DreamHost Review 2017
Is DreamHost a good web host? Read our full DreamHost review with pros & cons, complaints, recommended use, FAQs, coupons, & more.
|Data center location #1:||Los Angeles, CA|
|Data center location #2:||Ashburn, VA|
A Quick Overview:
www.dreamhost.com is a well established web hosting company that provides a full suite of solutions for web development including shared hosting, cloud hosting, VPS plans, dedicated servers, and domain management services. DreamHost is widely respected in the industry for having a reliable data center with excellent download speeds and superior technical performance. The company has recently made a large investment in launching a cloud computing and storage platform built around OpenStack and Ceph. DreamHost is also a leader in managed WordPress hosting with its proprietary “DreamPress” installations using Nginx, Varnish, Memcache, and OPcache. While some users may find DreamHost unnecessarily difficult to use and challenging to figure out, loyal customers consistently rate DreamHost as best in its class due to platform innovation in information technology and the provisioning of servers to support the latest web standards. While we prefer cPanel hosting to the proprietary server administration tools used by DreamHost, the company undeniably offers a strong brand with a number of unique services not available with other web hosting plans.
Why choose DreamHost:
- Good server performance with zero downtime
- SSDs now included on shared & VPS hosting plans
- DreamPress: a managed web hosting plan for WordPress sites
- 97 day money back guarantee which is amazing
- Allows for the hosting of unlimited domains
- Recommended for tech-savvy users, programmers, & web developers
- Affordable, entry-level cloud computing & VPS plans
- Offers a free domain name “for life” with the company
What are the disadvantages:
- In general, most plans are priced fairly high
- No customer support available via phone
- Poor customer support in general from our experiences with them
- Difficult to use, with a confusing custom-built control panel
- DreamHost is not BBB accredited
- Can get better hosting for a better price elsewhere
The bottom line:
DreamHost offers good web hosting for experienced webmasters at a steep price. Their shared web hosting plan lacks phone support (unless you pay extra for it) and uses a custom-built control panel which can be very challenging to navigate. Although it is not our favorite choice, DreamHost does have a fan base with many loyal customers. We would not recommend DreamHost for most small business owners who are looking to host a website by themselves. However, there are very few comparable companies who offer support for MongoDB, Redis, Node.js, Ruby, & Python on a cloud platform “out-of-the-box”. What DreamHost has built with their cloud computing and cloud storage services competes as a “Platform as a Service” (PaaS) with Google and Amazon, outpacing most of the other small companies in the web hosting sector. Their “DreamPress” package can save site owners thousands of dollars in custom web development and server administration costs. In summary, DreamHost occupies an interesting niche in the web hosting industry and has taken on a progressive leadership role in activism relating to digital rights, user privacy, and the preservation of freedom of information on the web. The combination of these factors with DreamHost’s proven ability to outpace the competition in offering innovative web hosting services for developers guarantees that the company will continue to maintain its online popularity in the near future.
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DreamHost is a Los Angeles based web hosting company founded in 1996-7 by 4 undergraduate students at Harvey Mudd College: Dallas Bethune, Josh Jones, Michael Rodriguez, and Sage Weil. The company was built with a love of technology, open-source software, and a strong desire to help people get online. Sage Weil was a prodigy of early internet development. At age 16, during the era of the Mosaic web browser, he created a script for “webrings” and founded a company with the same name that was later acquired by Starseed, GeoCities, and Yahoo!. Weil created the code for Ceph as part of his doctoral dissertation at UC-Santa Cruz in 2006-7. In 2010, Linus Torvalds made Ceph an official part of the Linux kernel. In 2011, Weil founded the company Inktank with Bryan Bogensberger to provide professional services and technical support for Ceph. DreamHost Labs and Ubuntu sponsor Mark Shuttleworth provided the initial funding for Inktank, which was then acquired by Red Hat for $175 million USD in 2014. Another DreamHost Labs project is Akanda, a network virtualization utility part of the OpenStack cloud hosting platform. The DreamHost Labs development team has made over 1,200 code commits to the OpenStack project. Today, DreamHost has grown from a small college dorm startup with 4 students to a large company with over 100 employees and 400,000 customers, providing technical leadership in the advancement of cloud computing internationally.
DreamHost offers only one shared hosting plan for site owners with the primary focus of their platform development work based in providing cloud, WordPress, and VPS plans for high traffic applications. Keeping the account specifications simple, DreamHost offers support for unlimited websites, databases, storage, and bandwidth on their shared hosting plan. However, their cloud, managed WordPress, VPS, and dedicated server accounts all have prices determined by storage limits, the number of CPU cores allocated, and RAM differentials. The other primary factor determining the prices between plans is the amount of additional platform optimization software included with each version.
