- 24/7 support
- Unlimited hosting resources
- Money-back guarantee
- A little more expensive than some web hosts
If you’re serious about blogging, making money, and realizing your dream of living the laptop-life, a self-hosted WordPress.org blog is what you need, and for that, you need a web host. There are many web hosting services out there that offer shared hosting and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. In this detailed Bluehost review, I’ll discuss how Bluehost offers one of the strongest shared web hosting services for WordPress users.
Quality Shared Hosting for WordPress Bloggers: Bluehost Review
How Much Does Bluehost Cost?
Bluehost has three shared hosting packages:
- Basic: $3.45 per month, for those who only want to host one website.
- Plus: $4.95 per month, for those who want to host multiple websites.
- Prime: $6.95 per month, for those who want to host multiple websites with pro backups and domain security.
- Pro: $13.95 per month, for business users who want the added security of SSL and a dedicated IP.
If you are a business user requiring SSL and a dedicated IP, then go with the pro package. The cheaper basic package may seem appealing but take it from me, if you opt for that package you’ll soon be upgrading to plus.
What Do You Get With Bluehost?
Whichever package you choose, you get one free domain included in the price saving you around $10. With the plus package, you also get unlimited websites, unmetered website space, and unmetered bandwidth. Be aware that these ‘unlimited’ resources are subject to fair usage policies, but the limits are so high that on a practical level they are as good as unlimited.
How Does Bluehost Work?
Simply sign up for an account (learn how in the post, Registering for a Bluehost Web Hosting Account), install WordPress on your domain (learn how in the post, How to Install WordPress on Your Domain) and you’re good to go. You can go from no blog to blog in ten minutes, it’s that simple.
Once you’ve got your site up and running, you can control various aspects of your hosting through your cPanel (a Linux-based web hosting control panel that provides a graphical interface and automation tools designed to simplify the process of hosting a website). This is quite simple to use but does require a bit of tech know-how for some of the advanced features. You can also use the cPanel to set up and manage your email accounts, FTP, domains, and files. Everything is at your fingertips with cPanel.
The slideshow below will give you a guided tour of your Bluehost cPanel:
- With cPanel selected in the top menu, this is what you see. You manage all aspects of your web hosting from here.
- Hosting services: A summary of your plan. You can upgrade your plan here.
- Website: You can install WordPress on your domain here.
- Email: Create and manage your email accounts in the Email Manager.
- Domains: Manage your domains and buy new ones in the Domain Manager.
- Files: Backup your database and files with Site Backup Pro. Setup your FTP access with FTP Manager.
- Statistics: There are better ways of analyzing your visitors than those provided here, but your bandwidth usage is useful to know. Error Logs are important for diagnosing errors.
- Upgrades: You can buy and register new domains here. The rest are paid services.
- Professional services: More paid services.
- Promotional: More paid stuff.
- Security: If you want to password protect your website (not good for monetization!) you can do so here. You can block IPs (known hackers, for example) in the IP Deny Manager.
- Database tools: phpMyAdmin is a useful tool for administering your databases, but don’t mess with it unless you know what you are doing.
- Programming: Script Center has some useful (?) scripts (such as a clock) you can add to your site.
- Advanced: For advanced users only. 99.99% of bloggers will not need to use these advanced settings.
- Partners: Links to Bluehost partners.
- Preferences: Some useful resources here. You can also change your password, auto-renewal, and billing information. It’s important to keep this information up to date.
Bluehost Review Criteria
Bluehost comes with all the features you would expect from a web host and more. There is an excellent backup feature (don’t see this as an excuse not to set up your own backups!) which automatically creates daily, weekly, and monthly backups.
Here’s a list of just some of the features as described on the Bluehost website:
- 24/7 Support: Trained, in-house experts are there to help 24/7. Their robust help center includes guides, video tutorials and more.
- Money-back Guarantee: Try them and love them, or get a refund anytime. You’re never locked into a contract and there are no hidden fees or gimmicks.
- Over $150 in Offers: Leverage advertising offers from Google, Bing, and other leading sites to help grow your business – all included.
- Domains: Domain manager makes it easy to track, update, transfer, purchase, and administer all of your domains in one place.
- Email: Create and manage unlimited email accounts.
- Backups: Automatic daily, weekly, and monthly backups of your entire account. Easily restore your complete data with the click of a mouse.
- Resource Protection: Identify websites using excessive resources and temporarily re-assigns them to isolated systems. This defends your website performance and mitigates the risk normally associated with shared servers.
- Scalability: Start with what you need and move to more powerful options as your website grows.
- Enhanced cPanel: Built on cPanel, they designed an enhanced interface with additional tools that make it easier to manage.
- WordPress Made Easy: #1 recommended web hosting by WordPress.org. Every account features 1-click WordPress installation.
Bluehost offers a one-click install of WordPress that makes getting your blog up and running embarrassingly easy. Once you’ve signed up for an account (learn how in the post, Registering for a Bluehost Web Hosting Account), you simply go to your cPanel, scroll down to the installs window and install WordPress. It couldn’t be simpler. For a full walkthrough of, see the post, How to Install WordPress on Your Domain.
Setting up your email accounts and FTP access is a little more complicated, but still possible for beginners. I’ll post walkthroughs for setting up email and FTP accounts shortly.
Ease of Use
As with many web hosts, Bluehost uses cPanel, which is probably the most intuitive and easy to use control panel you will find today. Even with no tech know-how, you should find it simple to manage your installs, domains, set up your email address and FTP access, and backup your database and files. For more tech savvy users, there is the option to edit your database with phpMyAdmin and other advanced options.
The Bluehost servers are optimized for WordPress use, so on a day-to-day basis, you shouldn’t require any support. If the day comes when you do need some expert advice, Bluehost has 24/7 support available via email, phone or live chat (my preference, as I like to have everything on screen in front of me, and you can save the conversation for future reference). For basic advice, you may be able to find an answer to your question on the substantial Bluehost knowledge base. I have heard stories of long wait times for support, but in my experience, I have always found the support offered by Bluehost to be very prompt and clear.
Value For Money
At $4.95 per month for the plus package, there are certainly cheaper alternatives out there. However, with Bluehost you are getting a quality product optimized for WordPress users like you, a great range of features, unlimited usage, and a good support system. If you are a serious blogger, that is much more important than saving a few dollars by opting for a lesser, budget web hosting service.