Bluehost Review: Don’t Let Affiliates Trick You Into Using Them (Website Builder Also Hasn’t Worked For Several Weeks)… Leave

Bluehost review

Most people know to stay away from Bluehost, but if you don’t, here’s your warning.

The majority of people recommending them are affiliates who make a big deal about how they’re “officially” recommended by WordPress. Maybe you didn’t know this, but Bluehost pays both WordPress and their affiliates to recommend them, so this is about as unofficial as it gets.

Here’s the classic Bluehost story. Some “how to start a blog” YouTuber recommends Bluehost, so you sign up and realize you have to pay 3 years upfront to get the cheapest price. You pay it, setup your website, and all is good. Until a few weeks/months go by, then you start wondering why your website is slow and goes down all the time. Their support doesn’t help, so you go to a Facebook Group and ask the community. Only to realize everyone says Bluehost is the problem.

By reading that story, hopefully I just saved you a couple hundred dollars and years of headaches. Because that happens to way too many people (usually people new to hosting).

Now let’s dive into why Bluehost isn’t good.

 

1. Too Many Bluehost Affiliates

People will say anything to make a buck.

Bluehost pays up to $150+/sale for affiliate commissions. Do the math: if someone signs up for a $5.45/month plan for 3 years, it’s about $194. Minus $150 in affiliate commissions leaves $46 which is the “real value” of their hosting. Do you think you’ll get great hosting with that? Hell no.

Classic affiliate marketer pros cons 1

This isn’t getting out of hand, it’s been out of hand for years.

How to start a blog bluehost affiliates

Bluehost how to start a blog affiliate links

 

2. They Pay To Be Recommended By WordPress

Affiliates like to brag how Bluehost is recommended by WordPress.

Did you read the fine print?

Bluehost “donates” some of the fee back to WordPress (this is an undisclosed amount, but one can only imagine). Everything in the hosting industry is influenced by money now, so take this “recommendation” with a grain of salt. Same goes for SiteGround who I also don’t recommend.

Bluehost wordpress hosting affiliate disclaimer

 

3. Low Storage/Inode Limits With CPU Throttling

Bluehost advertises unlimited websites and storage, but this isn’t true.

Check their resource policy and inode limits. You’re theoretically ‘allowed’ to have unlimited websites/storage but they’re policies have clear limits which are pretty low for shared hosting.

Inodes 200,000
Database tables 5,000
Database size 10GB
Single database 5GB

Inodes

200,000 inodes (files) is not high at all especially if you’re using your hosting for email (this is why some hosts like Cloudways and Kinsta don’t offer email hosting and expect you to use a third-party service like Google Workspace). Bluehost only allows 50,000 inodes (soft limit) and 200,000 inodes (hard limit). Even if you upgrade to the higher WP Pro plans, the inode limit only increases to 300,000. Which means if you use hosting for email, make sure to delete old emails.

Bluehost unlimited storage

CPU Throttling

Bluehost uses CPU throttling if you exceed the resources that come with your plan.

This happens when your website uses too much CPU (whether it’s from plugins, bots, page builders, WooCommerce, themes, traffic, etc). If it does, Bluehost will throttle your CPU which makes your website and admin panel slow, and can also result in 503 service unavailable errors.

503 errors are somewhat common on shared hosting, but even more common on Bluehost. While there are several ways to reduce CPU usage, many people find themselves having to upgrade. Maybe you’re getting more traffic and outgrew your resources. Or maybe you added a few extra plugins. Whatever the reason, this is one of the biggest limitations of shared hosting.

Bluehost cpu throttling
Source: Bluehost’s Wikipedia page

It’s not a good idea to run WooCommerce on shared hosting. It’s also not ideal to use heavy page builders or plugins like Elementor, Divi, or WPML on a shared environment​.

Most of Bluehost’s limitations can be found on their comparison chart:

Bluehost compare plans

 

4. Bluehost Has A Slow TTFB

Bluehost is one of the slowest shared hosts you’ll find.

They use Apache servers, SATA SSDs, and limited resources.

I signed up for Bluehost’s Plus Plan and tested load times and TTFB in various speed testing tools. This was a simple Astra Starter Site with SSL, no cache plugin, and no CDN. TTFB was usually around 1s which isn’t good considering PageSpeed Insights flags it if it’s over 600ms.

Bluehost hosting review

 

5. No Uptime Guarantee With Frequent Downtimes

Most hosts have an uptime guarantee then write a bunch of disclaimers in their contracts explaining how scheduled maintenance (and many other things) don’t count as downtimes.

Bluehost doesn’t guarantee anything at all and has very poor uptimes. The closest thing they have is a brief network service uptime agreement.

