Bluehost and DreamHost are two major players in web hosting, particularly if you’re looking for something affordable. If you’re wondering which one’s better, you’re not alone. To cut through the noise, we took a deep dive into the similarities, differences, positives, and negatives of each to help you decide which powerhouse is right for you.
After hundreds of hours of hands-on research, DreamHost scored slightly higher than Bluehost because of its superior speed, uptime, and price in the long term.
But that doesn’t mean Bluehost isn’t the right choice for you. Bluehost beat Dreamhost in ease of use and customer support. So, neither comes without its fair share of drawbacks.
Bluehost Compared to DreamHost
Bluehost is a great choice if you’re looking for a free WordPress drag-and-drop website builder that makes creating your next website easier than ever. We tested the builder ourselves and found it comprehensive, easy to use, and highly customizable. The builder goes hand-in-hand with cPanel to make navigation and maintenance simple. Plus, it scored above average in our customer support tests with quick, friendly reps ready to help you 24 hours a day. If you’re ready to try Bluehost, you can get started with plans as low as $2.95 per month.
If the thought of paying for three years in advance doesn’t jive well, DreamHost has the cheapest month-to-month pricing plans we’ve ever seen. It’s great if you want to test the waters of building websites without signing on for years at a time or avoid a massive hosting bill every few years. It also has industry-leading uptime, beating out all of the other shared hosts we tested (including Bluehost) over a 30-day period. Monthly plans start at just $1.99 per month for shared hosting.
More Top Web Hosting Services
Bluehost and DreamHost shine in their respective areas, but there are dozens of other affordable hosting options out there that may be a better fit. Our team of researchers spent six months testing every type of hosting (including dedicated, VPS, cloud, reseller, and shared) from 10 different hosting providers, comparing them across uptime, server response time, customer support, ease of use, and more.
To see the results, see all of our top picks. There you’ll learn about our scoring methodology for shared hosting, which one ended up being the fastest—it isn’t the one you think, which one’s the easiest to use, and an in-depth review of each of our favorites.
Where Bluehost Shines
Ease of Use: Bluehost uses cPanel, an intuitive and user-friendly platform designed so that even beginners who have never built a website before can figure it out. Bluehost’s cPanel lays out all your options in front of you. It’s flexible and makes for efficient backup management, program installation, and file organization. DreamHost has a bespoke control panel, which might make for a longer learning curve and more time spent trying to understand the platform.
Security: When it comes to security, DreamHost and Bluehost tie. Bluehost comes with SSL, SFTP, and SSH, which in itself doesn’t set it apart from DreamHost, but are all good to have for your site. You also get HTTP2 automatically. Bluehost also gives you automatic malware detection and Google blacklist monitoring if you want to spend $30 a year for its SiteLock protection.
Customer Support: Bluehost and DreamHost both offer 24/7/365 customer support, but when it comes to getting it, there are a few notable differences. Bluehost has more options for getting that help when you need it. You can contact them via chat or by phone, whereas DreamHost only gives you the option to contact them through their online form or chat. The chat is limited to business hours, making things difficult if you have a problem outside of those hours or if you live outside the United States in another time zone. Bluehost has high-quality, fast customer service, though you might have to wait a few minutes for them to verify your account. That said, they typically respond quickly and have knowledgeable representatives who know what they’re doing.
Where Bluehost Falls Short
Extra Costs and Upsells: Bluehost has a lot of great features, but the company can be a little in your face about it. Their ads and marketing efforts clutter the platform. If all you want to do is make a few site updates, you might find that the upsells get in the way. Plus, with stuff like hosting plans and upgrades, Bluehost really wants you to buy more. Even if you’re happy with what you have, they’ll keep trying to get you to upgrade when you don’t need to. You might end up wasting money when those funds would be better spent on another area of your business’s growth.
One Server Location: Bluehost only has one server, and it’s in the US. That can be a downside for international users. However, you can rest assured knowing that Bluehost’s customer service will still be available to help you no matter the time of day. Other web hosts like SiteGround have more servers worldwide, which might be a better option if you need international service.
