Bluehost is one of the most popular and, at the same time, most affordable web hosts on the market. In this Bluehost hosting review, we take a look at what’s under the hood, how good the platform really is, and whether it’s the right solution for your next website project.
Here are the things we’re going to cover:
- Types of web hosting that Bluehost offers
- Features and pricing
- Ease of use
- Performance and load times
- Customer support
- Pros and cons of Bluehost hosting
- Conclusion – should you use Bluehost?
What is Bluehost and what type of hosting it offers? 🤔
Over the years, Bluehost has grown to be one of the most popular hosting companies out there, especially for WordPress sites.
Just glancing at their homepage and all the different products that Bluehost offers tells you a lot about why it’s won so many users over. First off, Bluehost has numerous different hosting products in their portfolio – not just simple website hosting.
Second, their prices are really, really affordable. Plus, you also get a handful of bonuses thrown in for free. This makes your overall cost of launching a site much lower vs what you’d have to pay with the competition.
But let’s start at the beginning. Here are the different types of hosting that Bluehost has in store, including one that is likely going to be the pick for most users.
Let’s divide the list into a couple of categories:
1. Entry-level web hosting
This is the budget solution in Bluehost’s portfolio of web hosting. These plans are usually chosen by users who are new to the concept of owning a website and needing web hosting to make it happen.
Bluehost has two main offerings that fall under entry-level hosting:
While it may seem like the latter is better if you want to use WordPress as your website engine, in reality, both are the same product. From what I’ve seen, this is simply a different marketing framing, but the elements on the inside are the same.
2. Managed WordPress hosting
The basic WordPress hosting plans mentioned above are just that – basic. However, Bluehost also offers a more advanced package called Managed WordPress.
Compared to the basic offering, the managed variety takes care of all the technical aspects of the hosting setup and WordPress maintenance for you.
In other words, when you’re on managed WordPress hosting, you don’t have to worry about anything related to keeping your site operational. Instead, you can just focus on creating content and promoting your site.
Managed plans also give you more power under the hood 💪, which is important for sites with an established position in the market that receive more traffic.
Bluehost also has a tailor-made offering for WordPress websites running WooCommerce – for eCommerce stores. Those plans come with some WooCommerce-specific elements pre-installed (WooCommerce itself, an optimized theme, payment processing tools, security, extras).
If you’re looking for a host because you are indeed going to be launching a WooCommerce store, this is probably the solution for you.
3. Professional hosting
The last tier of Bluehost hosting is what we can call professional-level hosting. Two main products here:
The former is a very interesting concept that’s built around hosting virtualization. VPS stands for virtual private server. What you’re actually getting here is access to a web hosting setup that runs as a virtual machine on a bigger, physical server. It’s a setup beneficial when building web apps or other types of web-based products that are not necessarily standard websites.
If you do indeed need a whole physical machine at your disposal, that’s what dedicated servers are for. This type of web hosting is usually the most expensive and powerful hosting option available with most companies.
Bluehost hosting review: features and pricing ⚙️💸
As you read above, Bluehost has many different hosting plans and tiers available, and each of them delivers a slightly different set of features.
For the purpose of this Bluehost hosting review, we’ll look at the entry-level plan called Basic Web Hosting.
It’s the most budget-friendly solution in the lineup and, for that reason, also the most popular one among customers.
Here’s a snapshot of the pricing page at the time of writing:
As you can see, Bluehost has a very affordable offering that starts at just $2.95/mo. However, the first thing you must know about this price is that you have to sign up for a three-year contract in order to get it. It is also paid upfront, which means that you do have to shell out $106.20 on day one.
There are options to begin with shorter contracts, but the prices grow with those a bit. Here’s the full picture:
- 36 months: Basic $2.95/mo, Plus and Choice Plus $5.45/mo, Pro $13.95/mo
- 24 months: Basic $3.95/mo, Plus and Choice Plus $6.95/mo, Pro $15.95/mo
- 12 months: Basic $4.95/mo, Plus and Choice Plus $7.45/mo, Pro $18.95/mo
- Bluehost doesn’t offer month-to-month payment options
Okay, but what do you get for these prices?
