Bluehost review – four years later

Bluehost

This review was originally written after a year hosting with Bluehost, but it has been updated now that I’ve been with Bluehost now for more than four years. My first website, UndergroundPolitics.com, was registered and set up in the first week of August, 2007. I still host a bunch of websites on that account, and I’ve even joined up with the Bluehost affiliate program that more than offsets my hosting fees.

Before that, my the only website I had created was actually a hand-coded HTML file hosted in a directory of my local BBS.  Yeah, if you know what a BBS is you know I’m talking about like fifteen or twenty years ago.

So, a lot has changed in the internet since then and my hosting experience with Bluehost kind of confirms and exemplifies the evolution of building websites.

Bluehost reliability review:

Bluehost uptime is higher than 99.5% even on the most skeptical of calculations. I haven’t signed up for any services to monitor my uptime, but in the years I’ve been using Bluhost hosting I can say the only time I’ve ever seen the sites down for scheduled or unscheduled maintenance were once at about 3 AM for a fifteen minute planned down-time.

Bluehost capacity and burst-traffic review:

Maybe your shared site only gets a few hundred hits a day. Any shared hosting server can handle that. But this is the internet in the era of 2.0 – what happens when your article “goes viral” and its link is at the top of every page looking for the latest internet meme?

While highly sought after, this social traffic burst can be a burden to shared web hosts – and it can be an early end to what might otherwise be an internet hit.

So how does Bluehost compare? I’ll share my experiences:

Beginners luck: I submitted a story about forum drama related to the presidential elections. A few hours later I noticed my traffic was up… and suddenly my site was down. Wow! Process timeouts! Wait – there was one particular add-on that was clogging up the process requests – so I disabled it and within two more minutes the site was back up! More than 17,000 people viewed that dynamic, inefficient, non-cached Joomla page that day.

Obviously, Bluehost doesn’t have infinite resources backed into every shared server, but just by taking out the most poorly coded addon I was able to handle the front page Digg-effect “back in the day” when stories on the front page stayed up long enough to collect thousands of votes.

And since then, Bluehost had implemented CPU throttling that will allow even the busiest of sites to stay online despite the bursts of traffic that they may occasionally receive. This will slow your site’s load time down, but it is usually better than seeing an error page.  Eventually, the most popular websites will have to find a VPS or dedicated server – hosting options that Bluehost doesn’t currently offer.

Know your audience: My second and third social media submission successes were on the same political site – and they were largely successful because I knew who I was writing for and what types of news they wanted to hear. Seriously, hang out on these social sites and participate – you’ll figure out what they want to read!

Anyway, with the old mod replaced by a new one, my second and third trips to the front page of social bookmarking sites went flawlessly. Even with about 10,000 visitors in each of the two days, pages would load quickly and there was never a delay. Now that my sites are moderately efficient, I won’t be worrying about too much traffic.

Bluehost software and usability review:

These software installations are a god-send for a website building newbie like me. I knew what .html was but I didn’t know the difference between PHP and CSS until some time after I was running websites that utilized them. Although the original installation and configuration is mostly automatic, Bluehost’s FTP allows you to go in afterward and make any modifications you can imagine. I’m definitely a “hands-on” learner so this has been perfect for me.

Bluehost Limitations and Weaknesses

Who shouldn’t use Bluehost? The most obvious answer is anyone who wants to build an adult-oriented websites. They’re pretty specific about the types of content they allow, and they don’t want to get in to the porn business directly or indirectly. Be sure to review the terms for acceptable use policies, because you don’t want to build up a restricted websites then wonder why you’re suddenly offline! Other than that and the problems you can reach with higher traffic websites, Bluehost is a great place to get started with hosting.

Conclusion –

I recommend it because I use it – and it works. I’ve built up websites with moderate levels of steady traffic and occasional bursts past fifteen thousand daily visits.

Heck, this site is hosted on Bluehost. Look around, load a couple of pages. You’ll see why I’m a fan for yourself. Then just face facts and sign up for Bluehost yourself. You probably won’t find a better host for less money, and if such a thing does exist I’ve never heard of it.

2nd, 3rd, and 4th-year Updates

As I add this update, it has been more than four years hosting websites on Bluehost.  The sites have grown considerably in this time and there haven’t been any issues with speed or reliability.

