HostGator vs. DreamHost – In-depth Comparison of Two Veteran Hosts
Choosing between HostGator or Dreamhost is not an easy feat. Nonetheless, picking the right hosting provider is essential regardless of whether you’re thinking about launching your very first blog or are already laying down the foundation of a significant business venture. A good hosting provider can ensure that your website runs smoothly at all times and can sometimes even offer useful tools and features that will make your life easier. But how do you choose the best provider given the sheer number of exceptional options available nowadays? Well, a good idea is to start by looking into some of the most well-known and popular hosting providers around such as HostGator and DreamHost.
Dreamhost and Hostgator have been around for a very long time and are both known to offer excellent services. As with most things, however, one of these providers is better than the other in certain areas, and today we’re going to try to find out which one is the overall best. In an attempt to make a clear distinction between the two, we’re going to take an in-depth look at what HostGator and DreamHost have to offer in terms of hosting plans and key features as well as how their performance and customer support stack up against each other. With that out of the way, let’s start by looking at the hosting plans offered by these two providers, as this is one of the first aspects you’ll need to take into consideration.
Hosting Plans and Pricing
Like most hosting providers out there, HostGator and DreamHost claim to offer absurdly low prices for their shared hosting services, which will only set you back $2-3 per month at the cheapest tier. However, it’s worth noting that these types of deals are only available to those who pay for several months or even years in advance. In the case of HostGator, for example, you’d need to pay three years in advance to benefit from the 60% discount on any of its shared hosting plans. To get a better idea about the real potential costs, we’re only going to talk about the monthly base prices in this article.
HostGator offers three shared plans as covered in our comprehensive HostGator review. Each just a little bit better than the previous tier. All plans include one-click installs, unmetered bandwidth and storage, free email addresses, and a free SSL certificate. For a little bit extra per month or year (depending on the service), customers can also add optional additional services like @domain email addresses, SiteLock monitoring, site backups, and SEO tools.
- Hatchling: The Hatchling plan comes with a base cost of $10.95 per month and includes support for a single domain.
- Baby: The Baby plan is just a bit more expensive at $11.95 per month but offers support for an unlimited number of domains in return. Aside from that, the first two plans are identical.
- Business: The Business plan is the most expensive option and will set you back $16.95 per month. Noteworthy features here include a dedicated IP address, free SEO tools, and a free upgrade to Positive SSL, which is a slightly more reliable certificate that also provides a TrustLogo site seal which can be displayed on your website.
DreamHost only offers two shared hosting plans, both of which are primarily aimed at beginner and intermediate websites as there is no business plan here. The lack of premium plans instantly makes it and other hosting services ineffective HostGator alternatives in the eyes of experienced website developers who are getting massive traction. Both plans come with WordPress pre-installed, unlimited traffic, SSD storage, and a free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate. The company also offers a free domain name but only to those who subscribe to one of the annual hosting plans.
- Shared Starter: DreamHost’s basic plan comes with a base cost of $4.95 per month and includes support for a single domain. For an additional $1.67 per month, customers can add @domain email addresses to this plan.
- Shared Unlimited: The most advanced plan will set you back $10.95 per month and comes with support for an unlimited number of websites. This plan also includes @domain email addresses for free but is otherwise identical to the Starter option.
