Two big names in the shared web hosting arena will battle it out to determine who is the winner, Bluehost or IX Web Hosting. As with any fight, both sides have their own strengths and their own weaknesses.
Bluehost and IX Web Hosting claim many of the same features. From 24/7 tech support to “unlimited” storage and bandwidth, many of these features are top notch and very desirable. There are a few areas they differ in, though. For example, Bluehost allows up to 100 MySQL databases with no specified maximum size, whereas IX Web Hosting limits you to 50 MySQL databases and a 1GB maximum size at it’s lowest plan. By going for more expensive plans, you can increase IX Web Hosting’s limit to unlimited MySQL databases, but it still caps the size at 10GB. Granted, it’s actually pretty hard to use up 1GB in MySQL databases, and all that much harder to use up 10GB, but a cap versus no cap is hard to ignore.
Below is a table listing all of the differences in features based on the websites of each company:
|Feature||IX Web Hosting||Bluehost|
|Dedicated IP Addresses||2||Unspecified|
|Single Mailbox Max||2GB||Unlimited|
|Total Mailbox Max||2GB||Unlimited|
|Total SQL Database Max||1GB||Unlimited|
|IronPort Spam Filter||Yes||No|
|Spam Assassin Protection||No||Yes|
|Additional FTP Accounts||Yes (unspecified number)||Yes (1000)|
|Server Side Includes||Unspecified||Yes|
|FrontPage 2000/2002 Extensions||Unspecified||Yes|
|Shell Access (SSH)||Unspecified||Yes|
|Override .htaccess Support||Unspecified||Yes|
|Custom PHP.INI File Support||Unspecified||Yes|
|Multiple Backup Power Systems||No||Yes|
|OC-48 Backbone Connection||Unspecified||Yes|
This may look like a lot of differences, but for each one of these differences, there are 4 similarities. Both sides have details that are unspecified, and while this doesn’t mean they don’t have that feature, it seems likely that it’s the case. Either they don’t have it, or they didn’t consider it important enough to list. Either way, it’s not the best of signs.
Still, there aren’t many differences in the features between the two. They both offer a large variety of free scripts, from multimedia to blogging and even e-commerce, and all of the usual features you would expect from good hosts. Nonetheless, it seems that Bluehost just barely squeaks ahead of IX Web Hosting in terms of raw features.
Finding a detailed pricing list for either of these two isn’t as simple as it should be. In both cases, you have to start the order process in order to see prices for their different plans, as long as you want to see more detail than the cheapest monthly price you can get through that particular web host. The true cost, including setup fees, for both hosts are as follows:
|Length of Term||IX Web Hosting||Bluehost|
IX Web Hosting proves to be cheaper than Bluehost at every step of the way. That being said, IX Web Hosting forces you to commit to a year of hosting in order to get a decent deal, but then again, Bluehost doesn’t even offer anything under a year’s worth of hosting. So, IX Web Hosting certainly wins this round.
Terms of Service
Reading the terms of service closely on both companies will reveal a few things about their services.
First, the “unlimited” parameters I mentions earlier are not truly unlimited. How could they be? With tons of users on a single server, they can’t all have unlimited access to the limited resources available. IX Web Hosting actually gives some sort of upper bound you can watch out for in terms of size, though. IX Web Hosting, deep in their terms of service, says that the maximum number of files one user is allowed to have is 100,000 if they are using a Windows based server (not available on the lowest plan) or 300,000 files if a Linux server is chosen instead. Bluehost does not give such specifics for storage, and neither web host provides specifications for the true maximum bandwidth allowed.
However, both state that they reserve the right to limit individual users in both storage and bandwidth as they see fit to maintain a certain level of quality among all users. This is both good news and bad news. Good because nobody else can hog all the resources on a server and push a smaller site out of operation temporarily, but bad because you don’t necessarily know when you’ll need more resources or how much of the available resources you are using at any given moment.
Bluehost uses the industry standard cPanel, with minimal customization. Those who have used another host will likely be familiar with cPanel since almost every web host uses it. But IX Web Hosting does not. Instead, they use a variation of H-Sphere, which our IX Web Hosting review shows is very capable and not difficult to use. But, if you’re really looking for familiarity in a control panel, Bluehost might be better for you.
IX Control Panel
Bluehost Control Panel
Both companies offered pretty impressive customer support. They were reasonably quick to respond, seemed knowledgeable, and they both have 3 ways to contact support: phone support, LiveChat, and a ticketing system. The only real difference between the two is that IX Web Hosting proudly boasts of a call center that is located in the US, which is very appreciated. So, in that sense, IX Web Hosting wins by a little bit. However, we do have a detailed account of how good the Bluehost support performs in our Bluehost Review here if you’d like to see first-hand how good theirs is.
The Bottom Line
If what you’re after is the best possible features, then your safest bet is to go with Bluehost. However, if you’re goal is to get a bunch of excellent features at an impressive price, then IX Web Hosting might be for you, especially since they offer a lot of the same features that Bluehost does, but at a much lower price.