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What is it?
Provider of shared web hosting and managed WordPress hosting for small businesses.
How popular is it?
One of the oldest and 20 largest web hosts in the world. Services over 2 million domains.
Who is it right for?
Businesses that don’t mind paying more for a WordPress recommended host and businesses that don’t want to be locked into a hosting platform.
Who is it not right for?
Businesses that want to save money on their web hosting.
Types of Hosting Solutions Available?
Shared Hosting, Virtual Private Server, Dedicated Server, and Managed WordPress Hosting.
24/7/365 phone support + live chat + email + self help.
Average Uptime/Response Time?
Good. 99.84 % uptime and 924 ms response time (these numbers are tracked by Cloud Spectator).
- Shared hosting: $3.95 to $14.95 per month (see pricing section for more details).
- WordPress hosting: $24.99 per month to $169.99 per month (first month discounted; see pricing section for more details)
1-Click WordPress Installation:
1-Click Shopping Cart Installation:
Bandwidth/Storage Space (see below for more details):
- Shared hosting: Unlimited bandwidth in all plans. 100 GB to unlimited storage depending on plan.
- WordPress hosting: 100 million to unlimited monthly visits depending on plan, 30 GB to 240 GB storage depending on plan.
Yes (free for 1 year on Starter and Plus plans; free for as long as you use Blulehost on Pro plan).
100 to unlimited emails depending on plan.
Does it include a Website Builder?
Yes, Weebly site builder is included.
Included Security Features:
SSL and auto backups in Pro plan; SSH; secure file transfer, malware and spam prevention.
Integrated Control Panel?
CPanel/WHM for Linux.
While Bluehost is a good all around web host with a wide set of features, there is nothing that stood out to us about it. Although you get the peace of mind of an anytime money back guarantee, you end paying more for Bluehost’s most comprehensive Pro plan than for a comparable GoDaddy or Dreamhost plan. Bluehost’s uptime and response times are worse than GoDaddy’s for the shared hosting plans. In addition, Bluehost doesn’t offer a monthly payment option, so you have to pay for a year or more’s worth of hosting upfront.
Bluehost is a good option for businesses that don’t want to be locked into a hosting platform and for businesses with WordPress sites. WordPress has recommended Bluehost since 2005. Bluehost doesn’t have a contractual pricing structure, so you can cancel your plan at any time, switch providers, and get a prorated refund.
In this review, we primarily cover Bluehost shared hosting plans, although there is a separate section for businesses with WordPress websites. A shared hosting plan divides a single server’s resources (processing power, memory, etc.) among the websites of several businesses. Shared hosting is an economical, appropriate choice for most small businesses. E-commerce businesses or businesses that want more control over their hosting should choose a Virtual Private Server, Dedicated Server, or Cloud Host. If you’re unfamiliar with web hosting, read our guide on Web Hosting Basics.
Bluehost charges the following prices for its shared hosting plans. The price is about average for the Starter and Plus plans when compared to GoDaddy, but the Pro plan is costlier than average when compared to other hosting providers who offer a similar package,
1 year term)
1 website, 100 GB storage,
100 emails, free domain,
and $50 in advertising credits.
for 1 year term)
Everything in Starter
plus unlimited websites,
global CDN, and $200
in advertising credits.
for 1 year term)
Everything in Plus
plus 1 year SSL certificate,
and auto backups.
The prices above are for a 12-month plan. By signing up for a longer period, you can pay a lower annual price. For example, if you purchase a 3 year Starter plan, the price drops to $71.88/year from $89.88 per year. You can view all your pricing options and compare plans here.
Unlike GoDaddy and most other providers, Bluehost doesn’t lock you into long terms and has an anytime money-back guarantee. This means you can get a prorated refund if you ever decide to switch providers, so you only pay for the amount of the time that you actually use Bluehost. The downside is that Bluehost doesn’t offer a monthly payment option, so you have to pay for your hosting plan all at once. Note that if you get a free domain name from Bluehost, you must request a refund within 3 days to avoid being charged for the domain.
