SiteGround vs DreamHost: A Grinding Battle for 2023
SiteGround and DreamHost are two of the best web hosting providers available. Both offer a long list of features, competitive pricing and fantastic speed, earning each spots in our best web hosting for small business and best web hosting for WordPress guides. While both are excellent services, there can only be one winner in this SiteGround vs. DreamHost comparison.
We will throw the providers into the ring to duke it out over a series of rounds. However, unlike our DreamHost vs. Bluehost or SiteGround vs. HostGator comparisons, the match hasn’t been decided before the bell has rung. As two services at the top of the web hosting market, this one will be interesting.
Because it’ll be so close, we recommend reading through our separate SiteGround review and DreamHost review in addition to this guide. We’ll pull in other services for some shallow comparison, but we’re focused mainly on our competitors. Our reviews cover more details about how they stack up against the entire web hosting market.
Setting Up a Fight: SiteGround vs. DreamHost
We usually judge providers over eight rounds. While that’s great for getting into the specifics of a single service, it poses some issues when comparing two options. In addition to being a lengthy route, it isn’t a fair one, as hosting types don’t hold the same weight as, say, speed for most users.
Because of that, we’ve condensed the eight criteria in our reviews to five. SiteGround and DreamHost will compete over these five rounds: features, pricing, ease of use, speed and security. Each round is worth a point, and whichever has three or more points at the end will be our winner.
At the beginning of each round, we’ll talk a little bit about what we’re looking for, then see how well the services satisfy our expectations. After that, we’ll give some final thoughts on how the two compare and declare a winner.
It’s important to read through each section, though, especially when the matchup is so tight. Although we’ll do our best to find the best service for most people, we can’t find the best service for everyone. SiteGround and DreamHost are two exceptional providers, so the one you go with will largely depend on personal preference.
$3.95 / month(All Plans)
$2.59 / month(All Plans) 1-day money-back guarantee
Features can make or break a web host. Gone are the days of tossing in a few ad credits and a free domain and calling it a day. The features package should improve your site overall — as services like Hostinger showcase (read our Hostinger review). That means ensuring it’s safe, fast and accessible.
SiteGround provides exactly what we like to see in features. Not only does it include the full package, but SiteGround includes it across plans, much unlike Bluehost and HostGator (read our Bluehost review and HostGator review).
No matter if you’re going for the $250+ dedicated server or the $4 shared plan, you have access to the same core features, including a free SSL/TLS certificate, daily backups and simple Cloudflare integration.
There are some plan-specific features, but the basics span the range. For example, GrowBig plans and other tiers above them come with on-demand backups in addition to the automated ones.
Some of the most impressive features come from the WordPress plans. The pricing structure mirrors the shared plans, making the higher cost of Kinsta seem too much (read our Kinsta review). WordPress users have access to WordPress staging, managed WordPress updates and an in-house caching plugin called SuperCacher.
If you don’t want to use WordPress, SiteGround has you covered, too. It includes the “connect” version of Weebly in your plan. As you can read in our Weebly review, it’s easily one of the best website builders around, fit with a range of beautiful templates, an easy-to-use interface and third-party integrations.
The included version normally runs $5 per month, which allows you to use the free version of Weebly with your domain. If you need expanded media functionality or additional e-commerce features, you can upgrade your plan anytime.
DreamHost, like SiteGround, includes the majority of features across its plans. However, at the top end of things, the features are more specialized. For example, dedicated servers come with additional DDoS protection and root access, while cloud hosting allows you to use any OS that you like. Most of those features focus around development, though.
On the shared end of things, which is where most people will land, DreamHost takes care of that for you. Your plan includes full SSD storage, a free SSL/TLS certificate and daily backups. There are additional security features, too, which we’ll touch on in round five.
Like SiteGround, DreamHost has some WordPress-specific features, too. While not as specialized as Pagely, DreamHost makes the higher-than-average price tag worth it (read our Pagely review).
That includes WordPress staging, an unlimited CDN and a paid version of Jetpack. The most expensive managed WordPress plan comes with DreamCare, too, which gives you a dedicated team of WordPress experts to help with advanced troubleshooting.
Non-WordPress users, thankfully, have a tool to build their site. DreamHost includes Remixer, an in-house website builder, in its plans. Remixer doesn’t have the chops to make it to the top, but it’s a solid offering, especially since web host-developed website builders usually suck (read our GoDaddy GoCentral review for an example).
