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.

Bluehost is horrible 1

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 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 that talk about affiliates saying anything to get commissions, here I am recommending Bluehost alternatives. But you can take my word – these are a whole lot better than Bluehost.

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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28 Comments...

  1. Hi Tom, it’s so refreshing to see an honest review! I am about to start a blog and have procrastinated for about a month over hosting. Initially I was naively just going to go with Bluehost as they seemed to be coming out top in all the reviews. It was only once I started watching videos of one particular high-profile blogger, where he stated that one way he makes money is that companies pay him to be moved up the ranking in review posts, that I started to catch on (naive I know!). In addition, in several of his videos he states that he uses and recommends WPX (and at one stage directly compares them to Bluehost), yet WPX appear nowhere in his ’27+ Best Web Hosting Services of 2023′. Hmm, strange. Now I am absolutely sick of every blog I read recommending Bluehost when they’re clearly not the best (and they’re also over-egging themselves with an incorrect Trustpilot rating on their homepage). I obviously want to make money via affiliate marketing but this all seems a bit on the unethical side to me (especially as I’m doing a finance blog where somebody could be investing their life savings using a platform I ‘recommend’!). Anyway, I’d actually come across WPX prior to the above-mentioned videos and was leaning towards them. Have you had any experience of them? Keep up the good (honest!) work. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hey Laura,

      Yes, most blogs are paid garbage. A lot of people stopped using Google search because most blogs simply don’t tell truth and just care about affiliate commissions. TrustPilot reviews are usually very solicited and don’t give an accurate picture of the company.

      As for WPX, I wouldn’t use them either. They don’t have a redundancy system which is VERY risky as they’ve already had a bad worldwide outage, the CEO is irresponsible and doesn’t admit to mistakes or uses it as an opportunity to improve the company, and it’s still shared hosting with frequent downtimes. They blew up mainly because of a certain blogger who I bet you can guess his name. However, his “best hosting list” is laughable where he lists Bluehost as #6, WP Engine #3 (who offers a whopping $200/sale in commissions), and SiteGround/Kinsta as #1 and #2. Again, these are “mainstream hosts” ranked by affiliate commissions, not quality.

      For low traffic sites on a budget, and for those that don’t require lots of resources, I usually recommend a “LiteSpeed host” like NameHero or ChemiCloud. They’re cheap, fast for the price, have decent support, and the LiteSpeed setup with LiteSpeed Cache + QUIC.cloud is great.

      For higher traffic sites or those that require more resources like WooCommerce/dynamic sites, I’d probably jump straight to cloud hosting. Something like Cloudways, Scala Hosting, or I’m obviously a big fan of Rocket.net which is who I use. It also depends on how hands-on you want to get, for example, there are many control panels like RunCloud and even Cloudways which can be more confusing than someone like Rocket.net.

      Sorry, I know it’s getting long, but one last thing to consider is the location of the site’s visitors. If you plan on using a CDN with full page caching (i.e. QUIC.cloud’s paid plan, Cloudflare APO, or Rocket.net’s Cloudflare Enterprise), then location really doesn’t matter as much. But if you’re not going to be using a CDN with full page caching, you’ll want to choose a host who has data center close to visitors.

      Please lmk if you have any questions – always here to help.

      Reply
  2. Hello Tom,

    I found your review through a google search for Bluehost alternatives. I know that your audience is more experienced than I am when it comes to website building, but I was curious to know your opinion on some alternatives for a hosting site for beginner bloggers like myself. Yes, I am a beginner, but I’d rather start with a hosting platform that I won’t have trouble with later on as my blog grows into a business. I’ve read enough reviews to know that although Bluehost “seems” like the better choice for a beginner blogger, it is not the best for what I’m looking for. Any advice would be helpful.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hey AC,

      NameHero and ChemiCloud are both good for beginners. Similar pricing than Bluehost with cPanel, but faster. And unlike Bluehost, you don’t have to pay for a cache plugin to get the best results since you can use the free LiteSpeed Cache plugin. Inside LiteSpeed Cache, you’ll see an option to add QUIC.cloud which has a free CDN plan. This way, you get the benefits of a good cache plugin/CDN with no or minimal cost (only cost would be if you were to upgrade to QUIC’s paid plan). Both NameHero/ChemiCloud have better support than Bluehost IMO.

      It’s pretty much inevitable that you’ll switch hosts eventually (even if it’s years down the line as your site grows) since you would likely want to scale into VPS hosting like Scala Hosting, Cloudways, or Rocket.net… which tend to be better at VPS hosting than most shared providers). As a starting point though, the first 2 I mentioned should “last longer” than Bluehost since they’re faster, can handle more traffic, and have less limitations.

      Hope that helps – lmk if you have any follow up questions.
      Tom

      Reply

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