Bluehost Review: Cheap and Unreliable Shared Hosting

Bluehost: A Bit of History

Bluehost website
The Bluehost website is cluttered and the navigation is confusing.

Headquarters: Utah, United States

Employees: 300+

Marketed as a hosting solution for small and medium businesses, Bluehost was founded in 1996. Former CEO Matt Heaton started the company after deciding he wanted to offer free web hosting. The former missionary who was based in Taiwan opened his first computer hardware store at 21 and by 23 had three stores operating with about 35 employees. At 26, he sold the stores to concentrate on developing web statistics software before moving to web hosting. And then along came Bluehost.

In 2011, Endurance International Group bought out Bluehost, adding the company to its stable of more than 50 hosting brands, which includes, iPage and

After eight years as CEO, Heaton stepped down in June 2011, admitting he was a “techie distracted by shiny new things”. He assigned himself to work as a system architect within the company so he could concentrate on the design and technical structure of the hosting platform. COO Dan Handy took over as CEO at the Utah-based company.

Bluehost copped some flak in 2009 for censoring users affiliated with foreign countries. A Newsweek article claimed that Belarus-born Washington DC lawyer Yaraslau Kryvoi received a notice from his web host that the blog he administered for his local Belarussian American Association chapter would be suspended and he had 10 days to remove his content. Bluehost had mistakenly thought that Kryvoi was a citizen of a country of the US government’s list of rogue states.

You can tell Bluehost was founded by a true geek – the company runs its own datacenter and builds its own servers. It has its own nationwide (North America) fiber network and builds it own custom linux kernel. Bluehost’s facilities also include its 50,000 square foot headquarters with two secondary data center locations totalling more than 20,000 square feet of data center space, including UPS power, diesel generators and multiple 10GB fiber connections to locations all over the world.


Bluehost offers shared, dedicated and VPS hosting plans.

Bluehost offers shared hosting from $6.95 a month ($4.95 on sale) and includes:

  • Unlimited domain hosting
  • Unlimited GB hosting space
  • Unlimited GB file transfer
  • Unlimited email accounts
  • Free domain (for 12 months)
  • Free site builder with templates
  • Secure shell, SSL, FTP, Statistics
  • CGI, Ruby (RoR), Perl, PHP, MySQL
  • $100 Google advertising offer

There are three Dedicated Hosting plans:

  • Standard – $149.99 a month (first month $74.99) – Dual core, 2.3 GHz Intel Xeon processor, 3MB cache, 4GB RAM, 2x500GB HDD, 5TB a month, free domain name, 3 dedicated IPs, CentOS 6.4 (64-bit) Virtualization: KVM
  • Enhanced – $199.99 a month (first month 99.99) – Quad core, 2.5 GHz Intel Xeon processor, 8MB cache, 4GB RAM, 2x1000GB HDD, 10TB a month, free domain name, 4 dedicated IPs, CentOS 6.4 (64-bit) Virtualization: KVM
  • Premium – $249.00 a month (first month $124.99) – Quad core, 3.3 GHz Intel Xeon processor, 8MB cache, 16GB RAM, 2x1000GB HDD, 15TB a month, free domain name, 5 dedicated IPs, CentOS 6.4 (64-bit) Virtualization: KVM

A one-time discount of $75, $100, or $125 will automatically be applied to your order, regardless of whether you choose a 1, 3, 6 or 12 month plan.

Each plan includes:

  • Instant provisioning so you can use your site straight away
  • Root access
  • An enhanced cPanel
  • Dedicated support
  • Mirrored storage
  • Bundled resources
  • 30-day money back guarantee

There are four VPS plans:

  • Standard – $29.99 a month (first month $14.99) – Single core, 2GB RAM, 30GB, 1TB a month, free domain name, 1 dedicated IP, CentOS 6.4 (64-bit)
  • Enhanced – $59.00 a month (first month $29.99) – Dual core, 4GB RAM, 60GB, 2TB a month, free domain name, 2 dedicated IPs, CentOS 6.4 (64-bit)
  • Premium – $89.99 a month ($44.99 first month) – Triple core, 6GB RAM, 120GB, 3TB a month, free domain name, 2 dedicated IPs, CentOS 6.4 (64-bit)
  • Ultimate – $119.00 a month ($59.99 first month) – Quad core, 8GB RAM, 240GB, 4TB a month, free domain name, 2 dedicated IPs, CentOS 6.4 (64-bit)
Cloud technology
Bluehost’s VPS plans use cloud technology.

