In many ways, DreamHost are almost like the old grand daddy of hosting providers. Founded way back in 1996 they have stood the test of time, and come out on top and have used that wealth of experience to be one of the most popular hosting providers on the market today.
They boast of having over 500,000 active users, with just a little under 2 million active websites hosted websites. There's reassurance in knowing that so many other people have decided to take their business to DreamHost.
They're are not cheap, so their popularity is not because they are the cheapest but rather because their service is efficient and reliable with superior support. Their popularity helps in many ways to show evidence that they are doing more than 'talking a good game', they're also Award Winning.
DreamHost have an excellent reputation, backed up with awards and popularity, but that doesn't mean a lot to us. We prefer to do our own testing and give you a review from our own experiences, and that's what we're going to do with this review. You'll hear the pros and cons of DreamHost, but we'll back it up with our own experience and testing.
What to consider before choosing a host?
Before you jump in and make your buying decision, It's a good idea to consider the following:
The first step, before you decide which hosting provider to go with, have a firm understanding of what your needs are. What exactly do you need from your hosting provider? There are hundreds, if not thousands of hosting providers to choose from, it can be overwhelming. We've done a part to help, we've done our own testing and have reviewed the better options, that cover all needs and pricing. But even with our recommendations, you need to know what you're looking for.
To give you a helping hand, I've made a note of what I think are the most vital features to consider when making your decision.
Service Specialty: Although their websites might not make it clear, most hosting providers tend to specialize at providing one type of service. It could be that they specialize in providing hosting for smaller websites, suitably for small blogs and small businesses. If you have a larger website, or an e-commerce store, then you should be looking for a host that specialize in that hosting service because they'll have the technical infrastructure and support you need to get the most from your hosting.
Technical Specifications: You don't need to be a techie or nerd to choose the right hosting provider to meet your needs, but it helps to have a broad understanding of some of the technical aspects. It's not important to understand how it all works but it is vital to understand the results. For example, why RAM is important to the performance of a website and if that matters to the type of hosting you need.
Customer support: If you're anything like me you value your time and you believe that time is money. Customer support is one of the first things I take a serious look at because I've learnt that the pricing doesn't matter until you know how good the support is. Let me give you an example. If I valued my time at $20 an hour, and the hosting provider doesn't offer good customer support then the chances are, I'm going to be spending 10 hours or more a year chasing technical support and fixing problems. That's $200 added costs. That's why customer support matters. It's going to ultimately save you money.
Who is DreamHost as a Company? Ill do my best to highlight the value for the money during this DreamHost review and help you decide if DreamHost will help your business online. For some people, it's important to know who you're doing business with, for others they don't care as long as they deliver what they promise. If you like to know, read on. Otherwise, feel free to skip to the next section which is likely to be more important for you.
Located in Los Angeles, California DreamHost is a specialist in website hosting and cloud services. Respected among peers and able to hold their own against the recent rise of new players in the hosting space, DreamHost are not playing at this. They're serious players and service a lot of customers.
Now the kicker, the company was brainstormed in a college dorm room by four friends that had a burning desire to use technology to help people and include open source tech to provide a service and presto DreamHost! Yes, DreamHost has some opensource technology.
Since inception they have helped 1.5 million website owners and currently supporting more than 400,000 web designers, developers and small businesses with their open web power. Privately owned, they don't have outside influences that demand them to put the almighty dollar first, they can focus on customer experience and let the dollars take care of themselves, which is the way it should be,
DreamHost has a nifty little infographic type explainer on their about the company page, the basics of it are that the company's core values are:
- Embrace Open Source
- Empower People
- Be Irreverent & Fun
- Speak Hacker (Its hard to read but Im 99.9% sure this is correct)
- Practice Flexibility
- Practice Shameless Honesty
- Give Everyone A Voice
- Provide Super Hero Service
Who Would Use DreamHost
We're going to break it down for you but generally speaking, this is why you would decide to go with DreamHost. Generally speaking, you would use DreamHost if you wanted excellent site load speed and scalability, I would also say if you wanted to support one of the dinosaur's in the hosting provider industry. Having a budget allocated for your money making website also works in your favour. DreamHost is a bit on the higher end of website hosting prices. They are on the expansive side I want to be clear about that. But at the same time I think they offer a level of performance and service that shows value for the extra cost.
