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Bluehost: How Does The Budget Hosting Heavyweight Stack Up For 2020?
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Editor’s Note: Updated November 2018
You’ve probably heard of Bluehost — if there’s anybody that can lay claim to being “the WordPress guys,” its the folks at Bluehost.
While Bluehost offers options that can be used by anyone needing web hosting, the company is particularly known for its WordPress hosting. They’re also recommended by the WordPress organization.
In short, if you are looking for the most popular WordPress hosting company, it is Bluehost.
Bluehost is a Reliable Bargain-Priced Host
Are you ready to launch your first site? Or maybe you’re looking to migrate from another host. The first step is to choose a web host. That’s where you’ll get your WordPress site from.
Here’s what you need to know:
- You can get a WordPress site launched today on Bluehost.
- After you sign up, you’ll be able to install it with a click of a button.
- Next: You can customize your site or blog by picking a visual theme (design). (We provide step-by-step instructions on how to do this below.).
- All of Bluehost’s plans are non-contractual. Plus they have a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- What if you hit a snag with launching your website? Bluehost has a WordPress-savvy support team available 24/7 via phone, chat, and email.
Founded in 2003, Bluehost is a popular hosting provider based in Provo, Utah. They specialize in comprehensive, easy-to-use solutions. Beginners can get up and running with a new blog easily.
Bluehost currently powers over 2 million websites. More than 1 million of those are WordPress sites, according to the company.
In fact, WordPress and Bluehost have been close partners for more than ten years.
Bluehost for Bloggers and Small Business
Bluehost offers a wide variety of web hosting options, so regardless of whether you’re a single-person small business or one of the most popular bloggers on the internet, Bluehost has something that fits your needs.
Such an array of options is especially beneficial for those who are just starting out.
You can purchase the basic package that fits your needs now. As your site grows, you can upgrade your hosting package without going through the hassles of having to switch providers as well.
WordPress and Bluehost have been partners for over ten years, so naturally, Bluehost offers a WordPress hosting option that’s optimized for those using this particular content management system.
This means that their technology has been engineered to provide excellent performance and security for WordPress websites.
First, some clarity:
- Bluehost offers “WordPress hosting” which is the same thing as their “Shared Hosting.”
- They also offer “Optimized WordPress hosting” which is high-performance hosting.
The “Optimized” packages (of which there are four you can choose from) are designed to maximize the performance of a site running on WordPress.
Security and Apps
Additionally, these packages come with access to MOJO Marketplace, where you can find plugins, scripts, and more to enhance your site. Plugins (or “apps”) are software products that, when added to your site, provide some special type of functionality.
Examples include photo galleries; user discussion forums; calendars; live chat for customer support; and games. There are thousands of options.
Be aware that you can also get plugins from the WordPress organization: there are over 55,000 to choose from.
Finally, you get security features such as SiteLock Security, Cloudflare CDN, and SiteLock WAF.
Why is Site Loading Speed Important?
The longer it takes your blog to load, the more likely that visitors will become impatient and go elsewhere. So whether you’re attracting readers or trying to sell products, site loading time is your secret weapon.
What is the Cloudflare CDN?
This is where the Cloudflare CDN comes in. A “CDN” is a “content delivery network.” It’s a global network of datacenter nodes (or PoPs — Points of Presence). Each node makes a copy of your website. And that copy is updated whenever you update your content.
When a visitor clicks on a URL to visit your website, the network instantly knows that visitor’s location and delivers your website to them from the node that is geographically closest to them.
Video: This Bluehost video provides an overview of how Cloudflare works.
Choose From Four WordPress Packages
When opting for a WordPress Hosting package, you can choose from four different packages.
Each offers a different cap on the allowed number of visits per month, storage, backup space, and RAM.
However, all come with:
- One free domain
- One IP address
- A 30-day money-back guarantee if you’re unsatisfied for any reason
- 24/7 support
It’s Easy to Manage Your Hosting Account
A control panel is a dashboard. It has simple controls that you click on to manage your web hosting account.
The Bluehost control panel is a custom version of cPanel. (cPanel is a popular brand of control panel.). This enhanced control panel is designed to be easy to use.
As with other Bluehost packages, WordPress hosting can be provisioned almost instantaneously so you can get started the moment you decide to purchase a hosting package.
