DreamHost vs HostGator: Which Is Best for You?

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So, you’re looking for a hosting provider, and you’ve narrowed it down to two of the biggest names in the business – DreamHost and HostGator. It’s a big choice, but we’re here to help make the decision a little easier. In this comparison, we’ll set these hosting heavyweights against each other, so you can weigh up everything they offer side-by-side.

HostGator is best for:

  • Users who want minimal downtime
  • Those looking for lots of support options
  • Users who want a good feature set on the cheapest plans

DreamHost is best for:

  • Users on a budget
  • WordPress users looking for excellent WordPress hosting
  • Users who want a long trial period to test out a provider

We’ve put these two through their paces, researching and testing them thoroughly. After hours of analysis, we recommend HostGator as the best out of the two. It’s a great all-rounder and takes the second spot in our overall rankings, earning a score of 93% – this puts it well ahead of DreamHost, which sits in 12th position with a score of 70%.

Don’t just take our word for it – in this article, we’ll show you exactly how we came to this conclusion. We’ll measure HostGator and DreamHost against each other – digging into their value for money, overall features, ease of use, and more – so that you can make your own decision, and confidently pick the one that’s best for you.

Best uptime performance provider

4.6

out of 5
Types of Hosting

5 out of 5 stars

Hosting Features

4.25 out of 5 stars

Disk Space

5 out of 5 stars

Uptime

4.5 out of 5 stars

Help and Support

5 out of 5 stars

Value For Money

3.5 out of 5 stars

Best for storage space

3.5

out of 5
Types of Hosting

5 out of 5 stars

Hosting Features

5 out of 5 stars

Disk Space

5 out of 5 stars

Uptime

2.5 out of 5 stars

Help and Support

1.25 out of 5 stars

Value For Money

3 out of 5 stars

Good question! First, before we began analyzing each hosting provider ourselves, we wanted to make sure that we focused on the areas which are most important to you. That’s why we surveyed over 1,200 readers to learn more about their experiences.

We then measured each hosting provider’s performance across 21 different areas, and condensed our findings into these five most important research categories:

  • Uptime
  • Disk Space
  • Features
  • Pricing
  • Help and Support

Every provider we analyzed – DreamHost and HostGator included – has earned a score out of five in each of these categories. These providers also got an overall score out of five, which equates to the average of all of its category scores.

Pros and Cons

HostGator Pros and Cons

HostGator Pros HostGator Cons
• Ease of Use
HostGator offers a well-rounded hosting service that caters to a variety of users, rather than just one particular type.

• Uptime Guarantee
Its 99.99% uptime guarantee means you won’t have to worry about visitors not being able to access your site for long periods of time.

• Features
HostGator offers unlimited storage even on its cheapest plans. It also comes with free email marketing software through Constant Contact.

• Customer Support
You can access invaluable support through its 24/7 live chat and phone line, as well as its amazing Knowledge Base.
• No Free Domain
It doesn’t offer a free domain with all plans, meaning you’ll only get one with certain packages.

• Expensive
Its plans are pricier than DreamHost’s.

DreamHost Pros and Cons

DreamHost Pros DreamHost Cons
• WordPress Compatibility
DreamHost comes with excellent features for WordPress users, including pre-installation and free domain transfers.

• Affordable Hosting
It offers good entry-level shared hosting plans that start at just $2.59 (introductory price).

• Money-back Guarantee
A generous 97-day money-back guarantee means you can take your time testing out the platform before deciding if it’s right for you.
• Limited Support Options
There’s no telephone contact available in case you need support – you’ll need to schedule a call back instead.

• Average Uptime Guarantee
Its 99.95% uptime guarantee isn’t as impressive as HostGator’s

Ease of Use

DreamHost vs HostGator: Ease of Use - HostGator Wins

HostGator hostingHostGator’s cPanel dashboard is logical, and even if you do get a bit lost, its Knowledge Base is a gold mine that’s guaranteed to have resources or dedicated tutorials to help you out.

Onboarding Process

HostGator and DreamHost both have a fairly straightforward onboarding process.  Although HostGator doesn’t include a domain name as a free perk on all of its annual packages, it does allow you to pair an existing domain easily, or purchase a new one during the registration process. This means you won’t have to swap between different websites when getting set up.

