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If you’re a website-builder, an e-commerce entrepreneur or a serious blogger, you obviously need web hosting or you can’t do your thing! Web hosting is an internet-based service wherein certain companies or web hosts provide you with all the tools and technology needed for you to make your site accessible to an audience on the World Wide Web. You know, kind of like Harper-Collins and other publishing houses, except that these guys are for your website or blog. Web hosts perform various tasks for you, such as publishing your site, performing backups, security checks and storing all your site data and files on their servers. Once you’ve got your web host, anybody from any corner of the world can look up your website or blog!
Of course, the different features you get from your web host depends entirely on what type of hosting plan you choose. The storage, support, speed, reliability, as well as the technical expertise you require vary with the type of hosting you choose. Thus, there are different types of hosting that you’ll need to choose from, keeping your blogging requirements in mind. Some of the really common types that bloggers generally use are:
- Shared Hosting: This is the cheapest type of hosting option out there, where you’re renting server space and sharing it with multiple other sites. Simply put, many sites share one single server and all the resources of that server are shared by all these sites that are hosted on it. Such hosting also requires very little technical knowledge and experience from you, which is why it’s a great option for beginners.
- Cloud Hosting: Given that everyone from Apple to Google offers cloud storage, you’re probably already familiar with the concept of a virtual cloud! Cloud hosting is a type of hosting wherein you’re offered a network of servers (known as “the cloud”) to host your site. As opposed to shared hosting where many sites use one server, cloud hosting lets one site use many servers, making it a great option for already established businesses or large blogs and websites that experience high traffic and have a global reach.
- VPS Hosting: VPS or virtual private servers hosting is a type of hosting where there are physical servers housed in data centers that are divided into individual servers, resulting in them acting similar to dedicated servers (which we’ll get to in a minute!). A type of shared hosting, VPS allows for better control and server resources and is a great option if you don’t want to invest in your own dedicated server.
- Dedicated Server Hosting: These servers offer the most control and customizations for your site or blog. You have your own exclusive server, which means more access to its resources and greater performance of your site. Despite its high-price nature, dedicated servers are the best option for large sites that experience high traffic and need a lot of technical resources to run.
Additionally, if you’re someone who is a “true-blue” WordPress user, you also have the option of using managed WordPress hosting, which is a kind of web hosting that is designed and optimized especially for WordPress sites. A managed WordPress hosting service takes care of every aspect of your WordPress blog, from security checks to daily backups to storage to problem resolution.
Another question that all bloggers face and must answer wisely is whether to use a free hosting service or a paid one. Though it is obviously always tempting to go for the freebies rather than pay for something (come on, who doesn’t like free things?), serious bloggers and businesses should ideally choose paid hosting services for the following reasons:
- Better control of your site or page as there are fewer risky terms and conditions you have to worry about complying with.
- More customization options as you don’t have to worry about your website sharing branding with your free host, as well as more access to plugins and tools.
- Better safety, security and support.
Of course, all this isn’t to say that free blogs aren’t advantageous. They’re great for beginners as they’re easy-to-use and let you explore blogging without having to worry too much about mistakes and consequences. Sites like Tumblr also let you re-blog posts by other people. However, they fall short because of factors such as limited control, decrease in Google rankings, limited design and customization options, and just the fact that you don’t own it, which means your host can take down your site any day for any reason they deem okay, which is why we always recommend that serious blogs and websites should always use a paid host.
Finding a good host that suits your needs can be quite challenging, like trying to play favorites between Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg! Both directors promise great movies, but they don’t always deliver at the box-office, do they? (Look up “Silence” and the “The Lost World”, if you don’t believe us!). Well, the point is that web hosts are pretty much the same. They all offer great uptime, server speed and amazing overall performance, till you pay for it and later find out that it was a waste of your hard-earned dollars. Not only does this burn unnecessary holes in your pocket, it also impacts several aspects of your website or blog, such as its reach, its popularity, security and so on.
Luckily, WP Engine and Bluehost are both known leading web host service providers. WP Engine is an Austin-based web hosting company, founded in 2010, making it a relatively new player in the field. With a focus on WordPress hosting, WP Engine offers some of the best managed WordPress hosting, making the most popular content management system on the internet, with an impressive 18% of all websites on the World Wide Web, easy to host! Bluehost, on the other hand, is the older and more experienced player, having been founded 1996 and now owned by the Endurance International group. Hosting over 1 million domains on their system, Bluehost is recommended by WordPress themselves and boasts a user base of at least 2,000,000 bloggers.
Though both services are great in their own right, we compare them on several common factors that are important for web hosting, such as uptime, speed, pricing, customer support and features. So let’s move on to the comparison and find out who wins, shall we?
One of the most important factors that define how good a web hosting service is, is the consistency with which visitors can see your page every time they access your site. This is where “uptime” comes into play as this is the amount of time that a host’s servers are online or accessible. As a blogger, you’ll definitely need a host who gives you great uptime, as you’ll want visitors to be able to view your site every time they visit it. WP Engine has a great uptime percentage of 99.9%, due to various factors such as their daily backups, closely managed upgrade paths, staging area that lets clients try new themes and features without it affecting the live sites, unlimited storage and data transferability, and the use of “EverCache”, a highly powerful caching system that speeds up large-file displays, such as images with a big size.
