In this complete Bluehost review, I’ll be weighing up the pros and cons of the popular company to determine once and for all whether they really are the best budget web host for beginners.
There’s a seemingly endless number of hosting providers out there and while some (like Cloudways, for example) provide the kind of advanced tools and technology that experienced web professionals need to flourish, others understand that the needs of hosting newcomers are very different.
Rather than staging environments, Git access, and Cron job managers favored by developers, new website owners need ease of use, affordability, and exceptional customer support that’s always on hand to help them navigate the process of launching and maintaining a website.
Bluehost promises to do all that and then some, but exactly how well do they keep that promise?
More importantly, do they do it well enough to earn themselves the title of best budget host for beginners, even while facing stiff competition from other top novice-friendly hosting companies such as SiteGround?
These questions, and more, that I’m about to answer in the following Bluehost review.
WhAT is Bluehost?
Bluehost is a major web hosting company owned by Newfold Digital, an IT services conglomerate formerly known as Endurance Group International.
This makes them one of the only non-independent hosting companies to feature in my guide to the best WordPress hosting companies for bloggers, a spot they earned for two key reasons:
1. They were the first web hosting company to ever be officially endorsed by WordPress and today remain one of only three companies (along with Dreamhost and the aforementioned SiteGround) to be WordPress-approved.
2. Their services are tailored to helping bloggers and business owners to launch a professional-looking web presence with no experience and zero technical know-how needed.
Since my main motivation for writing posts like this one is to help beginners learn how to start a successful blog, you can see why this second point in particular appeals to me, but does that mean they’re the right hosting company for you?
Let’s start looking at what Bluehost does well – and what they’re not so great at to help you answer that question for yourself.
Bluehost Hosting Review
How Much Does Bluehost Hosting Cost?
I said right at the start of this guide that one of the most important things the majority of beginners need from a web host is affordability.
For some, that may simply be because they’re looking to set up their site on a budget. For others, it may be the case that they’re dipping their toe into the proverbial water to see if running a blog or website is for them and don’t want to spend over the odds on something they’re not 100% certain they’ll stick to.
Whatever the case may be for you, the good news is that Bluehost is certainly affordable.
The company employs the tried-and-test hosting industry tactic of attracting new customers by offering remarkably low first-term prices and then increasing their prices to a regular rate once that first term ends.
Though this isn’t a practice everyone agrees with, it is one that newcomers can take advantage of.
With their entry-level plans starting at just $2.95 per month for the first-term contract of 12 months, you can run your website for a full year at some of the lowest hosting prices on the market.
Once that 12-month contract runs out, you’ll be paying three times as much, with the regular rate for those same entry-level plans coming in at $9.99.
Sure, it seems excessive to triple the cost, but even $9.99 per month is still a relatively good deal when you compare it to the regular rates offered by other leading hosting companies.
An entry-level plan with WPX Hosting, for example, costs $20.83 per month, while one of Bluehost’s biggest competitors, GoDaddy, also charges $9.99 for an entry-level plan that is almost identical to Bluehost’s.
Besides -and here’s a little expert secret for you- if you really are keen to keep your hosting costs as low as possible, there’s nothing to stop you from enjoying that first-term discount, then finding another quality hosting company offering low first-term rates and simply learning how to migrate your WordPress site to the new host.
The one area where Bluehost isn’t necessarily so newcomer-friendly is in the sheer number of different hosting services they have to offer, with each service available in multiple plan options.
Though having lots of different plans to choose from can be a good thing in that there’s more chance of finding the best deal for your particular project, it can also become rather overwhelming and complicate what should be a simple process of picking a plan.
All told, the company offers four different types of hosting, including:
|PLAN NAME||PLAN DESCRIPTION||PLAN PRICE|
|Basic Shared Hosting||Large physical servers are partitioned off into sections, with each user getting their own section. Together, all of these individual sections share the same resources of that physical server, hence the name.||from $2.95 – $18.95 p/m|
|Managed WordPress Hosting||Similar to shared hosting, albeit with resources and features tailored to WordPress users. This includes automatic WordPress installation and regular automatic WordPress updates done on your behalf.||from $2.95 – $18.95 p/m|
|Dedicated Hosting||Users pay for an entire server dedicated to their own website(s) rather than sharing resources with other users.||from $79.99 – $119.99 p/m|
|VPS Hosting||A Virtual Private Server (VPS) virtually replicated a physical dedicated server environment, giving you similar resources and performance to dedicated hosting but at a lower cost||from $19.99 – $59.99 p/m|
Which Bluehost Plan is Best?
