2021 January 8
DreamHost is an independently owned company offering high-performance hosting at some of the cheapest prices for the short-term.
ABOVE AVERAGE. PROS OUTWEIGH THE CONS.
ABOVE AVERAGE. PROS OUTWEIGH THE CONS.
SPEED — 562ms
AVERAGE, THE SPEED IS GOOOD BUT NOT EXCEPTIONAL.
UPTIME — 99.99%
Exceptional, as good as it gets with shared hosting.
PRICING — 8.5/10
Affordable, the provider has great pricing for shared hosting.
In this DreamHost review, I’m going to cover the most up to date information about the provider. I’ll talk about things like pricing, control panel and its features, performance, and customer support. We’ll see what type of websites benefit the most from using DreamHost.
DreamHost has been around for as long as I can remember. And I already reviewed it a couple of times on my Youtube channel. For example, I focused on managed WordPress last time and did a DreamPress review. It was always somewhere in the middle – an okay user interface, quite good performance, average pricing.
But a while has passed since I last reviewed DreamHost and it’s time for an update.
Let’s see what DreamHost offers today and if it’s still a good option to host your website with.
DreamHost has 2 shared hosting plans – Shared Starter for $2.59 per month and Shared Unlimited for $4.95 per month. Both plans are quite affordable and come with unlimited bandwidth, free domain for a year, SSL certificates, and daily backups.
This time, I’m going for the Shared Unlimited plan for $3.95 a month. That totals to $47.40 a year which is cheap. Really cheap, to be honest.
In comparison, a plan with the same features at SiteGround would cost you $135.83 per year. With Bluehost, it would be $83.40. Now, a usually cheaper option like Hostinger would be able to give you the same features for $64.68 a year.
Keep in mind that I am purchasing these plans using discounts. You can get these same deals by using one of the links in this DreamHost review.
So let’s be real here. DreamHost offers the cheapest 1-year plans available at the moment. If you’re looking for a provider that doesn’t require a major commitment to get a good deal, DreamHost offers really good value.
So, what else do you get for the price?
After the purchase, you can immediately log in to your dashboard. No need to wait for activation or manual approval – just a couple of minutes while server space is being allocated for your plan. DreamHost uses a custom control panel that’s easy to understand and way friendlier than the standard cPanel that a lot of web hosting providers are using.
Right of the bat, you’ll see a huge blue button saying “Install WordPress Now.” And that one click of a button is enough to start the installation.
With DreamHost, WordPress installation takes a while so you just have to be patient here. I even contacted the support at one point thinking it was stuck. They responded instantly explaining that this is how their installation works. In total, it took around 20 minutes.
So as we have our WordPress website ready, let’s explore what other features the DreamHost control panel has.
At this point, it looks like DreamHost is implementing changes to their control panel and new features are constantly added. Some of them are still in beta mode so the control panel is a bit glitchier than I would like.
Nonetheless, the changes seem to improve the panel making it easier to use. So some time in a glitchy beta mode is worth it for the improvement.
The Unlimited plan that I purchased includes an unlimited number of professional emails that you can create. And I do recommend doing that. Whether it’s a portfolio or business website, it will look much better if you use an email with your name and domain on it (e.g. [email protected]) instead of a Gmail extension.
Simply click on the “Complete Setup” button and it will take you to a simplified way to create a professional-looking email.
It’s a simple process. Once you fill in the details like your new email address, login, and password, you’ll be able to use your brand new and professional mailbox.
The “Mail” tab in the control panel has a lot of settings. The simple ones include changing the password while advanced ones will allow you to create all kinds of redirects or set up auto-responders.
If that looks complicated, don’t worry. To actually access your mailbox, simply click “Go to Webmail” on your dashboard.
The mailbox itself is modern and clean. You should have no problems communicating using it.
In fact, this version is new and updated. I’ve used the older one before without any problems so this one should be no different.
All in all, DreamHost has a nice and intuitive control panel. It’s easy to install WordPress, set up a professional email, and there’s every functionality you might ever need.
For every provider I review, I have 3 tests – speed, stress, and stability. And this is my favorite part of the review. After all, performance is what you pay for and the rest is just gift wrapping. Fortunately, DreamHost managed to fulfill the expectations.
For the first, speed, test, I’m using a tool called GTMetrix. It allows getting a general idea of how fast a website is in terms of page loading speed.
The first go with this tool is on a completely empty website – just a default theme and all the plugins deleted.
DreamHost loads a page in 0.7s which is incredibly fast. Almost as fast as it can get with shared hosting.
I got this result testing from Dallas, US. But I want to show you a cool little example of how much impact your data center location has.
For the next round, I switch the GTMetrix testing location to Vancouver, Canada. Loading speed drops to 1.3 seconds. That’s almost twice as slow.
This shows the reason why you should choose the server location that’s closest to your audience. The further your site visitors are from the server, the slower the page will load.
In DreamHost’s case, it has only 2 server locations – both in the US. One on the East Coast and another on the West.
There are ways to mitigate this using Content Delivery Network, but it requires some setup to be made which will be a topic both for another video and article.
The main takeaway right now is that if your customers are not from the United States, you might want to consider a provider that has data centers all across the world. Like Hostinger or SiteGround, for example.
