DreamHost Review: Hosting Dream or Hosting Nightmare?

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Known for its straightforward, irreverent approach, DreamHost is a provider with a full range of hosting services who want you to “Imagine the Web, Your Way.”
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In business since 1997, the company is focused on providing outstanding customer service and cutting-edge technology that remains user-friendly.


DreamHost offers three levels of hosting: Shared, Virtual Private Server (VPS), and Dedicated. All of their service plans rely on Linux-based servers.

Shared Hosting Features

  • Unlimited* domains and sub-domains
  • Unlimited* drive space
  • Unlimited* data transfer/bandwidth
  • Unlimited* MySQL databases
  • 100% uptime guarantee
  • Support for Unlimited* email addresses and webmail. (IMAP And POP3)
  • Free 24/7 customer support via email (chat support available for an additional fee)
  • 50 GB of personal backup each month
  • Automatic daily server backups
  • Proprietary one-click installer for adding applications and scripts
  • Proprietary user control panel (comparable to cPanel)

It also includes full support for:

  • eCommerce (via CafeCommerce; additional fees apply)
  • Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate (requires dedicated IP; additional fees apply)
  • WordPress Hosting
  • Gmail customized for your domain
  • PHP 5
  • Ruby on Rails
  • SSH
  • Python
  • Perl
  • Multimedia streaming

DreamHost's shared plan comes with one of the longest money-back guarantee periods in the industry—97 days. And you can add additional features like premium support and enhanced security to your package for a small fee.

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Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting Features

Have the demands of your site surpassed the capacity of shared hosting? DreamHost’s VPS hosting is a great fit for sites “on the grow” as well as those who need more direct control over their server configuration.

Your own virtual Linux server, with:

  • The same standard features available in shared plans
  • Full root access to your server for application installation/customization
  • Up to 4000 MB of dedicated RAM
  • Unlimited* storage space
  • Unlimited* monthly bandwidth
  • Dedicated IP address available (additional fees apply)
  • File Transfer Protocol (FTP) access for your server
  • Server-Side Includes (SSI)
  • Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate (requires dedicated IP; additional fees apply)

*As a rule, “unlimited” in the context of shared hosting generally denotes “limitless until you negatively impact server performance, at which point you may be billed or transferred to a more costly service tier.”

As with shared hosting, these plans offer upgrades for security, support, and dedicated IP addresses. VPS customers can also add an additional low-resource VPS server to their account. (All service upgrades and additional VPS servers carry additional fees.)

Dreamhost also offers its WordPress-optimized hosting package, DreamPress, at this level. This “WordPress on steroids” package adds managed Web & MySQL servers, expert WordPress support, and robot-assisted WordPress migration, along with other services.

Both DreamPress and the standard VPS hosting packages are covered by the company's 97-day money-back guarantee.

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Dedicated Hosting Features

A dedicated server offers the ultimate in server control and configuration. DreamHost offers six dedicated plans, ranging from “New Moon” to “Blue Moon 16.”

Your own physical Linux or Windows server, with:

  • All of the features and perks of the lower tiers
  • Total root access for your server
  • Processor options ranging from “desktop grade” to “server grade”
  • Up to 16 GB of RAM
  • Up to 1 TB (Linux) or 2 TB (Windows) of storage space
  • Up to 10 TB of monthly traffic

Like the lower tiers, DreamHost's dedicated plans can be upgraded with additional domains, more robust support plans, and SSL/dedicated IP options to enhance eCommerce (additional fees apply). They're also covered by DreamHost's 97-day money-back guarantee.

Benefits Breakdown

The Good

In business since 1997, DreamHost is employee-owned and operated, and while their marketing can be irreverent, it's clear they're quite serious about customer satisfaction.

DreamHost has a nice selection of add-on services, including domain registration, WordPress optimization, cloud-based storage, and cloud-computing services. These services add to the bottom line but are ideal for those who need a little more direct support, a little more WordPress wisdom, or a little more power (or even a live testing area) when developing custom applications or eCommerce sites.

Pricing at all three levels is very competitive, and even though phone support is extra, the 24/7/365 email and live chat support option should prove sufficient for most customers.

The company's impressive 97-day money-back guarantee gives unexpected peace of mind for those who might still be finding their way online, and a satisfaction guarantee that grants customers credit for downtime is a nice touch.

The Not-So-Good

While DreamHost does offer the full array of standard hosting options, some pretty basic options—such as a dedicated IP address or built-in eCommerce support—are only available a la carte.

The lack of industry-standard tools like cPanel, Softaculous, and WHM may prove unattractive to those who are accustomed to working in those applications (although the “home-grown” versions provided by DreamHost have nigh-identical functionality and features, so the greatest obstacles may be a slight learning curve and personal preference).

DreamHost is a Linux-only host, so if your site requires support for Windows applications or application development tools like ASP.NET, you'll most likely need to look elsewhere.

For most website owners, DreamHost offers some attractive features at a dreamy price, but keep one eye open for eCommerce, security, and support fees that can add up quickly.

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Your Dreamhost Review

Are you a current or past customer of Dreamhost? Would you recommend them? Please leave your comments below and let our visitors know what you think of Dreamhost's speed, features and customer service.

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