Now that you’ve made the decision to start a blog, you need to find somewhere to host it. But what is web hosting, and how do you find the right hosting company for you?
With so many hosting providers to choose from, we’ve created this comparison guide to help you choose between two web hosting giants: DreamHost vs. HostGator.
- What Is Web Hosting?
- Performance and Reliability
- Plans and Pricing
- Customer Experience
- Overall Winner
Once you have an idea for your blog, you’ll want to start getting everything set up and ready to go. You might already have a domain name, which is similar to a street address. It’s your blog’s home. Web hosting is like the plot of land that your home sits on, and it’s where your blog’s structure and content is stored.
HostGator covers this in more detail on their blog.
How Do You Choose the Right Web Host?
It can be overwhelming when you start looking for web hosting for your blog. There are lots of different companies that offer the service, from big names like HostGator and DreamHost to smaller, lesser known hosting companies.
Some key elements to look at when making your decision include: performance and reliability, pricing and plan options, and customer service. It’s these three areas that we’ll cover in this article to help you find the right web host for you.
It’s important for your blog to stay online and accessible to readers, which is why performance and reliability are important factors when comparing hosting companies.
Not only is it essential for your host to be able to keep your website online over 99 percent of the time, but the performance and speed of your website can have an impact on your search engine rankings — and therefore your ability to attract readers. It’s essential to choose a web host that understands the importance of running a reliable and optimized server (where your website will be hosted).
Uptime refers to the amount of time that your blog stays online and visible to readers. The opposite is downtime, where your blog is unavailable and people cannot access your content. This means that a hosting company with a high average uptime score, ideally over 99.9 percent, should be your first choice.
Looking at data provided by Down.com, we can see that HostGator performs well on uptime tests and comes out on top, with an average 99.98 percent uptime.
DreamHost, on the other hand, doesn’t score so highly — with an average uptime of 90.8 percent you could expect to see more downtime than you would with other hosting providers. During our research, DreamHost was suffering an outage and reporting a score of zero on the test results.
Both hosting companies do offer an uptime guarantee service, offering a credit or something similar for any interruption to your services.
Server Response Time and Page Speed
It’s also worth checking a web host’s server response time (the time it takes for the server to respond to you requesting the content) and page speed (the time it takes to display the content on your page). Blogs that load quickly provide a better experience for readers, and therefore are also more likely to rank higher in search engine results.
Based on tests run by this web hosting blog, HostGator wins on both server response time and page speed — with the HostGator blog loading in under one second. DreamHost doesn’t score too far behind, however, loading in 1.25 seconds.
Security and Backups
A good web hosting company will have secure servers, protecting them from digital and physical damage, and provide you with options to manage your blog’s security.
Reportedly, both companies take security seriously. They both offer malware scans and backups and protect the physical security of their servers. While HostGator completes weekly backups and scans, for added protection DreamHost run these more frequently and may be a better option if you aren’t comfortable creating your own additional backups.
So who would our vote go to in the performance round of DreamHost vs. HostGator?
We think HostGator wins here, with the best uptime score we’ve seen for web hosting companies and an approach to security that is in line with great web hosts. If you need added security support and peace of mind, DreamHost may be the better option for you.
After comparing the security and uptime of the two companies, it’s time to look at the plans and pricing for DreamHost and HostGator.
Price is often an important factor to consider, especially if you’re a new blogger on a budget or want to keep costs low.
HostGator and DreamHost both have plans at different levels, whether you’re looking for something simple to start your blog with or you need to move to stronger, dedicated hosting. Both companies offer an entry level plan (“Hatchling” from HostGator and “Starter” from DreamHost) meaning you can have your blog online from between $2 and $4 per month. This is great for if you’re just starting a blog or testing a new idea.
For bloggers with more advanced needs, HostGator and DreamHost both offer Virtual Private Servers (known as VPS hosting) for under $30 per month or dedicated server hosting ($79 per month with HostGator or $160 per month with DreamHost). Both web hosting services offer Windows and Linux hosting.
Both web hosting companies offer the ability to pay monthly, with DreamHost extending a discount if you sign up for a year or three years at a time. This can be a great way to save money after an initial trial period.