Important: Keep Your Plugins and Core Updated
Note: When you use WordPress you have to periodically update the plugins you’re using and the WordPress “core” (main) software.
When it’s time to update, you’ll see a message in your WordPress dashboard telling you to update these. It’s easy — you click on the update link and the updates will install themselves.
It’s very important to keep these updated. If you forget to do so, your site may become vulnerable to hacks.
Some web hosts, like SiteGround and WP Engine, handle these updates for you as part of their “managed” WordPress hosting plans. If you prefer this “managed” approach, you may want to check out these other hosts’ options.
How Do I Launch a WordPress Site Using BlueHost?
You can install WordPress easily via the provided cPanel under Website > Install WordPress.
Click Install, provide your domain name and edit the email, username, and password for your new installation (if desired).
Once you agree to the terms and conditions, click Install Now, and Bluehost will take care of the rest.
At this point, you will be ready to set up your new WordPress blog. Everything that you need to do is available from the WordPress Dashboard.
Video: This 10-part video series by Bluehost walks you through each step of setting up and customizing your new WordPress site.
Pick a Theme
Ready to pick a theme? There are two ways to browse for a theme.
A theme is a pre-built website design.
- You can log into your WordPress dashboard and browse the free themes.
- You can log into your Bluehost control panel and click on “Themes.” This will take you to the MOJO Marketplace where there are over 1,110 themes you can purchase.
Let’s start with number 1. Once you log into your WordPress dashboard:
- In the left-hand column pick: Appearance > Themes > Add New
- This will take you to a pages offering free WordPress themes.
- Search for a new theme base on parameters like color scheme or features. Once you find an option that you like, click the Install button that appears when you hover over the theme. Your theme will go live once you click Activate.
- Next, you can alter your theme to suit your preferences by going to Appearance > Customize.
If you don’t like any of the themes offered you can always purchase a WordPress theme, option #2. But realize you can purchase a theme from the MOJO Marketplace or anywhere online. Then, you’ll download the files as a package.
To install a theme this way:
- Go to Appearance > Themes > Add New
- Click on Upload theme
- After your theme uploads, you’ll be prompted to install some associated plugins. Do so.
My Website Doesn’t Look Like the Demo. What Do I Do?
If you’re importing a theme, you may notice that your new blog looks plain and not at all like the demo. To fix this make sure the theme is activated.
Go to Appearance > Themes. The theme that you selected should have the word “Active” below it. (If it’s not marked “Active” then click “Activate.”)
- Next, look for the Demo Content option — it should be in the left-hand column underneath Tools.
- Select Demo Content > Import
- Then, in the theme package that you downloaded when you purchased your theme, look for a file called “Sample Data.” (It will be an XML file). That’s the file you want to import.
Now your site will look exactly like the demo. You just need to replace the demo photos and text with your own.
I’m Using a Free Theme. It Looks Plain. How Do I Change That?
If you chose a free theme and it looks plain, then you may just need to add content!
Write posts and add images. Check out stock image libraries if you don’t yet have your own content. You might also check out any accompanying documentation to ensure that you’re making the most of what your theme offers.
Pro tip: Try to not upload images that are 1 MB or higher in size. The large images may slow your site down. Use tinypng.com to upload your image and compress it. (Compressing it makes the file size smaller, but you can display the image at any size you like in your blog.)
Video: This is a sample WordPress tutorial from the Bluehost YouTube channel.
Grow Your Website With Bluehost’s Marketing Services
Bluehost offers professional website marketing services that are affordable. If you’re an experienced blogger or small business looking to get to the next level, or a beginner blogger looking to start strong, you may want to consider using these services.
They can help you get found online and grow traffic to your site.
- Setting up your blog for you
- Creating a custom website design
- Content creation and marketing
- Professional branding
- Search engine optimization
- Custom consultations on a monthly basis
How Do I Transfer My Site to Bluehost?
If you’re currently hosting your blog with another provider, and you want to transfer it to Bluehost, you can get migration assistance after signing up for a plan.
For a flat fee, Bluehost will help you transfer up to five websites and twenty email accounts (including all associated files and databases).
Once the migration process is complete, Bluehost will review your site to ensure that everything still works as expected. You’ll also get access to 24/7 support long after your migration is complete so that you can get help whenever necessary.
Note that the migration service does not include domain name transfer.