These plans include:

  • Cloud technology
  • Enhanced cPanel control panel
  • Root access
  • Guaranteed server resources
  • Instant provisioning
  • Multi-account management

I signed up for a basic shared hosting plan by clicking on the hard-to-miss “Sign Up Now” button on the homepage. Registering was easy enough – I entered my domain name details, personal details, credit card details and I was ready to rock ‘n’ roll.

However, I was surprised after a few days my credit card was debited a full year’s hosting with no warning on when or how often I was going to be charged. At no stage did I select how long I wanted hosting for. Other hosts charge monthly so I was disappointed I wasn’t given this option. Not a great start.


Bluehost offers shared and dedicated hosting, as well as VPS.

Features includes:

  • Unlimited disk storage
  • Unlimited domain hosting
  • Free drag and drop site builder
  • POP3/POP3 Secure email support
  • IMAP/Secure IMAP email support
  • Unlimited GB of site transfer
  • cPanel account control panel
  • Spam Assasin protection
  • FTP access
  • CGI/Databases
  • Site promotion
  • Free website scripts, including WordPress
  • E-commerce features
  • Multimedia features
  • Site backups

Check out Bluehost’s site for a full rundown of services.

1-Click WordPress install is available though SimpleScripts.

WordPress is available to install quickly and easily using 1-Click script installs available through SimpleScripts.

Email hosting is also provided, which is super convenient for businesses and organisations wanting to set up email address for staff.

Migration comes as a $99 a year add-on with VPS hosting. For customers on shared or dedicated hosting you’ll need to migrate your site yourself. A How to Migrate a WordPress Site guide is available in the host’s Help Center Knowledge Base.

Bluehost tackles site traffic spikes using a proprietary shared CPU protection system. The system ties your account to its own dedicated core temporarily to keep your account from dominating too much CPU time. Customers can also enable CloudFlare, a Content Delivery System, in their cPanel for free. Sites that become popular and suddenly have tens of thousands of simultaneous users are encouraged to look into dedicated hosting.

Wildcard DNS/Subdomains are supported. Just head to your account and select Domains > Subdomains to enter your details.

Hacking has been a problem for many Bluehost customers who have vented their frustration online.

When I searched for “hacking” in the Bluehost Knowledge Base, it returned 12 results, but nothing really comprehensinve to help customers secure their sites.

However, Bluehost has partnered with SiteLock to provide customers with protection from hackers, malware and other threats for a yearly fee. I couldn’t find any mention of SiteLock on Bluehost’s website other than in the Knowledge Base. It’s not even listed on the hosting features page. It’s not until you sign up for an account that SiteLock appears as a paid option. This isn’t exactly convenient for potential customers looking for an assurance on site security. If you decide not to sign up for SiteLock immediately it is available to activate at any time.

Alternatively, if you are happy with your account you can upgrade your hosting in your account settings under “Upgrades”.


There’s no easy way to say this – Bluehost’s website is ugly. Has it been updated since the company launched in 1996?

Bluehost phone support
Bluehost offers 24/7 phone support.

I must given the company credit, though, for removing the awful text that was at the bottom of the homepage just a few weeks ago. It looked like an error message, but on closer inspection it was actually a rundown of the host’s services.

Scattered throughout the site are cliche stock images of women wearing headsets and people standing around in groups looking. Doesn’t Bluehost have real staff they could feature on their site? The stock images give the site a faceless, corporate feel.

The site’s navigation also needs a redesign. It’s not immediately obvious what kind of hosting Bluehost offers. Dedicated hosting is in the navigation panel at the top, but not shared hosting or VPS. What I also don’t get is why the Founder’s Blog is featured in the navigation before Dedicated Hosting. The blog has had two posts since Heaton announced he was stepping down in June 2011 – one post about BetterLinux and another complaining about the iPhone 5. Hardly a good use of space.