Not all web hosts are created equal, and the same goes for their hosting plans. While almost every hosting company will offer an introductory-level hosting plan, they may differ in functionality and availability.
If you are hosting one website and don’t require complicated functionality, both HostGator and DreamHost starter plans will work for you. They allow you to host one website or blog, unlimited traffic, and free SSL — an encryption service which helps protect data. HostGator and DreamHost both offer the ability to install popular software including WordPress, allowing you to set up your blog easily and without the help of a technician.
If you want to bundle in your email management, HostGator may be a better option for you as unlimited email is included within their “Hatchling” plan. With DreamHost’s “Starter” plan, email management available as an add-on, or included in their “Unlimited” plan.
While HostGator offers a full comparison table for their shared plans, DreamHost’s shared plan features were more difficult to understand. There is some detail on their shared hosting page and a supported technologies list, but this is a little complicated for most to understand.
One important thing to note here is that while HostGator offers you the industry standard control panel, cPanel, DreamHost only offers a custom-designed interface. The control panel is where you can manage your website and make changes, like set up email accounts or manage files. In some cases a bespoke solution works better, but we wish DreamHost offered clients a choice of opting for cPanel if they’d prefer.
If you’re just starting your blogging journey, you might not have purchased your domain name yet. That’s not a problem, as DreamHost and HostGator both offer you the ability to buy your domain name with your hosting.
You can currently buy a domain for $11.95 per year at DreamHost and $12.95 per year at HostGator. Both providers offer easy management and renewals, with DreamHost providing free private registration (the ability to hide your personal details).
If you haven’t decided on your blog name, don’t panic: Read our guide to blog names.
Which web hosting company wins in the plans and packaging round of DreamHost vs. HostGator?
Our vote once again goes to HostGator. The monthly prices are lower on average than DreamHost’s, and we appreciate the simplicity and user-friendly approach to explaining what’s included on each plan. We also prefer the cPanel control panel. It’s the industry standard and will be useful if you plan on managing more than one website in the future.
It’s something we don’t always think about until we need it, but good customer service and support can really make or break your blogging experience.
So what kind of customer service and support you can expect as a customer of DreamHost or HostGator?
As a blogger you might be working on your content late at night or hustling in the early hours, which is why so many hosting companies now offer 24/7/365 support. Whether it’s a detailed FAQ section, a help forum, live chat, or a phone line, we expect to be able to get in touch with an expert to resolve our problem quickly.
When it comes to support, both companies do offer 24/7/365 support but there are some differences. DreamHost customers can access email support freely, but to speak to a representative on the phone you need to use their callback service at $9.95 per call. With HostGator you can call support directly for free or speak to a representative on live chat, as well as by email.
When you’re investing in something so important for your blog, a money-back guarantee can help to put your mind at ease.
HostGator offers a 45-day money-back guarantee at the time of publication, allowing you some time to make sure it’s the right service for you. While DreamHost offers a 97-day money-back guarantee at the time of publication, this is limited to customers on shared hosting plans who pay by credit card. Keep this in mind if that’s not your preferred method of payment.
Who wins our vote in the customer service round of DreamHost vs HostGator?
Our vote, for the third time, goes to HostGator. We appreciate the 24/7/365 support and the different ways to access it, compared to the more limited support options with DreamHost. For bloggers who are in need of technical support or prefer speaking to a representative on the phone, HostGator is the way to go.
Choosing the right web host is an important step in creating your new blog, so it’s worth taking some time to research and compare companies.
After careful research and reviewing each company’s offers, plans, and services, our recommendation is HostGator over DreamHost. HostGator won all three of our comparisons because it offers bloggers lots of functionality and a good standard of service at an affordable monthly price.
Looking for an Alternative Host?
It might be that you’ve read through our guide and decided that neither DreamHost or HostGator are right for you. If that’s the case, why not try Bluehost? The popular hosting company is often recommended by lifestyle bloggers and bloggers running a business, like coaches or digital consultants.
Not Ready to Invest in Hosting?
If you want to start your blog now but don’t want to invest in web hosting, read our guide to the best free blogging sites in 2018.