Editor's choice

DreamHost Web Hosting Review

The world of web hosting is vast and magical. Having your own website allows you to show the world things that matter to you (and perhaps to others, too), as well as share your own views and opinions. But let’s say you don’t know much about web hosting and you really need a website for your business, like how the rival company were able to get more people to buy their products online than in their physical shop. Now, they’re a whole flight of stairs ahead of the game! It sucks so now, you’re dying to have your own website, too!

Well, you should’ve done so earlier but it’s better late than never, right? Starting a website is fun, although you need to keep in mind a few things before you launch your site. The first thing you’d probably do is to search for reviews of popular web hosting providers. If you’re a beginner, it’s no easy task to choose the right one for your needs. Pretty much all web hosting companies will claim to give you the “best” web hosting solution but once you sign up with them, you’ll immediately begin to face several problems. It’s for this very reason that you need to be careful in choosing a web host. After all, your business is at stake here!

Google “best web hosts” and you’ll see a whole plethora of helpful web host listings. It’s good to have a lot of options but these websites are a dime a dozen, and there really are DOZENS! That’s a lot of dimes and guess what, I’m here to drop some dimes, too!

My goal is to help you make the right web hosting choice by sharing my personal experience with several web hosting companies and their service. Why? So you don’t have to waste your time and money on some poorly performing web host that’s all talk and no action! If it’s an affordable and reliable web host you need, then read on to find out more about one such web host that will surely deliver.

LogoI’m talking about DreamHost. This web hosting company has been around longer than most of the competition. They’re experts in the industry and they’re known for offering a lot of flexibility and superb service guarantees. It may not be the top-tier player it once was, but this web host still manages to crack our top 10 list.

Why Choose DreamHost Web Hosting?

A couple of years ago, I opted for DreamHost’s hosting service because they’re pretty cheap and offered decent value for money. Right now, I have one tech blog with them and I have no issues at all on their shared hosting service. I haven’t experienced any major downtime with them, so the hosting experience is great so far. However, like any other web host, DreamHost comes with a few quirks. I’m not going to say it’s the perfect web host out there – and it isn’t! In this in-depth review, I will share some important things you need to know about DreamHost’s web hosting service so you can make the most of your purchase should you decide to sign up with them.

But first, a little background story.

DreamHost was founded in 1997 when four college buddies got together in their dorm and decided to develop a way to help people get online. The result was a web hosting platform that’s built on open source technology. With a commitment to make their customers’ “dreams” come true, DreamHost has since grown to support hundreds of thousands of web developers by offering affordable and efficient web hosting solutions.

Host

Today, DreamHost is a strong contender in the web hosting game, with a full-time staff of 50 and over 1 million client sites. Despite the growth, the company retains their original client-centered focus. Their complete transparency regarding issues and engaging with customers have earned them a loyal following and a solid reputation among website owners.

Now that you know a little bit about this web host and why they’re one of the top players in the market, it’s time for you to find out whether or not they’re the ideal choice for your hosting needs.

Let’s jump right in!

DreamHost Web Hosting Plans

DreamHost is an experienced web hosting provider that knows just what individuals and businesses need in a web host. They offer an array of well-rounded hosting plans, including Shared Hosting, Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting, and Dedicated Hosting, among others. Each of their hosting plans comes with standard unlimited bandwidth and disk space, 99.9% uptime guarantee, and 24/7 customer support. But there’s more to their packages than just the usual offerings. Let’s find out more about their hosting plans.

Shared Web Hosting Plan for Launching Your First Website

Unlike other web hosting providers I’ve reviewed, DreamHost don’t give you a lot of options if you wish to go for shared hosting. They have a single, tierless shared web hosting plan, with pricing that starts at $8.95 per month. What’s particularly attractive about their shared hosting plan is that they have recently added solid state drives (SSDs), which significantly improves their client sites’ performance. With it, web pages load up to 200% faster, so it’s pretty much the quickest and cheapest way to get your site up and running in just minutes!

Shared

The core features of DreamHost’s shared hosting plan include:

  • Unlimited disk space
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Unlimited domains
  • Unlimited email accounts
  • 9% uptime guarantee
  • 1-click WordPress installer
  • Web-based control panel
  • 24/7 technical support

For the nerds, you might find these standard features interesting:

  • PHP5 support
  • Full Unix Shell
  • Ruby on Rails support
  • PERL support
  • Python support
  • SSL secure server
  • Crontab access
  • Canned CGI scripts
  • Full CGI access
  • Access to raw log files
  • Server Side Includes (SSI)
  • Unlimited MySQL databases
  • IPv6 support
  • FREE $100 Google AdWords credit

That’s right. You’ll get all of these features at no extra cost at all. Best of all, they’re including 1 FREE domain name for the life of your shared hosting plan! This applies to .com, .net, .org, and .info domain names. This is a great offer, considering how other web hosts don’t give you your first domain for free. But if you do need additional domains, you have to pay the registration fee.

