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DreamHost Review

Whether you’re a business or an individual with personal webpages, DreamHost has something for you. Thanks to a comprehensive range of web hosting solutions, it fits almost all needs. Read our DreamHost review to explore each feature and hosting plan closely.

DreamHost Review

minimum price:

$3.95/month

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  • Bandwidth: Unlimited/Unmetered
  • Speed & Uptime: Fast & 99% Uptime
  • SSL Certificates: Free
  • Support: 24/7 live chat and support tickets
  • Free Domain Name: First year
  • Email: Yes
  • Databases: Starting at 6 MySQL
  • FTP Access: Yes

works on:

Android Android
Mac OS Mac OS
Linux Linux
Windows Windows
Apple Apple

Best For

Beginners and large businesses who need shared, VPS, or dedicated hosting

STRENGTHS

  • Affordable at all levels
  • Fast and stable
  • Unlimited means unlimited

WEAKNESSES

  • Lacking many 1-click installs
  • Only US-based servers
  • No free email for starter accounts

PRICING PLANS:

Shared Hosting

From $4.95/month

VPS Hosting

From $15.00/month

Managed WordPress

From $12.00/month

Dedicated Server

From $169.00/month

DreamHost web hosting is a comprehensive service that provides basic shared plans, virtual private servers with dedicated resources, and managed dedicated servers exclusive to the buyer. Their flexible DreamHost pricing plans allow you to pay monthly. However, if you commit to yearly or 3-yearly deals, the overall price of the package is reduced.

The company is one of the most well-known web hosts, serving over 1.5 million individual sites from hundreds of thousands of happy paying webmasters and companies. 

Their infrastructure is suitable for beginner to large corporations that draw in millions of visitors. It’s also an ideal choice for those that prefer WordPress, as it is one of the endorsed web hosts.

While DreamHost doesn’t use the industry-standard cPanel as a backend control panel for webmasters, their own proprietary version functions in much the same way. Beginners and experienced webmasters alike will find it feature-rich and intuitive. The only downside is there is a limited number of one-click installs of certain scripts and platforms. 

WordPress is obviously included, as are many other more popular scripts. The more obscure ones you might find at other website hosting providers or via cPanel will require manual installation.

DreamHost is well priced compared to the competitors, rarely goes down, and serves pages fast regardless of your plan. Free DreamHost SSL certificates are a big plus now that Google wants all sites to be extra secure. Their 24/7 support is mostly responsive and knowledgeable. The only downside is there’s no dedicated IP option.

If you’re just building your first website, have an established brand, and are looking to make a move, or need a large enterprise or corporate solution, DreamHost can easily accommodate you. Just note that their yearly and 3-yearly pricing is often displayed in months, making it seem more attractive than the actual upfront yearly price you must pay. The so-called ‘monthly’ savings are made because you are committing to pay in advance and lock into a contract. 

DreamHost’s Infrastructure

DreamHost’s overall infrastructure is up there with the best in the industry, offering genuine unlimited bandwidth for most plans (within reason, i.e. don’t start hosting HD pirated movies). There is a wide selection of packages to choose from to suit your needs. I.e. shared, VPS, dedicated, and even WordPress-centric hosting. DreamHost domain transfer is also a cinch.

Their servers are all based in the United States, with data centers in Virginia, Oregon, and California. You can even check from the DreamHost control panel where your particular hosting is located.

Your sites will be accessible from anywhere in the world but there are minor advantages in terms of speed and Google’s algorithm if, say, a UK-based site is actually based on a UK server. Likewise, someone in Virginia will probably get a slight speed boost if your site is also located there.

Nonetheless, in parts of the world that block sites based on region, having a US-hosted site could be an issue. But, for 99% of webmasters and their visitors, DreamHost provides a fast and secure service, regardless of which plan you go with and any speed differences are negligible. DreamHost will even let you change data centers if you insist.

Their most recent addition is cloud hosting, which in layman’s terms means your site’s data is spread across multiple servers and if one goes down, the rest can pick up the slack. It can improve performance and data security and is all the rage right now. It also allows for automatic and easy scaling as your site grows, which also means you only pay for what you use, often on an hourly basis.     

DreamHost Reviews: Features

Features vary considerably between hosting plans, but here are some of the features that stand out and will help you make the decision as to whether it’s the host for you. 

