SiteGround vs. DreamHost? Choosing the right web host can be unexpectedly difficult. That’s why we are here to make your job easier by making these two Web hosts go head to head. All the information you need to make the right decision is outlined in this clear, concise and in-depth analysis of SiteGround and DreamHost. After the analysis of each feature, we’ll declare a winner and after the end of our comparison, you’ll have our verdict. And it will be backed up by raw data. Of course, you might choose to disagree with some of our conclusions, but we’d be backed up by data and experience, and you’d be wrong.
Want to know the best Web Host? Continue reading.
Most web hosts have one outstanding feature that, even before doing any in-depth research, is somehow implanted in your memory. Amazing customer support is that outstanding feature (more on this later) for SiteGround. With headquarters outside the capital of Bulgaria, six offices around the globe and data centers on three continents, SiteGround is a popular name in web hosting. And they have a right to be too, with over 1.5 million hosted domains over the span of fourteen years, SiteGround cuts the figure of a web host doing quite well for itself. To crown all these, SiteGround (second, perhaps, only to Bluehost and one or two others) has to be one of the best-rated web hosts on the internet. The world of the WWW is simply awash with satisfied customers. In a minute we’ll find out if SiteGround is really worth the hype or if we are just looking at a case of much ado about nothing.
DreamHost is over 25 years old (We won’t comment on the morality of pitting a 25-year-old against a 14-year-old). Known for their amazing 97-day money-back policy, the company was founded in 1996 by Dallas Bethune, Josh Jones, Michael Rodriguez, and Sage Weil. The web hosting giant is based in Los Angeles. DreamHost hosts over 1.5 million websites so it is safe to say that they are pretty popular. However, unlike SiteGround, despite decent performance stats, DreamHost’s customer support infrastructure leaves a lot to be desired. Will that be enough for DreamHost to come second in our comparison? Let’s find out.
We like getting the obvious and needless questions out of the way first. And the question of the most popular web host is one of such questions. Frankly speaking, both web hosts are immensely popular with more than 1.5 million domains hosted each. So, to make a needless question even more unnecessarily complicated, we cannot say for sure the most popular web host between these two.
However, what we can say is that both Web hosts are really, really popular. If that helps.
(We hope it doesn’t)
This should be one of the most important metrics to consider when choosing a web host. This is the core of any analysis and you should know just how much quality you’re getting by choosing one Web host over the other.
There are some people who erroneously think that a few (or a moderate amount, at any rate) milliseconds of speed doesn’t matter. But it does. A slow website is unlikely to retain visitors and around 79% of online shoppers say they’ll stop shopping at a website if they have speed issues. So, if you want to make a living off your website, every single second matters.
There are a few things to note about SiteGround’s infrastructure in relation to speed. This is because actual measurements can fluctuate, but the measures put in place by the web host to ensure optimum speed are better indicators of speed capacity. SiteGround makes use of SSD drives, which are faster and safer than traditional drives. In fact, they were one of the first web hosts to make the switch. They also make use of a special cache program that makes WordPress and other such sites run faster. If you purchase a shared hosting plan, server crowding can be a plague that you will be regularly affected by. SiteGround solves this problem by not providing “unlimited” bandwidth and space. This means that you have a specific amount of space that is dedicated to your website alone.
We tested SiteGround’s speed through the normal means— setting up a dummy account, loading it up, and firing it up. SiteGround measured the average response time of 421mms (TTFB). According to the good fellows at Google, a web host should average about a 200mms response time. Off this data alone it is easy to write off SiteGround, but the truth is that Google’s outlook is somewhat Utopian. The industry average is even far higher than SiteGround’s average speed at around 800mms. And we don’t think that there are up to 5 web hosts in the business who consistently measure lower or around 200mms. Given the reality of speed standards, SiteGround’s speed isn’t half bad. It isn’t the best we’ve seen though, and it could be really better.
The limit for a full load is three seconds and SiteGround beats that comfortably too, with an average full load speed of 718mms. We wouldn’t say that SiteGround is a speedster just yet, but they’ve not performed badly as regards to the speed at all. An above-average performance, to be fair.
DreamHost, like SiteGround, makes use of SSD servers. This means that we should expect decent speed from them.