One important aspect to note is that DreamHost now includes a free SSL/TLS certificate from Let’s Encrypt for every domain hosted on the platform. Even better, through advance implementation of Server Name Indication (SNI), DreamHost’s SSL certificates do not require a dedicated IP address to work. In comparison, Bluehost currently charges $49.99 for a SSL/TLS certificate and requires a unique dedicated IP address at $5.99 per month for each installation. This new feature can save a lot of money for multi-site portfolio hosting using HTTPS for data transfer encryption at DreamHost.
Here’s a detailed overview of all their web hosting plans:
Overview of the DreamHost Shared Web Hosting Plans
|Shared Hosting:||Introductory Price:||Renewal Price:||Compare:|
|Shared Plan||$4.95/mo||$10.95/mo||View Details|
DreamHost offers a single shared hosting plan which should be optimal for any site owner who needs a LAMP server for web development. These plans provide good performance and can handle decent amounts of traffic consistently. The shared account allows for unlimited bandwidth, disk space, databases, and domains so you can host as many websites as you like on one account. If you are planning on hosting a small website (or a portfolio of domains) with DreamHost, this plan is excellent and cost-effective. Furthermore, another nice bonus is that they offer a free domain name for life with each sign-up, though this means that you can’t ever quit your hosting account with DreamHost. They also offer privacy protection and a free SSL/TLS certificate from Let’s Encrypt for every domain hosted on the plan.
DreamHost Shared Hosting Plan: One free domain + free SSL/TLS certificates & privacy protection for unlimited websites
The shared hosting plan at DreamHost provides industry standard services for multi-site hosting without the use of cPanel for server administration. However, root access and SSH support is provided with every account. Some aspects of the service are a bit outdated, while other limitations are intentional to encourage paid upgrades to more expensive hosting plans. Most all of the server administration tools in the interface, including the “one click” installation of scripts, are custom coded by DreamHost Labs, though many users will probably find Softaculous, Fantastico, and cPanel easier to use. Similarly, the provided integration of Subversion for version control of code in software development and the Flash Media management tool are both somewhat out of line with contemporary web development practices. Note that Git is pre-installed by default on the WordPress hosting plan.
Managed WordPress Hosting – DreamPress: One pre-configured WordPress installation, 5x speed optimization, free SSL/TLS certificate + cloud & developer tools
The quick summary of DreamHost’s managed WordPress hosting service, which they call DreamPress, is that it uses a three-fold caching solution of Varnish, Memcache, and OPcache along with a combination of MySQL and Nginx (LEMP) operating under a dual VPS framework. In comparison, only OPcache is available on their shared hosting platform and the WordPress sites will run on Apache + MySQL (LAMP) rather than with Nginx & Varnish Cache integration pre-installed. A major limitation is that you can only host one domain per DreamPress account. Because developers are getting the best performance for WordPress running under Nginx, we feel DreamPress successfully challenges the Bluehost managed WordPress hosting service with the trade-off being that SSL/TLS certificates are free and easier to manage without a dedicated IP address for site owners at DreamHost. However, even better performance may be found by running WordPress with Nginx and Varnish Cache under PHP 7.0 settings independently on a VPS plan, though site owners will need to hire an experienced web developer to implement the solution.
30 GB SSD storage is included on the DreamPress accounts, and DreamHost advertises 5x the speed for WordPress sites over their shared hosting framework. DreamHost is obtaining better performance for DreamPress by also running the platform under PHP 7.0 settings (PHP 5.6 is default with OPcache) and HTTP/2. It is also possible to run DreamPress with Facebook’s Hip Hop Virtual Machine (HHVM) instead of PHP. The use of two VPS servers in the DreamPress hosting platform, with one managing the site page files and the other dedicated to the database, is also a unique, innovative approach not found on other managed frameworks. Each account comes pre-installed with Git for version control in WordPress development, as well as WP-CLI for command line management of the CMS. DreamPress also uses dynamic auto-scaling of server memory, so when more traffic arrives at a site, the platform will automatically dedicate more RAM to meet the processing demand. These cloud optimization features ensure some of the best performance for high-traffic WordPress sites available in a web hosting plan, but could be a bit costly for single site hosting depending on the traffic requirements.
Overview of the DreamHost Cloud Computing Plans
|Cloud Computing:||Hourly Price:||Max Monthly Price:||Compare:|
DreamHost’s cloud hosting platform, which they call “DreamCompute”, is similar to Google’s Compute Engine functioning as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). With DreamCompute, you can run a Linux, BSD, or a Windows server; develop using MySQL, PostgreSQL, or MongoDB databases; or code applications in any number of programming languages including PHP, Python, Perl, Ruby on Rails, Java, ASP.net, and Node.js. In short, you can use almost any operating system, database, or programming language available at prices ranging from $4.50 to $96 per month depending on the amount of RAM and CPU cores dedicated to the package. DreamHost uses local conservation methods, in-office recycling, and international carbon credit purchases towards renewable energy projects to offset the environmental impact of their data center operations.
