Comparison Review: DreamHost vs HostGator
There are many different hosting providers out there today, making it difficult to narrow down your search and know which one is going to be right for you!
In terms of DreamHost vs. HostGator, it can be a bit of a David and Goliath battle, as DreamHost is a small business and HostGator is a big corporation. However, there are always benefits associated with going for a small company, such as a more personal service. So, which one is better?
I’ve tested both hosts extensively, and below, I will provide you with my thoughts regarding both hosts on the most important areas.
Firstly, let’s start with DreamHost, which currently has a smaller market share when compared with HostGator, with only 1.49%.
The company has been running for many years, though, as it was established in 1996 by a group of undergraduate students at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California: Sage Weil, Michael Rodriguez, Josh Jones, and Dallas Bethune.
The company, which is owned by New Dream Network, LLC, provides domain name registration and web hosting services from its base in Los Angeles. DreamHost first started hosting sites in 1997, so they have a lot of experience in the industry to draw on, which is always a good thing!
HostGator was founded back in 2002. Headquartered in Houston, Texas, this publicly-traded web hosting business currently has over 400,000 customers around the world, hosting more than 9 million websites. Of all web hosts in the United States, HostGator is estimated to have a 4.0% market share.
Today, HostGator is one of the leading providers of a wide assortment of hosting services, including dedicated web hosting, shared hosting, VPS web hosting, and reseller web hosting.
HostGator has expanded its services in recent years. Optimized WP was launched in 2015. This is a set of tools for creating and maintaining websites on WordPress. By the end of the same year, local HostGator sites were created in Mexico, Turkey, China, India, and Russia. Web hosting services were then extended to Australia and the United Kingdom in 2019.
For the best HostGator price, see our HostGator coupons for great savings.
DreamHost vs. HostGator feature comparison
Let’s start by taking a look at the features offered by both web hosting companies. You will get a good selection of basic features on the shared plans offered by both HostGator and DreamHost, including a free domain name for one year if you choose a yearly package, unmetered bandwidth, and a free SSL certificate. Yet, there are some differences between the two, and this could be the deciding factor when determining the right package for you.
So, what are some of the differences that I think you should be aware of?
What features does DreamHost provide that HostGator doesn’t?
I’ll begin by taking you through some areas whereby DreamHost excels:
Free automatic daily backups
Well, one thing in DreamHost’s favor is that you will get free automatic backups every day. With HostGator, only weekly backups are provided automatically. This means you will have to keep on top of manual backups for full protection!
Free domain name
You will also get a free domain name when you sign-up with DreamHost. I noticed that this is something you don’t get with HostGator. However, it’s not all as good as it seems!
Rather than being a useful feature, the free domain name from DreamHost is more of a marketing gimmick. This is because once the first year has passed, you will need to pay approximately $15 for your domain name. There are cheaper ways of going about this.
You get Solid State Drive (SSD) storage with DreamHost, whereas Hard Disk Drive (HDD) storage is available with HostGator. SSD is proven to be up to two times quicker than HDD.
What features does HostGator provide that DreamHost doesn’t?
However, there are definitely some areas whereby HostGator triumphs, and storage is one of them.
You can get unlimited storage with the Hatchling Shared plan from HostGator. However, you only get 50 GB of storage on the Shared Starter plan from DreamHost. This won’t be enough to run a large website! If you’re just looking to host a landing page or a simple site, you’ll be fine, but I would not recommend this for anything bigger or you’ll probably run into performance problems.
Free email access and one site transfer
There are some other areas that HostGator shines as well. For example, you will get free access to unlimited email accounts on the HostGator start-up plan, yet DreamHost charges a flat fee for every mailbox. This can end up being quite expensive if you need a number of addresses! HostGator also provides one free site and DNS transfer, which is something DreamHost does not provide.
Advanced website builder
Both HostGator and DreamHost offer website building capabilities alongside their hosting plans. However, I was certainly more impressed with the site builder at HostGator. It has more advanced functionalities, enabling you to stay ahead of the curve
Free dedicated IP tools
If you opt for the high-end shared plan from HostGator, you will also get free dedicated IP and SEO tools. These features aren’t available with any of the shared hosting plans from DreamHost, so they’re certainly a welcomed addition at HostGator.
Free ad credits
I was also pleased to notice that HostGator provides all of their clients with $200 worth of ad credits, helping them to generate ad traffic to their website. I think this is a nice touch, especially for those just starting out who do not have large budgets to spend! You won’t get any free ad credits bundled with the DreamHost plans.
Ease of use, DreamHost vs. HostGator – Who is Best?