Like we did with SiteGround, we set up a dummy account, loaded it with content, and measured the average speed of DreamHost. The average TTFB (Time To First Byte) was 461mms. Again, much lower than the optimum 200mms, but much higher than the industry average. We tested the average load speed and it appears that DreamHost takes about 728mms to load. Again, not award-winning speed, but considerably higher than the industry average.
VERDICT; Both web hosts posted decent speed. However, we must have a winner and strictly looking at the data, SiteGround is faster than DreamHost. We don’t think that you’ll have speed problems with any of these web hosts, though.
What’s the major job of a Web host? Keeping your website reachable, or “up” at all times, of course. Unfortunately, no Web host can accomplish that. But they can try to keep your website accessible 99.99% of the time, and a Web host that can consistently deliver on this is better than a Web host that cannot.
SiteGround has one of the best uptimes that we’ve measured. Over a three month period, we recorded a 99.99% uptime. This is literally the best uptime that can be recorded as no Web Host can promise a 100% uptime (actually, some can, but promising a thing is different from delivering on that promise). More importantly, SiteGround user agreement guarantees “network uptime of 99.9% on an annual basis.” This means that users get some sort of compensation if SiteGround’s uptime dips. This is perhaps the best uptime combination we’ve seen and it will be difficult for any other web host to best SiteGround based on these statistics.
DreamHost’s uptime is slightly lower than that of SiteGround at 99.96% over a three month period. If that goes on for a year, it equates to 3 and a half hours of downtime. For an online business, 3 hours of lost business can mean a great loss of revenue. However, there are web hosts who post even worse uptime so unfortunately, DreamHost’s uptime isn’t even close to the worst we’ve seen. To their merit, they do provide an uptime guarantee. Most Web hosts that we’ve seen (SiteGround, for example, provides a 99.9% uptime guarantee), but DreamHost takes a new route here by offering a 100% uptime guarantee (scheduled maintenance and user errors aren’t covered in this guarantee though). You get a free day worth of service for every hour that downtime is experienced. So DreamHost can boast of decent uptime and perhaps one of the best uptime guarantees that we’ve ever seen
VERDICT; SiteGround has better uptime than DreamHost, but DreamHost uptime guarantee is superior to SiteGround’s. However, we would prefer not to have the possibility of having over three hours of downtime per year. SiteGround wins this one for us too.
EASE OF USE
No one wants to be faced with a difficult interface. Even advanced users, except on rare occasions, want a user interface that is easy to use. Unfortunately, not all web hosts deliver on this. Some Web hosts have interfaces and structures that make life easier for beginners and users generally than others. Obviously, a Web host that is easy to use is preferable to one where you have to go through years of trainning to master.
Ease of sign up process, whether or not cPanel is supported and the (un)availability of free site migrations are things that must be considered before declaring a web host easy to use.
SiteGround offers free site migration for one website with basic plans. There are many Web hosts that offer this but it ends up being a lot of trouble for the customer. SiteGround offers a free WordPress Migration Plugin that makes it very easy to migrate your site. It works when the user generates a token from their SiteGround hosting account and then the Plugin will do most of the heavy lifting. SiteGround also offers free SSL certificates from Let’s Encrypt on each plan. This reduces the number of upsells that customers have to pay for.
SiteGround’s infrastructure caters impressively for all kinds of users. So if you’re a beginner, you won’t find it difficult to build your website from scratch. SiteGround supports Weebly, a website builder that makes use of a simple drag and drop editor that allows you fully customize the look of your website without having to go through the technical aspect of writing code and all that. SiteGround also allows one-click installations of popular applications like WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla. SiteGround isn’t just great for beginners, though. Advanced users will find Git, SSH, WP-CLI, SFTP, phpMyAdmin and multiple PHP versions pre-installed on higher-tier plans. If you’re not sure of the effects of a particular action, SiteGround has you covered with a staging environment so that users can see the effects of their actions before ratifying them. This makes it less likely for users to make mistakes. SiteGround also has an extra layer of security provided by an AI-bot prevention tool that prevents new attacks before they hit.
In our opinion, SiteGround is quite easy to use. You’re not left alone with the major headaches and with cPanel, you’re certain to find maneuvering through their backend easy.