The most powerful thing I could say is that I would personally use DreamHost for my business websites, any website that generates an income preferably enough income to pay for hosting costs. I wouldn't use DreamHost on an Adsense website or an informational website that was not focusing on creating income because their or more affordable options but on a income generating website, the extra performance will indirectly lead to more sales.
I would use DreamHost for my business websites, any website that generates an income preferably enough income to pay for hosting right. I wouldn't use DreamHost on an Adsense website or an informational website that was not focusing on creating income.
Reliable website hosting is not hard to come by, but exceptional customer support along with reliable hosting sure is, and that is exactly what DreamHost is able to offer.
Enter DreamHost The Award Winning Host
Having been a leading light of hosting providers for well over 20 years DreamHost knows a thing or two about hosting websites. Key points to mention about DreamHost are their 100% uptime guarantee, the speed factor and finally, the fact that they offer a 97 day money back guarantee if you don't love the service provided and the support staff. Other hosting providers that know they deliver a good service dare to offer a 30 day guarantee but DreamHost triples that guarantee because 20 years in the game tells them, they can be confident to offer such a guarantee.
The Good and The Bad
- Up time of a minimum of 99.5% guaranteed
- Customer Service is Exceptional
- Easy Signup, especially for novices
- Easy to Instal CMS and Third Party Integrations
- Relatively expensive for Entry Level
- Intuitive custom DreamHost CPanel
- Access After Payment is Not Instant
Taking a Deeper Look at The Features
I am a little skeptical of promotional domains because often the sellers are not clear that the discount is only for the first year and you might be surprised at the cost in the 2nd year when the renewal date comes around. Once you've branded a websites, you're unlikely to change the domain so you're going to have to accept the extra cost. DreamHost fall into this category, in my opinion. It's a small thing, but I would prefer more transparency.
Having said that, when you do buy a domain with DreamHost you get unlimited emails, subdomains and DNS services which is a really positive, especially for those setting up their first website and are not aware of some of the extra costs they have to check for.
Website Remixer Builder
We are now well and truly in the age of web building software. You get to build your own website without needing to know any coding or technical know how at all. It words with drag and drop modules and a library of royalty free images. DreamHost's remixer builder give you that. It also creates responsive websites that are designed to be perfectly viewed on tablets and mobile phones of all sizes.
It's pretty intuitive and there's plenty support available. The best thing about the builder is once you have build the site, it's automatically published and online, no other technical know how is needed. So, what do you think? Because I think if web builders catch on then a lot of web designers will be out of a job!
There are different ways to measure the speed of a website, and we've tested them all. From our testing with DreamHost the overall site speed is in best described as freakishly fast. I have used a lot of hosting providers for my various web businesses so I don't believe the hype, I give my opinion from my experience and testing. I'm pressed with DreamHost and I think you should be too. It's especially quick when compared to other hosting providers in this price range. I used Dreamhost for some of my websites and I am have with the quality of their service, especially the speed.
Taking the already ludicrous speed that DreamHost provides, add a CDN and you are well and truely off to the races. DreamHost has the ability to use CDN to accelerate streaming, of audio and video files with little to no buffer time. This is before we even get into optimizing the website for load speed. On top of this, we have yet to condense files and compress images.
Why speed is so important?
If you're new to building and hosting websites, you might not be fully aware yet why the speed of your website really matters. The reality is, probably thanks to the internet, people have a really short attention span and hate to wait. It's been tested and proven that if a user has to wait more than 3 seconds 40% of them will click on to something else instead. If your website promotes a product or service, then that's going to seriously impact your business.
It's more than that. The 60% of users who do stick around are possibly in the process of being switched off, because they've had to wait, which means your conversion rate of those who do visit your site is likely to be lower too.