Uptimes tests usually don’t mean anything since it depends on which server/node you get. Bluehost doesn’t have an uptime status page showing maintenance/incidents which is a red flag off the bat. The closest thing you have is their Downdetector profile (screenshot below).

Bluehost’s downtimes have always been an issue and they even wrote an apology letter in 2016.

Bluehost outages downdetector
Bluehost’s Downdetector profile

Bluehost server down

 

6. Renewals Are Up To 338% Intro Prices

You only get 1 year of the intro price or 3 years for a somewhat discounted price. Then depending on which plan you use, it can renew up to 338% more (see their monthly pricing).

The main problem with this is that as your website changes and you add more plugins or get more traffic, your website will require more server resources to accommodate it. But since you signed up for 3 years upfront, your plan may not have enough resources and you will need to upgrade anyway. Not to mention once you learn how bad Bluehost is, you’ll want to leave but can’t since you’ve already paid upfront. And at that point, the money is considered a sunk cost.

Don’t fall for 3 year price traps especially with Bluehost.

Bluehost prices

Renewal Rates:

Plan Basic Plus Choice Plus Pro
12 Month Term 9.99/mo 13.99/mo 18.99/mo 28.99/mo
24 Month Term 9.49/mo 12.99/mo 17.99/mo 27.99/mo
36 Month Term 9.99/mo 13.99/mo 18.99/mo 26.99/mo

Never pay for more than 1 year of hosting

 

7. No Automatic Backups On Lower Plans

If you look at the comparison chart again, Basic/Plus don’t include automatic backups and you only get 1 year of backups on Choice Plus. Only the highest Pro plan includes ongoing backups.

Bluehost paid automatic backups

 

8. Mediocre Support With Long Wait Times

You’re not going to get great support with cheap hosting period.

You can expect long wait times (i.e. 30+ minutes) and they will most likely refer you to articles. I always look at TrustPilot reviews even though they’re solicited by most host’s support team. Bluehost used to have a horrible 1.5/5 star rating but it seems to have improved since it’s 3.8/5.

Bluehost support review

Bluehost trustpilot reviews

 

9. Dashboard Is Slow, But At Least They Use cPanel

Navigating Bluehost’s dashboard is a pain. It can sometimes take 5-10s for pages in the dashboard to load. It’s not a huge deal but can be frustrating if you’re used to working quickly.

Bluehost slow dashboard

It’s nice they use cPanel even after cPanel increased prices, so that’s a plus:

Bluehost cpanel 1

Their general dashboard isn’t bad either which includes server caching.

Bluehost dashboard

 

10. Only 6 Data Centers

Bluehost only has a few data centers and they don’t let you select the location when you purchase a hosting plan. If you test your site in KeyCDN’s performance test, you can clearly see the closer the data center is to a testing location (and your visitors), the faster your TTFB will be.

Provo, Utah (US) Mumbai (IND) Hong Kong (CN)
Orem, Utah (US) London, UK (EU) Shanghai, Mainland (CN)

Keycdn-performance-test

 

11. Stay Away From Newfold Digital

Bluehost is owned by Newfold Digital (formerly EIG).

They have a long history of buying hosting companies and running them into the ground like they did with HostGator. They’re known for cutting costs and “streaming” their services. But probably the worst part is a lack of innovation. As LiteSpeed, cache plugins, and other features continue to improve WordPress speed, Bluehost / Newfold Digital do little to progress forward.

Newfold digital hosting companies

 

12. What People Say About Bluehost In Facebook Groups

How many times do you have to hear it?

Join the WP Speed Matters Facebook Groups to get less biased feedback. Many groups are run by affiliates and SiteGround’s community manager/affiliates are also admins for several groups.

Bluehost is horrible 1

Bluehost is dogshit

Run from bluehost

Migrate from bluehost

Stay away from bluehost

Ditch bluehost eig

Eig bluehost hostgator bad review

Bluehost is terrible

Bluehost is miserable

Bluehost hostgator godaddy worst choices

Bluehost choice plus vs cloudways vultr

 

13. Bluehost Pros & Cons

Pros

  • cPanel is easy
  • Server caching
  • Cheap intro prices
  • Cloudflare integration
  • Easy to install WordPress
  • Support seems to have improved

Cons

  • Slow!
  • High renewals
  • Apache servers
  • Limited resources
  • Bad CPU throttling
  • Limited data centers
  • Very low inode limits
  • Frequent downtimes
  • Most plans lack backups
  • Built on affiliate marketing

 

14. Bluehost Alternatives

After all that talk about affiliates saying anything to get commissions, then here I am recommending hosting. But at least these are much better choices.

