Bluehost and DreamHost are two of the biggest players in web hosting. Because of that, there’s not a lot to separate them from one another.
Bluehost’s strengths are its beginner-friendly features (and overall ease of use) and fast customer support. DreamHost, on the other hand, offers a great balance of server performance, dedication to security and privacy, and wallet-friendly scalability.
Between the two, the difference really is in the details. Either one can be a great choice for your website. But, as you dig deeper, each has it’s own nuances to consider.
Which one’s right for you? Let’s find out.
Bluehost and DreamHost Compared to the Best Web Hosting Options
Bluehost and DreamHost are just two of many web hosts out there. To see how they stack up against the rest, we put dozens of affordable web hosting options to the test, analyzing them for speed, uptime, customer support, ease of use, and more.
Below is an overview of our findings. However, you can check out our best web hosting guide if you want to learn more about our research process and see the results in more detail.
Hostinger is our top pick because it balances ease of use, versatility, performance, and price. Try it risk free for 30 days.
DreamHost came in a close second because of its affordable short-term pricing, 97-day money back guarantee, and focus on security out of the box. Get started for less than $5.
SiteGround scored the best for uptime, reliability, and customer support in our latest round of testing. Snag your free domain name and email address.
HostGator is a well-rounded option if you expect to scale quickly, with several flexible plans for both shared and cloud hosting. Sign up and get started in less than five minutes.
Bluehost offers the fastest and easiest route to a new WordPress website with it’s helpful step-by-step instructions and powerful drag-and-drop website builder. Try it risk-free and get a complimentary domain name for the first year.
While neither Bluehost or DreamHost are our number one pick, they’re both great for different hosting needs. Now, let’s take a closer look at how they stack up against each other.
Overview of Bluehost vs. DreamHost: A High-Level Perspective
If you’re looking for an easy way to get started with WordPress, Bluehost is the front runner.
After testing their website builder, we found it to be more flexible and customizable than the builders most other hosts provide. Despite that depth of capability, it’s incredibly easy to use. Anyone can create a website that looks and functions just the way they want it to.
On the other hand, if a streamlined, secure, and easily scalable experience is what you’re after, DreamHost is the better choice. Their hosting plans are straightforward, with just two easy-to-grasp options to choose from for shared hosting, so there’s no need to debate for hours about which plan is right for you.
Whether you need shared hosting, a developer-friendly virtual private server(VPS), or fully managed VPS hosting, DreamHost focuses on security and keeping things simple.
Plus, you’ll enjoy fewer upsells and ads, easier cancellations, and more affordable scaling as you grow than most other providers.
A Look at Bluehost and DreamHost’s Similarities
For the most part, they really aren’t all that different. While there are specifics about each one that are better for different situations, either one will help you get your website running.
So, before we start diving into what makes them different, let’s start with what they both do equally well.
Easy WordPress installation: Regardless of which one you choose, you’ll be able to install WordPress onto your site in just a few clicks. Depending on the plan you choose, it might even be pre-installed for you.
Free domains on certain plans: Both providers include a free domain name for your site with most plans. You’ll get the first year of that domain registration free of charge, then pay for renewal after that. However, you’ll only get this freebie if you choose a one-year hosting contract or longer.
Expensive domain renewals: On the flip side, domain renewal rates are expensive compared to dedicated domain registrars. You can expect to pay between an extra $3 to $5 per year compared to average renewal rates through a registrar.
Standard website performance: We tested every type of web hosting from both providers. We won’t go into all the details here, but neither host stood out in a good or bad way in terms of website speed and uptime.
High renewal rates: Bluehost is definitely the worst offender of this, but both providers (and, really, all web hosts to some extent) jack up the price after your introductory contract period expires.
Where Bluehost Shines
User-friendliness: Even if you have no experience with building websites and setting up their hosting, Bluehost provides an array of features that make it easy. All shared plans come with a one-click WordPress installer and its WordPress hosting plans come with it preinstalled. On top of that, all plans feature a step-by-step walkthrough of the backend and interface after you sign up. If you know what you’re doing, you can skip the wizard, too. Check out our Bluehost review to learn more about the sign full sign up process.
WordPress builder: Compared to DreamHost, Bluehost’s WordPress site builder is far more customizable and flexible. They’re both easy to use, but you can take your designs a lot further with Bluehost, even if you’ve never built a site or touched a line of code. There are also dozens of free WordPress themes to choose from to help you get started as fast as possible. Change the colors, images, fonts, buttons, and content to make your site look however you want.
cPanel + Bluehost Maestro: Bluehost has built a custom version of cPanel, which is the most popular hosting and backend control panel for websites. The good news is that once you know how to use it, you’ll be able to build and manage websites with any other web host that uses it, too. If you want to manage multiple sites with Bluehost, their Maestro site manager is a unique dashboard that makes it easier than ever to stay on top of plugin and core updates, backups, site vitals, and access to each site. DreamHost comes with an entirely different control panel that’s unique to them. It takes some getting used to, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But it’s one more thing to figure out.
