We’ve been a paying Bluehost customer since 2017.
That means we’ve been monitoring their cheapest shared hosting plan performance (both average load time and uptime) for the past two years.
This Bluehost review relies heavily on data, as well as the overall experience with their hosting features and customer support.
In a nutshell, all Bluehost plans offer their customers 24/7 live chat, unmetered bandwidth, and at least 5 email accounts. Similarly to many other web hosting companies, they too offer their users a free domain for the first year. Their plans start from $2.75/mo and include improved security, backups, and SSL certificate. These help to keep your website protected and safe.
Overall, their performance has been good. Bluehost is clearly at the top with their uptime (99.99%) and fast load time of 0.41ms.
Read all the “Pros” and “Cons” below:
General Info & Hosting Overview
|OVERALL RANK:||Rated #1 out of 32 web hosts|
|SPEED:||406ms (December 2017 to March 2019 average)|
|UPTIME:||99.99% (December 2017 to March 2019 average)|
|SUPPORT:||24/7 Live Chat|
|APPS:||WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and some website builders|
|FEATURES:||Unmetered bandwidth and storage, email accounts, free domain 1st year|
|HOSTING PLANS:||Shared, Cloud, VPS and Dedicated Servers|
|SITE TRANSFER:||Not free|
|PRICING:||Starting at $2.75/mo (renews at $7.95/mo)|
Pros of using Bluehost
1. Best Uptime – 99.99% – Throughout The Year
Your website is useless if your host can’t keep it online. So your hosting provider is like your Achilles’ heel — it’s the soft spot that could give out at any moment. And you can’t do a thing about it.
After reviewing 32 web hosts, our benchmark for “good” uptime is 99.94%. That might sound pretty high, but it’s actually even slightly below average. Plug that percentage into a calculator and you’ll quickly see it translates into at least 26 minutes of downtime each month or just over five hours over the course of a year.
So ideally, we don’t want to see anything less than that.
The good news is that Bluehost wasn’t anywhere close, comfortably keeping our site live for 99.99% of 2017-2019. Here’s the monthly breakdown, with a scheduled maintenance period in October:
- March 2019 average uptime: 99.99%
- February 2019 average uptime: 100%
- January 2019 average uptime: 99.96%
- December 2018 average uptime: 100%
- November 2018 average uptime: 100%
- October 2018 average uptime: 99.91% (scheduled maintenance)
- September 2018 average uptime: 100%
- August 2018 average uptime: 100%
- July 2018 average uptime: 100%
- June 2018 average uptime: 100%
- May 2018 average uptime: 99.99%
- April 2018 average uptime: 100%
- March 2018 average uptime: 100%
- February 2018 average uptime: 100%
- January 2018 average uptime: 99.99%
- December 2017 average uptime: 100%
Conclusion? Bluehost is the most reliable web hosting according to our uptime study.
2. Top 5 Website “Load” Speed – 406ms
A report from Google last year found that the vast majority of mobile websites are way too slow.
That’s a problem for two major reasons. Google’s mobile-first index can either elevate or hide your site from being found based on its speeds. And studies show that slow websites almost always translate into lower sales.
So after uptime, your host’s page loading times can literally make or break your site’s success.
Once again, we kept track of Bluehost’s performance over 2018 using a third-party tool, Pingdom. And once again, we were pleased with the results — an average speed of 406ms that comfortably places them as the 4th fastest site we’ve tested.
3. Low Introductory Pricing ($2.75/mo)
We’ll dive deeper into Bluehost’s full pricing and plans in just a few minutes.
However, if you were to go check out the starting prices, you’ll notice the lowest advertised price is $3.95/month. That’s a pretty good deal considering they’ve supposedly reduced it already from $7.99/month originally.
For that price, you get pretty much everything you need for a single website. That includes 50 GB SSD storage, unmetered bandwidth, a free SSL certificate, and more.
So you’d be getting a pretty good value for all of that, plus their consistent uptime and page speeds.
The good news is that we’ve been able to work out a deal with them for our readers that takes the starting price down even further to $2.75/month.
This is the lowest rate I’ve seen anywhere online. And trust me, I spend way too much time online as it is. So it’s a legit deal if you’re in the market for a new affordable host.
4. Good Security Options
Even though Bluehost is one of the “cheaper” options on the market, we were pleased to see that it didn’t cut too many corners or skimp on critical features. Here’s a quick comparison of the most notable ones.
They throw in a lot of good security options by default, including the free SSL certificate for each plan like we mentioned.
All plans also include a domain privacy feature that will help keep the personal information you used to sign up for a domain private. (Hackers can use these personal details for phishing schemes to fool you into handing over other sensitive information, too.)
SiteLock is included to help prevent malware attacks, which are unfortunately fairly common on WordPress sites. CodeGuard is another form for protection, which also provides daily backups so you can roll back previous versions of a site if it does get hacked.
Postini, from Google, is the final security tool worth nothing. It provides spam protection for your email so anything suspicious is prevented from hitting your inbox entirely.
Altogether, this is a pretty decent security package to keep your site safe and sound.
5. Many Integrations, Apps, and eCommerce Features
Beyond the included security features, Bluehost also provides access to a ton of different apps and integrations so you can use the most popular services on the web.
For example, they have a domain manager if you’d rather just purchase and manage multiple domains through them. You can set daily, weekly, or monthly backups just in case.
