As a soloprenuer trying to build a business online, one of the hardest things to get right is your hosting.
Not many WordPress newbies know how to choose the best WordPress hosting for their current (and future needs).
So, in this Bluehost review, I am going to be covering everything a soloprenuer would need to know about Bluehost while comparing it to my current hosting platform (WPX Hosting).
Edit: Since writing this review, I have moved to Cloudways Hosting (for personal reasons). However, everything I have said in this review still stands.
Disclaimer: I hate content creators who aren’t fully transparent with their audience, and I try my best to be fully open with you.
After writing and publishing an article (that’s no longer on the blog) covering Neil Patel, I was approached by the Bluehost marketing team to write a review on their service.
So, I have been using Bluehost for a couple of months at the point of writing this one a free account. However, that will not influence my opinion on Bluehost. In addition to that, any links to Bluehost (and WPX Hosting) will be affiliate links.
What I’ll Be Covering in This Review
Getting into the main part of the review, here is what I am going to be covering:
I am still going to be testing out Bluehost over the next few months, and I will keep coming back to this review and editing in extra stuff that I find.
Now, let’s see how Bluehost compares to my current hosting service.
How Bluehost Compares to WPX Hosting – Performance
So, how does one review a WordPress hosting platform based on its performance?
What things should you be judging?
One of the things I said in my WordPress Speed Optimization guide is this:
“The reason why this is at the top is not just because it’s the most basic tip. It’s also because it’s an essential tip.
It doesn’t matter how much optimization you do to your website if your core hosting is trash, your site’s loading time will also be trash.”
As I said, you could do all the optimization tips there are to do, however, if your hosting sucks, so will your load time.
Strangeloop said that if your business makes $100,000/day, for every second your site takes to load, you’ll lose out on $2.5 million in sales each year.
So, how did Bluehost do?
Speed Test Results (for Bluehost)
Sadly, I lost all of my GTMetrix screenshots for the test. So I will be showing images taken from my Google Sheets file.
How I Did The Test
Okay, before I get into the results, I wanted to quickly tell you how I did each test so that you understand how I got these results.
Matthew Woodward did a comparison article on multiple WordPress hosting services, and after looking at those tests, I noticed one thing.
He never included Bluehost amongst them.
Though I can’t tell you why he didn’t include them, I decided to do a version of my own and showcase my finds with Bluehost.
So, I had four websites (two domains and two staging sites), and I made two different types of sites.
The staging version of each site (e.g., staging.mydomain.com) was the “Plugin Heavy” version.
Meaning that they didn’t have any content on there, just a crapload of heavy CPU based plugins.
Here’s a list of all the plugins used for this test:
- AdSense In-feed Placement for WordPress
- Better WordPress Google XML Sitemaps
- Broken Link Checker
- Constant Contact Forms for WordPress
- Contact Form 7
- Contextual Related Posts
- Disqus for WordPress
- Fuzzy SEO Queries
- Google XML Sitemaps
- Jetpack by WordPress.com
- NextGEN Gallery
- Orbisius CyberStore
- Related Posts
- Reveal IDs
- s2Member Framework
- Slider by Nivo – Responsive Image Slider
- Slimstat Analytics
- WooCommerce Multilingual
- WordPress Facebook Integration – display Gallery Photo Album
- WordPress Popular Posts
- WordPress Related Posts
- WP 404 Auto Redirect to Similar Post
- WP Power Stats
- WP Statistics
- WPA SEO Auto Linker
The main websites were “Image Heavy” websites.
For that, I uploaded 28MB worth of images and added them with some dummy content to the homepage.
For both the staging site and the main site, I would say that Bluehost performed quite well.
There weren’t any CDNs (or any caching plugins) placed on the sites, yet still only one of the tests out of ALL of them took 10 seconds to load.
Considering that I have the most basic package for Bluehost, I would give their performance an 8/10.
Average Load Time:
- Rankable.org (5.41s) which is 23.84% quicker than the average load time according to GTMetrix.