Cloud Computing – Semisonic: 1 vCPU, 512 MB RAM, 80 GB SSD + 100 GB block storage, & unlimited bandwidth
The Semisonic plan is “ideal for tinkering” and similar to a low-end VPS plan in functionality. While the potential applications of this account are technically unlimited, consider it for testing purposes, simulating “always on” appliances in the Internet of Things (IoT), or for collecting and storing information from low bandwidth sources like APIs.
Cloud Computing – Subsonic: 1 vCPU, 1 GB RAM, 80 GB SSD + 100 GB block storage, & unlimited bandwidth
With the Subsonic account, programmers can use DreamCompute as a functional web server for traditional hosting purposes. Most users will be interested in taking advantage of the plan’s flexibility to create custom-coded applications for web and mobile devices using a wide range of developer frameworks not supported on the other hosting plans.
Cloud Computing – Supersonic: 1 vCPU, 2 GB RAM, 80 GB SSD + 100 GB block storage, & unlimited bandwidth
The Supersonic account is basically a VPS operating with a different virtualization framework than the DreamHost managed VPS plans running Ubuntu 12.04 LTS. With the ability to install any operating system, database, and programming language, this plan is designed for those who need a custom remote environment for advanced technical experimentation or a reliable platform to keep web utility applications online affordably ($12 per month).
Cloud Computing – Lightspeed: 2 vCPU, 4 GB RAM, 80 GB SSD + 100 GB block storage, & unlimited bandwidth
The Lightspeed plan is intended for strong database support in application development, and simulates a dual-core server with 4 GB of RAM. At $24 per month, it is priced cheaper than most comparable VPS plans, with more options for custom development than the DreamHost managed VPS framework. Start-up companies, established corporations, and computer science researchers will all be able to find creative uses for the programming tools made available under this account.
Cloud Computing – Warpseed: 4 vCPU, 8 GB RAM, 80 GB SSD + 100 GB block storage, & unlimited bandwidth
The Warpspeed plan has the functionality of a quad-core CPU with 8 GB of RAM, and can be used for the efficient hosting of complex web and mobile applications which require custom server extensions for operation not supported on other web hosting accounts. Also, at $48 per month, it is less than half the price of DreamHost’s comparable VPS plan, though only providing a third of the storage. It is also possible to use this plan for multi-site hosting by sharing the server resources.
Cloud Computing – Hyperspeed: 8 vCPU, 16 GB RAM, 80 GB SSD + 100 GB block storage, & unlimited bandwidth
The Hyperspeed plan has more RAM allocated to the virtual machines than any of the VPS plans offered at DreamHost. This account is ideal for the migration of established applications where the company knows the requirements of the platform in advance, but is seeking a more cost-efficient way to host the traffic and resources. All of these cloud computing plans can be combined with DreamHost’s cloud storage facilities via API.
One downside to the DreamCompute plans is that DreamHost does not intend to provide unlimited bandwidth on the accounts after the initial consumer launch period. This means that the rates could go up at any time, and businesses using the service for app development do not know when the prices will change. Nevertheless, the DreamCompute accounts do offer both IPv4 and IPv6 dedicated IP addresses with every virtual server instance. This can be useful for computer professionals using the platform to code for legacy systems, as well as providing SSL/TLS support for database applications. Additional storage is available on all of the plans at rates of $10.00/month for each extra 100 GB of SSD space allocated.
Overview of the DreamHost Cloud Storage Plans
|Cloud Storage:||Price per GB:||Monthly Price:||Compare:|
|DreamObjects – 40 GB||2.38¢/GB||$0.95/mo||View Details|
|DreamObjects – 200 GB||2.25¢/GB||$4.50/mo||View Details|
|DreamObjects – 1 TB||1.95¢/GB||$19.95/mo||View Details|
|DreamObjects – 2 TB||1.71¢/GB||$34.95/mo||View Details|
|DreamObjects – 20 TB||1.46¢/GB||$299.95/mo||View Details|
The DreamObjects bulk-rate cloud storage service is intended to compete with Amazon’s S3 platform which uses lower performance servers to host large data archives online at a reduced cost to publishers. DreamObjects actually uses the same API as AWS S3, so developers can use the two services interchangeably in programming new cloud applications. DreamHost also markets the DreamObjects service as a remote back-up plan for users who want to store their personal photos, videos, software files, and music online in a manner similar to Dropbox or Google Drive. This is excellent for making sure that your important files are not lost in instances of a desktop crash, and also maintains the files in an archive that can be accessed from any device or location. Web publishers can also link to the storage files from website pages and integrate them into CMS scripts for display or download by a web browser. However, we don’t yet feel that DreamObjects’ consumer pricing is low enough to establish the service in the market over competitors.
