Well, I hadn’t seen a review for Dreamhost lately so I thought I would write about my experiences with them here (also on Web Hosting Talk, a great site for everything web hosting).
I originally registered for Dreamhost in April ’07, on their “Crazy Domain Insane” Plan (I prepaid for a full year for $29.40!!!):
Disk Storage: 200GB (Grows 2GB/week)
Monthly Bandwidth: 2TB (Grows 40GB/week)
Unlimited Domains, MySQL Databases, and FTP Accounts
PHP 4 and 5
Ruby on Rails
Enhanced Web Security
One-Click Installs (WordPress, Zen Cart, etc.)
Setup was a breeze and everything was up and running within minutes. I setup my domains with the Dreamhost Nameservers, and the DNS changes began to propagate. For the first 6-8 months I had no problems, my sites responded quickly, and the few times I had to contact support the were very helpful and quick to respond (subdomain DNS issues for one of my sites).
Then right after christmas they had the big billing fiasco (read: http://www.dreamhoststatus.com/2008/01/20/billing-issues-update/), and I ended up getting charged for another full year of hosting (resolved within the next day or two).
Well April rolled around again and I decided to renew my account as I had relatively few issues and didn’t want to deal with moving all of my sites to a new host. I was hoping to renew my account and use a coupon like I had the first time around, but Dreamhost no longer offers my plan (they only have a 1 size fits all plan now). I bit the bullet and renewed my plan for another year to lower the price to $120 ($10/month), and I was off on another year of Dreamhost.
Right around this time I had also started to move some of my client sites over to Dreamhost, and we started having more and more issues (DNS, slow response times, slow connections). I also experienced an outage or two with no warning from Dreamhost (supposedly planned).
Dreamhost has a status blog available at: http://www.dreamhoststatus.com/ where you can read about the latest status updates, problems, follow up, etc. And I’ve found it helpful in the past to go here to get my updates (Dreamhost doesn’t like to send email updates or alerts when they are making changes), but trying to explain this problems to my clients when I don’t even get a heads-up from Dreamhost is a real pain.
Fast forward to August, and I am experiencing MySQL outages and slow slow slow connections/queries, as well as network troubles with Dreamhosts’ bandwidth provider. Support has been reasonably quick to respond (telling me they’re working on it), and the Status blog has some information as to what’s been happening, but I think it’s time for me to move on.
So in conclusion, you get what you pay for (and in Dreamhosts’ case, that’s a cheap shared hosting account). In fact, if I didn’t rely so much on sites with MySQL (WordPress/Zen Cart/vBulletin/etc.), I would probably stay with Dreamhost, as I have found their servers to be rather speedy and not overloaded/oversold (at least on the CPU side of things, not their MySQL servers).
Final Dreamhost Ratings:
Uptime and Reliability: 7/10
Server and Connection Speed: 6/10
Tech Support: 8/10
Customer Service: 8/10
Final Score: 7.6/10
(Stay tuned as I document my journey into the realm of finding a new web host to replace Dreamhost!)