You want to launch your website… but you don’t have a lot of budget to spare. You might be weighing the benefits of Bluehost vs Dreamhost for bloggers on a budget.
It can be really challenging to get started on a budget. Maybe you’re worried about spending any money at all. Friends might tell you just to use a free option, or family might think your website is only a casual hobby.
So what do you do? There are dozens of different web hosts, all with different hosting plans.
You don’t want to end up paying far more than you need to… but you also don’t want to inadvertently choose a bargain web host with a terrible reputation for customer service.
They’re not only really popular, long-standing, and reputable web hosting companies, they also have the distinction of being recommended by WordPress.
This makes them a great choice if you’re planning to build a WordPress website.
I’ll share my personal choice, then walk you through how exactly Bluehost and Dreamhost compare. That way, you can make the best possible choice for you and your fledgling business.
BlueHost vs Dreamhost: Which Should You Choose?
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In a hurry? Here’s how to quickly choose between Bluehost vs Dreamhost:
If you’re feeling overwhelmed on the technical side of things, go with Bluehost.
Bluehost’s customer service experience is fantastic. They’re very hands-on with their customer support, happy to walk you through any technical challenges you’re having.
You can call them on the phone, type messages back and forth in live chat, or send them an email–they’re available for you in whatever way works best for you.
If you’re a new or inexperienced blogger, having the highly experienced Bluehost support team there to help you is invaluable.
While I really like both Dreamhost and Bluehost, for me, Bluehost has the edge due to their unparalleled customer service.
If you’re currently on a tight budget, go with Dreamhost.
Unlike most budget-friendly web hosts, Dreamhost has a true monthly hosting plan.
That means you can pay month-to-month (with no ongoing long-term commitment) instead of having to pay for at least a year upfront, like you do with Bluehost and many others in the hosting industry.
Dreamhost’s annual plan is also cheaper than Bluehost, so if you’re budget-conscious, they’re the better option.
Bluehost and Dreamhost offer lots of useful features for both website owners and those just starting a blog, even on their cheapest plans.
Here’s how the key features of their basic plans compare:
Type of Hosting
Both Bluehost and Dreamhost offer shared hosting plans, just like every bargain web host. This means your website is stored on a big server (a computer) along with lots of other websites.
Shared hosting is perfect when you’re starting out and on a budget. Once your site grows and gains more traffic, you can start to think about upgrading to dedicated hosting.
This gives you additional resources for your site. Both Bluehost and Dreamhost make it easy to upgrade when you’re ready.
Your domain name is the online address of your website, like ryrob.com. Both Bluehost and Dreamhost include a free domain name when you pay for at least a year of hosting upfront.
(Domain names are always registered for a minimum of one year.)
If you’ve already chosen the domain name you’d like to use for your blog, you can register it when you purchase your hosting plan.
If you haven’t decided yet, that’s fine too. Dreamhost and Bluehost both let you add your domain name at a later stage, after you’ve signed up for hosting.
Number of Websites
Whether you opt for Dreamhost or Bluehost, you’ll be limited to one website if you’re on the cheapest plan. You can pay a bit more to have unlimited websites if you prefer.
(You’ll only get one free domain name, though: you’ll need to buy extra domain names for your other websites.)
Web pages take up storage space, just like the images and files on your computer and phone.
If your website has hundreds of pages and lots of big images, it’ll need quite a lot of storage space. If you just have a few pages and images, you won’t need as much.
Bluehost gives you 50 GB of storage space on their cheapest plan (which is more than most websites need). Dreamhost gives you unlimited storage.
Bandwidth is a measure of how much data is transferred from your website’s server to people’s computers or devices.
The more people visiting your website, the more bandwidth you’ll use. Both Bluehost and Dreamhost give you unlimited bandwidth, so you don’t need to worry about using too much.
Note that both Dreamhost and Bluehost have fair usage plans in place. If your website is using a huge amount of bandwidth (far more than most other people’s sites), they will ask you to upgrade your plan.
Your web host’s control panel is the online software you use to make changes to your web hosting settings. You can use it to do things like set up a new email address at your website domain.
Bluehost uses cPanel, which is the industry standard. Many website owners like to stick with cPanel since it’s familiar–and there are lots of tutorials and videos for it online.
Dreamhost uses its own system, and you don’t have the option to use cPanel.
If you’re new to creating websites, you may well find Dreamhost’s custom control panel simpler to understand. However, if you’re already familiar with cPanel, you’ll probably find it easier to go with Bluehost.
SSL Certificate (HTTPS)
An SSL certificate allows a website to form a secure connection over HTTPS instead of HTTP. In the past, this was most often used by banks and online stores.
Today, almost all large websites use HTTPS. Your site should too, because Google prioritizes secure sites in their search results.
Both Bluehost and Dreamhost offer free SSL certificates, which are provided by the third-party service Let’s Encrypt. Installing these is as simple as clicking a button.