For the rest of this review, I’m going to be focusing on Bluehost’s managed WordPress hosting because I believe it’s the most beneficial option out there for first-time website owners.
Part of that popularity is due to its unlimited flexibility and endless versatility, making it possible to create just about any type of website with any kind of feature you may need.
The main reason I love it, though, is because it’s so easy to use.
This is especially true with Bluehost, which automatically installs the platform on your hosting account for you, saving you the trouble of learning how to do it yourself.
So far, so good, but which one of Bluehost’s four WordPress hosting plans is the best one?
The honest answer is that each of the following four plans is best suited to a slightly different audience:
|PLAN NAME||PLAN DESCRIPTION||PLAN PRICE|
|Basic Plan||1 x WordPress installation|
10 GB Solid State Drive (SSD) storage Unmetered bandwidth
20 x databases.
Best for: Small websites and blogs.
|$2.95 p/m ( 12month first term) or $4.95 p/m (36 month first-term) then $9.99 thereafter.|
|Plus Plan||Unlimited WordPress installations|
Unlimited SSD storage
Best for: Growing blogs and business sites as well as small-medium eCommerce stores.
|$5.45 p/m (12 month first term) then $14.99 p/m thereafter|
$7.45 p/m (12 month first term) then $13.99 p/m thereafter
|Choice Plus||Everything in the Plus plan along with free domain privacy and free automated backups via CodeGuard for the first year.|
Best for: This is the all-around best WordPress hosting plan on Bluehost and is the one I recommend: thanks to its unlimited storage, free domain privacy, and the fact that it offers more features and resources than the Plus plan, despite having the same regular rate cost.
|$5.45 p/m (12-month first term) or $7.45 p/m (36-month first-term) then $18.99 p/m thereafter.|
|Pro Plan||Everything in the Choice Plus plan along with a free dedicated IP address and optimized CUP resources to make your website load faster.|
Best for: Large-scale blogs, sites, and eCommerce stores.
|$13.95 p/m (12 month first-term) then $28.99 thereafter.|
$18.95 p/m (36 month first-term) then $26.99 thereafter.
Bluehost Key Features
One thing I love about Bluehost is that, regardless of which plan you choose, you get access to a number of premium-level features that make it possible to build an exceptional quality website with ease.
Some of the highlights of Bluehost’s offering include:
Free One Year Domain Name
If you’re like many new website owners, you may find with some hosts that one of the most difficult things you need to do is to take a domain name you purchased from a third-party registrar and connect it to your hosting account.
With Bluehost, there’s no such problem.
The company is also one of the top domain registrars on the web and, as such, you can register your new website’s address with them and have it automatically connected to your account.
The best part is that you pay nothing for your domain for the first year of your contract.
After that, domain prices start at $17.99 per year, which is comparable to the costs offered by other domain/hosting combo providers but perhaps a little more expensive than you might pay from a third-party provider.
Still, given what a convenience it is for beginners to have their domain and hosting together, I’m going to say that $17.99 for a domain that’s already connected to your account is a pretty good deal.
Automatic WordPress Updates
Updating your WordPress site isn’t the most technical thing you’ll ever have to do (you literally just click a button), but it can be time-consuming, and it’s easy to forget all about it once you log into your WordPress dashboard and get side-tracked by the millions of tasks you may need to do as a site owner.
Thankfully, Bluehost takes care of that for you.
As a managed WordPress service, all updates to your core WordPress files, as well as the server environment which hosts them, are done on your behalf.
All you need to do is take care of your theme and plugin updates when the time comes.
In-Built WordPress Website Builder Tool
WordPress website builder tools like Elementor and WPBakery are some of the most essential WordPress plugins for newcomers, giving you the power and freedom of drag-and-drop functionality to create a powerful, attractive, and dynamic website.