When you log into your Bluehost account it brings up a minimalist admin page that is easier to navigate. Like many hosts, Bluehost uses cPanel. When you login to cPanel for the first time, there are options to set up email, migration and website design – all for a fee, of course. I opted to set things up myself as I’m familiar with cPanel.

Installing WordPress from the cPanel is easy peasy. All you need to do is click on “WordPress” in the Site Builders section and scroll down to WordPress in the script list. After you install you will be bombarded with offers to also install UppSite, SmallBiz Thtme, Cashie Commerce and SiteWit.

As with some other web hosts, Jetpack comes pre-installed.


Customer Service

The day after signing up for an account I received a voicemail from a woman asking me to send a verification email and include my name and domain. I sent off the details and 5 minutes later I received two emails telling me my account had been verified. I must admit, it was strange having someone call me for this simple check and I wonder if it’s really necessary?

Bluehost offers a regularly updated Knowledge Base (containing 721 articles), a Getting Started guide, video tutorials and a user forums, as well as 24/7 email, phone and live chat support. It’s safe to say they’ve got support covered.

I like the small details on the Help Center website – the green lights that indicate the current status of email, phone and live chat support, and the links to the most popular help content, which in this case is the Getting Started guide and Managing Your Email.

After checking the unimpressive uptime and response times for my site (see below), I decided to ask Bluehost what was going on. So I headed over to their website and opened live chat support.

Bluehost live chat
What’s with the butterfly on the live chat window?!

The support member was friendly enough and got down to business trying to answer my questions, confirming that 15 hours of downtime isn’t “typical”. He said the site hadn’t been throttled in the past 24 hours (which I could have checked myself in my hosting settings) but may have been over the life of the account and recommended I ask to be migrated to another server.

It took 26 minutes to have my questions resolved and even then they weren’t really resolved. Admittedly, the support member was helping other customers at the same time and warned me of that at the start of the session.

I went back to the Help Center and opened a support ticket detailing my test site’s downtimes. I received an email auto-reply moments later telling me to expect a minimum 24 hours for a reply. I had to wait a whole day?! I really don’t see the point in advertising 24/7 email support if replies take so long. In the end I got a reply about 11 hours later.

The support member, or “Web Advisor”, said he had run a performance test on my site and checked the server logs and found there hadn’t been issues such as throttling in the past 24 hours.

I was very specific in detailing my site’s outages in my ticket request and had attached a transcript of my live chat, which showed the first support member had already looked into any issues over the past 24 hours. The second support member’s email was just a confirmation of what I already knew. I was disappointed he had done exactly what the live chat guy had already done instead of just telling me he wasn’t able to check the history of the account.

So my issue remains unresolved and I’m still experiencing outages and slow response times.

At this stage, my options are to ask to be migrated to another server to see if the site’s performance improves or just cancel the account and move to another host. If I was a regular, paying customer I would probably do the latter. I don’t like to muck around and when you’re managing a website, hosting is the last thing you want to worry about, especially when there are other web hosts out there.

For customers who are not satisfied with their hosting, Bluehost offers a full refund within 30 days of registration. After 30 days you get a pro-rated refund for the amount of period unused. For example, if you sign up for a year and you cancel after five months, you will get seven months of hosting fees back.


Bluehost sells itself on the fact it runs its own servers and even built its own datacenters, so you would expect your site to run smoothly. Not so.

I monitored my test site using Pingdom and the response times for the lifetime of the test site weren’t great. The slowest average time of 2571 milliseconds and an overall average of 1125 milliseconds. The fast response time was 856 milliseconds.

During the past seven days, the slowest average response time was 16,206 milliseconds – fail. However, the fastest average time was 687 milliseconds and the overall was 1102 milliseconds.

For the past 30 days:

Bluehost response times

The uptime for the account wasn’t much better. The test site was down for 15 hours and 28 mins – not great. Pingdom counted 198 downtimes, with an uptime of 98.63 per cent. In the past seven days the site was down a total of 3 hours and 59 mins, with an uptime of 97.58 per cent and 11 downtimes. These are the results for the past 30 days:

Bluehost Uptime

Disclaimer: In putting together this review, we bought our Bluehost review account just like any other customer – via the sign-up link on the homepage. We didn’t let Bluehost in on the fact we were reviewing their services to avoid any special treatment.

