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Registration process is quick and easy
WordPress is installed automatically
The easy-to-use admin panel and tools
Marketplace with goods/services from multiple providers
Unlimited bandwidth at all plan levels
Techie tools such as SSH and Git
No month-to-month pricing
Create site tool defaults to WordPress
A non-WordPress site requires extra/manual effort
If you plan to use WordPress to manage your website, Bluehost will get you up and running with a minimum of effort. They also offer Weebly as an alternative, but power users relying on other tools might need to do some extra work.
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.
Bluehost offers four levels of service for Shared Hosting plans:
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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:
Bluehost’s My Sites tool makes managing your various websites a breeze.
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, e-mail 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.
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.
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.
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.
Bluehost Shared Basic’s introductory price of $2.95 (normally $7.99) per month for a 36-month commitment is quite good, although competitors also offer similar price on an ongoing basis without resorting to temporary sales or a massive up-front commitment.
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.
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.
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.