Dreamhost vs A2 Hosting: Which is Better?

by | Jun 12, 2017 | Compare Hosting, Web Hosting

We have a never-ending mission to bring you reviews of all of the hosting websites out there and tell you which ones have the best features and benefits of them all. In each installment, we take a look at two hosts and see how they stack up in a variety of ways so that you can see which one is the clear winner. In this case, we are looking at Dreamhost and A2 Hosting. Both of these specialize in standard hosting, which means that you are building a website on their servers. As such, they each have benefits and drawbacks, so let’s break it down and see which one comes out on top.

Pricing

As with any kind of service, the cost can be a limiting factor. If you cannot afford to pay for your website, then it doesn’t matter what kind of features or functionality you get, so we always look at this first. Nonetheless, value can play a huge role in your decision, especially when two hosts have such similar pricing structures like these. Both A2 and Dreamhost are relatively cheap, so you shouldn’t have to make a choice based on the overall cost. Here is what you can expect from each one.

A2 Shared Hosting

  • Lite: $3.92 a month (then becomes $7.99)
  • Swift: $4.90 a month (then becomes $9.99)
  • Turbo: $9.31 a month (then becomes $18.99)

Dreamhost Shared Hosting

  • $10.95 a month
  • $9.95/month when billed for a whole year ($119.40)
  • $7.95/month when billed for three years ($286.20)

A2 VPS Hosting

  • Unmanaged: $5.00 per month
  • Managed (no root access): $32.99
  • Core (with root access): $32.99

Dreamhost VPS Hosting

  • Basic Plan: $15/month
  • Upgraded Plan: $30/month
  • 4 GB RAM Plan: $60/month
  • 8 GB RAM Plan: $120/month

A2 Dedicated Server Hosting

  • Semi-Dedicated: $9.31/month (then becomes $18.99)
  • Unmanaged Flex: $99.59/month (then becomes $119.99)
  • Managed Flex (no root access): $141.09/month (then becomes $169.99)
  • Core Flex (with root access): $141.09/month (then becomes $169.99)

Dreamhost Dedicated Server Hosting

  • Four Core Plan: $149/month
  • Twelve Core Plan: $229/month

As you can see, they have hosting plans for any kind of needs you have. They both also offer cloud hosting solutions, and Dreamhost has WordPress functionality as well. We’ll get into more detail about what features come with each plan, but when looking at the basic package, A2 has more options than Dreamhost. The reason for this is that Dreamhost only has the one plan, so you get all of the best features without having to upgrade later on down the road. As such, the best way to compare the two would be to see how A2’s Turbo plan stacks up against Dreamhost’s standard plan. In that case, Dreamhost winds up coming out on top.

The Winner: Dreamhost

Money Back Guarantee

One thing that should come with any hosting plan is the ability to back out if you change your mind. Because building a website takes time and you have to rely on a variety of programs and tools to make it happen, you don’t want to be stuck paying for something that doesn’t work well. If you pay for it monthly, then it can be easy to cancel, but if you prepay for a year or more, it can be a huge pain to get that money back if you change your mind.

Fortunately, many hosting services offer a money-back guarantee so that if that ever does happen, you don’t have to worry about losing your investment. In this case, A2 comes with a pretty standard 30-day guarantee, while Dreamhost gives you 97 days to change your mind. This is a pretty impressive deal, as it also showcases how much Dreamhost believes in its product.

The Winner: Dreamhost, by a long shot

Customer Support

When talking about value, we don’t want to look at numbers and data only. The reason for this is that you can only glean so much information from things like storage space and uptime ratings. As such, we believe that one of the best measures of a business is how well you can get in touch with them if something goes wrong and you need help fixing it. To get a more comprehensive view of each host’s customer service rating, let’s break it down into the four primary categories: phone, chat, email, and forums. Here is what we found.

Phone Support

Much like a money-back guarantee, any respectable business should always be available over the phone. This is the most basic form of communication these days, which is why it’s so troubling that Dreamhost doesn’t offer it as a method for reaching a support member. In fact, if you want to get called back you have to pay an extra $14.95 per month for the privilege. For a company that prides itself on excellence (at least, based on their site), you would think that this kind of service wouldn’t be so out of reach.

The Winner: A2

Live Chat

While talking to someone on the phone is pretty much the default method of communication, these days it can be much easier and more beneficial to use a live chat feature instead. This way you don’t have to wait on hold, and you can still get your issue sorted out in real time, rather than waiting for email responses. Fortunately, both hosting sites offer this feature, although A2 is generally better about getting back to you than Dreamhost. This does depend on the time of day, though, so if you are trying to reach someone at peak times, you will have to wait a bit longer at Dreamhost.

