Bluehost vs WordPress: which one comes out ahead?
In this Bluehost vs WordPress.com comparison, I’m going to put the 2 against each other. I’ll focus on their pricing, ease of use, performance, security, and support to highlight their similarities and, more importantly, their major differences.
Both Bluehost and WordPress are massive names in the industry. But, while they’re often lumped together, they’re poles apart in many regards. But why are they lumped together?
The confusion may come from the fact that there are 2 WordPress options – .com and .org. The hosted builder-like WordPress.com and the content management system (CMS). Bluehost is a highly popular hosting provider, that among other content management systems, also hosts WordPress.org sites. Meanwhile, WordPress.com is a popular website builder.
In any case, with their similarities and dissimilarities, I can quite safely say that you aren’t the first, or the last, to compare the pair.
So, to settle the question of Bluehost vs WordPress once and for all, I’m going to share how they fare after intense research, testing, and analysis. Let’s dive in and find out which is a better match for you.
Understanding Bluehost vs WordPress
To truly understand whether you need WordPress or Bluehost, you need to know one thing: you can use both to host a WordPress website, but Bluehost is a hosting provider while WordPress.com is an already hosted website builder. This is why you’ll see some distinct differences in terms of flexibility and scalability, amongst other things.
Allow me to explain:
- Bluehost is a provider that hosts a variety of content management systems (CMS), including WordPress.org.
- WordPress.com, on the other hand, is a website builder that hosts your WordPress site on its servers.
But, before we delve deeper into the details, here’s a quick overview of the two. Feel free to jump around as you explore the different aspects. Or, if you’re in a rush, just jump to the conclusion altogether.
|Price||From $2.95/mo||From $4.00/mo|
|Free domain||Free for a year||Free for a year|
|Customization||Significantly more flexible as you can build a website with WordPress.org, which allows plenty of customizations||Limited flexibility|
|Scalability||Offers various hosting plans such as VPS, Cloud, and more||Only shared hosting|
|CMS support||Allows installing various Content Management Systems||Only WordPress|
WordPress.org vs WordPress.com
Since the crux of it all is that you can use Bluehost to host a WordPress.org website, it’s important to know the differences between WordPress.org vs WordPress.com. Briefly, you can break them down into ease of use, customizations, and scalability.
|Type of product||A content management system||A website builder|
|Hosting||Needs web hosting services||Is hosted|
|Ease of use||Comes with a learning curve||Is very easy to use|
|Customization||Wide variety of customization options||Limited customization options|
|Scalability||Is easily scalable||No scalability options|
Bluehost vs WordPress pricing
In this Bluehost vs WordPress pricing comparison, it is pretty clear that Bluehost is the cheaper option. The provider’s prices for shared hosting range from just $2.95/mo to $13.95/mo. Meanwhile, WordPress.com paid plans start at $4/mo and go all the way up to $45/mo.
Let’s start with Bluehost, which offers 4 hosting packages:
|Basic plan ($2.95/mo)||Hosts 1 website and comes with 50GB storage, unmetered bandwidth, and 5 email accounts as well as free domain (for a year), CDN, and SSL certificate.|
|Plus plan ($5.45/mo)||Hosts unlimited websites and comes with unlimited bandwidth, storage, and email accounts, as well as a free domain for a year, CDN, SSL certificate, and Office 365 for 30 days.|
|Choice Plus plan ($5.45/mo)||Hosts unlimited websites and includes unlimited email accounts, bandwidth, and storage, as well as a free domain for a year, CDN, SSL certificate, Office 365 for 30 days, domain privacy, and automated backup for a year.|
|Pro plan ($13.95/mo)||Hosts unlimited websites and email accounts while offering unlimited storage and bandwidth, optimized CPU, as well as a free domain for a year, CDN, SSL certificate, Office 365 for 30 days, domain privacy, automated backup, and dedicated IP.|
As for WordPress, the website builder has 4 paid plans in addition to a single free one. Here are what the plans look like:
|Free||Comes with free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate, selected free themes, and 3GB storage. However, you only get WordPress.com’s subdomain, and the platform’s ads are visible.|
|Personal plan ($4.00/mo)||Includes 6GB storage, free SSL certificate, free domain for a year, unlimited email support, as well as allows connecting a custom domain, removing WordPress ads (but not footer branding), and receiving payments.|
|Premium plan ($8.00/mo)||Everything from Personal but with 13GB storage, basic live chat support, and access to most marketing and monetization tools.|
|Business plan ($25.00/mo)||An upgrade of Premium with 200GB storage, full range of marketing and monetization tools including SEO, as well as access to plugins, database access, and automated backup and one-click rewind. WordPress branding is completely removed.|
|eCommerce plan ($45.00/mo)||All that you get in Business plus one-to-one support sessions and advanced eCommerce features, including shipping integrations and premium customizable themes.|
Now that you know what you can find within Bluehost vs WordPress plans, let’s compare them. Since WordPress’ free plan isn’t much to speak of, I’ll instead stack Bluehost’s Basic against WordPress’ Personal plan.