DreamObjects – 40 GB: 40 GB open source, S3 compatible, fully scalable storage + DreamSpeed CDN
At less than a dollar per month, users get a 40 GB remote storage drive with unique flexibility for personal use as well as the ability to integrate the files into websites. While many hosting plans permit “unlimited” storage, most people do not use these services for personal files they do not intend to make public. This plan is also excellent for storing website back-up files on a secondary server for archival purposes.
DreamObjects – 200 GB: 200 GB open source, S3 compatible, fully scalable storage + DreamSpeed CDN
DreamHost has published a list of applications compatible with DreamObjects that you can download to transfer and manage files on the platform for a variety of uses. These include: Arq, AWS CLI, Boto-Rsync, CloudBerry, CrossFTP, Cyberduck, Dropshare, Duck, Duplicati, ExpanDrive, GoodSync, S3cmd, ShareX, Strongsync, Synology, Transmit, Transmit iOS, UpdraftPlus, & QNAP. These apps can be used with Windows, Linux, & iOS on desktops as well as with websites and mobile devices.
DreamObjects – 1 TB: 1 TB open source, S3 compatible, fully scalable storage + DreamSpeed CDN
While access to 1 TB of remote storage on a cloud drive is a powerful option for desktop back-ups and personal file storage solutions, at $19.95 per month it is still twice the price of Google Drive, Apple’s iCloud, and Dropbox. AWS actually offers unlimited storage at $59.99 per year, about 75% less than this DreamObjects plan. At these prices, DreamObjects doesn’t really make sense for most users who can also receive a better interface for file management with the other providers.
DreamObjects – 2 TB: 2 TB open source, S3 compatible, fully scalable storage + DreamSpeed CDN
Because the prices for DreamObjects storage is not competitive with the industry leaders in the sector, DreamHost’s strategy appears generally to be based around launching the infrastructure to position a competitive product in the marketplace and then capitalizing on their brand for users who prefer not to host with the other companies. It is unclear though why businesses would pay 7x more to use the same AWS S3 API on another company’s servers.
DreamObjects – 20 TB: 20 TB open source, S3 compatible, fully scalable storage + DreamSpeed CDN
At $299.95 per month for 20 TB of cloud storage, this plan appeals mostly to “big data” applications in enterprise and start-up companies who are still saving money by outsourcing services to a third-party vendor. However, at $100 more per month than Google Drive, the main advantage is when you need to manage file storage via FTP, which neither Google Drive nor Dropbox permit. Since this is a fairly significant issue for many users, it does provide an advantage to DreamObjects over the other services. Box.com does also permit FTP access for file migration and has a good browser-based platform for managing files, but you won’t be able to use the service in the same manner as DreamObjects for web hosting and custom app support.
Because there are both pros and cons with each of the cloud drive companies, DreamObjects functions like most of DreamHost’s services in a niche sector where it is priced as significantly more expensive than comparable services but also offers more power and flexibility for computer professionals who can use their experience to take full advantage of the open source software tools made available. Because of the support for the AWS S3 API, and the large number of third-party apps already developed that use the standard for file management, most DreamObjects users will be able to find an existing solution to fit most of their expected needs. While the DreamObjects platform is also designed for the development of new cloud computing applications, it is not yet priced affordably enough for most businesses to choose the service over competitors unless they have a long-standing preference for the DreamHost brand.
Overview of the DreamHost VPS Hosting Plans
|VPS Hosting:||Monthly Price:||Annual Price:||Compare:|
|Go Big||$60/mo||$55/mo||View Details|
DreamHost’s VPS hosting plans are based on the Linux-VServer platform for virtualization, providing protected CPU and RAM resources for better security and performance. All VPS accounts run Ubuntu Linux version 12.04 LTS which includes 5 years of automatic security updates for the operating system. One of the best features of the DreamHost VPS plans is the ability to use Nginx (LEMP) for site hosting rather than Apache server (LAMP). This feature can be turned on through the use of snapshots in the VPS control panel. Along with this comes platform integration of Phusion Passenger for high-performance server optimization and support for XCache as an opcode-based PHP accelerator. You can host unlimited domains with unlimited FTP, email, MySQL databases, and bandwidth on every DreamHost VPS account.
VPS Hosting – Starter: 1GB RAM, 30GB SSD storage, Ubuntu + Unlimited domains, MySQL databases, FTP, email accounts, & bandwidth
At a price similar to many shared hosting plans, the Starter VPS account at DreamHost provides all of the platform benefits for website performance optimization at an affordable price. However, site owners probably will not be able to manage more than 60 to 75 simultaneous users on average (unless Nginx is deployed). Consider this plan for website hosting requirements that require less than 2.5 million hits per month and not including many database intensive web applications. Still, with free SSL/TLS certificates for every domain, there is value in this account.