- Staging.Rankable.org (7.1s) which is 5.63% slower than the average load time according to GTMetrix.
As you can see from the image above, down.com did a study and concluded that Bluehost’s uptime was an impressive 100%.
Here’s what down.com said about their test:
“I use Pingdom to report website uptime. Pingdom is configured to make an HTTP request to the host every minute, and report if it is unreachable.
It’ll also report an error if the host takes longer than 30 seconds to respond (Yes, that’s not actually down, but if your site takes that long to respond it is unusable in my opinion).
Pingdom performs this test from at least 3 servers worldwide and reports a problem if 2/3 servers do no respond. This test is important if you are concerned about the reliability of your web host (this is important!)”
Speed Test Results (for WPX Hosting)
As I said, this Bluehost review is a unique one because I will be comparing everything to my current WordPress hosting service.
So, how did Bluehost face up to WPX Hosting (which was voted as the fastest WordPress host by Matthew Woodward)?
Average Load Time:
- Primary Domain (4s) which is 67.5% quicker than the average load time according to GTMetrix.
- Staging Site (5.95s) which is 12.60% quicker than the average load time according to GTMetrix.
Sadly, it doesn’t seem that down.com has done a study on WPX Hosting when it comes to uptime.
However, in a review done by Blogger Tracks, they mentioned monitoring their website for six months using Uptimerobot and had a 99.95% uptime.
Though I haven’t tested it myself, I would agree with that statement.
Since this is a review done by another website, I can’t say whether or not that fact is biased.
However, you can go to Uptimerobot and check for yourself.
Server Response Time (for Bluehost)
It’s essential to use tools like GTMetrix and Pingdom.
However, I only use those tools to get a decent idea into the load times.
If I want to check the server response times, then I use Bitcatcha to do that. Instead of explaining why I use Bitcatcha, here’s an in-depth explanation from the founder on why he created the tool.
Okay, so what does this mean?
Did Bluehost get a good result from this test?
Well other than the A+ you can see in the image above, here’s a table of the average results from recommended hosts (Bluehost is also on there).
How does this compare to WPX Hosting?
Server Response Time (for WPX Hosting)
To make it as fair as possible, I migrated the website that is currently on Bluehost over to a dummy domain that’s hosted on WPX.
So as far as the website is concerned, it’s the same website (though that doesn’t matter).
Here are the results of WPX Hosting.
So for this test, Bluehost beat out WPX quite easily.
I do want to mention that the response time of your server won’t determine how quickly it loads if you’re comparing milliseconds.
That should cover it for the basics of the performance for Bluehost. Now let’s move on to their support team.
How Bluehost Compares to WPX Hosting – Support
Now that we’ve looked at how Bluehost performs, let’s look at the second most crucial aspect to a WordPress hosting platform (in my opinion).
Their support team.
If there is one thing that is a pain for solopreneurs, it would be getting in contact with support teams.
Let me know in the comments if this sounds like you.
Your website suffers from a problem (maybe it’s not loading correctly), and you contact the support team to get your site running ASAP.
However, they take a day to respond to you.
Well, that happened to me with A2 Hosting.
Disclaimer: This happened to me while I was a customer of A2 Hosting (which was in late 2017). I’m no longer associated with their platform, meaning that I have no idea if their support team has improved or gotten worse since then.
Now, let’s take a look at Bluehost’s support team and see how well they handled requests.
Fixing Issues Number 1 (Bluehost)
For these tests, I decided to give Bluehost (and WPX) two dummy problems to solve. My thought process behind these tests was to see how quickly each support team could respond to basic and complicated requests.
Since we never know what’s going to happen with our websites, I wanted to see if their support teams could handle the pressure.
So the first question that I asked is one that a lot of people who are new to running websites may need to know.
“How do I create an FTP account?”
Bluehost’s response was quick and helpful for me, allowing me to create an account within 10 – 15 mins.
I will say that submitting a ticket was slightly confusing at first, but all you need to do is head over to this link, and fill out your details.
