Bluehost

Introduction

Bluehost is cheap and offers many useful web hosting features. They offer unremarkable VPS and dedicated hosting services along with standard shared hosting. But what separates Bluehost from most providers is their WordPress hosting service which includes features appealing to both novices and pros: automatic daily backups, virus detection & removal, and analytics for web traffic and social media. You could setup these features on your own using any most hosting provider, but why do all of that work if you don't have to?

Once you have signed up for Bluehost WordPress hosting, WordPress is automatically installed and accessible on the Internet. You don't need to upload files or use a one-click installer. All of the files are automatically copied and configured so you can login into your WordPress site immediately after checkout.

However, despite Bluehost's useful features, users often complain about slow servers and inept tech support agents unable to provide solutions to common problems.

Many people have extremely modest needs, so even a poor quality web hosting provider will be adequate. But if something goes wrong and you need help from Bluehost, it's anyone's guess how things will turn out. Maybe you'll get lucky and someone will be able to help you or maybe you'll be another dissatisfied customer. (Note: Bluehost encourages customers to sign up for years in advance. After 30 days, you can no longer get a refund once things go wrong.)

EIG

Bluehost is owned by a conglomerate that has acquired dozens of the most popular web hosting providers like Hostgator, iPage, NetFirms, Site5, etc.

Some EIG providers have certain unique features that differentiate them from their sister brands. For example, Bluehost has WordPress-optimized hosting while Hostgator has a custom point-and-click web site designer called Gator.

Otherwise, brands owned by EIG are essentially interchangeable in terms of service--they mostly use the same servers and support staff.

The true cost of low prices

Bluehost (and many other web hosts) entice new customers with really low prices. But after the initial invoice the price goes way up. Bluehost makes it pretty clear that the initial price is a discount—they list the regular price along side the new-customer price. Yet, many people are often blind-sided when the real price kicks in.

I suspect it's because many customers pre-pay for two or three years of service at a really attractive price and years later, when the renewal payment is due, there is some serious sticker shock.

So when you sign up for a web host, you should judge it on the regular price--not the sale price. The regular price should be something you're actually comfortable paying in the long term.

Unlimited web hosting

When customers write bad reviews for a web host, it is usually due to unexpected costs or lackluster service.

Common complaints for Bluehost (and other unlimited web hosts) are as follows:

  • My server is slow and I was told to upgrade to a more expensive package.

  • I was told that my site is receiving too much traffic and I need to upgrade to a more expensive package.

  • I was told that I have too many files (or the few files I uploaded are too big) so I need to upgrade to a more expensive package.

Using the term "unlimited web hosting" is easier than trying to explain to a novice the difference between megabytes and gigabytes (and how they relate to storage and bandwidth). But the term "unlimited web hosting" is ultimately meaningless.

Even if you read the fine print of your ToS (terms of service), there's really nothing that will stop your web host from kicking you off a service plan once you become unprofitable to them.

If you choose an unlimited web hosting plan from a company like Bluehost, all you can do is accept the fact that at some point you may be asked to upgrade to a more expensive package. Or, you can use a web hosting provider with clearly defined limitations. Some providers appeal to the tech savvy (e.g. LiquidWeb) while others use a more plain-English approach (e.g. WP Engine).

Conclusion

I can't recommend Bluehost.

Frankly, I don't think Bluehost is as terrible as people make it out to be, and they have many satisfied customers who seem to be baffled the very vocal online backlash against the company. Nonetheless, the company has serious problems that can't be dismissed and there are competitors that offer better service at similar prices.

Alternatives

SiteGround offers decent service at decent prices. (Alas, they don't offer any kind of WordPress--optimized service.)

WP Engine is great for anyone wants WordPress to be as painless as possible. (But for that convenience and reliability, they charge a lot more than anyone else.)

LiquidWeb gives the customer much more control than WP Engine which means it easier to break things. They offer reliable service and tech support at prices only a bit higher than SiteGround and Bluehost.