HostGator offers three VPS hosting plans, all of which are fairly expensive compared to other providers. However, when you pit HostGator against Inmotion's plans, you’ll still find them much cheaper. The company also used to offer two affordable options, but they were removed not too long ago. All three plans include two dedicated IP addresses, unlimited emails, optional cPanel, and weekly off-site backups. HostGator’s three VPS hosting plans are priced as follows:
- $89.05 Snappy 2000: 2 GB RAM + 2 CPU cores + 120 GB disk space + 1.5 TB bandwidth
- $129.95 Snappy 4000: 4 GB RAM + 2 CPU cores + 165 GB disk space + 2 TB bandwidth
- $159.95 Snappy 8000: 8 GB RAM + 4 CPU cores + 240 GB disk space + 3 TB bandwidth
DreamHost offers four VPS hosting plans ranging in price from affordable to fairly expensive. All plans come with a free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate, unmetered bandwidth, unlimited @domain email addresses and can support any number of websites. DreamHost’s four VPS hosting plans are priced as follows:
- $15 Basic: 1 GB RAM + 30 GB SSD Storage
- $30 Business: 2 GB RAM + 60 GB SSD Storage
- $60 Professional: 4 GB RAM + 120 SSD Storage
- $120.00 Enterprise: 8 GB RAM + 240 GB Storage
HostGator offers three hosting plans designed specifically for WordPress websites. All plans include a free SSL certificate, unlimited @domain email addresses, unmetered storage, daily automatic backups, and SiteLock monitoring. The company says it can support between 1 and 3 websites on its WordPress hosting main page; however, customers can choose additional options during checkout that can grant them support for up to 20 sites for an extra fee. The three main WordPress hosting plans are priced as follows:
- $14.95 Starter: 1 website + 1GB backups + support for up to 100K monthly visitors
- $20.95 Standard: 2 websites + 2GB backups + support for up to 200K monthly visitors
- $27.95 Business: 3 websites + 3GB backups + support for up to 500K monthly visitors
DreamHost offers three hosting plans designed specifically for WordPress websites. All plans include a free SSL certificate, unmetered bandwidth, daily automatic backups, and a free domain name for those who subscribe to one of the annual plans. DreamHost’s WordPress hosting plans can only support a single website and don’t offer unlimited storage space; however, the company uses SSD drives to store your data. The cheapest plan available includes the free version of JetPack while the other two come with JetPack Professional pre-installed. The most expensive plan also includes something called DreamCare, which is essentially advanced technical support for priority customers.
- $19.95 DreamPress: 30 GB SSD Storage + support for up to 100K monthly visitors
- $29.95 DreamPress Plus: 60 GB SSD Storage + support for up to 300X monthly visitors
- $79.95 DreamPress Pro: 120 GB SSD Storage + support for up to 1 million monthly visitors
HostGator offers three fixed dedicated hosting plans with a bit of wiggle room when it comes to customization. Namely, you can choose whether you want your server to be semi-managed or fully managed by HostGator, the second option adding an extra $10 to your monthly bill. Customers can choose which operating system they want their server to run on, and if you opt for the mid-tier plan, you can also pick between HDD and SSD storage. All plans include unmetered bandwidth, three dedicated IPs, and unlimited databases. HostGator’s three dedicated hosting plans are priced as follows:
- $179 ($189 Managed) Value: 4 core/ 8 thread + 8 GB RAM + 1 TB HDD
- $239 ($249 Managed) Power: 8 core/ 16 thread + 16 GB RAM + 2 TB HDD or 512 GB SSD
- $279 ($289 Managed) Enterprise: 8 core/ 16 thread + 30 GB RAM + 1 TB SSD
DreamHost offers a single dedicated hosting plan but the company allows you to create a custom configuration for your server. This includes choosing between HDD and SSD storage, adding anywhere between 4 and 64 GB of RAM, and between 4 and 12 CPU cores. Prices start at $169 per month and can reach as much as $399 for the most powerful machines. This system gives customers a lot of flexibility, however, it also relies on them knowing what kind of server would be ideal for their websites, which may or may not be a good thing depending on how tech-savvy you are. All dedicated hosting plans include unlimited bandwidth and monthly traffic, dedicated IPs, and a free SSL certificate.
HostGator offers customers the option of registering a new .com domain name for $12.95 or $27.90 if customers also want privacy protection for their domain. DreamHost offers an objectively better deal here as registering a domain with them only costs $11.99 and the company includes WHOIS privacy protection for free. DreamHost offers free domains with some of its annual hosting plans while HostGator doesn’t seem to have a similar deal with any of its plans.
