Deciding where to host may be the most important decision you make with your website. For your venture to be a success, you need reliable hosting that provides the features that best suit your needs. Use this comparison between DreamHost and A2 Hosting to help you narrow down your choices.
DreamHost has a long history as a web hosting company. Founded in 1997, it has over 1.5 million websites hosted on its servers. A2 Hosting, on the other hand, was first launched in 2003 with developers in mind and was one of the first to offer PHP 5 and Ruby on Rails. Their emphasis is on performance.
Both DreamHost and A2 Hosting provide shared hosting, managed WordPress hosting, and VPS and dedicated server plans. Both companies are Linux- based.
DreamHost was named, in 2014 and 2015, as PCMag’s “Best Business Host.” A2 Hosting has won numerous “best of” awards, several of them as recently as last year.
DreamHost, headquartered in California, is a privately owned hosting company. A2 Hosting is also privately owned. Its name comes from the fact that it is headquartered in Ann Arbor (two A’s), Michigan.
Uptime and Reliability
Uptime. DreamHost can’t guarantee its uptime any better. It has a 100% uptime guarantee, with refunds of one day of hosting for each hour of downtime, once the trouble is reported. A2 Hosting’s is almost as good, with a 99.9% guarantee. A2 Hosting will refund 5% of the monthly fee for every hour your website is not reachable due to equipment or network failure.
Performance. DreamHost uses AMD processors and has SSDs installed in its servers. A2 uses Dell servers with quad-core processors, and all their plans use SSDs as well. SSDs are used for better performance and reliability.
A DreamHost-hosted site resulted in a load time of 2.10s, which was faster than 70% of the sites tested on Pingdom. A test of a comparable A2 site yielded a load time of 1.49s, faster than 81% of the sites tested.
Reliability. DreamHost has several data centers in the U.S. There are two California data centers, as well as a data center in Ashburn, Virginia. DreamHost is consolidating the California data centers into a recently opened data center in Portland, Oregon. There is redundancy in power and cooling, diesel backups, and 24/7 security in all the data centers.
A2 Hosting has data centers worldwide, with centers in Michigan, Amsterdam, and Singapore. The data centers have redundant power and cooling options, as well as quadruple network connectivity. Diesel backups are available for emergencies. They are monitored onsite for security and reliability.
Opinion on DreamHost and A2 Hosting Performance
Both DreamHost and A2 Hosting tout reliability and performance as key features, and both deliver with impressive results.
Compare Key Features
Note: Don’t be misled by marketing terms such as “unlimited” and “unmetered” when features are described. It does not mean “use as much as you want.” Instead, the terms refer to what hosting companies “deem reasonable usage.” Hosting companies will fine or suspend sites they believe go beyond that – sometimes without warning. However, hosting companies state that most users will never come close to a warning.
Domain Registration. Both hosts are domain registrars. DreamHost provides a free year of domain registration for new accounts. A2 Hosting doesn’t have that option.
Website Builder. Neither DreamHost nor A2 Hosting has any built-in website builders, although A2 Hosting does state that it supports most of the free and commercial website builders.
Databases. DreamHost offers unlimited MySQL databases. A2 Hosting limits the number to 5 databases on the lowest tier but has an unlimited number of databases allowed on other tiers and plans. A2 Hosting also supports PostgreSQL.
Email Accounts. DreamHost provides unlimited email accounts and email forwarding. A2 Hosting, again, limits the lowest tier, permitting 25 accounts. The other tiers and plans offer unlimited email accounts. Unlimited accounts are useful if you have many employees. It also allows separate accounts to be set up for every department in your business, such as sales, support, and info.
WordPress Hosting. DreamHost and A2 Hosting both offer managed WordPress plans. Usually, managed WordPress plans will cost more than a standard shared plan, although A2 Hosting is different – its managed WordPress pricing is the same as its standard shared plans.
Part of the extra cost is because managed WordPress plans are usually placed on optimized servers with caching and extra security to enhance performance and stability. Another benefit of managed WordPress hosting is that backups and updates of your WordPress sites are done for you. This allows you to focus on your content instead of the tech stuff.
eCommerce Solution. DreamHost and A2 Hosting support the free shopping carts available through the control panels, such as Magneto, ZenCart, PrestaShop, and others. DreamHost also supports a commercial eCommerce site builder, Café Commerce – though it is not free.
Backups. DreamHost’s policy prohibits site user-created backups being stored on the server. Any manual user-created backups must be downloaded and removed from the host server as soon as possible after they are made.
Website data and databases are automatically backed up, but the backups are not guaranteed. A2 Hosting offers Server Rewind for all but its lowest tiers. Server Rewind takes automatic snapshots of your site and allows restoration of individual files, databases, or the entire site.