CDN (Content Delivery Network)
A content delivery network (CDN) has a number of servers distributed around the world. This helps speed up your site, as users can access it from the geographically closest server.
Having a fast website delivers a great user experience and helps improve your search engine optimization (SEO).
Bluehost offers a free, built-in CDN. Dreamhost’s starter plans don’t include a CDN.
Your website’s performance is based on two key factors:
- Uptime (whether your website is available or not)
- Speed (how quickly your website loads)
Ideally, you want your web host to have a great reputation for uptime. If your website is unavailable, you’re going to end up losing customers.
All reputable web hosting companies have very high annual uptime: think 99.9% or higher.
Bluehost has an uptime of around 99.98% (meaning your website would be unavailable for about 1 hr and 45 minutes each year).
Dreamhost promises 100% uptime, and achieves it most months–but overall has an uptime of around 99.99% (meaning your website would be unavailable for about 50 minutes each year).
Dreamhost has a 100% uptime guarantee–so if your site is down for any period of time, you can get a refund for the time it was unavailable.
What about speed? Bluehost’s load speed is 0.72 seconds–which is really fast. Dreamhost’s load speed is, incredibly, even faster at 0.26 seconds.
Bluehost and Dreamhost both make the sign-up process as straightforward as possible, though you’ll find Bluehost offers a little bit more hand-holding.
It’s quick and easy to install WordPress on your site. Both Dreamhost and Bluehost offer a built-in drag-and-drop WordPress site builder for you to use.
You can add a lot of add-ons with Bluehost, though it’s worth noting, they do tend to push you toward buying extras.
You may not need everything they suggest when you’re just getting started, so if you’re on a tight budget, feel free to stick with the minimum necessary – both before and after signing up.
If you’ve had a bit of experience with building websites already, you’ll likely find Dreamhost’s interface a little faster for getting new WordPress sites set up.
Both Bluehost and Dreamhost let you easily upgrade to a more powerful hosting plan if you want to create more websites or if your website needs extra server resources.
Bluehost has a very friendly and helpful customer support team, as many Bluehost reviews will tell you.
The customer support staff will be more than happy to walk you through WordPress-related issues and questions—they aren’t just there to help with the web hosting side of things.
This means if you’re running into any technical challenges or need help with setup, you can simply open a live chat or make a call and get immediate support from Bluehost.
They’ve also got lots of clear help documentation online if you prefer to troubleshoot things yourself.
Dreamhost doesn’t have such hands-on support. You have to pay extra if you want to be able to talk to their support team on the phone. This means when you’re on a tight budget, you’ve only really got the option of live chat and email.
Of course, if you do run into problems with your website, you can open a live chat window or send in a ticket, and Dreamhost’s support team will be glad to help.
Web hosting costs can get complicated, so I’m going to dig into this and help you make the best choice between Dreamhost vs Bluehost.
Web hosts usually quote prices per month, even when you’re paying upfront. Dreamhost has a true monthly plan, starting at $4.95/mo, but Bluehost requires at least 1 year of payment upfront in order to get started.
To get the lowest possible price with both Bluehost or Dreamhost, you need to sign up for 3 years in advance.
In all cases, the lowest price only applies for your “introductory period” or first “term”–that’s the year, two years, or three years you sign up for.
You’ll be paying the standard rate after that (normally either every year, two years, or three years, depending on how long you signed up for initially).
The key thing to understand is, you’ll face a larger bill after your initial term. Hopefully, by that point, you’ll be making money from your website – but it’s still important to be aware of what you’ll need to pay.
Here are the beginning price points, if you opt for the cheapest hosting plans for both Bluehost vs Dreamhost:
And here’s the price comparison between Dreamhost and Bluehost once your initial term expires:
Dreamhost’s monthly plan costs $4.95/mo for your first three months, then goes up to $7.99/mo.
So what does that mean in practice?
- Dreamhost is your only option if you want a monthly plan
- Dreamhost is cheaper than Bluehost on both the 1 year and 3 year plans, both initially and for ongoing costs
- Dreamhost’s monthly plan is actually cheaper on an ongoing basis (at $7.99/month) than Bluehost’s one-year or three-year plans (which work out to $9.99/month and $8.99/month, respectively)
It’s also worth noting here that Dreamhost has a 97-day money-back guarantee, which is a lot more generous than most web hosts. (Bluehost has a 30-day money-back guarantee, which is fairly standard.)
Dreamhost vs Bluehost: Which is the Best Bargain Hosting?
The good news is that both Dreamhost and Bluehost are perfectly fine options to choose for your blog.
However, if you’re just getting started, I recommend Bluehost.
It’s a little bit more expensive, but they offer superb 24/7 customer support. If you’d otherwise need to pay for a WordPress expert to help set up your blog or fix your site, then Bluehost is definitely a bargain factoring in their level of hands-on technical assistance.
If you’re reasonably confident when it comes to the technical things, Dreamhost is a bit cheaper and has the edge when it comes to performance.
Ready to get started?
Want to Build Your Website with WordPress?
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