Thursday 22nd November 2018

Bluehost Review

Excellent uptime and response time but it's poor on customer service and lacks some important features.

  • Uptime and server response time are excellent for the price;
  • Poor customer service;
  • The first year is slightly pricier than comparable web hosts;
  • Unlike many hosts in this price range, it charges for website migrations ($149);
  • Unlike some other hosts, it provides a free domain;
  • It doesn’t offer an uptime guarantee (which is highly unusual).

Bluehost Review

Excellent uptime and response time but it's poor on customer service and lacks some important features.

  • Uptime and server response time are excellent for the price;
  • Poor customer service;
  • The first year is slightly pricier than comparable web hosts;
  • Unlike many hosts in this price range, it charges for website migrations ($149);
  • Unlike some other hosts, it provides a free domain;
  • It doesn’t offer an uptime guarantee (which is highly unusual).

Latest rankings

We performance test the world's biggests hosts on a second-by-second basis. The top 3 performers for July 2018 are listed below.

Host Uptime Response time
HostGator 100% 390
Bluehost 100% 502
Hostinger 100% 513

Latest rankings

We performance test the world's biggests hosts on a second-by-second basis. The top 3 performers for July 2018 are listed below.

Host Uptime Response time
HostGator 100% 390
Bluehost 100% 502
Hostinger 100% 513

Overview

If you prioritize great performance and are less concerned about uptime guarantees and customer service, then Bluehost may be the host for you.

Our internal testing consistently finds that Bluehost’s uptime and server response time are excellent – it has placed first or joint first in our rankings on a few occasions this year.

Its introductory annual rate is slightly pricier than some of its competitors; however, its annual renewal price (the price you’re charged for renewing upon culmination of your first year of hosting) is cheaper than those same web hosts.

It’s also important to note Bluehost provides a free domain name – when you factor this in, its introductory annual rates look slightly better.

Its customer service lets it down. Bluehost provides both ticketing and live chat support however it can be challenging to get through or receive answers to questions.

It also doesn’t seem to support HTTP/2 for its lower priced packages however it has recently begun providing free SSL to customers.

Its recent update to its admin panel focused on a superior integration with WordPress (it partly feels as though WordPress is becoming the only solution Bluehost wants to work with). Its – well, its parent company’s – acquisition of Mojo Marketplace, a theme provider, takes it further in this direction.

Overall, Bluehost is a viable choice, particularly if you manage a WordPress website and are primarily concerned about performance.

Latest uptime

Month Uptime Response time
January 2018 99.97% 442ms
February 2018 100% 418ms
March 2018 100% 437ms
April 2018 99.96% 683ms
May 2018 100% 501ms
June 2018 100% 472ms
July 2018 100% 502ms

Key data

Click on a metric to compare the performance of all 18 hosts, or learn more.

N/A = Not applicable NS = Not specified RBNS = Restricted but not specified

Annual price2

$71.40

Bandwidth/data transfer

Unmetered

The not-so-small small print

1Many web hosts advertise monthly prices but don't allow you to pay monthly. If you can't actually pay monthly we don't display a monthly price.

2This metric lists the annual price for packages paid 12 months in advance. It doesn't calculate the cost of packages paid monthly for 12 months.

3This is what it costs to renew a package paid annually in the second year. Most hosts increase prices for the second and each subsequent year.

4A "free domain" may sound like an enticing offer but keep in mind its costs will often be subtracted from a refund and some web hosts charge significantly more for renewals than registrations.

5Most web hosts display their uptime guarantees to one decimal point e.g. 99.9% is actually 99.90%. While some uptime guarantees look more attractive e.g. 100%, it's the compensation terms - how much they pay you if they fail to honor it - that matter.

Bluehost alternatives

Excellent uptime and response time but offers poor customer service and lacks essential features.

Annual price

$59.88

Uptime

99.99%

Nothing spectacular, nothing truly terrible. They're expensive relative to other web hosts.

Annual price

£94.99

Uptime

99.93%

1&1

Solid uptime but limited customer service, excessive legalese and overbearing restrictions.

Annual price

$11.88

Uptime

99.97%

Good uptime, features and value for money but no free domain and response time is average to poor;

Annual price

$24.88

Uptime

99.94%

Pricing

Despite the fact it advertises monthly rates, you can’t actually pay monthly for entry-level shared hosting accounts with Bluehost – you have to pay at least 12 months in advance.

Its entry-level package is advertised at $3.95 per month however you can only qualify for this rate if you’re willing to pay 36 months in advance.

If you only want to pay 12 months in advance it actually costs $5.95 per month (total upfront cost is $71.40 per year excluding tax) – this makes it slightly pricier than other hosts competing with similar hosting packages.

Its annual renewal fees are over 30 percent higher ($95.88) than its introductory annual fees. Unfortunately, this isn’t unusual for web hosts – FatCow’s and 1&1’s annual renewal fees are 266% and 700% more expensive than their introductory annual fees.

You’ll qualify for a free domain with this package, however it’s worth noting the renewal cost for a domain is $15.99, which contrasts unfavorably with the $11.99 it costs to register a domain.

Things get confusing when you review its domain privacy pricing. While its help pages signify domain privacy costs $14.88 we realized, on our way through checkout, it only costs $11.88.

That said, Bluehost’s domain fees are more expensive than some of its competitors e.g. Hostinger offers .com registrations for $8.99 per year and domain privacy for $5 per year.

It’s worth remembering a number of web hosts offer domain privacy free of charge, even for regular hosting. This is yet another reason why it’s worth considering keeping hosting and domain registrations with separate organizations.