Hosting Security. DreamHost uses Spamhaus to filter email and uses Arbor Networks to provide DDoS protection. A2 Hosting also takes security very seriously. It scans and proactively acts against DDoS threats, malware, and viruses with its Perpetual Security and HackScan – which are provided free of charge. It uses standard Spam Protection, plus Barracuda Advanced Spam Filtering for email.
A2 Hosting also uses the Patchman Enhanced Security Tool, which scans for software and apps that need patching and notifies you when apps are out of date.
DreamHost provides SSL through Let’s Encrypt on its plans. A2 offers free shared SSL certificates for its plans through cPanel, and Private SSL may be purchased as well.
Control Panel. DreamHost uses a proprietary control panel that is more text-based than the icon-based interface of the industry standard cPanel, which A2 Hosting uses.
Green. DreamHost purchases Renewable Energy Credits and has a carbon neutral footprint. A2 boasts of a 100% carbon free footprint as well. A2 also actively participates in eco-friendly activities, such as tree planting, in the Ann Arbor area.
Affiliate and Reseller Programs. DreamHost’s affiliate program pays $97 for each referral, up to a total of $1164 per year. A2 Hosting’s affiliate program pays $85 for each referral, with no limits. A2 also has a reseller program that allows branding.
Extras. DreamHost sells storage on its cloud servers for a monthly fee, depending on how much you are storing. A2 Hosting has $50 worth of credits to Bing/Yahoo.
Opinion on DreamHost and A2 Hosting Key Features
DreamHost sells storage on its cloud servers for a monthly fee, depending on how much you are storing. A2 Hosting has $50 worth of credits to Bing/Yahoo.
Hosting Plans and Pricing
Note: Pricing in the web constantly hosting changes due to the competitive nature of the industry. That also leads to a lot of promotional pricing. Since promotion prices typically are limited to the first term of service, signing up for a longer term equals higher savings. Even without promos, longer terms of service usually result in price breaks. The prices below reflect pricing at the time of this comparison.
DreamHost. DreamHost doesn’t complicate things with a lot of different tiers and plans. There is only one plan, priced at $7.95 for a three-year term. The plan comes with unlimited everything – unlimited storage, unlimited bandwidth, unlimited email accounts, and unlimited domains.
A free domain registration for one year, as well as free SSL, comes with the plan. A dedicated IP is available for a $5.95 monthly fee. DreamHost also provides six highly scalable tiers of cloud hosting which is mirrored in three places for redundancy. The cost is from $4.50 per month to $96 per month.
DreamHost offers just one plan of managed WordPress hosting, as well. It comes with 30 GB of SSD storage and unlimited visitors per month. WordPress is automatically installed at check- out. The plan comes with a dedicated IP and is hosted on a VPS with SSDs. The DreamHost plan is limited to one site and one MySQL database and is priced at $19.95, with an annual plan. A2 Hosting has three managed WordPress plans.
A2 Hosting. A2 Hosting offers three shared plans. Lite allows one site, five databases, and is priced at $3.92 per month. Swift and Turbo each allow unlimited websites and unlimited databases. Swift is priced at $4.90 per month, and Turbo is $9.31 per month. All three have unlimited SSD storage and unlimited bandwidth. A2 Hosting also has CloudLinux, a version of the Centos OS that is faster and has fewer customers per server than most.
A2 Hosting has three managed WordPress plans. They are priced the same as the shared plans at $3.92, $4.90, and $9.31. Lite is limited to one website and five databases; Swift and Turbo offer unlimited websites and databases. All plans are SSD-based and have caching, though the Turbo Plan has optimized caching. They all have CDN and extra security options. Swift and Turbo also come with Server Rewind for backups.
VPS and Dedicated Plans: DreamHost has four VPS plans, which feature SSDs and start at $15 per month, with the top tier at $120 per month. Offering unlimited bandwidth and unlimited domains, DreamHost VPS plans are suited for small-to- mid-size businesses that have outgrown shared hosting.
A2 Hosting has two VPS plans with three tiers in each. The unmanaged tiers are priced at $5, $10, and $15 per month. The managed tiers are $32.99, $46.19, and $65.99 per month. A2 Hosting’s plans also feature SSDs, but there are limits on the bandwidth and storage.
DreamHost has some dedicated options starting from $149 per month, with pricing depending on the configuration chosen. DreamHost allows an unlimited number of IPs, as well as unlimited bandwidth, on its dedicated tiers. A2 Hosting has two plans with three tiers in each, as in the VPS plans. Unmanaged starts at $99.59 per month and the Managed plan starts at $141.09 per month. A2 Hosting does have bandwidth and storage limits, but they are fairly generous.