Another important element that I always look at when choosing a web host is ease-of-use. After all, there’s nothing more frustrating than a control panel that is laid out in an awkward manner, is there?
Both web host providers enable you to manage your website via one interface, making the process very simple.
There are differences between the two, though. HostGator uses an industry standard cPanel, wherehas DreamHost has its own proprietary control panel.
So, let’s take a look at the industry standard cPanel that is offered by HostGator. As you would expect, it is very easy to use. It is pretty much the same cPanel that you will find used by a lot of hosting providers today. You can easily create and manage customized email accounts, monitor your site traffic, and add CMS. I am sure you won’t have any trouble at all with this platform!
The proprietary control panel provided by DreamHost is also pretty easy to use. It has all of the same features that you get with HostGator. It may take a little bit of getting used to, simply because it moves away from the industry standard. However, I am sure you won’t run into any issues. It’s very easy to get to grips with. You can install a number of apps with just one click, manage databases, manage file transfers, and much more.
DreamHost vs. HostGator – Which delivers better performance?
Uptime and speed are two vital factors that need to be carefully assessed when selecting a web host. A lot of web hosting companies make big claims about their uptime guarantees and high server response times, yet they fail to live up to the hype! Well, don’t panic, as I have tested out both hosts to see how they really perform.
I started off by carrying out two critical tests on important performance elements. The first was a Load Impact test, which I find to be critical because it determines the response of the server during a traffic surge. Secondly, the all-important Pingdom test was carried out to determine how long it takes pages to load.
Load Impact Test
The Load Impact Test is incredibly important in my opinion. You want to be safe in the knowledge that your web host is going to perform effectively even if there is a surge in traffic. Both web hosts seemed to be able to handle traffic well.
Finally, how long did it take for both web hosts to load a web page? They were both very quick! The DreamHost test showed that my page loaded in less than 0.5 seconds, with HostGator coming in second at 0.69 seconds. Both are impressive, though. No complaints here!
You may want to consider getting a content delivery network (CDN)
If you know you’re going to have a lot of visitors from outside of the United States, you may want to get a content delivery network (CDN) to make sure your website visitors experience fast loading times. Neither HostGator or DreamHost provide a CDN, so do keep this in mind.
What about uptime guarantees?
Both hosts provide great uptime guarantees. HostGator offers a 99.99% uptime guarantee, whereas DreamHost provides a 100% uptime guarantee, which is backed by a service level agreement (SLA). It is not every day you see a 100% uptime guarantee offered by a web host. While this is a good thing, I would argue that no host can truly guarantee that they’re going to be able to deliver 100% performance!
Also, after doing a little bit of digging, I did notice that some users were experiencing internal server errors with DreamHost, as well as a few reporting downtime. From my own tests, I’d put DreamHost’s uptime at 99.948%.
So, how is DreamHost able to offer a 100% uptime guarantee if they don’t fulfil it? Well, the company has stated that you can pursue compensation if they fail to adhere to their guarantee promise.
It is not as simple as it seems, though, as you would technically have to capture your website’s performance and every downtime instance to get the refund. A lot of customers are likely to deem this more hassle than it is worth, and so they simply won’t bother! Plus, DreamHost have stated they are not obligated to provide a refund, so you do need to be mindful of what you say when going down this route.
You will be given one credit for every hour of downtime (or part thereof) that your service is interrupted if you do decide to pursue this. .
With HostGator, if you experience a lot of downtime, they will provide you with an entire month’s worth of credits. If schedule maintenance is in place, you won’t be compensated for this, as is the case with most hosting providers, so do keep this in mind.
I have to say that I have been impressed with the security features offered by both DreamHost and HostGator.
They both provide their customers with free SSL certificates from Let’s Encrypt, which help you to secure your website while also improving your ranking Google.
While there are a lot of similarities between the two options, there are also some differences as well. For example, domain privacy is provided free of charge on DreamHost, yet this is not the case on HostGator. What this means is that DreamHost will use their own proxy server to mask your personal data, helping to deter hackers from having access to your data.
On the flip side, though, HostGator brings SpamAssassin to the table free of charge. This is a spam protection tool. If you opt for a VPS plan from Dreamhost, you may be able to install this yourself. However, you probably won’t get the administrative privileges that are required for installation if you go for one of the shared plans.
Both web hosts come with extras that can give you further protection. For instance, you can purchase SiteLock Essentials from HostGator or you can opt to buy DreamShield from DreamHost.
Both of these tools function in a similar way. They will monitor the reputation of your website, scan your site for malware, and more. Of course, you do need to pay for the privilege, though, so make sure you factor this into your budget.
