Bluehost and DreamHost are among the most popular and well-known hosting companies globally. We each have a devoted follow-up. Many web developers, advertisers, and business owners alike would confess to one or the other being a good host, but this raises the question— which hosting company (Bluehost or DreamHost) is the king of the hill?
I exposed each host to a series of performance tests over 12 months to get some good objective data to help answer this issue. In addition, I have been developing technical websites for over 10 years, so that you will get my expert opinion on the topic.
Cybersguards are unique because I’m not going to recommend a host depending on their fees or a host I don’t have personal experience with under whatever conditions. One of the most significant issues in the web hosting reviews industry is that many bloggers are just arbitrarily promoting or “recommending” whichever host pays the most in referral commissions irrespective of their consistency, and I hate it— I expected Cybers Guards to be unique.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way let’s look at
Bluehost vs. DreamHost and figure out who’s the strongest in a head-to-head game!
DreamHost vs Bluehost: Competition Classes
It is good to keep the measuring stick as fair and straightforward as possible when making any side-by-side contrast. To do this, I typically prefer contrasting two different hosts using the same parameters. I do this to make it easy to interpret all parallels from one to the other and provide a simple overview of each host. E.g., if you want to compare Bluehost vs. HostGator and then Bluehost vs. DreamHost, you can do this on this website, and it’s good to see that all comparisons use the same general criterion.
I like to look at five primary categories when contrasting any two web hosting services. These are the following categories:
- Web Performance/Server Speed
- Online Time (Uptime) vs. Offline Time (Downtime)
- Service, Support, Ease of Getting Help
- Ease of Use for the Interface (User-Friendliness)
- Pricing, Feature Bundles, Options, etc.
It’s important to understand that such definitions don’t encompass any aspect when selecting a web host or contrasting them. Still, I believe they do an excellent job of helping to see how hosting companies compete against each other. Bluehost also makes your account suspended if your hosting has malware in it; Bluehost malware removal is to be done asap to unsuspend it.
Bluehost and DreamHost — Web Performance / Server Quality
A web server’s quality and performance are one of the most significant (if not the most) considerations when choosing a web host. The truth is people have come from a website to assume pace. The 56 K dial-up modems days are gone, and a web page is waiting for minutes to load. People are now expecting a web page to be loaded in seconds, and if this does not happen, they will promptly bounce or click back on their browsers.
It ensures that it has to be fast if you want a good website. Your web server has to be fast to make your website reliable. Yes, you can have a powerful server and a poorly configured website, but it doesn’t matter how well your website is designed if your server isn’t quick. This is particularly important in shared hosting environments where the better hosting companies will handle their resources very well (like HostGator), and bad companies will not manage them well, which is immediately apparent in the pace of their servers and websites hosting them.
To test Bluehost and DreamHost, I set up two similarly configured WordPress websites with the same plugins and similar content. Bluehost hosted one, and DreamHost hosted the other. I use their American data centers to bring each page through the website speed test at Dotcom-Tools.com. -the platform has been checked from various locations, and in the pictures below, you can see the test data.
When you look closely, you will see that Bluehost has the best 1.4 second load time, while DreamHost has the best 1.7 second load time. These load times are impressive and well below the 3-second “golden standard” where consumer focus tends to decrease and bounce levels begin to rise. DreamHost had a 27.6 second load time from the Argentina server location as far as the slowest load times are concerned, whereas Bluehost had a 10.1 second load time from the Florida, USA server site.
It’s easy to see that Bluehost is the better host when contrasting with DreamHost here in terms of objective data. It’s important to note that Argentina’s 27.6 second load time brought down the average way of DreamHost. We might have had a better overall time without that. Still, it can also mean something about what DreamHost servers do when overwhelmed with overlapping tourists, bringing Bluehost a little more legitimacy. I also found in my own experience that in terms of shared hosting, Bluehost’s servers seem to be a little snappier than DreamHost’s. I’ve had much better luck with Bluehost regarding VPS servers and dedicated boxes.
And the winner of speed and performance is… Bluehost!
DreamHost is by no means a sluggish host, their times overall were pretty good, but in general, Bluehost fared a little better in the tests and had no major meltdowns, so to speak, which also represents my own experience with them.
DreamHost vs Bluehost: Online Time (Uptime) vs Offline Time (Downtime)
There is no scenario where uptime is not one of the most significant factors when finding a web host. The bottom line is that no one can visit it — period if your website is down. Imagine having an e-commerce platform where you are offering coffee for a second. How many disappointed clients you will have (and possibly lose) if they cannot shop or the platform falls inaccessible when trying to add products to your list. If you’re a small business, you may never be able to recover your reputation— especially if the failure gets a lot of social media coverage.
Even if you don’t have a company, a devastating thing can still be downtime. It can upset visitors, damage your reputation, and hurt your positioning in search engines. And if you aren’t actively monitoring your site, you may not even know that it’s down. With all that said, you can see how it’s essential to understand the need for a good web host with a good uptime rating.
The industry-standard measure for uptime is 99.9%, which most web hosts adhere to. The document that governs how a host treats downtime is typically called a Service Level Agreement (SLA). Most hosts’ document specifies what you can expect in terms of uptime and what they’ll do if the uptime falls below that.
In the case of Bluehost, they don’t specify an uptime percentage, which I’m not a fan of. They only say that it should be no more than 15 minutes to fix a problem, which isn’t saying much. On the other hand, DreamHost has a 100% uptime SLA, which is better. In an outage, they’ll only credit you for the downtime you experienced, not for an entire month of service like other hosts (such as HostGator).