Have you used Bluehost? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below.

To read the reviews in this series:

Image credits: getButterfly, Wikimedia Commons.

The Good

  • Cheap hosting options.
  • Feature-packed.

The Bad

  • The website is confusing for new customers and needs a redesign.
  • It's not clear how often or when your credit card is going to be charged.
  • Slow and unexplained outages and site response times.

Our Verdict

  • price:
  • usability:
  • service:
  • speed:
  • features:
  • Overall:

54 Responses

  • Site Builder, Child of Zeus

    Oh, tag – #justhost
    I didn’t have Bluehost, but I did have Justhost and this sounds like their write up a bit or at least makes me think of them. Justhost was great for awhile when they are partnering with TemplateMonster for discounts from Template purchases. I don’t know, somewhere that place became a total consistent migraine of service, let downs and confusion.

    The world would be a better place if there was a government law of standard that governed customer service from businesses. For instance: You call your hosting provider or phone company and the agent doesn’t know what they are talking about. You get a migraine because of that and you can report it as a crime in which they can get up to 30 days in prison… or company fines. It would save people a lot of headaches, thus making the world a better place of understanding, joy and peace :)

    • Site Builder, Child of Zeus

      I would like this as well. I am switching much as I can in the direction of WPEngine or, but right now everything is through HostGator and some of my existing clients will not be switching over, so I would like to know too. I don’t have any problems with HostGator though and their support has always been stellar for me 100% every time, accept yesterday. That’s 2+-3 years straight. I have been very satisfied.

  • Chief Pigeon

    From dealing with many members, and past clients over the years, it always seems this is the pattern with any cheap hosting.

    Their goal with selling cheap, budget hosting isn’t about high quality. It’s about numbers, how many can they cram on one single server!

    And the tasty “unlimited” is nothing but a sales ploy, a myth and lie!

    Try using their unlimited resources and see how long it takes before they just shut your site down without warning. I’m not singling BlueHost out or claiming they always do this without notice, but this is a general trend in the hosting world that I often hear about.

    Paying a little more for quality is often worth the investment just to save your time, money, and frustration, not to mention avoiding the extra downtime.

    That’s not to imply that more cash always means better quality. :)

    • Yeah, good points about the “unlimited” ploy. I wasn’t going to touch on it in the review, but was hoping our readers would be clued in enough to already know about it!

      It’s definitely worth paying a bit extra if you’ve got a site that needs reliable hosting.

      I’ll have a wrap-up finale review out next Thursday that will compare all of the hosts I’ve reviewed.

      • Chief Pigeon

        In the past when I actively went looking for clients, it would often be question they would raise as to why they shouldn’t move host.

        “Why should I move to something less, when I get unlimited”

        I always challenged them to try being unlimited, that and refer to the experience of others from reviews around the web.

        Using too many resources is the get out clause such hosts use. ha.

  • New Recruit

    I had a Reseller account with Bluehost for about a year. Starting around Jan 2013 the problems got progressively worse. The last straw was that BlueHost updated my ClientEx app (citing security issues) and broke it. When I submitted a ticket they said they don’t offer support for ClientEx. I said really ? You guys broke it. They never even replied. In the end when I complained about speed the response was “ya well too bad upgrade to VPS or Dedicated. There was no way they would move me to a different server. The partition would go down every day, sometimes a few times as day. They even removed the server status link from their web site.

    I did upgrade last month to a VPS on for about the same money. My sites now have an A rating on YSlow! has 53 plugins running and it’s still fast.


  • Flash Drive

    I’m really interested to know why gives that incredible free promotion to those 3 host companies – BlueHost, DreamHost and that other tiny company named after a lobster, or something. Did they just pick three random companies out of the air? Does that decision ever get reviewed? It would be awesome to have recommendations from based on the merits of the host companies.

  • Code Wrangler

    I was with Bluehost for a week and it was terrible, the worst experience I’ve ever had with a host, and they kept telling me my site was slow due to the plugins I had, even though this was a backup of a site that worked without a problem on my previous host.

    One thing that was good though, was when I asked them what would happen with the free domain I got with the account, they said I could keep this and wasn’t charged.

