Bluehost, owned by Endurance International Group (EIG), has been providing web hosting services to small businesses for more than 15 years. It offers flexible services in a variety of plans for shared hosting, virtual private servers (VPS), dedicated servers and WordPress hosting. The company provides a 30-day money-back guarantee, which is a standard offer from web hosting companies but still a great feature that allows you to give Bluehost's services a try without being locked in for an entire year.
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Bluehost is very transparent in its offering. Some hosting companies try to hide their practices behind vague language. Bluehost tells you exactly what it offers and gives some details about high-level contract and plan requirements. Its terms of service include a lot of details about its plans, fees and features. It offers 24/7 support over live chat, phone and an email ticketing system. The company also provides online resources for you to troubleshoot different aspects of your service and learn more about web hosting.
Types of Web Hosting Offered
Bluehost provides shared hosting, VPS, dedicated servers and WordPress hosting. It offers several plans for each, and its pricing is on par with competitors. Shared hosting is the least expensive, with dedicated servers and VPS sporting costs up to $200 per month. These hosting types differ from shared and WordPress hosting in that the company allocates separate servers for these customers.
Dedicated servers and VPS are best suited for large corporations that need higher storage and bandwidth than shared or WordPress hosting can provide. Also, because VPS and dedicated servers are private, there's even higher uptime. These types of hosting are typically not necessary for standard small business websites. Shared and WordPress hosting are cost-effective options that cover the needs of most small businesses.
Bluehost Pricing and Plans
Bluehost provides shared hosting plans at slightly lower rates than many of its competitors. It has four shared hosting plans: Basic, Plus, Choice Plus and Pro. The Basic plan is $2.95 per month, the Plus plan and Choice Plus plan are each $5.45 per month, and the Pro plan is $13.95 per month.
Keep in mind that this is all promotional pricing that was listed at the time of this review. The web hosting industry is a competitive space, and companies often display promotional pricing to attract new buyers. Bluehost does this, claiming the plans are reduced from $7.99, $10.99, $14.99 and $23.99 respectively. Often, web hosting promotional pricing is only valid for the first year or billing term, and then you'll be charged the original rates upon renewal.
As with just about every business service, the longer you commit to Bluehost, the lower the monthly price. If you're worried about getting hit with a higher rate when you need to renew your contract, make sure you address this with a member of the Bluehost sales team before you sign up.
You can read more about Bluehost's additional fees in the terms of service. Some important fees to note involve registering or transferring a domain name. Bluehost offers a free domain name for the first year, but you may have to pay a yearly fee thereafter. This is a standard practice hosting companies use to attract new customers.
There are also some conditions for your 30-day money-back guarantee. If you cancel your subscription within the first three days of activation, you have the option to keep your domain name for a $15.99 fee. If you cancel after three days, you will be required to pay the $15.99 domain fee.
Bluehost doesn't charge any additional fees for canceling your service. However, any add-on services you purchase will not be refunded. Bluehost lists some of these nonrefundable add-ons as AppMachine, Site Backup Pro, pay-per-click marketing, cPanel Quickstart, WordPress Quickstart, Site Doctor, website transfer, design services, SEO, SiteLock and domain privacy.
If you decide to cancel after the first 30 days, you are not entitled to a refund of any kind. Bluehost only refunds credit card payments.
Bluehost Web Hosting Features
Bluehost's shared hosting plans have solid features. Its pricing stands out, but the relatively low cost doesn't undermine the services you get. The company's transparency with listing the features in each plan is another benefit. Instead of digging for information, business owners can get a quick view of what the company has to offer and decide whether the services meet their needs. Many companies we reviewed provide this breakdown.
Storage and Bandwidth: Bluehost provides unlimited storage on its Plus, Choice Plus and Pro plans. Basic plan holders only have access to 50GB of SSD storage. The bandwidth is unmetered for all plans. Most hosting companies provide unlimited storage or unmetered bandwidth; however, these terms do not mean they're infinite. Bluehost uses statistical analysis to define the average parameters each consumer must stay within each month. It monitors your usage and contacts you if you're using more than the allocated amount. Some web hosting companies even suspend service until the usage declines. If you're concerned about the level of bandwidth and storage you need, it's be a good idea to talk to someone from the Bluehost sales team about it.
Security: Compared to other web hosting companies we reviewed, Bluehost provides limited security measures. It does offer site backups, restoration, resource protection and an SSL certificate on each of its plans, but some plans require you to pay extra for security features like SiteLock and CodeGuard. Bluehost doesn't provide a lot of information on DDoS prevention, firewalls or other security measures. This is another good topic to discuss with the Bluehost sales team before you sign up.
Domain Transfer: Bluehost includes a free domain name with the activation of a shared hosting plan. This means when you sign up for the service, you won't get hit with an additional fee to set up your domain name. If you sign up for other plans, you may not have access to a free domain name.
Reputation and Customer Service
Bluehost is not an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau. This is concerning, as most companies have at least some kind of BBB score. Its parent company, EIG, has an A- rating but a lot of negative reviews. The company has also logged nearly 400 complaints. Compared to its competitors, these are negative marks. Bluehost has mixed positive and negative ratings elsewhere online, so it's not clear how supportive its customer service is.
Bluehost offers support via phone and a live chat window. It also has a unique company blog that provides additional online resources for customers to learn more about web hosting services. Since Bluehost offers some desirable web hosting plans, it is worth testing out its customer support on your own to see how helpful it is.
The company does not have a good online reputation, lacking BBB accreditation and having racked up a flurry of negative reviews and customer complaints. Also, most web hosting companies provide a service-level agreement, which details the company's uptime policy and any credits it provides for downtime or measures it will take to ensure its service. There is no SLA available from Bluehost.
Bluehost also has a unique stipulation to its cancellation policy about refunds. It advertises a 30-day money-back guarantee, but this is only valid for subscriptions paid with credit cards. Although the majority of online consumers pay via credit card, this is something the company should be open about when users are planning on being billed by other means. It does not provide refunds for add-on features either. This policy is pretty standard among web hosting companies, but with Bluehost, many of the necessary features are add-ons.
Bluehost no longer offers cloud hosting plans to its consumers, instead focusing on its WordPress and shared hosting options for small businesses. Although cloud hosting may not always be the best web hosting type for small businesses, Bluehost removes the option altogether. If you are seeking cloud hosting, you'll have to find another web hosting provider.