Reading Time: 10 min read

Chris Wagner

“We have been a paying customer for DreamHost since April 2017.

We are monitoring DreamHost’s shared hosting servers for Uptime and Performance through our website hostingpill-dh.website.

This review of DreamHost is based on actual testing done on their servers.”

This DreamHost Hosting Review was revised and updated on December 5, 2018.

Ah, DreamHost. Of all the companies we’ve looked at, DreamHost is certainly one of the most recognizable.

Having purportedly serviced 1.5 million websites, DreamHost is up there with the other major players in the hosting game.

Another reason it’s such a major player, and viewed so credibly, is its history: DreamHost has been running since 1997, which might as well be a few decades in internet years.

So you’ve been looking into your next potential hosting platform. Maybe you have no idea where to start, or maybe you’re already thinking of specific companies and specific plans.

We’re here to help you figure out what different companies can offer you, and right now I’m about to tell you how DreamHost performs based on my own experience with them.

Does DreamHost’s reputation far outweigh its performance?

Or are things pretty aligned?

Keep reading to find out!

DreamHost: Cons

Almost invariably, I proceed with the “cons” section by treating it as the bad news. This is one of the few times when the cons section is not the bad news.

Well, maybe a little bit—nothing is perfect, and that includes DreamHost.

So, here’s the first of the minor drawbacks: domain names.

If you purchase an entry-level shared hosting account, you will not get a free domain name included in your package—you need to purchase it in addition to the hosting. It’s included free for higher tiers, however.

free domain not part dreamhost plan

This is especially frustrating because most other hosting companies will include a free domain with their first-tier shared hosting accounts.

There’s also no included email service for the entry-level shared hosting package—you have to buy it as an upgrade if you want it, which is also uncommon.

This might be enough to discourage someone who is just looking for a small, cheap personal website, but outside of that, I don’t expect these deficiencies to count too much against DreamHost.

Overall the main flaws are that a couple things should be included in DreamHost’s entry-level shared hosting package that is not.

Other than that, DreamHost isn’t suffering much–anything it is, is endemic to every other hosting company.

DreamHost: Pros

Okay, now we can enjoy the sun!

A couple notes on the flaws that I mentioned—one benefit to DreamHost is cheap pricing.

The cheap pricing on shared hosting packages (but everything else as well) kind of moderates the absence of an included domain name and email service for the first tier, though not entirely.

Add in the fact that Shared Starter, the first tier, has unlimited traffic and an included SSL certificate, and things balance out a bit.

DreamHost Shared starter plans includes pros

I still think they should at least include the domain, but those are two other positives that are not always included with other companies’ rival packages.

On that note, DreamHost overall is pretty well-featured.

I think each type of hosting is well-packaged with DreamHost and aside from shared hosting, there isn’t a whole lot to complain about.

Dedicated hosting, in particular, has great accommodations.

One of the best things DreamHost has going for it is its ease of use. It’s super slick and intuitive, from the control panel to account management to the website builder.

On top of that, they have great customer support.

As far as security goes—yeah, it’s true their site doesn’t say a whole lot beyond the standard stuff.

But the good news is their money-back guarantee extends for 97 days, which is a walloping amount of time and should be plenty for you to measure your uptime and get accustomed to your product.

dreamhost guarantee

Overall, DreamHost did indeed have a few flaws—but it’s still got a lot to counter them.

DreamHost: Pricing

Presumably, a major force in the hosting market such as DreamHost would be able to offer competitively priced products.

Is that so?

Overall, I think so—but let’s go package by package to see what DreamHost has.

Starting us off, as usual, are the shared hosting packages. The first tier, Shared Starter, is $2.59 a month and second is Shared Unlimited at $7.95 a month.

dreamhost shared hosting plans

These are the only two tiers, so it’s pretty simple.

However, those prices are if you pay per year of service: if you pay month-to-month, Shared Starter increases to $4.95 a month and Shared Unlimited increases to $10.95 a month.

 

WordPress hosting is pretty close to shared hosting, with a similar annual/monthly payment option and has two types of tiers to choose from.

dreamhost wordpress plans

The first type is actually the two shared-hosting options, with the same prices mentioned above.

DreamPress is the second tier, and starts for $16.95 a month if paid per-annum. Paid monthly, it’ll rise to $19.95.

DreamPress Plus is $24.95 or $29.95, and DreamPress Pro is $71.95 or $79.95.

 

VPS Hosting actually has four tiers, but without the monthly/annual option.

dreamhost vps plans

Basic VPS is DreamHost’s entry-level VPS offering, going for $13.75 a month.

Business VPS, Professional VPS, and Enterprise VPS go for $27.50, $55, and $110 a month respectively.

