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I have been in the IT game for a long, long time. I started my first website by learning HTML and painstakingly coding a basic website. Thank goodness those days are over and anyone can setup an easy to use website using WordPress.
It goes without saying then, that I have seen a lot of changes in my time. And the growth of WordPress is one of these changes.
It wasn’t that long ago (although it probably was) that I would be telling my clients that WordPress was a ‘niche’ thing. How times have changed. I would say that 90% of my webpages are now WordPress based and every hosting company worth its salt will offer WordPress as an option. WordPress is great for affiliate blogs and offers many plugins to help with your affiliate marketing.
In this article we are going to look at two of the biggest around and compare what they have to offer.
We look at various features and will do a comparison on each, including: –
First let’s have a brief rundown of each company before comparing what they offer.
Bluehost for WordPress Hosting
Bluehost hosts over 2 million domains and is listed as being one of the top twenty wordpress hosting companies. Founded in 2003 (incidentally the same year as WordPress was founded) it is owned by Endurance International Group.
DreamHost for WordPress Hosting
DreamHost is owned by New Dream Network LLC and was founded in 1996, so is the older kid on the block. It boasts a customer base approaching half a million and hosts in excess of one million domains.
Okay, so now we have a little bit of history about the companies. Let’s have a look at what they offer.
PS Shared WordPress Hosting for those that aren’t in the know is a web hosting service where many websites reside on one webserver, helping to reduce costs by spreading maintenance costs over many customers.
What you get for your money.
At the time of writing the prices are correct, but obviously will be subject to change. Currently Bluehost packages begin at $2.89 per month and rise to $13.65 for their top package. DreamHost Packages start at $2.59 per month and rise to $4.95.
It should be pointed out that in both cases these prices are only valid if you plump for the 3-year plan.
Let’s do a side-by-side comparison on the basic package and see what the companies offer.
|Sites||1 Website||1 Website|
|Free SSL Certificate||Yes||Yes|
As you can see, both companies offer affordable and feature packed packages even at the entry-level. Let’s look at what each company offers within the range of packages they offer.
The basic DreamHost package is called the Shared Starter package and if you’re looking at a simple webpage with no bells or whistles, then this would be ideal. But if you are looking for something with a bit more versatility, then their higher tier ‘Shared Unlimited’ package may well be worth a look. It is priced at $4.95 a month and the major differences are unlimited websites and unlimited @ yourdomain emails included.
For the basic package an email addon starts at $1.67/mo.
Common to both packages are the following features.
- WordPress pre-installed
- Free automated WordPress migrations
- Automatic daily back-ups
- 100% uptime guarantee
Either of these packages are a good option for anyone needing a simple, yet functional and highly versatile website. If you’re planning on starting a blog or have a small business and need a basic webpage then DreamHost could be the perfect solution.
Bluehost offer a more extensive range of packages, which range from the entry level package covered above to their ‘Pro’ package. The table below shows the differences and just what you get for your buck.
|Storage||50gb SSD||Unlimited SSD||Unlimited SSD||Unlimited SSD|
|Site back up||No||No||Free for 1 year||Yes|
|Microsoft 365 Mailbox||No||Free for 30 days||Free for 30 days||Free for 30 days|
As you can see they offer a wider range of packages than DreamHost, so if you need to pick and choose your package a bit more then Bluehost may be the solution for you.
But there are other considerations to consider before you press that buy now button.
Which company is easier to use?
It goes without saying that ease of use is a major factor when purchasing anything, and webhosting is no different. There is no point in having a feature rich package at your fingertips if you don’t know how to utilise them.
Both companies have put effort into making the user-experience as friendly and intuitive as possible. But is there an outright winner?
In this section we are going to take them both for a test drive. We shall have a look at the set-ups, the interfaces, and any extra features they may offer.
Once you have set up your account with DreamHost then you can log straight into your control panel. Many wordpress hosting companies prefer to use the eponymous cPanel, it will be customised to suit the company’s needs, but underneath the hood it is still the good old cPanel.
Personally, I have had issues with cPanel over the years, but it’s now like an old friend, I know it. I know my way around it, so how does the DreamHost control panel stack up against it?
Actually, quite well, it is a nice clean interface, with all the regular options well displayed. From within here you can: –
- Access your account information
- Access your domain and registration information
- Create websites and customise existing websites
- Configure webpage setting and features
- Access databases
- Check statistics
- Configure email
Once you have your account, domain and hosting package in place it is time to set up that WordPress website. But first you must install WordPress, this is done with one simple click. Don’t worry if it doesn’t appear immediately, it can take up to a quarter of an hour.
Once this is done you have a couple of options to help you get that website up and running.
- DreamHost have a start-up wizard that can pretty much create the site for you. All you must do is choose a theme, create your pages within it and enter your content. Simple.
- For the more adventurous or advanced user then it is also possible to build a website from scratch using the WordPress dashboard.