DreamHost doesn’t support cPanel. They have their own proprietary interface that works quite as well and is easy to use. This, on its own, probably wouldn’t bother amateur users a lot. However, advanced users might have a problem with this for other reasons. For example, there is no automated way to import .tar.gz files. This means that advanced users will have to manually migrate all their files through FTP and MySQL.
Some users might even find DreamHost’s panel to be easier to use, but that doesn’t negate the fact that they would have to become used to it since most users are already familiar with the cPanel interface. In a way, the lack of a cPanel has the effect of a double-edged sword. In fact, we find the theme of a double-edged sword almost everywhere when analyzing DreamHost’s usability. Their structure is beginner-focused, and there are some who say that this makes it difficult to install and use e-commerce programs like Magneto and Pretashop which are apps that beginners aren’t usually interested in. There are others who also complain that databases are quite difficult to use and access, which can prove to be a burden for some users. Additionally, unlike SiteGround, Dreamhost doesn’t offer free site migrations. You have to pay a $99 one time fee to move each site that you want to be moved. There are also a few limitations on how paid site migrations work. For example, if you have a multisite WordPress site, it cannot be moved and transfers from WordPress.com will only take contents inside posts or pages. For the most part, you’ll have to reinstall your themes and plugins and set them up again. It doesn’t end there. If you have a website builder site like Weebly, Wix, or SquareSpace, they cannot be moved. DreamHost does offer some documentation to help you manually move your site, though. So it isn’t all bad.
Basically, DreamHost focuses on beginners at the expense of advanced users, and we aren’t sure that is a terribly good thing.
VERDICT; Beginners aren’t the only web host users on the internet— although, DreamHost seems to think this is the case. SiteGround has a more balanced perspective, and they offer a better user experience than DreamHost.
MONEY BACK POLICY
Sometimes we make mistakes. It is possible that, after purchasing a plan from a Web host, you discover that you actually don’t require that service. But at that point, you’ve already paid for a year or two in advance. The problem arises; can you get your money back? And if you can, how long do you have before you lose the right to request for a refund? And how much of the initial payment are you entitled to?
Most Web hosts have an official policy regarding situations like this. The industry standard is a thirty days Money-back policy. That is, you get thirty days to decide whether you’re satisfied with the services on offer.
DreamHost smashes that standard, though, by offering three times and an extra week the industry average. A 97-day money-back policy is already incredible on its own but coupled with the fact that DreamHost doesn’t have any ifs or buts in their user agreement, we were simply blown away. SiteGround, on the other hand, sticks to the industry line and offers the standard thirty days money-back guarantee. This is only available on their shared hosting plans, as their other plans like cloud, dedicated hosting, and VPS hosting come with a mere 15-day refund policy. In addition to this, refunds do not include domain name fees and any other free extras that might have been gotten with the plan. Renewal fees are also exempt from the refund policy.
VERDICT; There’s no chance that an uncomplicated 97-day refund policy will lose to a 30-day refund policy. When it comes to this metric, DreamHost clearly takes the day. And not by a small margin either.
CUSTOMER SUPPORT AND RELIABILITY
SiteGround is known for its exemplary support. You don’t have to take our word for it, you can check reviews all over the internet. At first, we thought this was some sort of advertising tactic, but we were wrong. Like other Web hosts, they offer phone, ticket channel and live chat channel. All their representatives, whether on the phone or through the live chat channel were incredibly friendly and helpful. Wait time was almost nonexistent, and there was a lot of human touch. For example, every representative that responds to you on their live chat channel has a bio page where you can see their pictures and basic information about them. Their ticket service is also lightning fast and problems are solved quickly too. No complaints there either. They also provide an up to date and very helpful knowledge base so that people do not have to contact customer support over easy problems that can be solved with no trouble. However, based on what we experienced, we do not think that people will want to solve their problems on their own. SiteGround’s support is certainly quicker and more effective. A great experience all round.
Unlike SiteGround, DreamHost offers limited support channels. And when we say limited, we mean limited on all thinkable counts. For example, DreamHost says that they offer “24/7 in-house” and we discovered that this was as distant from the truth as possible. We tried to contact their support during a period that was presumably their “off” time and a DreamHost bot informed us that the “sales team is available on 5:30 AM – 9:30 PM Pacific Time, 7 days a week”.
