Best PrestaShop Webhost – Bluehost or Hostgator – Part 1

by Curt Donohue on January 23, 2012


Have you ever wondered who are the best shared web hosts for PrestaShop?  Well, you’re about to find out who, at least in my opinion, provide the best overall price, features, and reliability in the USA.

I’ve created a 3-part series of articles discussing the merits of my two favorite shared web hosts – Bluehost and Hostgator.  This first article (Part 1) will cover the essential information you should know about Bluehost from pricing to features to things that I don’t like.

Part 2 will cover the same details for Hostgator.

Part 3 will summarize the details of both hosts so you can get an idea of which host might be best for you.  Even though I recommend both of these hosts, there are several differences that could be important to you and that’s what we’ll discuss at length.

Before we get started, though, you should know that some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means I get paid a commission if you sign up through either of these providers.  If you choose to do that, thank you in advance.  I use both hosts and give them my highest recommendation for shared hosts in the USA.

I’ve also heard of people using these hosts outside of the USA with good success.  However, I don’t have any direct experience with that.  If you use either of these providers outside of the USA, please leave a comment below.  I’d love to hear your experience – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

OK, let’s get on with the show…

Bluehost Basics

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of web hosting companies available and making a choice on which one to trust with your business can be tricky. Your final choice should be based on a combination of reliability, trustworthiness, professionalism, the options you require, and value for money.  You also need to make sure that the company you select has technically competent staff who are trained to the highest level and have considerable experience in hosting and web security.

Bluehost Offers 24/7 Toll Free Phone SupportMost importantly, I firmly believe that you should only work with web hosts that offer 24/7/365 toll free phone support, which Bluehost does.  Rest assured that when you have a problem, and you will sooner or later, you’ll appreciate being able to speak to someone directly or use Live Chat if that is your preference.

Bearing all these factors in mind, it is best to select an established company that has a big customer base, as that indicates that the company is obviously able to provide a first-rate service.

Bluehost is a market-leading web hosting company that has been in business for 16 years. The company has ensured that it keeps its technology up-to-date, that it focuses on customer satisfaction, and that it delivers optimum performance at budget prices.

Bluehost’s approach to technology is what makes it stand out from many other hosting companies. It has its own dedicated data center, builds all its own web servers, and has its own nationwide fiber-optic network. This means that the company has complete control over every aspect of its hosting and it does not outsource any of its operations, including its customer support division.

Unlike most hosting companies, which offer both Linux and Windows hosting, Bluehost provides Linux hosting only, using Apache servers, thus making sure that in-house expertise is concentrated on a single set of skills.

Bluehost simplifies your hosting choices by providing just two hosting packages – Standard and Pro.  Let’s take a look at the Standard package first.

Bluehost Standard Package Details

The Standard package starts at just $6.95 per month, based on a 1-year contract. This includes free registration of your domain name for one year as well as unlimited disk space and unlimited bandwidth.  You can get the costs down to $5.95/month by signing up for a two or three year package.  I purchased the three year package when I originally signed up.

Sign up for Bluehost Web HostingA word of warning – while you may be seduced by low initial cost and ease of registering your domain name with Bluehost, don’t do it.  You should never register your domain name with the same company who provides your hosting.  You can learn more about this in the Domain Registration section of the Resources tab.

Many hosting companies place limits on space and bandwidth and charge additional fees if the limits are exceeded, making it difficult for you to really know what your costs will be.  For applications like PrestaShop, the unlimited bandwidth that Bluehost offers may prove particularly significant. Bandwidth is a measure of the amount of data transferred, and that amount can be very high where lots of customers are browsing through lots of product photographs.

The Standard package also includes unlimited email accounts and you can host unlimited domains, add-on domains, sub domains and parked domains. Other companies place restrictions on these features.  Once again, even though you can register your domain(s) here, don’t do that.  Register them elsewhere to keep your business risks diversified.

Bluehost’s Standard web hosting package is probably adequate for the majority of PrestaShop owners. This is the package that I use.

However, if you expect to generate very high volumes of traffic and consequently high volumes of data transfer, you might want to consider upgrading to the Bluehost Pro package.