Backups: You’ve only got three backup options with Bluehost—daily, weekly, and monthly. That’s not much when you consider that many other hosts have about 20 backup options. If you do want more, Bluehost makes you pay for them. Essentially, you can get more backups, but not for free, which isn’t normal for most web hosting services. That said, if backing up your website is important to you—and it should be—you can find other web hosts that give you more without making you pay more, too.
Page Speed: Bluehost’s average page loading speed on shared hosting is 1107 milliseconds. That’s not terrible—it’s still well under the dreaded three-second mark—but it’s on the slow side compared to its peers. Other top shared hosting providers average load times of around 650 milliseconds. With the lower speed, Bluehost puts your site at risk of having visitors leave for your competitors with faster sites.
Where DreamHost Shines
Pricing: DreamHost’s pricing is lower than many hosting services, including Bluehost. Grab three years of hosting for just $2.59 per month or skip the long-term commitment and get it for a monthly rate that starts at just $1.99. You can only choose from two tiers—half as many as Bluehost offers—but both these tiers give you tons of features for a great price. DreamHost also gives you more unlimited features for the cost than most other hosting services, including unlimited storage.
Scalability: DreamHost has packages for WordPress, dedicated, VPS, and shared hosting. It also has cloud storage, which Bluehost doesn’t, giving you more options for hosting across multiple servers and improving your site’s security. Bluehost tries to upsell with many different types of hosting plans and features, but DreamHost offers them upfront so you won’t get overwhelmed as you’re working on your site. It also gives you plenty of ways to upgrade. If you start with shared hosting, you can easily move up to dedicated or VPS hosting as your business grows.
Storage: DreamHost offers unlimited storage with all its plans. You won’t find that with every web hosting service. Many, like Bluehost, have tiers where they’ll give you a certain amount of storage and only offer unlimited with higher tiers. For example, Bluehost has 50GB storage with its Basic plan and then moves up to unlimited with the higher packages. However, DreamHost gives you unlimited from the start, whether you opt for shared, dedicated, or VPS hosting, so you never run out of space on your server.
Uptime: DreamHost has some of the best uptime at 99.99%. It beats Bluehost, which hovers around 99.94%. That sounds like a lot until you realize it means several hours of downtime per year. DreamHost gets pretty close to perfect on this one, which means your site will almost never be down, and when it is, it will go back up fast. Performance and uptime are some of the more important things when you’re running a business website. It keeps your site working, which also keeps people on the page. It makes sure customers can find what they need fast, makes items available to them, and boosts your business’s reputation by creating a reliable online presence.
Bandwidth: DreamHost gives you unlimited bandwidth for all plans across all types of hosting. In contrast, Bluehost has unlimited bandwidth for shared hosting, but as you scale up—for example, to VPS hosting—it limits it. With DreamHost, you’ll never have to upgrade your plan based on bandwidth alone. That means that high traffic won’t shut down your site, so you won’t have to pay more for your business’s growing success.
Security: DreamHost’s security rivals Bluehost’s in that you get the same basic security features, like SSL, SFTP, and SSH. DreamHost gives you HTTPS2 and PHP7 support. It also lets you enable multi-factor authentication and has a built-in firewall. For $3 a month, you can get DreamShield, which gives you some added protection with malware removal service and keeps unwanted eyes away from your site at an affordable cost.
Backups: DreamHost gives you eight backups. It’s not the most you can find, but it’s almost triple what you get with Bluehost before you have to pay extra. DreamHost even has an on-demand backup feature. The only issue here is that DreamHost servers won’t hang onto your backups permanently as BlueHost will. You’ll have to download them to your hard drive to ensure you have access and can restore your site if necessary.