VPS Hosting – Popular: 2GB RAM, 60GB SSD storage, Ubuntu + Unlimited domains, MySQL databases, FTP, email accounts, & bandwidth
The Popular VPS hosting plan at DreamHost is optimal for single CMS sites that need an upgrade to access more processing resources than shared hosting will provide. With around 6 times the server resources available with average shared hosting plans, site owners can estimate support for traffic at around 120 simultaneous users and 5 million page loads per month. Further performance is possible by optimizing the sites with Nginx, PHP, and Phusion Passenger, though this will take some time and skilled developer resources to implement.
VPS Hosting – Go Big: 4GB RAM, 120GB SSD storage, Ubuntu + Unlimited domains, MySQL databases, FTP, email accounts, & bandwidth
At around 12 times the physical RAM allocated as provided by most shared web hosting plans, the Go Big VPS account will easily support around 250 simultaneous users across all hosted sites and scale to provide support for over 10 million page loads per month under the given specifications. Similarly, WordPress sites can be optimized for better performance than this using the tools installed on the platform, but similar performance gains will be more difficult to attain using other CMS scripts without a lot of configuration testing. With isolated RAM and CPU usage, all database-driven CMS websites will perform much better under heavy traffic situations using this service plan.
VPS Hosting – Maximum: 8GB RAM, 240GB SSD storage, Ubuntu + Unlimited domains, MySQL databases, FTP, email accounts, & bandwidth
The Maximum VPS plan at DreamHost is priced comparable to many entry-level dedicated servers and should provide similar performance. However, with the pre-installed Nginx, Phusion Passenger, and XCache options, it will be easier to optimize sites under the managed VPS framework. Expect minimum support for around 500 simultaneous user processes and over 20 million page loads per month across all hosted domains on the plan. With the free Let’s Encrypt SSL/TLS certificates provided for every domain by DreamHost, site owners no longer have to worry about purchasing a unique dedicated IP address for every ecommerce store they launch, potentially saving a lot of money for multi-site portfolios. Because this plan also will provide optimal performance for installed CMS scripts at $110-$120 per month, it is recommended for profitable sites which require the best platform architecture.
Because DreamHost uses Linux-VServer with Ubuntu installed on all VPS plans, customers will be required to use a combination of command line tools and DreamHost’s proprietary administration panel to manage the server. This has advantages and disadvantages, as most cPanel hosting plans will not include support for Nginx, Phusion Passenger, and XCache “out-of-the-box”. Similarly, compared to VPS plans where users are forced to install, configure, and extend the operating system and server framework manually, the instant deployment with use of snapshots to change settings can save a lot of time, making systems administration much easier on the platform. Site owners looking to run Windows, BSD, or other Linux operating systems than Ubuntu will either need to sign-up for a DreamCompute plan or choose another web hosting company.
Overview of the DreamHost Dedicated Server Hosting Plans
|Dedicated Plans:||Monthly Price:||Annual Price:||Compare:|
|Quad-Core: 4GB RAM||$169/mo||$149/mo||View Details|
|Quad-Core: 8GB RAM||$209/mo||$189/mo||View Details|
|Quad-Core: 16GB RAM||$249/mo||$229/mo||View Details|
|Twelve-Core: 16GB RAM||$299/mo||$279/mo||View Details|
|Twelve-Core: 32GB RAM||$349/mo||$329/mo||View Details|
|Twelve-Core: 64GB RAM||$399/mo||$379/mo||View Details|
DreamHost has taken the opposite approach to many companies in deploying their dedicated server platform. Where other webhosts are currently offering servers based on 4+ year old Intel chips in dedicated server plans to reduce costs, make use of older Xeon technology, and sell cheaper introductory plans to the public, DreamHost is one of the few companies where the latest 12-core servers can be leased under affordable, entry-level pricing. Because DreamHost is located in the Silicon Valley region and has many close relationships within the open source development community, they can leverage their connections and brand to offer superior hardware configurations for the leading software development companies and start-ups with funding in the area that are pursuing some of the most innovative goals in IT. Businesses can take advantage of DreamHost’s technical expertise in platform management and data center operations to secure a high-performance server suitable for hosting many of the most popular websites and mobile applications in the world.
