BlueHost vs DreamHost vs HostGator

Searching for the right hosting for your web application is a challenge often overlooked. During my past 7 years of experience on Web designing, I’ve realized How important  it is to choose a service provider which guarantees up-times and that too at decent support.

Its virtually impossible that any hosting provider will give 100% uptime. Higher the uptime, higher the cost. Industry standard of Five 9s (99.999%) is impossible for shared hosting, what we look to compare int his review is 99.9%.

Few of the popular Hosting Providers I have tried so far:

  1. BlueHost – Discount Coupon BlueHost $6.99/mo
  2. GoDaddy – We have limited experience with them, we will publish a review, soon
  3. DreamHost – Discount coupon DreamHost $55 off (Coupon: “MAXDISCOUNT55“)
  4. HostGator – Discount coupon HostGator. (20% off Coupon “SPRING“)

Truth be told, most of the big Brand don’t deserve the credit they have been accredited for. They are just piece of hype and promoted by Affiliates/bloggers just to earn money by advertising them. And for the Supporters of those  Hosts, this is a Game revealer. In this review, I`ll reveal all the insiders, the nightmares you an get into with these web hostings.

Most of the shared hosting providers are squeezing more websites into the same servers to attain higher ROI. Makes sense for them, but wait, did they forget the quality?

Note: Every point mentioned here comes from my past experiences and finds perfect accordance with “Genuine Reviews” over the Internet. If you doubt a point, don’t hesitate, immediately Google it and compare the other user’s opinion about it.

I`ll walk you through each of the important points which everyone should prioritize while choosing the right hosting.

Reliability/ Up times

This is the first thing everyone should look for. I can give you a list of 100s of hosting providers who claim (and not guarantee) 99.9% uptime. On the front page the write “assured 99.9% uptime” but if you read TOS, they don’t guarantee it, and there lies the catch.

Fore my detailed review, I monitored each of the service using online uptime monitoring service Monitor: HostTracker, averaged over 4-6 months.

BlueHost: They used to be great until last year, when they didn’t have enough customers, all squeezed into the same servers. If you look into their reviews till last year, they look awesome. Reason is clear, they were good at that time, they were not that greedy. Due to the greed that they have been possessing over last year,  they suck on quality. Practically, I have attained practical uptime of 97.21% (This means 15 hours downtime monthly) and if you get frequent account suspensions (discussed later) downtime increases further.

DreamHost: They seem to follow a similar trend with BlueHost, continue to fall in quality. The uptime I was able to attain  was 98.59%

HostGator: Like others, they are also getting bigger, squeezing more people but still they seem to have quality as they are the ONLY Web hosting providers that ACTUALLY GUARANTEE 99.9% uptime. Woohoo, this forced me to try their service. And trust me, I actually achieved a figure very close to it. My averaged score over 6 months was 99.84 %. This is brilliant. (during October, I even got 99.99%)

Traffic Capacity / CPU Usage Restrictions

On a shared hosting service, don`t expect to get unlimited capacity. If you cross a certain limit set by the Hosting provider, you will get your account suspended temporarily. WebHostings use CPU time as the bases of measurements for this. And if you dont use a caching mechanim on you blog, you are gone.

BlueHost:  They are pretty cheap at this. They don’t quote a User understandable value. Practically, If you own a website with decent traffic, you are already in trouble. I`ve seen people reporting account suspensions for very low traffic indeed ( of the order of 2,500 per day or even lower, without caching plugin).

DreamHost: They do quote some numbers, but they are practically bad at it. With a WordPress blog without caching, they can broke off somewhere around 3,500 PV per day (varies from type of theme you are using).

HostGator: No wonder, they have surprised me here as well. During my peek times, I’ve experimented alot during a trial with them. On a day on which I had a killer post that fetched me 26k Pageviews (in less than 24 hours), I had no caching enabled. At that time, I had recently migrated to HostGator but forgot to enable my HyperCache Combo. CPU usage lied in 11 – 19% range. The max set by HostGator is fairly large around 20-25%. Surprisingly, it survived the days traffic without a complain.

Best WP Super Cache Alternative: HyperCache, DB Cache

Account Suspension Policies

None of them have tolerance for Piracy, SPAM, phishing, which is all justified for good. But post processing overload, the suspensions are a serious issue.