The Starter plan is going to meet the needs of most small businesses. However, if your business uses a lot of images or videos or needs more than 100 email accounts, you would fare the best with the Plus or Pro plans because they offer unlimited storage . 100 GB of storage lets you store about 22,000 images or 500 videos. If you are an e-commerce businesses, you will want to get the Pro plan because it includes the SSL certificate for free for the term of your purchase.
You can get up to $200 in free Google advertising credits from Bluehost. Those credits are of more value than the hosting plan, so the plan pays for itself in the first year if you’re going to do marketing.
Non-profit companies may be eligible for free shared hosting from Bluehost.
Customer service is important to consider when selecting a web host. A good customer service rep can, for example, help you figure out how to use your control panel and what to do if your website goes down.
Bluehost Support Hours:
Phone support and live chat support are available 24/7/365. It can take several minutes for a rep to be available via live chat. When I called Bluehost about the differences between their shared and Managed WP platforms, the rep was helpful but did try to sell me on the more expensive plan.
Self Help, Phone, Email, Live Chat?
All of these support types are available.
Uptime & Server Response Times:
Bluehost’s competitor, GoDaddy, commissioned a study of shared hosting by Cloud Spectator, which lists the uptimes and response times of many shared hosting platforms. Uptime is the time during which the shared server (and your website) is up and running. Response time is how long the server takes to deliver content when visitors come to your website.
Unlike most web hosts, Bluehost doesn’t offer an uptime guarantee.
Uptime/Response Times: 99.84 % uptime and 924 ms response time. This is slower than GoDaddy. However, Bluehost had better uptime and response times than GoDaddy and most other hosts for its managed WordPress hosting.
Supported 1-Click installations:
You can enhance your website by adding applications to meet your specific business needs. Bluehost lets you easily add applications, including your WordPress blog and shopping cart for ecommerce businesses, with one click from your control panel. As an example, see this video on how to install WordPress with one click:
Bluehost uses Linux/cPanel and does not support Windows. Linux/cPanel is the most popular control panel and operating system because there are more applications available for Linux. WordPress works better on Linux than on Windows.
Most web applications like WordPress and Joomla need a database for storing content. You need a MySQL database for every WordPress site or application that you install. (Bluehost also supports PostgreSQL, a different database format for certain special applications).
Popular 1-Click Applications Supported: WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Moodle, Tikiwiki, Agora, Cube Cart, Zen Cart, Magento.
A full list of applications is viewable from your control panel upon creating a shared hosting account.
Number of MySQL databases: 20 in Starter plan, unlimited in Plus and Pro plans.
Bluehost has an impressive an array of security features to keep your website and customer information secure.
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) – SSL protection is included in the price of the Pro Plan, and it’s free for as long as you use Bluehost. This is a plus over GoDaddy, which offers a free SSL certificate only for 1 year. SSL encrypts private data that is transferred over the Internet. Small businesses that accept credit card payments (instead of submitting it to a third party processor) or store sensitive data on their websites should get SSL protection.
When comparing different web hosts, you will likely come across the distinction between shared and private SSL certificates. Most businesses that accept credit cards or store sensitive information will need a fully secure private SSL certificate that protects transactions on their own domain.
Regular Backups – Bluehost’s Pro plan has auto daily, weekly, and monthly backups for your website and databases. On the Starter and Plus plans, you can purchase auto site backup separately for $23.88/year or backup your site yourself from your cPanel control panel. Backups ensure that your website can be restored in the event the server crashes or your website is compromised.
Secure file transfer – Bluehost’s Pro plan supports SFTP technology, which encrypts confidential data while you are transferring files into and out of your website. You should take advantage of this if you store sensitive data on your website.
Other Included Security Features –
- Secure Shell (SSH) Access in Pro plan – Allows you to remotely manage your server (e.g. remotely reset a password).
- Malware and spam protection.
- Business and site verification certificates.
- Blacklist monitoring: guards against your site being quarantined by search engines.