    What made this worse, was that I decided to use them because they were suggested as the top site on

    • Just logged it to second this comment:
      “What made this worse, was that I decided to use them because they were suggested as the top site on”

      To be fair, I was quite happy last year, but since a few months I have noticed a lot of issues (unable to log into cpanel, site down, slow navigation in the wordpress dashboard).

      I thank the author for these reviews, it really got me thinking about alternatives.

  • New Recruit

    I had an account with Bluehost for 3 years which I took back in around 2008/9 which I was very happy for. The speed of my sites was decent for a shared host and it was cheap for one of my non central focus sites. I renewed my account for another year and even signed up for their affiliate program.

    Around a year back I noticed long load times for my site and raised a few tickets and got onto the live chat. The two common replies were “optimise your site” and “you will need to upgrade to our dedicated plans”. After repeated discussions for a month and even using Cloudflare, I just gave up hope. I closed my account and moved the site to my VPS and got a cheap account with Stable Host which I use for testing my plugins.

    Suffice to say, I’m not going back to them. I’m not sure if things just deteriorated in the past few years, but they turned out to be a total disappointment with terrible support and cheap service.

  • New Recruit

    Bluehost is budget hosting. You have to keep that in mind. It will be interesting to see if the other budget hosting companies fair any better.

    I have used Bluehost for several years for clients who are just getting started. These clients have simple business sites with no forum, Buddypress, etc. Once they are doing well and have accumulated some traffic on their sites, I move them off – usually to managed WordPress hosting.

    The item that causes site slowdown the most is not being able to tweak the database settings – especially connections. Caching helps a lot.

    One thing that Bluehost has going for it is that it gives a pro-rated refund. Most other budget hosting companies will not refund you if you prepay for a year in advance.

    Also, I monitor sites on several budget hosting companies, GoDaddy included, and have found that Bluehost has less outages.

  • New Recruit

    I knew immediately that this was a bogus review when I saw the author raving about GoDaddy. GoDaddy? Really?

    I run multiple sites hosted on Bluehost, and have been with them for several years. In all those years, I can recall one or two very brief outages that only lasted for less than 30 minutes. Aside from that, the sites run flawlessly, and the support is magnificent. And I find nothing difficult about navigating their website.

    I have had the misfortune of having to deal with GoDaddy while working on clients’ sites that are hosted with them, and they are an absolute nightmare. I encourage everyone to get away from them as rapidly as possible.

  • New Recruit

    I agree with Pampurrs I have been using bluehost since 1996 I have 5 accounts with them for a total of 135 websites I use 2 standard accounts 1 upgraded account 1 reseller account and 1 vps account. I have never had any down time time and customer service has always been excellent most problems I have had have been of my own doing.

    • Chief Pigeon

      Sure, but this review is based on just one persons experience, and data they collected from Pingdom.

      I was once a customer of One and One (1&1) and had both dedicated servers and a ton of domains with them. Something then went seriously wrong and it seemed that I had bad experience, after bad experience. Really shocking customer service and dealing with system admins that appeared to know less than I did.

      I left them, and swore to never ever go back.

      But I’ve known some people who’ve been with them years, never a problem, or never a problem that was not fixed promptly. Very little down time, yet I had loads.

      My point is simply that the review is that of one person (our author), and the data collected during her tests. It doesn’t really take into account the masses of negative or positive reviews from other customers.

  • New Recruit

    I recently signed up as an affiliate and instantly established two new accounts. One client paid me for my services, web design, hosting, domain name registration, etc. so i purchased a Bluehost hosting account using my credit card. 3 months later Bluehost refuses to pay me my commissions because each new account must clearly be identified as a new customer, with the credit card and other information specific to the customer. This simple rule in the TOS has made me ineligible to receive my commission. Meanwhile, the customer’s contact info is on the account, only that i used my credit card and not the customer’s.

    This next one is un-related: How many of you have ever called customer support of ANY company and had to wait 30 minutes? Yup that has happened to me with Bluehost, up from the usual 15 minute wait. The Florida DMV is better than this!! Bluehost support also have no qualms with saying that they are currently dealing with 4 other customers, so please be patient. Had to hang up on one other occasion. Are you kidding me? They call that support? Pull-eeeeze!!!!