Cloud hosting with DreamHost is exceptionally cheap: a 512MB RAM Server, the cheapest option, is $4.50 a month max.

The 2GB option is max $12 a month and the 8GB option is 48 max. Don’t worry, there are a few more options, which you can view here.

The reason theses say max is that you get charged per hour of usage, with a maximum charge of 600 hours per month.

The maximum price is assuming you use that plan for 600 hours in a given month—all in all, it’s really not too shabby.

DreamHost does not have preset dedicated hosting plans: you need to contact them directly to figure out wat your price would be.

DreamHost Dedicated hosting features and comparison

The most they say is their starting price: $169 a month.

In sum, DreamHost does pretty well with pricing. Cloud hosting in particular seems a pretty solid deal—for those who just want to experiment, the first tier of cloud hosting would be an excellent option that I doubt you could find easily elsewhere.

WordPress hosting is alright—I think the DreamPress plans can be a little on the pricier side, but you can use shared hosting for your WordPress site and that’s a pretty solid deal that DreamHost is more than willing to accommodate.

VPS hosting has a very low starting price, but everything else is about normally priced.

Finally, the best thing about DreamHost’s pricing: the money-back guarantee.

Most hosting companies offer approximately thirty days for their money-back guarantees—two weeks on the stingier side.

DreamHost shoots past all of them with a massive 97-day money-back guarantee.

That’s a lot of time, and should be enough time for you to properly evaluate your uptime and see if you click with your service.

Overall, DreamHost has a pretty standard pricing structure, with a few points that are particularly advantageous.

Their money-back guarantee is by far one of the best in the business.

DreamHost: Features

Now, so far we know that DreamHost is one of the most serious hosting providers out there.

We also know that it has an overall solid pricing structure, and seemingly good prices.

This means it’s time to look at what really makes the prices worth it: what features are you getting in the packages?

As usual, we’ll focus mostly on shared hosting (which overlaps with WordPress hosting, in the case of DreamHost).

Shared Starter brings to the table one website, unlimited traffic, “fast” SSD storage, SSL certificate, a site builder, and an optional upgrade to add email.

DreamHost Features

Shared Unlimited has all of the above, but unlimited sites, a free domain, unlimited SSD storage, more than one SSL certificate (presumably per-site), and email hosting.

DreamHost also attaches a 100% uptime guarantee and a 97-day money back guarantee for all packages, including entry-level shared hosting.

I think my main qualm is the domain—for Shared Starter, you’d need to pay $9.95 to buy a .COM, and a free domain is only included for the second tier.

Most introductory packages with other companies offer a free domain, so I find this a bit stingey.

The same goes for email: you need to pay to upgrade if you have Shared Starter.

Nonetheless, unlimited traffic and an SSL certificate somewhat lighten the load and even things out.

You can use these aforementioned shared hosting options for your WordPress site, but you can also use DreamPress.

DreamHost WordPress Hosting Features

DreamPress uses a cloud server rather than a shared server and is more optimized for WordPress: however, it has limits on the amount of visitors you can take in per month, greater limits on SSD storage, and is more expensive.

Nonetheless, it’s certainly an option depending on how seriously you want to take your WordPress site.

The VPS options basically offer increasing amounts of RAM and storage per tier, with everything else being the same (this is pretty typical for most hosting companies).

The same applies for cloud hosting: a higher price means more resources allocated to you, in terms of RAM, SSD Disk storage, and CPUs.

Finally, dedicated hosting proves to be a package with a punch. Just look at this pricing comparison from DreamHost’s site.

Yep. At their maximums, DreamHost will offer far more resources to those consuming dedicated hosting plans than their major competitors.

Overall, DreamHost is one of the best-featured hosting companies I’ve seen.

This is definitely a generalization though, because their shared hosting packages are a little funky: some stuff is included at the first tier that is great, and some stuff is not included that should be.

So despite a couple caveats here and there, DreamHost offers pretty competitive features for every type of hosting, and I would say this company rocks the features department.

Just keep an eye out for the details of the specific package you are interested in.

Ease of Use

Related to the features is a company’s ease of use factor. How difficult of a time will your customers have figuring out the control panel, their account settings, and setting up their websites?

With DreamHost, not much time at all. DreamHost is so confident in their easy to use tools that they emphasize it repeatedly on their site—more so than with other places, it seems to me.

As a matter of fact, they’ll even let you experiment with their website builder free of charge.

Their control panel is also stylized to look sleek and it’s equivalently easy to use.

DreamHost Dashboard Overview

I don’t have much to say about DreamHost’s ease of use: I kind of recommend you play around with their website builder and get a feel for it, because the rest of their site is pretty much on par or even easier to deal with.