Let’s start with storage. Bluehost's Basic hosting plan offers 50GB storage, while WordPress.com's Personal plan only includes 6GB of storage. Obviously, that’s a stark difference, and I did the math – Basic is providing more than eightfold Personal’s offering.
For those of you running online stores or websites that accept payment, you’d be glad to know that both platforms allow monetization. However, while Bluehost allows you to run an online store even on its cheapest plan, such functionality is reserved for the WordPress.com eCommerce plan only.
Speaking of money, both Bluehost’s Basic and WordPress’ Personal offer a free domain for the first year. But, for a new domain or renewal, Bluehost’s pricing starts from $12.99/mo while WordPress’ is more expensive with the starting price of $18.00/mo.
Security-wise, Bluehost’s Basic comes with only a free SSL certificate and Cloudflare integration, which helps with DDoS protection. Meanwhile, WordPress’ Personal offers slightly more, including a free SSL certificate, firewalls, and DDoS protection.
All things considered, Bluehost takes the lead when it comes to pricing. It’s cheaper than WordPress.com and also comes with significantly more resources and extra features.
Bluehost vs WordPress: ease of use
Both Bluehost and WordPress.com are extremely easy to use. But, to nitpick, WordPress.com is slightly easier since it does not include any hosting-related features like CMS installation, staging sites, or domain/SSL setup. Management-wise, Bluehost affords more control and freedom. Meanwhile, WordPress.com offers a much more guided experience that’s better suited for beginners.
Despite their differences, both providers’ setup processes are quite similar. The only key difference? With Bluehost, just like any other hosting provider, you’ll need to install WordPress first. Meanwhile, if you opt for WordPress, you can just jump right into website building.
So, to start with Bluehost, you first pick a domain name and choose a plan to purchase. Then, you can install WordPress. Now the installation process is very fast and simple as Bluehost’s automatic installation wizard guides the setup, and all you have to do is click along. Once you’re all done with that, you’ll be redirected to Bluehost’s user interface:
Pretty neat and organized – certainly intuitive enough for even newbies. It even comes with a checklist of steps you need to take to create a WordPress website. Additionally, this is the place where you’ll manage all the main features like domains, email accounts, an SSL certificate, and plugins. More so, from here, you’ll be able to configure your caching settings.
In addition to its native user interface, Bluehost also includes a cPanel control panel.
This panel is meant for more advanced settings, like managing your databases or files and adjusting security measures. However, this is also where you truly get to feel the perk of opting for a hosting provider: among many features, you are also free to install any other CMS, not only WordPress.
Now for WordPress, you also start by picking a domain name and a plan. Once you make a purchase, there are no additional setup steps. You can jump straight to exploring your WordPress Dashboard, where you can pick your site theme and download plugins. Of course, the latter is only if you opted for its Business or eCommerce plan.