Bonus features: All of Bluehost’s shared and WordPress hosting plans come with a few features that DreamHost doesn’t offer. One of them is use of the Cloudflare content delivery network (CDN), which helps speed up your website’s load times. To be perfectly honest: you can get this for free and use it with DreamHost, but Bluehost does the heavy lifting and installs it for you. Bluehost also comes with free WordPress themes that blow DreamHost’s out of the water. And every Bluehost plan comes with at least one free email address—with DreamHost, you only get free email addresses if you choose the Unlimited (i.e., more expensive) plan.
Fast customer support: Over several months, our researchers spoke to Bluehost customer support to ask a wide range of questions. The goal? See how long it took to get an answer and evaluate the quality of their responses. While Bluehost’s support is average overall, they’re incredibly fast. We never had to wait more than a few minutes to talk to someone, even when we called over the phone. With DreamHost, waiting 30 minutes to an hour to even connect with a representative is the norm.
Affordable WooCommerce hosting: Both providers offer WooCommerce-oriented hosting packages, but Bluehost’s has more affordable introductory pricing. It also comes with three times as much storage space and a wider range of free plugins for things like like bookings and appointments, wish lists, advanced search, and gift cards that you won’t get with DreamHost.
Where Bluehost Falls Short
Extra costs and upsells: Bluehost has many great features, but they’re pretty in-your-face about getting you to pay for some of them. During checkout, you’ll see a ton of upsells for things you probably don’t need, some of which are prechecked and easy to overlook. Even if you’re happy with what you have, they’ll keep trying to get you to upgrade via regular emails and notifications—which is particularly frustrating because you often won’t need to. Be careful at checkout, as you might end up wasting money when your website funds would be better spent elsewhere.
Lack of server transparency: A lot of people have tried to figure out where Bluehost’s servers are located, but the company doesn’t disclose this information on their website. That’s not a deal-breaker on its own, necessarily, but it’s notable compared to how open most other hosting providers are about their infrastructure and where they’ve set up data centers.
Domain privacy fees: If you want to mask your personal information (like the address and phone number you use at checkout) from online domain name databases, you’ll have to pay an extra fee through Bluehost. Going back to the upsells that appear during checkout, this is the only add-on you actually need. However, DreamHost offers it for free.
Too many plans: Bluehost has an overwhelming number of plans and types of web hosting available, all offering pretty similar features and price points. From WordPress, shared, and WooCommerce hosting to the packages for websites and online stores, there are four different types of introductory plans for new websites. Pro tip: Bluehost’s shared hosting and WordPress hosting are the same, with the latter just including more features and tools for using WordPress. And their e-commerce plan is the same as their WooCommerce plans.
Difficult cancellation: If you want to cancel your Bluehost account and take advantage of the money-back guarantee, you have to call to do so. There’s no cancellation button in your dashboard or control panel, which feels like Bluehost is making this process intentionally difficult and inaccessible.
Where DreamHost Shines
Affordable short-term pricing: While DreamHost and Bluehost offer the exact same price for year-long contracts, DreamHost’s monthly plans are significantly cheaper. On top of that, you won’t experience the “too many plans” overwhelm that you would with Bluehost because there are only two to choose from—one’s unlimited and the other isn’t. It’s easy to see how much the plan costs for different contract lengths, what the renewal rate will be, and which plan is right for you. Check out our full DreamHost review to learn more about DreamHost’s plans and pricing.
No-frills hosting: If you want a straightforward and streamlined hosting experience, DreamHost is definitely the way to go. Whether you’re a developer or you’ve never built a site before, everything feels simple and fluff-free. The interface is clean and minimal, making it easy to find everything you need even if you’ve never used their custom control panel before. Plus, DreamHost is employee-owned (unlike Bluehost), so they have more to gain by offering an amazing experience to their users.
Free WHOIS protection: DreamHost includes WHOIS privacy protection for free with every domain name. Rather than having to pay extra to keep your private information private, it’s always included at no extra charge. The added benefit also makes the higher domain name renewal rate easier to justify. This goes along with their commitment to security and privacy—since Bluehost charges a lot for the same feature, we wanted to highlight it separately.
Security: Every plan comes with multi-factor authentication, automatic core and security WordPress updates, automated daily backups, secure file transfers, secure shell access, and an SSL certificate. There’s also a custom malware remover you can add on for just $3 per month and multiple web application firewalls to keep everything secure. DreamHost makes it easy to rest easy about the security of your websites.
