When it comes to web hosting, BlueHost without a doubt is one of the biggest and most well-known ones out there. There is no shortage of rave reviews about this company.
But can it really stand up to the hype? Is it a reliable web host for WordPress or any other type of blog or website?…
To answer this and many other questions concerning BlueHost, I decided to write a detailed review using my own personal experience with the company and a little help from comments I have heard and read from other customers of this company.
Let’s get started with some company background and history!…
Signup through this link and Get 43% Off Today: 43% Off Blue Host
Bluehost counts among the many web hosting companies under the ownership of Endurance International Group. Individually it ranks inside the top 20 largest web hosts, and collectively (together with other hosting companies of EIG, HostMonster (read my review of it here) and FastDomain) it hosts close to 2 million domains.
BH started life in 1996, so they are one of the oldest web hosts still around today. The long survival in this oft cut-throat web hosting business is an indication of the quality of services that they provide. New businesses have emerged and expired between 1996 and now but BH still stands their ground continuously churning out quality solutions for webmasters.
Recruited in 2003, ex-CEO Matt Heaton has overlooked an unprecedented period of growth that spanned 8 years from an overwhelming 50,000 square foot head office.
It was an era not just marked by tremendous business growth for the company but also amazing technology breakthrough in the industry. Dan Handy, the former COO, is his hand-picked successor tasked to further fuel this growth.
As with any technology company that can grow with time, Bluehost boasts of a top notch network infrastructure. Their data center is filled with cutting-edge quad processor servers, and flanked by mirrored storage backups, UPS / diesel backup power generator and 24/7 monitoring by competent technical staff.
The facility is directly hooked on to the impressive OC-48 backbone connection, connecting to the internet in excess of 2 Gbit / second bandwidth.
Company’s BBB Rating
I also checked the Better Business Bureau’s website to get a better sense of what the company is all about. BH is not a BBB accredited business which is not a big deal. However, the are rated B on a scale of A+ to F.
As for complaints against the company, there were in total 86, from which all were resolved.
So, while having complaints against a company is not a good sign, the fact that they were all resolved is a sign of a company giving a damn about their public image and ultimately their customers.
Not to mention, when you are that big, serving thousands of webmasters and businesses, you are bound to have complaints here and there. It is impossible to please every single customer.
Web Hosting Plans Offered by BlueHost
There is a trend developed in the market that compels web hosting companies to consolidate and streamline their product line, in order to come up with a single ‘one-size fits all’ web hosting plan. And BH has embraced this approach as well, with their ‘Platinum Pak’ plan recently unveiled to showcase their vision.
When hosting service is presented as a monolithic offering, it obviously removes loads of headaches from the prospective customers. But there are problems associated with this simplicity; as buyers grapple with the doubts that if a single unified plan is going to provide all the necessary features.
In this respect, Bluehost is certainly on top of the game as its plan features enough capabilities to cater for the wider market at large.
The defining advantage is that customers no longer deliberate on individual features embedded in various web hosting plans. The company seems to pack all useful features in this one and only hosting plan.
If website creation has not been your thing in the past, this is one host you will be glad you found. It literally took me less than 5 minutes to have my WP blog up and running.
Platinum Pack includes the following features:
- Unlimited Space
- Unlimited Bandwidth
- Unlimited Domain Hosting
- Unlimited Email Accounts
- Free Site Builder With Templates
- Unlimited Subdomains
- $100 Google Advertising Credits
Obviously, the whole deal is packaged to impress. On the cost side, BlueHost charge 6.95$/month for its standard web hosting account (when you choose 12-month billing cycle), and it is $5.95 for 24-month cycle.
Do take note that prices tend to fluctuate to reflect industry trend. Plus, since the company offers deals and discounts, you can pretty much always find a promo or discount code or a coupon to help you get a better deal with them.
How “Unlimited” Is It?
Unlimited web hosting is a myth. If it is true, there is no reason why Facebook had to spend millions on its own data center, and that is just for one single website. They could have simply signed up with BlueHost, paying a paltry $3.95 every month.
Unlimited hosting is a marketing gimmick that the entire industry embraces. So if you can’t beat them, you just have to follow them!
Let’s drill down into the specifics…
Your entitlement would be a max of 200,000 files and 1,000 MySQL tables per account.
For a single MySQL database, the restriction is capped at 2GB, and for all your MySQL database, the limit is set at 3GB.
To fully appreciate the kinds of limits imposed, please refer to their terms and conditions – Section 8: Unlimited Usage Policies and Definitions.
Even with the preset limits, these are still really huge for 98% of the users. The good news is that if the limits are breached, you got to be doing a roaring business and it may be time for you to sign up for an additional account or go for an upgrade.
Reliability and Uptime
I put BlueHost’s services through comprehensive testing, and my observation is that there is no complain about the reliability of their optimized shared servers (PDF).
They are as rock solid as they claim. After all, the fact that they are hosting millions of clients, with 20,000 more come on board every month could be a further assurance to you!
The company claims network uptime of 99.9%. That guarantee means that their networking equipment WILL stay online for 99.9% of the time in a given period.
Consistent with industry practice, the stated availability does not take scheduled maintenance or hardware failure into consideration.
BH is just among a handful of web hosting companies with their own infrastructure, instead of using equipment/facilities from somebody else’s.
The 3 full data centers under their ownership have a combined size of over 70,000 square foot and they are connected to multiple 10 GB fiber lines.