Customer Service and Technical Support
All of Bluehost’s hosting plans come with access to support technicians 24/7 so you can get help whenever you need it, even if it’s at 3 AM in the morning.
Bluehost provides 24/7 customer support.
Bluehost’s support resources include an in-depth knowledgebase filled with articles, guides, how-tos, instructions, and answers to the most frequently asked questions.
However, if you need personalized assistance, you can do so by opening up a support ticket. You can also contact Bluehost staff via live chat or telephone.
New to WordPress?
If you’re new to WordPress, Bluehost has a number of resources to help you launch your blog, install a theme, and grow traffic.
For example, if you are looking for instructions on how to install WordPress, you can view the video or the webinar, or read the step-by-step tutorial. You’ll also want to check out their tutorials on YouTube.
- Bluehost provides a “Getting Started” series for new WordPress users
- Their blog also is filled with helpful information.
- Scroll to the bottom of the Bluehost site to find the link to their WordPress Guide. This covers everything you need to know and includes a video series.
All of these resources are available to you free of charge.
Video: Wondering how to create and publish your first blog post? This Bluehost video provides a helpful walk-through.
Use WordPress to Sell: WooCommerce Hosting
WooCommerce is an e-commerce platform that was designed to integrate seamlessly with WordPress websites.
WooCommerce is a powerful, mobile-ready, easily scalable, open source solution that can be customized to your needs precisely.
It’s easy to convert your blog into an online store.
Blog Now, Sell Later
Some bloggers start out with a plan to later expand to sell branded merchandise (e.g. t-shirts and mugs promoting their blog) or other products and services.
Just know that you can start with a WordPress blog on Bluehost and later — sometime in the future — expand it to include an online store.
Launch an Online Store in Minutes
Designed for those who want to get running with an online store, Bluehost’s WooCommerce hosting lets you set up your store in just minutes.
All plans come with:
- Must-have security features like an SSL certificate and dedicated IP address
- Secure payment gateways (so you can receive payments from various sources)
- The basic WooCommerce “Storefront” theme will be pre-installed
- Customizable online store themes
- A free onboarding call
- 24/7 support so you can get help with any issues you may encounter
- Unmetered bandwidth
You have three plans to choose from. The plans differ in
- The number of online stores that you can have on that plan
- The marketing freebies (like advertising credits)
- The amount of storage
- The number of email inboxes that you get
Here’s how the plans differ:
- Starter: Gives you 100 GB storage space, five email inboxes, and $100 in marketing offers
- Plus: Gives you a dedicated support line, unmetered GB storage space, unlimited number of email inboxes, $150 in marketing offers, site backup services, and spam protection
- Pro: Gives you a dedicated support line, unmetered GB storage space, unlimited number of email inboxes, $300 in marketing offers, spam protection, site backup services, and domain privacy (so that others can’t get access to your information by looking up your domain registration), and “Bluehost SEO Tools Start.”
Let’s take a look at other hosting plans on offer from Bluehost.
Shared hosting is a great way to get started. It is Bluehost’s most popular option, and for just a couple of dollars per month, you have everything you need to get your site online. When purchasing a shared package, you can choose from three options:
- Basic: Enough for one website, the Basic package gets you 50 GB of storage space, unlimited bandwidth, and five email accounts
- Plus: The Plus account lets you host an unlimited number of websites under the same domain, and your resource allocations (such as storage space, bandwidth, and email inboxes) aren’t metered or limited
- Prime: The top-tier shared package and the package recommended by Bluehost, Prime gets you an unlimited number of sites under a single domain, unmetered bandwidth and storage space, and as many email inboxes as you need. The primary difference between the Plus and Prime plans, however, are the extras — with Prime, you get protection against spam email, domain privacy (which means that people can’t get access to your information by looking up your domain registration), and site backup services
For those who need just a bit more, you can opt for the Pro package, which gets you everything in the Prime package plus a dedicated IP address and an SSL certificate (important if you’re planning on handling your customer’s sensitive information, such as credit card numbers and billing information).
To manage your site and hosting, Bluehost offers a custom-branded cPanel, with an enhanced, easy to use interface.
If you ever find yourself outgrowing your shared hosting package, you can upgrade to a virtual private server (VPS) or dedicated hosting package with just one click in your control panel.