Easy Domain Name Registration

Looking for domain hosts? All websites need a domain name so users can access it and your brand can thrive. Like most web hosts DreamHost allows you to register a domain name through them or easily use your existing domain name by directing it to their web hosting DNS nameservers or using the DreamHost transfer domain feature to transfer your domain to DreamHost permanently.

The benefit of registering a new domain with them is you’ll get a big discount, but if at any point you wish to leave DreamHost you’ll either need to keep paying them for the domain or a fee before moving it to a different registrar.

When signing up for any of their web hosting plans you will be prompted to register a DreamHost domain, or you can do this entirely separately from their domain tab. 

One positive feature is that you get free WHOIS privacy with any hosting plan, meaning nobody can look up your name and address via a domain search to see if it is you that owns the domain, something many domain hosting services charge a premium for.

Domains are easily managed from their control panel, and you can get the DreamHost DNS servers required to use a domain you’re hosting elsewhere as well. 

Because DreamHost is considered a top domain hosting solution, you can register domains here at good prices without having a hosting plan, though we advise reading domain hosting services reviews to see which domain registrar is best for you.

DreamHost Website Builder

For beginners with no website design skills, the DreamHost web host offers its own basic website builder, though it heavily promotes WordPress. Unless you have anything against the feature-rich blogging/ Content Management System (CMS) it’s probably best to go with that.

If not, you can use their own site-building platform which allows you to pick from several preset templates/themes, font, image styles, and more. There’s only really a handful of options and their goal is simplicity, but as long as you have a business logo or personal header image to upload, you can soon start to make things look unique. 

It has a drag and drop interface for certain elements, allowing for boxes, sidebars, video, and other embedded media, as well as text, obviously. 

The ‘what you see is what you get’ (WYSIWYG) editor allows you to always see what a page looks like before publishing.

The service is fine for beginners and can be picked up easily, though it lacks advanced features. For single splash pages, or a basic professional or corporate portfolio, it’s adequate, but for a content-rich site that is always updated, go with WordPress.

Custom Web Design

For those that don’t want to build their own website, you can also outsource to DreamHost themselves to build you a custom website under their ‘Pro Services’ banner. Pricing starts at $1,499 which is acceptable, especially since you will get ongoing support while being a DreamHost customer.

Their designers will build your site from scratch with your input, first developing a prototype, and only after your approval will they begin to code and make it functional. 

What’s more, you get a year’s free web hosting if you start with a custom-built site.

Every custom site plan comes with a direct line to the project manager, implementation of your desired branding or professional logo design, multiple revisions if you are not happy with the result, eCommerce functionality if desired, mobile-ready all-round, and much more.

What’s particularly beneficial are these sites are built using WordPress, so you are free to tinker with the site yourself at a later date or even migrate it elsewhere if you are moving away from DreamHost.  

One-Click WordPress Installation

There’s no doubt that WordPress is one of the most popular and easy-to-use platforms for building and running websites. It has long surpassed the label of ‘blogging platform’ and become a full-blown content management system (CMS) that can accommodate everything from an online store to a news website. 

DreamHost installs WordPress at the click of a mouse and you can also easily migrate a previous WordPress site you’ve backed up with their migration tool.

Updates are done automatically unless you disable the function (some old themes and plugins can get broken by updates).

Because this is a ‘self-hosted’ WordPress site you no longer have any link to WordPress.com and can use your own domain chosen during the DreamHost registration process or a domain you have registered elsewhere as an add-on domain – just enter DreamHost name servers at your registrar, which can be found within the control panel.

While you can host WordPress on pretty much any DreamHost plan, their dedicated DreamHost WordPress plan called DreamPress works best and comes with additional caching for speedier page loading and on-demand backups.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is a powerful online shopping platform based on the WordPress infrastructure and can be installed with a click on DreamHost. You can even opt for WooCommerce focused hosting if your online store is your main business, boasting fast speeds, lack of downtimes, and 24/7 expert support beyond the general DreamHost support team.

Plans start from $12 a month and reach $79.95 a month for over a million monthly shop visitors. 

SSL Certificates

Although once upon a time an SSL certificate was reserved for certain financial and shopping sites to verify their security and your data’s safety, Google has slowly ushered this in as the norm for all websites and if you don’t implement the secure protocol you could be penalized in the search results or worse, visitors may even be shown a message that your site is not secure.