Overall, Bluehost focuses on delivering two things:
- the basic set of features and server capabilities that most users will need,
- making those features easy to use and accessible.
All the entry-level plans are very similar on paper, but there are a couple of fine differences.
First of all, none is “more powerful” than the other. Speaking in terms of computing power and the “scale of website,” they can all handle the same load. The differences are mainly in the size of website and number of websites you’re allowed to run.
- On the Basic plan, you are allowed only one website. Your disk space is also limited to 50 GB.
- All the other plans let you run unlimited websites and consume unlimited disk space while doing so.
This is great because what it means in practice is that if you want to build 2+ websites, Bluehost will only charge you $5.45/mo for that.
Here’s what else you get.
The Basic plan:
- 24/7 customer support via phone and chat (more on the quality of that later in this Bluehost hosting review),
- access to custom themes from within the Bluehost panel,
- a free domain name for the first year(!) plus access to a domain manager,
- email hosting – albeit it’s kind of hidden in the panel,
- a $100 Google Ads credit and Google My Business integration,
- free CDN integration – a “content delivery network” hook-up means that your website’s data is served from multiple servers across the web instead of just one machine; this improves your site speed a lot,
- free SSL certificates.
The Choice plan throws in a free Office 365 subscription for one month. The Choice Plus gives you additional access to free domain privacy (so that no one can check your personal data associated with the domain name) and free automatic backups. Lastly, the Pro plan offers an additional dedicated IP address (important when building web apps/tools, not so much for standard websites).
Overall, there really is nothing here that’s missing. Bluehost has put some real thought behind what the essential web hosting features are and then put them all together in this offering.
The free domain is a huge deal in particular! You’d usually have to pay around $15 for a new domain name registration. While it’s not a lot, it still adds up to your overall website launch bill. The fact that Bluehost throws that in for free is great.
⚠️ Note. Mind the renewal prices. Bluehost, like most hosting companies, will charge you a different amount when first signing up for their service vs renewing after a while. Those renewal prices are higher. Take a look at that pricing screenshot above one more time. See the crossed off price below the main price? That’s the renewal price – it’s what you’re going to pay after your initial contract is up.
Bluehost hosting review: ease of use 👐
Bluehost does a lot to make the signup and website launch process as smooth as possible. They realize that whoever’s choosing the entry-level plan probably doesn’t have a lot of experience with web hosting. Bluehost tries to make it possible for that user to configure everything on their own without outside help. All within the Bluehost hosting interface.
Once you get through the purchase process on Bluehost’s website and finalize everything, you’ll be invited to your new user profile page.
Right away, Bluehost will ask you how you want to go about building your website and if you want to have WordPress installed on your setup. They will even ask you whether you want to work on your site in the classic model (by picking a theme and modifying it) or use Bluehost’s new builder interface.
I went with the first option since it’s more common for WordPress users to do so.
Next, right in the main dashboard, you get a couple of suggestions as to what you should do to make your site better:
You can log into your WordPress site directly from the dashboard as well – just click the Log in to WordPress button in the top right corner.
If you take a look at the sidebar to the left, you’ll find links to other useful sections:
- Home. It’s where you are right now.
- My Sites. Since you can have more than one site on most Bluehost hosting plans, this is where you can see them all.
- Marketplace. Bluehost makes it easy to integrate your site with other third-party tools, add-ons, and also upgrade your hosting tier if needed. This section is where you can purchase and install those integrations with a couple of clicks.
- WordPress themes and plugins. This is a subsection under Marketplace, but I feel I should highlight it here. Bluehost gives you access to custom WordPress themes right from the dashboard. It also hooks up to your site directly, so that you can purchase and install those themes all from the Bluehost interface. This can be a huge timesaver.
- Email & Office. Bluehost gives you an option to integrate your site with hosted email via Google Workspace and Microsoft 365. This is where you can enable everything.
- Domains. This is where you can manage your website domain(s) and purchase new ones.
- Marketing Tools. This section is all about making it easier to integrate your site with popular marketing channels such as Google Ads, Google My Business, and others.