The interface is minimal, with a block style that resembles Webnode (read our Webnode review) and a theme selection that would make even SquareSpace proud (read our SquareSpace review).
While that’s all well and good, the most impressive part of Remixer is that you can export your site directly to WordPress. That means you can take advantage of the excellent themes and simple interface to build your site, while harnessing the power of WordPress to manage it.
Round One Thoughts
Our first round isn’t an easy one, and the coming rounds won’t be easy, either. SiteGround and DreamHost are some of the most well-rounded services when it comes to features, making either one a solid choice.
However, we’re giving the win to SiteGround because it includes a better website builder and introduces essential WordPress features for less money. Even so, this round could swing in either direction.
Point for SiteGround
Pricing is a tough topic for web hosts. As you can see in our Arvixe review, the industry is well-versed in the art of deception, claiming one price throughout the checkout process until it’s time to enter your payment information. It seems as if some hosts intentionally make their pricing scheme difficult to understand so it can nickel-and-dime you when it comes time to checkout.
We don’t have time for that nonsense, and we assume you don’t either. This round not only focuses on the actual price of each host, but also how clearly the web hosts communicate that price. Furthermore, we’re going to evaluate the available durations and money-back guarantees.
SiteGround has very inexpensive shared plans. The price isn’t much different than other web hosts, though. For example, 1&1 IONOS — which, as you can read in our 1&1 IONOS review, has some of the cheapest prices around — runs the same rate as SiteGround. However, SiteGround’s feature list is far more impressive.
- Unlimited GB
- Unlimited GB
The shared plans are decent, but the WordPress plans stand out most. They’re the same price as standard shared plans with the same tiers, but come with WordPress-specific features, including SuperCacher and staging. These features are usually only found on costly managed WordPress hosts, DreamHost being one of them.
Transparency is present, too. Like all hosts, SiteGround offers an introductory rate that jumps upon renewal. While not as much Hosting24’s discount (read our Hosting24 review), it’s around what we’d expect from most hosts. Thankfully, that’s communicated clearly throughout the checkout process. Furthermore, SiteGround allows you to go monthly without penalty, which is rare.
For all the upside in pricing, the money-back guarantee feels drab. SiteGround offers the standard 30 days on shared plans, which is fine, but not impressive compared to InMotion Hosting (read our InMotion Hosting review). Additionally, SiteGround’s only allows 15 days for cloud hosting, and its dedicated hosting doesn’t have a refund period at all.
There isn’t a host more transparent than DreamHost when it comes to pricing. There’s a simple toggle switch on each product page that shows the monthly and yearly rates, the latter of which is applicable to three years. The price only changes if you’re going monthly or not, making it simple to know what you’re paying.
- Price per hour
- Contact only
While that’s impressive enough alone, DreamHost is cheaper than most other services. Take iPage, for example. As you can see in our iPage review, it advertises plans at around $2 per month. However, you only get that rate if you purchase three years of hosting, and it jumps to $8 per month upon renewal.
Contrasted with DreamHost, the difference is clear. You’ll save a little more money if you go with a long duration, but the monthly price isn’t bad. Furthermore, you’ll only spend $6 per month upon renewal. While it may not look like it at first, DreamHost is one of the cheapest web hosting providers around.
If you try a plan and change your mind — although we doubt you will — you’re covered, too. DreamHost offers 97 days to get a refund, which is only contested by A2 Hosting’s anytime money-back guarantee (read our A2 Hosting review). Furthermore, the refund window applies to any duration. That means if you decide to go monthly, you still have the full 97 days to receive all of your money back.
Round Two Thoughts
Once again, we have a close round, but not nearly as close as the first. SiteGround is certainly better than FatCow when it comes to pricing, but compared to DreamHost, it falls flat (read our FatCow review). DreamHost is cheaper, gives more flexibility in durations and comes with a more generous money-back guarantee.
Point for Dreamhost
3. Ease of Use
Some web hosts are needlessly difficult to use — read our LunarPages review for an example — which makes this round very important. We tested SiteGround and DreamHost from checkout to setup to gauge how easy it is to purchase a plan and get your website launched.
