So you’re planning to start a new website but can’t figure out which hosting company to use. It seems like everyone online recommends their own company, and nobody seems to agree on which company is the best.
During your search for the perfect hosting company, you have probably seen more than a few people mention Siteground as their recommended host.
But is it really the best hosting company out there? Is it budget-friendly?
As someone who followed the bandwagon and signed up to Siteground, I can tell you there are some shocking things that you need to know about the company.
But more on that later.
In between all the articles recommending Siteground, there are a couple that recommend an entirely different hosting company; Dreamhost.
Dreamhost was founded in 1996, making it significantly older than Siteground, which was founded in 2004. Although Dreamhost is older, it seems like people don’t recommend it as much.
Is that because Dreamhost is the inferior company? Or is Siteground overrated?
In this post, we’ll pit the two companies against each other, and see which one is the clear victor.
Quick disclaimer: I have hands-on experience with both of these companies, and while both offer a good service, there’s one I think is the clear winner. Of course, what it boils down to is what works best for you, what services you need, your budget, and other factors.
When you’re done reading this Siteground vs Dreamhost post, you’ll be much more informed about the two hosting companies, and you’ll be able to pick the one that works best for your specific situation.
And you’ll be one step closer to having your own website!
Without further delay, let’s dive in.
Which Company is Easier to Start With?
There’s nothing more frustrating than paying for a service and then having to jump through a bunch of hoops to access your product.
To clarify, each of these companies offer a wide range of hosting plans and services, but for the sake of this review, we’ll be comparing the most common service; Shared hosting.
With both companies, the setup steps are about the same. They both offer three options: connect a domain name, buy a domain name, or use their built-in website builder.
If you bought a domain name from a registrar, then you’ll need to point the nameservers to the designated host. It’s also important to keep in mind both companies provide members with a free SSL certificate, Let’s Encrypt.
Let’s start with Siteground.
Getting Started with Siteground
As I mentioned earlier, Siteground was the first hosting company I tried out. I can honestly say it is quite easy to get started with them.
Currently, there are three subscription plans: StartUp, GrowBig, and GoGeek.
At first glance, the prices look great. Very affordable.
But if you look closer, you’ll see that’s the “Special Price” and we’ll talk more about that later.
Here’s an overview of each plan’s features:
- Special Price: $3.95/month
- Storage: 10 GB
- Max Websites: 1
- Special Price: $5.95/month
- Storage: 20 GB
- Max Websites: Unlimited
- Special Price: $11.95/month
- Storage: 30 GB
- Unlimited Websites
- Max Resources
What You Need to Know:
Before you rush to open an account with Siteground, there’s something you need to know about the prices.
The way Siteground’s payment structure works is the first billing period is the special price. But once it ends, you’ll be charged the full price for the plan. This can come as quite a shock because the renewal fee costs 3x as much.
Watch Those Renewal Fees!
For instance, a 12 month StartUp plan costs $47 for a year. But when that year expires, you will need to pay the full price, which comes to $147 for a year. Likewise, with Growbig, you pay $71 for the first year, and then $239 to renew for a year.
Currently, there’s no plan to pay-as-you-go, it’s either; 12 months, 24 months, or 36 months. On the other hand, if you contact support from inside Siteground, they do sometimes provide you with a special link to pay 3 months at a time.
You can also choose your preferred data center, which should be the one that is closest to your target audience.
Siteground uses the standard Cpanel, which has a wide range of services and features. You can use the auto installer to install a wide variety of tools such as WordPress, Joomla, Magento, PrestaShop, and others.
Not to mention the other standard hosting features; Email management, File management, Databases, Visitors stats, Security, and domain management. Essentially, the Cpanel has everything that you need to build a website.
With Siteground you can install WordPress in a number of ways; through the Cpanel using the auto-installer, or by clicking “WordPress/Joomla Toolkit” under “Installations” or “Add Installation Manually.
Dreamhost is a little bit different.
Getting Started with Dreamhost
I’ll cut to the chase, Dreamhost offers cheaper and more flexible shared hosting memberships.
There are two plans: Starter, and Unlimited, the former is limited to one website, while the latter offers unlimited websites.
You’ll notice the plans are very budget-friendly too:
- Starter – $4.95/month.
- Unlimited: $10.95/month.
One thing to keep in mind is Dreamhost allows members to subscribe on a monthly basis, instead of having to buy one or two years upfront.
No Pricey Renewal Fees!
I feel like Dreamhost is the better choice for people on a budget. And these aren’t special prices. No need to worry about expensive renewal fees. This is the regular rate you’ll be paying forever. Keep in mind, unlike Siteground, you can’t choose your preferred datacenter.
But hold off on making a decision just yet, there are some things you need to know.
Dreamhost Doesn’t Use Cpanel
One thing that’s interesting about Dreamhost is it doesn’t use a Cpanel like most hosting companies. Instead, they have their own version of the panel, but it doesn’t have as many features as you would think.
Personally, I prefer the classic Cpanel because it’s what I’m used to, and have always used. Dreamhost’s new panel is a little complicated.
For example, to manage the files on a website, with a regular Cpanel you would look for the file manager service, open it, and manage your website’s files from there.