The free domain name and unlimited domain hosting are what attracted many users to go for DreamHost’s shared hosting plan. Other web hosts like Arvixe and HostGator, for example, only offer unlimited domains on their higher tier plans.

If you don’t want to be tied to DreamHost for a whole year or more, don’t worry because they’re one of the very few web hosts that offer a month-to-month hosting option. But here’s the gist: You can actually save up to 20% with an annual plan!

Plans and Service Pricing
2 Years $8.95/month
1 Year $9.95/month
Monthly $10.95/month
Setup Fees FREE
Domain Privacy Protection FREE

As you can see, they won’t even charge you for setting up your site! Some web hosts will let you pay up to $10 or more for setup fees alone, which is quite costly!

Managed Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting Plan for a Lightning-Fast Website

Starting at just $15 per month, DreamHost is offering Linux-based managed VPS hosting for individuals and businesses that require more power and are expecting higher traffic volume to their sites. Their managed VPS hosting plan has four tiers, as seen on the screenshot below:

VPS Plans

And for optimum speed and scalability, DreamHost has now added solid state drives (SSDs) to all their VPS servers, giving website owners more stability and power to successfully run their sites or applications. They boast high-performance SSD hard drives that are up to 20x faster than the regular SATA hard drives. Take a look at this chart and see for yourself:

SSD

The core features of their VPS hosting plan include the following:

  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Unlimited hosted domains
  • Ubuntu 12.04 Long Term Support (LTS) for a higher level of security and less issues for working with new software libraries
  • Web-based control panel for easy management of multiple virtual servers
  • Scalable RAM

For open source developers, DreamHost’s VPS hosting now comes with support for Node.js and Ruby Version Manager (RVM)! Other than these, they also support additional technologies such as:

  • PHP5
  • Nginx
  • Perl
  • Python
  • Custom Ruby installs
  • XCache
  • Secure Shell (SSH)
  • Phusion Passenger
  • Crontab access
  • Subversion Repository (SVN)
  • SSL Secure Server
  • .htaccess
  • Access to raw log files
  • Unlimited FTP/sFTP users
  • Unlimited email accounts
  • $100 Google AdWords credits

Only a few web hosts can match DreamHost’s feature-packed offering! They even offer relatively higher memory compared to web hosting champion, Arvixe. Their first-tier VPS plan also offers 1 GB RAM, but is currently at $20 per month. Their highest tier is at $70 per month, which is costlier than DreamHost’s and offers only 3 GB of RAM. If you need more memory, you need to pay an additional $20 per GB. If this is the case, then you might as well stick with DreamHost!

This web hosting provider does have plenty of great perks to satisfy web developers, but it’s not the best VPS hosting you’ll find out there. However, I can’t deny the fact that their VPS plan is one of the most well-rounded and budget-friendly packages you’ll find in the market.

Fully Managed Dedicated Hosting Plan for Maximum Website Performance

Finally outgrown a shared server? If you need a more powerful hosting solution (and if you have plenty of money to burn, too), then you should take a look at DreamHost’s dedicated hosting plan to see if they can handle your needs.

Starting at $149 per month, DreamHost give you plenty of choices to help you get the perfect dedicated server. To see which one suits your needs and budget, make sure to try out their configurator for an instant quote.

Price

A dedicated server is ideal for high-traffic sites that need to keep the performance at peak levels. If you’re running a large online business and you can’t afford downtime, then you’ll certainly benefit from dedicated server hosting because it has plenty of room to scale and can withstand traffic spikes. Agencies with high-profile clients should also upgrade to dedicated hosting to house their live streaming needs, as well as the millions of visitors flocking their sites. And if you want to make more money, you can do so through a dedicated server by providing hosting for the sites that you build for your clients. A dedicated server is powerful enough to generate extra income for you.

Dedicated

Indeed, a dedicated server can give you complete control and security. And because you have an entire server to yourself, there will be no more disruptive neighbors who might negatively impact your site’s performance. You have full access to all server resources and you’ll get the horsepower you need for your site.

Here are the core features you should look forward to in DreamHost’s dedicated hosting plan:

  • SSD storage
  • Ubuntu Linux
  • RAID 1 storage
  • Full root and shell access (SSH)
  • Support for PHP/Python/Perl/Ruby programming languages
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Unlimited MySQL databases
  • DDoS protection
  • One-click WordPress installer
  • 24/7 customer support and server monitoring

Listen: Size does matter! DreamHost is so confident about their hosting prowess that they went ahead and compared their offerings to other top players.

