DreamHost is the dinosaur of web hosts.
It’s ginormous. Claiming over 400,000 active customers and hosting over 1.5 million sites. That’s a lot.
It’s ancient. Founded waaaaaay back in 1996 by a few undergrad students at Claremont College in California.
And it’s well respected. Bringing home PCMag’s ‘Best Web Hosting Service’ award for the second year in a row.
They even go so far as to offer crazy things like a 97-day money back guarantee and promise 100% uptime (or you get refunded).
We wanted to put DreamHost to the test, and see for ourselves if the reality lived up to the hype. We also wanted to know if they’re any better than Bluehost, SiteGround and HostGator.
In June of 2015, we set up a basic WordPress test website on DreamHost’s ‘Shared Plan’. Detailed performance stats including uptime & speed can be found here by clicking ‘History’.
Here’s our quick recap.
Dreamhost Cons & Pros (2016-2017)
1) Uptime: 99.98%
Dreamhost is a reliable web host.
1) Cost: $7.95/mo
Dreamhost is ~2x more expensive.
2) Load time: 551ms
Dreamhost is faster than 78% of web hosts.
2) No Phone Support
Ticket and Live Chat option only.
3) User reviews: 92% positive
Lot of people recommend Dreamhost.
3) No cPanel
Instead, they use their own admin panel.
PROS of using Dreamhost Hosting:
There’s a lot to like about DreamHost.
They promise great uptime and customer support. They even throw in a few freebies to make your experience even better.
Here’s an overview of their best attributes.
1. Phenomenal Uptime of 99.98% (last 12 months)
It’s fair to say that DreamHost stands by their uptime. They’re so confident, that they’ll provide an extra day of service for every hour of downtime your site experiences with them.
Fortunately for their accountants, that doesn’t happen very often (99.98% is less than 10 minutes of downtime per month)
Over our 12-month review process, DreamHost delivered 99.98% uptime, easily placing them among the industry’s elite. In fact, only two other company – A2 Hosting & HostGator Cloud – recorded the same in our analysis of almost 30 different web hosts to date (with most usually around 99.90% or lower).
See uptime % 2015 to 2017
June 2015 average uptime: 99.99%
July 2015 average uptime: 99.99%
August 2015 average uptime: 99.98%
September 2015 average uptime: 100%
October 2015 average uptime: 99.97%
November 2015 average uptime: 99.99%
December 2015 average uptime: 100%
January 2016 average uptime: 100%
February 2016 average uptime: 99.99%
March 2016 average uptime: 99.89%
April 2016 average uptime: 99.98%
May 2016 average uptime: 100%
June 2016 average uptime: 100%
July 2016 average uptime: 99.98%
August 2016 average uptime: 99.99%
September 2016 average uptime: 99.99%
October 2016 average uptime: 100%
November 2016 average uptime: 99.94%
December 2016 average uptime: 99.99%
dreamhost performance review
Dreamhost Load Time & Uptime: (Last 12 months, detailed data can be found here.)
2. Page Load Time 21% Faster than Average Competition
DreamHost’s page loading times didn’t let us down either, clocking in at 574ms over the same twelve-month period. That’s about 19% faster than the average of 700ms we’ve seen in analyzing other web hosts.
You can check more stats below:
dreamhost load time Dreamhost load time 2015 to 2017
June 2015 average speed: 556ms
July 2015 average speed: 559ms
August 2015 average speed: 597ms
September 2015 average speed: 580ms
October 2015 average speed: 619ms
November 2015 average speed: 625ms
December 2015 average speed: 593ms
January 2016 average speed: 598ms
February 2016 average speed: 555ms
March 2016 average speed: 502ms
April 2016 average speed: 505ms
May 2016 average speed: 548ms
June 2016 average speed: 543ms
July 2016 average speed: 540ms
August 2016 average speed: 539ms
September 2016 average speed: 557ms
October 2016 average speed: 503ms
November 2016 average speed: 535ms
December 2016 average speed: 854ms
3. Knowledgable, Friendly Support
The best uptime and fastest loading times mean nothing without great support to back it all up.
Here, DreamHost excels. Within 5 minutes we were connected to a live chat agent, getting detailed responses after a few seconds.
Their support is not outsourced (which is evident), and is available 24/7. The only catch? No phone support.
Dreamhost review: Evaluating customer support
Quick chat with Dreamhost support agent
4. Get ‘Free Days’ for Downtime
DreamHost offers the longest money back guarantee in the industry, coming in at 97 days for shared hosting plans.
But that’s not all.
