I’ve used Bluehost (ad) web hosting quite a bit in the past five years or so, although I currently am using DreamHost for my own site. They (Bluehost) really have carved out a place for themselves as one of the top web hosts online, and they are quite good for WordPress sites (I work pretty much exclusively with WordPress).
The big things for any host are functionality, features, and support. I’m going to quickly run through those things in regards to Bluehost.
Like most hosts, BlueHost has a 99.9% Network Uptime Guarantee. That should really be taken with a grain of salt though. It means that their network will be up, not your site. If there is even one server on their network up, they consider the network to be up. If your site goes down, you probably won’t be getting any money back, although I have seen them give out coupon codes to customers that complain.
In my experience with BlueHost (which spans 5 years, I had my site on BlueHost for 2 years, and I’ve built around 25-50 sites on BlueHost) I have experienced almost no down time that was BlueHost’s fault. Not only that, but the sites that run on BlueHost seem to almost always work quite fast when optimized correctly. I’ve heard people with larger sites sometimes have slower load times with BlueHost, but haven’t experienced that myself. BlueHost does occassionally go down for a little bit, and they did have an outage for a day in May 2015.
I often have problems when working on building sites that I’ll use up too much bandwidth and the site will become really slow, which of course slows down how fast I can get the project finished. With BlueHost, that has never been a problem (I’ve had huge problems with that through GoDaddy and Yahoo Hosting).
It is worth noting that on places where customers can write reviews, BlueHost often gets some negative reviews. I think part of that is that the people who write reviews are the people who have had problems. Also, some people probably misconfigure their sites or think that BlueHost is at fault when it is actually another factor, like viruses, slow internet, faulty software, technical errors, etc. Or perhaps people are trying to use BlueHost to manage large sites that bring in a ton of traffic. If that is the case, you shouldn’t expect $5 hosting to work for you. Instead, upgrade to an appropriate hosting service.
In contrast to those hosting review sites and user reviews, most professional reviewers seem to give BlueHost pretty decent review scores and quite a bit of praise.
Based on my experience with BlueHost, I find their functionality to be top notch for a mass hosting service with their pricing.
The features you get with Bluehost depend on which plan you select. The starter plan is only good for one site and has limits on everything. There is a business plan that includes extra features. Most people, especially those building a WordPress site, will want the Plus plan (which is their most popular plan). That plan includes:
- unlimited domain hosting
- unlimited hosting space
- unlimited file transfer
- unlimited email accounts
- one free domain name
- free site builder w/ templates
- free instant set-up
- $200 worth of marketing offers, including $100 on Odesk
One feature that I always look for in a web host is how the web panel works. cPanel used to be the gold standard in web panels (or control panels) as it was one panel that had everything on it, which made stuff easy to find and get to. BlueHost is still using cPanel, although they have modified it to their own specifications, use their own icons, and have added on some stuff. I think the BlueHost control panel might be the best control panel out there. You can view an image/screenshot of it below:
Not only does it display all the different sections and icons neatly and make them easy to access, but they also have your info in those grey and white striped boxes on the lower left (I’ve cut out my info from the screenshot above).
I should mention that BlueHost (along with everyone else now days) is offering a WordPress Hosting package. I wouldn’t normally recommend that as you aren’t getting much extra that you can’t easily do yourself. Perhaps if you have more money than time you would want to pay that bit extra, but if you are hiring someone like me to work on your site for you, we can easily manage securing the site, optimizing it, and running updates. If you want managed hosting, I think there are better services out there.
For many people, support is the most important thing when considering a web host. This honestly is the part where I think BlueHost could do a better job. They do have live 24/7 live support. The way it works is that you open a ticket and then they have someone get back to you.
I have found that you typically either hear back in about 4-6 hours or you don’t hear back until the next day. The support that they offer is often not so great.
I’ve had it happen a few times where the first response upon opening a support ticket is just something like; “have you seen this support article on your problem.” As I typically search for the answer to my problem before seeking support, I usually have already seen that article. This is frustrating as they have basically wasted the first response and I have to wait an extra several hours to a day for another response that perhaps goes into more depth.
Another issue with BlueHost support is that their people seem to be unwilling or aren’t allowed to make changes to your account for you. If you ask them to specifically do something, they will often write back one or two messages just to be sure you want them to do something.
To be fair, the issues I experience with BlueHost are usually made by users on the account or to do with software in use, not by BlueHost themselves. They also are problems that could happen with any shared hosting plan.
I do really like the support forum and all the different support articles that BlueHost has online. Dealing with their actual support team however is difficult and slow.
I think BlueHost has very good functionality (I’ve experienced almost no problems with them) and they seem to have very good uptime.
They have all the features I look for in a WordPress shared hosting plan, the control panel is probably the best out there, and the additional $200 worth of offers included are great.
The support could be better, but seems to be about average or slightly above average when compared to the support offered by other major hosts. Their response time is a bit slow and the support staff may not be all that technically knowledgeable, but the support articles and the user forum on their site all are really good.
Overall, I think BlueHost is one of the better hosts out there for WordPress. They actually are one of the three hosts recommend by WordPress.org on their websites (the others are DreamHost and LaughingSquid). I would recommend BlueHost to anyone interested in building a WordPress site. It’s a great service for a new site to use. Once you build up a decent amount of traffic (like 10k per month), you’ll likely want to switch away from them to a more expensive hosting company that can help you more.
Sign up for BlueHost now (ad).