Did you know that WordPress powers 17 % of the entire web? If you have a WordPress website that gets a lot of traffic and that is central to your business, consider getting one of Bluehost’s managed WordPress hosting plans instead of a shared hosting plan. WordPress has recommended Bluehost since 2005. Managed WP hosting is beneficial for small businesses for two reasons:
1. The web host takes care of everything for you.
WordPress hosts handle the back end tasks of running a WordPress website, so you don’t have to. Bluehost will auto update your WordPress site and plugins within 24 hours of the update being available on WordPress, so your website will run securely and with the latest version of WordPress without you having to make manual updates. In addition, the Professional and HIgher WordPress plans have regular auto backups, so your website content can be easily restored if the server crashes.
2. The server is optimized for WordPress.
WordPress managed hosting offers a better experience for business owners who run WordPress sites and for their customers. Bluehost overlays WordPress-specific features over their virtual private servers to make WordPress sites run fast and securely. There is even a special control panel optimized for WordPress and access to a marketplace where you can add WordPress plugins.
Here is a pricing table for Bluehost’s WordPress plans, based on a 12-month subscription:
100 million monthly visits,
30 GB storage,
1 WP site.
300 million monthly visits,
60 GB storage,
10 WP sites,
600 million monthly visits,
120 GB storage,
20 WP sites,
Unlimited monthly visits,
240 GB storage,
30 WP sites,
*As with the shared hosting plans, the price differs based on the term of your plan. Right now, Bluehost is running a promotion where you get the first month on your WordPress plan at a 50 % discount.
You can get a WordPress-optimized plan from GoDaddy for a fraction of what Bluehost costs. The Bluehost plans support many more millions of monthly site visits, but this isn’t necessary for small businesses that don’t get a lot of visits on their WordPress sites. The high cost is probably because Bluehost’s WordPress servers are overlaid on a VPS and because Bluehost ranks highly in uptime and response times for WordPress sites.
To ensure maximum speed and reliability, the WordPress plans limit the number of websites per account and your storage. The Blogger plan is good if you have a single blog or site that doesn’t get too much traffic, but you won’t get auto backups. The Professional plan is good if you have up to 10 WP sites, want auto backups, and have hundreds of videos or thousands of images on your website.
The more costly plans are really not meant for small businesses, with the exception of maybe e-commerce businesses. Those businesses should get the Business or Enterprise editions because they include SSL protection, or they should purchase an SSL certificate separately.
Bandwidth & Storage
Bandwidth and storage limits determine how fast your website will work for your customers. Bandwidth measures the amount of traffic that can come to your website. Storage is the amount of space available for the files, images, and videos on your website.
Although shared hosts claim to offer “unlimited bandwidth and storage,” a word of caution is warranted. A shared server has a finite amount of CPU (processing power) and RAM (memory) that is divided among the websites of several businesses. Every time someone visits your business’ website, uses your website’s search function, or views files on your website, it consumes CPU and RAM. If your website gets a lot of traffic and uses up too many resources, your shared hosting provider may ask you to upgrade your plan.
Bluehost uses a technology called CloudFlare that makes websites on shared servers run faster. It works by caching static content on your website, reducing the load on the server and leaving more resources available for complex server requests. The Plus and Pro plans have a Content Delivery Network (CDN) that routes visitors’ requests on your website to the server closest to them so that the website runs fast for your customers.
The resources available on shared hosting plans will be sufficient for most small businesses. The Pro shared hosting plan will even be sufficient for some larger businesses. A Bluehost rep I spoke to said that you’d only need to consider upgrading to a Virtual Private Server if you get more than several hundred visitors to your website each day or want to upload thousands of files on your website.
Bandwidth Available: All of Bluehost’s shared hosting plans offer unlimited bandwidth. The Pro package has 80 % fewer websites that are sharing one server, so small business websites that get a significant amount of traffic will run faster on the Pro plan.
Storage Available: The Starter plan is limited to 100 GB of storage (approx. 50,000 files). If you think you may need more, storage is unlimited on the Plus and Pro plans.
Domains & Emails
A good business website should have a catchy and memorable domain name (i.e. the URL for your website). Bluehost will let you register a domain name (.com, .net, .org, and more options) for your website for free with the purchase of any shared hosting plan.
