Today’s post is a long one! In it, I’m going to explain in-depth what my experience with Bluehost has been. I know that many bloggers love and use Bluehost, and this post is of course not meant to be a slight to these bloggers. However, I have decided to stop using Bluehost as my hosting company, and I wanted to lay out the reasons why I left.
I am being as honest and non-inflammatory as possible in this post, in the hopes of giving you a true picture of my experience. If you’re a blogger or if you’re considering starting a blog, I hope that this post will be helpful to you! (Also, this is NOT a sponsored post in terms of the new hosting company I chose. I am just sharing my experience and decision.)
My Initial Experience With Bluehost:
I launched Just Bee officially as a self-hosted WordPress site in July of 2014 (can you believe it’s almost been 3 years now??). I had been blogging in other, more casual capacities before that point – when I was still in college – but Summer 2014 was when I decided I really wanted to approach blogging with intentionality, quality, and commitment!
Bluehost had popped up on many other bloggers’ blogs – either in affiliate ads or in actual sponsored posts – so I figured it was extremely popular and thus thought it was the logical option to go with.
Right then, Bjorn and I were living at Fort Lee in Virginia for an entire summer and thankfully, as a teacher during the summer, I had the time to sit down and really reevaluate where I wanted to go with my blog…and I had the time to actually spend hours at a nearby Starbucks troubleshooting various blog issues once I began migrating my blog.
I migrated my blog away from the free version of WordPress (____.wordpress.com) and that’s when I got my “.com” for www.justbeeblog.com! I was super excited. I knew it would take a lot of work to transition my blog over and work out the kinks, but I felt it was worth it.
In a way, it was. The decision to go self-hosted with my blog was one of the very best blogging choices I have made. It’s especially important to do as you build your brand and craft a special, unique corner of the Internet for your own site. So, in that respect, it was great that I moved to Bluehost…because my blog was finally self-hosted.
Bluehost offered some great options when it came to different plans for hosting my blog, and even some upgrades (which I’ll touch on later). I liked how inexpensive it seemed, and I was glad to see they offered a “live chat help” system on my account.
As Things Got Rolling…
As I said, that summer of 2014 I had a good amount of time during the days to spend hours sorting out various blogging situations. I anticipated a bit of hard work to shift my blog over to Bluehost’s hosting, and that’s exactly what happened.
I stayed pretty excited about Bluehost’s “live chat help” because I didn’t know any different and it was my first experience in working with online support available. Every time I hopped onto the live chat, it took 2-3 hours for the whole process: waiting in the “waiting line,” get in touch with a support representative, verify my account, explain my situation in detail once or twice, have them check out my problem or the site, and then begin a back-and-forth conversation of troubleshooting.
Finally, after several days of this, my blog was ready to go. I was pretty excited. At this point, I was able to pretty much “forget” about Bluehost and go about blogging business as normal from the non-technical side of it.
When Things Started To Go Downhill:
With the exception of various smaller problems that I ironed out with Bluehost over the next couple years, my site really began having issues in late 2016.
The problems happened 4 times in 4 months. I would hop onto the live chat help with Bluehost, get some semi-vague advice, and the issues would seem resolved…for a bit. And then they would resurface again. I wasted a lot of hours dealing with Bluehost support those 4 months on the weekends (outside of my other jobs and my actual time spent writing blog posts), which was discouraging.
Besides the actual issues with my site and the very long wait times for the help chat, the vague advice from Bluehost representatives was my first red flag. I understand a good deal about technology, particularly in terms of the blogging world, but the advice I was given from Bluehost was exceedingly unhelpful.
My problems had mostly been that my links (especially ones I shared on my personal OR blog Facebook page) would lead people (and myself) to spam sites. The sites seemed to be especially giveaway sites (like “You Won!”) or sites that said you needed to update something on your computer.
So, Bluehost support staff supposedly scanned or looked at my site, said that it looks fine…and then on and off, my links seemed to work again! It was so odd.
The weirdest thing was that a couple friends of mine contacted me saying that my links were leading them to spam or even inappropriate sites. It ALMOST seemed like something is hacked or messed up from the Facebook side of it…which is what Bluehost told me.
Before these latest issues with a couple of my links leading to spam sites, the previous issue was this: the top black WordPress edit bar that I’d see when visiting my own site (because I’m the owner and I was logged in) had some really funky overlay red text where my bar usually says “New Post” or “Edit.” The red text said things like “Mexico” or types of drugs. It was super weird!
When I told BlueHost about that on the help chat, the staff members scanned my site, said I did have some “malware” on my files and said to clean the malware off. I repeatedly told them that I didn’t understand what they meant, and they replied again with, “You need to find and clean the malware off.” It was frustrating and I started getting angry because I was paying a decent amount each year to have my site hosted and the support available to me seemed to circumnavigate any practical solution.
When I expressed this to them, they sent me a link to an article on how to clean malware off the site. I can usually walk myself through troubleshooting technological things when given directions, but it was really vague and complicated.