Money-back guarantee: DreamHost offers an industry-leading money back guarantee of 97 days for new shared hosting plans. No other providers, including Bluehost, offer this much time to decide if it’s the right fit. On top of that, you can get a refund for yearly plan renewals within 30 days so you aren’t stuck in another year-long contract if you don’t want to be.
Easy cancellation: In a similar vein, DreamHost is more conscientious of the needs of any users who decide to take advantage of that money-back guarantee or just end up unsatisfied. With DreamHost, you can cancel your account any time directly within your control panel. It’s incredibly easy and straightforward, unlike Bluehost’s drawn out cancellation and refund process.
Affordable VPS hosting: Compared to Bluehost, DreamHost’s VPS plans start at a third of the price. When you’re ready to upgrade from shared hosting, this more affordable price point makes the move less painful on your wallet. With that said, it comes with fewer resources than Bluehost’s cheapest VPS plan, which does help explain the price differential, though not completely as the resource allocation isn’t three times greater than DreamHost’s comparable VPS plans.
Cloud hosting: If you’re a developer, hiring a developer, or want to explore more powerful web hosting with an even more affordable price tag than their VPS plans, Dreamhost’s cloud hosting plans are some of the best around. You can also use them to store backups of your sites, connect to other storage apps, or build custom applications. For just a few dollars a month, you can provision new servers in a matter of seconds and enjoy full control of your hosting environment. In comparison, Bluehost doesn’t offer this type of hosting at all.
Email hosting: If all you need is a business email address and a place to store those emails, DreamHost’s email hosting services are a good choice. Get 25 GB of storage, an ad-free email experience (unlike Gmail and Yahoo), plus advanced spam and virus filters to help you cut out the noise. While you can set up a professional email address with Bluehost, you have to forward your emails to an email client to access them and you can only create an email if you have hosting with Bluehost. With DreamHost, you can get a modern and clean standalone email client, whether your domain and hosting is through them or not.
Where DreamHost Falls Short
WordPress builder: While DreamHost offers an intuitive website builder as part of their hosting plans, Bluehost’s own is more customizable, flexible, and modern. Bluehost’s builder also provides more and better templates to start with, although DreamHost does seem to be upping the quality of their templates over time. Overall, we weren’t as impressed with DreamHost’s site builder in comparison, but it still is a good enough place to start for beginners or anyone wanting a professional website.
Slow customer support: We spent a lot of time talking to DreamHost support throughout our research process, reaching out to them numerous times to gauge the quality and speed. Though DreamHost’s support agents are friendly and more than willing to help, it often took 30 minutes to over an hour just to chat with someone. Bluehost, on the other hand, tended to offer less helpful responses but was lightning fast in offering them.
No free email on the cheapest plan: DreamHost’s email options are generally great, but it falls short with regards to their entry-level shared hosting plan. Unlike Bluehost, which includes a free domain name and email with all plans, DreamHost charges an additional $1.67 per month for an email address (if you sign up for three years in advance). While DreamHost does provide email at no added cost with their Unlimited hosting plan, it’s a bummer it’s not included on the cheaper one if all you want to host is a single website.
Expensive dedicated servers: Compared to Bluehost, DreamHost’s cheapest dedicated server plan is nearly twice the price and offers similar specs. While neither provider is our favorite for this highest-end form of web hosting, Bluehost is the clear winner in this category if you absolutely had to choose solely between the two.
The Final Verdict on Bluehost Compared to DreamHost
Bluehost and DreamHost are both solid options for websites of all different shapes, sizes, and purposes. They’re evenly matched when you compare them side-by-side, so the important deciding factors are buried in the details.
Beyond the basics, Bluehost and DreamHost are each strong in terms of the extras and benefits they offer. Bluehost is particularly great for anyone wanting a powerful and easy WordPress website builder with an straightforward onboarding experience. On the other hand, DreamHost is the favored option when you need affordable VPS or cloud hosting or want extra peace of mind in terms of security and privacy.
In most situations, either provider will get you to the same end goal: a new website that’s easy to build and a breeze to maintain.
Expanding Your Knowledge: Bluehost vs. DreamHost
Comparing the Best Web Hosting Services
DreamHost and Bluehost both show up as high-end picks in our list of the best options on the market for general web hosting. But they’re not our top pick overall, nor are they alone as quality providers.
Our full list of top picks includes:
- Hostinger — Best web hosting for most users
- DreamHost — Best for simple, straightforward hosting
- SiteGround — Best for keeping uptime above 99.99%
- HostGator — Best for scaling your small business easily
- Bluehost — Best drag-and-drop page builder for beginners
- InMotion Hosting — Best price for hosting two websites on one plan
- Nexcess — Best for experienced WordPress users
- A2 Hosting — Most dependable web hosting in Europe and Asia
Want to learn more about how we test and rate web hosts? Check out our full post on the best web hosting services to see our top picks, explore all of the options available to you, and see the full results of our research for yourself.