You can install WordPress with a single click (more on that in the next section below). You can also install other popular content management systems (CMS) like Drupal, Joomla, run an e-commerce shop, and more.
Plus, Bluehost will even include access to a Content Delivery Network (CDN). These host your images and large files, taking that work off your servers, to deliver them faster to users around the world and keep your site fast at the same time.
6. ‘Official’ WordPress.org Recommended Host
WordPress is the most widely used website platform on the market.
And they only “officially” recommend three hosting partners to use with a WordPress site:
Of course, you can use almost any web hosting provider to create a WordPress site. But the fact that they’re one of the few officially recognized partners is encouraging.
7. Easy to Use for Beginners
Some of the web hosts we’ve seen are best only for advanced users.
LiquidWeb, for example, is great if you know what you’re doing. But they lack a user-friendly interface for non-technical people. So if you’re a beginner, you’d have a tough time getting a site live.
I liked that even though Bluehost uses cPanel, it’s still easy to use. You just need to point and click in most cases.
They have features for advanced users. But beginners can easily fire up a WordPress. Or, they can use the Bluehost website builder site to start with a template that you can customize by just dragging-and-dropping features.
8. 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
Getting the best deal on web hosting means you’re usually prepaying for a few months or years at a time.
Bluehost is no different — more on that below. But they do offer a 30-day money-back guarantee on their plans.
You can try out the service to gauge their performance for yourself, and then still ask for a refund if you’re not completely satisfied. There are a few caveats, though.
According to their terms, here’s what does and doesn’t fall under that guarantee:
- You can only get refunds on the web hosting cost, not any other products like domains or other add-ons.
- A $15.99 fee will be deducted if you received a free domain name in your plan.
- Any requests after 30 days will not be refunded.
It’s not exactly a no-questions-asked policy like we’ve seen from some hosts. So make sure you’re OK with those points before signing up.
9. Customer Support
Bluehost offers everything from a knowledge base, to live chat, email ticket support, and even the phone. I went with live chat, mainly because I’m not 70 years old, and Vinutha connected within about two minutes.
There were slight delays between each question, but overall, Vinutha was extremely friendly and offered direct answers to each question. It was a painless experience, which is exactly what you want out of a host’s customer support.
Cons of using Bluehost
Bluehost performs pretty well across the board. There are two big areas, however, where the costs get a little steep. Let’s dive deeper into each one.
1. Higher Renewal Rates (Common in Web Hosting Industry)
The best way to get a rock-bottom price is to prepay for one, two, or even three years upfront.
So on the one hand, that kinda sucks because you’re not just committing to a few bucks a month, but about a hundred for a few years from now.
But that’s not the worst-kept pricing secret in the web hosting industry.
No, that award goes to the high renewal rates after your introductory period expires. In this case, prepaying for a full three years at $2.95 is a good deal because you’re locking in that low rate for as long as possible.
However, at the end of that term, the rates will jump back up to their “Normal” rates. These range from $7.99 – $8.99/month on the most basic shared plan depending on how long you prepay.
2. Site Migrations Aren’t Free…
Most web hosts we’ve reviewed will move your existing website over to their service for free. They see it as a friendly service that helps make new customers happy, so they’ll wave any fees.
Unfortunately, Bluehost doesn’t do free migrations.
They have a one-time fee of $149 that includes up to five websites, 20 email accounts, and any other database files for these sites.
They claim it’ll be quick and seamless, so you won’t experience any delays or downtime.
However, the fact that you have to pay for it, and pay so much, is a big “Con” to consider.
Bluehost Pricing, Hosting Plans & Quick Facts
Bluehost’s Basic plan will set you back $3.95/mo (or $2.75 with our discount).
The Plus plan increases to $5.95/mo — the same price as the Choice Plus option for unlimited websites, SSD storage, and bandwidth. They also allow you to manage unlimited domains, parked domains, and subdomain is on these plans, too.
The Pro plan starts at $13.95/month with all of these features and high performance from their servers.
In addition, Bluehost has all major web hosting types, including VPS, cloud, and dedicated data centers.
- Free domain? Yes for 1st year, then renews at $15.99.
- Ease of Sign-up: Easy two-page sign-up process.
- Payment Methods: Major credit cards and PayPal.
- Hidden Fees and Clauses: No refund on any domain names. Renewal rates for both domains and hosting increase.
- Upsells: Some Upsells. But it’s common in the web hosting industry, so don’t worry about it.
- Account Activation: Most users enjoy instant activation. If the information is inaccurate or there’s suspicion of fraud, activation might get delayed.
- Control Panel and Dashboard Experience: Simple and easy-to-use control panel.
- Installation of Apps and CMS (WordPress, Joomla, etc.): Mojo Marketplace makes app installation quick and easy.
Do we recommend Bluehost?
Yes, we do.
Bluehost has ranked at or near the top for both uptime and loading times for more than a year.
In addition, they offer strong security support, a money-back guarantee, and plenty of user-friendly apps, all for one of the lowest rates in the industry ($2.75/month).
They’re not perfect, though. Renewal rates will increase after the introductory pricing comes to a close. And they charge extra for site migrations, which other hosts throw in for free.
But overall, Bluehost delivers strong performance for a good value.
P.S. Have you used Bluehost before? Please consider leaving a review below — good or bad — doesn’t really matter as long it’s helpful to our visitors. Thanks for your support.