DreamHost and Bluehost are some of the biggest and most well-respected names in the world of hosting. Bluehost might be the giant here: around since 2003, it supports over 2 million websites, easily making it one of the world’s biggest hosting companies.
DreamHost is no slouch, and in fact is the older brother of the two (if not the “bigger” one): DreamHost was founded in 1996 and supports over 1.5 million websites with some 400,000+ customers in over 100 countries.
Clearly, at this point a simple number comparison won’t do the trick. DreamHost and Bluehost are hosting companies of comparable size, reputation, and popularity.
So which one is better?
Naturally, no solution is perfect for everyone, and different companies may excel in different areas. In this comparison, I’ll discuss the strengths and weaknesses of these top-tier hosts in relation to each other, with a particular focus on shared hosting due to its popularity.
So what are you waiting for? Let’s get to it!
Pricing and Features Comparison
The first thing we’ll look at are the prices and features of these two companies.
I’ll start with the priority: shared hosting.
Bluehost’s shared hosting prices are pretty typical, if slightly on the higher side.
DreamHost offers two tiers that can each be monthly or yearly plans. The monthly plans aren’t badly priced, but are on the higher side of average, as one may expect. The yearly plans (pictured) are more affordable, still within the average shared hosting price range but perhaps on the lower side.
Right off the bat, it’s pretty clear that Bluehost has a little more to choose from when it comes to shared hosting, but is also a bit more expensive on the entry level plans.
As far as features go, it’s tough to say. It’s unfortunate that entry-level purchases don’t get a free domain with DreamHost, whereas it’s a default for Bluehost’s plans.
Both hosts offer free SSL, pretty standard, and 1 website. They allow for unlimited traffic (which really means unmetered traffic, because this is shared hosting!) at the cheapest tiers, and generous storage (and SSD storage at that).
At the entry-level, Bluehost and DreamHost are pretty comparable. Beyond that, I would say Bluehost is a bit better: they offer everything DreamHost’s second tier does, plus a little more (like marketing offers, spam experts, and CodeGuard Basic). Plus, you have an extra tier to choose from.
Overlapping with shared hosting is WordPress hosting. I’d like to take a little extra space here to talk about WordPress hosting, because DreamHost and Bluehost have reputations for being good WordPress options.
Both Bluehost and DreamHost have seamless WordPress integration and steady performance, plus good assortment of features with entry level accounts. Plus, pretty good prices for what you’re getting.
On the note of prices, Bluehost has more options than DreamHost. DreamHost basically has two options for WordPress hosting, one very cheap and the other pricier. Bluehost, in contrast, has several tiers for both managed and unmanaged WordPress hosting.
Aside from WordPress and shared hosting, Bluehost and DreamHost have more premium options. Let’s look briefly at VPS hosting.
Above: Bluehost’s VPS hosting plans.
Above: DreamHost’s VPS plans.
Right off the bat, we find DreamHost to have a wider selection than Bluehost and a lower entry price. In fact, even its higher two tiers are cheaper, though I wouldn’t suggest you choose a VPS tier on the basis of which is cheaper by a few bucks.
Having said that, DreamHost’s entry price is pretty decent considering what you get for it. The only problem I have is that you’re limited to 1GB of RAM, and need to pay nearly twice the price for 2GB of RAM. If you need more RAM, then Bluehost’s first two VPS tiers are well-priced options (especially compared to DreamHost).
If that’s not a priority, then DreamHost offers you unlimited sites, unlimited email, and unlimited traffic, which is pretty solid especially for the entry level. Bluehost’s limitations here are pretty realistic and unlikely to hinder you much, but are still noteworthy.
I’d say DreamHost overall is better for VPS hosting, but Bluehost certainly can be a better option for some people looking for a mix between affordability and resources.
Finally, dedicated hosting is more of a toss-up. Bluehost has specified prices for dedicated hosting that are honestly pretty affordable and good-quality.
DreamHost requires you contact them first, so prices vary between customers. Speaking generally however, DreamHost’s dedicated servers will likely be pricier than Bluehost’s.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to go big on dedicated server options, Dreamhost wins. Why? It’s not that Bluehost is bad, but Dreamhost allows you to go much farther.
