I’ve spent a lot of my time working with many different hosting companies. As many of you know I own and operate a Full Service Design and Marketing Firm (www.vinci-designs.com) and one of our core services is hosting. We host well over 200 websites. I started the business over ten years ago and during the past decade I’ve had many “ups” and many “downs” when it comes to hosting. It seems finding a good vendor for web services is an acquired skill. For whatever reason we are all suckers when first starting out and poor service providers have a knack for sniffing us out! With time you learn how to pick and choose wisely!
Currently I have hosting accounts with about six different companies all for various reasons or for the needs of my customers. However there are two that really stand out to me as great investments in your online presence. Those are Bluehost & Rackspace. Rackspace appeals to a more robust website configuration so I won’t go into that here. For your everyday website needs it really does not get much better for Bluehost when comparing price with ROI. With hosting at less than $5 per month that gives you virtually unlimited space, domains, websites, backups, you cannot ask for more.
I started using Bluehost primarily for my WordPress website customers because the speed of our WordPress sites drastically improved on Bluehost. Primarily the “time to connect.” For example on Rackspace the average WordPress website was taking 7-8 seconds and these sites were not huge or graphic heavy. We tried everything from caching plugins to optimizing images but nothing worked. On Rackspace once you had connected to the site and clicked around the site moved fast but the initial connection was super slow. That is a HUGE problem if you are concerned with Search Engine Rankings. Therefore we moved over to Bluehost and the majority of our sites are now connecting between 2 and 4 seconds max! Huge improvement.
The Honest Truth
I steered clear of Bluehost for a long time because of the low price honestly. I’m a believer that you pay for what you get. Is it the best hosting or 100% reliable? No, but no host is 100% reliable. I’ve seen them all crash on varying levels. Yet again, you must weight price versus value. If you are only paying $5 per month and you are looking for perfection than you have unrealistic expectations!
The truth about hosting, is it will crash. At some point your website will go down. Its NEVER a question of if but WHEN. So you need to find a host that minimizes these events and also has protocols in place on how they handle them. For example back around the beginning of April 2014 Bluehost crashed for more than 12 hours for some users. It was a big deal (right around the Heartbleed bug timeframe). However, Bluehost was continually updating customers on their site, Twitter, Facebook, and over chat. For me, I’m realistic with technology and do not expect perfection but when things go south and no one is keeping me in the loop it really infuriates me. So I felt they handled the situation professionally and did their best to accommodate affected users.
While I am recommending Bluehost for the average website, this post is also meant to give it to straight without marketing fluff. So you need to understand what you are getting for $5 bucks too. Shared hosting, is not an ideal environment for hosting. Yes its cheap but there are inherent problems and obviously the major one is you are SHARING the server with 100s of other websites. Any number of things can happen on any of those websites and it could in turn affect your website. Here are just a few examples and this of course is rare, but it can happen. I’d also like to mention these problems occur on just about any Shared Host, so these are not Bluehost specific!
- If one website is infected with a virus, the virus could then spread to every other website stored on that server, causing anything from database breaches to site crashes to complete loss of data and more
- A website on your shared server could send out thousands of spam messages and cause the IP address for that website to be banned by certain ISPs (Internet Service Providers such as Comcast, Cox, Media Comm, Sudden Link, etc). Since this is Shared Hosting if this websites IP gets banned that means YOUR IP is banned as well. So any of your followers, subscribers, etc who gets their internet through the ISP’s who banned the IP would not be receiving your email messages. You could lose entire groups of email newsletter subscribers or worse!
So the concept, “one bad apple can spoil the bunch” definitely applies here. Any Shared Host that Shares IP addresses between accounts will have this problem so if you shop around and want to avoid this, ask about Dedicated Hosting or Dedicated IPs. And lucky for you Bluehost does offer both of these as well. It is a bit more expensive but you will gain peace of mind knowing the actions of other websites will not affect your own online presence.Level Up to VPS Hosting | Level Up to Dedicated Hosting
Here are some of the features of Bluehost. I pulled these right from their site but they are the key points worth mentioning. Not every one of these is included in the Basic Plan but this is their core list of features. I suggest you check out the basic plan first and if you need more, you can always add on for minimal cost. I will indicate which features are Basic (included in the $5 plan), Advanced, or Optimal.
- Domains – Our domain manager makes it easy to track, update, transfer, purchase, and administer all of your domains in one place. Every account supports unlimited add-on and parked domains, subdomains, and even domestic and international domains.
- Email – Create and manage unlimited email accounts. Advanced features include forwarding rules and account filters, Secure POP3 and IMAP support, third-party client compatibility, spam protection, and even unique user account controls.
- Backups – We automatically create daily, weekly, and monthly backups of your entire account. Easily restore your complete data with the click of a mouse, or use our optional PRO backup service to restore specific files and databases.
- Resource Protection – Our technology identifies 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. Our custom technology makes it easy to upgrade your account to VPS or dedicated servers in just a click.
- Enhanced cPanel – Built on cPanel, we designed an enhanced interface with additional tools that make it easier to manage your websites, domains, emails, files, and more, all from one central location.
- Multi-server Management – Need more than one account? Add shared, VPS, or even dedicated services to your account with ease. Simply log in once and effortlessly manage all of your hosting services in one place.
- Access Control – Create unique passwords restricting access to different areas of your account. Generate one for billing and ownership information, one for cPanel and server access, and of course a master password for the entire account.
- Content Delivery Network – CloudFlare is built directly into your account. An advanced content delivery network, it automatically increases the performance of your site. Enable CloudFlare instantly on any of your websites for free without any coding changes
- Advanced Capabilities – Use advanced capabilities like Secure Shell (SSH) access, server-side includes, log file access and web-based managers for files, databases and email. Customize your own .htaccess files, cron jobs and php.ini files.
- Unique IPs – Enable advanced control of ports and further protect your account by securing an IP address assigned to your websites only.
- SSL Certificates – Encrypt the connection between your server and visitors to safeguard personal information, e-commerce transactions, sensitive data, and more.
- Domain Privacy – Prevent identity theft, spam and phishing attacks by masking the personal information associated with your domain name.
- Sitelock – Defend your websites against attacks and malware by detecting and fixing vulnerabilities and threats before they cause problems.
- Site Backup Pro – Enables advanced access to your account backups for increased flexibility to recover specific files, folders, databases, and tables.
- Spam Protection – Powered by Google, Postini filters out harmful and unwanted content before it reaches your inbox, isolating quarantined messages for you to review.