Does that read like 24/7 support to you? It certainly doesn’t to us. We honestly wish it ends there, but it doesn’t. Not by a long shot. In addition to the lack of 24/7 support, DreamHost doesn’t have a free phone in channel. That means if you require phone support you’ll have to pay extra for it. To be fair, we didn’t subscribe to that offer, and their paid phone support may actually be stellar. But the fact that SiteGround offers the same quality or even better phone support for free tells us a thing or two about the quality of DreamHost’s customer support. Nevertheless, we tried to chat during their “on” time and we waited for a few minutes before we were connected to a live representative. She was knowledgeable and friendly enough, so we suppose that’s a good thing. If you are willing to wait a few minutes and have the luck of needing a solution to your problem during DreamHost’s support working hours, it’s likely that you’d find their customer support structure decent. However, that is a little more than enough ifs and buts for us. A good experience to be sure, but really not worth the hassle.
VERDICT; SiteGround blew us away with the quality of their customer support. Apparently, they are that good and their reputation isn’t merely the product of hype. We were impressed. Almost the opposite could be said for DreamHost, though. SiteGround has better customer support infrastructure for sure. It is hardly a contest.
There are a lot of things that could endanger the integrity of your website. On your own, there is little that can be done to safeguard your website. Most of the responsibilities lie with your Web host. A Web host that can guarantee a high level of security for your website is infinitely better than one that cannot guarantee it.
SiteGround, like many web hosts today, offers a free SSL certificate from Let’s Encrypt with its basic plans. SSL certificates make connections secure and safe from hackers thereby protecting the personal information of visitors to your site. The fact that SiteGround throws in this certificate for free is certainly a plus. SiteGround partners with Sucuri.net in creating the SG site scanner, a defense system that end users can use for threat detection and in-depth analysis of defense and firewalls. SiteGround also boasts of an advanced account isolation system and a proactive tool that teams up with the Guardian by 1H to produce a spectacular multilayered defense system. The Guardian can detect and eliminate suspicious activity with a second (0.5 seconds, to be exact). SiteGround also offers sweeping Web Application Firewall (WAF), and since SiteGround makes use of the cPanel, it has the innate defense mechanisms that come with it like IP blacklisting, SpamAssassin, and a firewall. SiteGround doesn’t leave users hanging when it comes to backups either. With free daily backups enabled on all plans, users can rest easy. However, we do advise that it is safer to have a separate backup of your files in case something unexpected happens. All in all, SiteGround appears to cover all the important bases of security.
Like SiteGround and most other Web hosts, DreamHost offers free SSL encryption on their plans. However, DreamHost doesn’t offer backups and users must manually back up their files. DreamHost makes use of Cloudflare CDN (Content Delivery Network). Cloudflare additional security via enhanced security features like basic DDoS protection. We are not certain that this is especially effective at preventing DDoS attacks, though, because in 2017 users of DreamHost experienced hours of downtime because of a highly successful DDoS attack. Generally, there is very little to say about DreamHost’s security.
VERDICT; SiteGround has one of the best security infrastructures that we’ve seen on any web host. On the other hand, we are not certain that DreamHost would make it into the top ten of the most secure Web hosts we’ve reviewed. Certainly, SiteGround has a better security infrastructure.
PRICING AND PLANS
It is important to know how much value is offered by Web hosts and how much they charge for it. There is often the misconception that cheaper is always better, but that is quite far from the truth. The truth is that, rather than price, value is the most important factor in determining the better deal. We have no doubt that a Web host that offers more value per dollar is the better Web host.
SiteGround has three tiers of shared hosting plans. They are the StartUp, GrowBig, and GoGeek plans. Like many web hosts, SiteGround runs a lower initial pricing scheme. The StartUp plan, for example, goes for a special price of $3.95 per month but renews at $11.95 per month. The plan hosts one website, comes with 10GB of space, unlimited bandwidth, free Cloudflare CDN, free SSL certificate, free daily backups, and unlimited emails.
The next plan, which is the Growbig plan, costs $5.95 per month (renewal costs $19.95). The plan comes with all the features of the StartUp plan plus free SSL wildcard for one year, 20GB space, all 3 levels of the supercacher, staging environments for WordPress and Joomla, and 30 backup copies and free restore.
