Bluehost Review

Bluehost makes the website hosting process so easy that every webmaster (even first timers) will feel anything but blue. With a single package that offers a competitive range of features, reasonable pricing and an interface that was obviously designed with the user in mind, building a website with Bluehost may turn out to be a surprisingly enjoyable experience.

 

Company Information

Founded: 1996
Headquarters: Provo, UT

Plans and Pricing

Bluehost offers very reasonable pricing as compared with the other leading hosting providers.

12 months 24 months 36 months
$6.95/month $5.95/month $5.95/month

You should also be aware that Bluehost's Whois privacy feature is automatically checked off on the checkout page, to help you add a greater sense of protection for your domain's information for only $9.95.

Upon registration, each user has the option to upgrade his or her hosting plan to a pro package which costs $19.95/month and includes a dedicated IP address, SSL certificate, 3 free domain names, and 10 free Postini email filters (which are powered by Google).

Bluehost also offers premium site building software which is available for purchase within the control panel. Options include Soholaunch which costs around $20/month for a single site and Trendy Site Builder, a Flash-based web builder that costs $4.92/month. Concrete5 and liveSite, reputable free website builders, are also available.

Bluehost accepts Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express cards for any payments.

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Money Back Guarantee

Bluehost offers a 30-day full money back guarantee with no penalties or administrative fees. All contracts cancelled within the first 30 days will receive a full refund, and orders cancelled after the first 30 days will receive a refund pro-rated for the time remaining in the contract.

Features

Bluehost offers technical features and add-ons that are comparable to those offered by other top shared web hosting companies. Although some features such as FrontPage extensions and Google integrations aren't listed on the features page, I found that most things I searched for were actually available and could be achieved with a bit of help from the knowledgebase or customer service.

Hosting Features:

  • Unlimited disk space
  • Unlimited domain hosting
  • Free domain name
  • Unlimited site transfer
  • Unlimited parked domains
  • Unlimited subdomains

Site Building Tools:

  • cPanel control panel
  • CGI-BIN
  • CGI Library

Programming Tools:

  • PHP 5
  • Perl 5
  • Ruby on Rails
  • Python
  • Javascript

Integrated Applications:

  • WordPress
  • Joomla
  • Drupal
  • b2evolution
  • Tikiwiki
  • Moodle
  • Coppermine image galleries
  • SSL servers
  • OS Commerce shopping cart
  • Zen shopping cart
  • Message form
  • Streaming video and audio support

Online Marketing Credits:

  • $100 Google AdWords credit
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Ease of Use

One of the advantages that Bluehost touts directly on its home page is free instant setup. Not only was this claim accurate, but it was surprisingly refreshing as compared with some other web hosts. Another significant advantage of Bluehost is a free demo version of its control panel which enables users and prospective users to see how the control panel works before beginning.

Registering for a Bluehost account was extremely straightforward, primarily because the company offers a singlar plan and pricing structure which eliminates the need to debate between different plans or to calculate which pricing structure truly offers the best deal. Once registered, you're directed to a quick tutorial which can help answer any pressing questions you may have. While I didn't find this tutorial necessary, it was comforting to know that it was there for first time web designers.

Bluehost's cPanel control panel is extremely well-organized, making it possible for even new webmasters to find what they need with relative ease. A help button on the top right corner of the cPanel ensures that assistance is never far away.

A look at Bluehost's control panel Bluehost's Control Panel
 

For my first sample task, I attempted to install a WordPress blog on my newly-created domain. Installing a WordPress blog is supposed to be easy, but Bluehost's intuitive control panel makes it practically effortless. What I found specifically intriguing about Bluehost's offering is that it offered the option not only to create a new WordPress blog but to import an existing blog extremely easily.

WordPress installation screen Choose a New Existing Blog
 

I chose to install a new version of WordPress, and was impressed to see that with two clicks the installation was complete - and the blog was immediately visible.

Easy WordPress installation Easy WordPress Installation
Installation Complete Installation Complete
New blog viewMy New Blog
 

For my second test, I chose to set up an email account linked to my new domain. Just like the WordPress installation, the email setup was extremely intuitive. I only needed to input my requested email name, create a password and click 'create account.'

Email creation form Email Creation Form
 

To access the email, I followed the prompts and was directed to three standard mail retrieval options - horde, SquirrelMail and roundcube. I chose horde, and once again followed the prompts to access my email. I was satisfied to see that my test email was waiting for me immediately after I'd sent it.

horde email box Horde Email Inbox
 
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Customer Support

Bluehost's phone support is just as impressive as its comfortable control panel. Technical support is available 24/7, and was just as capable as the phone support offered by the other top web hosting providers. Billing support is available by phone from 6am - 10pm MST on Monday through Saturday, and 8am-10pm MST on Sundays. I called Bluehost's phone support center three times throughout the day and was never on hold for more than two minutes.

Chat and ticket support is only slightly less efficient. I contacted the company multiple times via chat and email and found it interesting that the chat window alerted me to the fact that the customer service team may respond slowly as they juggle several chats at once. Surprisingly, it only took about a minute for each chat inquiry to be received in the queue, which was surprisingly fast given the number of questions they must have had to answer.

From a chat at 7:38am EST on December 27thChat Service
 

My test of Bluehost's ticket submission system returned equally satisfactory service. A small note at the bottom of the ticket submission page indicates that the response can take from 24-48 hours. Bluehost then presents you with a confirmation number after you submit the ticket, for your own records. When I called to check on the status of my tickets, the phone representative, graciously, forwarded me the responses to confirm that my inquiries had been answered within 2 hours.

Ticket submission form Ticket Submission Form
Bluehost email response Bluehost Email Response
 

I was sufficiently impressed with the breadth of video tutorials available to accompany users through a range of tasks from using different FTP services to integrating your email with Gmail, iPhone and Blackberry applications. The load time was significantly faster than similar video tutorial systems I have used in the past.

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Summary

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Positive Features

  • User-friendly cPanel control panel
  • Excellent phone support
  • Instant site setup
  • Comprehensive list of features and add-ons
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