SiteGround’s website is deceptively straightforward. There are only a handful of different products — unlike GoDaddy (read our GoDaddy review) — which makes it simple to find the type of hosting you need to purchase. Furthermore, it’s easy to compare tiers on each product page. Instead of drowning you in technical details, SiteGround shows the amount of storage each tier supports, as well as how many visitors it can accommodate.
That information carries over to checkout. It’s a painless process without any annoying add-ons or lengthy setup processes (read our Namecheap review to see that in action). SiteGround is easy to use during the checkout process, but the deception comes after you’ve set your credentials. That’s when things change quite a bit.
The account dashboard, which manages your billing information and services, is wildly outdated. While aesthetics don’t seem that important, they are here. Navigation suffers because SiteGround buries prominent settings in with irrelevant ones, making it difficult to find what you’re looking for.
It took a while for us to even find cPanel, which immediately disqualified SiteGround from our best web hosting with cPanel guide. cPanel itself is fine, although not as nice as JustHost (read our JustHost review). Like the account dashboard, cPanel is restricted to the center of the screen, sporting an overall dated aesthetic.
DreamHost is easy to use from checkout to setup. As mentioned in round two, you can toggle prices from the product page, making it easy to select a plan and duration without committing to the checkout process. Once you’re there, DreamHost ensures you’re on your way as quickly as possible.
The checkout process is broken up into three steps, each one with only a handful of options. There are dynamic elements running across the screen at each step, and although that doesn’t inherently make DreamHost easier to use, it certainly makes it prettier. It’s clear that DreamHost cares, showcasing a level of quality that few services can keep up with.
After confirming your payment, DreamHost navigates you directly to a password creation page, bypassing the annoying and dated practice of sending your credentials in an email.
Once that’s done, you can log in. Unlike SiteGround, though, cPanel isn’t available. Instead, DreamHost uses a proprietary control panel that combines account and website management into one area. That makes it easy to jump to different areas without needing several tabs open.
That said, it’s not without fault. DreamHost not only combines website and account management in one area, it also combines all of its other services. That means the left-side menu used for navigation has multiple entries that are irrelevant, much like Midphase (read our Midphase review). Behind those items are advertisements to purchase the service. It doesn’t break the experience, but it’s annoying nonetheless.
Round Three Thoughts
While SiteGround and DreamHost are some of our favorite providers, they have soft spots, and this round showcased them. Both are easy to use through checkout, but they have some issues when it comes to account management. For SiteGround, it’s a familiar but dated approach, while for DreamHost, it’s a fresh but not entirely thought-out system.
It’s close, and, unfortunately, it’s close for the wrong reasons. However, given DreamHost’s modern take on website management, it deserves the win. The extraneous options are annoying, but they’re easy to ignore once you get the lay of the land.
Point for Dreamhost
4. Speed and Uptime
Round four is the most objective one we have. Instead of comparing what we liked and didn’t like, we can compare results. We tested each service by launching a website with its most inexpensive plan and installing a blank copy of WordPress. After that, we ran the site through Pingdom Speed Test and Load Impact to gather results.
SiteGround is one of the fastest web hosts we’ve tested. In our Pingdom test, which measures the speed of a single user, it scored 96 out of 100 — only beaten by Pagely. As you can see below, though, our load time was nearly three seconds, which isn’t what we’d expect for a site with no content.
We can gather from the graph that much of the time resulted from DNS resolution, which SiteGround has no control over. In this particular test, the DNS request took a long time to complete, which shouldn’t be an issue for most people.
The more important metric is the wait time — how long the browser waited to receive data from the server — which was very low. That’s probably thanks to SiteGround’s multiple layers of caching.
Load Impact showcased more of SiteGround’s performance. We stress tested the server by sending 50 virtual users within five minutes, and SiteGround easily withstood the pressure. There was no significant change in response time, and it fulfilled all of the requests.
During our time with the service, we didn’t note any downtime. If you experience any, though, SiteGround has you covered. There’s a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee to protect your site against any downtime. Should your site ever be down for more than 0.1 percent per month, you’ll receive a free month of hosting. Additionally, for each full percentage point below 99 percent, you’ll receive an additional month.
DreamHost had good, although not impressive, results. Pingdom was decent, DreamHost clocking in at 90 out of 100. The actual load time was low — less than one second — but that’s because DNS resolution didn’t take long. The majority of the load time was dedicated to the wait time.
