Dreamhost Review: My Personal Experience with Dreamhost

When people ask me for recommendations on web hosting, I will have to know what kind of website that they have, or going to build. But hearing the answers, 9 out of 10 times, I would simply recommend Dreamhost.

I can confidently recommend Dreamhost because I have been using them since November 2006. Furthermore, Dreamhost is where Minisite Gallery (this website) is hosted since the very first day of our launch. We haven’t moved Minisite Gallery to anywhere else because there was never the need for it. And I should also tell you that since Dreamhost allows unlimited number of domains, MinisiteGallery.com is not the only website I have in this account.

At this point, you know that Dreamhost has my double thumbs up. If you are looking for a web hosting, stop the looking and just head over there and sign up. Use coupon code MSGROCKS and get $40 OFF from your subscription fee.

Dreamhost has been able to cater for all my hosting needs, and I believe they will come through for you too. In my opinion, the web hosting service you get for paying $8.95 per month is worth the money and more.

But a fair warning…

I am not going to write this review like any other web hosting review that you normally read. I am not going to rate this according to stars. I am not going give it any points. I am not going to compare Dreamhost to any other web hosting companies and tell you which is better, I am not going to compare prices and I am not going to compare features.

I am writing because I am happy to be using Dreamhost. And I am pretty sure that you will be too if you are their client. In fact, if you are looking really looking for a new web hosting company, whether you already have a website or you are starting a new one, I believe Dreamhost will be great for you.

Dreamhost is great for blogs, for e-commerce stores, for affiliate marketers (porn affiliates can stop reading though), corporate websites, forums, membership sites, web applications… almost anything.

Let me start with a little something about the people in Dreamhost.

A Great Company with Great People

Dreamhost is really a great company with great people. They have been very transparent and open about their company. You can check out their blog and their Facebook page and you will understand what I mean. http://blog.dreamhost.com/2011/04/29/the-good-people-of-dreamhost/

But apart from that, Dreamhost is a pretty solid company. Web hosting companies come and go. It is true. That is because it is so easy to start a web hosting business. You can shop around and get yourself a reseller hosting package and start selling web hosting tomorrow. So when you choose your web hosting company, you want to be with a company that is going to be around for a very long time.

Dreamhost is a company that is serious about web hosting, with their own servers and data centers and the whole shenanigan. They have been around since 1997, founded by four computer science students. And a point to prove how passionate they are with their web hosting business is this — other web hosting companies simply buy solutions to support their business, Dreamhost build things from ground up whenever they can. For example, other web hosting companies use run-of-the-mill cPanel, Dreamhost’s Web Panel is a homegrown product that you can only experienced at Dreamhost.

And I have to say Dreamhost’s Web Panel is cool. Way better than cPanel…

To me, whenever a company develops their software and scripts for their customers to use, when they don’t really have to (because they can also buy other options), that shows passion!

Another reason is great support…

Above and Beyond Great Support

Dreamhost has great support and knowledgeable technical people. Ever since their launch, they have been really good with handling their customers and remained open and transparent about their company.

So far, since I started using Dreamhost in 2006, they have been answering my support questions with professionalism and has never left me hanging. Sometimes I ask technical and programming questions too, like how to pipe my emails to a script, how to support wild-card sub-domains or anything like that, their support has never left me hanging or pass me to “another level” of support for an answer. I always get a definitive answer on how I can get my things done.

Don’t worry if you don’t know what those means, just know that it’s very technical. The point is that when it comes to support Dreamhost comes through.

From within your Web Panel, you can access the Support section and start asking away, 24 hours, 7 days a week. At times, you can also see the Live Chat Support turned on, when it is supposed to be only for Premium Support Upgrade clients. They turn it on when their email support requests are low and are not getting much support requests from Premium Support clients. I have chatted with their Support staffs a number of times. And they are very helpful.

Even if the Live Chat is not online, you can still go back to the 24-hour Support section to ask your questions. This is your Support Ticket System, where you can ask questions and get notified via email upon response by their support staff.

Another support channel is the Wiki. Dreamhost has a lot of things documented very well using Wiki. I learn a lot of things about Dreamhost from the Wiki. It also reveels some really cool tips and tricks on how to do things on Dreamhost. Things that you normally can’t do on other web hosting companies. http://wiki.dreamhost.com/

And last but not least, one more option for support is from the Dreamhost users themselves. It’s the Discussion Forum. Sometimes I just need to know how better to implement things in Dreamhost, and I get numerous answers. I like that where I can see what my options are. And sometimes the support staffs also come on board and help. http://discussion.dreamhost.com/

If you need help putting together your website, need to understand how to install scripts, need to ask programming questions, the forum would be a great place to start.

About Cool Features – The Unlimited!

So what do you get when you open a web hosting account with Dreamhost?

How many web space? Unlimited!
Bandwidth? Unlimited!
How many domain websites can you host? Unlimited!
How many email accounts can you create? Unlimited!
How many MySQL can you have? Unlimited!
How many FTP accounts? Unlimited!

What about other features?

PHP, Perl, CGI, Python, Ruby or Rails, SSI, MySQL? Yes to all of that!

CVS, SVN, crontab, shell access? Yes, even the shell access.

You must be wondering, “That can’t be true. Those things take up resources. There has to be a catch!”

Well, you are right. The catch is, or rather the rule, you have to play nice. And you can’t disclose to others how much resource your are using. As long as you are not doing CPU and RAM resource consuming activities on your website, you are fine.

By that I mean, you are not building a website for free porn affiliate site, hosting pirated videos for downloads, hosting anime videos, create a free file sharing sites, running a spamming script or anything like.

I believe you are building a website and running a good, legitimate business. For the rest 99.9% for us, we are fine. These people only falls less than <0.1% of people out there.