DreamHost BlueHost HostGator GoDaddy
Max Cores 12 4 4 4
Max RAM 64 GB 16 GB 16 GB 32 GB
Max Storage 2 TB 1 TB 1 TB 2 TB
Max Bandwidth Unlimited 15 TB 25 TB 20 TB
SSD Storage
RAID 1

Their options are not significantly different from what many other web hosts offer. However, you can configure the server with up to 64 GB of RAM. You even get unlimited bandwidth per month, which is a huge deal for individuals and companies that are expecting high traffic volumes. Not even HostGator can top that.

Unfortunately, DreamHost, like most web hosting providers, don’t have Windows-based dedicated servers. So, it’s Linux or bust! If you’re looking to build your site using Microsoft’s OS as the foundation, then you better look somewhere else. Check out Arvixe or HostGator for their server options.

DreamPress 2 for Faster and More Powerful Managed WordPress Hosting

DreamHost is a good choice if you’re planning to launch a new WordPress blog or website on a budget. For as low as $19.95 per month, you can get a full-blown WordPress site up and running in minutes, with their managed WordPress hosting plan – DreamPress 2!

WP

DreamPress 2 is the latest version of DreamHost’s managed WordPress hosting. Compared to the first version, DreamPress 2 is a whole lot faster. All websites on DreamPress 2 are now hosted on SSD drives and support PHP 5.5. With it, you can focus on managing the content on your WordPress site while DreamHost will take care of the rest on the WordPress virtual private servers.

Once you sign up for DreamPress 2, you no longer have to install WordPress as it already comes pre-installed (take that, shared hosting!). What’s more, DreamHost will even automatically upgrade your site to the latest version of WordPress once it’s launched. They’ll also back up your WordPress site and their team of experts will fine-tune the virtual private servers. In short, you don’t even have to bat an eyelid by constantly updating your WordPress site or backing up your files! You just have to focus on the most important thing: growing your business while creating an amazing site!

Here’s what you’ll get if you sign up for DreamPress 2:

  • 30 GB worth of SSD storage to make your site load faster than a speeding bullet!
  • Support for the largest websites – up to 2.1 million visitors per month
  • Automatic RAM scaling to easily expand your site as your business grows
  • Unlimited email accounts + unlimited auto-responders
  • DreamHost control panel management + use of standard WordPress web panel for easy setup of your WordPress site
  • Hosted on isolated VPS so no more noisy neighbors disrupting your site
  • Isolated MySQL database servers for better server management and maintenance

DreamHost have also improved their Memchached settings, resulting in faster load times and fewer MySQL database requests. The result? More visitors flocking your site in an instant, plus less downtime!

More Features

If you don’t want to sign up for DreamPress 2, it’s okay because you can still set up a non-managed WordPress site. I tried it on my WordPress blog and I must say, you’ll need a little bit of patience!

After installing WordPress, I had to wait more than 10 minutes for an email confirming that I’ve successfully installed the CMS. The email contained all the necessary links to create an admin account, as well as how-to’s and tips like adding themes and blocking comment spam. Take note that this was not a managed WordPress installation, so I had to sign up for a service like VaultPress for daily backups. If you want to save yourself from the hassle of doing these things yourself, go on ahead and sign up for managed WordPress hosting!

A Unique and User-Friendly Control Panel

DreamHost understands that not all hosting users are system administrators. That’s why they’ve included a simple and straightforward control panel. But instead of relying on the industry-standard cPanel, DreamHost have chosen to set themselves apart by having their very own control panel, which looks like the screenshot below:

PanelI give it a plus point for its emphasis on tools that new website owners and web developers will find useful. From the panel, you can manage several things in a single location. For example, you can easily manage domain names, add or edit files, and even monitor how much disk space and bandwidth you’re using.

But the thing is – and I’m going to sound a bit biased now – I’m not really digging the overall look and feel of this particular control panel. One of the disadvantages of having a custom control panel is that it’s initially disorientating to those who are coming from other web hosts and are already familiar with using cPanel, vDeck, or other popular control panels. I’m pretty sure you have the same sentiments if you’re used to industry-standard solutions. But if you rarely log in to your control panel, then you probably won’t mind this at all. I would also say that there are quite a lot of positive reviews in the web hosting community about DreamHost’s control panel. Eventually, you’ll find it very easy to use and would probably even consider it better than off-the-shelf packages. This counts for something when considering them for hosting, right? They even offer web-based FTP client in the even that you can’t use an offline FTP client like FileZilla. You’re not likely to use this feature anytime soon but it could be a life-saver when you’re caught without access to a desktop FTP client.

