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DreamHost vs HostGator: which is better for your needs?


In this DreamHost vs HostGator comparison article, every key topic you should look for in a web hosting service will be covered. I’ll analyze the most important features of both providers, starting with pricing, then ease of use, performance, security, and also customer support.

DreamHost is a critically acclaimed hosting provider for its effortless WordPress hosting. HostGator suits both newbies and pros alike with its simple control panel and management.

Just like every other web host, they both have their pros and cons – so which one is the best?

DreamHost vs HostGator: general info

Both DreamHost and HostGator are extremely popular hosting services – and that’s not without a reason. DreamHost advertises super-fast speeds, an easy-to-use interface, and an array of features that go beyond simple web hosting. HostGator is popular for its entry-level accessibility combined with very good performance levels.

So, let’s do a quick overview of the main features of these providers. And if you’re in a rush, just simply skip to the conclusion.

DreamHostHostGator
⭐️ Rating
4.2
4.2
💲 Price from$2.59/mo$2.75/mo
🌐 Free domainYesYes
💳 Payment typesCredit/Debit Card, Electronic Check / ACH, PayPal, Check or Money OrderCredit/Debit Card, PayPal, Check, Money Orders, Bank Wires
🏘 Hosting typesShared, WordPress, VPS, Cloud, DedicatedShared, WordPress, VPS, Cloud Dedicated
🕹 Control panelCustom control panelcPanel
🚄 Average speed231ms525ms
▶️ Monitored uptime>99.99%>99.99%
📑 Uptime guarantee100%99.9%
🌎 Server locationsThe USThe US
🛡️ SecuritySSL certificates, Web Application Firewall, daily backup, domain privacy protectionSSL certificates, server-level Firewall
👨‍💻 SupportLive chat (5:30 AM – 9:30 PM PT), paid phone support, 24/7 ticketing system, knowledge base24/7 Live chat, 24/7 phone support, knowledge base
➡️ Website migrationFree website migration plugin, paid options for website migrationOne free WordPress/cPanel migration and inter-server migration
➕ ExtrasDomain privacyEmail
💰 Money-back guarantee97 days45 days
💻 Websitewww.dreamhost.comwww.hostgator.com

DreamHost vs HostGator: pricing comparison

Both hosting services offer similar entry prices. DreamHost’s entry shared hosting plan is $2.59/mo. HostGator is a tad more expensive, starting at $2.75/mo.

And if you’re not all that interested in shared hosting, both services offer more types of hosting options:

  • WordPress hosting – DreamHost $2.59/mo; HostGator $5.95/mo;
  • VPS hosting – DreamHost $10.00/mo; HostGator $19.95/mo;
  • Dedicated hosting – DreamHost $160.00/mo; HostGator $89.98/mo.
  • Cloud hosting – DreamHost $4.50/mo; HostGator $4.95/mo.

However, in this comparison, we’ll be focusing on the shared hosting plans. What does each provider offer in its most basic version?

  • DreamHost (Shared Starter - $2.59/mo) – 1 website with a free domain name, domain privacy, unlimited bandwidth, a free SSL certificate, daily backups, and 50GB of storage.
  • HostGator (Hatchling - $2.75/mo) – 1 website with a free domain name, unmetered bandwidth, a free SSL certificate, and unlimited storage and email.

The providers have only a few differences in what they offer in their plans. As you can see, DreamHost is a smidge cheaper than HostGator, and it offers daily backups with only 50GB of storage. By paying mere 16 cents more to HostGator you get unlimited storage plus your own professional email address. You have to choose which features are the most important for you.

Just keep in mind that unlimited here doesn’t mean that you can upload 100s of GB worth of files to your site – no server is actually unlimited. When the server’s disc space is nearing its capacity, additional disc drives are added to increase storage space. To be more accurate, unlimited storage should be described as unlimited storage available. Additionally, while you can store as many files as you want, visitors will only be able to access a given amount of your site’s content at once.

