Since they were founded in 1996 (in Los Angeles), they’ve grown to host over 1.5 million websites and have hundreds of employees. Impressive.
DreamHost is one of those providers that you can find recommended everywhere. In fact, WordPress themselves endorses them – but I’m not sure how seriously I’d take this endorsement, as while they display SiteGround as an option (which we approve), they also recommend Bluehost, which is a much more questionable choice.
For their small price tag, they seem to offer a lot: unlimited storage and bandwidth, backups, 24-hour support and even free SSL certificates.
But do they lack important features? And how does DreamHost perform?
I am going to answer all of these questions and more in this DreamHost review so you can learn all about their pros, cons, pricing and when (and when not) to use them.
Table of Contents
What Products Does DreamHost Offer?
As their offering is not limited to shared hosting plans, let’s review what other services you can get with DreamHost.
Alongside hosting packages, you can get domain names at DreamHost. Choose from over 400 TLDs (like .com, .org, .net) or more exotic extensions (like .club or .guru). Country specific TLDs such as .es, .fr, .co.uk or .de are also available. A .com domain name is $15.99 at renewal.
DreamHost’s shared hosting will give you a lot for your money, they cost $3.95 a month for the 1-site plan or $9.95 for the Unlimited tier – straightforward pricing. This type of hosting is great to start, but if your project grows a lot (e.g. more than 200,000 visitors a month), you’ll need to upgrade.
You can imagine a Virtual Private Server (VPS) as a shared hosting server that has been divided into smaller servers. This means that you can configure it to your needs. Therefore, your website will be hosted independently from other clients’ – the resources aren’t shared either. VPS hosting plans at DreamHost start at $13.75 a month and can go all the way up to $110 a month.
But, if your website gets so big that you need your own server, that’s when you should consider getting a dedicated account – beware, these are a bit more expensive. Dedicated hosting at DreamHost starts at $169 per month.
That’s not all, DreamHost also offers cloud hosting. Imagine this as a series of interconnected servers that host your website. This solution is ideal for those expecting peaks of traffic as more resources (e.g. RAM and CPU) can be added as you need them. Figuring out how much will you pay it’s tricky as the price depends on the resources (e.g. RAM or storage) that you need.
On top of all that, they also offer WordPress hosting plans – they have special WordPress packages for their shared and VPS hosting. If you’d like automatic updates, staging areas and dedicated WordPress support, you can opt-in for a Managed WordPress account. Shared WordPress hosting starts at $3.95 a month, VPS at $10 and Managed WordPress at $19.95.
However, if you don’t want any technical hassle and just want to easily launch a simple website, they offer a website builder too. It seems very cheap (starts at $4.95), but in all honesty, I haven’t tested it so I would not know if it’s any good.
The focus of this DreamHost review is their shared hosting plans, so from now on, I’ll be referencing those.
Chat and ticket (email)
Chat and ticket (email)
|Max. files amount (inodes)||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Email accounts||$1.67 a month for 25 GB||Included|
|Backup||8 backups||8 backups|
|Monthly pricing||$4.95 a month||$10.95 a month|
|Annual price||$3.95 a month||$9.95 a month|
|3-year deals||$2.59 a month||$7.95 a month|
DreamHost has an ‘Unlimited Policy’ and they don’t accept certain projects like file distribution sites.
I really appreciate that DreamHost’s pricing and plan structure are both transparent and simple. They only have 2 shared plans which come with most of the basics you’ll need – no aggressive and expensive upsells.
Let’s check out what plan will you need:
The Shared Starter plan is limited to 1 website, so if you are only looking to host 1 site, this is your best option. Be aware that if you need email accounts, those are paid separately in this plan ($1.67 a month extra) – a fair price if you ask me. The only other limitation is databases, as you won’t be able to create more than 6 – but don’t worry, for 1-site projects 6 is a lot.
To host more than 1 website you’ll need the (still affordable) Shared Unlimited package. This one includes email accounts and unlimited databases too. There aren’t any other features added as the basic plan is already pretty generous with storage, FTP accounts, bandwidth and so on.
There are also optimized pricing plans for WooCommerce users, that you can find here.