Build your website free with DreamHost's website builder

It’s especially nice that DreamHost’s easiness does not oversimplify the products themselves, or constrict the amount of features you have.

As you have seen, DreamHost is competitively stocked with features, but this does not take away from its user-friendliness.

DreamHost is not the easiest hosting service ever, but it’s made it to the top tier, more or less sharing the top spot with a few other companies.

Ease of use is not the rarest accomplishment these days, but it’s still great to see.

Customer Support

Easy as DreamHost already is, the whole deal gets even easier with its customer support.

As is typical of most hosting companies, you have two main forms of customer support: on-site educational/informational material, and options for contacting representatives.

For the on-site material you can consume, the main place to go is the knowledge base.

Dreamhost has one of the nicest knowledge bases I’ve seen, though this is due in no small measure to my own personal tastes.

I say this because many knowledge bases look ugly, or cluttered, or are too simple.

DreamHost gets a perfect mix of the two: a search bar that is a quick scroll up from well-organized article categories.

Another thing DreamHost offers (which only a few other hosting companies do by the way) is a forum for the DreamHost community.

DreamHost community

I personally think the forum page could be a little more organized, but it’s robust enough and the fact that they have one is great.

DreamHost offers the standard live chat and email support options, 24/7. Although they do not have phone support, they do offer social media communication—which isn’t very common.

The thing is, you can only access live chat if you have an account.

If you don’t have an account, you can still contact support—for example, if you have a question—but you’ll need to use an email/ticket system.

DreamHost ticket system

But that’s okay. My experience with DreamHost, as a customer, is that their live chat and email support have been very good.

You can typically expect a response within a minute or a few minutes at most.

In all, that makes for a pretty solid customer support factor.

Very solid representatives and comprehensive informational material on-site make DreamHost one of the top-notch companies for customer support.

Security and Reliability

With everything else out of the way, it’s time to focus on one last, but very important, hosting factor: security.

For security, we’ll look at a couple things: the tools DreamHost employs or offers its customers, and the uptime of our test site.

DreamHost’s security page outlines some of what they offer, though I wish they would go into a little more detail.

They meet industry-standard security infrastructure, but I wish they would go a little above and beyond.

DreamHost also offers a few tools customers can access—malware detection/removal, encryption certificates, and domain privacy.

dreamhost security

Malware detection and removal is paid, but the encryption and domain privacy tools are free by default—which is excellent.

Another, more thing of note: a page for checking DreamHost’s systems’ statuses. This is not super common, but hardly unheard of.

The nice edge DreamHost’s status page has is lists the status of a bunch of DreamHost products—their main website, their email and webmail, their different servers, and so on.

Let’s check out uptime, one of the most essential facets of security—what’s the point of having a website if it’s always down when people visit it?

So let’s look at DreamHost’s uptime.

DreamHost Uptime

You can see latest uptime here.

Ouch. Ouch. Okay, I know this looks bad, but let me explain something quickly: we had an error on our end in September.

We had an outage for a few days, and that is not due to DreamHost.

A few more clarifications: the time of this writing is October 3rd, so that’s only 3 days of uptime being measured.

We started testing DreamHost on the 11th of September, so that’s about three weeks being measured in September.

Ordinarily, a 70% uptime would be inexcusable, but because the problem isn’t DreamHost, you can excuse them this time.

DreamHost guarantees 100% uptime, and at least this has been the case when the interruptions are not our fault.

DreamHost will also credit you for your site downtime: a day’s service for every hour of interrupted service.

For our five days, that would be…about 120 days of service free. Which is a pretty solid compensation (if DreamHost was the reason why our site went down).

Oops, more bad news: that offer only applies for shared hosting. Every hosting package gets a 100% uptime guarantee, but only shared hosting gets the credits per hour of downtime. Oops.

Our takeaway is that DreamHost has decent security tools, and in particular, offering domain privacy and SSL certificates for free is great.

Their security infrastructure seems to be okay, and their uptime is fine.

DreamHost does fine with security, and maybe better than a few other major companies.

Do we recommend DreamHost?

When it comes down to it, DreamHost seems to have overall earned its status.

It does not have many flaws, and the few it does have are largely insignificant.

The lack of an included domain name for Shared Starter is unfortunate, but not the end of the world.

The same goes for the lack of an included email package.

These things are mostly relevant only to people who are seeking a lightweight product: a small, probably personal website for a low price.

For those people, DreamHost is so close to being perfect, but these two things are common on other platforms for similar prices.

For that reason, I would not recommend DreamHost to those people.

For everyone else, DreamHost is likely a top choice.

Even for the aforementioned section of hosting consumers, I would recommend trying it out first, to see if you can part with a little extra cash for a company you’re comfortable with.

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