Money-Back Guarantee: DreamHost has an industry leading 97-day money back guarantee. A2 Hosting’s guarantee is also better than the industry standard 30 days, with an anytime money-back offer. The first 30 days are fully refunded; after 30 days, the refund is pro-rated. DreamHost will withhold a domain registration fee if you have taken advantage of the free year of registration.
Opinion on Hosting Plans Pricing
DreamHost has the industry’s best money-back guarantee – though A2 Hosting is also better than the industry standard. DreamHost makes choosing a shared or managed WordPress plan simple, with only one tier in each. A2 Hosting’s pricing on VPS and dedicated server plans makes it very attractive for small-to- mid-sized businesses.
Ease of Use
Control Panel. DreamHost’s proprietary control panel has plenty of features, but not being the industry standard could cause issues if you transfer your site at a later time. A2 Hosting uses the user-friendly, icon-based interface of cPanel.
One-click Installer. DreamHost has a one-click installer section, though there are not as many applications available as other installers provide. A2 Hosting uses Softaculous as the one-click installer for hundreds of applications.
Website Navigation. Both DreamHost’s and A2 Hosting’s sites provide all you need to choose a plan. Both have helpful comparison charts for comparing tiers in their plans, although A2 Hosting adds useful links to popups for many of the terms and options shown in its charts. Bot are clean and user-friendly. However, DreamHost makes it difficult to find some information without resorting to Google or reading through wikis.
Opinion on Ease of Use
Both hosts are easy enough to use, but A2 Hosting has an edge due to using the standard cPanel, having a more robust one-click app installer, and making information slightly easier to find than DreamHost.
Technical and Customer Support
DreamHost and A2 Hosting both get high marks from customers for service and support, and the support personnel are considered friendly and knowledgeable.
A2 Hosting has a phone, email, and live chat 24/7. DreamHost has a contact page where you email questions. There are more support options from DreamHost once you have purchased from them, but a phone is not one of them. DreamHost has a different wiki that is updated as needed and has lots of information, much like a knowledge base. DreamHost and A2 Hosting have a blog and a forum, and A2 Hosting has a Facebook page.
Opinion on User Support
Both hosting companies get high marks for the knowledge and helpfulness of the service and support personnel. Both provide a great deal of advice and information. However, for many, not having phone support makes DreamHost not as support friendly.
Note: Since reviews are posted by those who feel very strongly, and are consequently either strongly negative or strongly positive, they should not be a deciding factor for choosing a web host. However, when something comes up consistently, it may be something to consider.
Negative Reviews for DreamHost and A2 Hosting
DreamHost. The most common complaint from DreamHost customers is the lack of phone support. Some also report spotty chat support.
A2 Hosting. A2 gets fewer negative reviews than most companies. Usually, they are for single incidents of bad experiences with customer support.
Positive Reviews for DreamHost and A2 Hosting
DreamHost. Customer support from DreamHost gets positive comments a majority of the time. DreamHost also receives kudos for its nearly unlimited everything shared plan for such a low price.
A2 Hosting. A2 gets many positive reviews for customer support. Customers are also impressed with the number of features for the price and the speed of A2 Hosting’s servers.
Opinion on User Reviews
Overall, both of these hosting companies are well received by customers. However, A2 Hosting does get fewer negative reviews than DreamHost.
Which hosting is best for you?
DreamHost and A2 Hosting have many similar features, but there are reasons to make one more desirable than the other.
Reasons to choose A2 Hosting over DreamHost:
- Anytime money-back guarantee
- Competitively priced VPS and dedicated plans
- Uses industry standard cPanel
- 24/7 phone and chat support
Reasons to choose DreamHost over A2 Hosting:
- One plan simplicity for shared and managed WordPress hosting
- Longest money-back guarantee
- “Unlimited” features on all tiers of shared plans
While DreamHost is good for mid-to- large-sized businesses with its reasonably priced VPS and dedicated server plans with unlimited bandwidth, A2 Hosting’s pricing on VPS and dedicated server plans makes it an attractive choice as well. DreamHost’s one-plan shared hosting plan is attractive to those who want “unlimited everything” without having to decide between tiers.
However, it may not be suited for the beginner since there is no website builder, and no phone support. Both of these hosting companies offer good pricing for the number of features they provide in their plans.
This comparison lists just two of the many choices available in web hosting. If you can spend a few dollars more than budget pricing, you can get fast load and response times and premium features with SiteGround. For another host that would be an excellent choice for managed WordPress, you could look into InMotion Hosting
Do you have any questions about DreamHost or A2 Hosting? What have been your experiences with web hosting in general? Leave your comments and let us know.