DreamHost vs Namecheap vs Bluehost Shared Hosting

BlueHost vs Namecheap vs Dreamhost shared hosting comparison

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Who is the fastest shared hosting provider in 2020? Is it DreamHost? Bluehost? How about Namecheap? I took my decade of web hosting experience and made it my mission to answer this question.

In this comparison of shared hosting providers, I put the big 3 to the test:  DreamHost vs Bluehost vs Namecheap. Through a series of web page speed tests, I was able to determine which company truly has the fastest shared hosting plan.

To do this, I needed a website to test, so I made a very basic WordPress website with a single 1,500 word blog post. I then installed the essential plugins that I always install on all of my websites.

Finally, I took a snapshot of the WordPress installation and uploaded it to each of the 3 hosting providers. This way, I knew the playing field was level and we were comparing apples to apples.

Let the testing begin!

Test #1: Time to First Byte (TTFB) with Byte Check

Since Google prefers websites with response times less than 200 milliseconds, I figured I’d start testing with ByteCheck.com which measures TTFB.

For each web host, I performed the Byte Check test 10 times, and when I averaged the results, Namecheap crushed the competition with a server response time of 211 milliseconds leaving DreamHost and Bluehost in the dust.

ByteCheck.com TTFB test results for Namecheap vs DreamHost vs Bluehost

Test #2: Lighthouse in Chrome DevTools

The next test I conducted was with a little-known tool built right into the Google Chrome web browser. In Chrome, you can go to View -> Developer -> Developer Tools, and then open the Audits tab.

Here, I made sure that mobile and simulated throttling was selected to smooth out any network hiccups. I then deselected every audit except performance. Then I ran the test for each hosting provider 10 times.

Again, Namecheap came out in the lead with an average performance score of 83.5. This time, Bluehost was a close second and DreamHost was far behind.

Performance audit scores for DreamHost vs Namecheap vs Bluehost

Test #3: Time to Interactive with PageSpeed Insights

At this point, I knew I needed to go a little deeper than these high-level scores, so I went over to Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool and ran a similar test, this time 5 runs for each host.

Here’s where it gets interesting.

In this test, I looked specifically at the Time to Interactive metric and to my surprise, DreamHost came out on top with an average speed of 1.54 seconds, but not far behind was Namecheap. In this test, Bluehost was pretty far behind with an average time to interactive speed of 1.78 seconds.

Time to Interactive test result with PageSpeed Insights comparing shared hosting

Test #4: Sitespeed.io Speed Tests from New Jersey

At this point, I knew I needed a more sophisticated tool to consistently measure page speed. That’s when I came across the open-source project called sitespeed.io

I installed their command-line tool on a cloud server in New Jersey and ran this test 100 times for each website, and the results really surprised me.

Shared Host Server Response Time Backend Time First Paint Page Load Time Fully Loaded
DreamHost 299 321 640 822 921
NameCheap 146 247 719 1569 1764
Bluehost 544 565 974 1420 1741

Again, Namecheap beat everyone out of the gate; however, when you consider the time it takes for the web page to fully load, the clear winner was DreamHost with an average time of less than 1 second.

So in other words, while Namecheap consistently responds to requests the fastest, it is actually DreamHost who is able to deliver the entire web page first.

Test #5: Sitespeed.io Speed Tests from San Francisco

Now if you’re familiar with how the internet works, a huge part of site speed is the distance from your visitors to the server where your website lives.

Realizing this, I did a geographic IP address lookup and found out that both Namecheap and DreamHost servers are located in Los Angeles while Bluehost is over Utah.

Migrate Vultr speed test server from New Jersey to Los Angeles

To make this test as comprehensive as possible, I used Vultr (one of my favorite cloud service providers) to quickly snapshot my test server in New Jersey and move it to the west coast.

I ran the series of 100 tests again, this time from San Francisco.

Shared Host Server Response Time Backend Time First Paint Page Load Time Fully Loaded
DreamHost 361 438 784 1121 1253
NameCheap 88 122 383 581 689
Bluehost 573 586 903 1202 1509

Results in: Namecheap was the fastest across the board with an impressive average server response time of just 88 milliseconds and loading its pages at least twice as fast as DreamHost and Bluehost.

But at this point you might be wondering how DreamHost outperformed Namecheap when I ran the same exact tests from the east coast?

To be honest, there are a lot of other variables and unknowns here so I can only speculate that DreamHost has optimized long distance requests better than Namecheap.

On the other hand, Namecheap is certainly the clear winner otherwise.

DreamHost vs Namecheap vs Bluehost?

So knowing all this, which hosting provider should you choose? Well, based on the results, Bluehost is definitely out of the question.

Personally, I have been a DreamHost customer since 2013 and with Namecheap since 2015.

Something that might help your decision is how cheap Namecheap really is. Their cheapest shared hosting plan is $2.88/month while their cheapest unlimited shared hosting plan is $4.88/month.

Unlimited shared hosting price comparison between Namecheap, DreamHost, and Bluehost

If you have already made up your mind about which web host to go with, I have invite links to the shared hosting plans that I use below. I know both of these hosting companies frequently have promotional pricing and deep discounts if you sign up for a year at a time.

The great thing about both Namecheap and DreamHost is they have money-back guarantees. NameCheap has a 30 day trial period while DreamHost has a generous 97 day trial period.

Let me know if you guys have any questions about shared hosting in the comments below. Like I said, I have a great deal of experience using DreamHost and Namecheap over the years, so I can answer any questions you have.

Best of luck with you website. Please use me as a resource, especially if you’re new to WordPress.


Meet Tony

Tony from Tony Teaches Tech headshot

With a strong software engineering background, Tony is determined to demystify the web. Discover why Tony quit his job to pursue this mission. You can join the Tony Teaches Tech community here.

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