The problem with them, however, is that to use these tools to their fullest potential, you need to pay for a premium subscription.
Bluehost eliminates this need by offering its own integrated drag-and-drop website builder, which offers all the same features and stylish design choices as the likes of Elementor, albeit completely free of charge.
This means that even if you’ve never built a website in your life, you’ll be able to create a stunning, professional-quality web presence with no more difficulty than it takes to move your mouse around the screen.
Other Key Bluehost Features:
- Free Content Delivery Network (CDN)
- Parked Domains
- Free SSL certificate (only for the first year on the basic plan)
- Customizable Premium Themes
- Intuitive dashboard.
Bluehost Performance and Reliability
Performance and reliability are factors that are easily overlooked when you’re searching for a reputable web hosting company for the first time.
However, of all the factors we’ll talk about today, it’s this one which is actually one of the most important.
Performance refers to how well your server does at loading your web pages and other vital assets when visitors land on your site, especially if you have a spike in web traffic.
Reliability refers to how reliable those servers are at keeping your site online and accessible 24/7. The amount of time your site is online is known as “uptime,” while the amount of time it’s offline is classed as “downtime.”
Naturally, you’ll want to find a host that offers excellent performance, maximum uptime, and little-to-no downtime, which is precisely what Bluehost does.
One of the main reasons that the brand was selected as a WordPress-approved host was its lightning-fast page loading speeds.
When I tested my own Bluehost-hosted website with the popular site speed tool Pingdom, it took just 124 milliseconds to load a 1.4 MB page for a Pingdom performance grade of B.
Meanwhile, the company offers a 99.98% uptime guarantee. While no company can guarantee 100% uptime, 99.98% is still as close to flawless uptime as you’re going to get.
I can also confirm that during all the time I’ve hosted with Bluehost, there hasn’t been a single instance of downtime that I’ve had to worry about.
This outstanding level of performance and reliability is thanks in no small part to the use of a unique Content Delivery Network (CDN) with multiple data centers located around the world, which helps you to deliver pages faster to audiences in different locations.
However, I also must give credit to the brand for their ‘resource protection’ guarantee, which ensures that no matter how many other websites share a hosting server with you, your site’s performance won’t be affected.
Since one of the biggest criticisms of shared hosting is that a high-performing website may eat up some of the bandwidth reserved for other sites, having this ‘resource protection’ in place makes Bluehost a better option for shared hosting users.
How Secure is Bluehost Hosting?
WordPress’ enduring popularity makes it a hot target for cybercriminals, especially as so many people either don’t know or simply don’t remember to update their sites when new patches and upgrades are revealed.
An out-of-date website gives hackers easy access to your site, which they can use for anything from stealing data to infecting both your site and its visitors’ devices with malware.
So you can see why having proper security features in place is so important.
Bluehost does reasonably well in this regard, though if you want my honest opinion, I think they could do better.
The good news is that the hosting service offers a free Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) which encrypts data sent between your site and your user’s device so that it remains indecipherable if it falls into the wrong hands.
Having an SSL in place is also a good idea for helping to convince Google that yours is a reputable, trustworthy site that’s worth featuring high in its rankings.
The bad news is that users on the basic entry-level plan only get this freebie for the first year, after which they’ll charge you for it.
On that note, I’d like to share with you another little secret:
Bluehost uses Let’s Encrypt to provide their SSLs. Let’s Encrypt is a service that allows anybody to get a free domain name, so even after that first year on your Basic Plan, you can simply head to that service and continue to use an SSL for free.
Automated backups are also an option, but again, these aren’t available to Basic users and are only available on the Choice Plus and Pro plans.
That’s a little frustrating, though there’s nothing to stop you from installing one of the best WordPress backup plugins and handling that yourself.
The automated backups are provided by a tool called CodeGuard, which not only handles backup and restoration but checks your site for modifications every day and sends you a notification if unexpected changes occur.
Once again, this is only available for free to those on the Choice Plus and Pro plans, while other users will need to pay $2.99 per month to make use of it.
To sum up, Bluehost does pretty well at WordPress security, but only if you’re on one of the higher-priced plans.