If you need more information about Dreamhost's Unlimited Policy, read about it here http://www.dreamhost.com/unlimited.html

Unconditional 97-Day Money-back Guarantee

Before you go on the next part, perhaps this is also a cool feature. All new accounts with Dreamhost is qualified for an unconditional 97-day money-back guarantee.

This is useful if you have specific features that you need to test and want to make sure that Dreamhost supports them. Or even, if you want to know how great (or bad) their support is.

If at anytime you within 97 days of signing up you are unsatisfied with Dreamhost, just get in touch with them and they will give you a free refund, including setup fees. The only thing that they can’t refund is purchases on domains.

My Personal Experiences and Highlights with Dreamhost

In this next part, I am going to share some of the cool things I did on Dreamhost.

Install your own PHP

There was this one project where I needed more control over PHP. For example, I needed to be able to process file uploads bigger than 10MB through a web-based interface. I was about ready to spend money on Rackspace CloudSites which starts are $150 per month. But considering I am only starting a new, self-funded project and future prospects are uncertain, I hate to have to spend so much money upfront.

Then I found out that my PHP scripts should be able to handle uploads bigger than the normal 7MB set by the server. I only need to install my own PHP and set the configurations in the php.ini.

OK, I am not about to tell you how to do that, but I just want you to know, those are some of the flexibility you get with Dreamhost.

I was saved by Domain Restore backup

On another incident, I screwed my WordPress plugin update. And it happened to this website, MinisiteGallery.com. I was updating my WordPress Download Manager plugin, which I have not been updating for ages. I think I could have been skipping a few important updates and straight away jump to the most recent version.

And it appears that the most recent version was totally different from the old one. What happened was that I lost ALL OF MY MINISITE TEMPLATE zip files for downloads. No one could download the minisite templates anymore. I freaked out…

But then I found out that Dreamhost has a Domain Restore feature, where you can try to recover your domain website with the backups that made from time to time. All that I need are the minisite templates for download. Discovering Dreamhost’s Domain Restore, I give that a shot. Instead of restoring the domain and overwriting the live website, I restored the backup on a different folder and started searching for those zip files.

I was relieved when I saw those files from the backup. So I copied those files again to the main website, and starting remapping the minisite templates to the right posts. I lost the download counts, but this is better than losing the zip files.

Custom MX and Google Apps Email

With Google Apps you can have your email works pretty much Gmail, only with your own domain. But if you want to do this, you must have control over your MX records in the DNS. A lot web hosting company get very technical when it gets to this, some would have to handle this request manually, and some simply won’t allow it.

But with Dreamhost, you can easily use an external email server outside of Dreamhost like Google Apps. http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/group/index.html

It’s great the Dreamhost Web Panel supports this and you get integrate with Google Apps (or any other external email solution) easily.

One-Click Install – WordPress, Joomla, and many more

If installing web applications and scripts get too complicated for you, you can use Dreamhost’s One-Click Install to help you with that. I have used this a number of times to help me install WordPress.

And here’s the cool thing about this — at least for WordPress. When you install WordPress, the One-Click Installer doesn’t just install the run-of-the-mill WordPress. It comes with most used themes and plugins. Last time I did this, I get almost 50 themes pre-installed and I can just pick and choose which ever I want.

This saves a lot of time rather than having to install the themes and plugins myself.

Some Other Cool Features That I Haven’t Even Use

And it appears, when you browse through the Web Panel, you will discover things that you never thought possible on a shared hosting account. The ones I list below are just some of the many. And just to be fair, I haven’t even tried these features… but you may be interested in them.

Amazon Cloudfront integration

Do you know that you could extend your Dreamhost website with Amazon Cloudfront? If you don’t know what that is, Amazon Cloudfront is a content distribution network. With this, you can have your files hosted on the many data centers Amazon has, and Amazon will serve your website visitors with the files closest to them.

This is why YouTube can handle so many website visitors, and why certain websites are so fast. Even though their website originated from the US, visitors from Japan can experience the same quality of speed because the same content is also available in Japan. It’s like a mirrored version of the website in Japan, without a different domain address.

cPanel Importer

If you have your website on a web hosting that uses cPanel, there is a cPanel Importer within the Web Panel. I have no need for this because in many cases I know how to move my websites manually. But if you are not that technical like me, you can give this a try.

Htaccess Tricks

OK, I have done some Htaccess-thingy. But I haven’t done them all.

There a lot of things that you can with the htaccess file. Why not take a look at this cool Wiki page and you will start to learn somethings you can do at Dreamhost with htaccess.


Possibility of Scaling

And if the time comes where you need to scale your website, you have the option to subscribe to Dreamhost PS, which is Dreamhost’s VPS hosting service. And it starts from $15.00 per month. Of course you get a ton more features and control when you move over to Dreamhost PS.

Some of the cool things you get with Dreamhost PS that is not available on the normal shared hosting are like dedicated CPU and RAM resources, the option to use Nginx or Lighttpd instead of Apache, enable Mongrel for Ruby on Rails, enable mod_php and XCache for more PHP performance, full root access, and many more.

And of course, that is on top the normal features you get as a shared hosting user. And you will also be using the same award winning Web Panel.

The Verdict…

I don’t want to rate Dreamhost in stars or how many points I should give them. And I am not about to compare Dreamhost with other options, even though I know that Dreamhost is way better. I am not about to tell you about their uptime record, server stats or anything like that.

To me, Dreamhost is a company with a heart, with real people, and who strives to improve their business and web hosting for their clients.

So Dreamhost has my thumbs up. If you need a web hosting, go with Dreamhost.

At this point, you know that Dreamhost has my double thumbs up. If you are looking for a web hosting, stop the looking and just head over there and sign up. Use coupon code MSGROCKS and get $40 OFF from your subscription fee.


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