DreamHost vs Bluehost: Which is Worth Your Time?

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4.4

out of 5

3.1

out of 5

Hosting your own website shouldn’t be stressful – and if you pick the best host for your needs, it won’t be! DreamHost and Bluehost are two high-quality options, so if you’re torn between them, then you’re already ahead of the game – and we’ve created this comparison to help you make the right call.

We’ve spent over 230 hours researching and comparing the top web hosts on the market, so we know quality when we see it. Plus, we asked over 1,200 readers like you what they value most in a host, to make sure we focused on the right areas.

After all that, we can definitively say that Bluehost is the better provider overall, with excellent ease of use and superb WordPress integration. But don’t count DreamHost out completely – read on to see why its security features and VPS plans impressed us, too.

Pros and Cons

Bluehost Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
• Excellent WordPress integration: Bluehost is recommended by WordPress itself, and comes with seamless one-click installation
• Around-the-clock support: Phone and live chat are available 24/7
• Sales-y checkout process: Bluehost adds extra products to your cart at checkout, which you’ll have to remove yourself

DreamHost Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
• Automatic daily backups: DreamHost makes backups of your website every day
• Cheap VPS hosting: VPS plans start from just $10 per month
• No direct phone support: You can submit a ticket online to request a call from the DreamHost team, but you can’t call them yourself

Ease of Use

Which one is more beginner-friendly?
bluehost logo
The Winner

Bluehost is easier to use than DreamHost

Bluehost uses the widely popular cPanel dashboard, which is clean and easy to navigate.
Visit Bluehost

Signing Up

You can get started with either Bluehost or DreamHost in just a few minutes. In both cases, the first step will be choosing a domain name for your website. If you already own a domain name that you want to use, you can enter it at this stage and then transfer your domain name once you’re all signed up.

domain
Choosing a domain with Bluehost
domains
Choosing a domain with DreamHost

If you’re choosing a new domain, you can purchase and register it directly through either host. Not all web hosts also function as domain name registrars, so Bluehost and DreamHost both get bonus points for the added convenience of letting you manage your hosting and domains in one place.

Next, it’s time to check out. Both hosts will ask for your billing information, phone number, and email address at this stage, and then you’re done!

Top Tip: Keep an eye out for additional costs on the checkout page! Both Bluehost and DreamHost automatically add some features to your cart at this stage, and while a lot of them are useful, they won’t always be tools that you really need. Be sure to remove any unnecessary purchases from your final total!
additional costs
Some additional products, like software protection and professional email services, aren’t always necessary costs at first!

Managing Your Site

Bluehost uses a popular software called cPanel to power your account dashboard.

cpanel
We love Bluehost’s cPanel dashboard.

The cPanel interface is clean and easy to navigate, whether you want to manage your website’s files (pictured), add a new domain, or browse new themes and plugins for your site.

In the “Home” tab on the left hand menu, you’ll even find a handy checklist for setting up your site:

checklist
Bluehost helps you stay organized when you first create your account.

DreamHost, on the other hand, doesn’t use the cPanel software. Instead, it uses its own custom-built panel, which can perform most of the same functions.

Similar to cPanel, the DreamHost control panel has a clear navigation menu on the left side of the dashboard. From there, you can manage your domains, email addresses, and billing information.

Overall, the DreamHost control panel is pretty easy to use – there’s even a drop-down menu with links to support options, including the DreamHost knowledge base. Still, Bluehost takes the cake on this one because the cPanel dashboard is so clear and navigable – and it’s also widely used, so if you ever want to switch hosts in the future, chances are you won’t have to adapt to a new management system!

Further Information

Features

Which has more to offer?
The Winner

It's a tie!

Both providers offer great features, including unmetered bandwidth and a free domain for the first year of your plan.

Types of Hosting

There are a few different types of web hosting out there, and the main difference has to do with the amount of server space and resources each type can provide.

  • Shared hosting means your website is hosted on the same server as other sites, and you share resources like storage and bandwidth.
  • WordPress hosting is shared hosting, specifically optimized for WordPress websites.
  • Cloud hosting is similar to shared hosting, but resources are shared between a network of connected servers, rather than just one. Cloud hosting is very reliable, because the burden of uptime is shared between servers.
  • VPS hosting stands for virtual private server hosting, and it’s basically a shared server that mimics the environment of a dedicated server. This means more resources will be allocated to your site, but you won’t be paying the price of a real dedicated server.
  • Reseller hosting is a little different from the rest. In this model, you’d purchase server space from Bluehost or iPage, but not to use yourself – you’d actually then rent it out to other people, as a sort of business model.
  • Dedicated hosting is the real version of what VPS hosting is mimicking. With dedicated hosting, you get an entire server to yourself – all of its resources are dedicated to your website.

