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Since first starting out as a blogger and affiliate marketer, I have used several web hosts, such as DreamHost, GoDaddy and Bluehost, and always with mixed results.
A few years ago, I moved the majority of my sites over to DreamHost, initially on a Shared Hosting account, and later upgraded to VPS. I’m glad I did, because I’ve never had any issues since, and these sites are performing great.
I now stick with DreamHost, a no-nonsense hosting provider that delivers a good variety of hosting packages, decent customer support and excellent performance. DreamHost may not be the cheapest option out there, but they are also not expensive either. They offer a good balance between quality and affordability.
This DreamHost review is a detailed guide to the hosting plans of this reputable web host, pros and cons, and why (or why not) you should choose them.
Who Is DreamHost For?
Let’s get straight to the point before I go into more details with this DreamHost review.
DreamHost certainly isn’t for everyone, but I personally couldn’t be happier with them as my main web host.
So here’s a quick summary of who would enjoy being with DreamHost and who would be better of going somewhere else.
You will love DreamHost if…
- You are not afraid to get a bit technical, even though you’re certainly not a tech nerd.
- You typically don’t have to rely on phone support all that often.
- You appreciate some level of flexibility in your hosting account with options to easily change settings and configurations yourself.
- You want to be able to easily upgrade (or downsize) your hosting within your dashboard in accordance with the growth of your blog.
- You don’t like dodgy sales tactics and constant promotions.
- You don’t need, or you don’t like, cPanel.
DreamHost may not be for you if…
- You want phone support to always be readily available.
- You are a big fan of cPanel and absolutely need it.
I’ll try and go through the above in more detail throughout this DreamHost review.
Support is always a hot item when selecting a web host. Though you may find some negative reviews about DreamHost’s support policies, I am actually very happy with the support options DreamHost offers.
Phone and Chat Support
If you require immediate phone support from DreamHost, they will charge you $9.95 for a callback. Alternatively, you can pre-pay $14.95 for three callbacks per month. In other words, you cannot call them. They can only call you. For a small fee, that is.
For many bloggers, this is a deal breaker. For me it isn’t, because I am not someone who needs technical phone support. I personally find DreamHost reliable and stable enough that I never need to speak to any support representative.
DreamHost does, however, provide chat support. This is free of charge, but there may be wait times. It is also only available from 5:30AM to 9:30PM Pacific time, 7 days a week.
I have used the chat support option only a few times for minor issues, and was happy enough with the process.
The other, much easier way to request support is by submitting a ticket. You can do this via your dashboard and you will typically get a good response within 24 hours, but usually much quicker. I have used this option several times and have always been content with the response.
I would also like to point out that the very few times that I contacted DreamHost support, the response was always friendly, professional, and helpful.
Support can mean a lot of things. It can come in various forms. Some people need phone or chat support, others prefer resources online. Support is not just about being able to immediately call someone. It is so much more than that.
A few years ago I tried calling GoDaddy about a hosting issue I had with my site. I did my best explaining the problem to the friendly support rep but no matter how hard I tried, she wasn’t able to understand the problem, let alone fix it. The conversation then turned into a sales phone call with her trying to upgrade my hosting account. It was hopeless.
Mind you, this wasn’t her fault. It’s just that many web hosts hire first-line phone support representatives that are under qualified. And as such they can often only deal with the basic questions and issues. But these web hosts can claim that they offer phone support and that’s what it’s all about. It’s a commercial drawcard.
DreamHost Knowledge Base
The DreamHost Knowledge Base is an absolute delight. It’s a huge wiki-style collection of help articles that answers all the questions you may ever have.
Literally every single action you can do in your DreamHost dashboard is clearly documented in their Knowledge Base. The same applies to every single issue you may encounter with your blog or hosting account.
Registering domains, upgrading to VPS, installing SSL certificates, optimizing databases, moving domains to or away from DreamHost, paying bills, back-ups… Anything that you can think of and you will find it in their knowledge base. It’s awesome.
DreamHost Control Panel (No cPanel)
If you love cPanel and can’t go without it, unfortunately DreamHost is not for you.
DreamHost has developed it’s very own control panel from where you can perform all actions related to your hosting account in a relatively simple and intuitive manner. It has been around for more than 20 years, so you can rest assured it’s a very robust system.
What I personally dislike about cPanel is exactly what I like so much about DreamHost’s control panel. It has a very minimalist design that gives you complete control over your websites and domains.
Installing WordPress, or a different CMS such as Joomla, is as easy as it gets. The DreamHost Control Panel offers One-Click Installs, so all you need to do is press a button to get DreamHost to install WordPress (plus database) for you.
Even though the Control Panel does require a bit of getting used to, the flexibility and great range of options available to you as a customer make the DreamHost Control Panel a great asset.
