With an experience of over 2 decades and over 1.5 million websites, DreamHost has been a well-known name in the web hosting field for a while now.
DreamHost aims to offer good value hosting deals, aiming its packages towards startups and small businesses. But should those businesses choose this hosting provider, are the services any good?
What is DreamHost?
DreamHost offers more than regular web hosting. As a matter of fact, it has a big range of services, that will be helpful for both complete beginners and experienced users with big demands. Here's what they are.
- Shared web hosting
- Cloud hosting
- VPS hosting
- Dedicated hosting
- Domain names
- Website builder
Pretty much a complete package - only missing the reseller hosting plans.
And for this review, we'll be having a look at by far the most popular DreamHost service - the shared hosting. So let's look at how this provider stands in matters of pricing, plan features, customer support, and performance.
And let's find out if the old dog still knows some tricks.
DreamHost's shared hosting prices begin at $2.95/mo with the Starter plan. The higher - Unlimited plan - comes at $5.95/mo providing you unlimited websites and emails.
These prices are available when subscribing for the 3-year period. It's a usual pricing scheme that many providers use. The longer you plan to stay, the lower the price.
If you want to go with a shorter term, the monthly price rises. You can go with a period of 1 month, 1 year or 3 years. Here is a table showing how fees change according to the subscription term:
|Shared Starter||Shared Unlimited|
|3 years term||$2.95/mo||$5.95/mo|
What is nice, the renewal fees are simple and transparent - no increases, no tricks. After your package runs out, you will be charged the same price for the same period as your first term.
Also worth mentioning, that DreamHost promises compensation if your site goes down. Since it guarantees 100% uptime, any downtime is unacceptable. Of course, there are some exclusions for scheduled maintenances. But other than that DreamHost will pay back the hosting price of one day for each hour (or fraction) of downtime.
Another great thing, DreamHost offers an outstanding 97-day money back guarantee. This shows the confidence the host has in its services - they really believe you will want to stay for long. But beware that refunds are available only to credit card payments.
And just a side note for those who already have websites and want to transfer. Unfortunately, DreamHost doesn't offer free assistance. If you can't do it yourself, the technical support is there to help, but a website transfer will cost $99.
What Are DreamHost Hosting Features?
Perhaps the biggest features of DreamHost is the unmetered disk space and bandwidth. It is always nice to have no hard limits on how much data you get to upload. Same goes with unlimited access for your customers!
Also, DreamHost has SSD servers for both plans, which means powerful hardware for the best performance of your site.
But what else do you get? This table breaks down the main features of DreamHost shared hosting:
|Shared Starter||Shared Unlimited|
|SSL||Included (Let’s Encrypt)||Included (Let’s Encrypt)|
|Email accounts||Paid upgrade||Unlimited (2GB per account limit)|
|Customer Support||Live chat / email / ticket||Live chat / email / ticket|
|Free Automated Backups||Yes||Yes|
Every plan includes an SSL certificate. That's a nice touch, although it is already free of charge Let’s Encrypt. But for smaller sites, this one is enough.
What is not so nice, DreamHost doesn't provide Anti-DDoS protection. And Anti-malware comes as a separate paid feature for $3/mo. This is less than many other competitors charge but considering the hosting price, malware protection could be included.
When purchasing the plan, malware protection comes as a pre-marked box. So you may accidentally pay for that, without actively consenting.
Although protection is necessary, it doesn't justify such upsells.
So when buying from DreamHost, pay close attention not to get services you didn't plan to buy.
This trend of DreamHost not offering the important features in its plans tends to continue.
For example, the backups policy is not promising. You get an average of two weeks backed up so you can restore the data. While other hosts tend to offer daily or at least weekly backups, DreamHost doesn't have that. So be ready to do backups yourself.
There's no cPanel, too. Instead, you get to use DreamHost's own Web Panel.
Sadly, it lacks intuitiveness and also has no stock File Manager to easily work with files. So for those who are used to the comfort of cPanel, this will be a disappointment.
But although that WebPanel is slightly confusing, the ‘search’ function works perfectly and I was able to do most basic tasks I wanted.