Fortunately, the company does all the leg work and gives all paying customers a valid DreamHost SSL certificate, which is easily configured and allows you to use the HTTPS protocol in address bars, along with the little padlock security icon. 

The raw technology behind this all is a bit complex but the fact that DreamHost will handle it all for you is one less thing to worry about.

Email Accounts

If you’re launching a professional website that needs a domain-based email, DreamHost has you covered.

On the cheapest shared plan, you’ll have to pay a little extra of $1.67/ month to have access to email, while most other accounts include it for free and you can choose the handle i.e. admin@yourdomain.com.

You can easily access and manage your emails (including spam filters) from the DreamHost control panel and you can sync it across your mobile devices to monitor emails on the go. You can also set up multiple accounts if your staff or team also require an email address, or you have different purposes for different addresses, such as help@yourdomain.com or feedback@yourdomain.com.

Backend Control Panel

The backend control panel itself works like a charm and is easy for beginners to pick up. It looks nicer than cPanel and couldn’t be more intuitive if it tried. Of course, cPanel users might take a little time to adjust, but they’ll soon appreciate its modernity and easy to find features.

It is essentially the core hub for all of your backend functions, from setting up email and MySQL databases to managing your addon or subdomains to installing another WordPress site. It all happens here.

For cybersecurity purposes you can also set up two-factor authentication (i.e. email code after entering password), run a malware scan to make sure your site and its files haven’t become infected, and DreamHost itself ensure the latest encryption, server firewalls, PHP and MySQL versions are installed as well.

But, as far as the interface goes, everything is easily accessible from the left sidebar and you get informative descriptions about each option before you click anything you’re not sure about.   

Databases

DreamHost, cPanel notwithstanding, it is easy to set up and manage databases based on SQL using MySQL, which is universally recognized by the likes of WordPress and message boards, etc. Basically, if you run a site that has users and data is captured, it will be stored in a database like these. 

The starter plan allows 6 databases with no size limit, though the company advises no more than a few GB to maintain performance. The unlimited plan allows for as many databases as you desire, which is great if you run a really large site or several sites on the same plan.

We found creating and naming your database very easy, only taking a couple of minutes, very much comparable to cPanel

DreamHost FTP Access

While you can always upload site files and other items via the in-built browser from within your control panel a much faster and more efficient method is to use an FTP client to connect to your hosting plan and upload that way. It’s as easy as entering your login details and the address of your hosting, which is either your domain name or if that’s not set up yet an IP address style URL.

You can have 6 FTP accounts with varying permissions (i.e. read, write, etc) and this is unlimited on the higher-priced packages.

FTP DreamHost also includes SFTP and SSH. You can also use a basic web browser to access the DreamHost web FTP panel on the internet.

FTP is particularly useful when uploading large files or when migrating websites from one host to another.

It also lets you arrange folders and set permissions. For example, you might want your WordPress blogs under the /myblog folder with the sensitive areas set to read-only.

Backups

There’s nothing worse than getting hacked, having your site corrupted in some way, or an installation like WordPress failing to update properly. Fortunately, the DreamHost backup function makes backing up a cinch.

From the control panel, you can make backups on-demand or schedule daily backups, perhaps before you embark on something big that could mess things up. But, alternatively, the host itself will generate 8 periodic backups simultaneously, overwriting them as time progresses.

So, if anything goes wrong and you want to turn back the clock, just go into the backups section, choose a date and within a few minutes everything will be back to normal.

DreamHost Reviews: Pro Services

DreamHost also provides a series of professional services that do not have to be associated with a hosting account, though sometimes you get some perks if you’re already a customer. These include:

  • Custom Web Design, as mentioned earlier.
  • Marketing services, involving SEO and social media, starting at $399 a month.
  • Website management for newbies for $59 a month.
  • Custom Web Development, for those that need something special added to their site. Starting from $89 an hour.

All pro services require a consultation and the final quote (which you don’t have to accept) is based on your individual requirements.  

DreamHost Uptime

DreamHost boasts a 100% uptime, which means your site will never go offline due to routine maintenance or an error on their end. And, if it does, the company promises compensation to those who demonstrate loss of businesses, equivalent to the cost of one day’s hosting for every hour of downtime. 