Generally, that means there’s a lack of server-side caching. Instead, DreamHost is searching through the directory for content and serving it fresh, rather than serving it from the cache. Some more expensive plans have a cache built-in, but we test web hosts in the way they’re handed to us. That said, DreamHost could perform significantly better if you follow the steps in our how to improve website loading times guide.
Load Impact wasn’t bad, but, once again, we’ve seen better. Although it was not as inconsistent as GreenGeeks (read our GreenGeeks review), DreamHost struggled to keep as consistent of a response time as SiteGround . That said, it fulfilled every request, suggesting there’s plenty of resources on the server to accommodate a modest load.
As for uptime, DreamHost has an interesting policy. As opposed to the normal 99.9-percent guarantee, DreamHost guarantees 100 percent. However, the guarantee isn’t as generous as SiteGround. For each hour the service is down, you’ll receive a credit for one day of hosting. However, there’s a limit of 10 percent of your next hosting period. That means DreamHost doesn’t cover any downtime after three hours per month.
Round Four Thoughts
With the proper optimization, DreamHost could perform as well as SiteGround. However, given its out-of-the-box performance, it’s going to lose this round. SiteGround not only performs immediately better, it also comes with a more generous money-back guarantee.
Point for SiteGround
5. Security and Privacy
Our last round focuses on security and privacy, which is normally a topic for our best VPN providers. While not talked about as much as features and speed in web hosting, privacy and security are just as important here as they are anywhere else. In this round, we’re going to look at how well SiteGround and DreamHost protect your information and site.
SiteGround is loaded with security features, which is surprising considering its performance in round one. SiteGround automatically protects your site by isolating its directory, ensuring that an infected site on your server won’t ruin the lot. After that, you’re protected with a web application firewall, automated daily backups, a free SSL/TLS certificate and an AI-drive anti-bot system.
Not everything is included for free, though. As you can see in our SiteGround vs. InMotion comparison, it fell behind because of a lack of malware scanning. There’s a tool available — the SG Site Scanner — which will scan your website daily for vulnerabilities, but it’ll also run you around $20 per year.
Privacy is decent, but we’ve seen better. SiteGround doesn’t offer free domain privacy (read our WestHost review for a service that does), which would protect your domain registration information from data miners.
DreamHost is in a league of its own when it comes to security and privacy. Instead of asking you to purchase additional protection, DreamHost includes most of what you need for free. That includes daily backups, a free SSL/TLS certificate and ModSecurity, which is a web application firewall for Apache servers.
However, malware scanning is missing. DreamHost offers it in the form of DreamShield, but that’ll run you an additional $3 per month. Unlike SiteGround, it only scans your site weekly. That said, the additional cost isn’t with merit. DreamShield will also clean any malware it finds, whereas SG Site Scanner will simply notify you of it.
In 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) requested that DreamHost hand over information about a site it hosted: disruptj20.org. Rather than doing so, DreamHost fought all the way to the Washington D.C. Superior Court. The DOJ requested information about the owners and on the 1.3 million or so IP addresses that visited the site.
While DreamHost was still ordered to hand over some information, the court recognized that the government “does not have the right to rummage through the information contained on DreamHost’s website.”
Round Five Thoughts
As for security features, SiteGround and DreamHost are evenly matched. Everything’s included by a free malware scanning tool, and even that is only a few dollars per month.
The difference in this round comes down to privacy. SiteGround isn’t bad when it comes to privacy, especially compared to most web hosts. However, DreamHost truly stands apart with its clear dedication to protecting user data.
Point for Dreamhost
6. Final Thoughts
As we said earlier, the service that earns three or more points will be our winner. It’s a little messy here, though. Rounds three and one, in particular, could go to either service, which would change the outcome. Given everything, though, the winner is DreamHost, if only by the thinnest of margins.
If you browse our reviews, though, you’ll see that we actually rate DreamHost below SiteGround. It’s only lower by the smallest amount, though. In isolation, we believe DreamHost is the superior option. However, against the rest of the web hosting market, SiteGround shines more. No matter which service you choose, you won’t go wrong.
Which service do you think is better? Are you going to stick with DreamHost or go with SiteGround? Let us know in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading.