below:
This is the pricing plan for WordPress Hosting:
They are offering $2.95 per month for the basic plan. The original price was $7.99. That's a huge discount.
You will get that price of $2.95 a month if and only if you buy the package for 3 years. This means that you have to pay $106.20. You need to pay this whole amount at once.
Now, if you want to buy a 2-year package, you will have to pay at the rate of $3.95 per month. This translates into a total price of $94.8. Again, you have to pay this amount at once.
For a one-year package, you will have to pay a total price of $59.4 at once.
Now, this pricing isn't that bad until the time for renewal comes.
The table below will tell you a sad story.
|Plan Package||Introductory Price||Renewal Rate|
|Basic: 3-year plan||$2.95 per month ($106.20 for three years to be paid at once)||$7.99 per month ($287.64 for three years to be paid at once)|
|Basic: 2-year plan||$3.95 per month ($94.8 for two years to be paid at once)||$7.99 per month ($191.76 for two years to be paid at once)|
|Basic: 1-year plan||$4.95 per month ($59.4 for one year to be paid at once)||$7.99 per month ($95.88 for one year to be paid at once)|
What you can see here is that the renewal will always take place at a higher price! The double whammy here is that you have to pay for the entire 3 years or 2 years or 1 year at once, even during renewal.
What I didn't like is that there is no way to go for a monthly plan. Some web hosting companies allow that, but not Bluehost.
Bluehost's basic argument is that their servers are so good that no one leaves them. That's absurd!
Yes, their servers are great, and I highly recommend them. Unfortunately, a well-optimized website with amazing information can outgrow the need for a Shared Hosting. A good website can get more than 50,000 visitors a month within 3-4 months.
With fast-growing websites, it is always wise to go for a VPS Hosting or a Cloud Hosting plan.
If a situation like that happens, which is highly likely, what will the person (website owner) do?
He or she will lose money because the money-back guarantee will no longer be there. There will be no refunds.
Bluehost is not the only company to offer low introductory prices and then charge more than double during renewal.
It is a standard practice followed by every web hosting company. A handful of them will give you a monthly plan where you pay every month, but they have exorbitantly high prices, mostly at par with Cloud Hosting prices.
Nonetheless, if you do opt for Bluehost's Shared Hosting or WordPress Hosting plans, you will get one of the lowest prices for long term plans.
Money-Back Policy of Bluehost
There is a money-back guarantee with Bluehost. You can avail of that. Take a look at the image below:
Take a good look at the red highlight.
It says that there is a 30-day money-back guarantee available. But there is an asterisk mark as well.
This means that the special introductory offer and the money-back guarantee come with conditions.
I already said about the pricing. The introductory price reverts back to regular prices during renewal.
What about the money-back policy?
Here are the clauses that you need to remember:
- The money-back-guarantee will apply only and only when you apply for a refund within the first 30 days of purchasing a hosting plan.
- Bluehost never entertains any refund request if the 30-day period is over.
- If you request for a refund within 30 days from the date of purchase, and you took a free domain, Bluehost will deduct the yearly price of the domain (at regular price) from the refund amount, and give you back the remaining.
- If you do not wish to retain the domain, Bluehost will cancel the domain and refund the full amount.
A 30-day money-back guarantee is the industry standard. That, however, doesn't mean that you cannot find hosting companies that offer a longer refund period. You can, in fact, find web hosting companies who will offer you:
- 45-day money-back guarantee
- 90-day money-back guarantee
- Anytime money-back guarantee
If you ask me, I advocate at least a 90-day money-back guarantee. That gives ample time to thoroughly test a server performance by closely monitoring uptime and downtime, server load, and response time.
It is very difficult to ascertain the needs of a website in the first few days. Over days you may feel the need for adding new functions using extra plugins. When you do so, there will be more HTTPS requests and an increase in server response time.
In the first 30 days, there may not be a downtime. It may happen later. What about that?
So yes, a 30-day money-back guarantee doesn't really cut it! However, from my experience with Bluehost for the last 7 months (and counting), you don't even need a money-back guarantee.
Bluehost servers are rock-solid, and they offer state-of-the-art infrastructure, making them a very reliable hosting company. Don't forget the endorsement from WordPress.org. They won't recommend a hosting company unless it is really efficient and powerful enough to handle a powerful CMS like WordPress.
This is where Bluehost is totally disappointing! Before I tell you the reason why I will tell you what a site migration is. If you are totally new to website or blog building, and you are about to make your first website or blog, you can skip reading this segment.