Here’s what WordPress’s dashboard looks like:
WordPress.com panel is a pretty simple interface that’s mainly meant for customizing your site and creating/managing your content. There are no such features as staging and there is no option to access and manage file databases.
Simply put, WordPress.com comes with fewer functionalities and eliminates a single site setup element – installing WordPress. However, a barely quicker setup process results in a more restricted platform than what you’d get with Bluehost’s WordPress.org.
As for the question of whether it’s worth it, well, that depends on your needs. If you prefer more control over your site, WordPress.com’s lack of flexibility could be a big source of frustration. But, if you simply wish to just create and release content, WordPress.com could save you some time.
Ultimately, both Bluehost and WordPress.com offer amazing ease of use. However, Bluehost leaves room for flexibility and control – ideal for users that want an unrestricted platform. Whereas, WordPress.com provides a more supervised and regulated experience that’s best for rookies.
Bluehost vs WordPress performance
In terms of performance, the Bluehost vs WordPress.com race is a tight one. After a few performance tests, it became clear that both are very reliable and fast. However, WordPress.com did demonstrate a slightly more reliable uptime, faster response time, while Bluehost single-handedly won in terms of site loading speed.
Uptime and response time
I monitored Bluehost for around 2 months and WordPress.com – around a month, to see how they fare. Both platforms performed extremely well, with WordPress.com having a slight edge over Bluehost.
To start, Bluehost proved to be extremely reliable. My server saw a 99.99% uptime for well over 2 months, which is close to perfect. Sure, there were 11 minutes of downtime during my observation time. But, this is to be expected from shared hosting, so I’m more than willing to overlook it.
Bluehost also did extremely well with response times, averaging at 361ms – well below the market’s average of 600ms. If it weren’t for a single jump midway through, the result would’ve been even more impressive. To know more about the host’s performance, visit our Bluehost review.
As for WordPress, the builder is rock-solid when it comes to reliability. In a month’s time, my site maintained a flawless uptime of 100%. Of course, this perfection isn’t feasible in the long term, but it does speak volumes about WordPress’ reliability.
Not a one-trick pony, WordPress also had excellent response times that averaged out to a very speedy 311ms – barely a half of the market’s average of 600ms, too.
My one concern here is that both Bluehost and WordPress don’t have an uptime guarantee etched in their SLAs. This could spell trouble as you’d be left without any avenues for compensation if their servers were to go down for an extended period.
However, ultimately, both Bluehost and WordPress.com knocked it out of the park when it comes to reliability and response times. Although, WordPress.com performed slightly better with 100% uptime and a fast 311ms average response time.
To find out how fast the providers are when loading fully built websites, I also ran a page loading speed test. To create equal conditions, both sites are hosted and tested from the US.
Now it’s also worth mentioning that Bluehost hosts all its sites in the US alone while offering a free Cloudflare CDN, while WordPress.com uses a more advanced network straight out of the box.
Before we go any further, here are the 2 main measures I’ll be examining:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – this signifies the time it took to load the biggest element on your site. For better search engine search result page rankings, aim for a time that’s under 2.5s.
- Fully Loaded Time – as its name gives away, this shows the time it takes for your site to be fully loaded. For the best user experience, you want to keep this under 3s.
Let’s take a look at how WordPress hosting vs Bluehost fare:
With Bluehost, its LCP and fully loaded time took the same amount of time: 1.8s. By keeping both measures under the benchmarks of 2.5s, Bluehost proved to be a speedy hosting provider. Your site visitor won’t have to worry about a long load time.
On the other side of the race is WordPress.com was a little more contrasting. The provider has shown a very speedy 1.5c LCP, which is noticeably faster than the undesired 2.5 seconds.
However, the builder’s fully loaded time dragged behind at 3.1s. While 3.1s is only 100ms slower than the 3s benchmark, I’ll be keeping a close eye on this to see if this is just a fluke or an indication of troubles to come.
In brief, in terms of site loading speed, Bluehost took a lead and presented a website quickly.