The same can be said for DreamHost, but unlike its competitor, if you select any annual plan (rather than a monthly one), you’ll get a free domain name thrown in as an added extra. This will only be valid for the first year, but it’s a good option if you’re looking to save a few bucks, and if the long-term plan doesn’t put you off.

Setting up (and Running) Your Website

Setting up and running a website is easy with both of these providers. HostGator features a marketplace where you can install applications such as WordPress, Weebly, and G-Suite with just one click, so you can get up and running within minutes. Its Knowledge Base is also a veritable gold mine of useful hints, tips, and tutorials. If you get stuck, you’ll be able to find a resource to help you out in no time.

HostGator Knowledge Base
HostGator’s Knowledge Base features articles and tutorials on a wide range of topics, to help you out of any sticky situations you might find yourself in

Whereas HostGator tries to cater to the needs of all users, DreamHost prefers to zone in on WordPress as its partner of choice. It comes with WordPress already pre-installed, saving you the hassle. You’ll still find yourself going through the same steps to get started as with HostGator, but you’ll have shaved a few seconds off your setup time.

Like most popular hosting providers, HostGator uses a cPanel dashboard. If you’ve hosted a site before, this will be familiar to you, and you’ll be able to slide straight back in without having to learn where everything is. And even if you’re not familiar with this kind of interface, its modern design makes it easy to navigate.

DreamHost is a whole different ball game, and uses a custom-made dashboard. This is still really simple and easy to use, but it might take a while to get used to, especially if you’ve used a cPanel in the past. Once you’ve become comfortable with the layout, though, it should be smooth sailing.

Features

DreamHost vs HostGator: Features - HostGator Wins

HostGator hosting

HostGator comes with generous unlimited storage and free email accounts, as well as complimentary email marketing. However, its free domain is only available with some packages, whereas DreamHost offers this on all of its annual plans.

There are a few different types of hosting, but both HostGator and DreamHost provide the same five options.

  • 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. This is where you purchase server space from a hosting provider, but not to use yourself – you’d actually then rent it out to other people, as a sort of business model. HostGator and DreamHost don’t offer this.
  • 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.

DreamHost Hosting Types HostGator Hosting Types
Shared – starts at $2.59 per month
WordPress – starts at $12 per month
VPS – starts at $10 per month
Dedicated Hosting – starts at $149 per month
Cloud Hosting – starts at $4.50 per month
Shared – starts at $2.75 per month
WordPress – starts at $5.95 per month
VPS – starts at $29.95 per month
Dedicated Hosting – starts at $89.98 per month
Cloud Hosting – starts at $4.95 per month

At first glance, the plans on offer are very similar. Both HostGator and DreamHost’s shared packages come with a free domain on the annual plan, and deliver unmetered bandwidth and a free SSL certificate. However, there are some key differences and a few added extras that set them apart.

For example, HostGator offers unlimited storage and unlimited free email accounts on its most basic shared plan. This is pretty rare, and is usually something you only get with more expensive packages. DreamHost only provides 50GB of storage, and you’ll need to pay to add your email accounts to your plan.

Additionally, HostGator really stands out for the free email marketing service it provides through Constant Contact. Email is one of the cheapest and most reliable marketing methods out there, offering a tried and tested way of building a loyal subscriber base. The fact that HostGator gives you this for free is a real selling point, especially given that purchasing your own software can be costly.

Heads up… HostGator’s free domain offer

HostGator is now offering a free domain with the purchase of a Cloud, Shared, or Optimized WordPress hosting plan. To qualify for this offer, you can only choose domains ending in .biz, .club, .co, .com, .host, .info, .me, .net, .online, .org, .site, .space, .store, .tech, and .website.

What about more advanced plans?

Take a look below to compare HostGator and DreamHost’s VPS and Dedicated hosting plans.