Bluehost Pro Package Details

The Pro package includes all the features of the Standard package but allocates more CPU, memory, and server resources to your site and the applications running on it, like PrestaShop. This gives you more speed, power, and performance.

The Pro package also includes:

  • Free Site Backup Pro
  • A free dedicated IP address
  • A free SSL Certificate
  • Free domain name for life
  • Free domain privacy
  • 10 free Postini anti-spam email accounts

Postini is an industry-leading application that helps filter unsolicited junk mail and prevent possible threats like viruses and malware from damaging your server.

The Pro Package run $19.95/month ($24.95/month renewal).  If you purchase the Pro Package as a new account, it is currently available for a 1 year term and the total cost would be $239.40 per year.

If you decide to check out the Pro package further, you will find very little information available on the Bluehost website about it.  There is just a small amount of information when you sign up and that’s it.

Because of that I called the Bluehost sales department and asked for additional information.  You can download a detailed e-mail I received describing the Bluehost Standard and Pro packages here.

Awesome Administration Tool – cPanel

Bluehost makes managing your web assets a snap because they use the cPanel management suite of programs. CPanel is a comprehensive and versatile set of tools for carrying out all the tasks involved in managing your site. Because it is so versatile yet simple to use, cPanel has established itself as the most popular site management program package.

Snapshot of the Bluehost cPanelYou can manage your site from any location by simply logging into your cPanel (cPanel stands for control panel) with your unique user ID and password. After successfully logging in you will be presented with cPanel’s home page, which is divided into various sections. From here you can access a whole range of site management tools.

You can use cPanel to view your website traffic statistics and see a list of your latest visitors. Cpanel gives you the option to use Webalizer or Awstats or both as your statistics gatherer. Both these statistics programs provide you with a complete breakdown of your website’s traffic, offering valuable information that will help you target your site marketing efforts.

If your website is not functioning as expected, then cPanel gives you access to the site error logs, which will help you to determine what is causing any unusual errors or problems.

CPanel is also the primary resource for setting up and managing the email accounts associated with your site. CPanel’s email options allow to you to set up mailing lists and auto responders as well as anti-spam and forwarding options. CPanel comes complete with 3 different webmail programs that allow you to send and receive your site’s mail from any location.

You can use cPanel to manage all aspects of your domain and to create add-on domains and sub domains. CPanel can also be used to build and manage MySql and Postgres databases and you can edit or delete files directly on your website using cPanel’s File Manager. The package has many other options for expert users including site security options and setting up and running cron jobs.

One of the most popular cPanel features is the ability to install a selection of packages such as PrestaShop with just a single mouse click. Bluehost offers more than 50 packages and scripts that can be installed so simply.

Snapshot of the Simple Scripts 1-Click InstallThe level and efficiency of the support provided by the web host will be a major consideration for most PrestaShop owners and is particularly important for first timers.

Bluehost has 24/7/365 support available via toll-free telephone (with an average hold time of less than 30 seconds) or via online live chat. The majority of support issues are resolved in a single contact session.

In Closing

To close this article out, I want to reiterate that Bluehost is a hosting service that I have personal experience with and I can confidently recommend the company.  For me, Bluehost has provided fantastic and speedy customer support on the few occasions I’ve needed it.

Does that mean they were able to solve every issue I had, no it doesn’t.  But, that was usually because I was asking them to do something that they did not do.  On the other hand, they’ve gone out of their way on more than one occasion to help with things that really weren’t part of their job description.

Keep in mind that there is no perfect web host.  If there was, we probably couldn’t afford them anyway.  Bluehost, however, is one of the best I’ve tried.  Try them out and if you’re not happy, you can always get a refund.

Click here to sign up for a Bluehost account.

Keep an eye out for the next installment of our head to head reviews of Bluehost and Hostgator.  The next article, Part 2, will cover Hostgator in detail.  See you then.

Curt Donohue

Curt Donohue is a PrestaShop enthusiast and the creator of PrestaTraining.com as well as PrestaShop 1.4 Tutorials.

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