LiteSpeed

NameHero is solid if you’re in the US/EU since that’s where their data centers are. All plans use LiteSpeed servers which are faster and more efficient than Apache (what GoDaddy uses). They include more CPU/RAM for cheaper if you compare their specs page, and the Turbo Cloud plan uses NVMe. You can also use the free LiteSpeed Cache plugin which is one of the best cache plugins right now. Once you configure LiteSpeed Cache + QUIC.cloud CDN, your setup is not only faster than pretty much every host in this price range, but you’re less likely to get CPU spikes since LiteSpeed can handle more requests than Apache. Support + uptimes are consistent, but that’s something you can see yourself. It wouldn’t be fair to leave out Scala Hosting who also uses LiteSpeed and has a 5/5 star TrustPIlot rating. These are ‘cheap hosts’ I recommend over GoDaddy.

Litespeed vs nginx vs apache

Namehero vs a2 hosting vs bluehost eig

Bluehost vs namehero trustpilot review

Vultr High Frequency

Now we’re getting into cloud hosting. I use Cloudways Vultr HF or you can buy it from the Vultr website and connect it to a control panel like RunCloud. Vultr HF has high CPU clock speeds with NVMe if you look at benchmarks. They have Cloudflare EnterpriseRedis Object Cache Pro and other caching layers to make your site faster. Main con is no email hosting (I use Google Workspace) and scaling is expensive. They’re popular in Facebook groups and many people already posted their migration results. Cloudways has free 3-day trials, monthly pricing, a free migration, and here’s 30% off 3 months. Some folks are scared they’re techie but launching a server can be done in a few clicks.

Siteground to cloudways shoutout
My results moving from SiteGround to Cloudways in 2019

Bluehost to cloudways migration

  • Rocket.net – look at their specs and have a conversation with Ben Gabler (that’s all it took for me). They average a <100ms global TTFB which you can measure in KeyCDN. Their free Cloudflare Enterprise is superior than Cloudways/Kinsta with full page caching, smart purging, and built their data centers in the same ones as Cloudflare (Ben was StackPath’s Chief Product Officer so that makes sense). Just to give you an idea, their plans start at $25/mo with 32 CPU cores + 128GB RAM + NVMe SSDs + Redis. No PHP worker limits because only about 10% of traffic actually hits your origin. Everything is free (no paid add-ons) and their powerful stack makes scaling affordable with plenty of resources. I asked Ben to create a coupon OMM1 to make your first month $1. Compared to Kinsta, they use about 16x more RAM, 32x more cores on staging sites, and up to 25x more monthly visits. Top performer on wphostingbenchmarks.com with a 4.9/5 TrustPilot rating too? Take 5 minutes to compare specs and see for yourself or see my Rocket.net review.
Keycdn performance test cloudflare 1
Cloudflare free (no full page caching)
Rocket. Net keycdn performance test 1
Rocket.net Cloudflare Enterprise + full page caching
Rocket. Net top tier wordpress hosting benchmarks
Top performer on wphostingbenchmarks.com by Kevin Ohashi
Rocket. Net ben gabler testimonial
Spend 5 minutes talking with Ben Gabler

I personally wouldn’t touch Bluehost with a 10-poll foot, but it’s your choice.

Cheers,
Tom

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19 thoughts on “Bluehost Review: Don’t Let Affiliates Trick You Into Using Them (Website Builder Also Hasn’t Worked For Several Weeks)… Leave”

  1. Caveat emptor. My review on TrustPilot:

    How the Mighty Have Fallen

    A year ago, my wife asked for web host recs for her new business. I recommended Bluehost.

    Don’t I look like a choad. In case you’re not aware of the carnage going on at Bluehost, it’s truly unbelievable. BH users have flooded Reddit to describe being locked out of their sites for weeks or even months and being offered one month’s free hosting rather than a fix.

    Go on to Twitter and search “bluehost support.” Hordes of angry business owners whose sites have been locked up, locked down, and crashing — for months. BH support is lazily pasting the same canned response that they know, they’re trying, blah, blah, blah.

    Whatever. Working people can’t afford excuses. Not that Bluehost is even bothering to make them anymore.

    So, my wife built her company’s site using Bluehost’s Website Builder, which is now broken and — like all of the other problems at BH — has absolutely no ETA on a fix.

    She described contacting tech support and talking to someone who knew about as much about web hosting as she did. The upshot is that she cannot change so much as a comma because it’s all locked inside the BH Website Builder and the Website Builder is hopelessly borked.

    I’m speechless, honestly. I’d been with BH for several years and found their hosting and prices to be good, and their support to be excellent. My site isn’t super elaborate so I have less exposure to the kinds of things that might gum up a website, but the few times I had a hiccup with my site, I opened a chat box and a BH tech fixed it immediately.

    I read from several sources that BH began its decline after they were acquired by multi-national host-wrecker EIG.

    That tracks. The old Bluehost is gone forever. Run, don’t walk.