On the positive side, when purchasing DreamHost, you get a free domain for the first year. It's a simple, yet a very enjoyable perk. However, there is an exception when purchasing a Starter package for only one month. In that case,
Talking about domains DreamHost also gives you free Domain Privacy Protection. With many providers, you have to pay extra to hide personal information tied to your domain.
And when it comes to building a website, DreamHost not only supports and allows to easily download all major CMS options, it also has its own website builder.
It's called Remixer. This one has over 10 templates and you can try out how it looks on their website before purchasing the plan.
The variety isn't too large, but templates can be customized by color, images, and font. And they are sorted by type to better match the purpose of the website. Overall, the designs are well put together and responsive with all devices.
Looking at all the features, DreamHost shared hosting plans have plenty to offer.
But there are some glaring omissions that still need to be sorted out.
DreamHost Customer Service
DreamHost has U.S. based customer support that can be reached by phone, chat, and email. It works 24/7, although live chat is available only Monday - Friday, 8-4PM (PT).
Also, there is a quite large knowledge base with many articles to basic questions.
Ticket and email services are merged together because essentially, they are the same thing. For example, if you send in a ticket, you will receive a reply in your email. And you will be offered to continue the conversation there.
Sadly, it doesn't really work too well. In my multiple requests, it took from 10 to 20 hours to get a reply!
For example, when purchasing the plan, I was ‘flagged’ for the authentication process and had to submit a copy of the card and cardholder’s ID. And to get the account activated, I had to wait around 10 hours.
It is not the worst I've seen, but still, I want the support to be responsive and quick to solve the issues.
Another thing I didn't like, they often went with a very simple answer or just sent a link to one of the DreamHost articles. And those weren't the full answers, so I had to do follow-up questions. This made the process even longer.
Talking about the DreamHost chat support agents, they were capable to explain the plans or direct me to the right articles. The agents have been polite and familiar with my issues.
To sum it up, DreamHost customer support is pretty adequate. But it's slow and only available for 40 hours a week. Some improvements have to be done in order to compare to the industry leaders.
DreamHost boasts with its SSD servers and promises 100% uptime guarantee. Let's see if the performance is as good as promised.
First of all, I wanted to see DreamHost's speed during low upkeep. A simple HTML website should show the highest possible performance. After all, it's only a few lines of code. This is how DreamHost performed:
Amazing performance in the US is nothing new - still, it's good to see that. On the other hand, weak performance in Singapore is disappointing.
The second website tested was created with DreamHost website builder. It had some images, text, and a high-resolution video file. So this should show how servers deal with increased performance. And here are the speed results:
These are very similar and only slightly lower compared to the HTML website. The overall grade is being brought down because of the weak performance in Singapore, but overall, it's pretty good.
Now, to check the host's uptime, I set up a WordPress website and put it to test. Here you can see the uptime as well as the response times:
During a week's time, there have been 7 total minutes of downtime - so the total DreamHost uptime is around 99.97%.
That's not a bad number - but also lower than the promoted 100%.
However, the overall performance has been rather weak. Response times are quite inconsistent, averaging around 700 ms but also having several spikes every day. That is not ideal.
So DreamHost isn't bad, but it doesn't live up to its promises of superior performance.
DreamHost Review – Conclusion
DreamHost is a provider worth our consideration. It definitely has some strong sides going with transparent pricing and rich features. However, there are some disadvantages, that cannot be ignored.
With fairly expensive prices it gives only an average performance. And the customer support is due a serious upgrade sometime soon. A lot of the important features are also missing from the plans - such as daily backups, or the malware/anti-DDoS protection.
With all of those things, you can sense that DreamHost lacks that killer edge to really be a great host.
DreamHost isn't bad but it's not even close to being the best web hosting option out there.
- Unlimited plan. No limits on email addresses, bandwidth or disk space
- SSD disks used instead of older HDDs
- Free domain privacy protection
- Free domain name for the first 12 months
- No free malware or DDoS protection included
- No cPanel may prove to be problem for some users
- No true 24/7 customer support
- Rather weak performance