Bluehost is a fast and reliable hosting provider, and they’re one of the three providers officially recommended by WordPress itself. In fact, they make the process of getting signed up and launching a WordPress site incredibly quick and easy. That expertise extends to enhancing your WordPress site with themes and plugins as well.
That said, WordPress really is their main focus, so much so that the sign-up process will install it for you automatically unless you take specific steps to stop the wizard from doing so. We signed up for a shared hosting plan on the service to test how well their WordPress implementation really works, and whether Bluehost is suitable for other purposes.
Available Levels of Service: Plenty of room to grow
Bluehost offers three levels of service for Shared Hosting plans:
- Basic: A starter plan for one website (with domain name), 50 GB storage, free SSL encryption, and unlimited bandwidth. This plan will run you $3.95 per month for the first year if you pay for one year in advance, with no monthly option.
- Plus: Provides unlimited domains and bandwidth, and adds an advanced spam filter and a 30-day free trial of Microsoft 365. This plan will run you $5.95 per month for the first year if you pay for one year in advance, with no monthly option.
- Choice Plus: This includes everything above, plus domain privacy and automated site backup (Codeguard Basic). This plan costs $6.95 a month for the first year.
Bluehost also offers plans for VPS hosting starting at $19.99 a month for the first year that includes one dedicated IP address for your site.
Each of Bluehost’s shared hosting plans can be discounted further if you pay for two or three years in advance, and their three-year plans are quite competitive in terms of pricing. They don’t offer month-to-month billing though, so you have to pay for at least a year in advance.
In addition to shared hosting, Bluehost also offers managed WordPress hosting, ecommerce hosting, and tiered virtual private server (VPS) and dedicated server plans.
Platform: Linux for most of your needs
The Bluehost platform runs on Linux, which is common for many of the more budget-friendly hosting services. This not only means your website will run fast, but it provides access to many useful tools such as shell access.
The focus on WordPress also means that the PHP is available, meaning you could install most of the other popular open-source content management systems such as Joomla or Drupal. There’s also support for Ruby applications via the App Manager tool, but if you’re just starting out in the website building world, WordPress will likely meet all your needs.
The Bluehost platform runs on Linux, which is common for many of the more budget-friendly hosting services.
Storage: Enough to get you started
The Basic plan offers 50 GB of storage. For most starter sites, this will last for some time—the WordPress install generated through the account registration only occupies 90 MB, or 0.18 percent, of your available space.
Unless you’re planning on storing tons of high-resolution pictures or video directly on your site, this storage should be sufficient. And when you’re ready to upgrade, the very next tier of service will get you unlimited space.
Bandwidth: All you can use
Every shared hosting plan offered by Bluehost comes with unmetered bandwidth, which means you don’t need to worry about incurring extra charges if your site experiences a surge in traffic. This is something that can easily get out of hand, particularly if you’re hosting large media files like those mentioned above (e.g. imagine posting a high-res picture that costs you 25 MB in throughput every time someone views it).
Registration Process: A simple four-step process
The Bluehost registration process is great for those new to the hosting world. The screens are uncluttered, easy to understand, and you’re through the whole thing in just a few steps. After selecting your plan, you’ll simply enter your desired domain name (which you’ll get for free if it’s available, as shown above), and your contact/payment information.
Once the registration is complete, you’ll be prompted to create your account to log into the Bluehost admin panel. This process is also an easy and clean two-step wizard.
The Bluehost registration process is great for those new to the hosting world.
Finally, the registration process will help you create your first site. You should take a moment here because although the questions seem general enough, this is actually gathering information to install WordPress for you. While WordPress is certainly a great place for novice site-builders to start, if you have something else in mind (either another CMS, or maybe just a static site), you should select I’m not creating a website here.
Control Panel/Domain & Site Management: Easy management
Bluehost provides a very clean and organized administration panel. Much like its registration process, the main screens are devoid of clutter, and the main links (Home, My Sites, Marketplace, Email & Office, and Domains) each contain a small number of tools.
The My Sites tool makes managing your various websites a breeze, providing a big preview of the site along with buttons to manage the site’s details or log into its WordPress admin. You can also create a new site here, provided you have an available domain.
Speaking of which, the Domains tool is also intuitive, with a nice list view of your domains and their properties, a search tool to purchase/register additional domains, and more advanced tools such as sub-domains and redirects.
Control Panel/Advanced Options: Powerful tools
That said, you can still use all the power that the cPanel interface provides by going to the Advanced menu. The right side of the screen provides some statistical information on your account, such as your server’s address, how much storage you’ve used, and how many databases you have.
The sections in the center of the screen contain collections of tools as follows:
- Files: This section contains a link to the web-based file manager, tools to manage FTP-based file transfer, and management of the Git code versioning system.
- Databases: You can administer databases here using either the MySQL or PostgreSQL database servers, creating databases and their users or using web admin tools such as phpMyAdmin.
- Email: Create your email addresses (with the Basic plan you only get five addresses and another five aliases), set up mailing lists, adjust spam filters, and configure autoresponders using the tools in this section.
