Ron Recommends: Bluehost for Web Hosting

Cheap. Fast. Good support.

Those three things are what you should be looking for in a web host.  Those three things are also why I’ve been using Bluehost for my websites for over a year now. Scroll on down for details.
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1. Bluehost is cheap.

Did you know that free web hosting exists? I’m really frugal, so when I first started doing websites, I searched high and low for free web hosting. The problem with that was that the web host puts ads on your site and their servers are unreliable. I decided that neither were acceptable. The next best thing of course, was cheap, shared hosting.

Shared hosting basically means that a single server houses many, many websites and it comes at about $3-$6/month. Each account holder is given a space on that server. It’s the cheapest option because it’s also the slowest option. However, if your site does not have a lot of rich media and/or a lot of traffic (let’s say, 0-200 visits a day), shared hosting is actually cost effective. Furthermore, even on a shared plan, you still have full access to support, a fully-functional control panel, unlimited (sometimes) storage space, unlimited (sometimes) bandwidth, 99% guaranteed up-time, web traffic reports, and other goodies.

Notice that I did not mention how Bluehost stands out for being cheap. This is because there is a large market for cheap, shared webhosting. Fatcow, GoDaddy, inMotion, Host Gator, 1&1 are just a few of hundreds of companies that offer webhosting in the $3-$6/month range. I actually started out at $3.15/month with Fatcow (with a 2 years prepaid). However, I ended up opening an account on Bluehost only 4 months later. Why’d I do that? Fatcow turned out to be slow.

 

2. Bluehost is fast.

When I first started shopping for web hosting, I had no idea which company was good. I tried to Google search “webhost reviews,” but all I got were hundreds of links to affiliate reviews. Even in the legitimate review sites, there was very little agreement among them as to web host ratings – one site’s best web hosting list would look completely different from the next site. So which one did I choose in the end? The one with a funny cartoon mascot, of course:

I love a website that can make me laugh.
I love a website that can make me laugh.

Here was my reasoning: a company that spends a lot of time branding and designing their website probably spends a lot of time developing and supporting their product. And in the beginning, I was right – Fatcow gave me a wide array of options in my control panel, my support tickets were responded to in about 3 hours, and my website was loading in about 1.5 seconds. Life was good… until I started using databases.

All WordPress websites, sites with registration & memberships, and most online stores are attached to databases. Database data is stored separately from website files and images and when you load a webpage, you have to wait for the data to be pulled from the database, which means a slower load time. Remember my load time was 1.5 seconds? That was for a non-database website. For a site I used with a database attached, my load time jumped to 16 seconds on average, with a high of 48 seconds! I thought it was a server slowdown, but after talking with Fatcow support, the truth is that they have crammed too much into their shared databases, resulting in ridiculously slow, average load times.

Fact: WordPress officially recommends Bluehost for webhosting (proof). The two companies have a business relationship, meaning that Bluehost probably pays WordPress for their recommendation. At the same time however, Bluehost has to make sure that they provide good hosting and decent load times for WordPress/database sites, otherwise they’ll easily ruin their reputation. That’s just an assumption though, which might not mean much to you, so let me give you actual proof: a snapshot of a speed test for this site (a WordPress/database site), provided by Pingdom:

bluehost-rons-blog-load-time-new-york
Loading test by a computer out in New York (without cache plugin). Loading test provided by Pingdom.
bluehost-rons-blog-load-time-texas
Loading test by a computer out in Texas (with cache plugin). Loading test provided by Pingdom.

3-5 seconds to load a page is not as good as the 1-2 second load times you’ll see on big sites like CNN or Yahoo!, but it’s fair, considering that I pay less than $5/month for hosting of this site (Ron’s Blog), as well as 4 other sites.

 

3. Bluehost has good support.

I’m a web designer, but I’m not a web server expert. In fact, I actually hate learning and reading about server “stuff.” When I or a client of mine has a problem with loading or needs to do other server “stuff,” I’m not interested in learning about the solution , all I want is to have instructions from Bluehost. I just click on “support,” fill out a form with a question, and then somebody from Bluehost will email me back, usually within 12 hours with the solution.