Bluehost and DreamHost offer the following types of hosting:

Bluehost DreamHost
• Shared – starts at $2.95 per month
• WordPress – starts at $2.95 per month
• WooCommerce – starts at $15.95 per month
• VPS – starts at $18.99 per month
• Dedicated – starts at $79.99 per month
• Shared – starts at $2.59 per month
• WordPress – starts at $2.59 per month
• WooCommerce – starts at $16.95 per month
• VPS – starts at $10 per month
• Dedicated – starts at $149 per month
• Cloud – starts at $4.50 per month

Both providers offer the three “main” types – shared, VPS, and dedicated – as well as WordPress and WooCommerce hosting, which are basically shared plans specifically optimized for WordPress sites and WordPress online stores, respectively.

If you’re interested in reseller hosting, you’ll want to look elsewhere – our ranking of the best reseller hosting providers is a good place to start. Bluehost does recommend ResellerClub as a third-party option, but neither Bluehost nor DreamHost offers in-house reseller hosting plans.

Shared Plan Comparison

On their cheapest shared plan, Bluehost and Dreamhost both include:

  • One website
  • One free domain for the first year
  • 50 GB storage space
  • Unmetered bandwidth

Bluehost also includes a free content delivery network, or CDN, which helps ensure that your website loads quickly – regardless of where in the word your visitors are coming from. You’ll also score up to $150 in Google Ads credit, to help you promote your site.On the other hand, DreamHost impressed us by offering automated daily backups to help keep your site safe, even on its cheapest shared plan.

Top Tip: For hosting a WordPress website, choose Bluehost. Bluehost ranks number one as far as WordPress hosts go, because of its automated software updates and one-click installation. The fact that it’s officially recommended by WordPress doesn’t hurt, either!

Pricing

Which offers more bang for your buck?
bluehost logo
The Winner

Bluehost is better value than DreamHost

Both providers offer cheap shared hosting plans, but Bluehost gives you a higher quality service for the cost.
Visit Bluehost

At a Glance

  • Bluehost’s introductory prices start at $2.95 per month, and its renewal prices start at $7.99 per month
  • DreamHost’s introductory prices start at $2.59 per month, and its renewal prices start at $5.99 per month
Good question! Most hosting providers offer super-cheap prices for the first term of your payment plan – these are called introductory prices. The more time you’re willing to commit to your first term, the lower the introductory price will be.

For example, DreamHost’s cheapest plan costs $2.59 per month, but only if you sign up for your first three years in advance, so you’ll have to pay $93.24 up front. If you sign up for one year in advance, the introductory price goes up a little bit to $2.95 per month, or $106.20 altogether.

However long that first term is – you’ll usually get to pick anywhere between six months and three years – the monthly price will renew at a set regular rate once it ends. This is called the renewal price.

For example, DreamHost’s cheapest plan costs $2.59 per month ($93.24 total) for the first three years, but that cost renews at $5.99 per month ($215.64 total) every three years after that.

Prices by Hosting Type

Let’s see how these providers’ prices compare for each of the three “main” types of hosting we talked about earlier, going by the cheapest introductory price:

Bluehost DreamHost
Shared $2.95 $2.59
VPS $18.99 $10
Dedicated $79.99 $149

Why is Bluehost Better Value for Money?

Bluehost earned an impressive 4.6/5 in the “value for money” category of our research, while DreamHost fell behind the pack with a 3.0/5.

But why? At a glance, DreamHost’s shared prices are slightly cheaper than Bluehost’s, and its VPS plans also start at a lower rate. But cheapest doesn’t always mean best value, and a closer look shows that Bluehost’s plans give you more bang for your buck.

Think of it this way – for an extra 36¢ each month (compared to DreamHost), Bluehost comes with:

  • An easier-to-use interface and the widely popular cPanel software
  • Excellent WordPress integration
  • Superior live chat and knowledge base support

…and we’d call that over-delivering for the price!

Further Information

Performance and Security

Which host has your back?
The Winner

It's a tie!

Bluehost’s uptime is very impressive, while DreamHost’s backup policy is hard to beat.

Uptime

Uptime refers to the amount of time per year that your website is live and accessible to visitors without any issues. It’s a really important factor in a website’s success, because an unreliable website can cost you loyal visitors – and for ecommerce businesses, it can also cost you revenue.

It’s impossible to guarantee 100% uptime, but you’ll want your hosting provider to be within the 99.97% – 99.99% range. That may not seem like a big range, but every little bit counts – a difference of just a few hundredths can actually translate into hours of extra downtime each year.

Bluehost DreamHost
Typical uptime 99.98% 99.95%
Downtime per year (based on typical uptime) ~One hour and 45 minutes ~Four hours and 30 minutes

When it comes to uptime, Bluehost is a more reliable provider than DreamHost. 

Website Backups

Backups are the easiest way to restore a previous version of your website in case anything goes wrong. Having an up-to-date backup of your site on hand is a great way to make sure your content is safe.

Of course, it’s even more convenient if you don’t have to remember to make these backups yourself – and that’s where DreamHost has you covered, offering automatic daily backups on all of its plans.