Knowing these things, now you’re probably curious – which affordable hosting plans hide the best value in them?

DreamHost offers 2 different plans. Shared Starter for $2.59/mo, and Shared Unlimited for $3.95/mo.

DreamHost prices

Keep in mind that the DreamHost’s cheap price is only available if you pay 3 years upfront. Another thing to note is that the free domain is only valid for a year – after that, it will cost you $15.99 to renew it. However, DreamHost offers an extended 97-day money-back guarantee – plenty of time for you to make up your mind whether to stick with this provider or not. Keep in mind that the cancellation process includes closing your account – if you keep it open, you won’t receive any money.

Best value

If you’re running a single website or blog, the Shared Starter plan will do just fine. It comes with a limit of 1 website and 50GB of SSD storage. But if you’re a small business or looking to extend your offerings, the Shared Unlimited plan is the superior option, since you will be getting unlimited websites and email accounts.

Moving on, HostGator offers 3 separate plans. With the cheapest going for $2.75, and the most expensive selling for $5.25/mo.

Hostgator prices

The cheapest HostGator prices come with a 3-year subscription. You will be paying $126 in total, but that will translate to a lower monthly fee. And just how it was with DreamHost, the domain name is only free for one year. After renewal, you’ll have to pay $18.99 for the domain. Additionally, HostGator offers a 45-day money-back guarantee for first-time users – not as much as DreamHost, but it still is quite a lot. If you end up going with the cancellation process, the cost of the domain will be deducted from your refund.

Best value

The plan providing the most value is the Baby plan. For just 1 extra dollar you get an unlimited number of websites. The Business plan offers a few interesting features, but the difference in price doesn’t justify choosing this plan unless you absolutely need them to run your business.

As you can see, both of these providers offer affordable prices and they are featured on our best cheap web hosting list – take a look, and maybe you'll find an even better option for you there!

If you’re looking into creating a small business website, it would be best to go with DreamHost’s Shared Unlimited plan. However, if you’re looking into hosting for personal use, HostGator’s Baby plan is way more suitable for this case.

Hosting management: ease of use

DreamHost and HostGator offer great ease of use. DreamHost does that by giving its clients a completely custom control panel. HostGator uses the industry-standard cPanel, which offers a great intuitive experience.

DreamHost is one of the several providers that have their own custom control panel instead of using the standard cPanel. However, with the use of their in-house dashboard and management tools, DreamHost is able to offer perhaps the easiest WordPress install in the market. While some providers advertise one-click WordPress installs, DreamHost seems to be the only provider who actually fulfills the promise. Additionally, this provider is not aggressive with its upsells.

To give you a feel, here’s what the DreamHost’s control panel looks like – it’s modern-looking, and has everything within a click’s reach.

dreamhost control panel

Now HostGator’s control panel is a little more rudimental.

HostGator helps you set up your website with the help of a native dashboard and cPanel. The cPanel, as always, allows you to access the more advanced tools, such as domain, database, and file management. HostGator offers a basic cPanel with an icon layout that is oh so familiar and won’t cause any problems for both newbies and pros. Once you get started you’ll notice how easy it is to navigate.

HostGator cPanel

When compared to the panel offered by DreamHost, this one seems to be more function-oriented. There are two downsides to this – the personalization it fails to offer and the constant upselling. It does allow for some tweaks in the customization process, but overall, what you see is what you get with the cPanel. While the WordPress install usually runs smoothly, some users have reported some errors coming up during the process. Besides, it’s definitely more complex than the 1-click it advertises. Additionally, HostGator always tries to sell you what you don’t even need – so don’t be surprised if your cPanel has hidden pages with upsell promotions.