VPS Hosting Features

DreamHost VPS Hosting HostGator VPS Hosting
RAM – 1 GB
Storage – 30 GB SSD
Bandwidth – unmetered
Dedicated IPs – 2
Email addresses – unlimited
RAM – 2 GB
Storage – 120 GB SSD
Bandwidth – unmetered
Dedicated IPs – 2
vCPU – 2 cores
Email addresses – unlimited

Dedicated Hosting Features

DreamHost Dedicated Hosting HostGator Dedicated Hosting
CPU – Intel Xeon 4 core/ 8 thread
Compatibility – Linux or Windows
RAM – 4 GB
Storage – 1 TB HDD
Bandwidth – unmetered
Email addresses – unlimited
DDoS protection
CPU – Intel Xeon 2 core/ 8 thread
Compatibility – Linux or Windows
RAM – 8 GB
Storage – 1 TB HDD
Bandwidth – unmetered
Email addresses – unlimited
Full or semi-managed
DDoS protection

It’s also worth mentioning that, although DreamHost and HostGator each have five different types of hosting, within them you’ll find different packages that are progressively more expensive, but also offer more features.

The DreamHost plans are split into the ‘starter’ and ‘unlimited’ packages, except for the WordPress plans, which are separated into DreamPress, DreamPress Plus, and DreamPress Pro.

For each hosting type, HostGator offers the Hatchling, Baby, and Business plans.

Further Reading

Want to know more about HostGator and DreamHost’s Features? Take a look at our in-depth reviews! We’ll dig deeper into what each of these providers has to offer.

Pricing and Value for Money

DreamHost vs HostGator: Pricing and Value for Money - HostGator Wins

HostGator hosting

HostGator is more expensive than DreamHost, but it has a set of awesome features, plus unbeatable uptime – making it great value for money.

  • HostGator’s introductory prices start at $2.75 per month, but the renewal prices increase and begin at $6.95 per month.
  • DreamHost’s introductory prices start at $2.59 per month, but the renewal prices increase and begin at $5.99 per month.

No matter which hosting provider you choose, you’ll find that introductory prices are common. These are discounts that mean you pay a lower price for your first term. When your package runs out and you need to renew it, you’ll have to pay the regular fee.

All of HostGator and DreamHost’s plans can be bought on a monthly, yearly, or 3-yearly basis. Unsurprisingly, the longer you commit to, the less you need to pay each month. You’ll still be required to pay the full amount upfront, but it’ll be cheaper in the long run.

We think that three years is a long time to commit to a single hosting provider, so we don’t recommend this, despite the savings. We’d advise going for one year to start, and then committing to a longer period when your renewal comes up.

HostGator or DreamHost: Which is Best Value for Money?

On the surface, it’s clear that DreamHost is the cheaper out of the two, but is it the best value? Actually, it’s not. In our research, when it came to value for money, DreamHost only scored a 3 out of 5 compared to HostGator’s 3.9 out of 5.

Despite being more expensive, the features that HostGator offers make the extra spend worth it. It also has the best uptime guarantee out of every provider on the market, and its customer support makes it a thoroughly reliable option.

Further Reading

DreamHost Pricing Review – A dreamy bargain or a waste of money? We’ll find out in our thorough pricing review, where we’ll put all of DreamHost’s features and promises under the microscope.

HostGator Pricing Review – If you’re wondering whether HostGator is worth your hard-earned dollar, this is the place to find out. We’ll examine everything this provider has to offer so you can see if it’s the platform for you.

Performance and Security

DreamHost vs HostGator: Performance and Security - HostGator Wins

HostGator hosting

HostGator has a better uptime guarantee than DreamHost, and comes with an SSL certificate and weekly backups.

Uptime

It’s impossible to achieve 100% uptime, but HostGator comes close. Offering an uptime guarantee of 99.99%, it’s the best on the market, and it certainly blows DreamHost out of the water.

To put this into context, HostGator’s guarantee means you’ll experience less than an hour of downtime per year. This is a big selling point for most businesses, but especially if you run an ecommerce store where downtime means a loss of sales.

In comparison, DreamHost only offers an average uptime of 99.95%. This might not seem much less, but in terms of real-life downtime, the difference counts. It translates to 4.5 hours a year where your website is unavailable to your visitors.

Hosting Provider Uptime Guarantee Yearly Downtime Weekly Downtime
DreamHost 99.95% 4h 22m 58s 5m 2s
HostGator 99.99% 52m 35s 1m 0s

Security

Both DreamHost and HostGator come with SSL certificates included in their plans, as well as protecting against distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. This is when the server is flooded with a high volume of fake traffic so that your regular users can’t access the website.