They will also credit you a day’s service for every hour of interrupted service. They aren’t kidding around about standing behind their service. In my opinion, that’s just awesome…
P.S: We used that perk in March when our uptime was slightly lower than promised (99.89%).
5. Unlimited (Really!) Bandwidth
All companies say they provide unlimited hosting. But most don’t come close.
DreamHost truly does offer unlimited bandwidth and data transfer according to their ‘Unlimited Policy‘ terms.
This service is incredibly rare for a reason (read: cost). So here are the exceptions:
Copyrighted content to which you do not hold usage or distribution rights.
File upload / sharing / archive / backup / mirroring / distribution sites.
A site created primarily to drive traffic to another site.
Making your account resources available (whether for free or pay) to the general public.
If root canals were given away free of charge, I might take them up on that offer. Because, free.
DreamHost gives away free domain names, free privacy protection for said domain names, and even free SSL/TLS certificates (among other things).
Not thrilled with this stuff? No worries, just get a refund.
(Just kidding – they were free, remember?)
CONS of using Dreamhost Hosting:
DreamHost is a perfect choice for most people.
However, there are a few potential pitfalls which might be a deal breaker for others.
Starting with cost.
1. Among the More Expensive Options Available
Five bucks a month is more than enough for most web hosts, assuming you’re signing up for at least one year’s worth of service.
But DreamHost starts at $7.95. IF, you pay for three years at once.
Otherwise, the one-year minimum will set you back $9.95 per month.
2. ‘One Size Fits All’ (in most cases it’s enough)
Most web hosts offer tons of different hosting plans that make it difficult to differentiate between what each provides, and which is the best option for you.
DreamHost doesn’t do that, offering only a single shared hosting plan to get started.
Sure, that makes it easy to choose. But that also means a beginner with a simple site is going to pay the same as a pro who regularly gets over 300,000 monthly uniques.
3. No cPanel – is it really a con? Hard to tell…
DreamHost has created their own control panel to provide a streamlined version for non-techies.
However, those professionals accustomed to using cPanel or Plesk (like we do) probably won’t like this approach.
4. Possible Delayed Setup
New customer accounts need to be verified prior to activation. That means while registration is instant, provisioning can take a few hours. Factor that into your new launch plans if you’re trying to get up-and-running ASAP.
Overview on Dreamhost hosting plans & quick facts
Here’s a quick overview of Dreamhost’s hosting plans:
Shared Hosting: Unlike most other web hosts, Dreamhost offers one simple shared hosting plan that costs $7.95 per month. They do not use the three-tiered approach like most web hosts and this makes it easy for their users to make a decision. Their shared hosting plan is powered by SSDs, and it comes with a forever free domain name as long as you keep paying for hosting.
Managed WordPress Hosting: Their managed WordPress hosting costs $19.95 per month (billed annually). It comes with 30GB SSD storage. Their WordPress hosting has no limits and they boast that it can handle 2.1 million monthly visits. It comes with support for unlimited email accounts and 1 free dedicated IP address.
VPS Hosting: Their VPS hosting starts at $15 per month (with 1GB RAM and 30GB SSD storage) and can cost up to $120 per month (with 8GB RAM and 240GB SSD storage). All their VPS plans come with unlimited bandwidth and allow support for unlimited domain names.
Dedicated Hosting: Their dedicated server starts at $149 per month and can cost up to $379 per month. For $149 per month, you will get 4 cores, 1TB HDD, and 4GB RAM. Their dedicated servers come with full root and shell access, unlimited MySQL databases, RAID-1 storage, Ubuntu Linux, 1-Click WordPress installer, unlimited bandwidth and DDoS protection.
Ease of Signup: Long and complicated sign up process. Signup should be easier.
Free domain: Yes.
Payment Methods: Credit Card, PayPal, Check, Money Order, Checking Account
Hidden Fees and Clauses: None. Yay! ?
Upsells: A few upsells. Boo.
Account Activation: Account activation can take a while. Go grab a cup of coffee (or two).
Control Panel and Dashboard Experience: Custom Dreamhost control panel. This can be a bit difficult to use, blah. But who knows, maybe you’ll like it?
Installation of Apps and CMSs (WordPress, Joomla, etc.): One-click installer for WordPress and other apps/CMSs.
Do We Recommend Dreamhost?
DreamHost might cost you 2X what another option does.
But they’re worth it.
They’re super reliable, offering incredible money-back guarantees if you experience any downtime or other hiccups along the way.
Their support is exceptional across the board. And they throw in a few freebies which can offset the higher initial cost.
If you value reliability and support that’s second-to-none (and money’s not as big of a concern), look no further than DreamHost.