In a side-by-side comparison, both providers do a good job. There are no overly complicated steps to access a specific tool. The main difference between the two is the customizable interface offered by DreamHost compared to the more basic layout offered by HostGator. The first one opts for a sidebar view with all the functionalities and tools available through just a scroll, while the latter has an icon-rich layout. It's not a surprise, that both of these providers are in our best web hosting list.

All in all, it comes down to personal preference. If you’re looking to easily install WordPress, you should give priority to DreamHost, but otherwise, in the ease of use category, both services do a great job at keeping things simple.

DreamHost vs HostGator performance

Both providers showed that they know how to deliver the best results. DreamHost is well known for its reliability, and during our testing, the uptime and speedy website loading lived up to the praise from the public. HostGator also did a great job at keeping the uptime above the guarantee, all while it delivered solid response times, and lightning-fast website loading speed.

Uptime and response time

We tested DreamHost’s performance for nearly 2 months. With >99.99% uptime and just a 1 minute of downtime DreamHost’s results are close to unbeatable. Coming from a provider that promises 100% uptime, this result is incredible. And even if the uptime was less than promised, you’d receive compensation.

DreamHost response time

DreamHost’s server response time was also top-notch. This hosting provider delivered steady results amounting to a response time average of 231ms – way above the market’s average of 600ms.

Now, HostGator was tested for almost 3 months. And it did not disappoint. HostGator’s uptime guarantee is only 99.9%, but the total downtime during the testing period added up to only 5 minutes spread out through 3 outages, which resulted in a >99.99% uptime. The uptime guarantee is pretty low, but HostGator delivered – and even if it didn’t, you’d get compensated.

Hostgator  response time

The average response time was also solid. It wasn’t as incredible as DreamHost, but HostGator’s average of 525ms is considered better than the market average of 600ms.

In the uptime and response time subcategory, both providers showed great results. DreamHost, however, delivered superior results and ended up being the more faster and reliable provider out of the two.

Website speed

Website speed is another of the key characteristics that set good and great providers apart.

To start off, Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) should load under 2.5s – this is a standard set by Google. A full website should load under 3s for better user experience, anything more and you might notice a larger bounce-off rate. And you never want to keep your website visitors waiting for your website to load, now do you? A fast LCP helps a website rank well in search engine results, while fully loaded time is essential for a good user experience.

During the website speed test, DreamHost did a great job, with a 1.4s LCP, and a fully loaded time of just 1.6s.

dreamhost website speed

On the other hand, HostGator excels at website speed. The LCP was just 1.1s, even below the great mark set by DreamHost in the same test. Meanwhile, the fully loaded time is a blazing fast 1.2s, less than the 1.6s registered by DreamHost.

HostGator fully built website loading speed

In the website speed subcategory, HostGator takes the crown by a small margin. Here, both hosting services did a good job of going beyond the market’s averages and providing the user with a great experience.

However, keep in mind that the website’s loading speed heavily depends on where your server is hosted and where your website visitors are from. In our case, our websites are hosted in the US and tested in the US. To get the best results, servers have to be physically close to your audience, but both DreamHost and HostGator have servers only in North America – so these providers are not the best choice if your clients are from other continents.

Overall, both providers delivered a good performance. Uptime was similar in both hosting services, but DreamHost is the clear winner in what it comes to response time. In terms of website speed, DreamHost and HostGator provided similar results with the edge going to HostGator.

Website security

In the security compartment, DreamHost offers more security features in its starter plan than HostGator. The Shared Starter plan by DreamHost includes SSL certificates, firewalls, daily backups, and domain privacy. The Hatchling plan by HostGator includes SSL certificates and server-level firewalls.

In terms of security, DreamHost lacks just one feature, but you’re able to buy it separately. For just $29.99/yr, the provider will include a malware protection tool in its offering. It comes down to another $3/mo, and while it’s a shame it’s a paid feature, having a malware protection tool can prove to be a game-changer. Is it that surprising, that DreamHost is on our most secure web hosting list with all the features that it has?