As I’m recommending DreamHost for those with audiences in the US, the rest of the testing will be done from the United States.
Up next, I simulated something that could pass as an actual website. You know, images, text, buttons, and other functionalities. After all, you’re not going to keep your site empty.
As suspected, the design elements did slow my website down. But not by much. DreamHost loaded it in 2.3 seconds which is still a good result for the price.
To put this result into perspective, your website with DreamHost would load around 20% faster than with other hosts. Considering the price you pay, that’s a really good deal.
The only issue I have with DreamHost is that it does not offer any built-in speed optimizations. For example, providers like SiteGround and A2 Hosting come with caching already pre-configured. With DreamHost, you’ll have to rely on 3rd party tools and learn how to use them yourself.
But enough of that, let’s get back to testing.
You see, GTMetrix shows what happens when only 1 visitor is on your site. What would happen if dozens of them joined at the same time?
To test how DreamHost would react in a real-life scenario, I used K6 Cloud software to send 50 users onto my website. This should put significant stress on the server for us to see if it can handle it.
To my surprise, DreamHost handled the test with no issues.
To understand this test, you need to pay attention to the blue line – it’s the response time. It does not increase together with green (visitors) and purple (requests) lines. Just jumps up and down periodically. This shows that as the load increases, performance stays exactly the same. And this is what we are looking for.
Shortly, DreamHost’s affordable plan can handle a lot of traffic. I’d say, you can have as much as tens of thousands of visits per month without any issue.
But is performance as stable as this in the long-run?
I’ve monitored DreamHost for several months and again, it showed a good result. In 3 months, it had only 10 minutes of downtime which equals 99.99% uptime.
You always want your uptime to be as close to 100% as possible. With such a result, DreamHost is one of the most stable providers you can get for the price.
All results summed up, DreamHost offers an amazing value for the price. If your visitors are based in the United States. It is fast, can handle a bunch of traffic on cheap shared hosting, and will keep your site up at all times.
One of the main disadvantages of DreamHost is their customer support. Here, you won’t get a 24/7 live chat option. Only email support is available round the clock while live chat is reserved for 5:30 AM - 9:30 PM Pacific Time, 7 days a week.
As big of a disadvantage that might be, I still can give some credit where it’s due.
For example, email support is very fast. I contacted them about my WordPress installation that seemed to be taking forever. They responded almost immediately.
The agent was also very thorough explaining that everything is fine and suggested that I contact the him again if the installation is not complete in 30 minutes.
So you can expect your issues to be solved quickly even if live chat is not available at the moment.
At the same time, your experience with customer support will always be personal. I've read countless DreamHost reviews and some users do say that the support is awful. While I personally never experienced that, I do understand it's possible.
Also, you can use their knowledge base. It is nicely structured and covers everything you might need to know about web hosting.
Altogether, I am disappointed that live chat is only available at certain hours. However, email support is fast enough and you can always get away with some self-help from the knowledge base.
DreamHost offers quite a few good features. You get incredibly low prices and competitive performance. Other perks include automated migration and flexible billing.
First, let’s talk about free automated migration.
If you have your website elsewhere, DreamHost makes it easy to transfer it to them. And I tested it out.
I chose one of my websites hosted with Hostinger. All I needed to do was to go there and install a plugin on my Hostinger’s website called DreamHost Automated Migration.
Then I went back to DreamHost, got a unique ID, and pasted in the plugin. That’s all the manual work I had to do.
In around 10 minutes, my website was fully migrated. All files I had on Hostinger are now on DreamHost and the website is working perfectly fine.
The best part – I didn’t have to reveal my password to anyone which is the case with the migrations that are done by support. Also, it was completely free.
Another advantage that DreamHost has over other hosts is that they allow you to buy plans monthly.
No need to pre-pay upfront which can be a life-saver if your budget is very small. Or you simply need hosting for a couple of months.
Most of the other providers require at least 1-year purchase.
DreamHost doesn’t have many unique disadvantages but it does share some of the common downsides like many other providers. One of them is pricing increases.
The provider offers lower rates for the first purchase and then increases the price for renewal. But… Not for all of its plans as I understand it. That’s super confusing.
But let me try to explain it the best I can.
Let’s take a look. Shared Starter costs $2.59 and Shared Unlimited is $4.95. BUT, shared unlimited has a small question mark explaining that after the first billing term ends, the plan will renew at $7.95 per month.
I went to check my dashboard and you can see that my plan would renew at $9.95 per month. That’s because I’m on a yearly billing – 3-years would be cheaper.
Long story short, you’re likely to pay more than your initial price when it comes to renewing. Just like with the majority of providers.
If you’re looking for transparent and affordable hosting, I recommend you check out InterServer.
DreamHost is a really good independent hosting company that remains one of my favorites. It is one of the cheapest short-term hosting options featuring a ton of great stuff – from free SSL certificates and domains, to great performance.
So should you get DreamHost?
Yes, if you are looking for short term hosting and own or want to start a small-to-medium-sized website. It’s a really good value for the price you are paying.
And if you want to get the same great deals as featured in this DreamHost review, follow one of the links on this article. Happy hosting!