If you are not new, and you want to make a switch from your current hosting provider to Bluehost, site migration comes your play.
Site migration refers to the practice of moving one entire website from one server to another server. This can happen:
- If you want to change the server with your existing hosting company.
- If you want to upgrade the hosting plan and move to a different server with your existing hosting company.
- If you want to completely ditch your existing host and move to a different host.
Migrating a website from one server to another involves:
- Shifting the WordPress site database (usually built on MySQL) from one server to another.
- Updating the nameservers with the domain registrar.
- Updating the URLs of the site on the new server.
Site migration is not a simple thing. If not done correctly, your site can break. So, it is absolutely necessary that you have a good knowledge of what you are doing, or you get someone experienced to do it for you.
There are sequential steps that one needs to follow. These steps involve:
- First, you copy the website files from the existing server to the new server.
- Then you dump the MySQL database from the existing server and upload the dumped database file on the new server.
- Then you update the nameservers. As DNS propagations start taking place, browser requests to your website will gradually start diverting to the new server.
[Note that until the DNS propagation is complete, some users may still have the webpages served on their browsers from the old server. Once the DNS propagation is completed, and the nameservers are updated globally, your website will be served from the new server. No browser request will divert to the old server.]
Once DNS propagation is complete, users may start seeing some errors on the website. They may keep seeing 404 Not Found errors. This usually happens because of the change in URL structure caused by the migration.
The easy way to resolve this issue is to update the URL structure from the WordPress dashboard.
No matter how simple these steps may sound, there is a certain degree of complexity involved, and only a person experienced with such things can handle it without problems.
URL update doesn't take time. It can be done in less than 30 seconds without causing a negative impact on user experience due to 404 errors.
Many web hosting companies offer free site migration. Their technical experts handle the entire process without causing any downtime.
Bluehost, unfortunately, doesn't offer a free site migration. This is not good! They charge 149.99 dollars for the service. That's a lot of money!
Features of Bluehost
There are many interesting features that Bluehost offers once you sign up for a hosting account. Here are some of the features that you will find interesting:
Free SSL Certificate
All their plans include a free SSL certificate. A free SSL certificate is quite common for most of the hosting providers. The SSL provider is usually Let's encrypt. However, you are always free to get a premium SSL certificate if you want.
Installing the SSL certificate is not difficult. You can quickly do that from the cPanel. The SSL certificate you get will expire every three months. So, make sure that you renew it immediately.
Google prefers websites with SSL certificates. The best way to know whether any website is protected with an SSL certificate or not is to see whether it is an HTTPS site or an HTTP site. Any HTTPS site has SSL protection.
SSL protection protects user data from hackers. It is particularly helpful if you are running a woo-commerce site or a subscription site.
The server response time is greatly impacted by the type of storage used by the server. SSD or Solid State Drives are faster and play a significant role in reducing the server response time. This, in turn, helps to increase the speed of the website.
Bluehost offers SSD storage for all servers, even if you are purchasing a very basic plan. This gives them an advantage over various other hosting companies that still use the old HDD storage method.
It is a website backup, restore, and monitoring service. It provides protection against malware. Some of the higher plans will offer Codeguard Basic for free, while others will allow you to purchase a subscription.
Bluehost offers a set of SEO tools that you can use to improve your website SEO. You need to remember that SEO is an important factor. If your website is not optimized for Search Engines, it will not rank on Google searches.
Bluehost SEO tools are not free. You need to buy a yearly subscription for it. If you want it, you will have to shell out $23.88 per year. You can purchase the subscription during the hosting plan purchase, or you can do that later.
Bluehost offers unmetered bandwidth for all its plans. This means that restrictions are not applied to how much bandwidth you can use.
Never think that unmetered means unlimited or infinite. The resources are always finite, and even if a hosting provider is saying that they are offering unlimited storage and unmetered bandwidth, there is always a limitation.
Particularly in the case of Bluehost, the unmetered bandwidth clause has the following limitations:
- Your databases should not have more than 5,000 tables.
- The total size of all your databases should not exceed 10GB.
- The size of a single database should not exceed 5GB.
It is unlikely that a personal or small business will exceed these limitations, but when the website keeps growing with more and more content and features, it is a possibility.
A small or personal website can reach these limitations within a span of 2 years. This is one reason why I do not like staying with a Shared Hosting plan for more than 2 years.