Dedicated Server Hosting – Quad-Core (4GB RAM): 1TB HDD Raid-1 storage, Ubuntu + Unlimited domains, MySQL databases, FTP, email accounts, & bandwidth
One problem with the lower priced dedicated server options at DreamHost is that they do not release the CPU speeds, server manufacturer, or detailed breakdowns of hardware configurations on the plans, which makes efficient benchmarking and price comparison more difficult. Another issue is that the quad-core servers only have the option for hard disk drive (HDD) storage and do not currently support SSD configurations. Because SSDs provide 20x the speed of HDDs in web hosting and have become industry standard even on shared hosting plans, we would not recommend the quad-core server plans at DreamHost at these costs, with better offers available at other companies.
Dedicated Server Hosting – Quad-Core (8GB RAM): 1TB HDD Raid-1 storage, Ubuntu + Unlimited domains, MySQL databases, FTP, email accounts, & bandwidth
Similarly, site owners who shop around will be able to find similar configurations to DreamHost’s 8 GB, quad-core dedicated server plans at cheaper monthly prices with SSDs included in the configurations by default. It does not make sense to lock into a long-term contract for a dedicated server with a HDD for high performance web hosting when even DreamHost advertises up to 20x better response times on database processes and page loads using SSDs, especially when their rates are actually higher than competitor plans.
Dedicated Server Hosting – Quad-Core (16GB RAM): 1TB HDD Raid-1 storage, Ubuntu + Unlimited domains, MySQL databases, FTP, email accounts, & bandwidth
While at $229-$249 per month this is not a bad deal on a quad-core server with 16 GB of RAM, and many companies have been paying much more than that over the last 4 years for similar services, the ability to lease a 12-core server with the same specifications, configuration, and SSD storage for $50 more per month at DreamHost makes this plan redundant for most business applications. IT companies and start-ups at this level are not going to miss the additional costs, and will get much better server performance on the 12-core plans.
Dedicated Server Hosting – Twelve-Core (16GB RAM): 1TB HDD or 240GB SSD Raid-1 storage, Ubuntu + Unlimited domains, MySQL databases, FTP, email accounts, & bandwidth
While we are underwhelmed at the costs and specifications of the quad-core servers at DreamHost, we would highly recommend the 12-core units for websites and mobile applications that require the highest levels of performance. While it would be better if the SSD storage allocations were higher, the $279-$299 monthly cost on this server makes elite hardware in a top-of-the-line data center available to business owners with the whole package of Nginx, Phusion Passenger, and XCache (plus other tools) included for advanced web development requirements. Site owners should be able to manage at least 1,000 simultaneous users and over 40 million page loads per month on this plan under LAMP, and up to double those stats for professionally optimized websites running on Nginx (LEMP) with multi-level page caching.
Dedicated Server Hosting – Twelve-Core (32GB RAM): 1TB HDD or 240GB SSD Raid-1 storage, Ubuntu + Unlimited domains, MySQL databases, FTP, email accounts, & bandwidth
The 12-core, 32 GB RAM dedicated server plan will provide excellent resources for cloud computing applications, multi-site portfolio hosting, and highly trafficked websites or mobile applications. Under default specifications, the server should support around 2,000 simultaneous users and approximately 84 million page loads per month, with potential to double those figures for websites optimized using Nginx, XCache, and Phusion Passenger. While 99% of web site owners will never approach this level of traffic on their domains, it is still not all that rare in the industry and many of the top websites in many sectors regularly exceed these levels. As such, this dedicated server plan is highly recommended for profitable websites, social networks, popular blogs, mobile apps, and ecommerce stores who need the best performance under a wide variety of demanding user traffic conditions.
Dedicated Server Hosting – Twelve-Core (64GB RAM): 1TB HDD or 240GB SSD Raid-1 storage, Ubuntu + Unlimited domains, MySQL databases, FTP, email accounts, & bandwidth
The 12-core, 64 GB RAM dedicated server plan is equivalent to around 200 shared hosting accounts rolled into one, which is then billed at ~15% of the pro-rated price. Site owners can estimate support for around 4,000 simultaneous users and over 165 million page loads per month, with up to double these amounts possible with proper configuration and optimization using Nginx, Varnish, XCache, etc. At less than $400 per month, we feel this is a huge bargain compared to other services, as any websites consistently attracting this level of user traffic will be pulling in far more income from advertising, ecommerce, and subscription fees. This is the most powerful dedicated server plan we have seen offered from any of the major retail web hosting companies, and only by moving into multi-cluster server arrays under a cloud hosting framework will higher performance levels be found.
In summary, while we feel that DreamHost’s quad-core dedicated servers are over-priced by industry standards and lacking with the option for HDD storage support only, their 12-core servers with high RAM configurations are a superior offering. We would highly recommend the 12-core plans for enterprise websites, popular mobile apps, WordPress blog hosting, ecommerce, social networking, and other high traffic requirements. We also feel confident in the technical support, platform-specific knowledge, and data center operations offered by DreamHost behind these plans. Profitable websites and companies requiring elite hardware configurations will find the 12-core dedicated server plans at DreamHost best in the industry. Businesses and site owners looking for a quad-core server are better off with a SSD driven system at a lower price available at the other web hosting companies.
