I’ve been a paying customer for Dreamhost for the last 10 months. During that time, I’ve monitored their performance – avg. load time and uptime.
This review relies strongly on data, such as uptime, load time (speed) and customer support experience.
What is Dreamhost?
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).
Here’s our quick recap.
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. Good Uptime, but an awful September
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 (99.90% is less than 10 minutes of downtime per month).
Over our 8-month review process, DreamHost delivered 99.90% uptime, which isn’t great considering that the industry’s average is around 99.94%. There are much more stable and cheaper web hosts like – A2 Hosting, HostGator Cloud & SiteGround.
- September average uptime: 97.79% !!!
- October average uptime: 100%
- November average uptime: 99.83%
- December average uptime: 100%
- January average uptime: 100%
- February average uptime: 99.85%
- March average uptime: 99.94%
- April average uptime: 99.75%
Dreamhost Load Time & Uptime: (Last 12 months, detailed data can be found here.)
2. Page Load Time 4.61% Faster than Average Competition
DreamHost’s page loading times didn’t let us down either, clocking in at 849ms over the same eight-month period. That’s 4.61% faster than the average of 890ms we’ve seen in analyzing other web hosts.
You can check more stats below:
Last 8 month average load time
- September average speed: 1,316ms
- October average speed: 817ms
- November average speed: 803ms
- December average speed: 773ms
- January average speed: 778ms
- February average speed: 809ms
- March average speed: 817ms
- April average speed: 678ms
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.
Quick chat with Dreamhost support agent
4. 97-Day Money Back Guarantee and ‘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%).
According to DreamHost’s Terms of Service, you’ll only be eligible for free days if:
- The DreamObjects service is unresponsive, or
- DreamObjects gives a server error response to valid user requests for more than a minute of consecutive requests.
Scheduled maintenance that may cause downtime is excluded.
It’s also important to note that DreamHost doesn’t offer automatic refunds for some payment methods, like:
- Check (written checks or electronic checks)
- Money Orders
- Gift Certificates
It’s awesome that DreamHost offers such a long period to receive your money back. If they’re that confident that you’ll love them, you should be too.
But if you don’t want to get stuck committing to DreamHost until you are 100% sure that you love their services, then be sure to pay for your subscription automatically with a debit or credit card.
That way, you’ll be able to receive your refund automatically.
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.
6. They’re Carbon Neutral (AKA Green)
Being a web host takes tons of resources. Just the amount of electricity it takes to run servers alone is tremendous.
That’s why DreamHost is committed to reducing their impact on the environment. One way that they do this is through the purchase of carbon offsets.
In fact, DreamHost has been a carbon neutral company since 2007. In just 10 years, the company has neutralized a whopping 29,298.1 tons of greenhouse gases.
But according to their website, that’s not the only way that the company stays committed to energy efficiency.
In their offices, they use:
- LEED Platinum and EnergyStar-certified facilities
- Advanced lighting control systems with occupancy sensors
- LED and low-mercury, high-efficiency CFL lighting throughout
- Balanced, highly-optimized HVAC plants
- Window film to reduce solar load
- Motion-controlled, low-flow restroom fixtures
In their data centers, they:
- Use high-efficiency cooling infrastructure with both airside and waterside economization
- Have evaporative cooling plants that use a combination of municipal water and reclaimed water
- Use power-efficient processors whenever possible
- Are partners in state-level “clean wind” programs
- Use power from grids that obtain electricity from many renewable sources including wind farms, solar panels, and hydroelectric plants
DreamHost also provides recycling bins in every office, steers clear of disposable silverware by providing real silverware and dishes for employees, and practices in-office composting.
They give employees the option to work from home to reduce emissions.
Talk about a commitment to the planet! It’s good to know that companies using large amounts of energy are concerned about being as energy efficient as possible.
They’re passionate about backing up their claims, too. DreamHost’s Certificate of Carbon Neutralization from TheGreenOffice is available online for anyone to view.
If you’re proactive about reducing your carbon footprint, DreamHost is a great web hosting option to consider.
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 $10.95 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.
Dreamhost Pricing, 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.
- 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: For first year on all annual hosting plans.
- 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.
P.S. If you want to see hosting providers that ranked above Dreamhost, check our best performing hosts here.
What’s good about Dreamhost?
- Good uptime (99.76%)
- Page loading times are 18% faster than competitors (~870ms)
- High-quality, helpful, and fast customer support
- 97-day money back guarantee
- You’ll get “free days” when you experience downtime
- Bandwidth is truly unlimited
- They’re carbon neutral (AKA green)
What’s bad about Dreamhost?
- More expensive than some other web hosts
- Only offers a “one size fits all” plan
- There’s no cPanel
- Setup may be delayed since each visitor must be verified before their account is activated
Are you a satisfied (or unsatisfied) DreamHost customer? Please leave a review below! We accept all reviews (good or bad) in an effort to provide the most transparent and honest ones possible.