Once you’ve done that, you’ll be put in a chat with a member of their team.
Fixing Issues Number 1 (WPX Hosting)
Without being biased, getting help from WPX’s support team was quicker and easier.
Sure, I have been using WPX for a long time now.
However, even if you’re new, it’s a lot easier.
All you need to do is go to “Support” in the menu and open a new ticket.
Once again, I asked, “How do I create an FTP account?”
I did that so you can see how each support team handles the question.
I asked both teams at the same time to see which team responded first.
Though Bluehost was swift (solving my issue within 10 mins, WPX was faster responding within 2 mins.
Anthony Says: I will say that the main reason behind the difference in time is because Bluehost asks you to verify your account before they will help you, which is a good and a bad thing (mainly for impatient people).
Fixing Issues Number 2
Anthony Says: Before I get into the second scenario that I came up with, I wanted to mention that I think that I worded the question incorrectly.
The issue that I wanted to be fixed was to do with plugins and themes.
I wanted each team to disable plugin and theme editing on each of my sites.
Here’s what I wanted to be removed.
However, both teams didn’t do what I wanted them to do.
So instead of discussing how they fixed the issue, I am just going to talk about how quick their responses were.
How to Disable Theme and Plugin Editing in Your WP Admin Dashboard
Similarly to the first test, I asked both support teams to fix the issue at the same time.
The goal was for each team to disable the ability to edit themes and plugins directly from the code.
For those wondering, here’s how you do that.
First, you’ll need access to your wp-config.php file. With WPX Hosting, I can access that file by going to the file manager.
It’s the same for Bluehost.
However, you need to go to the advanced tab in your Bluehost account to access the file manager.
Once you’re in the file manager, all you need to do is find the config file (which will be within the public_html folder) and add the code below underneath this line of code.
/* That’s all, stop editing! Happy blogging. */
define( ‘DISALLOW_FILE_EDIT’, true );
How It Went
Even though both teams got it wrong, they both ended up doing the same thing for me (disabling the plugins on the site and setting a default theme).
However, Bluehost had finished helping me with my problem, before WPX Hosting had even responded.
Though I think it’s because they needed to verify my account first, whereas, WPX’s support team hopped onto my site and disabled my themes and plugins.
Both teams responded very quickly, but I would have to give Bluehost’s team the win for this particular question.
So, overall, I think that Bluehost’s support team is fast and somewhat helpful. Though, I do want to mention the number of negative reviews that Bluehost have compared to WPX Hosting.
If you want to see those, head down to the bottom of this review (or click here).
How Bluehost Compares to WPX Hosting – Packages
What companies offer you can make or break how you feel about their services.
Think about it quickly, if you had to spend $100/mo on something and you felt that you only get around $30/mo value from it, then you’d feel robbed right?
On the other hand, if you were spending $30/mo and felt that you were getting $100/mo value, you’d be over the moon.
So I am going to be breaking down everything that Bluehost offers you for each package. I will only be covering stuff that your average solopreneur would need from a WordPress hosting platform.
What Features Bluehost Include in Their Packages
For Bluehost’s WordPress Hosting packages, they only offer three tiers.
For this section, I am going to focus on the basic package for both Bluehost and WPX.
However, I will talk about the other packages and the extra things you get in them.
The Basic Package
For the basic package, you get:
- 1 Website
- Free SSL
- 50GB SSD
- 1 Year Free Domain
- 5 Parked Domains
- 25 Subdomains
- $50 Marketing Credit
For a solopreneur with a single brand, only having one website isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Though, I find myself needing more space on my hosting package (and WPX’s basic package offers more than just a single website.
Free SSL is standard now, and if a hosting service doesn’t offer free SSL, move on to the next company.
Though 50GB of storage might be enough to some, if you’re like me, having restricted storage is an inconvenience (even if you’re not going to need that much storage).
However, compared to WPX Hosting’s basic package, Bluehost offers a lot more space.