One area where DreamHost excels in comparison to HostGator is with the backups of their client sites. This is something that HostGator does automatically once per week, yet DreamHost does it on a daily basis. If you go for HostGator, I definitely recommend backing up your site manually every day so that you do not end up with a nightmare scenario on your hands.
DreamHost has also teamed up with StopTheHacker so that members are given support in a number of ways, including daily scans, protection against being on blacklists, virus scans, and malware. They also have numerous redundant lines of physical security to make sure that their power supply is never interrupted.
HostGator has some impressive features as well, though! They’re not just interested in the virtual security of your data, but the physical security as well. Their locations are outside the FEMA 500 year floodplain, and they even have hurricane shelters. Technicians and administrators are on-site 24-hours per day, seven days per week to fix issues before they become bigger problems. This 24/7 approach is also offered by DreamHost.
Other forms of protection include CCTV monitoring, biometric locks, and high-tech cooling systems. They have left no stone unturned in ensuring your company is protected.
Scalability - DreamHost or HostGator?
For the majority of website owners, growth is the name of the game, right? You want to draw in as much traffic as possible! Because of this, you need a web host that offers flexibility and scalability, making it easy for you to upgrade as and when is needed.
Both web hosts make it fairly easy to upgrade. With both platforms, you have the flexibility of choosing a monthly contract for those who need it. If you do want to upgrade, you will simply pay the difference in cost between the two packages, rather than needing to take out a new one entirely. Should you decide to switch to a reseller plan from a shared plan, your website will be transferred as is.
Of course, you will want to know how much all of this is going to cost you! I am going to start off with a word of warning; the costs can add up if you’re not careful! This is because both DreamHost and HostGator place a lot of emphasis on up-selling, meaning there are a lot of add-ons. As I am sure you know, add-ons can make a great deal a costly one no matter the product or service in question!
HostGator will push CodeGuard backups and SiteLock Essentials, whereas DreamHost goes as far to add DreamShield Protection to your cart automatically. Make sure you keep an eye on these and remove them from your cart if you do not need them!
So, let’s start off by taking a look at DreamHost. They have three different plans for you to choose from:
- Starter – $3.95 per month (based on a yearly plan)
- VPS – $13.75 per month (based on a yearly plan)
- DreamPass – $16.95 per month (based on a yearly plan)
As mentioned, you can sign-up to monthly plans, yet they are more expensive.
The HostGator Shared plans are as follows:
- Hatchling – $2.75 per month (based on a yearly plan)
- Baby – $3.95 per month (based on a yearly plan)
- Business – $5.95 per month (based on a yearly plan)
You then have other types of hosting, including VPS, which is split into the following options:
- Snappy 2000 – $19.95 per month (based on a yearly plan)
- Snappy 4000 – $29.95 per month (based on a yearly plan)
- Snappy 8000 – $39.95 per month (based on a yearly plan)
Again, as mentioned, you can sign-up to monthly plans, yet they are more expensive.
HostGator certainly delivers more value than DreamHost, in my opinion. This is because you get more for less, which is always a good thing!
For example, when it comes to the VPS Plan, the Snappy 2000 Plan is roughly the same price as the VPS Business Plan from DreamHost. However, with HostGator, you get a VPS firewall, two separate IP addresses, and twice the amount of storage space.
DreamHost have outdone HostGator in terms of the money-back guarantee, though, offering 97 days instead of the 45 days provided by HostGator. However, I am sure both are long enough for you to determine whether the host is right for you.
Both web hosts offer a number of different support options. HostGator provides 24/7 live chat, as well as phone support, which is quite rare for a web host.
With DreamHost, you can contact the company via live chat, email support, and Dreambot, which is AI customer support. You can use a callback feature, but it comes at an additional fee, which is a bit disappointing.
One thing I have noticed is that the general support agents at HostGator can’t always answer technical questions. It seems to have been this way ever since the company became part of the EIG conglomerate and outsourced the support overseas. The agents are very friendly, but they can’t always assist, which is a bit frustrating.
There are good knowledge bases at both websites, with guided tutorials and informative articles, so you should be able to find plenty of information on-site.
Conclusion: DreamHost or HostGator
Both of these web hosts provide a great service, and as you can see, I found them to be very closely matched. With a great selection of features at a low price point, though, HostGator edges it for more.
Other Hosting Comparisons
Looking for additional comparisons before making your decision about which hosting company is right for you? Check out these related articles:
This DreamHost vs HostGator comparison was last updated January 2021.