Founded in 1997 by four friends from their college dorm, DreamHost has been around from the very beginning and continues to thrive as one of the largest independants, serving upwards of 1.5M sites and applications online.

For our DreamHost review we signed up for their cheap Shared Hosting Plan.

DreamHost Provisioning and Installation

DreamHost offers instant provisioning which we like, but doesn’t use the commonly used Cpanel, instead providing their own control panel software. If you are familiar with Cpanel this will require a bit of a learning curve, but it isn’t complicated. DreamHost do provide an installer so getting WordPress setup was easy and painless.

DreamHost Systems and Support

DreamHost provides support 24/7 via live chat, email and Twitter. They do not provide phone based support, not that we have ever needed it (and we do use Dreamhost for some projects).

DreamHost Load Test

DreamHost’s Load Impact performance results were unchanged in this latest round of testing (though worse on the Pingdom testing as below). The average user load time for our DreamHost review site stayed consistent with an average of 1.1s for the duration of the test while the number of concurrent users increased to 100. They are not the fastest, but they are still amongst the best and most consistently well performing. Unlike the last test however we did see some server request failures in this round of testing as reflected in the chart above. This is not ideal and we do dock some points for this in our rankings.

Learn more about how we conduct our testing.

DreamHost Speed Test

DreamHost Result
YSlow Score 83
West Coast Load Time 1.91s
East Coast Load Time 1.17s
Average Page Load Time 1.57s
DreamHost Uptime 99.86%

DreamHost scored of 83 on the YSlow test which was amongst the highest. Their average Pingdom home page load time however got slower in this latest round of testing with an average of 1.57 seconds (up from 1.37s). This is noticeably slower than the best performing competitors with average load times under 1 second (such as Siteground and Bluehost).

Our DreamHost test site has had 99.86% uptime in the previous period.

About DreamHost

Dreamhost, a Los Angeles-based web hosting provider and domain name registrar, was founded in 1996, back when there were only a few thousand web pages total, so they’ve been around for a while. They offer shared, VPS and dedicated hosting, cloud storage and other services for small businesses and developers who don’t have an in-house IT department.

They host about a million sites. Dreamhost doesn’t offer phone support, but you can pay to have them call you back for support, or chat live with staff when things aren’t too busy for them. Live chat’s always on for you if you paid for the callback option.

They’re a popular choice for web design companies and developers since if you pick their shared hosting product you can host unlimited domains, get as many email accounts as you want and set up reseller accounts as well.

In addition to standard shared, dedicated, VPS and WordPress hosting they offer cloud storage packages.

If you’re a bit more techie sophisticated they offer a self-managed open source cloud server option, where you can scale at will, you have full root access and you can choose your own OS (Dreamhost offers Ubuntu as their default option).

FAQ’s

Do they charge any setup fees?

In the past, there were sign up fees associated with opening some select shared hosting plans. However, those fees have been discontinued. At this time, there are no longer any set up fees involved when opening up a new DreamHost account or hosting service.

I run a charitable organization, do they offer discounts?

Yes. To use DreamHost’s charitable nonprofit discount program, read about it on their Non-profit Discount page. The discount applies only for a single shared hosting package per organization. Hosting packages that are already discounted as the result of a sale or other special promotion are not eligible to receive this discount.

Do they accept payment by mail?

They do, just bear in mind that it can take 4–5 weeks for a check payment to clear and be applied to your account. So you’d have to mail in your check payment early to ensure that your account is not suspended while DreamHost waits for your financial institution to approve the funds. DreamHost uses a mailbox service that makes weekly deliveries of mail, so other mailed payments (such as money orders) can take up to two weeks to post to your account. Credit cards are probably a better idea.

How good is the shared hosting?

They’ve added solid state drives (SSDs) to their shared hosting so pages now load 200% faster, making it pretty quick. Their shared hosting plan supports any kind of site including blogs, portfolios, business sites, online stores and even complex database-driven sites.

What does “unlimited” disk storage and network transfer really mean, in practice?

It basically means you don’t have to worry about disk storage or network transfer when your site gets popular. You do still have to worry about if your site’s well optimized and is causing issues for others on your shared server (either because it’s pounding the CPU, hogging RAM, or doing tons of disk I/O), and in that case you may be asked to sign up for a DreamHost Private Server. Most all hosts do this.

What kind of sites are not allowed under the unlimited offer?

Any sites whose essential purpose is to use disk or bandwidth, such as:

  • 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 you’re just running a legit site, you don’t need to worry.

How about email accounts?

Go ahead and create and manage as many email addresses as you’d like with unlimited POP/IMAP/SMTP accounts, plus unlimited auto-responders.

What’s the support offered?

All of their hosting plans are backed by an in-house customer support team. They’re there for you 24/7/365 via live chat, email, and Twitter.