About Bluehost Shared Hosting
Bluehost currently hosts over 2 million websites, and it is one of the most popular, inexpensive, shared hosting options available.
For a reason.
Their lucrative affiliate program annually pays out over $5 million. That’s a lot.
As a result, every mommy-blogger with a fresh WordPress install recommends them as their go-to option, netting a quick $65 bucks per referral.
The massive quantity of glowing, biased recommendations all fail to take one thing into account: the facts.
But not us.
This Bluehost review was based on actual statistics and data, gathered during a real test (12+ months) of Bluehost cheapest ‘shared’ plan. You can even see our live WordPress test site here.
Let’s see if we can separate fact from blogging-fiction.
PROS of using Bluehost Hosting:
All of our in-depth web hosting reviews are based on research and data to provide transparent accuracy.
In that vein, Bluehost does have a few good things going for it. It’s affordable. And you can get started relatively quick.
Here they are in detail.
1. Low Introductory Pricing
Bluehost is also one of the most inexpensive options available, another reason for it’s massive popularity. It’s not the cheapest compared with other hosts, but it is a good price among the most popular options.
Although we aren’t preaching BlueHost in any way, we managed to negotiate a pretty great deal for HostingFacts.com visitors. It’s $0.50 off from the regular price. See it here:
2. Good Security Options (read: You should be safe with Bluehost)
Bluehost’s security options are good, offering tools that combat some of the most common website risks.
For example, you can prevent spam with tools like SpamAssassin, Spam Experts, and Spam Hammer. They support CloudFlare, which helps prevent pesky DDoS attacks that can bring a site down with an overwhelming amount of traffic from different sources.
They also offer hot link protection (preventing people from stealing your images or content), IP address blacklists to block problematic individuals and SSH access for secure web sessions.
3. Many Integrations and Apps
Bluehost also comes with a dashboard full of applications so that you can integrate various services, like Google Apps and the aforementioned CloudFlare, to increase the possibilities of your site.
4. ‘Official’ WordPress.org Recommended Host
WordPress official site (WordPress.org) recently re-made their hosting page. On that page, they’ve listed 3 hosting providers, including SiteGround, Dreamhost and Bluehost.
CONS of using Bluehost Hosting:
The internet is full of glowing Bluehost reviews. But when you dig a little deeper to find the unbiased (read: not commission-based) ones, a different picture emerges. Two in particular stand out.
But let’s review the facts before passing judgment.
1. Weak Average Uptime of 99.89% (last 12 months)
Bluehost’s uptime falls just .10% above industry average (99.79%) over the prior twelve months. This is only 9.5 hours of downtime out of 8760 hours that we had last year.
They took a big hit in December. Bluehost claimed that they had various DDoS attack towards their servers. Overall, not perfect, but not terrible either.
Is Bluehost reliable in terms of uptime? Our test says so, yes.
- June uptime: 100%
- July uptime: 99.95%
- August uptime: 99.95%
- September uptime: 99.99%
- October uptime: 99.93%
- November average uptime: 99.90%
- December average uptime: 99.31%
- January average uptime: 99.97%
- February average uptime: 99.95%
- March average uptime: 99.91%
- April average uptime: 99.94%
- May average uptime: 100%
2. Biggest Problem: Slow Page Loading Times
Here’s where things quickly fall apart for Bluehost.
Simply put: our experience with Bluehost’s speed was not satisfactory over a one year period.
Their dismal 1,546ms load times are 32% slower than the industry average 1052ms from our other hosting reviews.
Why does that matter?
Because every second counts online. Google experienced a 20% traffic drop years ago with just a half second delay. And 74% – or nearly 3/4ths of your traffic – will bounce if pages fail to load within 5 seconds.
Sluggish page speeds don’t just hurt user experience, but profit margins too. Luckily with Bluehost – it isn’t that bad, but obviously – could be much better…
Last 12 month average load time (2016 – 2017)
- June average speed: 1,155ms
- July average speed: 1,140ms
- August average speed: 1,863ms
- September average speed: 3,532ms
- October average speed: 1,058ms
- November average speed: 1,107ms
- December average speed: 1,361ms
- January average speed: 1,363ms
- February average speed: 1,317ms
- March average speed: 1,356ms
- April average speed: 1,399ms
- May average speed: 1,438ms
2. Customer Support isn’t very…. Quick.
Juggling over two million sites can’t be easy. That’s understandable.