HostGator also provides paid tools to compensate for the lack of security included in its basic plan:

  • Positive SSL upgrade – for $39.99/year.
  • Sitelock essentials – helps you detect malware in your website and costs $23.88/year.
  • Automatic backup – that will cost you $23.95/year.

In the security department, it’s not close between the two. In the DreamHost vs HostGator battle, the first is the clear winner, offering more for less. While both providers charge a similar price for a malware protection tool, DreamHost manages to offer daily backups for free, while HostGator charges $23.95.

Customer support

In terms of customer support, both DreamHost and HostGator offer self-help resources, as well as a variety of direct support channels – live chat, phone support, and ticketing.

If you’re not a fan of knowledge bases (just keep in mind that the ones offered by these providers are great), there’s quite a difference between the two providers.

The customer support provided by DreamHost has 3 direct support channels to choose from. A live chat working between 5:30 AM – 9:30 PM PT, phone support, and 24/7 ticketing. The DreamHost support may seem underwhelming at first. The lack of a 24/7 live chat option could be a deal-breaker. However, the ticketing system works great. Most of the time, the problems get solved within an hour using this system. And just to calm your racing heart, know that there is always the option of consulting the website’s tutorials and community which could help you as well.

On the other hand, HostGator offers live chat and phone support, both of them working 24/7. HostGator’s live chat option is one of the best in the business. HostGator’s support agents are qualified professionals that can solve your problems in under 10 minutes, which is impressive. The agent that we had the opportunity to talk to was kind, knowledgeable, and truly solved our issues in a timely fashion.

In the customer support field, HostGator wins. While the ticketing system works better in DreamHost compared to some of its competitors, the fact that the live chat is confined to a timezone is a shame. HostGator provided great results with a faster turnaround.

DreamHost vs HostGator: final recommendations

Both web hosting providers did a great job at most of the categories in the DreamHost vs HostGator comparison. The pricing was reasonable in both cases, and both performances were great, with DreamHost edging out HostGator in the uptime and response time section. The major differences were in security, where DreamHost is the flat-out better option, and customer support, where HostGator was tough to beat.

FeatureDreamHostHostGatorVerdict
Price
In this category, there’s no clear winner. The difference is minimal, but DreamHost ($2.59) does have a few cents-worth of advantage over HostGator ($2.75).
Ease of use
As far as ease of use, DreamHost offers a completely custom control panel, while HostGator offers cPanel – the industry standard. Both interfaces are user-friendly but HostGator doesn’t offer as much customization as DreamHost.
Performance
DreamHost offers better uptime and response time, while HostGator edges its competitor in website speed.
Security
Security-wise, DreamHost is the superior option. More features, lower price. To have a similar experience with HostGator you’ll need to pay for features.
Support
In the customer support comparison, HostGator is the best of the two at assisting customers, since it is able to offer live chat and phone support, both of them working 24/7.

The winner in the DreamHost vs HostGator comparison depends on who you ask. If you’re a more advanced user and you’re looking for an easy WordPress install and great security features as well as great performance results, DreamHost is the superior option.

If, on the contrary, you are a beginner who will most likely need a provider who has easier accessibility and customer support that will help you fix any problems that may arise, HostGator should be your choice.

Alternatives to DreamHost and HostGator

Both DreamHost and HostGator are great hosting providers, but that doesn’t mean that they’re absolutely perfect. For this reason, I found some other alternatives in the market. Some offer lower prices, some offer specialized solutions – the pick is yours.

Hostinger

If you’re looking for a lower price, Hostinger is the way to go. With the basic plan selling for just $1.39/month, it’s a provider with a bargain price that can still perform at a high level. Uptime and response times are no problem for Hostinger, but the main downside is the sometimes slow control panel.

SiteGround

SiteGround is one of the most popular services on the market, and for a good reason. With an entry point price of $3.99/mo, it might be more expensive than most of the competition, but it delivers in the main categories we tested.


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