DreamHost Review: Pros & Cons
Sure, DreamHost is pretty inexpensive and offers quite a lot, but how they perform and what features are they missing? *Spoiler Alert*: they’re missing a couple of advanced features.
Let me help you out:
When to Use DreamHost’s Hosting?
Well, a lot of site owners should think about using DreamHost. It combines both low prices and high quality, something that’s very difficult to find these days in the hosting world.
I would say that small projects (e.g. a dentist’s site) looking for the best value for their money should consider DreamHost.
However, larger sites could find a good partner in DreamHost’s shared hosting too. It has enough speed, good support and reliable uptime for avid bloggers and hardcore site developers.
Even if it’s not PCI compliant out-of-the-box, DreamHost supports this technology – you could make it happen geeking around. This is obviously a massive pro for ecommerce projects.
When Not to Use DreamHost’s hosting?
But there are a few cases where I would not recommend DreamHost.
Finally, tech-savvy users like developers or agencies may miss some advanced features like staging areas, integrated caching system or pre-installed Git repositories. If you fancy having these, SiteGround is the way to go.
|Ease of use||Good||DreamHost’s control panel looks modern and has a clean design. You can access all the options from the left sidebar. I have to say that I don’t find it as intuitive as other competitors’ – perhaps I am too used to cPanel-based hosting providers.|
|A free domain name registration is offered for annual (or longer) plans. This is only available for the first year, from then on a .com domain will cost you $15.95. The available domain names are: .com, .net, .org, .info, .global, .blog, .shop, or .club. With the Shared Starter plan you’ll only be able to have 1 domain name and 5 subdomains, which are unlimited with the Share Unlimited plan.|
|Bad||Oddly enough, you won’t have free email accounts with their Starter plan (they start at $1.70 a month extra). With the Unlimited tier, you will be able to create and manage unlimited email accounts. Each email account size will be limited to 2GB max.|
|Databases||Very Good||With DreamHost, you can create MySQL databases. With the Unlimited plan, you can create as many databases as you need. The Starter plan databases are limited to 6. Neither of the plans limits the database size, but you should “try to keep it no larger than a few GB in size”.|
|Applications||OK||They have their own scripts for easily installing a few popular CMSs like WordPress, Zen Cart or Joomla. They only have a few available. For example, popular CMSs like Drupal, Magento or PrestaShop seem to be missing.|
|Webspace limit||Very good||With the Shared Starter plan, the storage is limited to 50 GB. The Unlimited won’t cap your storage, but be aware that a fair usage policy is in place (e.g. no file sharing sites). *|
|FTP accounts and secure FTP||Good||FTP, SFTP and SSH access is possible. The Starter plan will allow you to have 6 of these and the Unlimited package won’t limit it.|
|Server locations||Bad||DreamHost has data centers available in Virginia and Oregon. Not as many options as other competitors like SiteGround or A2 Hosting.|
|Security features||Solid||Enabling SSL is free with DreamHost as they integrate with Let’s Encrypt. They also offer SSH and SFTP access to enhance security. They support HTTP/2, the latest versions of PHP 7 and they have their own firewall. Multi-Factor-Authentication for your panel can be enabled too. Additional security options (e.g. malware scan) are offered via DreamShield, a paid security app developed by DreamHost themselves.|
|Server speed||Very good||In our speed tests, DreamHost was a top-performing provider along with A2 Hosting and SiteGround. DreamHost uses SSD drives, HTTP/2 and PHP 7 (faster). Unlike their WordPress plans (which start at $16.95), their Shared hosting doesn’t have a server-side caching system built-in.|
|Uptime||Very good||In the tests I carried out, DreamHost got 100% uptime. DreamHost guarantees 100% uptime. – as far as I know, they are the only shared hosting provider offering this much. You can claim financial compensation if they don’t deliver 100%.|
|Backups||Good||They keep a daily backup of all your files, and you’ll have access to the last 8 backups. There’s also a simple feature to create backups on-demand – it’s easy-to-use, but it could have more options (e.g. select what folder to backup). Be aware that the backups you create are periodically removed and you need to download them.|
|CDN (content delivery network)||Not included||Even if DreamHost doesn’t include a CDN, you can add a third-party provider like Cloudflare.|