Then there's SEO. Google has let us know that they value faster loading websites so when it comes to getting your website ranked on the front page of Google's search results, load speed matters too. The idea is, you should be taking site speed very seriously when making your hosting decisions.
DreamHost states that they guarantee 100% uptime. Impressive and if not they credit your account with a days free hosting service for every hour of disruption your website suffers from. 100% Uptime is a very big claim to make, I personally have never come across a hosting that can actually offer a 100% uptime guarantee but it's good to see that they are willing to put their money where their mouth is with this guarantee.
Of course, you're not going to sit there, gathering data on your uptime, if it's only down for a short time, you'll either be likely or unlikely. is noticing there's been a problem . But services are excellent these days so we suggest that every 3 months or so, it's a good idea to have a check on the uptime to ensure you're receiving the level of service you should expect, but also to take advantage of guarantee.
I like DreamHost's guarantee because it's bold. They'll give you a day of service for every hour their service is down. For me, it's not the extra day's service that matters, it helps of course. What I like is that I know they take uptime as seriously as I do, it's the attitude more than anything else. So many hosts go through the motions, but DreamHost like to go the extra mile and I appreciate that.
Solid State Drives SSDs
DreamHost uses nothing but SSDs for your website caching and database queries, making it a more overall faster browsing experience.
This is another one of those really important things, that should be standard when you make your choice of host. Using SDD means that your website is instantly at hand to load, the server doesn't have to first have to find the website on the server before it loads.
The result is, the website is available to load quickly.
You could have a really quick server, so in theory your site should load quickly too. But if your host doesn't use SSD that all goes to waste because you have to wait for the server to find the site before it can load.
DataCentres matter for a few of reasons. Firstly, it plays a major role with speed, but also it plays a role in reliability and security.
DreamHost are rightfully happy to boast about their new datacentre in Ashburn Virginia. Usually, having datacenters in various locations around the world allows for a shorter distance between the visitor and the website server, which usually results in the website being fetched quicker, in other words, a faster upload speed. DreamHost only has 1 location, but because of the cutting edge technology used, they don't suffer from lag and can deliver similar speeds to those competitors with multiple server locations.
Reliability: When it comes to reliability it's important for the datacentre to have redundancy. This means that you have servers and additional components in place to take over if the currently 'live' server breaks down or fails for any reason, Probably the highest standard of redundancy is N+2 which means that every component has a second component on hand so the entire datacenter could fail and there would be very disruption to your uptime because they have another system to take over.
To give you an idea, just how serious DreamHost takes this, they have the same systems in place as a nuclear power plant has. Just to make sure your website never goes offline.
The term unlimited is thrown around loosely with hosting providers, unlimited means it doe not run out not that you can use as much as you want at that price. There is a difference. Imagine if a large website decided to use a cheaper 'unlimited' hosting package, they would take up most of the server capacity for peanuts, leaving other websites on the server, struggling for space. So no, unlimited is a little bit of a white lie. It normally means that you have a limit to your limit, but once you are close to the limit, they will contact you to upgrade your package to one that has the additional capacity that you now need.
Hosting companies dance around the actual understanding of what unlimited and fair use actually mean. To gain full understanding of the hosting companies policy you need to comb through their terms and conditions pages and Policy pages. But not with DreamHost, they are far more transparent with their limitations so you can see when and where you'll need an upgrade. There should be no hidden surprises which is always nice.
Not included with the standard purchase but available as an add on, important that you know that getting an SSL certificate is an extra payment.
Say Goodbye to the standard CPanel
The industry standard CPanel is not a part of the DreamHost packages. If you are new, it won't matter to you, but for those who have become accustomed to the standardized dashboard, you're probably not liking the sound of having to learn another CPanel, but trust me, this is a good thing if you are not very technically minded. DreamHost have taken on the traditional CPanel and have opted for a : the simpler the better: approach in developing their own.
Personally, as someone who likes to fine tune the advanced features, and play around with settings to optimize my hosting, I'm not the biggest fan of the new CPanel, but I can see why it's better for novices who just need the more basic functionality. I applaud the effort made to do something different, to stand out. If you're new to hosting and you want to get involved and learn to manage your hosting options, this is a good first step. So all in all, I'm a fan.
