A user-friendly, flexible service that does what it does well, though it is a little on the expensive side.
DreamHost has been hosting websites since 1997 and currently houses over 1.5 million domains. It’s a privately owned company with a focus on privacy and customer support. The independent status of the company shows a dedication to the consumer that few other hosting providers have.
Hosting plans are a little more expensive than the other best web hosting providers out there. However, the feature set, customer support, security and flexibility of plans make the price well worth it. Read on to see what makes DreamHost so special, or visit Dreamhost and try out the service yourself; you won’t regret it. If DreamHost is really not your thing, you can always check out our other web hosting reviews.
- 100% uptime guarantee
- Extensive knowledgebase
- Dedicated WordPress hosting
- Unlimited email
- Free SSL/TLS certificates
- Private domain registration
- Cloudflare integration
- Paid phone support
- Paid malware removal tool
The feature-set with each plan is impressive. Each feature shows that DreamHost is aggressively seeking business. In that scenario, the customer always wins.
The first and most important feature is the 100 percent uptime guarantee. DreamHost claims it’s servers will always be live, and will compensate customers one day of service for each hour that the servers are down.
Don’t let that confuse you, though. The servers will, and have, gone down. However, it’s a rare occurrence and DreamHost goes out of its way to make up for it.
For those who don’t know much about building a website, DreamHost offers its Remixer website builder. These websites are hosted on shared servers and feature a drag-and-drop interface for building your site. It’s similar to how SquareSpace and Wix function.
The Remixer builder has some extra features that make it a good starting point for those getting into website building. The All Access plan adds email and WordPress support, meaning you can grow your platform as you see fit. Registering a domain with DreamHost is simple as well.
With 400+ domain extensions, you’re sure to find what you want. DreamHost will even give you a free year of registration.
Across all of the servers, you will get free SSD storage. It’s more reliable and can double speeds. As opposed to a spinning disks, SSDs use flash storage, meaning that the drive doesn’t have to waste time searching the disk to find your information.
Additionally, you get unlimited bandwidth and unlimited email addresses at your domain.
There are a lot of DreamHost with DreamHost. Each plan has a base price, with multiple sub plans underneath, as well as volume discounts.
We’ll start with the most straightforward. The Remixer website builder comes in two flavors. The base plan runs for $7.95 per month and is useful for portfolios or personal blogs. Up a tier is the All Access plan that allows you to install WordPress on your domain and host it on a shared server.
For WordPress on shared servers, that is the most inexpensive option. If you want to go with a different platform, shared hosting jumps to $10.95 per month. However, you can get a volume discount of $9.95 per month if billed annually and $7.95 per month if billed every three years.
DreamPress stands out as the best option for hosting WordPress, though. You can read more on DreamPress in the server section below, but basically, these servers boost speeds on WordPress sites. Plans start at $19.95 per month, but volume discounts are available for annual billing.
VPS, cloud and dedicated hosting must be configured. DreamHost gives a base rate for each of these plans, but the price you end up with is entirely dependant on your needs. Check out our web hosting overview to learn more about these prices.
DreamHost is more expensive than services like A2 and GreenGeeks (check out our A2 hosting review and GreenGeeks review for more info). However, the extra cost is worth the design and fluidity of the service. It offers month-to-month plans unlike BlueHost (BlueHost review), which is a huge plus for those who don’t want to make a multi-year commitment.
Dreamhost has five different server types. From shared to dedicated hosting, DreamHost has just about everything, falling short only in what configurations those servers come in.
The first, and most basic, are shared servers. Many domains from many users are hosted on these servers, hence the name “shared.” Shared servers are great for blogs, portfolios and sites that don’t intend to attract as much traffic as possible. Low traffic sites are pushed together on the same server for less money, but reduced performance.
The downside to shared servers is speed, or rather lack of it. Shared servers will break under moderate traffic spikes (think a few hundred concurrent users) and page load times will usually sit around three to four seconds. Ideally, your page speed should be under a second or two.
Still, DreamHost has fairly good speeds on its shared plans. We used Bitcacha, a tool designed to measure server response to benchmark the service. It loads a website, but no data on that site, providing a representation of pure server response.
