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.
- Too many Bluehost affiliates
- They pay to be recommended by WordPress
- Low storage/inode limits with CPU throttling
- Slow TTFB
- No uptime guarantee with frequent downtimes
- Renewals are up to 338% intro prices
- No automatic backups on lower plans
- Mediocre support with long wait times
- Dashboard is slow, but at least they use cPanel
- Only 6 data centers
- Stay away from Newfold Digital
- What people say about Bluehost in Facebook Groups
- Pros & cons
- Bluehost alternatives
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.
This isn’t getting out of hand, it’s been out of hand for years.
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.
3. Low Storage/Inode Limits With CPU Throttling
Bluehost advertises unlimited websites and storage, but this isn’t true.
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 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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
|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|
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.
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.
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.
It’s nice they use cPanel even after cPanel increased prices, so that’s a plus:
Their general dashboard isn’t bad either which includes server caching.
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)|
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.
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.
13. Bluehost Pros & Cons
- cPanel is easy
- Server caching
- Cheap intro prices
- Cloudflare integration
- Easy to install WordPress
- Support seems to have improved
- 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.
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.
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 Enterprise + Redis 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.
- 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.
I personally wouldn’t touch Bluehost with a 10-poll foot, but it’s your choice.