DreamHost Review – Pros and Cons of Using Dreamhost

DreamHost’s main shared hosting plan comes with popular apps like WordPress, website building options including their own, and others like Wix or Weebly. These plans have unlimited bandwidth and disk space. And you get a full 97-day money back guarantee to test the service.

However, their customer support is a bit limited.

Here’s a transparent look at how DreamHost has performed over the past 6 months.

Benefits of using DreamHost Hosting
DreamHost comes with a lot of “unlimited” features.

They have a longer-than-average 97-day refund policy to make sure you’re happy with the service before you’re locked out.

Here’s a deep dive into our hands-on test results:

  1. Monthly hosting (cancel at any time)

The vast majority of all 40+ web hosts we reviewed will give you a 30-day money-back period. This gives you a full month to test their services before risking your prepaid amount.

A few hosts like HostGator will give you 45 days.

And then there’s DreamHost.

Their money back guarantee is valid for up to 97 days. That’s more than three whole months to make sure you’re happy.

DreamHost has no hidden terms or hoops that could jeopardize your refund. Additionally, you can pay monthly ($1.99 per month) and cancel at any time. This is very rare in the web hosting industry.

  1. Good basic plan features

DreamHost’s Shared Starter option starts at just $2.95 per month. But it comes with a lot of features right out of the gate.

You get one website with a free domain name and SSL certificate. This site can handle unlimited traffic (or bandwidth) and storage.

DreamHost has its own website builder called Remixer, but also offers access to SquareSpace, Weebly, and Wix in its app library.

Joomla, phpBB, Zen Cart, Drupal, Magento, Shopify and Tumblr are also waiting for you there.

WordPress is also pre-installed. It’s pretty easy to set up on most servers with a one-click install option. However, the fact that it is instantly ready when you sign up makes it ideal for novice webmasters.

The last bit of good news about these plans is that there is no longer a delayed verification system.

When we first reviewed DreamHost, they required manual verification, which could keep you from using the service for several hours after signing up.

Fortunately, their customer support representative told us that they now only require additional verification steps if there is a problem with your payment.

After signing up, you should be able to hit the ground running.

  1. Unlimited disk space and network traffic limitations

DreamHost lists a lot of “unlimited” features in its pricing and plans, including disk space and bandwidth.

This means you don’t have to worry about disk storage or network traffic when your site becomes popular.

This policy has a few caveats, but is mostly legitimate.

First of all, your website must be built correctly. If it’s straining the server’s resources and causing problems with other sites, they may try to move you to their private servers instead.

DreamPress, VPS servers and email are not covered by this unlimited policy.

Email is only limited to 2 GB, while the MySQL database must also stay below “several GB in size”.

In other words, DreamHost’s shared servers are ideal for relatively small websites.

  1. They are carbon neutral (aka green)

You can add DreamHost to the list of web hosts that are trying to be more environmentally friendly.

But they go beyond simply offsetting the carbon footprint of their servers.

Their data centers include “high efficiency” cooling and processors. They are also involved in national “clean wind” programs to use renewable resources.

Their offices are LEED and EnergyStar certified, and everything from the lighting to the HVAC systems is also energy efficient.

  1. Custom control panel

DreamHost uses a custom control panel instead of the industry standard cPanel. It might be more of a cheat than a pro for cPanel fans, but it’s actually very easy to grasp and beginner-friendly.

From here you can manage your databases, email, billing and website. The WordPress editor is also just a click away.

  1. Free WordPress site migration

It wasn’t that long ago that DreamHost didn’t offer free site migration. However, they have now included a free site migration option in their WordPress and shared hosting plans. In addition, it is promised that the migration will take place without downtime.

However, there is a small catch.

Site migration is free for WordPress sites only. This means that if you’re using some other CMS (Wix, Weebly, etc.), you’ll still have to pay a one-time fee of $99.

This is good news for WordPress users, not so much for others.

Disadvantages of using DreamHost Hosting

DreamHost has a lot to offer, including handy features and free WordPress site migration.

Unfortunately, there were still a few flaws that we encountered while testing their services.

Here’s a full list of the biggest cons to consider:

  1. Low average speed (1730ms)

Load time is one of the most important factors when choosing a host. Not only does page speed affect your bounce rate, slow load times can also affect your overall SEO (not to mention Google rankings). However, this counts as lost profit.

Needless to say, the faster your website loads, the better.

Unfortunately, DreamHost’s average load time of 1730ms over the past 6 months has not been good. That puts them in the bottom half of the hosts we’ve tested.

  1. Low average uptime (99.77%)

DreamHost’s average uptime over 6 months is nothing to brag about either – 99.77% with over 10 hours of downtime.

This is bad and could mean a loss of traffic and profit for you.

However, the good news is that DreamHost has an uptime guarantee. Like other hosts, if your monthly average falls below this threshold, you will receive a credit towards the cost of the service.

Most uptime guarantees we’ve seen can hover around the 99.98% mark. So these hosts believe in and stand behind their services, but also give themselves some wiggle room in case there are normal fluctuations.

However, DreamHost guarantees 100% uptime in its terms of service. Please note that scheduled maintenance or user errors are not covered by this warranty.

However, any other problem with DreamHost that breaks your website, database, email or webmail can trigger the warranty. For every hour of service interruption, you get one day’s worth of free service. The only catch is that there is a maximum of 10% of your “additional prepaid hosting renewal fee” (so it applies in the future, as opposed to a retroactive discount or refund).

  1. Good but limited live chat support

DreamHost provides a mandatory knowledge base and discussion forums to help customers solve their own problems.

They also claim to offer “24/7 in-house support”. Although our tests actually revealed the opposite.

There is a small message icon in the lower right corner of their screen. Click on it, and instead of being met with an open field, you have to choose from several preset answers.

In other words, they try to automate the live chat process using something that mimics the phone tree (a so-called chatbot).

We have tried to work around these options to get a sales representative as soon as possible. But at the time we tried, no one was available.

We found that their live chat option is limited and is available every day from 3:00 AM to 9:30 PM PT.

We had to come back later during those hours to test the whole process again. It took a few minutes for a sales rep to finally join and they were both knowledgeable and helpful.

However, it’s unfortunate that you have to jump through hoops first (show up at specific hours) to gain access to anyone.

DreamHost Pricing, Hosting Plans & Fast Facts

Here’s a quick overview of DreamHost’s shared hosting plans:

Fast facts

  • Easy registration: Long and complicated registration process. Registration should be easier.
  • Free Domain: First year on all annual hosting plans.
  • Money back: 97 day money back guarantee.
  • Payment Methods: Credit Card, PayPal, Check, Money Order, Checking Account
  • Hidden charges and clauses: None major. Site migration costs extra for CMSs other than WordPress.
  • Upsells: Several upsells.
  • Account activation: Account activation is quick if you don’t have payment problems.
  • Control Panel and Dashboard: Custom DreamHost Control Panel.
  • Install Apps and CMS (WordPress, Joomla, etc.): One-click installer for WordPress and other apps/CMS.

Do we recommend DreamHost?

Yes, we do.

Although DreamHost’s uptime and speed have deteriorated over the years, you can still test DreamHost’s services for a full 97 days, and there’s also a 100% uptime guarantee to make you feel even safer trying them out. And there’s a monthly plan option, so you don’t have to commit for a long time.

Additionally, their default plan limits are quite high and offer plenty of “unlimited” options for disk space, bandwidth, and more. If you are a WordPress user, site migration is now free for you.

Another note is that customer support was pretty limited to only certain hours during the week.

Leave a Comment