Overall, Bluehost and WordPress proved their mettle when it comes to performance as a whole. While WordPress.com showed to be more reliable in terms of uptime, Bluehost took the crown in the site’s loading speed match.
When comparing WordPress vs Bluehost security-wise, WordPress is slightly more well-rounded with its measures in that it has firewalls for all of its plans. However, unfortunately, the full stack isn’t available for both platforms – especially if you’re on their cheaper plans.
Let’s start with what Bluehost and WordPress have in common. They both come with:
- SSL certificates – Both provide free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates to all their plans. This is the bare minimum to protect personal and payment information as well as other sensitive data with encrypted connections.
- DDoS protection – The two claim that they offer protection against DDoS – a malicious attack where your site is flooded with traffic to disrupt it. In Bluehost’s case, it’s via Cloudflare and you’ll need to activate it in your management area. Meanwhile, WordPress.com claims that it also offers this protection but doesn’t elaborate beyond that it has “security measures in place to help protect against distributed denial of services (DDoS) attacks.”
- Backup and recovery – Bluehost and WordPress offer daily automatic backup and easy recovery for their premium plans. Bluehost provides this service to its Choice Plus and Pro plans via CodeGuard. Meanwhile, WordPress offers it to its Business and eCommerce plans.
Now, let’s take a look at how Bluehost’s and WordPress’ offerings differ from each other. Alongside the above mentioned free features, Bluehost also offers a few more security measures for an extra cost:
- Daily backup, monitoring, and restoration of your site via CodeGuard for $2.99/mo or free with Choice Plus and Pro plans,
- Monitoring and prevention of malicious software and attacks via SiteLock for $2.99/mo,
- Domain privacy for $0.99/mo.
Contrastingly, I expected more security measures from WordPress. After all, the builder doesn’t allow custom plugins or code for its Free, Personal, and Premium plans, which means that you have to put the safety of your site in WordPress’ hands. Plus, most website builders usually take care of all aspects of security for their users.
However, alas, WordPress doesn’t really offer all that much more:
- Firewalls – the builder has firewalls in place for all of its plans. Also, note that it doesn’t support or allow the addition of custom firewall rules.
- Automatic updates and malware scanning – if you have its Business or eCommerce plans, both of which allow custom code including plugins and themes, WordPress will perform automatic updates for all your plugins and themes. Additionally, the builder will clean any malware found on your site by removing the compromised files and will also notify you via email.
Overall, Bluehost’s and WordPress.com’s security measures are underwhelming. But while Bluehost appears less comprehensive than WordPress, it’s worth remembering that you can make up for its shortcomings with third-party plugins – many of which are free. Meanwhile, you’ll only have this option for WordPress if you’re on its premium plans.
When it comes to WordPress vs Bluehost in terms of support, both offer email support and informative knowledge bases. However, Bluehost also has 24/7 live chat, phone call, and ticketing support. On the other hand, WordPress.com’s basic live chat support is available with its Premium, Business, and eCommerce plans, while advanced live chat option is available only to Business and eCommerce plans.
Like most hosting providers, Bluehost offers all the typical options of 24/7 live chat, phone calls, ticketing, and email. The preferred method for many, including myself, is the live chat.
I’ve tested the hosting provider’s support agents on multiple occasions, to see how they perform and each time they met my expectations. The agents usually respond quickly and are helpful as well as professional.
But, if you’d rather not deal with it all, you can also solve some basic issues by heading to Bluehost’s extensive knowledge base. One caveat though, the knowledge base is a little dated. That said, you should still be able to find most of the articles to be helpful.
With WordPress, on the other hand, support isn’t as easily available to all. For starters, email support, while unlimited, is only available to its paid plans. Besides that, live chat is available but limited to business hours if you’re on its Premium plan. And, 24/7 live chat is only available to those on Business and eCommerce plans.
If you find that you’re unable to get in touch with an agent, you can also try your luck with its community forum. It’s nowhere as lively as what you’d see with WordPress.org, but you can expect answers from WordPress.com’s staff even if the wait time is longer than ideal.
