The Truth About BlueHost

BlueHost Hosting Facts, Host Profile & Hosting Reviews

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Our Review - BlueHost

By Mark Shroyer

If you've ever intensely looked for Web hosts you've probably already seen two of them: BlueHost and HostMonster. (They are everywhere!) What many people don't realize is they're the same company.

What is so unique about BlueHost is they keep it simple. They offer one package for shared web hosting at a very low price. ($8/month!) They include many unlimited features; domains, disk space, bandwidth, email accounts - all unlimited!

Another thing I like is BlueHost includes several site builders and offer a toll free phone number to reach technical support. It is always good to have these two features, especially for newbie webmasters.

The average amount of accounts they put on a server is 500-1400. But it is possible to share a server with a few thousand other static Web sites. But before you freak out that BlueHost overloads their servers keep in mind most static web pages take up very little space. BlueHost uses a formula to ensure the server you share isn't overfilled.

The best part is this. Unlike most web hosts, with BlueHost you can cancel your account at anytime and they will not penalize you. In fact, they will give you a pro-rated refund of the unused portion of your hosting agreement.

Though BlueHost offers a lot of unlimited features the truth is they do have a few limitations that could impact you; depending on your web site.

One limitation Blue Host has is they limit database connections to 20. If you don't use databases (i.e., MySql) then it is not an issue. If you do, then it could become one.

Another limitation they have in place is their inode limit of 200K files/items per account. Granted, this is more than most web site's will ever need. However, if you use 2.0 blogs or forums then a day could come where 200K isn't enough and you'd be forced to either delete excess files, open another BlueHost account, or move to another host.

Another thing to understand is their policy on using 7% of a 16 core cpu. OK. This IS a lot of power. Again, the average web site will probably not have any issues. But if you use a script that quickly uses up resources (like busy 2.0 blogs or forums) then it is just a matter of time before you do run into problems.

Here is where BlueHost is different than most web hosts...

Most web hosts will automatically suspend your account or force you to upgrade if you exceed their limits. BlueHost, however, rarely shuts a Web site down for exceeding their limits.

Instead, they throttle (slow down) your web site speed until the problem is fixed. In fact, your site is automatically throttled any time you exceed the 7% cpu limit or have more than 200,000 files on your web site, whichever comes first. (i.e., a web page, an image, an email, etc. each counts as one file/inode.)

In other words, instead of redirecting all your traffic to an "account suspended" page (like most hosts do) your web pages just load slower. Of course, nobody wants their web site to be slow. But wouldn't you agree that slower is better than not accessible at all?

Another uncommon thing for shared hosting is that BlueHost does allow full shell access. It is a pain to acquire since they force you to send your personal information first. (i.e. driver's license, passport, etc.) But this is a GOOD thing because there are security risks with full shell access. It only makes sense for BlueHost to KNOW who is using shell access.

There are a couple things I wasn't too thrilled about with Blue Host at first.

Initially when I heard you could only send out 150 emails per hour I wasn't impressed. But then I found out all you had to do is ask and they will increase the limit up to 750 emails per hour (18,000/day). That is better. In fact, this 18,000 emails per day is a doable number for budding email marketers.

The other problem is the fact BlueHost only offers shared hosting. Now, this is fine for most web site owners and may never be an issue. But the reality is this. Once you have a high traffic web site or you are continuously exceeding their CPU limits that means you have outgrown their shared web hosting. The best way to look at hosting is to be sure you have a plan in place for upgrading. (i.e., VPS or Dedicated Server.)

Since Blue Host only offers shared hosting this means there could come a day you are forced to move to another Web host. In fact, if your account grows too large the quick solution BlueHost recommends is purchasing a second hosting account and moving some of your domains and files over there. That way you have more hosting resources. Now, if you are just starting then it is nothing to worry about. Just keep it in mind as your web site grows.

OK. I know some will balk when they find out you must pay upfront for a year. ($8/month X 12 months = $95/year altogether.) But again, unlike most places, with BlueHost you can cancel your account anytime and you'll get a pro-rated refund of any unused portion of your hosting agreement. So you won't lose money if you leave!

With all that said I think you'll see BlueHost as a great place for those just starting out with a personal web site or small business web site and who have small to medium traffic. However, it may not be so good for critical ebusiness sites, growing sites that will potentially have thousands of pages and traffic, busy blogs or forums, or interactive social sites where limits could be rapidly reached.

The reasons why I like BlueHost so much is because, not only have they been in business since 1996 (which tells you something) but they have an A rating with the BBB. To avoid confusion they offer just one package at a rock bottom monthly price and they keep things EXTREMELY simple. At 750/hour for sending emails you can market by email, and they rarely suspend accounts for exceeding their limits (unless it clearly abused their policy); nor are you forced to upgrade to the next higher priced package.

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