Both companies are fairly well known in the hosting sphere so it’s time to put them to the test, we will be comparing them on:
- Feature set – Do they offer everything you expect?
- Performance – Will the website load in time?
- Support – Are they friendly, fast and willing to help?
- Ease of use – Does it just work with no messin’ around?
I’ll declare a winner at each stage of the review and then will summarise the overall winner based on their performance throughout the review. I’ll be using hard statistics when it comes to the performance aspect, and a more holistic ‘how it feels’ approach when it comes to ease of use.
Over the last 10 years I’ve had hands on experience with pretty much all the big web hosts as well as lots of the smaller ones, I know what to look for in a good / bad host and I know what features set them apart.
You can skip rest of details and see conclusion here.
So, let’s begin.
Overview of DreamHost
DreamHost is an American based web hosting company that has been around for just over 20 years.
They focus only on selling webhosting and domains and leave other related technologies to other companies. They claim to host over 1.5 million websites which makes them a big webhost.
They’ve previously won multiple PC Mag best hosting awards and are generally well reviewed.
Overview of BlueHost
Bluehost is another American based web company, it’s part of a bigger group of webhosts that includes Hostmonster, FastDomain and iPage.
They claim to host over 2 Million websites which makes them a bigger host than DreamHost.
Again, Bluehost offer just hosting and domains.
Features Comparison with Plan and Price
Time to get into the meat of the comparison, let’s compare the feature set of both providers.
I’m going to compare the middle of the road plans from each host, ignoring any special promotional offers.
DreamHost vs BlueHost Price Comparison Table:
|Control Panel||Web Panel||cPanel|
|Spam Free Protection||Yes||Yes|
|Money Back Guarantee||97 days||30 days|
So, the feature set is identical. There is almost no difference between the two providers, it did however take me an age to find out all the detailed information for Dreamhost, it just wasn’t clear!
Both providers offer cheaper plans the longer you sign up and a similar number of advanced features including free domains, SSLs and Shell access. Try as a I might, I just can’t find any significant difference between the two products.
Bonus Point: I LOVE that Bluehost posts their exact server specifications.
Winner: For me the winner is Bluehost, it was just significantly easier to find out the details of the hosting plans and they gave exact details on the underlying servers, nice touch!
DreamHost vs BlueHost – Performance Test
So, as I mentioned before I’ve got a WordPress site setup on both hosts, it’s got the out of the box theme and some mocked up content / images. We are going to run two tests on each site.
1. Page Speed
Here we are looking at the time for the host to load the page for a browser that doesn’t have the page already cached.
No caching is enabled on the WordPress site so this is a test of both the hosting and MySQL DB back end. This is an import test as this is the kind of experience most users will get.
Test Website on DreamHost
Test Website on BlueHost
BlueHost: 2.46 Seconds
Winner: Bluehost is the winner, only a slight edge but an edge nonetheless, this kind of performance difference will only be more evident as the page gets bigger.
2. First Byte
Next, we will look at how long it takes the web hosting server to serve up it’s very first byte to a user, this is a good test of server response and latency. A really high number here will likely lead to other issues down the line.
DreamHost First Byte Test
BlueHost First Byte Test
Bluehost: 0.590 seconds
DreamHost: 0.593 seconds
Winner: Really this has got to be a tie, a 0.03 second difference isn’t enough to call a winner.
I’ve been monitoring both hosting companies uptime over the years. Here is the last 6 months uptime score history details.
Test Website on DreamHost:
- September average uptime: 99.96%
- August average uptime: 100%
- July average uptime: 100%
- June average uptime: 100%
- May average uptime: 100%
- April average uptime: 99.93%
Test Website on BlueHost:
- September average uptime: 99.85%
- August average uptime: 99.78%
- July average uptime: 99.96%
- June average uptime: 99.97%
- May average uptime: 100%
- April average uptime: 99.98%
Winner: It might seem like a small victory but the difference between last month 99.96% and 99.85% are very significant, so the winner for this is DreamHost.
Bluehost either ties with or beats DreamHost on every one of the performance tests that we’ve run. There’s no doubt in my mind that Bluehost offers the better performance web hosting.
Hands on Experience
It’s time to get stuck in to both hosting products, I’m going to setup a simple WordPress site in each one and judge what the hands-on experience is like and then I’ll test the performance.
Both companies claim to offer 24 / 7 Support, so to test them both out I’ll give them a call and ask to discuss their hosting performance as I’m looking to move my WordPress site to them.
Bluehost’s support get top marks, I was on hold for less than a minute, the support rep was very knowledgeable and answered my performance question satisfactorily within 10 minutes.
Another negative for me is that Dreamhost don’t have 24 / 7 chat support, I much prefer using this chat support so it was a shame I couldn’t use it when I needed it.
Winner: Bluehost is the winner, slightly better support options and response times, a few small things add up to a better support experience!
It always annoys me a little when a web host doesn’t just use standard cPanel, I mean come on just pony up the cash and pay for it.
Unfortunately Dreamhost have not done this and instead have gone for their own custom control panel solution.
Honestly the control panel is fine, if a little clunky but when you want to manage lots of sites across lots of hosts cPanel really makes things easier.
Bluehost does have standard cPanel, easy to use as always, not really much else to say.
Winner: Bluehost, cPanel for the win.
Backups are pretty Import, especially when it comes to WordPress sites and other similar web platforms which are well known for easily breaking.
Bluehost: Supports fully automated weekly backups included in the hosting plan, other backup options are available at a cost. This is probably enough for most sites, if you feel you need more the small cost of the pro backup should be fine.
DreamHost: Include complete web backups HOWEVER they are not automated. You must go into the control panel and manually take the backups. This is a bit of a pain and can be easily forgotten.
Winner: For automated backups, the winner has to be Bluehost.
DreamHost vs BlueHost Conclusion
So Dreamhost vs. Bluehost? They both are good web hosting companies with some differences.
If you are looking for excellent uptime and longer money back guarantee then you should select Dreamhost. Dreamhost discounts are available here.
And if you are totally new to website world, you might find my WordPress Setup Guide useful.
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