    Reply
    • It’s decent but there are better options IMO. Need to use higher their 3rd highest plan for it to be worth it with LiteSpeed, etc. I would look into NameHero or ChemiCloud instead.

      Reply
  2. Yes, I totally agree with you Tom. Most of the bloggers recommend Bluehost for just their earnings through affiliate. Some are didn’t even use the Bluehost ever. Support and speed are the main concern. I switched to Delegate Hosting 5 years ago, speed and support is much appreciated.

    Reply
      • Yes, I am struggling with bluehost. I use their bluehost website builder plugin to create my pages and it’s not working for over a month. I am not able to add/edit contents for a month and they don’t have any timeline when the issue will be fixed.

        I am exploring alternatives. Can you suggest something which is easy as drag and drop and cost effective to build a basic blogging site? I definitely want to switch over from bluehost. It’s a pain.

        Reply
        • For drag and drop Elementor is what a lot of people use. It does add extra CSS/JS/fonts so just make sure you optimize them (I have a tutorial for it in the “themes” category).

          Just make sure you have a good host and cache plugin (i.e. NameHero Turbo Cloud, Cloudways Vultr HF, Rocket.net) and LiteSpeed Cache or FlyingPress.

          I use GeneratePress and although it’s not drag and drop, it’s still pretty easy with Gutenberg.

          Reply
  3. Many of us who built our site with Website Builder have been receiving the message “We couldn’t connect Bluehost Website Builder” when we try to edit our sites. I know I’m not the only one because Bluehost told me this is a known issue and no one promised the builder would work! It has been months of trying and waiting as “our team is working on this” with no proactive contact on progress. They aren’t working on it. They know this is an issue and continue to sell and promote the product. Complaint posts about this by others seem to get frozen from comments or deleted instead of resolved. You who have used Website Builder, try editing your site. You who suffer this with me, maybe we can we put pressure on them if we speak up together like in a class action.

    Reply
  4. Hey Tom,
    I host my website on Bluehost and I am an affiliate (not one of those 10k-100k affiliates though). I started blogging on shared hosting, I’m now at a stage where I’m abit more serious and decided to switch to a VPS with Bluehost. Its ofcourse not as cheap as shared hosting, but in conjunction with that, my theme & CDN, site speed is quite good.
    I consider myself to have an honest look at those that I am affiliated with and only recommend those that I use. I will admit that the shared hosting can be slow when you start generating traffic or have a heavy site, but I personally cant fault their support. Im not sure how often you’ve personally come into contact with them, but for me, I’ve had one ocassion out of approx 30 where I thought they werent going to be able to help me (i kindly asked to speak to someone else, who was capable). They helped me move over from shared server to the VPS aswell, and this support Im mentioning Ive had on shared and the VPS, so it wasnt just a matter of paying more for better service… Although the waiting times are much shorter.

    I recommend Bluehost for people starting out with a blog, especially the shared plan, as 99% of people who start dont have the perseverance to actually turn their blog into a money making business. The low cost provides an easy entry point to “test the waters” and learn a thing or two before getting serious.

    Obviously if you arent new to blogging and have a plan and knowledge to implement it, then go straight for faster hosting like VPS/Cloud/Dedi, whether thats from Bluehost or wherever.

    I actually came to the comment section to point out that in your one pic of everyone recommending bluehost, that Neil Patels article also recommends and is affiliated with Bluehost

    Reply
    • Hey David,

      You’re right, I think recommending one host over another comes down to your audience. For people who are just starting, Bluehost is cheap, easy to setup, and is a decent option the test the waters as you say. Most of my audience is somewhat experienced with speed/hosting in which case it wouldn’t make sense to recommend them.

      Yes, Neil Patel, Patt Flynn, and many popular bloggers recommend Bluehost. Then again, their tutorials are more aimed at beginners and to be honest, I think many of them are also influenced by commission rates. I think most SEOs prefer to get their info from places like Backlinko.

      Reply
  5. I agree with almost everything you said. I have used bluehost for three sites. The service was not very good. In fact they continue to charge me for site that I had closed down and it took many tries to get a hold of someone who can get me my money. Really frustrating. I ultimately switched to siteground because the bluehost cannot handle the speeds of a WooCommerce site.

    One thing that I don’t agree with this article is that a stock ticker means bad service. While this can be the case, it really is in the interest of the stockholders for the company to put out the best product. While there are some examples of publicly owned companies that do not take care of the companies underneath them and just cut cost, overall that isn’t the case. Just one example that comes mind is Google fiber. Google has a stock ticker however Google fiber is by far the best internet service I’ve ever had. I have had internet service from some private company that’s so small and their service didn’t even compare.

    Reply
  6. wordpress Officially recommendedbluehost as best web hosting as it provide best sitelock for our website it prevents from cyber, malware, ddos and hacking attacks. one of the cheapest service provider in the world.

    Reply

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