Another avenue for help can be found in its knowledge base. WordPress’ knowledge base isn’t all that extensive, but you should be able to find articles covering most basic topics. Plus, the articles are very thorough in their explanations.
All things considered, Bluehost is the clear winner when it comes to customer support. Unlike WordPress.com, the hosting provider offers multiple support channels available 24/7 for all of its users and is available 24/7.
Bluehost vs WordPress: final recommendations
In the Bluehost vs WordPress showdown, each has its pros and cons. Bluehost excelled in terms of pricing, ease of use, performance, and support, while WordPress did amazingly with ease of use and performance, too. However, both could do better security-wise.
|Price||Bluehost is the cheaper option, with its price ranging from just $2.95/mo to $13.95/mo, while WordPress prices range between $4/mo and $45/mo.|
|Ease of use||Both platforms put ease of use at the forefront. But, where Bluehost allows more wiggle room for control and flexibility, WordPress provides close guidance and keeps things simplistic.|
|Performance||Bluehost showed 99.99% uptime, 361ms response time, and 1.8s loading time. At the same time, WordPress.com scored 100%, 311ms, and 3.1s, respectively.|
|Security||Both Bluehost and WordPress include free SSL and DDoS protection. Additionally, WordPress also has a free server-level firewall, while Bluehost has a few additional paid security features.|
|Support||Bluehost includes 24/7 live chat, email, ticketing, and phone support in all of its plans. Meanwhile, WordPress’ live chat support is only available to the more expensive plans.|
While it’s a tight race, I’d cast my vote for Bluehost as the better option. The host is cheaper, offers much more flexibility in terms of site management and customization. Additionally, generous resources will be suitable for any site you might wish to run.
However, WordPress.com could still be a good platform for those who want an easy fuss-free website and have no intention to scale. It’s also a good option if you just want to get a site up quickly.
Alternatives to Bluehost and WordPress
While both Bluehost and WordPress.com are great candidates for easy website creation, there is an abundance of great hosting providers to choose from. Especially when it comes to WordPress.org hosting, there are 2 great alternatives - a budget-friendly Hostinger and a premium SiteGround.
Hostinger is a very budget-friendly website hosting solution, with prices starting at just $1.39/mo. However, do not be mistaken by the low price point. The host comes with an easy-to-use hPanel, great performance, and many WordPress optimizations like the newest PHP version and a LiteSpeed web server.
If you're looking for a cheap and performance-oriented host, Hostinger just might be it for you.
SiteGround is a slightly more premium yet very powerful hosting provider with many advanced features. With prices starting at $3.99/mo, SiteGround comes bearing good performance, an extensive set of security features, the newest software/ hardware, as well as many in-house developed features to optimize the WordPress site performance.
If you're looking for a secure, fast, and highly functional hosting provider, SiteGround is worth a look.
Other Bluehost comparisons you might like to check out
- Bluehost vs GoDaddy
- Namecheap vs Bluehost
- Bluehost vs HostGator
- WP Engine vs Bluehost
- SiteGround vs Bluehost
- Hostinger vs Bluehost
- Bluehost vs DreamHost
- Wix vs Bluehost
- Bluehost vs Squarespace
- InMotion Hosting vs Bluehost
Other WordPress comparisons you’d like to read
Bluehost vs WordPress FAQ
Is Bluehost the same as WordPress?
No, Bluehost is not the same as WordPress. Bluehost is a hosting provider that hosts WordPress.org content management system, while WordPress.com is a self-hosted platform.
Is WordPress free with Bluehost?
Yes, WordPress.org is free with Bluehost. While you do have to pay for your Bluehost plan’s resources and features, you can install WordPress.org without any additional costs.
Can WordPress host my website?
Yes, WordPress.com can host your website if you’re looking for an easy solution and don’t need much in terms of features like storage and bandwidth, as well as customization and functionality options.
Is Bluehost good for blogging?
Yes, Bluehost is good for blogging. It offers everything you need to run a simple blog, including WordPress.org content management system, at affordable prices.