Key data

Click on a metric to compare the performance of all 18 hosts, or learn more.

N/A = Not applicable NS = Not specified RBNS = Restricted but not specified

Annual price

$71.40

Compare web hosts

We compare 17 web hosts against 56 metrics, including monthly and annual pricing and bandwidth, CPU, read/write, storage and database restrictions.

Technical

One of the more important restrictions set by Bluehost is limiting customers to hosting only one site per shared hosting account. A number of hosts at this price range allow customers to host “unlimited” websites.

We couldn’t find any mention in its user agreement, acceptable use policy or admin panel about I/O, entry processes or RAM restrictions for shared hosting accounts (which doesn’t mean they don’t exist, merely that it doesn’t communicate them.

However, if you click on one of the features in Bluehost’s price comparison tables for shared hosting accounts you’ll find this:

“We regularly examine customer bandwidth and disk space utilization data in a series of statistical analyses and use the results to define “normal”.”

While it advertises that bandwidth is “unmetered” – and it also claims in some places that it’s “unlimited” – it’s also clear that your bandwidth (which we think it treats synonymously with ‘data transfer’) is “examined” and what’s “normal” will be determined by average resource usage on the server.

This also applied to CPU usage, for which Bluehost states in its terms of service:

“Bluehost expressly reserves the right to review every user account for excessive usage of CPU, bandwidth, disk space and other resources”

Needless to say, we’re unsure it’s a good thing to buy a service only to be told by the service provider that limitations on your use of that service depends on how other websites hosted on that server perform.

To be clear, this isn’t in any way unusual – most web hosts have these restrictions and many of them advertise services as “unlimited” – however, relatively speaking, there’s very little information from Bluehost around specific restrictions relating to CPU or bandwidth (except that they exist).

Overall, there’s a lack of transparency about the restrictions placed on your account. Other hosts, e.g. Siteground, are significantly more transparent about CPU usage, entry processes, I/O, etc.

Key data

Click on a metric to compare the performance of all 18 hosts, or learn more.

N/A = Not applicable NS = Not specified RBNS = Restricted but not specified

CPU usage restriction?

RBNS

CPU usage restriction

NS

Number of CPU cores

NS

Bandwidth

Unmetered

Storage restriction

50GB

RAM restriction

NS

Database size restriction

2048MB

No. of websites restriction

1

Compare features

Annual price

Compare all 18 hosts by what it costs if you pay 12 months in advance.

Host Annual price
SiteGround $47.40
Bluehost $59.40
Hostinger $39.00

Free domain?

Compare all 18 hosts by whether they offer a free domain with new hosting subscriptions.

Host Free domain?
FatCow Yes
A2 Hosting No
HostGator Yes

Offers HTTP/2?

HTTP/2 was the first update to the HTTP protocol in 20 years. See which hosts support it.

Host Supports HTTP/2?
Just Host No
GoDaddy No
SiteGround Yes

Entry processes

Learn more about, and compare 18 hosts by, limitations placed on entry processes.

Host Entry processes
InMotion 20
GreenGeeks 100
Namecheap 20

Service

Perhaps one of the more frustrating aspects of Bluehost’s services is the number of their help pages that are out of date (which probably isn’t helped by the fact it recently updated its admin panel).

For example, to purchase our package we relied on a hosting comparison page that states Bluehost doesn’t provide free SSL – even though it does. Likewise, on its help pages its claims to offer a service called Site Backup Pro; however, this service is no longer available in its admin panel.

We also had problems with its customer service. We tried its live chat on two occasions earlier this year and were left waiting at least 2-5 minutes between each interaction.

Bluehost also no longer provides ticketing support (a step which has also been taken by GoDaddy) and sent us upwards of 19 email communications in our first month as a customer (this appeared to be a consequence of us leaving a hosting package in our basket).

If you want Bluehost’s support team to migrate your website, it will charge you $149.99 for up to 5 websites. A number of web hosts offer this service free of charge.

While it offers a 30 day money back guarantee, there’s no mention of an uptime guarantee anywhere on its website, which is is highly unusual for a web host – most other web hosts provide uptime guarantees between 99.00% and 99.90%.

Finally, we really can’t figure out whether we like the ‘new and improved’ Bluehost shared hosting admin panel or not.

To give you some context, Bluehost has as an ever-growing affinity for WordPress – this, we suspect, is partly motivated by its – well, EIG’s – acquisition of MOJO Marketplace (a WordPress themes marketplace).

When you first login you’re presented with an option to install a theme – and you’re away. The presumption has already been made that you will use WordPress.

However, in its desire to take users through the process towards buying themes, plugins and marketing services, it feels as if it has left us with no choice other than WordPress.

We struggled to find any other 1-click installations in cPanel; rather, it appears as though you have to go through FTP if you want to install anything other than WordPress.

As functional and aesthetically pleasing as the new admin panel is, and as much as it will help more inexperienced users, it feels a little as though we’re being sold limited options masquerading as “convenience”.

Aside from this, and if WordPress is your CMS of choice, you’re awash with choices. Bluehost’s control panel has been transformed into a quasi-wordpress-administration panel, one which links through to core areas of your WordPress installation (eg plugins, users and themes), offers you simplified control over caching and allows you to set conditional rules for comments, content and updates.

Key data

Click on a metric to compare the performance of all 18 hosts, or learn more.

N/A = Not applicable NS = Not specified RBNS = Restricted but not specified

Uptime guarantee

No

Live chat support

Yes

Ticket/email support

Yes

Phone support

No