BlueHost: They are the most unreliable at this. I`ve seen people reporting account suspension for traffic lower than 400 pages per day. Their policies are so harsh on the customers. Everytime they feel you are overloading their servers, they straightaway suspend your account leaving your visitors in disguise and unlimited dissatisfaction. I’ve faced 15 account suspensions with them over 2 months, all of them being “High resource utilization”. At that time (like 5 months back), I was getting traffic of 4k+ PVs everyday with proper caching in place. Thanks to them, it reduced to 3/4th.

DreamHost: They are bit-more co-operative at this. They warn you over the (so called) illegal stuff  you do or when you near your CPU/RAM limits. They don’t allow some of the most used things on blogging platform like “All in one SEO pack”, it’s strictly prohibited in their TOS. If they see it being used on your site, they will ask you to remove it and if you fail to do so,  be ready for an account suspension. One of my clients had DreamHost account for 5 months (coz they were bounded by 3 year plan). With Drupal, and a forum, they used to have 6k page impressions everyday. With proper caching in place, they faced several unethical accusations from dreamhost of exceeding the quota of CPU and temporary unavailability was pretty frequent.

HostGator:  Takes all the good points of DreamHost, but no restrictions as such. They don’t suspend your account unless they have warned you. Need Proof ? Google for each “BlueHost account suspended”,  “Dreamhost account suspended” and “hostGator account suspended” See what kind of reviews you get for the first two vs. third one. User experience speaks for itself.

Support

When it comes to Tickets and support issues, who is more helpful?

BlueHost: Seriously, they forgot the meaning of customer service. I had one client hosted on them, they had been facing performance issues for a long time, Bluehost had no one who could help them in anyway. One of my another client got account disabled for linking to a (legal) rapidshare file and reactivation took over 3 days. Imagine a website going down for full 3 days. Nightmare! This is just one instance, I’ve seen worse.

DreamHost: Though their hosting, reliability are tolerable, they are the worst on Tickets and support. Average resolution of tickets takes long time. I`ve been with them for 2 months unless I decided to quit. And one of my partners survived 6 months with them. Well ,I’m not alone Google for “dreamhost support sucks” you will know what I’m talking about. One of the best example goes here. I’m sure you will find plenty of them 🙂

HostGator: They are happy to help in all the cases I logged so far. During my tenure with them, I hardly had any issues. Two of the minor ones were quickly resolved over the Live chat (which DreamHost doesn’t have) or via Toll Free U.S. number, that I used to connect free over Skype (it’s free from around the world).

Prices

This is also an important parameter one must not ignore. DreamHost creates large figures but lots of Coupons are available to make them competitive. Here are the packages they offer:

BlueHost:  (Unlimited domains) Discount: Effective $6.95/mo (Effective $83.4 yearly)

DreamHost: (Unlimited domains) $9.95/mo, Discount: $55 off on Yearly Plan (Effective 65$/year)

HostGator:

HostGator COUPON Activate20% Off on Any subscription “SPRING

HostGator COUPON Activate$9.95 off Coupon code “hgc25

HostGator COUPON Activate – $25 off on ANY yearly (or higher) plan with Coupon code”HOUSTON” -EXCLUSIVE OFFER-

If you go for 2 or 3 years of subscriptions, prices drop further for all of them. You can choose that while registering.

Moneyback / Refunds

I won`t really get into this one coz all of them have almost comparable policies over this ranging from 30-45 days trial period during which you can opt out with full refund. And I bet you will need that if you were on Bluehost. On DreamHost, HostGator, they are so much better.

Features

Don’t worry about the Features. Practically, all 3 of them are mature at marketing this. They all have same CPanel, same Fantastico (for installing apps) and good ways of managing MySQL database (PhpmyAdmin), unlimited accounts. All of them offer Unlimited space, Unlimited bandwidth which ofcourse is tied up with CPU/RAM usage that we discussed earlier.

All said and Done

This is not the end of the world, this is  my opinion and experience over the WebHosting.I would Highly recommend use of HostGator.

HostGator Discount: 20% off on all Purchase (coupon code “Autumn”)

Well, my experience may not be everything that happens with all of the customers but, they have been very common among the people using same Hosting and a quick Google search for each of that parameter reveals the truth, hence, my Review inclines with them.

Feel free to share your experiences below.