All plans come with a free domain name. If you need email addresses to accompany your domain name, you can allocate some of your web hosting space for email inboxes.
Video: Despite being a large company, Bluehost takes a small business approach to their technology, choosing components carefully and building servers in-house.
Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting
For those who have outgrown a shared hosting package, VPS hosting is the logical next step. With a VPS hosting package, your site will be placed on a server with others, but fully isolated environments ensure that each site gets its allocation of resources with no sharing between sites whatsoever.
Bluehost can spin up a VPS server for you almost instantaneously, so you don’t have to wait hours or days to get going with a VPS plan.
Bluehost offers three different VPS plans from which you can choose:
- Standard: two CPU cores, 30 GB SSD storage, 2 GB RAM, unlimited bandwidth, one domain, one IP address
- Enhanced: two CPU cores, 60 GB SSD, 4 GB RAM, unlimited bandwidth, one domain, two IP addresses
- Ultimate: four CPU cores, 120 GB SSD, 8 GB RAM, unlimited bandwidth, one domain, two IP addresses
Regardless of which package you choose (though Bluehost recommends the Enhanced package), you get a 30-day money back guarantee and 24/7 server management and support if you have any questions or encounter any issues with your site hosting.
Here is a detailed guide to help you understand if you need VPS or dedicated hosting.
Bluehost’s dedicated hosting packages are for those who need an abundance of resources. They can be spun up almost the instant you order them, and you get the best and the most regarding security, performance, and control.
As with shared and VPS hosting, you have three different dedicated hosting options from which you can choose:
- Standard: 4 cores/8 threads, 500 GB of mirrored storage, 4 GB RAM, 5 TB bandwidth, 1 domain, 3 IP addresses
- Enhanced: 4 cores/8 threads, 1 TB of mirrored storage, 8 GB RAM, 10 TB bandwidth, 1 domain, 4 IP addresses
- Premium: 4 cores/8 threads, 1 TB of mirrored storage, 16 GB RAM, 15 TB bandwidth, 1 domain, 5 IP addresses
All dedicated hosting plans come with a 30-day money back guarantee, as well as 24/7 support access if there are any issues with your server.
Bluehost is focused on shared, VPS, dedicated, and WordPress-optimized hosting solutions, so they do not offer reseller packages. For those interested in reseller hosting, Bluehost recommends ResellerClub. ResellerClub is a trusted partner of Bluehost that:
- Offers more than 800 products that you can configure and resell to your customers
- Allows unlimited package customization with unlimited control panel accounts that are sold under your brand
- Offers excellent, around-the-clock support if you have any issues with your hosting
ResellerClub’s offers several different reseller packages from which you can choose. They differ primarily in the allocation of resources you get, but all packages come with a 30-day money back guarantee, 24/7 support, the option to choose where your server is hosted, as well as whether you’re working in a Windows- or Linux-based environment.
WordPress’s cloud hosting option is a great option for those who are seeking reliability. With your data mirrored across three distinct devices, your cloud-hosted site will remain up even if one or two of your devices fail.
You can choose from three different cloud hosting packages, each with a different allocation of storage space, bandwidth, RAM, and CPU cores:
- Starter: One website, 100 GB storage space, unmetered bandwidth, one domain, 2 GB RAM, 2 CPU cores, 100 email accounts
- Recommended: Unlimited websites, unmetered space, unmetered bandwidth, one domain, 4 GB RAM, 4 CPU cores, unlimited email accounts, spam protection
- Business Pro: Unlimited websites, unmetered space, unmetered bandwidth, one domain, 6 GB RAM, 6 CPU cores, 100 unlimited accounts, spam protection, dedicated IP address, SSL certificate, domain privacy, and site backup services
All plans come with local caching, one-click resource scaling, and marketing offers to help you grow your site. The cloud hosting option is very similar to the VPS option.
However, you’re billed on a monthly basis, and each package comes with automated migration to make it easy for you to get up and running.
Need a domain name? They’ve got you covered. Bluehost sells domain names, so if you’re looking to hold a particular domain, but you’re not quite ready to spring for a web hosting package, you can do so.
Billing and Pricing
When purchasing a hosting package or a domain name, you’re required to pay upfront for at least a year of service. You can opt for a contract that gets you one, two, or three years of service (domain names must be paid for on an annual basis).