- Advanced. Go here if you want to access cPanel (if this doesn’t sound like English, then Advanced is probably not a section for you).
Let’s look into what’s possible when managing your site, since that’s what most of us will want to do.
When you go to My Sites and select your site from the list, you’ll see the following panel:
This is a nice view of your site’s status all in one place. From here, you can access the themes you have installed, your plugins, and even oversee your marketing promotions, backups, user accounts, security, and more.
What’s great here is that everything is presented nicely, and you’re spared all the server lingo. You don’t have to be a pro to know what’s going on.
And I remind you that we are dealing here with basic, entry-level hosting setup that did cost a mere $2.95/mo. So…impressive.
Bluehost performance and load times 📈
Okay, so we know that Bluehost is cheap. But is it fast? There has to be a trade-off somewhere, right? Is it performance?
Let’s find out:
We did a very simple test. We set up a site using Bluehost’s tools, published some dummy content on it, added images, picked a theme and configured it, and basically made the site look real.
Below are the results of the tests – done from several locations:
Bluehost hosting review: PERFORMANCE
|Location||Loading Time||TTFB||First Paint||Interactive|
|N. Virginia||0.77 s||288 ms||0.81 s||0.87 s|
|California||0.91 s||354 ms||0.93 s||0.99 s|
|Canada||0.92 s||385 ms||1.09 s||1.04 s|
|Frankfurt||1.36 s||576 ms||1.40 s||1.34 s|
|Paris||1.24 s||547 ms||1.19 s||1.19 s|
|Mumbai||2.05 s||849 ms||1.62 s||1.68 s|
|Sydney||2.21 s||911 ms||1.74 s||1.84 s|
I have to give it to Bluehost…considering this is budget hosting, the results are more than impressive!
Going below one sec for US traffic is pretty much all you can ask for with any hosting platform – even the more expensive ones.
Bluehost hosting review: customer support 🚑
Bluehost offers 24/7 phone and live chat support. Apart from that, there’s also a knowledge base where you can find tutorials and answers to the most common questions people have about Bluehost’s platform.
You can access the support chat from the main contact page on Bluehost’s site.
Bluehost asks a couple of questions to identify you as a customer, and then gets you through to a support agent.
From our experience when writing this Bluehost hosting review, a support agent got to us pretty much immediately after starting the chat.
The interaction was positive, the agent offered advice and was willing to help. However, we seem to had hit a wall in terms of what they’re actually authorized to do.
Granted, I did ask him to do a fairly specific thing.
Bluehost Pros and cons – 6 Pros and 3 Cons 👍👎
Before we give you our final rating in this Bluehost hosting review, let’s look at a quick list of pros and cons.
- The entry price is more than affordable ($2.95/mo).
- They give you a free domain for the first year.
- The setup is really easy to do, especially if you want to use WordPress.
- The user interface is great, making it easy to do simple modifications and/or maintenance tasks.
- The load times are really impressive, managing to go below the one-second mark.
- The support is quick to respond.
- The renewal prices are much higher than the entry-level ones. That’s why you’re better off going for the max-term contract right out the gate.
- While you can set up hosted email on the platform, it’s a bit hidden. You have to go to the cPanel view and set everything up there by hand.
- The reviews on the web are mixed. Some users seem to be having issues with their setups. However, many of those reviews are from a while back.
Bluehost hosting review conclusion: Why use it over another host 💪
At the end of the day, Bluehost looks like a great solution for the budget-minded person who wants to launch a new site as quickly as possible and also fairly cheaply.
Bluehost has all the basic hosting features you might expect, and the performance isn’t lacking in any way either.
Granted, the tests we did haven’t been carried out over a long period of time, so you’re mileage may vary, but the early indicators are certainly more than positive!
⚡ Pro tip: If you’re looking for a host to take care of all your new website ideas in one place, consider the $5.45/mo plan at Bluehost. It’s the first hosting tier that Bluehost offers that allows unlimited websites.
What do you think of Bluehost hosting? Are you going to try it out for your next website project?