Page Loading Speed: DreamHost passes the three-second rule. Sometimes its pages load in about 1.5 seconds, making it more than twice as fast as Bluehost in the best-case scenario. It means people are more likely to stay on your site and get the product or information you’re offering instead of searching elsewhere. DreamHost’s average page loading speed is 2.35 seconds, almost a full second faster than Bluehost’s.
Where DreamHost Falls Short
Server Locations: DreamHost has two server locations in Virginia and Oregon, which doesn’t put it ahead of Bluehost, since both are still in the US. That might make it harder for international users, especially because DreamHost doesn’t have 24/7 chat support. In other words, having two servers doesn’t mean it necessarily offers more than Bluehost’s single server.
User-Friendliness: With a bespoke control panel, DreamHost’s platform might present some challenges at first. If you stick with it, you’ll find it has similar usability to Bluehost, but you have to work at it first. If you don’t mind that or if you’re tech-savvy, this might not be a disadvantage for you. But unless you’re already familiar with it, it won’t matter if it looks cleaner and has fewer ads—the interface will still take time to figure out.
The Final Verdict on Bluehost Compared to DreamHost
While Bluehost and DreamHost are both excellent options for businesses of all sizes and types, they offer different packages, and their strong points vary. They’re both top contenders for a reason, and they’re relatively evenly matched for what they offer.
Bluehost has four tiers for shared hosting. Pricing varies quite a bit, depending on which plan suits you best and how long of an initial commitment you’re comfortable with.
With a lot of hosts, signing up for the longest commitment up front gets you the best deal. But Bluehost runs its best deals on its one-year agreements.
Bluehost’s current promotion gives away both the Plus and Choice Plus plans for the same rate of $5.45 per month. They’re very similar plans, but Choice Plus gives you free domain privacy and automated backups, among other benefits.
Don’t need the storage space or the ability to host multiple websites of those plans? Get the Basic plan for just $2.95 per month.
The Basic package gives you one website with 50GB storage, custom themes, a free domain for a year, and a free CDN and SSL certificate.
All packages above Basic offer unlimited websites and storage, and as you go up, you get other features like a free 30 days of Office365, a year of free automated backup, and a free dedicated IP.
DreamHost offers two plans, giving you less of a selection but with similar features:
- Shared Starter: $2.59 per month
- Shared Unlimited: $3.95 per month
Again, these are the price points for a longer commitment of 36 months. DreamHost also offers pricing options for a one-year contract or month-to-month billing.
The 12-month term lets you get either of the two plans for just $2.95 per month.
But DreamHost has long been known for the some of the most attractive web hosting pricing without an annual commitment. That’s still true at the time of this writing, as the Shared Starter plan is only $1.99 per month and the Unlimited plan is $2.99 per month.
The Shared Starter plan looks a lot like Bluehost’s Basic plan. It comes with one website, a free domain, and free SSL but sets itself apart with unlimited traffic and storage. When you upgrade to Shared Unlimited, you get unlimited websites and unlimited email addresses at your domain. Pricing for both plans is based on three-year terms, and both have a 97-day money-back guarantee.
Comparing the Best Web Hosting Services
We did a deep dive into Bluehost and DreamHost using our experience and user reviews to determine the best option. Check out our complete web host comparison guide here.
- Hostinger — Best web hosting for most users
- SiteGround — Best for keeping uptime above 99.99%
- HostGator — Best for scaling your small business easily
- DreamHost — Best pay-as-you-go web hosting
- Bluehost — Best drag-and-drop page builder for beginners
- InMotion Hosting — Best price for hosting two websites on one plan
- Nexcess — Best for experienced WordPress users
- A2 Hosting — Most dependable web hosting for European and Asian audiences
Both Bluehost and DreamHost are solid web hosting options, whether you’re starting or scaling your business. DreamHost works best if you’re looking for quality performance without having to commit to a year or more upfront, whereas Bluehost gives you great customer support and an easy platform to use right from the start.
Ultimately, you know what your business needs most. You can decide whether that’s something Bluehost or DreamHost offers or if it’s something you’ll find in a different web hosting service.