Dreamhost – A Year of Hosting in Review

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
Perl Support
Python Support
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
Value: 9/10

Final Score: 7.6/10

(Stay tuned as I document my journey into the realm of finding a new web host to replace Dreamhost!)

7 Replies to “Dreamhost – A Year of Hosting in Review”

  1. I am not a big fan of dreamhost, simply because I would say to a lot of people “hey your site was down when i went to look at it!” and they would reply with “yeah, I’m having some issues with dreamhost right now”…

    I’ve been using 1and1 for months now after a hellish experience with godaddy and I love them – I’ve got 7 domains on one hosting package I pay $5 a month for. They’re cheaper for domains also. They have an affiliate program too – I’ll spare you the link but they honestly are worth checking out if you care about being on a budget and having your sites up 🙂

    TRs last blog post..Should You Continue Your Relationship With an Alcoholic?

  2. I went through the billing fiasco with them as well and I still have a couple of sites hosted with them. They are adequate for the sites I have hosted with them. I am mildly annoyed by their insistence on using their own homegrown control panel rather than a more established one like cpanel or plesk though. It took me 10 minutes to figure out that mysql admin functions were under the “Goodies” heading. I have recommended them to friends who don’t have a lot of heavy duty requirements though.

  3. Gone through many cheap hosts. Dreamhost seems to be among the best of the bunch. Very hard to rate reliability … reliably. Everyone has problems from time to time.

  4. I have wordpress sites on dream host. I did a client site at 1and1.com I was super disappointed to see the massively faster load times I saw on 1and1. I’m ready to switch, but am wondering who you ended up using and how it’s going now.

    1. Nick I had my sites on Dreamhost for about 2 years before I outgrew my hosting there and decided to upgrade to a VPS. After Dreamhost I moved to a LiquidWeb VPS, and it was a night and day difference in load times, but soon after LiquidWeb switched to their cloud VPS platform and I decided to move my sites again.

      Currently I have the majority of my sites hosted with Wired Tree in Chicago, and it’s been a great experience so far (going on 3 years now). One of my favorite things about Wired Tree is that they are always finding ways to improve or “level up” their service. This year they’re adding SSD caching to all of their VPS and Hybrid server plans, and I’m excited to see the increased speed on my sites.

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