The apex shared hosting plan is the GoGeek plan that costs $11.95 ( $34.95 for renewal). It comes with the features of the GrowBig plan plus unlimited websites, 30GB space with a traffic capacity of 100,000 per month, priority support, one-click Git repo creation, and PCI compliance. All shared hosting plans offered by SiteGround come with a free email account, free CDN and unlimited bandwidth.
Compared to a lot of web hosts, SiteGround’s pricing is not exactly an example of competitive pricing. Sure, initial prices are low enough, but your pocket might feel light when it is time to pay for renewal. You end up paying at least three times the original price, and while most web hosts have pricing structures like this, it isn’t something we are particularly pleased with. To qualify for this pricing structure, you will have to pay about three years in advance, though. You must pay a setup fee of $14.95 to get access to a monthly billing structure.
However, SiteGround plans pack some serious muscle and because of this, we don’t have too much trouble with their pricing structure. In fact, we don’t have problems with expensive plans as long as they are worth it, and SiteGround’s services are definitely worth it.
DreamHost has only two shared hosting plans. We are worried that DreamHost doesn’t provide enough scaling options with only two shared hosting plans, but let’s look at the value that they provide, regardless. The first plan is the Shared Starter and Shared Unlimited.
The Shared Starter plan costs $2.59 per month (however this is if you pay 3 years in advance. Per month, the flat rate is $4.95). What we found interesting is that, unlike many Web hosts, DreamHost’s prices don’t jump after the initial subscription. So $2.59 is still $2.59 after three years. The Shared Starter plans come with 1 website, free domains, unlimited traffic, Pre-installed WordPress, SSD storage, and a free SSL certificate. The Shared Unlimited plan costs $5.95 for three years and comes with a free domain name, unlimited traffic, free SSL certificate, and unlimited email addresses. Apart from these plans, DreamHost has three managed WordPress hosting plans.
The DreamPress plan costs $16.95 per month and gets around a hundred thousand monthly visits. It comes with 30GB storage, unmetered bandwidth, an SSL certificate, and daily backups.
The DreamPress Plus plan costs $24.95 per month and comes with
- 300,000 monthly visitors
- Unmetered bandwidth
- SSL certificate
- Daily backup
- and unlimited CDN
The DreamPress Pro plan costs $71.95 and comes with
- 120GB storage
- A million monthly visits
- Unmetered bandwidth
- SSL certificate
- Daily backups
- Unlimited CDN
DreamHost also, like SiteGround offers great value for money. We were especially impressed that DreamHost doesn’t hike their price after the first payment. It shows that this kind of pricing structure isn’t rocket science and renewal fees can be kept low.
VERDICT; Both web hosts offer competitive prices— however, Siteground becomes at least three times expensive after the first three years. DreamHost retains roughly the same price. If you want greater value for money, DreamHost is certainly the Web host for you.
SiteGround offers a lot of extras— and they aren’t all good. Let’s have a look
- SiteGround’s 99.9% uptime guarantee compensates users with one free month of hosting if their annual uptime drops from 99.9%
- Free Cloudflare CDN
- A free WordPress Migration Plugin
- SiteGround is optimized for WordPress and Joomla
- SiteGround supports Weebly
- SiteGround offers SSH access with all their plans
- One-click staging servers
- Unfortunately, SiteGround doesn’t offer a free domain name
DreamHost also has some interesting extra features
- Dreamhost is a carbon-neutral company, so if you care about the environment, you should probably consider hosting your website with them
- DreamHost has several CMSs that you can install easily in just one or two clicks.
- DreamHost doesn’t make use of cPanel, which can be good news for raw users but bad news for people with some experience.
- DreamHost offers a free domain with WHOIS privacy
- DreamHost offers its own website builder called the remixer website builder
- Unfortunately, DreamHost only offers paid migration services
VERDICT; SiteGround certainly had the more impressive list of extras. They take this one for us.
Just to recap, we will list the major differences between these two web hosts.
- DreamHost has a 97-day money-back guarantee while SiteGround has a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- SiteGround has a far superior customer support structure
- SiteGround offers free migrations, DreamHost doesn’t
- SiteGround has higher renewal fees than DreamHost
- SiteGround has automatic backups, DreamHost doesn’t
SiteGround is a better Web host than DreamHost and it shows in almost every department. Despite the fact that DreamHost has a better pricing structure and superior money-back policy, SiteGround takes the ground for us with better performance, superior customer support and better security.