Managing your account with DreamHost is… unique. It’s one of those experiences that you will either love or hate. When you purchase a DreamHost account, you first login to the DreamHost dashboard, which is where you can start managing your account settings. We feel the dashboard has a somewhat confusing layout that is not very comfortable to use compared to cPanel, nor is it intuitive to navigate. It looks and feels completely different from other web hosts, while remaining challenging to figure out if you’re used to cPanel, vDeck, or Plesk. It’s hard to explain, but it’s almost like the feeling a Windows user gets when trying to use a Mac for the first time. Furthermore, on the left and right side panel, they display links to all of their services, and not just the ones that you paid for. It would be nice to see these links combined and added into an “upgrade or add-on services” section so the user realizes that they don’t actually have access to these. It would also be nice if they listed commonly used shortcuts within the main section instead of displaying a “what’s new” banner in the center. Anyway, here is a screenshot of their dashboard for reference:
In general, the DreamHost custom-coded administration section feels like a legacy upgrade from the Web 1.0 era and is still not as comprehensive as the dashboards used by other companies. You’ll definitely need to navigate around and explore the whole administration section to get accustomed to it. One thing we did like was the easy access to customer support. You can find it on both the bottom left and right sidebar from within the dashboard. Unfortunately, DreamHost charges extra for phone support, but you can launch a live browser chat session or simply email them with your questions.
Review of the Control Panel
DreamHost also uses a custom built control panel for server administration and app support which seems unnecessarily difficult and confusing to navigate. Where cPanel requires an expensive license, and is used by many hosting companies in the industry as a “platform as a service” (PaaS) tool for complete systems management under CentOS, DreamHost has invested innumerable hours of development time in coding their own custom control panel, which they seem uninterested to change. You can see DreamHost’s control panel in the screenshot below. Again, the inclusion of archaic Web 1.0 tools and add-ons that are no longer widely used by developers makes the entire framework appear outdated. Who would have thought MySQL databases would be categorized under “Goodies” and not under a menu like “Database Management”? Every task from within the control panel seems challenging and backwards if you are used to cPanel, vDeck, or Plesk for server management. Many experienced developers route around this by using the command line extensively to deploy sites, but this is not really an option for many small business owners and casual users.
Servers: DreamHost offers solid performance with a unique 100% uptime guarantee (although we’ve still site noticed downtime from our DreamHost account). They currently have 2 data centers with one located in Los Angeles and the other in Ashburn, VA. They are in the process of adding another data center on the West coast. In the last couple of years, DreamHost has significantly upgraded its network infrastructure to improve performance and stability, as well as to mitigate abusive activity. Their data centers now house over 1,500 servers. With their strong support for the OpenStack platform, Ceph, Linux, and other open source software, DreamHost has become a major innovator in cloud computing internationally.
Network: In terms of actual performance, DreamHost usually does very well in benchmark testing. The uptime score is generally above average and the page load speeds are decent, but not super fast either. Website performance will be more strongly determined at DreamHost by the degree to which site owners take advantage of the advanced optimization tools available on the WordPress hosting, VPS, cloud computing, and dedicated server plans. We would recommend using DreamHost’s newly launched DreamSpeed CDN services over the free CloudFlare CDN for an additional level of performance optimization. They promise 400 microsecond response times for downloads using this service on 95% of page loads, and it can be activated in the control panel at rates from $.12 to $.19 per GB. All in all, their web hosting is fairly fast and reliable, but site owners will need to experiment with the server configuration and integrate advanced page caching on websites in order to get the best performance speeds.
Performance: We continually test and monitor the performance of DreamHost with Pingdom site monitoring tools to get a more technical measure of performance data. The results below are dynamically pulled from Pingdom:
Hosting Type Tested: Shared
Hosting Plan: Standard
Location Tested: North America
Description: Performance stats of the last 30 days from our DreamHost test account.
NOTE ABOUT TEST STATS: Keep in mind the above data is not fully representative of all the websites hosted on DreamHost. There are too many factors that influence performance stats – including the specific server the site is hosted on, the web hosting plan chosen, the optimization of the actual website, scheduled maintenance, geolocation, etc. Our tests are performed on low-end shared hosting accounts for each web host reviewed to showcase the most modest performance stats.
Helpful FAQs About DreamHost
Here are some frequently asked questions you may have about DreamHost:
You can order a web hosting plan from DreamHost by visiting their website, www.dreamhost.com. Click on Hosting from the top main menu to browse their web hosting plans. Then select the one you want and follow the checkout procedure.
DreamHost accepts all major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, and Diners Club), PayPal, checking account drafts, gift certificates, and money orders.