I did have a problem with a vulnerability in one of my sites, but it was a completely self-inflicted issue.  When my account started sending out phishing related emails, Bluehost had no choice but to suspend it.  Luckily though, when I got back from my trip, they were able to help me out in regaining file access then thoroughly cleaning out and restoring my account. Even when they had no real obligation to help me or take the risk of more illegal spam emails, they did their best to get me back online as quickly and securely as possible.

So the fourth year of hosting is paid for, including a unique IP address, and I’ve never been happier with the service!

Bluehost affiliate program

Bluehost also pays you up to $65 for every new user you refer, so two commissions in a year will basically offset the entire annual hosting bill. They’ve always paid on time and promoting their product is as much of a pleasure as using it. No matter what hosting company you end up going with, I recommend taking advantage of their affiliate programs because you’ll have personal experience about their product and this will help you offer very specific reviews about the strengths and weaknesses you see.

13 Comments

  1. Is the free web builder that comes with package easy to use? I am a novice at building sites. I have also been looking at squarespace.
    Please comments…

  2. A WordPress site like this one only takes 5 or 10 minutes to set up on Bluehost using SimpleScripts, and that’s assuming you’ve never done it before.

    From there, you just need to fill out a web form not too different from a comment box to get your content on to a page. Free themes and templates are available so you can try out different visual styles just by downloading and uploading a new theme .zip file.

  3. @Scott:

    Personally I think the ‘Free Website Builder’ is now a redundant features that has little or no value to webmaster. I am hosting more than 10 websites (website, not blog!) using WordPress.

    A WP site is easy to setup, easy to maintain, and the huge user base had grew WP into an open source web apps with (almost) largest plugin library.

  4. Hey, its not that hard to find out where your errors are coming from with Bluehost!

    You can go to the error logs in the CPanel for general information about errors, or you can get more detail information from the “logs” directory in the root of your account’s files.

    These hosts make things so easy these days that even a newbie can figure out what seems like “technical” knowledge 🙂

  5. Hi John, thanks for the article. I am a bluehost newbie coming from modhost where my wordpress blog was straining their shared server set up with 2000-3000 impressions per day during the past week heavy with election chatter.

    I am concerned about cpu and bandwidth issues and sprung for the dedicated server option that seemed reasonable considering modhost wanted $90 per month. SO your article suggests I need not worry.

    Big problem though is getting 1640 posts and 1400 comments transferred. Struggling with that now driving my tech guy nuts. Any suggestions that will minimize downtime would be welcome.?

  6. 2000-3000 daily hits is definitely going to be tough for any shared host to handle, I think. While the $90 option of a dedicated host may be more than you need, there are also some highly rated VPS set ups closer to a $15-20 monthly range available from Dreamhost and Hostgator. Bluehost may be able to handle that kind of traffic for a while if its well optimized (think WP-Cache mods) but if there’s a lot of heavy user interaction cacheing won’t be so effective. While BH is a great shared host, you may just be moving past what shared hosting can handle!

    When I did manage to serve up 10k pageviews, the ‘offending’ mod was actually my comment system – I should probably clarify that fact now – I don’t want to give off the wrong impression. The more dynamic and interactive the site is, the more its going to need from the host at lower traffic. Forums, therefor, would not handle nearly as many visitors as a static HTML page or even a cached PHP page.

  7. Bluehost has been recently losing up in their market share of web hosting and I heard negative feedback.

    But it’s glad to learn that John here is having good experience with Bluehost and this is boosting my confidence in recommending Bluehost.Because you see, I myself use Bluehost and for me it is great but it is awkward for my situation when things go wrong outside (negative news).

    Thanks.

  8. I had BH for a number of years and was very happy. I ended up closing my account after all of my open web projects had shut down. I’m now looking at Dream host for a new project, and only because of their VPS availability or I would be back at BH.

    Thanks for the coupon post

  9. Yeah, Bluehost is indeed a very good provider. I think one thing you missed over here was the quality of support that they have on offer. The instant chat feature is a god send and their helpers are well trained and knowledgeable. Never had any issues with them even if I had one with their account due to some reason or the other.

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