Types of web hosting offered
Bluehost offers shared hosting, VPS, dedicated servers and WordPress hosting. It offers multiple 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 types of hosting 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 businesses that need more storage and bandwidth than shared or WordPress hosting can offer. Also, because VPS and dedicated servers are private, there is even higher uptime. This type of hosting is usually 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 offers 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 these are all promotional prices listed at the time of this review. The web hosting industry is a competitive space, and companies often display promotional prices to attract new buyers. Bluehost does this and claims that the plans are reduced from $7.99, $10.99, $14.99 and $23.99 respectively. Often, promotional web hosting prices are 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 concerned about getting a higher rate when your contract comes up for renewal, be sure to address it with a member of the Bluehost sales team before signing 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 an annual fee after that. This is a standard practice used by hosting companies to attract new customers.
There are also certain conditions to 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 fee of $15.99. If you cancel after three days, you will have to pay the domain fee of $15.99.
Bluehost does not charge additional fees for canceling your service. However, any additional services you purchase will not be refunded. Bluehost lists some of these non-refundable 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 any refund of any kind. Bluehost only refunds credit card payments.
Bluehost Web Hosting Features
Bluehost’s shared hosting plans have solid features. Its prices stand out, but the relatively low cost doesn’t undermine the services you get. The company’s transparency with the list of features in each plan is another advantage. Instead of searching for information, business owners can get a quick overview of what the company offers and decide if the services meet their needs. Many companies we reviewed provide this breakdown.
Storage and bandwidth: Bluehost offers unlimited storage on its Plus, Choice Plus, and Pro plans. Basic plan holders only have access to 50GB of SSD storage. The bandwidth is unlimited for all plans. Most hosting companies offer unlimited storage or unlimited bandwidth; however, these terms do not mean that they are infinite. Bluehost uses statistical analysis to define the average parameters that each consumer should stay within each month. It monitors your usage and contacts you if you use more than the allocated amount. Some web hosting companies even suspend service until usage decreases. If you’re concerned about the level of bandwidth and storage you need, it’s a good idea to talk to someone from the Bluehost sales team about it.
Security: Compared to other web hosting companies we reviewed, Bluehost offers limited security measures. It does offer site backup, recovery, 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 does not provide much information about DDoS prevention, firewalls, or other security measures. This is another good topic to discuss with the Bluehost sales team before signing up.
Domain transfer: Bluehost includes a free domain name with activation of a shared hosting plan. This means that when you sign up to the service, you won’t be charged an extra 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 sort of BBB rating. Its parent company, EIG, has an A rating but many negative reviews. The company also reported nearly 400 complaints. Compared to its competitors, these are negative points. Bluehost has mixed positive and negative ratings elsewhere online, so it’s not clear how supportive its customer support 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’s worth testing its customer support for yourself to see how helpful it is.
The company does not have a good online reputation, lacks BBB accreditation and has suffered a spate of negative reviews and customer complaints. Most web hosting companies also provide a service level agreement, which outlines 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 provision to its cancellation policy regarding refunds. It advertises a 30-day money-back guarantee, but it’s only valid for subscriptions paid for by credit cards. Although the majority of online consumers pay via credit card, this is something the company needs to be open about when users plan to be billed in other ways. It also does not offer refunds for add-on features. 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 isn’t always the best web hosting type for small businesses, Bluehost removes the option entirely. If you are looking for cloud hosting, you will need to find another web hosting provider.