In this post, I explain why I’ve been using DreamHost shared web hosting for more than 15 years, including for WordPress and custom websites. Keep in mind, this is not a technical review. I won’t get into page loading speeds and server uptime (outside sharing my experience) or any other overly technical KPIs.
Therefore in this review, rather than cover small, insignificant details and features that add little value to you the reader, I cover my own personal experience with using DreamHost for more than 15 years (that’s a really long time in the online world).
Let’s get started.
What Made Me Choose DreamHost?
I actually inherited DreamHost from another online entrepreneur. Let’s call him Jake. I became Jake’s technical cofounder in 2005. He already had his website but needed a developer to take it to the next level while saving on dev costs, so I joined his startup as 50% owner. Unfortunately, months after I joined Jake’s startup, he was offered a high-paying corporate job in Dallas, TX. Because we were based in Ada, OH and he wanted to focus on his new career in corporate America, I bought him out. I paid him just north of $4K and assumed full ownership.
The startup was named College Campus Connection and had its domain registered through Lanset America Corp (lanset.com) and hosted by DreamHost. I always used providers like GoDaddy, HostGator, and 100Webspace, so this startup was my first experience with DreamHost.
Below you can see the startup’s August 4th, 2004 start.
My Experience Using DreamHost
My experience with DreamHost has overall been positive. Outside some planned downtime that didn’t coordinate well with my online businesses, I really don’t have anything negative to say. This isn’t because I’m a DreamHost affiliate (full disclosure, I became one in April 2020). It’s simply because their service has never caused me much pain. That’s why I became an affiliate – because I believe in their service levels.
My sites are always up (outside the few episodes of downtime mentioned below), my pages load fast, they answer tickets when I open them, and they automatically bill me each month which I automatically pay with a credit card. Additionally, their prices are in line with everyone else.
Let’s dig into some of the things I find useful about DreamHost.
Simplistic User Interface
I feel the user interface is very elegant. It is very easy to navigate. You can see just how simplistic and airy it is in the screenshot below. I haven’t used HostGator or GoDaddy recently (meaning in the last probably 5 years), but their user interfaces were horrific back when I did use them. I’m guessing they’ve gotten better, but those poor experiences and my past as a software developer has made me learn to appreciate a clean, easy-to-use control panel.
Respectable Response Time on Tickets
This one is always relevant to what the issue is. If your site is down, 1 day is a terrible response time. If your site is up but you have a minor issue like PHPMyAdmin moving sluggishly, 1 day is pretty good. All in all, I’ve been happy with DreamHost’s response time on tickets. There have been a few times when they underachieved, but they always seem to respond within 1 day.
Below you can see a ticket I opened regarding our database being unreachable. They responded within 8 hours and let me know them working on the server caused the brief downtime. Seeing that I was on the site and reported the issue at 3:55am eastern time, that’s understandable.
One-Click WordPress Install
DreamHost makes purchasing a new website (domain name) and installing WordPress on it very easy. In fact, we have an entire article written on going from nothing to making your first $100 online, including creating a WordPress blog from scratch. It can be read by clicking the link below.
The point is, if you are looking to create a blog or WordPress website and need hosting, DreamHost is a great choice. You can pick your hosting plan, register your new domain name, and install WordPress with one click. All in a matter of minutes. See the screenshot below. I used this exact method to create this blog.
Uptime and speed are a big deal to me. If you experience regular downtime or have a sluggish website from poor hosting, you might as well permanently shut down your site. Visitors won’t tolerate a poor user experience and that’s precisely what downtime and slow page-loads creates. With that said, my page load speeds have always been good and my websites are up and running I would guess 99.99% of the time.
The only time in recent memory I remember them going down was when DreamHost updated the OS software on their servers. This was in summer 2019. Our site was down for an entire Saturday – twice! I was furious as our Menyu website relates to restaurants and we lost two top revenue-generating days.
I opened tickets and DreamHost responded fast. They said they had to bring the servers down to do the upgrade and they felt that the weekend was the best time. It’s the only time I’ve had that happen in the 15 years of hosting my sites with them. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen again anytime soon – the odds say it won’t.
Automatic Upgrades of PHP (if you choose)
This one is nice. If you check this box on your domain, DreamHost automatically keeps your site up to date with the latest version of PHP. Of course, it can break your site if incompatibilities exist in the code base. Because of this possibility, you can also uncheck this box and manually choose not only when to upgrade your site, but also which PHP version to upgrade to. Nothing earth-shattering, but a nice feature, nonetheless.
Free One-Click SSL Certificates
Like the above feature, nothing earth-shattering, but nice to have. I remember the days of having to purchase and install separately (usually $100 or more per certificate) your SSL certificates. You then had to pay money to renew them annually. Quite frankly, it was expensive and a pain in the butt!
Now it’s as easy as clicking a button on your domain name (see below). You’ll be presented with a few different options. There are still paid options for those needing advanced security, but for most people’s needs the free version works just fine. We use the free version on all our sites. That’s it – no need to install the certificates OR pay money!
VPS and Dedicated Servers / Hosting
I use DreamHost’s shared webhosting, so I can’t speak personally to the service levels of their Virtual Private Server or Dedicated Server hosting plans. They’re there though for anyone that is considering DreamHost and needs full control over their experience, like running custom server settings, installing custom packages, etc.
Another nice feature is you can start on shared hosting an upgrade to the more advanced hosting plans at the click of a button. This is nice insurance in case your site becomes wildly popular and needs more juice to handle increased traffic loads. I hope our startup Menyu experiences this one day.
For my developer friends out there, I wanted to cover cron jobs. Cron jobs are what we call scheduled jobs in the .net / Microsoft Windows world. For my websites over the years, it’s been an important feature. From custom reports that email me each morning to building reporting tables nightly in the DB, cron jobs are an invaluable tool in the website owner’s arsenal.
DreamHost makes it very easy to schedule jobs / PHP scripts. You simply put the user to run them under, give the job a title, mark it active or inactive, put an email address if you want the success / failure emailed to you on run, and then put in the command to call the PHP script. That’s it.
Get Started Today
As you can see, DreamHost has a lot of great features to make hosting your website(s) stress-free. I’ve used them for 15+ years and am still going strong. If you’re in the market for reliable, easy-to-use webhosting backed by a company that’s been in business for a long time, give them a try by clicking the banner below. Who knows, maybe 15 years from now you’ll be a DreamHost affiliate touting their service.