So, what is the significance for their customers?…
That means that operation here is fully integrated, and the company controls every aspect of the infrastructure directly, which always helps when it comes to troubleshooting problems and fine-tuning equipment.
BlueHost has been heralded by the market for offering top notch customer support. The entire support operation (includes sales and technical support) are housed in U.S. (their head offices in Utah).
The company says that no one has to wait for more than 30 seconds to get through to phone support.
I called many times and agreed that the hold times do not exceed 30 seconds on average. But, there were a couple of times I had to settle with the hold music for up to 5 minutes.
All in all, it is an excellent company that invests in the support infrastructure; you don’t have to wait long to get to talk to somebody who is really knowledgeable in their business and the expert works diligently to solve your problem.
A cPanel is embedded into their help center (so you can do your admin stuff from here) and some helpful facilities here are a searchable knowledge base, user forums, a getting started wizard, and more.
The industry strength cPanel is the control panel of choice for this web host as well. A control panel is what you would use for your website administration.
There is a reason why cPanel has caught on with so many providers: it offers extreme friendly user navigation and it covers access to all the configuration options you would ever dream for.
But their panel offers more than the normal configuration options. It includes a web-based file manager and easy to use Page-Wizard, making it possible for sufficiently professional webpages to get created in a most direct and efficient way.
Fantastico script support is also available via the panel (more information below).
Naturally, the ubiquitous one click script installation feature is included in this plan. A single click is all you need to install CMS scripts like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and many other scripts.
Do They Offer Site Builders?
Thanks to conventional wisdom, people talk of “site builder” being a traditional HTML drag and drop site builder. These are decent but they can only build static brochure sites, they are not desirable if dynamic content such as commenting and contact form has to feature on your website.
Site builder has come a long way and the best in town is WordPress nowadays. It is a solid improvement over the traditional web builders, by a factor of 1000. I actually thought these traditional “site builders” have become obsolete.
To sweeten the deal, the company also bundle 5 traditional site builders. All can be installed through Simple Scripts before you get to use them. They are liveSite, Soholauch, BasicPages, Concrete5, and Zazavi.
Is BH WordPress Friendly?
Nobody gets bigger than this company when it is all about WordPress hosting. Naturally, the company is recommended (along with 2 others) by WP as one of the official WordPress hosts.
WordPress is the most popular used free script today (judged by the frequency of downloads). It is a very powerful Content Management System (CMS) and it is well known for its ease of use features. CMS is synonymous to website builder, i.e. scripts that helps you to create a website.
There are more than 60 million downloads of WordPress up to the time of writing.
It started life as a simplistic blogging platform. But through the years, its evolution has been remarkable. Fewer people nowadays use it as just another blogging tool, but as the ultimate web builder that creates and supports mega websites.
As increasingly more warm to it, a lot of plugins and themes have been made available so that you can further enrich and customize your website.
With SimpleScripts offered by BlueHost, installation of WordPress can never be easier. If you wish, you are able to import an existing blog into your new installation. Of course, upgrades and uninstall options are there as well.
Unhappy customers can ask for a full refund anytime. They won’t hassle you as you wait for your money back.
For webmasters running average sites (like I do), there is little chance for you to get discontented with their service.
Pay attention that the refund to customers would not include the fees paid for additional services like Domain names, Dedicated IPs, SSL certificates.
BlueHost Reviews from Around the Web
As it is a customary of reviews I write here at HostDispatch, I did some research and read as many reviews and rating on Bluehost as possible to get a better and complete picture of what they are all about.
After all, my experience alone (positive or negative) may very well be isolated. So, it’s always best to see what other webmasters have experienced as well.
From what I have read, I have shrunk the most notable comments and reviews into the followings:
- People like the fact that the company is a long timer (16 years in the business).
- Most appreciate their beautifully integrated billing system with the cPanel.
- Their prices are really cheap and moreover, you can get quality plans.
- Their basic plans offer unlimited domain hosting which is a plus for many.
- Customer service is totally based on the U.S.
- Waiting time for phone-based support is usually very short.
- They have finally managed to add dedicated and VPS hosting to their plans which are priced very reasonably.
- As expected everyone loves the use of the standard cPanel (I don’t know why cPanel still is not the only standard for all web hosts?)
- They do offer dedicated IPs and free site builder (although with WordPress I don’t know why would anyone want to build a site with site builders using templates!).
- Average uptime according to a few dozen or so webmasters added to around 99.85% which is great.
- Although I personally don’t mind this at all, but some customers didn’t like the fact that you have to pay 1005 of your payment upfront.
- Some folks were not happy with the fact that BH is still using old and outdated script installers which make it harder and longer to install simple scripts such as WP.
- They have a set of categories that you have to choose when contacting support, so if your unique problem doesn’t fit into any of the predetermined categories, finding the right person to talk to sometimes gets hectic.
- EIG purchased BH in July of 2011 and since EIG owns some of the unpopular web hosts, some people think BH is going to be affected negatively as well.
The bottom line is that my interaction with Bluehost has been entirely pleasant albeit uneventful. But there is no perfect company in a real world.
Still, it is difficult to pick up bones for the things I expected from a web host, especially with one that boasts of a reliable and solid network (I admit I did run into one small incident) and fantastic work rate of the technical staff.
For the purpose of this review, my plan included 1500GB of space and 15000GB of data transfer, coupled with a very competitive price.
If reliable hosting is critical to your consideration, I really have no hesitation to recommend BlueHost to you.