Bluehost, on the other hand, though it claims to offer the same uptime as WP Engine, seems to only offer as much as 99.75% in its uptime percentage. This means that your website or page could be down by as much as 10 hours over 6 months, as opposed to 4.5 hours over 6 months with WP Engine. However, this seems to be a problem only with Bluehost’s shared hosting plans. The company’s VPS hosting plans seem to be on par with WP Engine, if not more efficient.
Speed is another important factor that affects your website or blog. Page speed is the amount of time taken for the contents of your page to completely load. A good page speed is necessary for two reasons. One, it affects your blog’s search engine ranking a.k.a. Google ranking. In 2010, Google reported that page speed is an important factor which influences how sites are ranked in its search engine, and needless to say, many major search engines in the US quickly followed suit. Google’s research on the matter showed that slower speed negatively affected revenue and customer satisfaction. Therefore, for better SEO implications, a good page speed is necessary. Second, let’s face it – a long waiting time in terms of page speed is a huge turn off! No one really has the patience to wait for the site to load, especially if you’re a first-time visitor. Chances are, you’ll never visit the site again due to the slow speed (first impressions, and all that!). Therefore, page speed is important!
WP Engine offers great speed but only when it comes to WordPress sites, due to their focus on optimizing their servers for WordPress. Bluehost, on the other hand, has a more open approach, in the sense that it isn’t specifically optimized for any content, which means a consistent speed for all blogs, and in some cases, faster than WP Engine with their VPS hosting.
Currently, Bluehost offers 3 shared web hosting plans, starting at $7.99 per month for the Basic plan, $10.99 per month for the Plus plan, and $14.99 per month for the Prime plan. What’s great is that you can get these plans for even lower prices due to the discounts the company is usually giving out on its plans. Additionally, you can even save more than $100 by choosing and paying for the 3-year plan, instead of paying on a monthly basis. However, the company’s VPS hosting is much more expensive, starting at $30 per month, and the dedicated hosting plan can cost you $150 per month.
WP Engine offers 5 different hosting plans, starting from $29 per month for the Personal plan, $99 per month for the Professional plan, $249 per month for the Business plan, as well as two customizable plans that are best suited for large sites and blogs with high traffic: the Premium plan and Enterprise-Grade plan.
What we totally dig about WP Engine’s plans is that it offers the option of customization, which seems to be lacking with Bluehost. However, it is evident that Bluehost is the cheaper option and it’s totally great that none of its quality, standards and features are compromised despite its price!
Bluehost offers pretty impressive customer support, with over 700 people employed to answer your queries through telephone, online chat, email, a ticketing system, forums, FAQs and Knowledgebase, video tutorials and even Twitter! With a dedicated 24/7 customer service that is responsive, effective, well-trained and knowledgeable, it is no surprise that the company boasts of such great customer satisfaction!
WP Engine, on the other hand, also has testimonies to its great customer service, especially from its high-profile clients. The company takes it a step further by employing WordPress experts in its customer service department to answer customers’ queries.
Bluehost is a more of a complete provider of hosting solutions. It uses cPanel for its backend technology, which is an industry standard. However, its cPanel has almost every feature that you will ever require to manage your page or blog and is one of the biggest selling points of the company. Easy-to-use, it is one of the most popular cPanels out there. Bluehost even takes it a step further by giving you an online demo of its cPanel, and gives you great features like the CPU throttling feature, email hosting, and a great content delivery network (CDN). However, Bluehost only offers a 30-days money back guarantee, unlike WP Engine.
Ultimately, both web hosts are great, and we’re of the opinion that you can’t really crown a victor here. Before you raise your eyebrows at that, let us tell you it’s only because both web hosts satisfy completely different target audiences. WP Engine is your go-to option for speed and some of the best-managed WordPress hosting the internet has seen; however, it’s pretty pricey and is, therefore, a great option for established blogs or sites that experience high traffic and not for beginners. Bluehost, on the other hand, is relatively inexpensive, but lacking in certain areas. It isn’t a forever host, in the sense that it will likely upgrade elsewhere in a year or two. However, it’s the best option for beginners due to its great customer service and phone support, which boasts an impressive average wait time of only 5 seconds!
Thus, instead of feeding you with the answer, we’re going to summarize the pros and cons of both web hosts and let you make the decision yourself:
- Brand name and industry experience
- Great pricing
- Excellent customer service, especially phone support
- Reliable security
- Pretty great WordPress management
- Plenty of add-on features and options
- Perfect for beginners
- Linux-based, which makes it slow for Windows
- Relatively slow speed and uptime
- Site migrations are expensive
- Not a forever host (mentioned earlier)
- Great speed and performance
- Reliable security
- Great customer support
- Great hosting features
- WordPress optimized
- More features on offer
- Not ideal for beginners
- Can initially be complicated to use
Therefore, as the last word, if you’re looking for non-WordPress hosting, Bluehost is a better option and vice-versa. They host all types of sites and have a great reputation that is completely justified. It is affordable, easy-to-use, great for beginners and highly user-friendly. Its cPanel is one of the best in the industry!
If you want a fast host, WP Engine is for you, especially for WordPress hosting. If you don’t mind shelling out the extra dollars, WP Engine is a great choice! But beware of overage charges, as they could end up costing you quite a bit without you being aware of it!
Well, we guess there’s only one thing left to say. Good luck and may the host be with you!