BlueHost Review – How Reliable is BlueHost as a Shared Host?
BlueHost is a very, and I mean very popular name in the web hosting space — if it's not the most popular shared hosting company on Earth. But, as is the case with many other fields other than web hosting, the most popular option isn't necessarily the best one in terms of quality. Is this true for BlueHost as well? After reviewing StableHost, I decided to find that out in this unforgiving BlueHost review.
Introduction to BlueHost
BlueHost first started operating in 1996, primarily offering shared hosting services. It was founded by Matt Heaton, who was the CEO from 1996-2011. In 2010, amidst much controversy and speculation, EIG (Endurance International Group) acquired BlueHost. Since 2011, Dan Handy operates as the CEO of the company.
BlueHost specializes in shared hosting to this date, but they’ve now started offering additional types of hosting like VPS, dedicated servers, and managed WordPress hosting. BlueHost claims to host over 2 million websites worldwide, making them one of the top hosting companies on the basis of hosted sites volume.
The BlueHost Advantages
BlueHost have been around in the shared hosting game since more than 20 years since they were originally founded in 1996. Not only have they managed to stick around all these years while becoming one of the most well-known shared hosts worldwide, they've also successfully managed to keep their quality of service consistent through all these years, while overcoming a few minor hiccups along the way, like aggressive CPU-throttling and the likes.
BlueHost is your typical budget-friendly web host that offers a standard cPanel and LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) setup for people who’re not looking for too many features. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what all features that they have on offer:
- Free domain (for 1 year) along with your shared hosting plan.
- Feature-packed cPanel – integrated with CloudFlare, Page Speed Grader, Google Apps and a lot of other tools. Their custom user interface looks a lot better than the regular cPanel default skin.
- Premium anti-spam solutions built right in cPanel.
- Free, unlimited email accounts for the top-end plan. Email storage is within your total account storage. There are some limits as to how many emails in an hour you can send, so if your site is demanding in terms of sending emails, use some third party solutions like EmailOctopus.
- Automatic daily backups for all your website data, and stored files.
- Highly configured servers. Regular hardware upgrades. Replacement parts always ready for quick replacement in case of failed hardware.
- 24×7 Live Chat & Phone Support. The latter, especially, isn’t offered by most shared hosts out there.
- Hassle-free scalability allows you to upgrade your plan to a VPS or a dedicated server without having to face the hassles of moving your website.
- Account isolation technology isolates accounts having websites that consume too much resources, to ensure that the overall performance of the server doesn’t degrade and affect all customer sites on that server.
- Decent level of customization for a shared hosting plan – including SSH (Secured Shell Access), Server Side Includes, PHP.ini and .htaccess modification support.
- Multiple user-access control mechanism to assign multiples users and restrict their access to specific sections of the same hosting account (like one account may access only the billing section).
- Built-in CDN (Content Delivery Network) support with CloudFlare integration. Hassle free setup ensures that all your static resources load faster from CloudFlare’s worldwide CDN network.
- Unique IPs, SSL, and SiteLock protection are some optional features that are handy to have.
- 30-day Money-back Guaranty
- Other features which I probably haven't noticed yet.
Speed - Testing Load Times
In my testing, I've found BlueHost's servers to be fairly fast. It's certainly not the fastest among all shared hosts, neither does it manage to make the test site load under 300ms unlike A2 Hosting, but at that entry-level price point, the performance is more than you'd expect. Not only the total page load time, the initial server response time (<300 ms on average) was pretty impressive for a shared host, too.
It seems like BlueHost have upgraded their server hardware greatly and thereby improving performance for the end-user. This is good to know, considering they were at one point in the past accused of overselling and overcrowding their servers.
In my testing period with BlueHost, the test site experienced just a single instance of downtime, and that was for 2 minutes. This is really impressive for a cheap shared host. So, in short, uptime shouldn't be an issue if you decide to host your site on BlueHost's platform.
Price – BlueHost's Shared Plans Compared
BlueHost's shared hosting plans are very competitively priced. The plans mainly vary based on the number of add-on domains (i.e. the number of unique websites) that you can host on them. BlueHost currently has 3 different shared hosting plans, and they are as follows:
Their Basic plan, coming in at $3.49/mo is the most popular one with beginners. It gives you the option to host only one unique domain. It's understandable because not everyone has multiple websites to host.
Their mid-range plan, Plus, costing $5.95/mo, is the most value for money one out of the lot. It allows you to host an unlimited number of websites, with no storage or bandwidth limits whatsoever.
Their highest offering is called Pro,and it is priced at $13.95/mo, which is more than a shared hosting customer usually spends. It comes with a dedicated IP, an SSL certificate bundled-in, a complimentary subscription of their optional SiteBackupPro service, and a few other perks. It offers slightly more resource usage than the other two plans, which allows you to keep hosting your site on a shared platform even when it outgrows their entry-level and mid-range plans.
For most users, the Plus, or even the Basic plan would be more than sufficient, as even any serious blogger or webmaster hardly gets time to handle more than a couple of sites. For the more hard-core users out there, however, BlueHost has the Pro plan on offer.
Exclusive BlueHost Coupon for 2016
BlueHost usually doesn't like offering too much discount to its users, as the default prices are already very competitive. I still managed to get hold of an BlueHost discount link that offers dynamic discounts for different plans of BlueHost. You just need to click the button below, and your discount will be activated and will work for a month.
BlueHost are one of the few web hosts that offer 24x7 phone, live-chat and email support. I've found their support department to be adequate at the very least, when it comes to answering general tech queries or looking up for site-specific issues.
The support response times aren't that impressive, however, and they varied quite a bit, from 10 minutes to an hour. The first response has been an auto-generated response in quite a few cases, too.
BlueHost couldn't remind me that they're actually a very cheap shared host when I tested out the other parts of their overall service, but support was an exception. I really missed the efficient, fast, 100% skilled human-powered support that hosts like InMotion Hosting provide.
Concluding this BlueHost Review
By the looks of it, this review has already become the most comprehensive BlueHost review on the internet. Since I’m very passionate about web hosting, I could go all day about different aspects of it. But since this has already become so long, I’d like to quickly conclude this review.
BlueHost's hosting plans are quite cheap compared to most of their competitors. But apart from the not-so-great support department, I found BlueHost to be decent in most other aspects.
One negative point to consider is the limited add-on domains for their most basic plan. But that probably wouldn't concern the target audience (new bloggers / webmasters who're just starting their web journeys) much.
Overall, BlueHost is a decent host for the money, especially. I would definitely give them a try if I were looking for a reliable, feature-packed, aggressively priced shared web host without wanting to know too much about the technical titbits that go behind hosting a website.
If you're looking for a higher-priced, better alternative, however, I'd definitely recommend InMotion Hosting (a tad bit pricier) without thinking twice. Because they offer everything that BlueHost does, and only perform even better in most aspects.
Here are some additional information that aren’t directly related to BlueHost itself, but rather about a few things about shared web hosting and some services that BlueHost offers and their common, tricky consequences.