DreamHost provides a Who Is? lookup search page, should you want to do some research into a competitor website or even check you own domain information. This is another example of the kind of attitude you can expect from one of the most established hosts. They want to go the extra mile and standout from the competition, and little extras like Who Is look up are good examples of what makes them better.
Bonus add ons for WordPress include
Create ready to use emails and as many as you need for your domain.
Access the exciting new atmail web client, browser based email reader and composing features.
DreamPress instals come with LetsEncrypt SSL/TSL certificates and allow access for private IP address dedicated to your website.
Combine your favourite ecommerce plugins and take the hassle out of Googles secure web browser warning screens with the already installed SSL.
Top of the line caching provides improved browsing for your shoppers.
No bandwidth restrictions, your monthly visitors can keep on coming without penalizing your website allowance. Traffic spikes and retail promotions that cause them are handled by DreamHost with a prescheduled consultation.
Rock solid security using a firewall block that focuses on known vulnerabilities. No more brute force attacks.
On The Web
One thing I always do before parting with my hard earned cash, is to look at the company and around the web. You can find out some insightful information about a hosting company that you are about to invest your money into for their service. Not surprisingly I couldn't find much bad press about DreamHost, scathing review free and undoubtedly a provider of quality services.
Finding negative reviews is normally pretty easy. Most people are very quick to complain. It's human nature. These days, we like to share that information with others. Positive reviews are great but sometimes an absence of negative reviews can be just as positive because people are less prone to sing your praises than they are to call you on your problems.
Personally, I take note of reviews I trust from industry experts. They are more likely to be objective so you get a good snapshot of the company and their services. Reading a few of them is enough to give me a good idea of the company and how they're seen by others. I also like to check out Facebook, this also gives me a good idea of what current users are thinking about the service.
Similar to this review, most other reviews I've found about DreamHost are also positive. And taking a glance at the company's Facebook account, those interactions seem to be positive and questions are answered quickly.
There is a general theme. What I noticed was that most of what I've seen online is pretty much all positive towards DreamHost and especially a lot of praise for the customer support team. I reviewed another hosting company earlier this month and while checking their online profile noticed finding actual user generated reviews was quite hard, if the reviews were not under their control the option to review was removed.
DreamHost is one of the good guys, I have no doubts behind their product or the service behind it. It is rare when a company especially in the digital space has an almost flawless reputation and review following.
What Awards Have DreamHost Achieved?
- Best Customer Service 2016
- Top 25 ScaleUp Awards
- Freedom Centred Workplace
Who Partners with DreamHost?
Having quality hosting is just one part of the puzzle although it is quite the foundational part, so partnering with DreamHost to further enhance your website and online experience for your visitors are;
Knowledge Base & Tutorials
I really like the DreamHost knowledge base it has functionality and is very easy to navigate. By now, we're all pretty intuitive these days, and so you'll find DreamHost's knowledge base easy to navigate. They cover entry level to advanced support within the resources. The forum is very active and there are a good mix of beginners and advanced users taking part in the discussions. An active community is always a good sign that people want to share their knowledge and experience.
I hadn't planned on using the knowledge base, not initially. I actually had an issue that support said they would get back to me on, using my head I went and visited the topic on the forum. I took a moment to acquaint myself with the forum and using the search function, I looked up my problem and saw it was answered on 16th November 2016. The answer to the question was provided in short bullet point form by a ever so helpful member. My problem was solved and I emailed support to let them know I had resolved my problem by using the forum, they acknowledged the helpful information in the forum, and I finished the day feeling pleased with myself.
To the forum they said.
Pricing and Subscriptions
You can forget about scanning the fine print for hidden fees and charges, DreamHost has made the signup process simplified and transparent. Whether you decide to use them or not, they are up front and open.
The plans come with some optional features and upgrades as you work your way through the sales pages, on your journey to the checkout. These options are entirely your choice, you can have your site hosted without them, but if you do purchase them, they come with instructions and are easy to access via the CPanel. You don't need any additional software to manage them.