- Metrics: You can obtain stats on basics like visitors and bandwidth, or use more advanced tools such as Awstats or Webalizer to visualize your site’s performance.
- Security: Bluehost provides SSH shell access to verified users, which you can set up here. You can also manage your SSL certificates (you do get a free Let’s Encrypt cert when you register), or block access by specific IP addresses.
- Software: While it lacks one-click installers for other web applications, Bluehost does offer the ability to fine-tune aspects of your Perl and PHP environments, or set up Ruby applications here.
- Advanced: An Advanced section inside the Advanced section may seem like a bit much, but really this is more a collection of miscellaneous tools to set up Cron jobs, error pages (like the dreaded 404 Error page), and how to handle MIME types.
- Preferences: Finally, this section lets you change the language shown in cPanel and manage your users.
Bluehost’s My Sites tool makes managing your various websites a breeze.
Control Panel/Administration: Easy through cPanel
Adding users is one of the more involved tasks in the Bluehost admin panel, which isn’t saying all that much. After clicking the Add user button, you just need to set the user’s name, password, email and disk quotas, and the location of their directory within your account.
Administration of your account with Bluehost is accessible from the menu in the top-right corner. Here you can easily adjust your billing preferences, upgrade your plan, or change your contact information or password.
Key Features: Easy to buy premium products and services
One thing that sets Bluehost apart is its Marketplace. While it’s always possible to buy premium themes and plugins for your WordPress install, the Marketplace combines these with other value-add services like search engine optimization or site migration from Bluehost and various third parties.
You can even add the Weebly web builder to your account from here and use it in place of WordPress. Bringing these options under one virtual roof, right within your admin panel, makes the selection and install a lot easier.
Support: 24/7 phone, web chat, and more
Bluehost makes it easy to get in touch with customer support, with a toll-free number featured prominently in the footer of every page. Customer support is available around the clock via their toll-free number, and you can also take advantage of their web chat system if you prefer that style of communication.
Server Uptime Guarantee: No guarantee in writing
Bluehost doesn’t offer any kind of uptime guarantee in writing, which means you’re out of luck if your site goes down. They do promise to attempt to fix problems within 15 minutes of any outage, but there’s nothing codified in writing as to the consequences if they fail to live up to that. In fact, they state that some server issues may leave your site down for hours with no compensation.
Bluehost has a decent reputation, but we prefer to see a server uptime guarantee codified in a service level agreement or terms of service that clients can point to in a worst-case scenario.
Price: Decent pricing schedule
Bluehost Shared Basic’s introductory price of $3.95 (normally $7.99) per month for a year commitment is quite good, although competitors also offer similar prices on an ongoing basis without resorting to temporary sales.
In terms of what you’re getting for your money, Bluehost is known primarily as a hosting provider for WordPress, and their registration and site creation tools certainly confirm this. So you’re essentially paying for the Bluehost’s expertise in getting WordPress up and running for you, while that money might go towards features like one-click application installers or more storage with other providers.
Competition: Bluehost vs. Siteground
Getting one of the best WordPress experiences from Bluehost involves some compromises. Compared to other, more general hosting providers, there are two areas where this is evident.
Siteground, for example, makes a point of supporting many content management systems. What this means is that much of the hand-holding that Bluehost does for WordPress users—the update management, premium plugin, and theme installation, etc.—comes with a price at Siteground.
In this particular case, Bluehost and Siteground offer similarly-priced plans, but Siteground’s managed WordPress plan comes with only 10 GB of storage and 50,000 monthly visitors. Bluehost doesn’t place those kinds of limitations, so it’s the obvious winner in that department.
Bluehost also offers Weebly as an alternative if you don’t want WordPress, and we found their admin panel to be cleaner, better laid out, and just easier to use.Final Verdict
Bluehost is hands-down the best option if you’re using WordPress.
If you’ve looked around and already decided on WordPress to manage your new website, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better option than Bluehost. From the very start of your journey with them, they make efforts to ensure you can get WordPress up and running, trick it out with new themes and features, and keep it going smoothly. If you want something else or think you might move away from WordPress at some point, you might want to look for a more generalized hosting provider. Overall, Bluehost provides a top-rate WordPress experience for the price of basic web hosting.
- Product Name Bluehost
- Plan Tested Basic
- Other Available Levels of Service Shared (Plus, Choice Plus, and Pro), managed WordPress, VPS, dedicated
- Bandwidth Unlimited
- Storage 50 GB
- Platform Linux
- Registration Process Wizard-Driven with free domain registration
- Domain & Site Management cPanel with simple interface
- Support 24/7 Support via Phone or Chat, Knowledge Base
- Server Uptime Guarantee No guarantee
- File Access FTP, FTP/S, SFTP, web-based
- Shell Access SSH
- Site Builder Automatically installs WordPress, Weebly optional
- Email No mail included
- Years in Business 16
- Version Control Git
- Payment Options Credit Card, PayPal
- Price (monthly) No monthly pricing
- Price (yearly) $4.95/mo