Dreamhost is another hosting company that advertises itself as providing “premium” hosting at an affordable cost. Similarly to fellow premium hosting provider SiteGround, they attempt to draw in the low budget, small business market by offering premium hosting plans for a reasonable price.
What once started in a college dorm room in 1997 has now formed into a global company that hosts 1.5 million web sites for over 400,000 worldwide customers.
Dreamhost attributes their success to the custom network infrastructure they have created, with a focus on customer ease of access and reliability. As a non-EIG hosting company, Dreamhost also is one of the few viable alternatives if you are planning to stay away from the EIG monopoly nightmare.
So, could Dreamhost could be the right choice for your hosting needs? Keep reading to find out!
Dreamhost Plans / Pricing
Dreamhost’s shared hosting offering is unique from most other hosting providers in the sense that they only offer one shared hosting plan in a tier-free system.
This type of pricing system is not too much different from iPage (check out our iPage review) where they offer unlimited bandwidth and storage for $8.95 a month, but it’s important to keep their “unlimited policy” in mind, as this could mean trouble if you overstep some of the boundaries.
Along with unlimited bandwidth and storage space, Dreamhost also gives you unlimited e-mail accounts and a free domain name for the life of your plan. For $8.95 a month, its hard to find another hosting provider that can match what they offer.
VPS packages are also available if you require a little more flexibility or power for your website, and with better prices and specs then some other competition (Hostgator, Arvixe to name a couple), it seems Dreamhost understands what VPS customers expect from a VPS package.
Should you require even more power, dedicated servers are also available. While Dreamhost’s dedicated hosting options also compare favourably to other providers, GoDaddy has some pretty decent savings, with a similar plan costing almost $60 less!
Keep in mind that all plans come with a 97-day money back guarantee, which is the longest term that we’ve seen so far in the industry.
Dreamhost Customer Service
Dreamhost takes customer service very seriously and they claim to keep all of their support staff in-house, meaning that your phone call won’t be connected to someone in a foreign country who has no technical knowledge about hosting.
24/7 live chat and e-mail support mean that someone is always ready to assist you at any hour of the day. We received a response to our e-mail in only two hours despite sending it early on a weekday morning.
Our live chat experience was disappointing as all 3 (!) times we tried to start a live chat session we were greeted immediately by a “live chat down” message. Thinking this was a time of day issue, we tried at different hours on a different day but still given the same message.
Unfortunately, Dreamhost also does not offer telephone support as part of its standard customer service offerings. You have the ability to have someone call you from their support team, but this is a premium feature that you can have if you pay extra.
Something else worth noting is that when we signed up for a test account through Dreamhost, we had to wait close to 12 hours for our account to be finally approved by their billing department. Not a huge issue, but slightly annoying if you are dealing with time constraints.
Dreamhost Speed / Reliability
Luckily, their customer service does not cause issues when it comes to speed and uptime, as Dreamhost proves themselves as more than capable in the hosting arena.
Most of their stats are pretty comparable to Siteground’s premium hosting plans, with excellent hardware and additional features included in most plans. As SSD storage is standard across all hosting plans, these will significantly increase your site’s speed.
Dreamhost takes the usual uptime guarantee of 99.9% a little bit further by claiming to have 100% uptime. This claim is quite the bold statement when most hosting providers usually have trouble keeping their uptime anywhere close to the numbers they claim.
Page load times are just as important as uptime, as having a site load faster exponentially increases the amount of traffic it receives. As Dreamhost is a premium hosting provider, we weren’t surprised to find that they perform well in this regard. Using Pingdom to measure our test site’s load time we found that our page load times were very similar to Siteground’s excellent page load times, with an average of 1s load time for our 1.5MB web page.
Dreamhost also has their own CDN entitled “Dreamspeed” which is tightly integrated with their cloud storage service- “Dreamobjects”. Dreamspeed is powered by Fastly, which is widely recognized as one of the most powerful CDN’s today. Dreamspeed isn’t based on a month to month payment schedules like most CDNs, instead billing $.12/GB of data.
Dreamhost takes your site’s security very seriously and they prove this by providing a secure network infrastructure and numerous additional ways to ensure your web site’s protection.
Multifactor Authentication is highly recommended for additional site security and is available from within Dreamhost’s central control panel. For file transfers, SFTP (Secure FTP) is also recommended over traditional FTP access when connecting to your server. Mod_security is also used as a web application firewall to block any malicious HTTP requests to your website. This feature is automatically included and enabled for all sites hosted with Dreamhost.
Dreamhost runs three data centers in the United States, with two located on the West coast in California and one in Virgina on the East coast. All facilities are designed to operate with 100% availability (even during maintenance) and multiple alternate power sources and cooling technologies.
If you require additional security measures to protect your site, Dreamhost also offers SSL certificates for $15 a year, which is actually cheaper than most hosting providers.
While Dreamhost has a pretty good history regarding security, it is worth noting that they did suffer a significant security breach back in January 2012 as FTP and shell access passwords for all customers were exploited in a security breach. Thankfully, Dreamhost was able to rectify the issue quickly, and there have been no major incidents since.
Instead of using the industry-standard CPanel, Dreamhost has developed their own custom-built control panel to offer easier and more in-depth handling of your website.
Visually the control panel is not too different from your standard CPanel setup, although it does have a certain “clean” feeling to it that exists when something is designed to be user-intuitive.
With 1-click web application installs, e-mail services and FTP access all easy to find and use, we were thoroughly impressed by Dreamhost’s control panel. The only issue that we encountered was that there is no site builder included, so it might be difficult for web hosting newcomers to get started right away.
Dreamhost Hosting Conclusion
• Great speeds
• Custom control panel
• Unlimited bandwidth/storage
We weren’t so sure about
• Took a few hours for our account to be approved
• No telephone support
As a premium hosting provider with premium features and hardware, Dreamhost is attractive to slightly more resource-heavy websites and more experienced web admins. While there is also a fit with newcomers, there is a slight learning curve with the custom control panel.
Although slightly higher priced and lacking some of the options that exist with other hosting providers such as 24/7 telephone support, Dreamhost is a good option if you are looking for a reliable, quality host. With a 97-day money back guarantee for shared hosting, give them a try today!