Bluehost offers discounts for those who choose an extended contract, so the longer your contract lasts, the less you pay per month for hosting.
The longer the contract period, the less you pay per month for hosting.
When purchasing a hosting package, Bluehost will waive your setup fees, as well as cover your domain registration fees for the first year.
During the checkout process, you can add domain privacy protection, site backup and security services, and search engine assistance at additional cost.
All hosting packages, as well as the domain privacy service, come with a 30-day money back guarantee, so if you’re unsatisfied with your purchase for any reason, you can a full refund of the fees you’ve paid.
Domains, however, are excluded from this guarantee. If you cancel a plan that included a free domain, Bluehost will deduct the cost of the domain from your refund.
What You Need to Know About Introductory Prices
At the end of your contract, it will automatically renew (unless you tell Bluehost otherwise).
Furthermore, the prices listed on the Bluehost site are introductory prices; when your contract renews, your monthly fees will likely go up, even if you’re receiving a discount due to the length of your contract.
“WordPress Hosting” Prices With Renewal Rates
Here are the price changes you can expect for Bluehost’s “WordPress Hosting” — which is the same thing as their “Shared Hosting.”
“Optimized WordPress Hosting” Prices With Renewal Rates
And here are the price changes you can expect for Bluehost’s “Optimized WordPress Hosting” plans.
|WP STANDARD||WP ENHANCED||WP PREMIUM|
Uptime and Downtime
Bluehost promises high performance for all of its web hosting packages, but nowhere on the site does Bluehost make any promises as to what uptime they’re willing to guarantee. Our search of the site yields a knowledge base article that claims that Bluehost strives “to offer the best in the industry for Network and Server Uptime.”
The company claims that most issues are resolved in approximately 15 minutes, though more extreme issues can take longer. Their caveat further states that such issues can sometimes take hours, if not days to resolve. Beyond this, Bluehost does not offer any additional information (specific or not).
While Bluehost does not guarantee a predetermined level of uptime, they do allow you to leave your hosting agreement early due to server downtown. You can cancel your account without any penalties and receive a pro-rated refund of the unused portion of your contract.
Performance and Testing
We routinely monitor the performance of Bluehost’s hosting so we have hard data to base our reviews on.
- Average server response time in 2018 was 477 milliseconds. (Note: This is for their basic shared hosting plan, the cheapest plan they offer.)
- Fastest responses are to those in the US and Canada, with some European countries receiving slightly slower response times (as expected due to the fact that Bluehost is US-based)
- There were two months during the six months immediately prior to the writing of this article where Bluehost did not have 100% uptime, but those months did have uptimes of 99.94% and 99.99%. This is not bad for a company that doesn’t offer an SLA to its shared hosting customers!
Here are some commonly asked QAs on Bluehost.
Who owns Bluehost?
In 2010 Bluehost was acquired by Endurance International Group (EIG), which owns other internet brands such as HostGator, iPage, and Constant Contact. The following year EIG was acquired by Goldman Sachs and Warburg Pincus.
What is WordPress staging and does Bluehost provide it?
Yes, Bluehost provides WordPress staging. Staging is an easy way to create a clone of your website so that you can try out changes before publishing them on your site. It is particularly helpful if you’re making major changes like redesigning your homepage. It prevents you from accidentally publishing something that’s not quite ready for public consumption.
Does Bluehost support open source?
Yes, Bluehost is also a major supporter of open source. This means that their development team is experienced and able to help customers integrate their hosting packages with the free software of their choice. They also have engineers that work on WordPress itself.
Is Bluehost Right for You?
Bluehost is a great option if you need full-featured, yet inexpensive, web hosting for your WordPress site.
Bluehost is one of the most popular web hosts around for a reason. They offer reasonably priced, full-featured plans that include everything you need to get up and running with a website in no time.
Their custom-branded cPanel, which comes standard with some of their plans, has been customized to be as easy-to-use as possible.
They’ve also designed their offerings to seamlessly integrate with WordPress, which is the most popular content management system in use today.
In general, there’s very little to complain about when it comes to Bluehost. The biggest downside to Bluehost might be their lack of uptime guarantee. If your site is one where you cannot afford even the possibility of seeing extended downtime, you’re probably best with a hosting provider that does offer an explicit uptime guarantee.
Contributing editors: Horace Bates and Sherrie Gossett
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