24/7 U.S. Phone Support, No Overseas Outsourcing
I was excited to write a review about BlueHost, mainly because I’ve heard a lot of good things about them. With so many web hosts, and so few (good and honest) reviews, it’s really hard to tell who’s good and who isn’t.
From looking at the BlueHost.com web site, the company appears to be a serious and professional web host. A visually appealing web site, clearly posted contact information, lots of awards (from legitimate places), and grammatically correct text on site, all help make BlueHost seem like a formidable web host. A great feature (that seems to be awfully rare) is that BlueHost provides a demo of their control panel (a very slightly customized cPanel using the X skin) that actually works and isn’t impossible to find. It’s a great feature that allows you to review how cPanel works if you aren’t familiar with it.
BlueHost Features and Pricing
The features BlueHost provides seem pretty standard (nothing lacking) with all of the expected features of a web host such as cPanel, multiple database support, FTP, email, etc. BlueHost’s one (the only one I could find, at least) package features unlimited diskspace, and unlimited bandwidth. There’s a limited number of databases (100 each for MySQL and Postgre) and more FTP and email accounts than you could ever use (1,000 and 2500, respectively). Unlimited numbers of addon domains, parked domains, and subdomains are given.
Three and six month contracts are no longer offered. Pricing is now the same no matter how long you sign up for:
- 12 Months: $6.95/month (no setup fee, free domain included)
- 24 Months: $6.95/month (no setup fee, free domain included)
- 36 Months: $6.95/month (no setup fee, free domain included)
I have never been a big fan of a minimum of three months contract, and I had to click around (to the second step in their order process, actually) just to find out the price. Ignoring the minimum contract length, pricing is quite competitive.
Terms of Service
BlueHost has a very unique Terms of Service – there’s no legal jargon at all. It’s just some bullet points on a page with the major points included in most Terms of Service agreements. The shady point is “All activities may be monitored, recorded, and examined by any authorized person, including law enforcement.” with a semi-shady “Any violation found or fraudulent activity that system personnel deem inappropriate may have your account immediately terminated without notice and any recorded evidence reported to authorized persons.” However, in fairness to BlueHost, the points are quite clear, and not hidden within a 10 page agreement.
cPanel Control Panel
Two clicks later, I was into my control panel. If you know about cPanel, you can probably skip this paragraph. It’s all very standard. You have the same SQL, subdomain, email, etc. features as every other cPanel. There’s a few nice addons such as a domain manager, a sitebuilder, and some options to manage your account (basically, it just logs you into their billing system, but still convenient). BlueHost has Fantastico, which from what I saw, was up-to-date with the latest stable versions of all of the scripts. The cPanel went very fast and did everything it was supposed to do.
Like a lot of cPanel hosts, BlueHost supports addon domains. I set up a few addon domains, and everything worked well, and without any problems. BlueHost doesn’t allow SSH/Shell Access by default, but says it will enable shell access for your account if you fax a copy of your driver’s license, passport, etc. to them. I installed some basic scripts (a blog, a CMS, a forum) without any problems. Speed was about average, and BlueHost seems to keep up in terms of software updates and the like.
I called their support department using their toll-free number. I was talking to someone within about 30 seconds after dialing. I asked some basic questions: Do you support mod_rewrite (Yes), do you support mod_security (didn’t know, but checked), and do you keep your Fantastico up-to-date with the latest versions (Yes)? Support was nice enough, and keep to know what they were talking about. The representative obviously wasn’t reading from a prompt (no delay with answers).
I decided to test the BlueHost support out with some more complicated issues that an average webmaster may run across. I was caller #2, and had to wait about a minute or two. I spoke to a different representative (meaning they have more than one tech on duty, always nice) and asked does BlueHost support PHP5 (they have two servers that do, and can move your account if needed), if they support Ruby on Rails (nope), and if I should use ‘localhost’ as my host name with the script I was trying to install (Yes). I reworded the questions slightly and sent them to BlueHost support via email at 4:50 PM on a Monday. By 5:17 PM, I had a helpful response.
All and all, BlueHost seems like a good web host. The company certainly has their act together and by all means can be labelled as a top quality web host with great features and support. Read another BlueHost Review.