Bluehost and DreamHost are two of the biggest players in web hosting. At a high level, there’s not a lot that distinguishes one from the other. However, there are a few small details that set them apart.
Bluehost’s strengths are its beginner-friendly features, 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 a cost-effective provider that offers more storage space than most, even on its cheapest plan–you’ll get a whopping 50 GB of storage for a few dollars per month. We recommend Hostinger for most. Try it risk free for 30 days.
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.
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.
Web.com offers a beginner-friendly drag-and-drop website builder, making it perfect for simple and straightforward business websites that don’t expect a lot of traffic. Get started with one of 150+ free templates today.
As you can see, Hostinger is our favorite web hosting provider, but both Bluehost and DreamHost companies offer great features, usability, and scalability for different hosting needs, as well.
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 its website builder, we found it to be more flexible and customizable than the builders provided by other hosts. 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 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.
Recommended by WordPress: There are hundreds of hosting providers on the market that meet the minimum hosting requirements of WordPress. But Bluehost and DreamHost are the only two hosts that are “officially” recommended directly by WordPress.org.
Scalable hosting options: Both Bluehost and DreamHost give you plenty of room to grow without having to change hosting providers down the road. Most beginners can start with a shared hosting solution and then upgrade to a higher plan tier or move to a different type of hosting by the same provider. In addition to shared hosting plans, you’ll find options for VPS hosting and dedicated server hosting from both of these web hosts. It’s worth noting that DreamHost also offers cloud hosting, but Bluehost does not.
24/7 support: Bluehost and DreamHost both have support teams on standby 24/7/365. So if you have a question on the weekend or in the middle of the night, you’ll be able to reach out for help. We found Bluehost’s support to be a bit faster than DreamHost’s. But nevertheless, the support hours are the same.
Risk-free sign-up: As high-quality hosting services, both Bluehost and DreamHost stand behind their offerings with a money-back guarantee. So if you’re unhappy or the service falls short of expectations, you can cancel and get your money back. Bluehost offers customers a 30-day grace period from the signup day to cancel for a full refund, and DreamHost’s guarantee extends to an industry-leading 97 days. It’s worth noting that both these policies strictly apply to hosting services, and you can’t be refunded for a domain name you’ve purchased.
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. Bluehost’s hosting plans for online stores start at just $9.95 per month, whereas DreamHost is nearly double the price.
But cost aside, Bluehost 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. You just don’t get these same features and benefits with DreamHost.
Bluehost WonderSuite: We love that Bluehost is constantly innovating and improving its already amazing offerings. Recently, Bluehost launched WonderSuite—a suite of different tools that simplify the way you build and customize your website. It includes features like WonderCart, a way to add special promotions to your ecommerce checkout page, and WonderBlocks, an easier way to customize WordPress designs with a block editor.
Best of all, WonderSuite is included with every Bluehost web hosting plan. Bluehost already had an amazing site builder and webmaster tools, but WonderSuite just made it even better. You’ll be able to build your site faster and get the results you want without any technical knowledge or friction—all under the same roof as your web hosting service.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lack of cloud hosting: Cloud hosting has recently become a popular hosting option for websites because of its value. It’s a way to save money on resources while still being able to accommodate traffic spikes without sacrificing performance. While they did at one point, Bluehost no longer offers cloud hosting plans. This means that you’d need to upgrade to a VPS package if you outgrow your shared plan. But Bluehost virtual private servers start around $30 to $40 per month.
Conversely, DreamHost offers some of the best cloud hosting options on the market. They’re affordable, and you only pay for what you need. So Bluehost definitely falls short in this category when compared side-by-side with DreamHost.
No managed WordPress hosting: WordPress is great for WordPress websites, and they offer WordPress-specific plans that are great for any WordPress site. However, Bluehost does not offer managed WordPress hosting—but DreamHost does.
Furthermore, DreamHost has fully managed hosting for WordPress. This means they’ll handle your migrations, backups, security updates, and WordPress-specialized support agents. These managed plans start at $16.95 per month (compared to Bluehost’s WordPress plans at $2.95 per month), but it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison. It would be nice to see Bluehost offer this option for folks who want a bit more at this level.
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.
Fully-managed WordPress hosting: DreamHost’s WordPress hosting plans are fully managed, which means you’re getting an extra level of support compared to just WordPress pre-installed to your hosting package and servers that are optimized for this CMS. You’ll also benefit from automated backups, built-in caching, and automatic WordPress security updates handled for you.
Unlike other hosts on the market, DreamHost doesn’t just disguise its shared hosting package as something else and charge triple the price for a “managed” service. You’re actually getting an elevated hosting package that’s built for WordPress, with entry-level plans that support up to 100,000 visits per month and the highest tier that can accommodate one million monthly visits.
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. DreamHost has more than 200 starter sites to choose from, but Bluehost has higher-quality themes and templates for WordPress. Although DreamHost has definitely increased the quality of its WordPress templates in recent years.
Overall, we weren’t as impressed with DreamHost’s site builder in comparison. It’s still a good enough place to start for beginners or anyone wanting a professional website. But it should be noted that it falls short of the best website builders on the market.
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.
While customer support isn’t something you’ll need on a regular basis, getting a quick reply when you want help is crucial. This is especially true if your site has a problem that requires an urgent fix. DreamHost does offer priority customer support. However, it isn’t available until you reach the DreamPress Pro tier—the highest level for managed WordPress hosting, which starts at $71.95 per month. If you’re just getting started, you probably won’t be considering this plan, so you’ll have to deal with slower support.
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.
Lack of entry-level ecommerce hosting: If you’re starting a new online store from scratch, DreamHost probably isn’t your best option for ecommerce web hosting. The entry-level plans likely won’t be enough to support extensive product catalogs, large image libraries, videos, and other data. Plus, the speed and performance might be a bit too slow for online shoppers.
DreamHost does offer WooCommerce hosting plans, but they start at $16.95 per month. This plan is nearly double the cost of Bluehost’s cheapest ecommerce hosting plan, but it has 25% less storage. It also doesn’t come with the same ecommerce-specific features and tools that Bluehost offers.
Expensive dedicated servers: Compared to Bluehost, DreamHost’s cheapest dedicated server plan is nearly twice the price and offers similar specs. DreamHost dedicated hosting plans start at $149 per month, whereas Bluehost starts at $89.98. Furthermore, DreamHost’s 97-day money-back guarantee only applies to its shared plans—not dedicated servers. But Bluehost still offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on dedicated hosting.
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–because of that, we recommend it for those just getting started with web hosting.
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. Bluehost is our second pick, behind Hostinger, and DreamHost came in at number five, but they aren’t alone as quality providers.
Our full list of top picks includes:
- Hostinger — Best if you need a lot of storage
- Bluehost — Best for new WordPress users
- HostGator — Best for scaling your small business
- Web.com — Best website builder for simple business websites
- DreamHost — Best for simple, straightforward hosting
- SiteGround — Best for keeping uptime above 99.99%
- InMotion Hosting — Best price for hosting two websites
- Nexcess — Best for experienced WordPress users
- A2 Hosting — Most dependable web hosting for global traffic
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.