If you do decide to opt for a lower plan, you might want to check out my guide to the best WordPress security plugins for some suggestions on the best way to protect your site.
How Easy is it to Use Bluehost Hosting?
I mentioned right at the start of this Bluehost review that ease-of-use was one of the primary factors to consider when choosing a beginner-friendly hosting company.
After all, while having a bunch of advanced features may be cool, if you don’t know how -or even why- to use them, they’re hardly going to be much benefit to you.
This is one of the many reasons why I really like Bluehost:
They make it effortlessly easy to set up your site.
Here’s how to sign up and start your site:
1. Head to Bluehost.com and select WordPress – WordPress hosting from the top menu.
2. Choose your plan (I recommend Choice Plus) and click the Select button.
3. Enter in your preferred domain name or enter an existing domain you already own.
4. Enter your account information.
5. Choose any optional upgrades such as CodeBasic and SiteLock security, then enter your payment information and select submit.
6. Log into your account and click My Sites – Create Site to run the WordPress installation wizard.
This will ask you to name your site, select a domain to install the site to, and then run the wizard. A few seconds later, your brand new WordPress installation is ready to be modified.
Bluehost Customer Service
Even the most experienced users need access to quality customer support when things don’t quite turn out right, so you can imagine how important it is to have that support on hand to help you out when you need it most.
Though Bluehost does have an extensive knowledgebase full of easy-to-follow guides to help you navigate your way through its hosting tools and features, if something doesn’t work out the way you expected or you don’t understand something, it’s good to know that you can reach out to an expert for help.
With Bluehost, that’s possible as the company is one of the few to offer 24/7 support via both telephone and live chat to all of its customers, regardless of which plan you happen to be on.
Ultimately, that means that whether you prefer to read a tutorial and figure things out for yourself, pick up the phone and talk to someone, or work things through on live chat, there’s always somebody on hand to help out.
Still, access alone isn’t enough when it comes to customer support. The actual quality of that support makes a major difference too.
Bluehost doesn’t let themselves down in this area. WordPress hosting users can talk to experienced WordPress experts who are patient and understanding and not only explain things in Plain English but get the job done for the first time, usually within a couple of minutes.
Sadly, the only thing that Bluehost doesn’t do so well in this regard is the response times. Though they don’t exactly leave you hanging for hours, they’re not the quickest to respond to support requests either, and that can get pretty frustrating, especially in an emergency.
Bluehost Hosting Reputation
So, now you know exactly what I think about Bluehost as a beginner-friendly budget web hosting company, but if you’re serious about choosing the best host possible, then it pays to consider other people’s opinions as well.
So what are other people saying about Bluehost?
The company is currently classed as “Great” on Trustpilot.com, boasting 3,037 reviews for a rating of 3.8.
Most of the positive reviews of Bluehost focus on their excellent and helpful customer service.
Meanwhile, a lot of the negative reviews criticize the company for its excessive upselling. You’ll also find a lot of people angry about how difficult it is to cancel their plans and get a refund, though honestly, it seems as though many of these complaints are from people who perhaps forgot to cancel the auto-renew option on their account.
Bluehost Hosting Pros and Cons
Is Bluehost the Best Budget Host for Beginners? My Final Verdict
So, is Bluehost the best budget host for beginners?
After putting the company through its paces, I can confirm that, yes, it just may well be.
Though experienced users may prefer Cloudways and those running web development agencies may find that WPEngine best suits their needs, Bluehost’s shared WordPress hosting is tailor-made to help newcomers get their first site off the ground as quickly and easily as possible.
The industry-leading pricing (complete with those huge first-term discounts), excellent uptime and page loading speeds, top-rated customer service, and all-around ease of use all combine to offer the ultimate beginner-friendly package.
That said, Bluehost is far from perfect.
A lot of the features that other hosts include as standard are omitted from Bluehost’s Basic and Plus plans so that the company can upsell them to you for an optional fee, and the integrated security features, in particular, leave a lot to be desired.
If that’s enough to put you off, you might want to check out some high-quality Bluehost alternatives. To help you do that, here’s my honest, experience-based reviews of SiteGround, Kinsta, and my top-rated pick, WPX Hosting.