Bluehost review: Snapshot
While a cursory glance may appear to support the above assertions, our in-depth Bluehost review has revealed numerous flaws with this popular web host. For example, it’s quite expensive, and monthly payment options aren’t available. Its performance is terrible, and there’s really not a whole lot to make it stand out from the crowd.
There are a few noteworthy features, including a neat website builder and a streamlined WordPress website creation portal, but there’s just not enough to like here.
If you’re looking for a reliable, affordable web host, Hostinger presents as a much better option. Hostwinds also stands out as a more advanced host, particularly for those willing to pay a little more for better service. Sure, Bluehost is okay, but you will get much better value for money elsewhere.
Read on for the full review.
|Pros||- Feature-rich shared hosting plans - Beginner-friendly cPanel control panel - Impressive 24/7 support||- Advanced security tools - Industry-leading prices - Powerful native hPanel control panel||- Advanced security tools - Industry-leading prices - Powerful native hPanel control panel - Leading performance across the board - Wide range of hosting solutions - Streamlined WordPress website creation|
|Cons||- Deceptive introductory prices - Terrible performance - Underpowered VPS and dedicated server plans||- Limited server resources with shared hosting plans - Slightly high renewal prices||- Difficult SSL certificate installation - Confusing price structure|
|Verdict||Bluehost is a very popular web host that’s recommended by WordPress.org, but it’s far from the most powerful we’ve used.||Hostinger is arguably the best budget web hosting provider, and its products are backed by advanced security and a suite of powerful features.||Hostwinds is a popular hosting provider, offering a wide range of premium products backed by excellent performance.|
|View deals||Visit site||Visit site||Visit site|
Bluehost is far from the best web host we’ve used, but it still boasts a few interesting tools and features that are worth expanding on. The native Bluehost WordPress website builder offers a streamlined way to create a WordPress site. It uses a drag-and-drop interface, converting your customizations to WordPress code that can be edited further from your WordPress.org management dashboard.
When you use the builder for the first time, you will be guided through a short questionnaire that enables you to specify global design settings. The builder itself is similar to many of the simpler and best website builders on the market, using a basic section-based editor. You won’t have excellent design flexibility, but you will be able to get an attractive site online in a very short amount of time.
In addition, Bluehost offers a tidy domain registration portal. Here, you can purchase new domains as required, adding them directly to your account. Transfer domains you already own to your Bluehost management dashboard, and take care of everything from the comfort of one central hub.
Bluehost: Key features and highlights
The Bluehost app marketplace is accessible via your main management dashboard, and it contains a suite of add-ons that you can use to add extra functionality to your site. Many of these are free, but some come with one-time or monthly subscription fees.
Examples of the things you can find in the app marketplace include premium WordPress themes, domain protection, advanced SSL certificates, and third-party app integrations. There are also various professional services available, including site migrations and PPC marketing solutions.
Bluehost is known as one of the most beginner-friendly web hosts available, and its knowledge base doesn’t disappoint. It contains numerous self-help resources, including guides, tutorials, and in-depth articles explaining how to do everything from installing WordPress to configuring advanced DNS settings.
Use the integrated search box to find resources relevant to your questions, or simply browse the knowledge base by selecting a useful category.
Bluehost: What’s new?
As a leader in the hosting industry, Bluehost strives to regularly add new tools and features to its products. It provides full product updates via its website, and it’s immediately obvious what features are being added or updated.
On the downside, the most recent update was on 11th November 2020. This added a range of SEO tools to the platform’s premium add-on offerings, which can be included with your hosting for an additional monthly cost.
A WordPress migration plugin was added on 22nd October 2020, and Maestro was added slightly earlier in the year to make things easier for those managing multiple websites. Other recent updates include a premium themes marketplace and Bluehost’s innovative targeted content system, which presents useful resources to help you through specific stages of the site-creation and site-management process.
Bluehost’s hosting solutions are a little limited, but you will be able to choose from a small range of shared, WordPress, VPS, and dedicated server options. There are four shared hosting plans, which range from $33 to $167.40 for an initial one-year subscription.
Monthly payments aren’t available, and you will pay significantly more on renewal. For example, the cheapest annual subscription renews at $119.88 a year. Increased initial discounts are available with two-year and three-year subscriptions.
Unmanaged WordPress hosting also starts at $71.40 for the minimum 12-month plan, while managed WordPress is offered on a minimum three-month term for $50.85. Monthly payments are available with VPS hosting (from $29.99 a month) and dedicated server hosting (from $149.99 a month) hosting, which is nice to see.
It’s worth noting that there are multiple subscription terms available for all plans, and you will generally pay less per month if you commit to a longer term such as a three-year plan. We’ve outlined some of the main features of the four shared hosting plans in the table below.
|Plan type/feature||Basic||Plus||Choice Plus||Pro|
|Cost per month||$5.95*||$7.95*||$8.95*||$16.95*|
|Cost per year||$71.40*||$95.40*||$107.40*||$203.40*|
|Unlimited site connections||X (One)||✓||✓||✓|
|Unlimited storage||X (50GB)||✓||✓||✓|
|Free domain privacy||X||X||✓||✓|
|Free dedicated IP address||X||X||X||✓|
*Monthly payments aren’t available, so the monthly prices shown are derived from the price of a subscription with a one-year term. Prices will increase significantly after your initial subscription.