Testing two servers in the States, we received an average response time of 49.5ms. It’s not a great speed, but still acceptable. HostGator (read our HostGator review) clocked in at 45.3ms and SiteGround (read our SiteGround review) at 52.9ms.
International speeds carry that trend, sitting slightly above other providers but not enough to be unacceptable. Factoring in all results, DreamHost has an overall average response of 161.8ms, about 20ms slower than SiteGround and 20ms faster than HostGator.
Once again, this is a measure of pure server response, so your results will be higher once all the content of your site is factored in. Still, it’s a good way to compare web hosts to each other and gauge overall performance. For DreamHost, it has slightly higher speeds, but not enough that you should notice.
Shared servers start at $10.95/month, but still carry some premium features. DreamHost gives you a free domain for one year and one-click install for WordPress, Joomla and Zencart.
DreamHost, WordPress, DreamPress
Next are DreamHost’s managed WordPress servers. The service, aptly titled DreamPress, is tuned for WordPress. These servers are shared servers as well, but DreamHost claims they are over five times faster.
There are a few reasons for this. Your website is divided among two virtual private servers, one for the front-end and one for MySQL. Essentially, your pages load faster with one server dealing with the user experience and the other dealing with your databases.
Additionally, the service utilizes auto-scaling memory. DreamPress will automatically allocate more memory to your site depending on how much traffic is currently on there. Your site will continue to perform as well as it can, no matter what the load.
Finally, DreamPress includes Jetpack Premium for free with each WordPress site. Jetpack is a first party WordPress plugin that protects you from attacks, backs up your site and gives you some analytics. Jetpack Premium will give you daily scans, as well as automated daily backup.
DreamHost Virtual Private Servers
Next are the virtual private servers. A VPS shares physical resources with another server, and gives developers more options when putting up a website. The most attractive part of a VPS is the scalability. DreamHost starts VPS plans with 1GB of RAM and 30GB of SSD storage. You can easily add more storage and memory up to 8GB of RAM and 240GB of SSD storage.
If you want a server all to yourself, DreamHost offers dedicated hosting. You will be sharing your server with no one, giving you the best performance on your site.
If your site intends to attract loads of traffic, then a dedicated server is for you. Page load times can get down to the golden one second load, and you have the option to tailor the specs of the server to fit the needs of your site.
Each of the dedicated servers have RAID 1 storage. This is used for redundancy so, if a drive fails, you lose absolutely nothing. If you are investing the money into a dedicated server, it’s nice to have a physical backup in case something stops working.
If you design websites, a dedicated server is great as well. You can resell that hosting to clients and make additional revenue, essentially setting up your own shared server. Since there are no limits on domains, this is ideal for a web design business.
Last are DreamHost’s cloud servers. If you have a physical server that runs Linux, you can use cloud servers to boost performance without purchasing physical hardware. Cloud servers are an inexpensive way to up your specs, and DreamHost charges you only for the hours your server is turned on.
From sign-up to hosting, DreamHost has one of the easiest processes out there. The website is well-designed, laid out thoughtfully and built to make using it simple.
Hosting providers should have a wonderful looking website, and DreamHost seems to be the only one that understands that. Many hosting providers have websites that look and feel outdated.
That’s not the case here. Each of the hosting plans is broken down with a simple feature list and pricing. You can find the specs of servers if you want to investigate further. By not throwing all the technical jargon in your face, DreamHost’s process is simpler, especially for non-techies.
After you sign up, you can use the DreamHost control panel to manage your sites and account. The panel dashboard gives you the latest news, as well as notifications about your site. On the left side, there are navigation links to each other part of the control panel.
The navigation felt intuitive. When I needed to find something, I knew where to look even with no instruction on where it was located. If you don’t want to poke around, DreamHost has a search box at the top on the dashboard, too.
DreamHost Control Panel
The control panel is where you’ll have access to installing platforms on your domain. DreamHost has 11 different one-click installers including WordPress, ZenCart and MediaWiki.