Lastly, with their basic package, you’ll get a free domain name for the first year.
That is big for beginners who don’t have a lot of money to invest upfront.
From my knowledge, WPX Hosting doesn’t offer that, so if you’re a beginner, you may want to take that into account.
What Do The Other Packages Add to The Table?
Before I get into the extras, I do want to make it know that there are features that Bluehost offer with every package.
Those features are:
- Automatic WordPress Installation
- Microsoft Office 365 (Which I don’t really care for)
- Automatic WordPress Updates
- A Secure Config for Your Log in Credentials
- Staging Environments
Personally, I think that the staging environments will have the most significant impact on your day-to-day life.
Staging websites are exact duplicates of your main site.
The benefit of having them is that you can debug issues on that website and test plugins and plugin updates without breaking your main website.
For example, if a plugin has an update which may conflict with a plugin that it never conflicted with before, it can cause your website to break.
Having a staging website will protect your main site from going down.
Now, onto the other packages.
The Plus and Choice Plus Packages
The main difference between these two packages and the basic one is the “Unlimited Websites,” and then “Unmetered SSD Storage.”
“Unmetered” doesn’t necessarily mean unmetered.
It usually means that you’ll get more than you’ll most likely ever need.
I never mentioned the parked or subdomains feature for the basic package because you probably won’t need them.
Even if you did, I don’t see why you’d need unlimited subdomains.
To me, it’s just a feature they’ve added to wow you.
Another difference between these two packages is the fact that you get Mircosoft Office 365.
Other than that, there’s not much else to say.
How That Compares to WPX Hosting
On to the juicy part.
How do Bluehost’s packages stack up to WPX Hosting?
Firstly, WPX offers a lot more with their packages (especially in their “All Plans Include Free”).
Other than that, they match up pretty well.
As I mentioned before, you don’t get a free domain with WPX Hosting, nor do you get SDD storage (from my knowledge. I may be wrong about that).
In WPX’s favor, you get a lot more website real estate, and you get a free custom CDN with every package (called WPX Cloud).
Based on the packages only (not including the prices of said packages), I would have to give WPX the win here.
Mainly because they offer more website space, a CDN, and more features within their “free” section.
How Bluehost Compares to WPX Hosting – Pricing
Pricing ties in with the package; however, I wanted to separate them because I wanted to compare Bluehost’s pricing to other WordPress hosting platforms out there.
If I compared the prices and the packages to every hosting platform out there, then this wouldn’t be a Bluehost comparison review to WPX Hosting.
Now then, let’s discuss the prices that Bluehost has set and compared them to other platforms.
Pricing for Each Bluehost Package
Pricing is an essential factor to take in (especially for new solopreneurs who may not have a lot of investment money).
That’s why it’s best to pick the hosting platform that gives you the best bang for your buck.
As I mentioned in the last section, I think that WPX won based on how much value you get from each package.
However, that didn’t include the price for their packages.
So, I have made this table that showcases Bluehost and WPX’s prices (along with two other popular WordPress hosting platforms).
Disclaimer: All of the prices you see here are their regular prices that you will pay after the discounted period ends.
|Bluehost||WPX Hosting||SiteGround||A2 Hosting|
|Basic ($7.99/mo)||Business ($24.99/mo)||StartUp ($11.95/mo)||Lite ($7.99/mo)|
|Plus ($10.99/mo)||Professional ($49.99/mo)||GrowBig ($19.95/mo)||Swift ($9.99/mo)|
|Choice Plus ($14.99/mo)||Elite ($99.99/mo)||GoGeek ($34.95/mo)||Turbo ($18.99/mo)|
Don’t be fooled by some of the prices you see here.
Though WPX Hosting is still probably the most expensive here, WPX and A2 Hosting allow you to pay monthly.
Whereas, Bluehost and Siteground charge you for a minimum of 12 months at a time.
So, getting the Plus package from Bluehost (without any upsells) would cost you about $90 for the year.