Bluehost makes its own backups of your site, but they’re not guaranteed (they’re more for Bluehost’s records) and will be overwritten with a new copy every 30 days – so you’ll still want to save copies yourself in the cPanel dashboard.

Security Measures

Both Bluehost and DreamHost include free SSL certificates on all of their hosting plans. SSL certificates keep your visitors’ data secure by encrypting the connection between their browsers and your web server.

Optional Security Products

The basic SSL certificates that Bluehost and DreamHost include on their plans should be sufficient for most websites. But if you want to go the extra mile in terms of security – for example, if you’re running an online store and want to reassure customers that their payment information is safe – then you can purchase a more advanced SSL certificate for your site.

  • With DreamHost, you can add a professionally-signed SSL certificate from your account dashboard for $15 per year
  • With Bluehost, you can add a private SSL certificate from your account dashboard for $6.67 per month
Further Information

Migrating Domains and Websites

Which is more convenient?
The Winner

It's a tie!

Both providers offer free and paid migration services.

Thinking of switching your website to either Bluehost or DreamHost? Then we’ve got good news: both hosts offer a free, automated website migration service. However, your website will have to meet certain criteria in order to be eligible.

Migrating to Bluehost

Bluehost’s free migration service is available for most WordPress websites. If you qualify, an expert will move your site over for you.

You might not qualify if you’re using an old version of WordPress, or if your database is very large. In that case, you have two more options:

Having to do a manual migration (that is, moving your site on your own) isn’t the most convenient way, but it’s definitely not too difficult to handle! The process mostly involves saving your website’s files to your computer, and then uploading them to your new host. If you decide to go down this route, we’ve written a guide on how to transfer website hosting that will help.

Migrating to DreamHost

DreamHost offers a paid website transfer service starting at $99. If you’d rather take the free route, DreamHost has an automated migration plugin that you can use to move a WordPress site. You’ll just need to be signed up for a DreamHost plan before you can install the plugin on your site.

What About Moving a Domain?

Bluehost lets you transfer domains with the following extensions: com, net, org, us, co, info, and biz. You can initiate the transfer easily from your Bluehost dashboard!

As for DreamHost, you’ll just have to follow the usual steps of manually transferring a domain name to a new host.

Help and Support

Which is better?
The Winner

Bluehost has better support than DreamHost

Bluehost’s phone and live chat support options are available around the clock with useful information.
Visit Bluehost

Bluehost scored a perfect 5/5 in the “help and support” section of our research, while DreamHost seriously underperformed with a 1.3/5.

Support Options

Bluehost DreamHost
Phone 24/7 No*
Live chat 24/7 3 AM - 9:30 PM PT
Knowledge base Excellent Good

*DreamHost doesn’t offer direct phone support. In other words, you can’t call DreamHost yourself, but you can report an issue online and request a call back from the team.

Bluehost clearly has more support options than DreamHost – but customer support is often a quality over quantity situation, and the quality of Bluehost’s services is what pushes it to the front of the pack in this area.

When we tested Bluehost’s live chat feature, we were really impressed by how quickly the team got back to us, and by the detail of their responses.

support
Bluehost’s live chat team is speedy and knowledgeable.

DreamHost’s live chat can sometimes have longer wait times during its available hours, but for the most part, we’ve still received responses in a few minutes or so.

DreamHost vs Bluehost: Summary

This page has covered all the most important factors to consider when choosing between Bluehost and DreamHost, from ease of use to cost. In the table below, we’ll do a quick recap of what we’ve covered, so that you can make your decision with confidence.

Provider Bluehost DreamHost
Ease of Use Winner! Uses popular cPanel dashboard Uses custom-made dashboard
Features Tie! Offers a free CDN and Google Ads credit Tie! Offers daily backups and affordable cloud hosting
Pricing Winner! Low prices and great value Low prices and decent value
Performance and Security Tie! Excellent uptime Tie! Excellent backup policy
Migration Tie! Free and paid options available Tie! Free and paid options available
Support Winner! 24/7 phone and live chat No direct phone support

Bluehost is the overall winner of the DreamHost vs Bluehost debate. Still, it won’t be the best fit for everyone

bluehost logo

Who Should Use Bluehost?

  • Anyone hosting a WordPress site
  • Anyone wanting to get set up quickly
  • Anyone concerned with uptime

DreamHost hosting

Who Should Use DreamHost?

  • Anyone looking for very cheap VPS hosting
  • Anyone who frequently updates their site’s content
  • Anyone who prefers online support to phone support

FAQs

As far as both Bluehost and DreamHost are concerned, unmetered bandwidth means unmetered “within reason.” In other words, the limits on data transfer are so high that most websites on a shared hosting plan won’t come close to exceeding them – in fact, Bluehost maintains that 99.95% of its customers will have enough bandwidth and storage space to meet their needs.
Bluehost takes the number one spot in our web hosting research – but if you’re interested in what else is out there, definitely check out our ranking of the 11 best web hosts of 2021 – there’s a best-fit provider for everyone, whether your top priority is affordability, scalability, or even eco-friendliness!

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