In addition, the DreamHost Knowledge Base explains everything about the control panel in great detail. The knowledge base is also directly available from within the control panel.
DreamHost Pricing and Hosting Options
DreamHost offers a great variety of hosting plans, catering for different types of customers, from beginner bloggers to high traffic e-commerce sites.
1. Unlimited Shared Hosting
DreamHost’s shared hosting offers simple yet powerful shared hosting with all your files stored on high-performance solid-state drives (SSD). If you sign up for an annual plan, you will also get one free domain name.
In addition, you will get free domain privacy and an SSL certificate with each domain. Also, WordPress can be installed with a simple click of a button.
You can add unlimited domains and email addresses. DreamHost also offers a 97-day money back guarantee if you’re not happy.
DreamHost Shared Starter
DreamHost also offers a very basic form of shared hosting. This basic plan is called Shared Starter and is the most affordable hosting plan.
The Shared Starter plan is different from the Shared Unlimited plan in that you can only host one website, and it doesn’t include email hosting.
This plan is perfect for the beginner and/or hobby blogger. You can always upgrade to Unlimited (or VPS, see below) at any time without issues as a DreamHost customer.
2. VPS Hosting
If your blog grows fast and traffic just keeps increasing, it’s wise to move from Shared to a VPS hosting solution. On a VPS you will get your very own server resources, not hindered by any other websites.
DreamHost offers four different VPS solutions, ranging from 1GB RAM and 30GB storage to 8GB RAM and 240GB storage.
Each plan offers unlimited bandwidth and support for unlimited domains. You can easily customize your VPS from within the DreamHost Control Panel so that it suits the needs of your website(s).
3. Dedicated Server Hosting
A dedicated server is for the big guns, websites with a insane amounts of traffic that require a lot of resources in order to run without issues and interruptions.
A DreamHost dedicated server starts with 4 cores, 4GB RAM and 1TB storage, which can be upgraded to up to 12 cores, 64GB RAM and 2TB storage.
4. DreamPress Hosting
DreamPress is DreamHost’s version of Managed WordPress Hosting in the cloud. The cheapest DreamPress plan comes with 30GB storage running on a Fast Cloud Server which can be upgraded to 60GB SSD storage.
Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need (the more expensive) DreamPress solution in order to run a WordPress website.
You can do that with Shared, VPS or Dedicated as well. It’s just that DreamPress is highly optimized for WordPress and can handle growth without having to move to a different server. It also included services such as pre-configuration and auto WordPress updates.
DreamPress is perfect for bloggers with limited technical skills who just want to focus on publishing content. Or bloggers who simply don’t have the time to manage or optimize their servers.
What’s great is that you can relatively easily switch between hosting plans from within your control panel. It’s typically just a matter of clicking a button to select a different plan, and DreamHost will set it all up for you.
What’s even better is that you can also make changes to your current plan, for example by adding more memory to your VPS or database server.
DreamHost is also very pro-active in this regard. If your site is pushing the boundaries of your current hosting setup, DreamHost will email you with options to upgrade. And they do this without pushing dodgy sales tactics and unwanted up-sells.
My Personal DreamHost Roadmap
When I first started with DreamHost, I moved a few sites onto a shared hosting account. This worked really well and never had any major problems. Until a couple of these sites started growing fast at which point I upgraded to a VPS.
I Initially moved to a VPS with 1GB RAM and 30GB Storage, and later upgraded to 2GB RAM and 60GB storage, followed by a VPS with 4GB RAM and 120GB storage.
Even though I was happy with how my sites were performing in the shared hosting environment, the performance boost with the VPS was very noticeable.
And each time I upgraded, the process was seamless. No downtime and no major issues that I was aware of. And that makes me a happy DreamHost customer.
Okay, some people may not care too much about this, but I find it quite important.
DreamHost is green.
DreamHost has made it part of their company mission to minimize their impact on the environment as much as possible. They do so by investing in optimized facilities and committing to policies that put respect for natural resources at the core of what they do.
Just to name a few things that set DreamHost apart from the rest:
- LEED Platinum and EnergyStar-certified facilities.
- Data centers powered by grids that obtain electricity from renewable sources.
- Advanced lighting control systems with occupancy sensors.
- LED and low-mercury, high-efficiency CFL lighting.
- Generous work-from-home policies.
- Ceramic cups, plates and real silverware in every single office and strictly no disposables.
- Financial incentives for employees to use public transportation.
- Recycling bins everywhere in every single DreamHost office.
Isn’t that awesome? If every company would do that, the world would be a better place.
Set up a New WordPress Blog With Dreamhost
In this paragraph I am going to walk you through the process of starting a brand new WordPress blog with DreamHost.
There are two steps in this process. The first step is to register a domain with Namecheap, the second step is to purchase Shared Hosting with DreamHost.
I prefer to have my domains registered elsewhere, just so that I can keep domains and hosting separate.