In actuality, the service, like any other host does go down from time to time but never for long, and an aggregate if of consumer DreamHost reviews shows that uptime has never been an issue and there are no known controversies surrounding it.

That’s very promising if your website is your livelihood. It’s rare for a web host to guarantee uptime and generously compensate when things go wrong. 

DreamHost CloudFlare also means malicious traffic is blocked before it hits your site, improving speed and security across their entire network of hosted sites. This DreamHost CDN uses caching to speed up webpage delivery and act as backups if some servers go offline. 

DreamHost Speed

Aggregates of independent speed tests and user DreamHost reviews prove that it is one of the fastest professional webhosting companies, meaning unless there are problems with your site itself, it will load fast, particularly on VPS and dedicated server plans. 

ISITWP.com ranked it faster than 97% of all tested web hosts. WebsiteToolTester.com called it ‘one of the top-performing providers’, while DownHost.com says DreamHost ‘performs above average’.

Ultimately, it is a fast and reliable managed hosting service for all types of customers.

All DreamHost Hosting Plans

Knowing the differences between hosting services and what best suits you can be confusing so our DreamHost review gives a quick summary of what it offers and who the service is best suited for:

Shared Starter

Suitable for one new website without an established following, and you get a free Domain, One-Click install WordPress, SSL, Website Builder, and Unlimited Traffic, Email costs extra. Resources are shared among other users using DreamHost shared hosting and can theoretically slow down your site but in practice, it’s hard to notice a difference. At just $4.95 a month, it is one of the best cheap website hosting solutions.

Shared Unlimited

The same but with unlimited websites and free unlimited email.

Virtual Private Servers (VPS)

Unlike shared hosting, your resources are secured just for you, even though it’s done virtually. Everything is unlimited, including websites, traffic, and emails, but prices go up based on dedicated RAM and storage space, i.e. Basic is 1GB of RAM and 30GB of space, while Enterprise is 8GB of RAM and 240GB of space. Our DreamHost VPS reviews find these to be fast and stable for medium to large websites. VPS servers use the Linux operating system and you can set up Apache.

Managed WordPress Hosting

Known as DreamPress, this plan is for inexperienced WordPress users that need extra support. WordPress DreamHost sites are designed to run fast and securely, and you get free migration from any previous host of your WordPress site. 

WooCommerce Hosting

DreamHost also has a dedicated plan for WooCommerce businesses, an online shopping platform based on WordPress. You’re mostly paying for the amount of storage space and the number of monthly visitors, starting at 100k and topping out at 1 million-plus.

Dedicated Server Hosting

A dedicated server is literally a server at DreamHost’s data center that is reserved just for you; no sharing, even virtually, with other users. This is the best option for high traffic sites and experienced webmasters that want full control over their hosting and root access. Standard is 4-core CPU, 4GB RAM and 1TB of hard drive space, and Enhanced is a 12-core CPU 16GB of RAM and 2TB of hard drive space. You also get Directed Denial of Service (DDoS protection), making it some of the top-rated hosting available.

Cloud Hosting

Differing from VPS and dedicated servers, cloud hosting combines the resources of multiple servers to balance the load and maximize uptime. The resources you get grow with demand and you are often charged based on what you use rather than a fixed plan.

DreamHost offers a DreamCompute plan for web hosting and DreamObjects aimed at web app development. You can also install LAMP via their guide.

Domain Names

Domain names start as low as $6.99 for .com and you do not have to have a hosting plan to use DreamHost as your registrar. Most hosting plans provide a new domain for free for the first year, which is more than many of the popular web hosting services can provide.

Email Hosting

Get a personalized email account associated with your domain name from $167/ month, without needing a hosting plan.

Reseller Hosting

Anyone paying for a DreamHost plan is permitted to resell any of its services to their own clients.

Customer Support

Customer support is fast and responsive. Even if you need to be passed on to someone else higher up the chain, they tend to be helpful and knowledgeable. We were able to initiate a live chat within 15 minutes, though this feature is only available during normal working hours

Otherwise, you will need to submit a support ticket or email directly. At the moment it does not have a phone available, but the other options seem to work well. Most DreamHost reviews show that users are mainly happy with their support.

There’s also an in-depth knowledge base. Most options in the control panel have small explanations and guidance, so you don’t mess anything up.

Web Hosting Services Comparison

Here we take our hosting site reviews head to head to see how DreamHost compares to other top-rated web hosting companies.