For example, you can get a maximum of 12 cores with DreamHost, as well as 64GB of RAM, 2TB of storage and unlimited bandwidth. Compared to Bluehost’s max of 4 cores, 16GB of RAM, 1TB of storage and 15TB of Bandwidth, it’s pretty clear who is better suited for serious dedicated solutions.
So, to sum things up, where does this leave us in the big picture?
Bluehost and DreamHost both offer affordable and high quality shared hosting options. However, I think Bluehost is a little better here, with more options and slightly better features, albeit a slightly higher price.
With WordPress, there honestly isn’t a clear winner—I prefer Bluehost overall, but that’s just me.
For higher quality options, I’d give things to DreamHost. It’s not a black and white win, but for VPS hosting, DreamHost has more per price (with the exception of RAM, which is admittedly important), and for dedicated hosting DreamHost is more expensive but far more scalable and grants a lot more…if you can afford it.
Ease of Use
Ease of use is of varying importance to different customers, but on some basic level it’s an essential. Even if you’re an experienced user, a service that’s easy to use saves a lot of time. If you’re working with a team, an easy to use service can accommodate everyone.
Bluehost certainly has a reputation, being such a popular host, for being easy to use, and their site strongly emphasizes this. DreamHost is also easy to use overall, but there’s a complication.
There is one interesting area where I find a considerable difference in ease of use. I say interesting because it’s highly unusual, especially for a big hosting company.
It has to do with the control panel: the control panel is basically where you manage everything about your hosting account. With most hosts, the control panel is a software called cPanel. cPanel is near-ubiquitous in hosting, so even if you change hosts the essential aspects of managing an account often look familiar.
cPanel is very easy to use—it’s designed to be that way after all. Bluehost has cPanel.
DreamHost does not.
Tricky, huh? It’s something a lot of people don’t notice until they actually begin using their account. Anyway, this isn’t as big a deal as it might sound.
I’ve heard quite a few complaints about DreamHost’s control panel, but the big complaint seems to be that it’s not cPanel, not that it’s hard to use. I’ll admit it’s a pain having to learn a new control panel, but I’d also like to clarify that it’s not such a huge deal.
Personally I do find cPanel easier to use. It’s not just because I’m used to it—it just has more pictures and symbols that make things easier to quickly click on and navigate with. In contrast DreamHost’s control panel is mostly text.
So while it’s easy to get the hang of, you’ll probably be more efficient with cPanel because 1) you might already be familiar with it, and 2) it is just visually easier to work with quickly.
Anyway, that’s the main difference as far as user friendliness is concerned in my opinion. Other points are more minor. Both DreamHost and Bluehost service inexperienced customers, and are properly equipped to handle them.
Having said that, Bluehost is marginally easier because it is particularly geared towards people new to hosting, more so than DreamHost. As a result, the general layout of Bluehost is a bit simpler and more straightforward.
My summary for ease of use would be that Bluehost wins overall, but that DreamHost isn’t necessarily difficult to learn—it’s just harder and less efficient relative to Bluehost.
Now that we’ve looked at ease of use, let’s look at its companion: customer support. Even a great performing service can have technical difficulties now and then, or perhaps confusions when it comes to managing an account. Customer support is an essential safety net.
Both companies offer two main types of customer support: methods of directly contacting representatives, and information or other helpful content on the website.
DreamHost essentially has live chat and ticket options for contacting customer support, which work out pretty well. You need to be signed in to use them, which is pretty common, but even if you forget your login you can request a ticket for help.
DreamHost’s knowledge base is well-organized and clean. Like many knowledge bases, it essentially consists of a search bar and a series of topics that will expand to reveal more articles or subtopics.
While not being the largest knowledge base, I have found DreamHost’s selection of articles to be expansive in the amount of topics covered and in-depth when it comes to detail.
DreamHost also has a community forum/discussion page, and while it can certainly be useful, it’s not as lively as some forums on bigger services.
Bluehost, like DreamHost, has chat and ticket options for contacting representatives, but Bluehost also has phone numbers available for those who prefer to call. Bluehost’s chat is so good you can test it out without even being signed in.
Not as direct as I prefer, but that’s what you get for using the chat without signing in. Once you’re in, Bluehost’s chat is very to the point, like DreamHost’s.
As far as on-site information goes, Bluehost’s knowledge base isn’t as “pretty” as DreamHost’s (this is just my opinion, keep in mind) but is far larger.