To test Bluehost vs. DreamHost in uptime, I used Dotcom-Monitor to ping each server at 3 hours intervals for an entire year to see if the WordPress site hosted on it was up or down.
You can see that Bluehost had a 12-month uptime percentage of 99.81%, while DreamHost had a 12-month uptime percentage of 98.4%. Both of these numbers are good, but Bluehost had better numbers here. While I like DreamHost’s SLA a bit better, giving a specific number, I have to go with the complex numbers here and say the Bluehost in online time (uptime) vs. offline time (downtime).
Again, I wouldn’t say I like Bluehost’s SLA because it doesn’t specify a specific number for uptime/downtime. Still, my personal experience with Bluehost and DreamHost has been (aside from the complex numbers listed here) that Bluehost tends to have more reliable servers and better uptime in general. Some people who’ve used DreamHost extensively may have had a different experience. Still, I have typically tried to avoid using DreamHost mainly because of their awful user interface, which I try to avoid.
Station, Service, Having Assistance Facilities
Though pace and uptime may be the most critical factors when selecting a host, support is essential. It can be challenging if you cannot get support when you need it, mainly if your website is down or there is a billing issue, etc.
We each have pretty good resources when looking at both organizations (Bluehost vs. DreamHost). Bluehost provides 24/7/365 talk, web, ticket, and email services. Except for easy access to telephone support, DreamHost provides all the above. They do have an option to call you back from a technician, but it’s buried among their other support options and gives the impression that they don’t want to talk to customers on the phone or deal with phone support.
Help is a somewhat arbitrary term, but over the years, my help experience with Bluehost has been much more substantial than with DreamHost. I found that DreamHost chat help is often offline, and Bluehost chat is always online, but sometimes, in my view, the waiting times (especially during peak hours) are too lengthy.
Since Bluehost has more accessible access to telephone support and their conversation is more available (in my experience), I have to offer Bluehost the win in this category.
User-friendliness: Bluehost / DreamHost
Another essential feature of a good web host is a good user experience to monitor and run the site. CPanel is the industry standard, and it is what most web hosting firms are using. With very little practice, it’s sleek, very user-friendly, and simple to use. Many site hosts either use cPanel with the default configuration / UI or place their custom layout on top of cPanel (Bluehost and other hosts like HostGator do this).
Unfortunately, this is one area where I have to call out DreamHost and tell it like it is (I always do anyway). Their user interface is terrible, almost to the point of being unusable. For some reason, they didn’t use cPanel and decided to have a custom interface. This isn’t always a bad thing per se, but their interface is clunky, confusing, and outdated-looking. It’s one of the main reasons I don’t use DreamHost for any new sites unless I have an older site sitting on their servers.
If I have a client or business hosted on DreamHost and I have to move their site to a new server, it’s an absolute nightmare. I also, at this point, refuse to migrate sites to DreamHost because the process of setting up an FTP account and SQL databases is so confusing and silly it’s not even worth the effort. I don’t know how much else I can say here, but I’m 100% sure that DreamHost fails big in this category. If you do some searching online, you’ll find other people who complain about this. It’s their biggest downside, and because of that (although this is a subjective but honest and thorough opinion), I have to say that Bluehost wins this category, and they win big.
Pricing, Feature Bundles & Options
In the hosting world, pricing can be all over the place due to various factors. Here are some of those factors:
- Coupons—are available from several sources for many different hosts. They often create a steep initial discount that doesn’t renew.
- Promotions—hosts will often run promotions on almost any holiday (St. Patrick’s Day, Columbus Day, whatever, really).
- Renewal rates—these rates vary significantly compared to the initial signup prices. Some hosts will negotiate on these, whereas others will not budge.
- Recurring discounts—some hosts will offer recurring discounts for referring other customers.
- Plan pricing/feature changes—hosts are notorious for continually adjusting pricing in several ways and throughout the season, making it hard to keep track of prices.
These factors can dramatically affect pricing, so it can be hard to compare two hosts based on pricing and features because they may change at any given time. All that can be done is to take a snapshot at a specific point and compare them because things may change at any time in the future.
Looking at DreamHost at the time of writing, the costs for their shared hosting are very clear. When you pay monthly, it’s $10.95/month, which operates at $9.95/month on an annual basis and functions at $7.95/month on a triennial basis.
Bluehost has a more confusing pricing structure because if you sign up at once for 3 years, your lowest-priced shared hosting plan works out to be $3.45/month. Bluehost doesn’t allow you to pay every month, and their cheapest plan works out to be $5.95/month for shared hosting if you pay at once for 12 months and $4.95/month if you pay 24 months in advance.
DreamHost’s shared hosting service offers unlimited domains and more flexible stuff (they only provide one account), but the initial cost is a bit more expensive. Renewal prices can differ so much that it’s hard to say between hosts.
Since proprietary hosting (shared with Linux) has become so commodified — it’s a connection between Bluehost and DreamHost in the field of pricing and features — it’s too close to calling between these hosts.
So Bluehost’s overall winner vs. DreamHost is… Bluehost — winning in the overall series 4 out of 5 groups.
When it comes to the most critical factors — Speed, Uptime, Customer Service, and Ease of Use, Bluehost is pulling ahead of DreamHost, especially in the Easy of Use category, where the custom backend DreamHost is hurting them. The only category that was a tie is pricing, and given all the other factors, it’s not enough to sway DreamHost’s vote. If you’re searching for a good web host and comparing Bluehost vs. DreamHost, I recommend Bluehost.