HostGator has a drag-and-drop website builder with customizable templates and website analytics included. The website builder has three tiers, all of which include the aforementioned features along with a free SSL certificate, a free domain name, and even free hosting. What's fascinating is that HostGator and iPage offer similar propositions, however, the latter offers it at an expensive price.
As for HostGator, the prices are quite reasonable too, with the Starter plan going for $4.99 per month while the Premium and eCommerce options will set you back $6.49 and $12.49 per month, respectively. The Premium plan is identical to the Starter one with the exception of the included priority support while the eCommerce plan includes a few extra features designed specifically for online marketplaces.
DreamHost on the other hand, also offers a website builder with customizable themes and easily editable pages. DreamHost’s website builder is geared more towards the WordPress crowd and allows users to export websites directly to the platform without any hassles. There are two plans to choose from – Remixer for $4.95 per month and Remixer All Access for $ 7.95 per month. Both plans include a free domain name, free hosting, and can be used on an unlimited number of websites. Remixer All Access includes email accounts and mail forward but is otherwise identical to Remixer Standard. DreamHost allows you to test its website builder for free even without an account, however, you will need to log in if you want to check out all the features.
Some hosting providers are more generous than others when it comes to the number of databases they offer. Luckily, HostGator and DreamHost are on par in this regard as both hosting providers offer an unlimited number of MySQL databases even with their basic plans.
Domain emails are included with most hosting plans offered by these two providers; however, there are a couple of exceptions, particularly when it comes to shared hosting. One of the drawbacks, as covered in our DreamHost Review, was that it only includes domain emails with its Shared Unlimited plan but does offer Shared Starter users the option of acquiring them for an extra fee. Meanwhile, domain emails are not included with any of HostGator’s shared hosting plans. However, they are available as an additional service that can be added to any plan for an extra fee. Both providers offer domain emails by default with their VPS, WordPress, and dedicated hosting plans.
Similar to domain emails, site backups are considered an additional service that HostGator customers can acquire for an extra fee. Again, though, this only applies to the company’s shared hosting plans. Weekly off-site backups are included with all VPS hosting plans while WordPress and dedicated hosting customers can expect to be able to benefit from daily automatic backups.
Just like HostGator, DreamHost offers daily automatic backups with all its VPS, WordPress, and dedicated hosting plans. Shared hosting customers can also benefit from site backups, but again, there’s a bit of a catch. Users won’t have to pay an extra fee here. However, they only gain access to on-demand backups that must be downloaded manually as DreamHost will eventually delete them from its servers after a while.
HostGator offers eCommerce tools that work hand in hand with the highest tier of its website builder. The company doesn’t offer anything to write home about when it comes to eCommerce, but you do get the essentials in the form of inventory management, coupons, and a shipping & tax calculator. That naturally gives HostGator an edge over DigitalOcean, and it's alternatives. On the contrary, DreamHost includes less support for online storefronts with its website builder. However, it did optimize all of its WordPress hosting plans for the popular WooCommerce plugin.
Performance and Reliability
In this section, we’re going to focus on two critical factors related to performance – speed and uptime. These factors can often vary from year to year or even month to month in some cases. While we are going to mention past performances, we are mainly interested in how HostGator and DreamHost’s services are performing at the time of this writing. Keep in mind that website speed and uptime can also vary depending on what type of hosting plan you have, with dedicated plans usually performing better than shared ones, for example.
HostGator and DreamHost are evenly matched at the moment when it comes to page loading speed. According to Down.com’s speed tests, HostGator has a very respectable page load speed of 2.73 seconds while DreamHost is just a little bit slower at 2.75 seconds. WPDingo’s data indicates that DreamHost used to be a lot slower between 2016 and 2018, with an overall page load speed of 3.64 seconds while HostGator was a bit faster at 2.17 seconds.