|Server features||Good||MySQL 5 and PHP 7.1 (and higher) are available from their panel. Additionally, you can also use other programming languages like Perl, Ruby and Python. Their servers aren’t PCI compliant out-of-the-box, but with some technical knowledge, you can make it happen.|
|Refunds and guarantees||97 days||DreamHost comes with a 97-day money-back guarantee, which is really impressive. Their Terms of Service state that they will compensate you if they don’t provide 100% uptime, which is actually incredibly generous.|
|Assistance and support||Very good||Their support is available via live chat and ticket system (email). Phone support isn’t offered. I’ve always felt that support agents were friendly and helpful. Their help materials are easy to follow, up-to-date and detailed.|
4.5 out of 5
|DreamHost is a reliable provider with a simple concept and delivers great value for your money. It lacks some advanced features like staging areas or pre-installed GIT repositories, but it’s actually one of my favorite providers.|
* They have a truly unlimited policy (storage and bandwidth), but they do make some exceptions that seem to ‘affect to less than 1% of the users’. Basically, they don’t seem to want people abusing their Unlimited Policy (e.g. file distribution sites).
DreamHost Performance Tests
Is DreamHost slow and/or have constant service interruptions?
Before you commit and leave your website’s ‘well-being’ to a new hosting provider, you should check out their performance.
Of course, I don’t expect you to have time to go and test 5 or 6 hosting providers over a number of weeks. To make your life easier, I’ve recently tested DreamHost’s performance and benchmarked it against their competitors.
DreamHost Speed Test
No one wants their website to take ages to load. This can harm your user engagement metrics (e.g. conversion rate) and mess up your organic (search engines) rankings. And of course, a fast hosting provider is a fundamental player for your website to load quick.
|Test||Average Ranking||Average Speed|
|5 GTmetrix test||Fastest provider||1.2 s|
|5 Pingdom test||2 out of 7 providers were faster||0.77 s|
|5 Webpagetest test||1 out of 8 providers was faster||4.89 s|
I was a bit reluctant about DreamHost’s speed as they don’t seem to have a built-in caching system and are also missing a couple of other features. However, as you can see in the table above, their speed performance was top of the class during our tests.
So check out DreamHost if speed is an important factor for you.
Is DreamHost’s Uptime Good?
Some hosting providers have constant interruptions and their availability (uptime) suffers. As you can imagine, this can be a big issue for hosting-dependant projects like online stores or digital marketing agencies. On top of that, Google and other search engines won’t treat you too favorably.
In light of this, I constantly monitor hosting providers’ uptime. Let me share DreamHost’s with you.
To monitor uptime I use StatusCake, a tool that checks each website every 5 minutes.
DreamHost uptime results are astonishing, for the last 4 months they have had 100% uptime. Almost no other provider, at this level, can provide these results.
DreamHost Review: Do I Recommend It?
Yes, I do recommend DreamHost.
This hosting provider can be a good option for many. Fair prices, solid support and a very generous unlimited policy (for storage and bandwidth) will be remarkably appealing perks for many.
Additionally, their performance is one of the best I’ve tried, meaning that your project (even big sites) will be safely hosted at DreamHost.
Be aware however, that if you are looking for professional features like staging areas, integrated caching and pre-installed Git repositories, DreamHost may fall short. Also, it’s not ideal if your traffic comes mainly from outside North America.
Alright, I have to say that I do think DreamHost can be a good match to host most websites. However, let me suggest a couple of alternatives for some scenarios:
- Along with DreamHost, SiteGround and InMotion Hosting offer the best support.
- For those looking for a Windows-based shared hosting, I would suggest looking into InMotion Hosting or GoDaddy.
- In my experience, SiteGround is a top-performing host. On top of that, they offer a fully-featured hosting service and are a great match for WordPress users.
> If you still want to go with DreamHost, you can try them for free for 97 days
I hope I answered all your questions about DreamHost in this review. But please, if you do still have some questions, leave a message and I’ll do my best to help you.
01 Aug 2019: First review