You can cancel your account at any time. You can do this by logging into your dashboard and under Billing & Account click Manage Account. Then click close Account/end all hosting and follow the steps.
Some Things to Consider Before You Purchase…
As with any web host, there are always pros and cons that you should consider. We’ve discussed many of the pros for DreamHost, but here’s a further explanation of the cons. These are things we feel DreamHost could improve for their customers:
Overpriced Hosting Plans: DreamHost is not cheap. Their shared hosting plan has an initial cost of $4.95 per month, and renews at $10.95 per month. Most of the other accounts are more expensive. With the DreamPress plan for WordPress, you can only host one site per plan at $14.95 to $19.95 per month. This is very expensive and multi-site owners may not find it feasible. Considering other web hosts with comparable features (and even better performance) start significantly lower, DreamHost’s price tag can be excessive. This is also found on their cloud storage plans in comparison to other services. If price is an issue, you might want to consider a more affordable hosting company.
No Customer Support via Phone: There’s a good chance you’re eventually going to need customer support and unlike many other web hosts, DreamHost does not offer free phone support. Shared hosting customers might miss this fact when they first sign up. If you need to call support to trouble-shoot a site issue, you may end up finding out about this the hard way. Phone support costs extra. Registered customers can, however, submit an email ticket or conduct a live chat session in real-time through a web browser.
Overall Poor Customer Support: This is something that is surprising as web reviews include mostly positive remarks about their tech support. This may be true on a platform level in development, but we feel it is not representative of the customer support for individual clients. Most questions submitted via email take several responses and follow-up replies before they answer it successfully. Furthermore, we felt their support replies were often not satisfactory or clear enough to solve the questions posed effectively.
Difficult to Use Services: As mentioned above, the DreamHost dashboard and control panel is difficult and challenging to learn. It is not clear how they can view their control panel as better than cPanel, but DreamHost praises it and some others love it as well. If you prefer hosting websites with cPanel, we would recommend not migrating to DreamHost over this issue. The DreamHost control panel, despite recent improvements, still lacks an intuitive graphical user interface and just doesn’t function that well overall.
Not BBB Accredited: DreamHost is not BBB accredited. Furthermore, they have an D- rating on BBB the last time we checked, which is apparently due to their failure to respond to more than 25 user complaints filed against them. These negative complaints should always be taken with a grain of salt, yet still, this occurrence shows us that complaining via BBB won’t solve any problems one might have with DreamHost.
DID YOU KNOW? DreamHost has a great status blog filled with useful status updates/info for their customers!
Additional Features Worth Mentioning
The major aspects that distinguish DreamHost over competitors is their provision of developer tools on the web hosting account plans. The integration of Nginx, OPcache, and Varnish Cache on the DreamPress platform is unique and innovative. Furthermore, the inclusion of Nginx via snapshots on all VPS and dedicated plans, along with the integration of Phusion Passenger, support for PHP 7.0, and Facebook’s Hip Hop Virtual Machine are aspects not generally found at other hosting companies. Using the DreamCompute platform, programmers can deploy almost any operating system, programming language, and database framework at prices reasonable enough to support independent development and technical experimentation. Also, the participation of DreamHost Labs programmers in the active development of open source projects like OpenStack, Ceph, and Akanda display a technical expertise and commitment to innovation in the industry that most smaller hosting companies running cPanel & WHM simply cannot manage.
Dedicated Servers with SSDs: DreamHost now offers dedicated servers with SSDs and enhanced specs – we are particularly impressed with their 12-core servers running Ubuntu that are optimized with all of the most cutting-edge tools for complex web development projects.
Updated Control Panel: DreamHost updated their control panel, changing the navigation, the look and feel, and responsiveness of it all. While it still is not ideal, at least the company is making progressive attempts to rebuild it to be more easy to navigate.
DreamPress updated to DreamPress 2: DreamHost updated their popular WordPress hosting plan to DreamPress 2, which now includes faster speeds, SSD drives, PHP 5.6 with OpCache, and optional support for HHVM & PHP 7.0. While it is still too expensive for many site owners, the features offered here easily outpace many other managed WordPress hosting plans.
New MySQL VPS Servers: Based in the same technology used to run DreamPress, DreamHost now offers all site owners the ability to add a second VPS server dedicated to MySQL processes. This means that one server will host file transfers on page loads and another will manage the database, giving significant improvement to website performance.
Conclusion – To Host or Not to Host?
As we reach the conclusion of our DreamHost review, we sincerely hope that it helped you decide whether or not you should host your site with them. Every site is different and you’ll need to determine if this web host best suits your needs. For further information about DreamHost, visit their website at www.dreamhost.com. If you found this review helpful, please like and share it!
Let Us Know Your Thoughts
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