But, of course, you can also register your domain at DreamHost (for free). If that is what you prefer to do, you can go straight to step 2.
Note: the pricing in the images below may not be accurate today.
Step 1: Register a Domain Name
Head over to namecheap.com and enter your chosen domain name in the search box:
Click the Add to Cart button:
Click checkout and go through your order. Make sure you have WhoisGuard selected and select the amount of years you wish to pay for.
One year is usually enough because you can easily renew each year at no extra cost.
Click the Confirm Order button:
In the next step you can create a Namecheap account (or simply log in if you already have one).
Submit your details and click Continue:
In the final step you can submit your payment details (card or PayPal).
Once you click the Pay Now button, the domain is yours.
You can now navigate to your Namecheap account where you can have a look at your brand new domain:
The next step is pointing the nameservers for your new domain to DreamHost, because that’s where you are going to host your site.
This may sound a bit complicated, but it’s actually quite a straightforward process. This Namecheap article explains exactly how to complete this step. Don’t worry, it’s easy.
And here are the custom DreamHost nameservers you can use for your domain (as per this DreamHost article).
Step 2: Purchase Web Hosting
Let’s now go through the process of purchasing a DreamHost shared web hosting plan.
Click this link to head over to DreamHost with a special discount on Shared Hosting.
You can now choose between Shared Starter and Shared Unlimited. I strongly recommend Shared Unlimited for the following reasons:
- You can add more sites for free later on.
- DreamHost will install a free SSL certificate for you.
- You will have free email (very important).
Click the Sign Up Now button:
I recommend you choose a yearly plan. This will give you a big discount compared to monthly payments without the need to commit to a 3-year plan.
Click the “I already have a domain” button.
Note: if you choose to register your domain with DreamHost, click the “Register a new domain” button, and follow the steps.
Enter the domain you registered with Namecheap, and click the Assign button:
In the order summary page, make sure you have the yearly plan selected.
In the list of checkboxes, the only option you need to select is Pre-Install WordPress:
Submit your billing details, and hit the confirm button. Congratulations, you have officially purchased a web hosting plan for your new WordPress blog!
DreamHost will now do a bit of magic in the background, and you will receive a confirmation email once that’s all sorted out.
DreamHost Pros and Cons
To summarize this DreamHost review, let’s go through the pros and cons of hosting your websites with them.
- You can choose between a great variety of different hosting options. Also, upgrading or downsizing is very easy and seamless.
- DreamHost has a very extensive knowledge base that contains answers to all questions and issues you may have. It literally describes every single process related to your hosting account in detail.
- DreamHost’s servers perform very well, at least in my personal experience. My websites hosted with DreamHost have never had any serious load or down-time issues that I am aware of. This applies to both Shared Hosting as well as VPS Hosting.
- Pricing for all hosting options is very reasonable. Even though not the cheapest in the industry, it’s still very affordable and you get quality and flexible hosting in return for your investment.
- The custom-made DreamHost Control Panel is awesome. I find it very intuitive and it makes me feel like I am in full control over everything related to my websites hosted with DreamHost.
- DreamHost are very transparent and honest about the services they provide. As such, you won’t have to deal with aggressive or dodgy sales tactics and hidden up-sells that you often see with other hosts.
- They care about the environment, a lot.
- There are restrictions around phone support. It’s only available as a callback option during business hours and it’s not free. For me personally this is not so much of a drawback but others may find this a deal breaker.
- DreamHost is not the cheapest option out there. But although you can certainly choose for a more affordable host, the quality of services offered may not be as good. I find the DreamHost pricing very reasonable.
- The help chat can have long wait times, although this highly depends on how busy it is at that particular time. I’ve used the chat option a couple of times and was always happy with the process.
- DreamHost doesn’t offer cPanel. Instead it has its very own control panel. Some bloggers however absolutely need cPanel, which is why I mark this as a potential drawback.
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Hopefully this DreamHost review has given you some useful insights into what it’s like to have your site(s) hosted with DreamHost.
If you’re just starting out as a blogger, one thing I recommend is that you do not just go for cheap. Cheap is cheap for a reason. Go for quality instead, and find a host that is able to easily cater for the growth your blog may go through in coming years.
DreamHost offers you this flexibility, with affordable plans for shared hosting, VPS, dedicated servers and specialized WordPress hosting.
So whether you’re a beginner WordPress blogger, a seasoned Internet marketer or a proud owner of a high-traffic e-commerce site, I can highly recommend DreamHost.
|Summary||DreamHost offers a varied range of powerful and scalable web hosting solutions, from affordable shared hosting options for starters to professional VPS and dedicated server arrangements for high-traffic websites and blogs. While they don’t offer free phone customer support, they do provide decent online technical support backed up by a comprehensive online knowledge base.|
|Rating||4.5 (out of 5)|