Here at Vandelay Design, we recommend two hosting companies: Bluehost and WP Engine. Each one offers something different and we recommend them in different scenarios.
Bluehost – We recommend Bluehost’s low-cost shared hosting plans for bloggers, website owners, small businesses, and non-profits that are either just getting started or have a site that gets fewer than 1,000 visitors per day on average.
Bluehost offers a lot more than just shared hosting, but that’s where we feel they excel. If you’re looking for good hosting on a tight budget, we recommend Bluehost.
WP Engine – WP Engine offers managed WordPress hosting. The prices are considerably higher than the price of Bluehost’s entry-level shared hosting plans, but you’ll get fast page load speeds and higher overall performance for your site. We recommend WP Engine as your site grows.
In this Bluehost review, I’ll share the details of what Bluehost offers so you can decide if it’s the right option for you.
Can You Trust Bluehost Reviews?
Bluehost is one of the most popular and most-frequently recommended hosting companies. They also have an extremely popular affiliate program that compensates website owners and bloggers like me who refer customers to Bluehost (almost every hosting company has an affiliate program, Bluehost’s is just more popular than others).
As a customer, that leaves you wondering if Bluehost really is a quality option or if people are only recommending Bluehost because they’ll make money. I can’t speak for other affiliates, but I can tell you that I’ve been a Bluehost customer for six years, hosting several different websites on their servers. There are hundreds or thousands of hosts out there, and Bluehost is one of the few I’ve stuck with over the years.
I’m writing this review based on my own experience with Bluehost. Yes, Vandelay Design does earn commission through the Bluehost affiliate program, but my recommendation of Bluehost is based on my own experience as a customer. I could easily recommend a different host and use their affiliate program if I didn’t have a positive experience with Bluehost.
That being said, I don’t believe Bluehost is a great fit in every situation. This Bluehost review will include the pros and cons so you can decide if it is the right fit for you.
What Does Bluehost Offer?
Bluehost offers a variety of different hosting plans, as well as domain name registration. Several years ago, Bluehost offered only low-cost shared hosting. Since then, they’ve expanded to offer VPS hosting (virtual private servers) and dedicated hosting, as well as managed WordPress hosting for the most popular content management system in the world.
The addition of VPS and dedicated plans was a big move because prior to that, customers would be forced to move to a new host if they outgrew the needs of a shared hosting plan. Although it’s great that Bluehost offers options for websites with higher demands, I’ve personally never used their VPS or dedicated servers. While I don’t have firsthand experience, I believe there are better options for high-traffic websites or other sites with specific needs (for example, Vandelay Design is hosted by WP Engine).
Most of this review will be focused on the lower-priced plans offered by Bluehost. I believe that’s where they excel, and my recommendation of Bluehost is based on these plans.
Low-Cost Shared Hosting
A shared hosting plan will store your website on the same server with many other websites (as opposed to a dedicated server). Web hosting companies are able to offer shared hosting at low prices and most new bloggers and website owners go with a shared hosting plan if they’re looking to keep costs down.
While there are other popular companies that offer low-price shared hosting, like HostGator, Bluehost is the most popular. The prices are among the best in the industry (more details on that in a minute) and even the cheapest plans are sufficient for smaller websites and blogs.
Bluehost offers a few different shared hosting plans. The cheapest plan allows you to host one website. The other plans make it possible to host an unlimited number of websites on a single account.
The plans are ideal if you’re just getting started with your site or if your site doesn’t serve a lot of visitors. The amount of traffic these plans can handle will vary depending on the details of your site, but they’re generally quite capable. I’ve used shared hosting to support 1,000 or more visitors per day.
We recommend Bluehost for new bloggers, non-profit organizations that need to keep costs low, and small businesses that need reliable hosting at an affordable price.
Bluehost also offers a few plans that have been specifically created for WordPress-powered websites. These plans come in two basic categories: WordPress hosting and managed WordPress hosting.
The regular WordPress hosting accounts are essentially shared hosting on servers that have been optimized for WordPress. Your site should have slightly better performance, but these plans are very similar to what you would get with the regular shared hosting plans, and they’re priced the same.
Managed WordPress hosting offers a higher level of service, and they come at a higher price. Websites on these plans use enhanced servers and are optimized for faster page load speeds (including caching). The cheapest plan is suitable for up to 50,000 visitors per month, and higher-priced plans can support more traffic.
These plans also include additional security and backup features. If you’re a WordPress user and you’re looking for higher performance than you’ll get with the lower-priced shared hosting plans, managed WordPress hosting is a good option.
One of the main reasons why Bluehost is so popular is because they offer some of the best prices in the industry. The plans offer different pricing options, depending on the length of time you want to pay for. Most plans have options for 12 months, 24 months, or 36 months. You’ll get the best price by going with the longer terms, but that means you’re paying more upfront.
The Basic Shared Hosting plan is currently priced at:
- $3.95 per month for 36 months
- $4.95 per month for 24 months
- $5.95 per month for 12 months
After the initial 12, 24, or 36 months, the plan will adjust to the normal price of $8.99 per month.
If you’ll be hosting multiple websites on the account, you’ll need to go with a slightly higher-priced plan. The Plus Shared Hosting plan supports unlimited websites and is currently priced at:
- $5.95 per month for 36 months
- $6.95 per month for 24 months
- $7.95 per month for 12 months
After the initial 12, 24, or 36 months, the plan will adjust to the normal price of $13.99 per month.