But waiting over 43 minutes (on their peak hours) to get through to their support team isn’t good. In addition, our experience showed long delays between curt responses (rendering their support almost useles).
Maybe we were just dealing with a poor customer support agent? Who knows…
However one positive is that their YouTube channel DOES contain tons of helpful tutorial videos. So if you don’t mind rolling up your sleeves, it’s probably faster to start there if you have an issue.
We had a quick look on it and it seems legit.
3. Smoke and Mirror Pricing
Yes, Bluehost is cheap.
But just how cheap? Well, it depends…
Their super-low introductory rate of only $3.49 a month comes with a few strings attached. Namely, three years worth.
Only want to start with 12 months? Your rate jumps up to $4.95 per month.
Only want to start with 1 or 3 months? You can’t.
On second thought, maybe you should take them up on that three year deal, because a 12-month renewal option of their basic plans jumps up to $8.99 per month.
Want to pay monthly? You can’t…
4. Site Migrations Aren’t Free…
Most of the hosting providers we’ve reviewed will happily help you move an existing site from it’s current location to their service.
After all, it’s a quick procedure to get you to switch companies and become theirloyal customer for the next few years.
But not Bluehost.
They charge a ‘migration fee’ of $149.99 to do something that most provide gratis. And they will not transfer more than 5 sites and 20 email accounts.
5. Expensive ‘QuickStart’ Training
Speaking of extra fees, a simple 45 minute introductory walk through of their services will set you back $79.99.
Again, something most hosting providers are all too happy to provide complimentary because you’re signing up for their service for the long-term.
6. Not Truly ‘UNLIMITED’
Many hosting providers boast ‘unlimited’ hosting, which of course, isn’t the complete truth. Bluehost is no different.
A quick tour of the fine print (in the form of their Terms of Service) reveals the ugly details. See for yourself if interested (or if you’re having trouble falling asleep one night).
The TL;DR version: don’t go over 3GB of database usage or exceed 1,000 databases or they might terminate your account. With, or even possibly without, notice.
Overview on Bluehost shared hosting plans
Bluehost provides three shared hosting options to choose from.
However please note that advertised pricing below is a low introductory rate for a three year term. Rates for shorter plans are more and you can’t get anything lower than 12 months.
Also, the word ‘unlimited’ doesn’t always mean unlimited (as discussed in the last section).
- Basic plan: For $3.95 per month, you get one website max, 50GB storage and ‘unlimited’ bandwidth. You also get 5 email accounts (with a max storage of 100MB each).
- Plus plan: $5.95 per month provides 10 websites, 150GB storage, and ‘unlimited’ bandwidth. You also get 100 email accounts of 500MB each.
- Business Pro plan: Their largest plan comes normally at $14.99 per month, providing ‘unlimited’ websites, storage, bandwidth, email account and email storage. (Currently On Sale)
You need to pay for three years at once to enjoy the advertised price for their shared hosting plans. It will cost much more if you choose a shorter duration, and the minimum duration you can pay for is 12 months.
- Free domain? Yup.
- Ease of Signup: Easy two page sign up process.
- Payment Methods: Major credit cards and PayPal.
- Hidden Fees and Clauses: The low introductory starting rate for three years minimum (with renewal plans that jump). And that whole, we’ll delete your account if you go over 1,000 database tables or 3GB total database, thing.
- 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 for most users. If information is inaccurate or there’s suspicion of fraud, activation might get delayed.
- Control Panel and Dashboard Experience: Simple, easy to use control panel.
- Installation of Apps and CMSs (WordPress, Joomla, etc.): Mojo Marketplace makes app installation quick and easy!
Do We Recommend Bluehost Shared?
Trying to host a simple hobby blog or personal site? Fine, Bluehost Shared might be a solid option.
Yes, they’re cheap. Yes, it’s easy to get started. Hence the reason why Robert Mening is suggesting people to start their blogs using Bluehost.
But their slow page speed, even slower customer service, nickle-and-diming, plus average uptime puts them below most other available alternatives.
For commercial or business sites? Nope. There are much better options available.
If you truly want a fast, reliable hosting service with decent uptime, take a look at HostGator Managed, Bluehost Cloud or SiteGround.
They’re definitely not the worst. But they’re also not the hosting-savior the blogosphere would like you to believe.
Additional reading: HostGator vs Bluehost (Which one is better?)