If you fail to adhere to these policies, Bluehost will send warning emails, and may eventually terminate your account.
One easy way to stay within the limitations is to ensure that you do not use too many plugins. They will keep adding database tables.
Also, make sure that you keep your database clean with the help of a plugin like WP-Optimize, or Advanced Database Cleaner, etc.
Here is a quick trick that you should use:
Make sure that you upload your article only when you have written the article on a word processing document like MS Word or SoftMaker's TextMaker. Do all the revisions on that document.
Once you are satisfied with the final outcome, make sure that you have all the images and videos ready. Also, identify the spots where you want to insert those images and videos throughout your article.
Also, make sure that you have the meta description and other metadata ready.
After you have everything ready, start uploading it. Try to upload it in one go. Don't try to save drafts frequently, that is, reduce revisions.
The more you keep doing that, the more database entries are created. This eventually increases the database size.
You can avail of spam protection for your website by preventing harmful content from reaching your inbox. Bluehost's spam protection feature called the Postini is powered by Google. So, you can expect a very powerful spam protection feature.
Domain Privacy + Protection
This feature will protect you against spam, identity theft, phishing attacks, etc. If you decide to buy this service, it will mask the personal information that you provide while registering the domain name.
Your website should have separate email accounts. Using third party services like Gmail etc. doesn't make it look professional.
Even with the basic plan, you can create up to 5 email accounts. There are no limits to the number of email accounts you can create using higher plans.
Enhanced But Simple cPanel
Bluehost offers a very simple and yet, very powerful cPanel. It is well-organized and comes with a very clean interface. You can manage your email accounts, databases, files, everything else from the cPanel.
Here is how the cPanel of Bluehost looks like:
You can get unique IP addresses for your website. This will allow you to bypass website blacklisting.
Don't forget that Shared Hosting servers have thousands of websites. Even if one website involves in bad activities, a whole server can get blacklisted. A shared server uses shared IP addresses. This puts you at risk.
If you want, you can get a dedicated IP address for your website. If you do so, even if the server's public IP addresses are blacklisted, your website will stay unscathed. You can use the cPanel you see above to manage your IP addresses.
Bluehost will provide you with $100 marketing credits for both Microsoft Advertising and Google Ads. So, in total, you will get $200 worth of credit. However, you can use this credit only if you spend $25 each on a new Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising account.
This feature is pretty useless for blogs, but if you are building an e-commerce website, you may use it. However, you have to ensure that you know how Microsoft Advertising and Google Ads work.
Cloudflare is a well-known name when it comes to providing two things:
- Security against DDoS attack.
- Content Delivery Network.
DDoS attacks are dangerous. They can prevent people from accessing your website and even render the whole server dysfunctional. Cloudflare is very powerful in thwarting such attacks.
Additionally, Cloudflare CDN can speed up your site by globally distributing your site content on various servers across the world.
When someone requests a webpage from your site, the CDN server closest to that person delivers the webpage instead of pulling it from your server. This can improve the speed of your website by several seconds, allowing better performance on Google PageSpeed tests.
You can quickly integrate Cloudflare with your website hosted on Bluehost. All you have to do is create an account with Cloudflare and provide the necessary credentials in the integration area on the Bluehost server.
You will suggest you start with a free plan and later upgrade to a paid option to get better protection and a faster site.
Bluehost Servers and Service Continuity
Bluehost builds its servers inhouse by carefully selecting all the hardware components. This ensures that they pick up only the best options available on the market.
Because of this practice, they have very reliable servers. In addition to this, they ensure service continuity based on the following things:
- UPS power supply
- 24×7 networking monitoring
- Diesel generators as a power backup
Power backup is necessary because if servers go offline due to power grid failure, all websites hosted on those servers will go offline. Diesel generators prevent that from happening, ensuring service continuity.
Bluehost Support System
Bluehost has a very robust support system available. They offer the following options:
- 24×7 chat support
- Support tickets
- Email support
- Telephone support
From my experience, the chat support system is not a good option if you are looking for a solution to a very technical problem. It is better that you opt for email support or support ticket system.
The chat support system is pretty good to take care of your basic queries related to pricing, refund, etc. Do not expect too much from their chat support.
I never tried telephone support. The fact of the matter is that I didn't use their support system too much. I am pretty comfortable with their extensive knowledge base articles.
They are thorough and provide a solution to almost everything. However, if you do need support, I will suggest that you opt for the email or support ticket system.