With Dreamhost, under your connected domains you’ll see a link that says Web FTP, and that takes you to the site’s file manager. In other words, the process is a little different. If you’re used to using the Cpanel (like I am) the new panel will take some getting used to. I also noticed Web FTP is a little slower than the usual file manager service.
On the other hand, Dreamhost offers one-click installs for popular tools, such as WordPress and Joomla. Although you won’t find as many features in the Dreamhost panel, they do include one-click installation for WordPress.
Now that you understand the prices and essential features, let’s get into the details.
- Los Angeles, Ashburn
As you probably know, it’s very important to have a fast website. If you’re website takes ages to load, the visitor will leave, and that’s one potential client out the window. Even Google is punishing websites that load slowly.
Here’s the deal:
Both Siteground and Dreamhost are lightning fast. They both use SSD harddrives on all their hosting solutions. On top of that, they both have built-in cache systems which can be further enhanced with WordPress cache plugins. These two companies have almost identical performance scores, with a near 100% uptime.
On the other hand, Siteground has more data centers. Currently, Dreamhost only has two data centers, which are both based in the United States (Los Angeles, CA, and Ashburn, VA).
As you can see, Siteground has a much broader network, and logically if you’re near a data center, your website’s performance will be much better.
Cloudflare is a content delivery network that provides website’s with a wide range of benefits, such as: improved performance, extra security against DDOS attacks, and a 100% uptime guarantee.
Once again, both companies utilize Cloudflare, and you can enable a free version on your website. With Siteground you’ll do this through the Cpanel. With Dreamhost, click edit under your hosting account and scroll down until you see “Cloudflare Services”.
The only difference here is Siteground is officially partnered with Cloudflare, and you can connect your hosting account with one click. You only have to enter your email address to enable it.
But with Dreamhost you have to already have your Cloudflare login information and enter it under your hosting plan. You can still get it working for free, but it takes longer, and it’s more of a hassle.
In my opinion, Siteground is the winner in this section but by a small margin.
Technical issues can plague any website, no matter how well it’s designed. Without quick and responsive customer support, it could be a long time before your website is back online.
Siteground offers three channels for customer support; ticket system, phone-hotline, and a live chat service. Personally, I have used Siteground’s live-chat service on many occasions and they always managed to resolve my issues. It’s also very easy to access the chat service.
What about Dreamhost?
For one the customer support isn’t that great. When I ran into an issue with my website, I wrote a lengthy message to the customer support team, and when I hit submit, I was redirected to a tutorial page. My message was never sent.
It was also very difficult to find the live-chat support service. I never actually managed to find it, even though their website claims to have one.
Another thing to keep in mind is Dreamhost doesn’t have a phone support hotline. However you can tick a box that says “Request a callback” which will prompt them to call you, but it takes some time.
You have to pay a $9.95 one-time fee for the callback. In comparison, Siteground has a 24/7 phone hotline that’s free for anyone to use. The clear winner in this section is Siteground.
Price and Payment Plans
As mentioned before, Dreamhost is the most budget-friendly.
I particularly like how you can pay a month at a time, instead of committing to a year or more. The best part is there are no extra fees after the period expires.
When you compare Siteground’s annual price to Dreamhost’s, at first it looks like Siteground is cheaper, but that’s only for the first year.
After the first year, you’ll need to pay full-price to continue, which is $239 for one year. With Dreamhost, you’ll be paying $95 a year, forever.
In the long run, Dreamhost is much cheaper. Or you can take it a month at a time at pay $10.95 a month for unlimited websites.
For the people on a budget, Dreamhost is the winner.
Money Back Guarantee:
Siteground and Dreamhost offer excellent money-back policies. For Siteground, you can request a refund within 30 days.
On the other hand, Dreamhost offers a crazy 97 day money back guarantee. I can personally vouch for Dream Host’s money back guarantee. They gave me a refund after one day of using their services (I need my Cpanel) which was impressive.
Keep in mind, these are the policies for the “Shared Hosting” service from both companies. Specific services, such as Dedicated Hosting and other features, have their own policies.
So the winner here would be Dreamhost, although I can’t imagine waiting more than two months to request a refund. Long story short, if you’re not happy with the service, ask for a refund.
Who is The Winner?
Let’s tally up the points:
- Price – Dreamhost (Cheaper and more flexible)
- Speed & Performance – Siteground (Has more data centers)
- Cloudflare – Equal
- Customer Support – Siteground
- Refund window – Dreamhost (97 Days)
After comparing all of these features, I would say Siteground is the better choice, even though it’s more expensive. With Siteground you have a Cpanel, easy access to Cloudflare, and excellent customer support. My only complaint with Siteground are the renewal fees and fixed payment plans.
Dreamhost has more of a learning curve because it doesn’t have a Cpanel. However, the payment plans are more flexible and cheaper.
I also like how Dreamhost’s refund window is 97 days. Personally, if you were starting a website from scratch, and you’re on a tight budget, I would go with Dreamhost. Siteground is also budget-friendly for the first period, but then you need to pay a large sum to renew. It’s a close match.
But for me, as someone who manages multiple websites, I need a Cpanel and reliable customer support, even if that means paying extra. I feel the quality of service with Siteground is a bit better than Dreamhost.