In addition to this, DreamHost provides free domain privacy, so your personal information is protected, as well as offering daily backups so your site data is safeguarded in case of an emergency.

Although HostGator also offers backups, these are only carried out weekly, so if an error occurs in between, you’ll be at risk of losing your most recent changes. We recommend you carry out manual backups every day to be on the safe side.

Good to know…

As with all software, your website will need updating now and again, particularly if the platform you use introduces a new, better version. DreamHost will run WordPress updates automatically for you, but with HostGator, you’ll need to do this manually. However, you can also download apps like Softaculous that can automate the updates for you.

Added Extras

Both DreamHost and HostGator offer advanced protection options in the form of DreamShield and SiteLock Essentials. However, you’ll have to pay for the privilege of these, adding them to your overall plan when you register.

Whichever provider you choose, we recommend investing in these, especially if you run an ecommerce store. The extra cost is worth the reassurance when dealing with card payments, and both are excellent for keeping your site safe and secure. DreamShield prices start at $3 per month, while SiteLock starts at $1.49 per month.

Migrating Domains and Websites

DreamHost vs HostGator: Migrating Domains and Websites - HostGator wins

HostGator hosting

Both DreamHost and HostGator offer free migration services with conditions attached – anything outside of these boundaries will cost you. However, you’ll need to pay for DreamHost to transfer your domain, whereas HostGator offers one free domain migration.

In the same way that you shouldn’t always stick with the same gas or electric company, having the option to swap hosting providers is a necessity. And the easier it is to do, the better. So how do DreamHost and HostGator measure up in this capacity?

HostGator offers a limited number of free transfers depending on your plan – however, these are only valid within 30 days of signup. If you’re outside of this window, or you’ve already used your free transfer, you’ll need to contact HostGator for a quote if you want them to do it for you. Alternatively, you can do it manually yourself, but it will take a fair amount of time to complete.

DreamHost also offers free transfers, but only for WordPress sites. If you use another CMS, you’re going to have to do it all manually. This’s easy enough, but it can feel quite complicated if this is your first transfer. We’ve written a handy step-by-step guide on how to transfer website hosting to help you get it right.

Migrating Domains

HostGator offers one free domain migration with your hosting account, and uses Launchpad to make the transfer. This is only eligible for .com, .net, or .org domains.

Before migrating your domain, you’ll need to go through a few steps, such as unlocking your domain with your old registrar. If you’re not sure where to start, check out our guide on how to transfer your domain name for a helping hand.

Migrating your domain with DreamHost is even easier, but it’s not free. Transfer prices start from $9.95, unless you still have a free registration transfer available with your plan. Once you’ve selected the correct one and contacted your current registrar, everything can be done from the DreamHost panel. You should receive an email when the transfer has been completed.

Help and Support

DreamHost vs HostGator: Help and Support - HostGator wins

HostGator hosting

HostGator offers a thorough customer support package, and its Knowledge Base is second-to-none, offering a library of solutions at your fingertips.

DreamHost HostGator
Knowledge Center
Live Chat
24/7 Live Chat X
Phone ✔ (call backs only)
24/7 Phone X
Tickets

HostGator scored top marks in our research process, earning a perfect 5 out of 5 for its customer support. It provides access to a 24/7 live chat and phone service. Plus, its Knowledge Base has tutorials and how-tos on virtually everything, with a search function so you can find the answers to your specific questions in no time.

HostGator Support
HostGator provides 24/7 customer support via live chat, as well as over the phone
HostGator Knowledge Base
HostGator’s Knowledge Base is an invaluable resource to help you navigate the world of hosting, giving you access to tutorials and step-by-step guides

Although this is pretty impressive on the surface, when we put HostGator’s live chat to the test, we were a little disappointed. Their answers weren’t always as quick as we would have liked, and at times, it didn’t feel like their operators had a full grasp on HostGator’s products. However, its Knowledge Base saves the day – you can use this to fill out any gaps you might have from the live chat.

DreamHost also offers a seven-day live chat function, but it’s only available between 5:30am and 9:30pm Pacific time. This might be slightly limiting if you experience issues outside of this window, but, like HostGator, DreamHost also has a Knowledge Base where you can use the search function to find answers to your problems.