Here’s an actual response that I got once, when I asked about transferring domains:

From: Bluehost Helpdesk “support@bluehost.com”
Date: 12/20/12
Reply: to me

Hello,

To transfer the registration of the domain to BlueHost:

1) Contact the current registrar to Unlock the domain and retrieve the EPP/Authorization. Ensure that all contact information is correct on the domain and that Domain Privacy is disabled.
2) Change the nameservers to point to NS1.BLUEHOST.COM and NS2.BLUEHOST.COM (if you plan to host with us).
3) Log into your Bluehost account and select the Transfer Domain tool.
4) Enter the domain name and follow all four steps.
5) Respond appropriately to all emails sent from your current registrar and BlueHost.
6) Once initiated, the transfer request will take 3 to 7 seven days to complete.

I also recommend reviewing our video tutorial to ensure that no steps are missed:

http://tutorials.bluehost.com/transfer
How did we do? Please help us to improve the support that we offer you
by filling out this online survey:
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/5PPBQR6

Pretty good huh? He made a list and even sent a link to a video. Bluehost actually has a support forum for FAQs and most problems… but I don’t care to read it! I just fill out a support ticket for any problem I have and wait for my detailed answer in the mail.

To be honest, fast support should be expected from all web hosts (Fatcow, for example, despite their slow database loading, had an average response time of about 2 hours!). If you find that a web host takes more than a day to respond, that means that they’re understaffed.

 

Other considerations

There’s actually a lot of other things to consider when choosing a web host. Things like security vulnerabilities, ability to upgrade web hosting (dedicated servers, VPS), and secondary services like SSL certificates and backup services come to mind. But for me, right now, I just need something cheap, fast, with good support. Bluehost provides all of that and so I’m happy with them.

Are there other web hosts out there that provide the same service for cheaper? There might be. Do I want to look for that perfect web host? Heck no! I’m happy with Bluehost, so there’s no reason to spend any more time than I have already researching web hosts.

 

Disclosure

I personally use Bluehost web hosting and links I provide to their site in this review are affiliate links. I do receive a commission when people click on those links and sign up for web hosting with Bluehost. Money corrupts people and sways opinion, but all statements in this review are truthful. I endorse Bluehost because I use it and it’s pretty damn good.

6 comments on “Ron Recommends: Bluehost for Web Hosting

  1. I never fail to find things such as this a little complicated, but what you’ve put together there is quite clear. Thanks for that .

  2. Hello Ron, I really like your designs! 🙂
    As to the topic, I’ve had a bit of experience with Bluehost, and although their prices were appealing, the service was below par. My company used to offer web design services, and many of my client’s had problems with them, specifically due to speed (related to poor server performance). Since then, both me and my clients have migrated to HostGator, and are very pleased with the transition. It makes more sense to spend a little more to receive the service you intended to on the first place. Aloha!

    1. Rodrigo,

      One thing I’ve learned is that all shared servers are different. I complained about my Fatcow account here, but I just worked with another client’s Fatcow account about 3 weeks ago, and that one was just fine.

      As for HostGator, I’m glad to hear your personal recommendation for it. I wanted to pick it up back before I started using Bluehost, but a member of a web design community I’m a part of told me that he was disappointed at their security, as they did not have any built-in protection against suspiciously high traffic from a single IP that was trying to hack a website. He had to manually block the IP.

      Thanks for stopping by. Hope to visit your business if I ever have computer problems in the future. You wouldn’t happen to specialize in replacing/soldering capacitors on iMac G5s would you?

      -RON

  3. Bluehost is okay… I’ve had better… but for the price range, Bluehost beats a lot of other shared hosting.

    1. Yeah, of course! If I shelled out $30/month, I’d have great webhosting speed. However, that would only happen on the basis of need, and regular, shared hosting is plenty good.

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