Pros and Cons of Bluehost
Bluehost is not perfect. In fact, there is no web hosting company in this world that is perfect. They will always have advantages and disadvantages. There will always be lovers and haters.
Whether you will love it or hate, it will depend on your experience with Bluehost.
So, what are its strengths and weaknesses? Here is what I found:
- It is one of the very few hosting companies that is endorsed by WordPress.org.
- It has over 2 million websites hosted on its servers. That's a big number. They must be doing something right.
- They offer SSD storage, making their servers fast and reliable.
- They have a RAID-1 configuration available. This means that your website data is mirrored in several disks. So, if one disk fails, the other kicks in, ensuring the continuous availability of your website.
- They offer free SSL and free anti-spam measures that you can use right from the cPanel.
- They offer quick and easy integration with Cloudflare.
- They provide a host of different security measures, including Codeguard Basic, Domain Privacy + Protection, Unique IP address, password protection for crucial files, and more.
- They have very reliable and fast servers.
- They have one-click WordPress installation, which is so simple that anyone with zero knowledge can get a website up and running in about 10 minutes tops.
- Bluehost offers a 30-day no-questions-asked refund policy.
- They offer one free domain registration for one year.
- They have 99.99% uptime, which is one of the highest in the industry.
- They also offer fully-managed WordPress hosting as well, where you never need to worry about the technical sides of keeping your site clean, fast, and functional.
- They don't have any short-term hosting plans. Sometime, people may not need to buy hosting for 1 year or more. Providing a monthly plan would have been an added benefit.
- The renewal prices are pretty high, even though the introductory prices are very low.
- They do a lot of upselling. That can often be confusing for people who are new to hosting and website business as a whole.
- They have exorbitantly high prices for site migration. That's ridiculous.
- They do not have windows-based servers. You are restricted only to Linux servers.
- Their tech support team is pretty slow to respond. Even the chat system will make you wait for quite long.
- Their ‘unmetered bandwidth' thing has many attached conditions.
- Their managed WordPress hosting (WordPress Pro) is very costly.
Is Bluehost Right For You?
If you are starting out your blogging journey, Bluehost is a great option. However, I will suggest that you do not buy a hosting plan for more than 1 year or 2 years. If your website gets popular quickly, you will invariably feel the pressing need for switching servers.
VPS Hosting or Cloud Hosting might be the right option for you over the long term. For instance, I own a website that started with Shared Hosting, but today, it is hosting on a cloud server. It took me 4 years to reach there, but you may do it faster.
If you plan on building your site using WordPress, I will suggest that you go for WordPress Hosting. However, if you want to build other sites powered by different software like Joomla, Drupal, etc., I will suggest you go for Shared Hosting.
Remember that WordPress is a beast in its own rights. A server that is optimized for running the WordPress CMS will ensure that your site keeps running smoothly.
However, if you know how to optimize your WordPress site manually, a Shared Hosting plan will work just fine.
Yes, there are several good alternatives. HostGator, SiteGround, GreenGeeks, A2 Hosting are some of the most popular alternatives to Bluehost. All of them have high server uptime.
They offer various hosting plans with low introductory prices and almost every feature that Bluehost has to offer. In fact, HostGator is cheaper than BlueHost.
Some of them will even offer free site migration and a month-to-month billing cycle.
If you have the budget, and if you don't want to learn the nitty-gritty of WordPress, a managed WordPress Hosting is a good option for you.
However, I usually suggest people go for unmanaged WordPress Hosting or a simple Shared Hosting if you are just starting out your blogging journey.
Doing so will ensure that you will learn everything by experimenting. Yes, there will be hiccups followed by a lot of frustration. But in the end, it will be worth your time and effort.
Once you learn how to optimize your WordPress site on your own, you will never have to rely on others. You can quickly switch servers, go for Cloud Hosting, and optimize your website, and more.
Some people do prefer fully-managed WordPress hosting. That's perfectly fine. They focus on content creation while leaving the technical burden on others. This is a great strategy if you implement it properly, and you have ample funds for the initial years.
I just gave you the steps for installation at the beginning of this article. Do you remember that all you had to do was to click on the “Create Site” button?
That was an automatic WordPress installation or one-click installation. The other things that you did were only customizations.
You didn't have to deal with the database, or wp-config file, or anything else. You did not go for a manual installation. Manual installation involves downloading WordPress CMS, uploading it on the server, creating the database, connecting the database to the website, and more!
I did that when I started with my blogging journey. It was horrible, but I learned a lot!