Upgrades offered by the hosting provider are at best, recommended add ons to your hosting subscription. All shared hosting plans come with complimentary Free domain for 12 months, free domain privacy, free SSL / TLS certificates with Lets Encrypt and Unlimited bandwidth and storage. These features are rich and add a lot of value to the packages. It shows they want to over deliver in performance.
- VPS Hosting
The confusion is taken out of choosing a plan with one simple shared hosting plan option.
Unlike most other hosting providers the shared hosting plan is set at $7.95
The shared host comes powered with SSD's
Freebie alert you get a free domain name when you sign on as a paying customer.
Thinking of a dedicated server the basic plan allows you to access 4 cores, 4GB Ram, 1TB HDD and 1 click WordPress instal.
Entry price starts at $149.00 and the available upgrades range towards $379.00 per month, so more options available than the shared plan.
For the technical minded the dedicated servers come with DDoS protection, Ubuntu Linux, unlimited MySQL databases, shell and root access and RAID-1 storage all the spoils.
DreamHost offers an affordable VPS option, that includes unlimited bandwidth and unlimited domain names. A testament to DreamHost is that they are one of the few providers, that actually cater for "unlimited" they mean what they say.
Starting at $15.00 (1GB Ram & a 30GB SSD) looking for something bigger thats ok they have a 8GB Ram and 240GB SSD storage option at $120.00 per month that includes the unlimited bandwidth and domain names.
The VPS pricing plan comparison below shows the price increase and added features, really its adding more storage and RAM but pick what suits.
Ease of payment is assured with DreamHost, they accept payment by the following methods
- Credit Card
- Money Order
- Checking Account
As you can see the entire sign up process with DreamHost is quite simple, and the ease of use during the sign up and initial set up is a pretty good sign that the products and services are likewise going to be just as easy to use, which in this case is right. It's designed for people new to websites and hosting and it limits the Jargon and complexity for that reason.
DreamHost are an excellent hosting provider. They've won award after award and deservedly so. We have them in our top 10 of hosts, and we happen to be some of the most difficult reviewers to please. In fact, to date, we only have 2 other hosting providers that we have given a higher rating than we gave DreamHost, that's how highly we value their hosting. We know how good their hosting is, but so do they, that's why they offer such an extensive money back guarantee.
We've reviewed some sites that are willing to offer a 30 day money back guarantee. Which is a strong signal they are confident in the level of the performance and support, but 97 days takes it to the next level. You get more than 3 months to use the host, the CPanel, the support and if they don't measure up in any away , you get your money back.
I respect that. Not because I need more than 30 days to make sure my decision to use a host is the right one, because I can't imagine that being the case. But rather, the 97 days shows to me that they are focused on customer experience. They can't afford not to be. It marries well with the fact they are still a private company so they don't have public shareholders to answer to, they can make decisions that put the customer base first, not the need to milk as much cash out of their customers as possible. That's rare, and my experience reinforces that value.
In case you have been asleep these guys lead the pack, providing exceptional customer support. But it does have some limitations and one of the reasons they were awarded with 4 stars rather than the coveted BitPak 5 star reviews, that so far has only been given out to SiteGround Hosting and WP Engine.
In some ways, they take customer support to the next level. They have recently decided to also include a support wiki page, so when it comes to customer lead support, like a knowledge base, then DreamHost lead the way. It's so extensive, thanks to their support wiki page, they have found a way to over deliver on customer service.
It doesn't stop there. Additionally, they have a very helpful page dedicated to scheduled maintenance so you can see upcoming disruptions along with live status updates of each service within their business. Just subscribe to the page and you get this nifty notification letting you know about planned disruption to their network. They'll keep you informed so you can plan accordingly, if needs be.
Methods of Contact:
- Email Contact Form
- DreamHost Wiki Page
- Customers Can Connect Through Their CPanel
Being one step ahead of the competition is how successful business stay successful, and the status page is a prime example of DreamHost attempting to lead the way and stay ahead. Implementing a status page takes the guess work out of knowing whats happening with your hosting provider. This saves you calling customer support and asking the question, just subscribe and get those handy notifications.