There are simply more articles, which are very in-depth and link to each other constantly. Sometimes it can feel a bit like a rabbit hole to fall down, but it’s certainly useful and can answer most questions.
In comparing the customer support of these two, I don’t want to give the impression that DreamHost is bad. DreamHost’s representatives are great, the forum is okay, and the knowledge base is very solid. However, Bluehost has more options for contacting representatives, equally good performance for those reps, and a much more expanded knowledge base.
While Bluehost may have narrowly taken this round, we’ve got one more battle to go!
Security and Reliability
Last but not by any measure least, comes our evaluation of security and reliability. How secure your information and hosting service is, is an essential part of the product itself. And if your site can’t reliably stay up for more than a certain amount of time, you’re probably due for a change.
So how do DreamHost and Bluehost (both highly respected for their performance) do?
Bluehost has a reputation for great uptime, and in our test, this was mostly true.
Mostly. September clearly was below standard, and January could have been better as well. On the other hand, at least the 99.9% mark has been maintained. Not to mention, those response times are consistently pretty great.
DreamHost is a bit different. Although we have fewer months to use for the comparison, it would seem DreamHost has better uptime overall. It may only be a fraction of a percentage, but the loss of even a few minutes can cost customers. Then again, the response time is significantly higher than Bluehost’s.
This means that when it comes to comparing the uptime of our two contenders, things are a mixed bag. DreamHost has overall better uptime, but Bluehost still has pretty good uptime and better response times.
When it comes to actually using the hosting service, my experience has been very positive for both companies. I will award a slight win to DreamHost because the uptime guarantee is stronger, but it’s still pretty close.
As far as security goes, I have a grievance with Bluehost. Why? Bluehost doesn’t say much. It’s popularity alone is a good indicator of security, plus Bluehost offers security add-ons that can make your account more secure. But these are pretty basic.
But that’s different from knowing a company’s security protocols and infrastructure, digital or physical. Because we don’t know the specifics, I won’t condemn Bluehost, and say it has poor security. But I will say the lack of information is disappointing.
Dreamhost is better here, but it’s not a gold standard for security disclosures. A lot of what DreamHost talks about, as with Bluehost, is what it offers as add-ons or features. This is of course important, but not all we want to know.
So while we only know basic things about DreamHost and Bluehost’s security, I still believe these are pretty safe hosts. Their quality and reliability is a good indicator, and there have not been many stories of security problems with either.
To wrap it up, I would say that both Bluehost and DreamHost are excellent when it comes to performance, and unfortunately vague about security (but still a safe bet). DreamHost might be somewhat better in this area, but it’s not a hard line.
Conclusion: Who Wins?
We’ve covered a lot of ground—let’s retrace our steps a little and make sure we’re all on the same page.
If this comparison has done anything, it’s proven that Bluehost and DreamHost are top-tier hosting services that deserve their good reputations and popularity. Which host is better depends of course on you, the customer.
Overall, DreamHost and Bluehost have very good uptime, but DreamHost is a safer bet in this regard (though Bluehost has better response times). As far as security goes, both are probably reliable, but neither says too much.
Their customer support is excellent, with Bluehost taking a win for having phone support and a more comprehensive knowledge base. I don’t consider Bluehost’s edge here worthy of making it “the” pick: it’s good to know, but things are close enough it’s not a huge issue.
When it comes to ease of use, both services do well but Bluehost is a safer option for the inexperienced. This is primarily because it gears itself more to new and inexperienced users, plus it uses the typical cPanel. DreamHost is still easy to learn, but because it has a native control panel application, managing things might be a bit more confusing and less efficient.
Once we start taking into account the prices, features, and all of the aforementioned factors, I’d say DreamHost and Bluehost win in different areas.
I’d recommend Bluehost more for inexperienced customers, small businesses that do not have stringent hosting needs, or really anyone who needs a quick and efficient solution. Bluehost is certainly a high quality platform, but it really excels in these areas and for those demographics.
DreamHost can fill that space somewhat, but I recommend it more for those interested in high quality hosting services—namely, VPS or dedicated server hosting. DreamHost is good for scaling and is a safer guarantee for top notch quality, if you’re interested in top notch performance.
Keep in mind that Bluehost can still do premium hosting services pretty well, and DreamHost is still great for shared hosting and WordPress. You can’t go too wrong with either—but they do tend to have strengths in slightly different areas!