And that’s it, your website is up and running. Overall, this was a painless experience despite the lack of that old friend of mine the cPanel.
Once you have your account created and logged in you will find your self looking at a nice clean interface, that if anything I found a bit simpler than the DreamHost interface, but really there isn’t much in it. Both companies have obviously put a lot of time and effort into their products user-friendliness.
Once you are logged in with your domain and package set-up then you can go ahead and install WordPress on your selected domain. You are also offered some free plugins, don’t worry if you’re not sure, plugins can be added at any time.
Bluehost also offer a couple of options when it comes to setting up your site. The first is its proprietary Bluehost menu. This is effectively a wizard that will painlessly take you through the steps needed to get your site published, this option would suit beginners and people who haven’t the inclination to learn the WordPress setup procedure.
The other option the WordPress dashboard.
Now as both companies offer the WordPress dashboard I think it’s worth saying a word or two about it. I have a lot of clients who have had a quick look at it and been instantly intimidated. Don’t be, as with all these things it can appear to be a bit scary at the start, but it doesn’t take long to gain an understanding.
By all means use the wizards both companies provide, they are easy to use and both will have a nice, simple yet functional website published in no time. But if you want a bit more control, have a peek at the WordPress dashboard. You can always resort to the wizard if you don’t have the time or inclination.
Overall while both companies offered easy to use and navigate setups, it is hard to choose a winner, if I was prompted I would say Bluehost just edged it, their interface was a bit easier to navigate. But I’m nit-picking, both companies have put a lot of effort into this and it shows.
The role of performance when choosing a wordpress hosting provider is paramount. It isn’t just the fact that your page will load slower, it’s the potential visitors lost because they didn’t have the patience to wait.
This was a recent test performed on two brand-new WordPress installations. The testers then ran trials using the performance and availability testing suite – Pingdom. The results are in the table below.
As you can see DreamHost proved itself to be the fastest in all of the tests, sometimes by quite a substantial margin. Bluehost’s times have to be considered average.
In this category DreamHost are the outright winner.
Value for money
Both these companies are considered budget companies, which is perfect for the market they’re aiming for. We touched at the pricing levels earlier in the article, but here we will examine it in a bit more depth.
While the ‘Shared Starter’ plan is their basic package, for most people the ‘Shared Unlimited Plan’ is a better option. Particularly if you want to add email to your package, email itself starts at $1.67/mo when added to the cost to your ‘Shared Starter’ plan. This increase brings you to within a few cents of the higher package. If you want email functionality then this is a no-brainer really.
Across both companies the price is dependent on the length of contract you sign up for. For instance, the ‘Shared Unlimited’ cost look like this when contract length is accounted for.
- 3-year plan – $4.95 per month
- 1-year plan – $5.95 per month
- Monthly plan – $10.95 per month.
I would point out that if you sign for the annual or 3-year plan then the total is payable up-front, and future payment after this term has expired will be $7.95 per month. The monthly plan does not include a free domain.
The basic plan for Bluehost starts at $2.95 a month, for most people the ‘Choice Plus’ would be a better option. And as its only slightly more expensive than Dream Host’s ‘Shared Unlimited’ plan, it is what we base the price comparison on.
Like DreamHost, the amount you pay for a Bluehost plan varies dependent on the length of contract: –
- 3-year plan – $5.45 a month
- 2-year plan – $6.95 a month
- 1-year plan – $7.45 a month
Once again, the full amount has to be paid upfront, once the initial term has expired the package will cost $14.99 per month.
Bluehost does not offer a monthly option.
While both companies offer a similarly priced package, once your initial term expires then DreamHost comes out as a clear winner, as its ongoing costs are much lower.
Both companies offer 24/7 support, and both offer telephone and live-chat support. Also, there are extensive knowledge bases and self-help articles that can be referred to, so it seems there is no clear-cut winner. However, a recent survey was conducted that asked 830 WordPress users to rate the companies support, both in the overall support quality and in WordPress specific support.
Although there wasn’t a lot in it, DreamHost came out with a slightly better rating.
Pros and Cons
Let’s have a look at a few pros and cons for each company before drawing an overall conclusion.
- Great Performance
- Easy set up
- Support is highly rated
- Price is cheaper after initial contract period
- Basic choice of packages
- Email not included in basic package
- Doesn’t use standard cPanel
- Uses cPanel
- Wide range of packages
- Bluehost Menu for setting up webpage
- Doesn’t offer pay monthly wordpress hosting
- More expensive after initial contract period
- Performance was slower
- Support not rated as highly
There isn’t that much between the two companies and both will have features that attract customers depending on their own needs.
If you’re looking for an easy to use system that is ideal for beginners or need a larger choice of packages and don’t mind paying a bit extra then you won’t go wrong with Bluehost.
If performance, value for money and ease of use are what you’re after then DreamHost might just be what you’re looking for.
Overall both companies offer a painless experience in getting that first webpage up and running.