Pricing for the regular WordPress hosting is the same as the pricing listed above for the different shared hosting plans. You could go with one of the regular plans or the WordPress plans, but if you’ll be using WordPress for all of the sites on your account, it makes sense to sign up for one of the WordPress plans.
Managed WordPress hosting is priced considerably higher, but this is in line with other hosts who offer similar plans. The entry-level plan is called Build. It allows you to host one WordPress website and the prices are listed below:
- $14.95 per month for 36 months
- $22.95 per month for 24 months
- $24.95 per month for 12 months
The Build plan is made for sites that have up to 50,000 visits per month. Higher-priced plans are available for sites and blogs with higher levels of traffic.
Overall, Bluehost’s prices are very competitive. Obviously, you can get better pricing if you’re willing to sign up and pay for a longer term. Personally, I try to avoid committing to any host long-term, so I usually go with 12 months at a time.
It’s also important to note that you can upgrade your plan at any time if your needs change.
Bluehost offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you’re not happy for any reason, you can contact customer support to cancel and request a full refund. The refund only applies for the cost of hosting and does not apply to add-ons like domain names.
One of the most important factors you should consider is support. You should always choose a host that offers support 24/7 because you never know when you’ll need it.
Bluehost offers support 24/7 via online chat or by phone. They also have extensive documentation available on their website, so you may be able to get your questions answered without needing to reach out for support.
From my experience, the support reps are very quick to respond. In all the years I’ve been using Bluehost I don’t think I’ve ever called for support. I’ve used the online chat many times and I’ve never experienced a long wait before getting connected.
I’ve found the support reps to be very helpful and capable of answering my questions. Overall, the quality of support is outstanding in my opinion, especially considering the low price I pay (I’m on the Plus shared hosting plan, which is the cheapest plan that supports multiple websites).
Endorsed by WordPress
Bluehost is officially endorsed and recommended by WordPress. That should carry some weight if you’re going to be using WordPress for your own website. There are thousands of hosts they could recommend, but they stand behind Bluehost.
Bluehost Pros and Cons
As I mentioned earlier, I want to make sure this review is fair and balanced. Although I do recommend Bluehost, it’s not the right option for everyone. These pros and cons will help you know if Bluehost is a good fit for your needs.
- Low prices. Bluehost provides one of the best values in the industry. If you’re working with a tight budget, Bluehost is an excellent choice.
- Money-back guarantee. If you’re not satisfied within the first 30 days, you can get a full refund.
- Reliability. My sites on Bluehost have very solid performance and uptime. It’s rare that they’re down and I’ve had very few issues with the service over the years. Bluehost’s performance has been better than several other hosts I’ve used in the same pricing tier.
- Support. Access to 24/7 support is crucial, and Bluehost delivers in this area. Some hosts don’t offer support by phone, but Bluehost does. My experience with their support reps has been consistently positive.
- Room to grow. While Bluehost wouldn’t be my top recommendation for managed WordPress or VPS hosting, it’s good to know those plans are available if you need to upgrade.
- Free domain name. Purchase a hosting plan and you’ll be able to get a free domain name registration for one year.
- Low-cost shared hosting plans are not ideal for high-traffic websites. Bluehost offers a wide range of plans, but they’re known for their low-cost shared hosting. Those plans aren’t suitable for every website (more details below).
- Prices increase after the initial term. A lot of hosts price their services this way, so it’s nothing unique to Bluehost, but it’s something you need to be aware of. The discounted pricing lasts 12, 24, or 36 months, based on the term you choose. After that initial period is up, your hosting will renew at the regular price.
Who Should Use Bluehost?
Bluehost is ideal for:
- New bloggers who are just getting started.
- Entrepreneurs who are starting a small business.
- Churches and non-profit organizations.
- Anyone who is creating a personal website or hobby website.
- Anyone who is working with a tight budget.
I recommend Bluehost’s shared hosting and basic WordPress hosting plans for anyone who fits any of the descriptions above.
Who Shouldn’t Use Bluehost?
While Bluehost offers excellent shared hosting at a low price, I don’t have any experience with their managed WordPress hosting, VPS, or dedicated server plans. Bluehost specializes in low-cost shared hosting. They’ve been offering the other plans for a few years now, but they’re still known as being a budget-friendly option for shared hosting. Personally, I’d rather go with a different host for a website that needs something more significant than shared hosting.
Vandelay Design is hosted by WP Engine and they’re my top recommendation for WordPress-powered websites that need something more than shared hosting. Whether it’s a high-traffic website, an e-commerce website, or a website for an established business that needs top performance, WP Engine is a great option.
Bluehost’s managed WordPress hosting may be very good, but I don’t know because I’ve never used it. WP Engine is widely recognized as an industry leader and they were one of the first companies to offer managed WordPress hosting. That’s why we use them for Vandelay Design, and that’s why I’d recommend them over Bluehost’s managed WordPress hosting.
I would recommend WP Engine over Bluehost for:
- Higher-traffic websites and blogs (over 1,000 visitors per day).
- E-commerce websites.
- Businesses that are making money and can afford slightly higher prices.
- Any WordPress website that needs top performance.
I recommend Bluehost for new bloggers, entrepreneurs, and websites that are just getting started. I suggest signing up for 12 months of shared hosting with Bluehost. If your site grows during that first year and you need to upgrade, the one-year mark is a good time to do it.
As your blog or website traffic grows, you may need web hosting that offers better performance. Or, if your site starts making money and you’re willing to reinvest some of that to get a better hosting plan, you could upgrade at that time. Whenever it’s time, you can move to a plan with WP Engine and benefit from faster page load speeds and stronger overall performance.