Easy One-Click Installations

From DreamHost’s control panel, you can see a One-Click Install functionality for various applications, scripts and popular open source CMS solutions. This is a huge plus for me because with it, you can customize and further expand your site to meet your specific needs. You can even add shopping cart software to your eCommerce site!

Popular one-click applications supported by this web host include not just WordPress but also Drupal, Joomla, Concrete5, phpBB, MediaWiki, ZenCart, and more. You can access the full list of applications from the control panel, under the Goodies tab.

Decent Uptime and Server Response Times

For those who don’t know, uptime is the time in which a server and your hosted site is up and running. Meanwhile, response time is measured based on how long a server takes to deliver content when a visitor comes to your site. As a website owner, you need to keep track of your site’s uptime and response times. Just a few hours of downtime per month could mean lost clients and money for your business!

DreamHost promise to provide clients with a 100% uptime on their websites or else, they’ll give a prorated credit for any downtime. I’ve been in this industry for many years now and based on my experience, I still haven’t encountered a web host that really lives up to this claim. But it’s not to say that DreamHost has a poor uptime record.

The result on my latest performance test was 99.80% uptime and 730 ms response time. This is pretty good but it’s slightly slower when compared to other top hosts like Arvixe and InMotion Hosting.

What I Love: 97-Day Money-Back Guarantee (The Longest On Record!)

Now here’s one thing where DreamHost excels the most: the money-back guarantee. They are offering a solid 97-day trial period for those who want to test the waters. It’s the longest in the industry!

According to their terms of service, you can cancel your hosting account within the first 97 days of the initial signup and DreamHost will give you your money back in full – no questions asked! This is great, considering most web hosts offer only 15 to 30 days. However, I should still advise you to read their terms of service carefully. A quick view of their “Financial Arrangements” indicate that, in order to qualify for a refund, you must pay either via Google Wallet or credit card. Add-on tools and services like domain registration are not included in the refund. Also, if you choose to pay on a month-to-month basis, you are required to pay a one-time setup fee of $49.95. It’s not even clear if this is covered in their refund policy so make sure to contact customer service for clarification.

If you don’t want to pay for this costly setup fee, you might want to check out other web hosts that offer this service for free, like HostGator. They’ve done away with all setup fees which could help you save a lot of money.

Technical Support – Slow, But With Knowledgeable StaffSupport

DreamHost lets you get in touch with one of their expert customer care agents via email, online chat, and ticket-based support. I didn’t see a way to call them via telephone, which is too bad since some of us (including me) would want to deal with a human being.

I tested their live chat support on a weekday morning and weekend night. I waited for about 8 minutes when I tried in the evening, and I had to wait for as long as 30 minutes during the day. The longer-than-usual wait times are not good for those who are looking for assistance in emergency situations. Other web hosts have much shorter wait times so if you think you’ll be needing a lot of support, DreamHost might not be a good option.

Once I got in touch with a rep, I asked about the differences between managed WordPress hosting and shared web hosting. Lorna, the rep who responded to my inquiry, gave me the same info I’d already seen on their Wiki, although she added that DreamHost will take care of installing themes and plugins by default if I went with the managed hosting option. She also mentioned the benefits of having automatic backups, as opposed to my signing up for the non-managed hosting service. Again, I didn’t like the long wait, but the knowledgeable staff made up for that.


PROS:
  • Unlimited features such as disk space and bandwidth
  • Offers various web hosting plans
  • Offers various customer support methods, including live chat
  • One-click script and application installs
  • Longer-than-usual 97-day money-back guarantee

CONS:
  • Does not offer regular discount promotions or sales
  • Has a text-based control panel that may not always be as intuitive as well-known control panels
  • Some features require you to pay extra fees
  • Managed WordPress hosting requires additional costs


Final Verdict – Highly Recommended Web Host

Their customer support leaves something to be desired, but there’s no denying that there’s a lot to love about DreamHost. It’s an excellent choice for individuals and small business owners who want a comprehensive and affordable web hosting package. They have a laundry list of features to satisfy your personal or business related hosting needs, and they have plenty of options for you to create professional-looking and flexible sites.

Unfortunately, newcomers who have no previous experience building or maintaining a site may find this web host intimidating. You need some technical know-how when handling their custom control panel, and you won’t even get assistance with things like migrating your site content. That said, if you have the appropriate technical skills, DreamHost may be a good option for you.

The bottom line is that DreamHost is a solid contender in the web hosting game, with a nice array of features and tools that are geared towards users with more advanced needs and skill sets.

8.8 Total Score
Excellent and Longest Money-Back Guarantee

Risk-Free 97-Day Money-Back Guarantee! With 100% Uptime Guarantee and Unlimited 24/7 Support!

Support
8.5
Features
8.5
Uptime
8.5
Value
9.5
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