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  • Dude, you are talking in my language, I faced tragedy with Bluehost once, now using Hostgator flawlessly. perfect

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  • I own an agency for selling off some stuff, I'm not technical blah blah but bluehost has been nightmare for us. Will try if Hostgator suits us. thnks for pointing out.

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    • I was origianlly thinking of VPS after gettin frustrated from BlueHost. But HostGator saved my bucks and I`m still on shared hosting atleast till my Daily Pageview goes beyond 50-60k.

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  • hiralove

    oh shit .. i hv just bought dreamhost … they were offering whole yr hosting in $10 for a day or two … i thought i was lucky enough to get it 🙁

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    • For $10 aint bad deal. That is dirt cheap. But if you want reliability (and you monitor it) you will see the difference

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  • These days i am looking for some better shared hosting.
    I was thinking of Hostgator and dreamhost uptil now but after reading this review i think i should go for hostgator. They seem to be pretty nice at their business!

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    • Yes, They quote it right “Eat up the competition”. They don't publicize as much as other still they host double the sites of bluehost. Don`t forget to follow link and avail discounts, don`t pay extra. 🙂
      I`ve two accounts: 1 hatchling and 1 basic. Hatchling for Taranfx.com and Basic of 10 of my other websites, clients that have relatively less traffic, they work good.

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  • Well, i have been using Dreamhost for about 2 years now, and have 6 domains hosted with them. Contrary to what you have said, I have been extremely satisfied with their services.

    I guess, one of the ver umportant features to be included in any Web Hosting Review is Usability, and Dreamhost is the best at that. The Dreamhost control panel is much better than the C-Panel, and its one-click installs are amazing and extremely useful for a normal user.

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    • As I said, experiences may vary. Probably you don't have a good traffic on those 6 domains, coz once you do get medium-high traffic on them, like 10k Pageviews, Dreamhost will giveout errors which inclues temporary or permanent account suspension. And I wonder if you need help like restoration, offline support is just way too painful. I`ve waited for days for proper solution from them.
      How about this, your blog gets popularity gets 1, 000 clicks in few seconds, u are suspended. Leaves a great impression with “account.suspended page” coz Support just wont help.

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      • Yes. The domains that I referred are closed group websites with limited traffic. I have never seen 1000 clicks a second or so. So, can't really say how Dreamhost behaves for heavy sites. But for my purpose, it is great .. 🙂

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    • I have been a STRONG advocate of Dreamhost. I host about 50 different sites with them over about 7 or so different accounts. Lately (I'd say 6 months ago roughly) it has been going downhill…and fast! I've been with them for about 5 years, so I figured I'd give them the benefit of the doubt and ride the wave out assuming they might be upgrading, etc. Unfortunately it hasn't gotten better, and it is now starting to affect deadlines and cost me money. Tonight was the last straw, and my first step towards finding another host. It's unfortunate because I was so accustomed to the Dreamhost workflow, and really enjoyed their control panel. I am getting ready to start a project for a client that wants to use Blue Host. Looks like I won't be enjoying a much improved experience over there either. Time to give HostGator a shot.

      I should note that I do have a domain that uses a Private Server with Dreamhost, and besides one week of hell where their servers really got messed up, that site has always run fast. I wouldn't hesitate to continue using Dreamhost PS for big-traffic domains.

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      • Well said, everyone has a similar opinion about them, “they are getting worse”. HostGator is the only reliable one around. I love their Tech support, they are so cooperative. You can even get a hold of them on twitter if things get worse, but I've never got into that situation. Every problem is solved within couple of minutes.

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      • Well, their interface is what really hooks me onto them. I tried
        experimenting with other hosts, but it proved to me way too difficult to
        adjust to their workflows. 🙂

        ~
        Prakhar Agrawal
        http://linkedin.com/in/prakhar

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      • Hi,

        I’d like to invite you to be part of my XING network.

        I use XING to manage my professional contacts and get in touch with other people in my industry. Take a look–it has paid off for me.

        Kind regards,

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  • Dirty truth behind big names.

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    • Yahng

      You nailed it. BlueHost is utter disguise. I had freaking sleepless nights with them. Now I`m with HostGator for last 1 year, without single complaint.

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  • Thanks for your review and your valid points. I'm glad to see that you've had a positive experience with HostGator. If you (or any of your readers) ever have any issues with HostGator, don't hesitate to let us know.

