HostGator (review) and DreamHost (review) are among two of the most popular shared web hosting companies. They are both well established companies with excellent reputations. The companies are pretty close in size (about 150 at HostGator, 70 employees at DreamHost) and host a comparable amount of domains (700,000 at HostGator, 500,000 at DreamHost).
HostGator and DreamHost have slightly different company cultures. A review of HostGator.com’s web site reveals it’s personal and informative approach. The HostGator web site doesn’t venture into humor or carefree talk. HostGator.com has few jokes. On the other hand, DreamHost likes to laugh at itself and sports a web site that contains obvious jokes and light hearted comments among more serious information. Some web hosting customers like the jokes, others don’t. Both web hosting companies, though, are highly technical and know when to take their work seriously.
HostGator’s shared hosting plans are competitively priced and offer a lot of space and bandwidth. Dreamhost has always offered vastly oversold (they admit it) and very generous plans. The entry level plan offers 500 GB of disk space and 5 TB of monthly bandwidth. Both numbers increase by the gigabytes each week. Both companies include plenty of email accounts, databases, etc with all of their plans.
DreamHost’s cheapest plan will cost you $7.95 per month if you pay for three years in advance. HostGator’s cheapest shared hosting plan is $4.95 per month if you pay three years in advance. HostGator’s next plan up (the Baby plan) offers more space and bandwidth than DreamHost’s comparably priced plan, but does not increase weekly.
Both web hosts offer lengthy money back guarantees. HostGator’s is 45 days. DreamHost’s money back guarantee period is 97 days.
It is important to note that HostGator uses cPanel exclusively whereas DreamHost uses a custom control panel. DreamHost’s control panel offers all of the expected features and is very powerful, but it is not cPanel. If you have a particular affinity for cPanel, DreamHost won’t be the choice for you.
As far as customer support goes, HostGator provides more options. All of HostGator’s plans come with unlimited, toll free phone support. DreamHost only offers 3 call backs per month for an extra $9.95 per month. HostGator also offers 24/7 live chat, which DreamHost does not. Both companies have active communities forums and extensive knowledge bases (a wiki in DreamHost’s case). Both companies provide 24/7 email support, though. At DreamHost, you have to be logged into to your control panel to send in a ticket. While it is purely a personal pet peeve, DreamHost does not publish its office address (they publish a PO Box).
Which web host you go with is entirely up to you. As always, spend time researching both companies. Since both companies have such generous money back guarantees, you can even give them a try and see which one you prefer.