  • New Recruit

    I recommend Bluehost all the time. I was a complete newbie three years ago – had no idea what ftp, php, script, or html even was. Bluehost got me up and running with a WordPress site in no time. My church set up a site with them and the administrator did some ‘funny stuff’ with pointing and parking various sites — they figured it out for me after he left.

    I made a BIG mistake playing around and found out they back up regularly. They have TWICE retrieved my site for me.

    I have never waited more than ten minutes for live help and have always found their customer service help to be excellent. Maybe I was such a novice that I didn’t know the difference, but they were always courteous friendly and quick to ask someone else to assist if I asked them something they weren’t sure of.

    I have never had downtime problems with four sites in the last three years. My sites load quickly and run well. I LOVE BLUEHOST!!!!

  • New Recruit

    I’ve always liked Bluehost. Friendly service, and it gets things right that GoDaddy finds ways to get wrong. Just don’t try to run it with large, heavy themes.

    However, our site–and many of our clients’ sites–have been out for about 12 hours today because of the massive crash. So that isn’t helping.

    In general, though, I think a better hosting provider than this review indicates.

  • hello I’m at bluehost, for a few hours, they changed a few lines of their policy to use, I have not far from répertérioré 518000 pictures or photos that need be removed from my site! Now, these images and photos are the basis of my different themes (I use the CMS Oxwall) with many plugins!
    otherwise issue by using their supoort I did not have to complain they are always responded to my expectations except once or techicien failed to find the problem or me beginner I found it!
    so if you use Blueuhost attention to numbers of images .. you will receive an alert on your panel!
    here is my de
    sorry I used google translation to write!

  • hello I’m at bluehost, for a few hours, they changed a few lines of their policy to use, I have not far from répertérioré 518000 pictures or photos that need be removed from my site! Now, these images and photos are the basis of my different themes (I use the CMS Oxwall) with many plugins!
    otherwise issue by using their supoort I did not have to complain they are always responded to my expectations except once or techicien failed to find the problem or me beginner I found it!
    so if you use Blueuhost attention to numbers of images .. you will receive an alert on your panel!
    here is my site
    sorry I used google translation to write!

  • New Recruit

    Bluehost is a big disappointment. I had four major issues with Bluehost.

    1. Their starter plan indicates that it includes 5 parked domains. But they don’t explain that you have to pay extra for each domain.

    2. When you set-up WordPress, the online workflow makes it almost impossible to select a free WordPress theme.

    3. I purchased the Starter plan for $60 but was charged $119. When I complained to Customer Service, they provided a partial refund. When I asked why they overcharged me, they indicated that I must have used the refresh button on my browser during the check-out process, so all the default added services were including in my purchase. But their online e-commerce workflow does not include a confirmation page or a receipt page or a confirmation email. If it did, I would have seen this problem immediately. Instead I saw the problem when I got my monthly credit card bill. But Bluehost only does full refunds within 3 days.

    4. After having so many negative experiences, I decided to move my domain and web hosting to another service. But ICANN regulates require that you wait 60 days. Hence, after moving my domain and cancelling my Bluehost account, they refused to give me a full refund under their ‘money back guarantee policy’ which is only good for 30 days. That is useless when you consider the ICANN regulation.

    If Bluehost can’t manage with their current pricing, they should raise their price or change their marketing or be more specific about what is included and what is extra. But I want to control how my money is spent and I don’t appreciate their scam tactics and unethical business practices.

  • New Recruit

    I am on the phone now with BlueHost as they cut my entire development team’s access off without warning. They did send an email saying our usage violated there terms and conditions because we had 300MB in MySQL databases on their shared hosting which was there for a while and probably eased above a magical limit yesterday. I am upset because my expectation was to get a nice please reduce the size email and we would have gladly complied. Instead, they cut off our access completely (note we have paid for the service for a year) costing us thousands in development dollars because the team went idle without warning. To further aggravate the situation they shoved the terms and conditions in my face when I called to get it activated and kept putting me on hold. I am still on hold now an hour later and we have cleaned up the database to less than 160MB and they will not restore our teams access. I strongly suggest people avoid BlueHost as the way they shove the terms and condition in your face and deactivate your access without warning is unacceptable.

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