If you have multiple websites for your business, you can add multiple websites onto a single hosting account at no extra charge on the Plus and Pro plans (the Starter plan can only host one website). While it is cheaper to have all your websites on a single hosting account, keep in mind that all your websites will have to share resources, so each site may run more slowly if your sites get a lot of traffic.
Bluehost also lets you set up alias (parked) domains and subdomains. Alias domains let you reroute customers to your primary website (e.g. mybusiness.com) when they type in a secondary URL (e.g. sale.mybusiness.com). Subdomains let you set up a memorable URL associated with your domain for specific content (e.g. help.mybusiness.com for your support center).
In addition to domain services, Bluehost also provides free emails (in a format such as email@example.com) so that you and your employees can have business email accounts.
Number of free domains: 1 free domain on all shared plans and WordPress plans. When you renew your plan, you have to pay around $14.99/year for a standard .com domain. See full pricing here. If you cancel your Bluehost hosting plan, Bluehost will deduct $14.99 from your refund.
Number of free emails: 100 on Starter plan, unlimited on Plus and Pro plans.
Number of websites per hosting account: 1 website on Starter plan and unlimited websites on Plus and Pro plans.
Bluehost comes built in with Weebly, our recommended website builder for small businesses. This is a bonus for small business owners who can’t afford a web designer but aren’t tech savvy enough to use WordPress or another more advanced website builder.
If your website has 6 or fewer pages, you can save money by using Weebly through Bluehost. Normally, if you used Weebly on its own, they charge you $4/month if you want to use your own domain instead of a Weebly subdomain (i.e. yourbusiness.weebly.com). Bluehost saves you that cost if you have a simple website. However, if your website has more than 6 pages, you’re better off subscribing to Weebly than using the built-in tool on Bluehost. Bluehost charges $8.99/month for access to Weebly for websites with more than 6 pages. You can pay just $4/month on Weebly to create a website with your own domain and unlimited pages.
On Weebly, you can use templates and drag and drop tools to quickly build a professional-looking website without technical expertise.
We have a separate guide about website builders such as Weebly.
Like most web hosts, Bluehost has a control panel called cPanel where you can manage several things related to your website from one location. For instance, you can manage your domain names, add new files to your website, and monitor how much bandwidth and storage you are using. This is what the control panel looks like:
cPanel is the most popular control panel available for Linux operating system. Parallels Plesk is the most popular control panel for Windows. Some hosts like GoDaddy offer both control panels depending on which operating system you are using, but Bluehost doesn’t. However, that’s not going to be an issue for the vast majority of small businesses.
Likewise, most small businesses do not have to worry about the programming languages that the web host supports unless they are trying to run scripts on their website. If you do have further questions about this, you can talk to your web designer or IT person.
Control Panels Available: cPanel/WHM for Linux.
Operating System Supported: Linux.
Switching Hosts or Upgrading
As your business needs change, you may choose to switch hosting providers or upgrade to a different hosting solution (e.g. switch from shared hosting to a VPS or dedicated server). If you purchase site transfer from Bluehost for $99, Bluehost will migrate up to 5 websites and 20 emails accounts for you from another provider.
For the WordPress hosting plans, you can use the ManageWP plugin to migrate a WordPress site from another provider to Bluehost.
If you’re upgrading plans within Bluehost, Bluehost will take care of the migration for you. This is a plus for Bluehost over GoDaddy, which requires you to purchase content migration services even for an upgrade.
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Bluehost is a good option for businesses that don’t want to be locked in for years with a hosting provider and for businesses with WordPress sites. Bluehost has been recognized for having one of the best WP-optimized hosting platforms. Also, you have the flexibility of switching providers at any time without losing a lot of money because Bluehost doesn’t have a contractual pricing structure.
On the downside, Bluehost is more expensive than other web hosts without offering more features. You get the peace of mind of Bluehost’s anytime money back guarantee, but the Pro plan is costlier than the comparable GoDaddy or Dreamhost plan. Bluehost’s uptime and response times for the shared hosting plans also aren’t as good as GoDaddy’s. On top of this, Bluehost doesn’t offer a monthly payment option, so you have to pay for a year or more’s worth of hosting upfront.