Dreamhost customer support
With DreamHost, you can submit your query through a contact form, or use the live chat feature

Unfortunately, DreamHost doesn’t offer a telephone service. You can request a call-back, but you won’t get an answer immediately. It also operates a ticketing service, where you can submit your problem via a ticket, but similarly, you’ll have to wait a while for a response.

DreamHost vs HostGator: Summary

DreamHost and HostGator are both popular hosting providers, but their strengths lie in different areas. HostGator caters to a much wider audience than DreamHost, which narrows its focus down more specifically to WordPress users.

Here’s a quick reminder of how each provider performed in the six key areas of our comparison:

DreamHost HostGator
Ease of Use
Winner: HostGator
Is focused mainly on WordPress hosting, but isn’t best equipped if you use another type of CMS. It also has its own dashboard that might take some time to get used to. It does offer a free domain with all plans, though. Uses a cPanel dashboard that many users will be familiar with, and its Marketplace allows you to link up with a variety of different platforms. However, it only offers a free domain on certain plans.
Features
Winner: HostGator
Doesn’t offer as much storage as HostGator, but you’ll still get unmetered bandwidth and a free SSL. Its 97-day money-back guarantee is one of the best, and it offers free daily backups. Offers five types of feature-rich hosting. Get unlimited storage, unmetered bandwidth, and a free SSL certificate on its cheapest plan, as well as free email marketing through Constant Contact.
Pricing and Value for Money
Winner: HostGator
This is a good option if you’re on a budget, but still want a decent set of features. Shared plans start at $2.59. Is more expensive than DreamHost, but better value considering the features you get. Shared plans start at $2.75.
Performance and Security
Winner: HostGator
Has a much lower uptime guarantee of 99.95%. It also offers an SSL certificate and protection against DDoS attacks, as well as daily backups. You can invest in Dreamshield for extra site security. Has an unbeatable uptime guarantee of 99.99%, meaning minimal downtime. It offers an SSL certificate and protection against DDoS attacks, although backups only happen weekly. For further security, you can invest in SiteLock.
Migrating Domains and Websites
Winner: HostGator
Offers free transfers, but only for WordPress sites – otherwise, you’ll need to do it manually. Migrating domains isn’t free though, and the cost will depend on the type of domain you have. You’ll get at least one website and domain transfer within 30 days, but you could be eligible for more depending on your chosen plan. Anything outside of this will cost you.
Help and Support
Winner: HostGator
Has live chat, phone callbacks, a ticketing service, and a large Knowledge Base – although not all of these are available 24/7. It doesn’t offer a phone service, either. Scores top marks for support, offering a 24/7 live chat and phone service, as well as boasting one of the best Knowledge Bases out there.

Who Should Use HostGator?

You should use HostGator if you’re looking for a reliable and high-quality service, no matter what plan you’re on. You can’t ask for more than HostGator’s 99.99% uptime guarantee and thorough customer service. Although its plans might be more expensive than DreamHost’s, they’re great value and serve up excellent features, even on the cheapest ones.

Who should use DreamHost?

DreamHost is perfect if you’re a WordPress user, or you’re on a budget and want good shared hosting at an affordable price. It’s a beginner-friendly option, especially if you aren’t attached to a cPanel dashboard, so won’t mind learning how to use DreamHost’s custom-built control portal.

FAQs

Every website needs some form of website hosting, but if you’re using a website builder, it won’t be up to you to sort this out. Most of them come with hosting included in the price, so the builder will take care of the hosting side of things for you.
If you don’t already have one, you can buy a domain from either HostGator or DreamHost during the signup process. We recommend doing this, because it’s much easier to manage your hosting and domain if they’re both on the same platform. If you purchase a domain elsewhere, you’ll need to flick between two different platforms (the domain registrar and your actual web host) to manage them.
No, not every hosting provider offers domain registration. Instead, some hosts require you to use a third-party site for domain registration. The fact that HostGator and DreamHost both provide this as an in-house service is a big benefit of both.
Although HostGator is a great all-rounder and more than capable of hosting a WordPress site, DreamHost is slightly better. It’s been designed specifically to support WordPress sites, coming with the integration already pre-installed, as well as offering free migrations. Plus, it’s often recommended by WordPress themselves.

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