Upgrading your hosting plan is done from the control panel as well. DreamHost has navigation tabs for each of its different types of servers. Under the tabs, you can immediately upgrade to a VPS, dedicated server or cloud server.
From here, it’s simple to add users to your account, host extra domains and set up email addresses. DreamHost has managed to create a dashboard that gives both form and function so you focus less on the hosting and more on your website.
DreamHost is locked down with security features to keep your website and your personal information safe.
First, DreamHost has private domain registration. Your personal information is not tied to the domain. If someone were to gain access to registrant information for your domain, they’ll receive DreamHost’s proxy information and not your own.
Along with every domain is a free SSL/TLS certificate. These certificates encrypt information while it’s traveling from the user to the host. Broadly speaking, you would have to pay for an SSL certificate from either your web hosting provider or a third party. With DreamHost, it’s completely free, renewing automatically every 90 days.
SSL/TLS certificates are very important on websites today. Browsers like Chrome and Firefox will display a warning to users landing on a non-secured page. The warning tells users their information is at risk, guaranteeing deterred traffic.
Every domain can be upgraded to include DreamHost’s malware removal tool for $3 per month. It acts like an antivirus for your website, with weekly scans and tools for quarantining and removing malicious software.
Rounding out DreamHost’s security features is free Cloudflare integration. Cloudflare is a cloud mitigation provider that uses upstream filtering to “clean” traffic coming to your site. In short, it protects your site from DDoS attacks, intentional or not (read more on what DDoS attacks are and how to protect yourself).
Just recently, the U.S. Department of Justice received a warrant to investigate an anti-Trump website hosted on DreamHost servers. Instead of handing everything over, DreamHost showed up in court to fight against some of the requests made. While the warrant stands, some of the demands of records have been dialed back (read DreamHost’s full post here).
DreamHost could have easily laid down to the claims and let the U.S. DOJ take what they wanted. The fact that DreamHost stood up shows a commitment to privacy and is a huge plus for us here at Cloudwards.net.
DreamHost has some of the best support out there. For customers, there’s three ways to contact the support staff. You can request it via a classic ticketing system, 24/7 live chat or callback.
The ticketing system works mostly how you’d expect. From your DreamHost panel, navigate to contact and click on submit a ticket. From there, choose the area of your issue and send your message. I received a response via email within 24 hours.
For quick fixes, a live chat option is also great. The chat panel is accessible from the same area as the ticketing system. However, the chat staff generally can’t help with more complex issues. If you have a small problem, they’re great, but save big problems for ticketing.
Instead of a call center, you can submit a callback request. The issue is that callbacks cost extra. You can pay $9.95 for a single use or $14.95/month for up to three uses.
That cost gives you some extra perks, though. Calls are sent out within 36 hours of the request. You can specify an hour time-frame of when you receive your call, so the extra cost may be worth it depending on how severe your problem is.
Solving Issues On Your Own
You won’t need to contact DreamHost for every issue. Thankfully, there is a huge knowledge base for sorting out most problems. Everything from setup to troubleshooting is included, leaving support reserved for rare problems.
DreamHost’s knowledgebase is, thankfully, easy to navigate. There are 20 categories, with 20+ articles in most of them. Each of them is written clearly, with screenshots and step-by-step instructions. Almost any issue can be solved here.
In addition to the knowledge base, DreamHost has forums for asking questions. There are forums for general troubleshooting, web design and more. The community is alive and well too. At least one new thread is created every day in each of the forums, with some getting as many as 18,000 views.
One of the most helpful parts of DreamHost’s support is the system status indicator. You can login and see what services are operational and what services, if any, are down. DreamHost updates this page in real-time as a service is being repaired.
DreamHost’s support is great. The staff is helpful and quick to respond. Paid callbacks are a downer, but offer a lot of value for the cost. Still, the most impressive parts of support are the knowledge base and forums.
DreamHost is one of the best hosting providers out there. The platform is built with the consumer in mind with plenty of features and a excellent support.
While plans are slightly more expensive than some providers, as you can see in our web hosting comparison, the cost is worth it with DreamHost’s attention to detail and 100 percent uptime guarantee.
Have you tried DreamHost before? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.