Dreamhost Web Hosting Review
Good and cheap
DreamHost made its debut in 1997 when four friends got together in their college dorm to develop a way to help people get online. The result was a web hosting platform built on open-source technology with a commitment to customer success. Since their start 17 years ago, the company has grown to support over 400,000 web designers and offers cloud based services for applications, blogs and over 1 million websites.
DreamHost offers a variety of services, including website hosting with their shared hosting platform. This program is designed for those interested in simply hosting an entry level website, blog, small business site or an online portfolio. With this platform, you get unlimited disk storage, bandwidth, domain hosting and email. For those who want to install WordPress, it’s as simple as clicking a mouse button. You also get one free .com, .org, .info, or .net domain with your service.
Overall, we found among our web hosting reviews that Dreamhost is a solid contender with an amazing array of features for your web site.
During our DreamHost review we noted that shared hosting plans are available in annual agreements or month-to-month. You do save more money by purchasing 12 or 24 months of service in advance. Two year service agreements are $8.95 per-month, billed biennial. One year packages are $9.95 a month, billed annually. Month-to-month plans, which are billed monthly, are $10.95 each month. On DreamHost, WordPress is available on all plans. In a web hosting comparison, Dreamhost is a little more expensive than other players in the field.
Dreamhost Shared Hosting Plans
In addition to shared hosting, DreamHost does also have dedicated hosting. This allows you to rent a single server, giving you the flexibility and control over everything from content to power and security. All these plans include up to 1TB of storage, RAID1 Storage, full root access, multi-core processors, managed backups, unlimited bandwidth and server grade CPUs. Each of these packages are billed monthly, pricing plans are:
Dreamhost Dedicated Hosting Plans
More and more people are getting into cloud computing. In order to appeal to customers, DreamHost also offers Virtual Private Servers (VPS) for interested users. This gives you the ability to develop software, run applications and experience heavier than normal traffic on your site. Each VPS account has root SSH access, unlimited domain hosting, storage, bandwidth, web-optimized virtual machines, MySQL-optimized virtual machines, Linux powered servers and a web-based control panel.
Each plan is billed monthly, so there is no commitment. Plan pricing is:
Dreamhost VPS Hosting Plans
On DreamHost, WordPress finds dedicated hosting. DreamPress is a WordPress-optimized environment that has built-in server caching to make your site even faster. The plan comes with automatic WordPress installation, daily backups, WordPress core updates, any theme or plugin, varnish caching, VPS web and MySQL servers, unlimited storage, bandwidth, and email accounts. This service is available for $19.95 a month.
Setting up an account with DreamHost is relatively easy. To do so, first create a user id and password, and sign up for a DreamHost Web ID. You can create this ID without purchasing a plan; if you are interested in looking around the site further before making a commitment. After creating a login, you can purchase plans directly from the DreamHost control panel.
You do get a free domain name with the purchase of a shared hosting plan. When the domain will actually be available varies. It could be ready in as little as five minutes or it could take as long as two days. Sign-ups are ranked through DreamHost’s Fraud Prevention System, which is what can delay setup.
As far as usability, DreamHost uses its own control panel, not cPanel, to allow better control over everything. From here, you can change plans, update payment methods or build your own website. You do have FTP access to upload already created HTML/XML based webpages. You can also use the control panel to install WordPress with just a click of the mouse.
During our DreamHost review, we found it fairly easy to setup accounts and the service to be relatively usable. You do have to get used to their custom control panel. If you wish to use DreamPress, WordPress is instantly installed making it simple to get the service up and running without any hitches.
Most people are going to be solely interested in DreamHost’s shared hosting platform. Because of its affordability, there are some standard features most customers are going to be very interested in. The shared plans include:
- Full Unix Shell
- Ruby on Rails
- SSL Secure Server
- Server Side Includes (SSI)
- Access to Raw Log Files
- Python Support
- Full CGI Access
- Unlimited MySQL Databases
- Canned CGI Scripts
- Crontab access
- PHP5 Support
- IPv6 Support
- Subversion Repository (SVN)
- Perl Support
- $100 Google AdWords Credit
DreamHost’s WordPress application is installed in just one click. No extensive setup, no downloading the package and transferring it to your server. All you have to do is click the icon on the control panel, create a username and password, along with an email to associate your account with and install.