Oddly enough, when this problem kept coming up again, it the next BlueHost person I contacted said they were able to get rid of the malware…because later scans of my site done by them resulted in them telling me I have no malware and that the issue was Facebook’s problem.
The most recent time that I told Bluehost about the malware on my site’s files (because I understood a little more about the situation by then), they scanned my site again and said that I was all good to go, that I had no more malware on my site.
This was not true, which I learned later.
The most frustrating part of all of this was the money I paid for extra security on my site…and the fact that it did nothing to help.
Back when these 4 months of issues started, Bluehost recommended I upgrade my hosting subscription package even further, by purchasing an upgrade known as SiteLock. SiteLock has several “levels” of protection. I actually already had the $20/year basic version of SiteLock from the beginning, and this time I went so far as to purchase the option that is meant to find and fix any malware on my site. This “Find and Fix” level upgrade was an additional $80 a year.
Obviously, as I’ve explained, having SiteLock for those months did not prevent, find, nor fix any of the issues I was having with malware. SiteLock was never worth it, and any support I could get was extremely vague (and they were cheerfully telling me my problems were fixed even when I was telling them the issues were still there!).
Asking For a Refund:
My experience with Bluehost has been explained well by a couple other bloggers. (Trust me, I’m not the only one with issues with Bluehost.) Other bloggers have told me that Bluehost got greedy and didn’t expand their system well from the beginning, and Bluehost started hiring less knowledgeable people as they grew.
I agree with this for sure. The staff I interacted with on the live help chat often seemed confused about what I was trying to explain. They also would sometimes get part-way through “solving” my problem and then ask me a basic question about my situation that made me hesitate and realize that they really didn’t understand how to help me. And finally, when I’d ask for deeper explanations about what they meant by certain terms or steps I was supposed to do, they often couldn’t explain it to me.
Bluehost also had a large affiliate program right off the bat, which is why we see so many bloggers who have written rave reviews about Bluehost, recommending switching to Bluehost…unfortunately, without truly evaluating just how good (or poor) the support was.
I finally went on Bluehost chat again one morning this spring, trying to get a refund for my SiteLock upgrade. Having SiteLock on my site for nearly 3 years had not protected me from malware issues…not to mention, purchasing the $80 additional upgrade clearly did not “find and fix” any malware over the months that I had that upgrade. In fact, my site had gotten worse. I asked to speak with a manager when the live chat help staff member said no to a refund, but they did not let me. They do have a 30-day money back policy, which I’d typically be happy to respect, but the problems that SiteLock wasn’t preventing sprung up since those 30 days, too. Sigh!
Making the Switch:
After polling other bloggers in a Facebook group, I decided to migrate my blog away from Bluehost. I was nervous, but I really knew I needed to find a new hosting company, and soon. My site’s problems needed to be fixed before Summer 2017. I’d been in touch with a smaller company that another blogger mentioned loving (www.WPopt.net) and already had received an email back from the owner of WPopt. It was a bit pricier, but they offer a free site migration, and have fast servers and great customer service.
The process in moving to WPopt was phenomenal. It only took about a day for Charles, the owner, to migrate my site over and ensure that everything was good to go. He said it usually takes much less time than that, but someone (not me) had made backups of my backups, further bogging down the migration progress. Charles is helpful and courteous, and he replies quickly to any help ticket message I send.
The funny thing is, Charles told me almost immediately into the site migration that I had a ton of infected files and malware on my site…the exact thing that Bluehost most recently told me I did not have. That’s what really reiterated to me that my choice to leave Bluehost was a wise one. Bluehost was both not competent and not telling me the truth.
Now, with WPopt, I finally have a supportive, helpful, truly knowledgeable hosting company – one that I feel I can rely on for a very long time, if not indefinitely! (Just go to their site and scroll down to read the testimonies!) I’m grateful for such speedy support and a company where my issues can be explained to me well and resolved quickly. No more entire afternoons spent sitting on live chat “help.” 🙂
I will not be recommending Bluehost to any bloggers. I’m glad I was never apart of an affiliate program for Bluehost, as I would now be feeling even worse for recommending them.
To Sum It Up:
I had become increasingly dissatisfied with Bluehost as my hosting platform. My site suffered multiple attacks security-wise and I did not receive adequate, competent, or truthful support from Bluehost in fixing those problems. Interacting with the help chat never solidly fixed a problem, though the help employees cheerfully told me the problem was Facebook’s (it wasn’t), sent me to read articles, and even blatantly said the malware was off my files when it was not. I was not refunded the (modest – I probably could have asked for even more) sum for services that proved to be a waste of money. I wasted time and effort when I should have already just switched to a new hosting company!
I’m excited to have moved to Wpopt as my new hosting company. I look forward to providing updates as this blogging journey continues!
I hope this post was helpful to you – whether you’ve been thinking of starting a blog, or if you currently have Bluehost or are considering switching to them… I hope this gives you some things to think about!