    Douglas
    Customer Service Manager
    HostGator.com LLC

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  • Thanks for your review and your valid points. I'm glad to see that you've had a positive experience with HostGator. If you (or any of your readers) ever have any issues with HostGator, don't hesitate to let us know.

    Douglas
    Customer Service Manager
    HostGator.com LLC

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  • Anonymous

    I’ve used bluehost for two years and have never had any problems with them. Granted you’ve had your own experiences, but my website is still up, I get some traffic, no customer support problem, etc.

    So I don’t see why bluehost is that bad.

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  • Vern

    Nice, honest review, Taranfx. I have both DreamHost (3+ years) and HostGator accounts. I keep DH because I don't need much support (maybe 3 times in 3 years), it offers SSH, and I can run almost any app there that might not run on some of the other hosts. However, I am increasingly annoyed at them with all the Internal Server 500 errors lately, which I think are due to my WordPress blogs.

    I keep a HG account because of cPanel, so I can visually walk clients through issues. I also like HostGator because I was able to run a database app on it that wouldn't even run on DH. And I don't get Error 500 when running my (or my clients') WordPress blogs.

    One thing you might want to address:

    “They all have same CPanel, same Fantastico (for installing apps) and good ways of managing MySQL database (PhpmyAdmin), unlimited accounts.”

    DreamHost doesn't use cPanel, it uses a proprietary control panel, which IMHO is definitely NOT user friendly. I rarely recommend DH to clients because of this.

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    • I disagree. In fact, the very reason people love DH is its control panel, which is much better than the cPanel. How about this: Fantastico doesn't even let you install WordPress to a second level subdomain. e.g. <http://xyz.com/abc/def&gt;. In fact this is one of the primary reasons I hate Fantastico.

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      • What are you disagreeing with? In my experience, the people who love the DH control panel are usually far more technically inclined than the group of people I would recommend cPanel for. Case in point is your use of “second level subdomain.” My clients, family, and friends wouldn't begin to know what you were referring to.

        cPanel isn't the “best” control panel necessarily. But everywhere you look, you'll see pictures. Most of the techie jargon is hidden. When you want your clients to DIY, you tend to give them something that makes it easier for them — and easier for you (from a tech support standpoint).

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  • Miss enumID

    good deal…

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  • golfer6716

    I am using Goodkarmahost.com and have been very happy. I pay a little more, but service is very good.

    don
    http://spiritnewsdaily.com

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  • Your review on Dreamhost does not seem very accurate. I have been with them about 3 years now. They have a custom cPanel, and recently added virtual private servers where you can choose how much CPU time you want for a reasonable price. I receive responses on tickets that I mark urgent within as little as one or two hours. If I mark them not so urgent, it might be one day. I don’t think I ever waited more than 24 hours for support to get back to me. On reliability, I think they were pretty bad a few years ago, but it seems to be improving. I think it depends on which server they put your site(s). Some have more downtime than others. I like their transparency: http://www.dreamhoststatus.com/

    Of course, once I have a website that gets very busy, I plan to make a decent amount of money off that website and pay for VPS or dedicated so I can have a little peace of mind on reliability.

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  • lucaass

    I' Suggest Web Hosting from ENERGY HOST http://www.energy-host.com/ . Professional Web hosting services with free domain name for life, unlimited web hosting space and unlimited bandwidth.

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  • harshitsinghal

    yeah hostgator is the best hosting provider. I have been using them for hosting my blog and all problems/issues are solved in a minute. Literally !

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  • I love HostGator. Recently I needed I had a pretty tricky problem (enabling PDO on an account where I had configured my .htaccess to use PHP 5.3) and they got a senior Linux admin to fix for me in less than 10 minutes. I’ll never switch as long as their support is that good.

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  • Great review as I am looking for a new host now

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  • Bluehost, Dreamhost and Hostgator provide different offers and plans for web hosting service. The given blog description provide basic plan details of these web hosting service providers.

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    • Drake Hatfield

      No, the blog actually addressed each provider on specific issues we care about. 1and1 should be eternally grateful that he did not include them in this assessment…

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  • Shariq

    You are right BlueHost treats very rudely and suspends accounts. It is a very bad policy if somebody accuses you for his own fault. BlueHost has weak servers and it is unable to bear loads. That is why BlueHost suspends hosting accounts with little traffic.

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