One thing to point out is something called organisation, Yes Im talking about using these notifications for your own good.
- ReceiveScheduled Maintenance notification
- Add date and Times Into Your Calendar or Project Manager Tool
- Not Have To Worry or Contact Support, You are Organised
I used to be one of those people that would sign up for everything and never do anything with the notifications, but taking the two minutes to add the data provided into my schedule changed the way I operated. I recommend saving and using the notifications for your own internal benefit.
Where DreamHost needs to improve
So, they do the online stuff well, and I've found their customer support exceptional, when we're talking about the support they deliver. They are quick and their support team have good knowledge on technical problems. I am happy with the quality. But where they're missing is in their direct support.
No direction phone number of live chat
DreamHost have decided not to have live customer support with either a direct phone number or a chat option. I think both necessary but they don't offer either. I try to use the ticketing system or knowledge base when necessary but sometimes I have a problem that I feel requires an urgent response.
I've said this before, time is money. Both the length of time my websites that sell products and services are not operating fully, and on the value of my time in getting the problem fixed. The longer there is a problem with my website, the potential there is that I am losing out on sales. As a business, And If I were to invoice myself for my time, how much would it cost me to wait around for tickets to come back and fourth?
Our 5 star reviews have both options. For us it's the difference between a really good hosting provider and the very best available. You might not feel it's as important to your requirements as mine, that's the reason I am being so transparent so you can take on board our opinion and use it to help you make your own decision. Overall, I don't think you can go far wrong with DreamHost.
Alternatives To DreamHost
If you have a WordPress website then you simply have to consider WP Engine. They are by far the best hosting provider available if you are looking to host a WordPress site. In every way, perhaps outside pricing because their are more affordable options. But with speed, reliability and very importantly, security. They are excellent, their hosting is excellent and just as importantly they have excellent customer support. Both direct, with chat and direct call available. As well as an efficient ticketing system and good knowledge base.
Currently SiteGround is our #1 hosting provider. We've tested every major and up and coming hosting provider and they have no equal. Not with their all round excellence. The speed, reliability, security, pricing and customer support combine to make it worth your time reading the review.
Rare fact: the support team is actually based in the US, compared to so many others using virtual assistants this is a pleasant added bonus and adds to the continuity and quality of service and support.
Overall DreamHost are one of the best hosting providers online today. They certainly make our top 10. But for a few minor points, they would be right up there with the very best. We have used their hosting and tested it for ourselves, so we are not just regurgitating what other people are saying. The performance and reliability are as good as any. You just have a few decisions to make, what most important to you regarding customer support and price.
Performance: They are one of the quickest online. Not right up there with the very best that you might decide you need for a large e-commerce site, but if you need hosting for a smaller blog or business website they are fast enough will plenty to spare. Their infrastructure is as good as any.
Reliability: As good as any you'll find. Their average uptime is not just smoke and mirrors, it's proven statistics, they deliver what they promise. So much so, they are happy to put their money with their mouth it by offering a 97 day money back guarantee, which is unheard of in the hosting industry.
Customer Support: They've decided to focus their energy online with a knowledge base and it's as good as any. When you create a ticket or email them, you'll find the response speedy and knowledgeable. The big negative for me, but maybe not so much for you, is that they are not immediately contactable with either a phone number or chat feature. For me it's an issue, but you make your own mind up.
Pricing: I think they represent really good value for money. They are not the cheapest but they give plenty of bang for your buck. In most cases the extra cost still balances out but if you have a tighter budget, I would really recommend looking at HawkHost and especially SiteGround, our #1 reviewed hosting.
DreamHost are the real deal. They tick all the boxes besides pricing, which is a little higher than the industry average. But for your extra money you get to have hosting from one of the most respected hosting providers online. We like DreamHost. We also use them for some of our smaller websites that sell products, because uptime is important to us. We only recommend them because we're happy to use them ourselves. Can you get a better recommendation than that?