Without trying to sound too bias, I still think that WPX Hosting gives you the most bang for your buck (if you’re trying to build a business). If you want to create a simple blog without taking it too seriously, then Bluehost is without a doubt the best value for money.
How Bluehost Compares to WPX Hosting – Overall
As I mentioned in the intro, I have been using Bluehost for a few months now.
Now that we’ve talked about the various needs of a WordPress hosting service, I wanted to round that off by giving you my overall experience with Bluehost.
That means from the moment I got the email from their marketing team to right now as I am writing this review.
Overall Rating for Bluehost
Overall I think that Bluehost is a fantastic platform to get started with (though other’s may have a different opinion).
I haven’t experienced anything that I would say is terrible about the service and their support team was decent.
Basic things that could make or break your experience with a hosting platform (for example, how easy-to-use their backend dashboard is) are dealt nicely.
Even though I had never used Bluehost before testing it out for this review, I never once had trouble finding something.
Everything is just easy on the eyes, which is what most of us want.
Should You Start Out With Bluehost?
I’m not going to be one of those reviews which tells you that you should get Bluehost without giving you a reason.
Most people who do that just want an affiliate sale.
So instead, I am going to tell you why you should (or shouldn’t) start with Bluehost.
Why You Should Join Bluehost
The first reason you should join Bluehost would be their prices. If you have enough to pay for a year’s worth of service up front, then you’ll save money.
Compared to WPX, you can spend less than $100 a year on Bluehost.
Secondly/lastly, Bluehost’s performance is above average from my perspective. I have used quite a few different hosting platforms, and though Bluehost isn’t the quickest, it’s enough for any solopreneur.
Lastly (and most importantly, in my opinion), their support team is quite good.
For me, as long as a hosting platform has acceptable performance, all that matters to me is how good their support team is for me.
Unlike other hosts I have used, the support team with Bluehost understand the code and can help you with difficult issues you may have.
Not to bash A2 Hosting, but using them as an example, when I was using their service, and I had complex issues, I was told that their support team aren’t programmers and can’t help me.
I think that it’s a disservice to have a support team like that for a hosting platform.
Why You Shouldn’t Join Bluehost
Contradicting my first reason why you should join Bluehost, is their pricing system.
Though it’s cheaper than WPX Hosting, for example, it’s always frustrated me when I see “Start with ____ for online $3/mo,” to then find out that you need to pay for three years upfront to get that “$3/mo.”
I think that it’s an unethical way of pricing your products.
If you want to use that sort of pricing system, at least clearly state that on your pricing table.
Edit: Not sure if I am just blind or Bluehost has recently added “Initial term of 36 months” on their pricing table. However, it’s now clearly stated.
Still, companies like SiteGround don’t clearly state that you have to pay for a minimum of 12 months on their pricing table.
Next, their reviews on places like Trustpilot.
Don’t get me wrong; everything that I have said in this review is genuine.
This entire review is based on MY experience with them.
However, just because I have an affiliate link to a product/service doesn’t mean I won’t bring light to the companies flaws.
Lots of people have had negative things to say about Bluehost.
Some of the keywords I saw for these reviews (which by the way, 82% of 192 reviews are bad/1-star) are “Bad,” “Fraud,” “Scam,” and “Do Not.”
Again, I haven’t had a bad experience.
However, I can’t ignore the number of people who have.
Not much to say other than I hate upsells.
I hate having to pay for extra for basic things that you SHOULD be receiving anyways, for example, you have to pay extra to get basic security for your website.
That’s all I have to say for this Bluehost review.
If you’ve made it to this point, I’d like to ask you these questions.
- Who is your current hosting service?
- What is the best (and worse) thing about them?
- Would you switch to Bluehost or would you stay with your current provider?
- If you’re new, does Bluehost sound good enough or would you like me to review another platform?
The BloggerXL Library has a bunch of extra content (like Guides, Checklists, and Templates) that you can use to 10x your blog.
Everything in the library was created by me, for me, but I want you guys to have access to it as well.