The Winner: A2

Email

Along with phone support, this is the default that all online websites have to have. If this were missing, we would have serious doubts as to whether the service was legitimate or not. Both hosts have an email ticket system, and they both take the same time to respond. One thing that Dreamhost prides itself on, though, is that each of their support staff members is a genuine Dreamhost employee, rather than people working in a call or email center. We can’t say how valid that claim is, but it seems to be true. Nonetheless, both sites are pretty good about getting back to emails quickly and effectively.

The Winner: a Tie

Forums

Finally, for those who like to learn as they go, it’s helpful to have access to knowledge databases that go over common issues and solutions so that you can figure stuff out on your own rather than having to talk to anyone. Both hosts have a decent forum service, but Dreamhost goes above and beyond with extra tutorials and learning screens. For the most part, A2 covers basic material only, while Dreamhost tackles more complex problems that may arise with your site. As a result, we have to give the slight edge to Dreamhost.

The Winner: Dreamhost

Speed

Another thing to discuss as far as value goes is the speed with which your site loads. These days, users don’t want to spend more than a couple of seconds waiting for a landing page, so if your host doesn’t deliver fast speeds, you could lose a lot of business.

This is one arena where A2 thrives, as the service prides itself on being one of the fastest hosts out there. We have to agree, although you do have to get a more premium package to get such incredible results. Nonetheless, we have to say that both hosts have a decent track record. This is what we found for both. As a note, this is dealing with standard hosting plans, so it may vary slightly with other options such as VPS or dedicated servers.

A2 Hosting

  • Best Time: 30ms
  • Worst Time: 10 sec
  • Average: 9 sec

Dreamhost

  • Best Time:24 sec
  • Worst Time:34 sec
  • Average:10 sec

As you can see, A2 has the clear advantage with an average speed that is way less than Dreamhost, even when looking at the best load times. Overall, if you want your site to be fast, then A2 should be your top choice.

The Winner: A2

Downtime/Uptime

Along with speed, uptime is another crucial benchmark that shows the health and vitality of your host. Considering that you don’t want your site to go down due to server or network issues, you want your rating to be as close to 100% as possible. In some cases, you can sometimes get a guarantee from the site (such as with Dreamhost), meaning that if you do experience downtime, then you are eligible for site credit for each day it happens. Dreamhost does offer such a guarantee, but A2 does not. Here is the average for both.

  • A2 Hosting: 98%
  • Dreamhost:98%

Overall, Dreamhost does have a bit more of a swing than A2, but given the fact that the site offers a 100% guarantee means that we have to give the edge to them.

The Winner: Dreamhost

Features

Finally, we are going to get into the nitty gritty of each host and show you what you get with your plan options. Since we’ve already gone over most of the important stuff, we’ll just outline them so you can make your own comparison.

A2 Shared Hosting

  • Lite Plan: 1 website, 5 databases, unlimited storage, free SSL
  • Swift: Unlimited websites, storage, and databases, free SSL
  • Turbo: Unlimited websites, storage, databases, and Turbo Speed (up to 20 times faster)

Dreamhost Shared Hosting

  • Standard Plan: free domain, unlimited storage, bandwidth, and databases, free SSL

A2 VPS Hosting

  • Unmanaged: 1 Core, 20GB storage, 512MB RAM
  • Managed: 4 Core, 75GB storage, 4GB RAM
  • Core: 4 Core, 75GB storage, 4GB RAM (plus root access)

Dreamhost VPS Hosting

  • First Plan: 1GB RAM, 30GB Storage, unlimited bandwidth and domains
  • Second Plan: 2GB RAM, 60GB storage, unlimited bandwidth and domains
  • Third Plan: 4GB RAM, 120GB storage, unlimited bandwidth and domains
  • Fourth Plan: 8GB RAM, 240GB storage, unlimited bandwidth and domains

Conclusion

Overall, if you are looking for speed and ease of use, A2 Hosting is probably a better option. It can be utilized with both Linux and Windows (although Windows pricing is a bit different) and the control panel is the widely popular cPanel, while Dreamhost has a proprietary version. However, if you are looking for something slightly more meaty or if you want to develop some high-level sites, then Dreamhost is your best bet. In the end, we have to say that A2’s lower bar of entry makes it the better option overall.

The Winner: A2 Hosting