To better judge Bluehost's services, we tested the creation of a WordPress site via the web host, and its performance and uptime: a key factor when looking at web hosting.
How do you create a WordPress site with Bluehost?
Starting a new WordPress website with Bluehost is quite a straightforward process. Select the subscription option that best suits your needs, and work through the checkout process. This is quite simple, although you will need to watch out for annoying and sometimes pre-selected upselling attempts.
When you log in to your Bluehost account for the first time, you will be guided through a short questionnaire asking about your website creation experience and long-term goals. You will be presented with two different site creation options: install WordPress directly, or use the Bluehost website builder for simple WordPress site creation.
We selected the standard WordPress option, working through the required setup steps. WordPress will be automatically installed, and you will be taken to your Bluehost management dashboard. There are various customization and management tools here, and you will find even more by selecting the "Advanced" menu tab and heading to the cPanel control panel.
You can access your WordPress management dashboard from your Bluehost control panel. And even if you decide to set up your site directly with WordPress, you can still go back and edit it with the Bluehost builder.
Overall, starting a new WordPress site with Bluehost was a very straightforward and intuitive process. You will be guided through every step of the process, and even those with limited tech and/or web development knowledge shouldn’t have any trouble.
How does Bluehost perform?
In order to test the performance of Bluehost’s servers, we created a simple WordPress website and monitored its uptime and server response times with Pingdom’s monitoring tools over a 14-day period. The results were far from ideal, however.
On the plus side, the 99.99% uptime we observed was passable. Our site was only offline twice, for a total of two minutes, during the entire test period. This was nice to see, although you need to be aware that such results may change over longer time periods. It’s also important to note that Bluehost doesn’t offer any uptime guarantee, which is unusual in the web hosting industry.
However, Bluehost’s server response times were terrible. The average 2.7-second server response time is over ten times slower than many of the better-performing hosts we’ve tested. Response times like this will have significant impacts on the performance and long-term success of your website, and this is something of a dealbreaker for us.
In fact, we felt that the high response times could have been an anomaly or an issue with our server, so we decided to complete a second round of testing. But the results didn’t improve. A second 14-day test period revealed an average response time of 2.59 seconds which, although slightly better than in the first test, remains very poor.
It is important to note, though, that our testing was completed with the cheapest shared hosting plan. While this is no excuse for the performance we experienced, we would expect the more expensive plans to offer better speeds.
Alternatives to Bluehost
Although Bluehost is known as one of the world’s most popular web hosting providers, it doesn’t offer anything major that makes it stand out above the competition. Prices start at $2.95 a month, but the platform’s poor performance and lack of monthly payment options are problematic.
To us, Hostinger is a much more attractive option. It offers a 99.9% uptime guarantee, some of the most competitive prices we’ve seen, and 24/7 live chat and online ticketing support. Unlike Bluehost, it offers a selection of subscription terms, and its performance is excellent.
Along with this, Hostinger is known for its excellent security features. There are numerous advanced tools designed to help you manage your site, and the unique hPanel control panel is powerful and beginner-friendly. Read our comprehensive Hostinger review to find out more.
Another standout competitor is Hostwinds, which offers premium hosting solutions across the board. Its shared hosting options are somewhat more expensive, with prices starting at $6.74 a month. However, you really get what you pay for here, with excellent performance, generous server resources, and advanced management tools.
There’s also a leading 99.9999% Hostwinds uptime guarantee, and you will benefit from 24/7 live chat and email support. All plans come with a free domain, the Softaculous one-click installer, a free dedicated IP address, and various other attractive features. Learn more by reading our full Hostwinds review.
|Free domain name||Yes||Yes, with high-end plans||Yes|
|One-click installations||Limited||Yes, through Softaculous||Yes, through Softaculous|
|Support||24/7 phone, live chat, social media||24/7 live chat, online ticketing||24/7 live chat, email, online ticketing|
|Basic plan||$2.95 a month||$1.39 a month||$6.74 a month|
Bluehost: The verdict
Bluehost is one of the world’s most popular web hosting providers, and one would logically assume that it offers leading service. However, our in-depth review revealed numerous flaws which should really make you think twice about using its services. For starters, there are no monthly subscription options. You will have to pay for at least a year upfront, and prices are a little on the high side.
Setting up a website is quite easy, which makes sense considering Bluehost’s commitment to beginner-friendly hosting. There are a few great features designed to streamline the experience, including a native website builder, a built-in domain manager, and a great knowledge base packed full of useful resources.
However, every positive aspect of the platform was effectively neutralized by its poor performance. We created a test website and monitored it for two weeks, and the average server response times were among the worst we’ve seen. In fact, this was enough to make us seriously think twice about recommending Bluehost as a reliable web host.
At the end of the day, though, Bluehost is an okay option for beginners looking for a basic host. If you can look past the terrible performance and somewhat limited features, you will find a beginner-friendly interface and a streamlined site-creation experience. But if you want something even slightly advanced, look elsewhere.
Further reading on web hosting
Read our comparison features pitting Bluehost vs GoDaddy and Bluehost vs HostGator, and learn how Bluehost ranks among the best cloud hosting, the best VPS hosting, the best anonymous hosting, the best unlimited hosting, and the best WordPress hosting.