Another feature many consumers enjoy is email. DreamHost webmail allows you to check email directly in your web browser instead of redirecting messages to an email client. You can still use IMAP or POP3 if desired. To access webmail, simply go to https://webmail.yourdomain.com and enter your username and password. If IMAP or POP3 is used, messages will still appear in your webmail account.
DreamHost has a guarantee on their site of 100% uptime. However, during our review we found that according to webhostingstuff.com, the claim is almost accurate. Over time, this site has been monitoring DreamHost, since September 2005, the hosting site experienced 28 occurrences where the servers were down. The total amount of time in those 3,000+ days was approximately 33.22 hours, or 1993 minutes to be exact. While it isn’t a horrible amount of downtime, giving the company an average uptime of 99.99%, it isn’t exactly 100% like their guarantee claims.
As for DreamHost’s speed, the download speed leaves something to be desired. On testmy.net, a third-party site that tests webpages and host sites, the download speed was tracked at just 1.5Mbps (183kB/s). When the test was performed, the average download speed was cited as 12.5Mbps (1.6MB/s). This is a huge discrepancy. Because they had no recent upload speeds, we had to look elsewhere for that information.
While we couldn’t find firm numbers for DreamHost’s speed as it applied to uploading content, we did notice several webpages and sites where there are complaints of it being slow. DreamHost’s own wiki pages address the issue, stating the company does not restrict these types of transfers. Slow uploads, they suggest, is due to poor connection or router limitations.
During our DreamHost review we found that the company does secure their servers with a variety of programs running the latest patches, which programs, were not specifically detailed. The company also offers users SSL certificates, enhanced user security protocols, IP based restrictions to the control panel and SSH key fingerprints to help protect your account.
In 2012, DreamHost was hacked, compromising several accounts. Customers were required to reset their passwords and check their accounts to ensure nothing had been tampered with. Since then, the company assures that preventative measures are in place to guarantee such an intrusion won’t happen again.
Their wiki pages do contain several useful documents on how to help protect your site from being hacked and what you should do in the event the account is compromised. They also suggest checking your data on a routine basis to ensure no malware, viruses, or spyware has been inadvertently attached to pages– causing undo harm to visitors.
DreamHost also suggests that you make sure any applications, software, or other plugins are up-to-date with the latest patches. This can help to ensure that your website is secure against attacks and hackers. It is a good suggestion, no matter what hosting service you use.
DreamHost has a variety of ways customers can gain assistance for their problems. They have an extensive Wiki service that is used for all their technical documentation. Users, and potential users, can pursue the help files as much as they like, finding detailed instructions on handling almost any problem that may arise. Several of their main pages have several subpages that document additional issues you may run into.
They also have a single page listing their “116 most Frequently Asked Questions.” This page covers a variety of topics answering the most commonly questions asked.
In addition, current subscribers can contact the 24/7/365 technical support personnel from user control panel. These representatives are able to walk you through solving almost any problem which maybe encountered while hosting a site with DreamHost. We found that they do have live chat, a relatively new feature for them, which will connect you with a person within 20 minutes. You can also call their support line if a lot of typing is unappealing.
Customers also have the option to put in a support ticket. These tickets are answered within 24 to 48 hours typically. For some problems, you may receive a quicker response of 20 minutes to a few hours.
Choosing a web hosting provider is certainly no easy game. Overall we found that DreamHost is a good bargain for someone who is new to the website game. They do offer month-to-month options for those who don’t want to be locked down in a service agreement. Unlike some of their competitors, this company only offers a 97 day money-back-guarantee. If you purchase a contract and wish to cancel after that time, no money is refunded.
DreamHost is good about maintaining uptime as they promised. While there may be a time here or there where maintenance is being performed, and therefore your website will go down, it is the exception, not the rule. With only 28 occurrences over a 9 year period, their reputation for reliability speaks for itself.
Occasionally, you can find DreamHost coupon codes that will reduce monthly service fees. However, we found these codes are buried on internet sites, and are not oftenly advertised on their homepage. From time to time, these discounts are front and center on the DreamHost site.
If you are a newbie or a small business, their shared hosting platform might be right for you.