It’s also worth pointing out that HostGator’s speeds tend to be overall pretty consistent while DreamHost can have excellent results during one month but inferior ones during another.
It’s also worth pointing out that HostGator’s speeds tend to be overall pretty consistent while DreamHost can have excellent results during one month but inferior ones during another. Still, in our comparison guide between HostGator and GoDaddy, we saw how big of a difference speed makes when it comes to the overall output.
While the two providers are fairly even nowadays when it comes to page loading speed, the same cannot be said about the uptime. HostGator performed remarkably well in this department and managed to maintain an average uptime of 99.97% in 2019 so far. Meanwhile, some outages earlier this year have caused DreamHost’s average uptime to plummet to just 76.82%. The situation was a bit different between 2016 and 2018 but still heavily favored HostGator as the company was able to maintain an overall uptime score of 89.2% during those years while DreamHost only managed a score of 73.1%.
Any company worth its salt knows the value of reliable and efficient customer support. That goes double for tech companies where customers tend to need assistance more often than in other industries. Whether you’re a veteran webmaster or you’re just now creating your first blog, customer support is one of those things that’s always worth taking into consideration because you never know when you may need professional help with your website.
HostGator Customer Support
HostGator offers plenty of options for customers who require technical assistance, including live chat, phone, and a ticket system. The company provides a toll-free number as well as an international number for customers outside the US. HostGator is as good as its sibling – Bluehost and simplifies customer support. In addition to all of that, HostGator also offers a vast database of tutorials and articles along with a number of forums. Overall, HostGator’s customer support very versatile, and there are plenty of options to choose from 24/7.
Having said all that, some of the options are better than others. While its live support team is known to be pretty reliable most of the time, the same cannot be said about the company’s ticket system. According to Down.com, HostGator’s ticket support team had an average response time of 53.4 hours a couple of years back, which is incredibly slow. Most people would agree that the situation has improved since then, but you’re still probably better off trying to reach them via live chat or phone.
DreamHost Customer Support
DreamHost is notorious for offering a few customer support options, which only include live chat and a ticket system. If you were to compare it to HostGator and SiteGround, they would rank 4-5 on the scale of 10. Furthermore, the live chat is only available between 8 AM and 4 PM during weekdays, so don’t expect to be able to count on it if you run into a problem during the weekend. These options can be found on the front page, but they have been placed towards the bottom, and they might not be immediately noticeable to some people. There’s no phone number you can reach them at, but you can request a callback if you’re an existing customer and are willing to pay a fee. A knowledgebase and various forums are also available but aren’t quite as extensive as those offered by HostGator.
Despite its lack of options, DreamHost is known for having a capable support team that usually responds to tickets within a couple of hours. The company likely doesn’t have enough staff available to be able to offer additional channels, which is why it set up an automated troubleshooting system with the goal of helping customers figure out for themselves how to fix their problems. Although commendable, that’s not exactly ideal as there will always be users who need to rely heavily on live support.
HostGator vs. DreamHost – Our Pick
It can be a bit hard to choose between these two hosting providers because they both have distinct strengths and weaknesses. On the one hand, HostGator offers impressive performance and plenty of reliable customer support options, but some of its hosting plans are overpriced (especially the VPS plans) and don’t offer as many features as they should for the cost. On the other hand, DreamHost provides an excellent bang for your buck but doesn’t have as many support channels, and the performance can be pretty bad at times.
Ultimately, in this HostGator vs. Dreamhost battle, we’ll have to give it up to HostGator in spite of its unimpressive hosting plans. While you will usually need to pay more than you would with DreamHost, you can rest assured knowing that your website will stay up pretty much 24/7/365 and that you have a lot of options at your disposal whenever you need assistance. If, however, you’re an experienced webmaster who can solve most problems without required live support and you don’t mind the occasional outage, DreamHost is, for the most part, a better option as its hosting plans are quite good and reasonably priced.