DreamHost vs GoDaddy 

GoDaddy has lost support in recent years and now pales in comparison to the service you can get from DreamHost. While some of the introductory pricing from GoDaddy is attractive, ultimately DreamHost offers better value for money at any level, is more reliable, easier to use, and overall has better features and support.

GoDaddy is also more stringent when it comes to bandwidth and disk space, whereas most plans on DreamHost are unlimited.

Lack of phone tech support might put some off DreamHost, but their live chat and ticket system works perfectly fine so why both picking up the phone in the first place?

Our personal experiences and an aggregate of other reputable DreamHost reviews put it as the clear favorite over GoDaddy.

DreamHost vs Bluehost

DreamHost provides an overall faster and more reliable service, a more responsive customer support team, and ultimately a cheaper service. You’ll also find more features and functionality with DreamHost – automatic daily backups, and even with the second tier of shared hosting you can host an unlimited number of websites, benefit from unlimited SSD space, and unmetered bandwidth.

If you have to choose between the two, go with DreamHost. The only real reason to choose Bluehost is if you simply must have cPanel. Still, Bluehost ranks among the top-rated hosting companies and definitely has something to offer.

DreamHost vs SiteGround

Both obviously cover web hosting and domain services but DreamHost is more affordable at most levels compared to SiteGround, which gives it an immediate leg up. But don’t count SiteGround out yet.  It generally has better customer support, offers§ unlimited email from the start, and is faster for European users.

On basic plans, SiteGround provides a free CDN and caching system, backup and restore, and email, while DreamHost has more storage and bandwidth, and free domain registration.

Which one is best depends entirely on your personal preferences.

DreamHost vs HostGator

Looking for Hostgator vs DreamHost comparisons? HostGator may be one of the biggest names in the world but that doesn’t necessarily put it among the top website hosting companies. The basic shared hosting plans by both companies are similar, though DreamHost is slightly cheaper and officially recommended by WordPress. It also has the edge in terms of uptime and compensation if your site goes down, and generally, has more security features and better customer support.

If you want cPanel or care if your server is Windows instead of Linux, then HostGator might be the best choice. It has fast SSD-based hardware, a user-friendly interface that beats cPanel in many ways, and has everything you need if your site is based on WordPress. 

DreamHost’s 97-day money-back guarantee is also reassuring over HostGator’s 45 days.

DreamHost Pricing

So, how much does DreamHost cost? Let’s take a closer look at each plan on a monthly basis, yearly commitment, and what that would save you if paying on a monthly basis.

Shared Hosting

Starter: 

  • $4.95/month
  • $47.40/year ($3.95/month)
  • $106.20/3 years ($2.59/month)

Shared Unlimited: 

  • $10.95/month
  • $59.40/ year ($4.95/month)
  • $178.20/3 years ($4.95/month)

VPS Hosting

VPS Basic

  • $15/month
  • $165/year ($13.75/month)
  • $360/3 years ($10/month)

VPS Business

  • $30/month
  • $330/year ($27.50/month)
  • $720/year ($20/month)

VPS Professional

  • $60/month
  • $660/year ($55/month)
  • £1,440/3 years ($40/month)

VPS Enterprise

  • $120/ month
  • $1,320/ year ($110/ month)
  • $2,880/ 3 years ($80/ month)

Managed WordPress Hosting

DreamPress

  • $12/month

DreamPress Plus

  • $14/month

DreamPress Pro

  • $79.95/month
  • $863.40/year ($71.95/month)

Dedicated Server Hosting

Standard

  • $169/month
  • $1,788/year ($149/month)

Enhanced

  • $299/month 
  • $3,348/year ($279/month)

Cloud Hosting

  • Between $4.50 to $48/month

DreamHost Review Verdict

Not matter what DreamHost reviews you read, all agree that you’ll get good customer service and an all-around positive experience. It’s a full-service web hosting company, offering something for everyone.

And, while it is not cheap compared to other popular web hosts, it offers superior value for money across most hosting plans. It also uses the latest technology and SSD drives for the servers and comes with unlimited disk space and bandwidth

While its key letdown is the lack of cPanel support, for newcomers this is irrelevant. For seasoned experts, DreamHost’s own panel is easy to use and more than competent. You’ll find all the same features that cPanel provides and if you can’t find it – their customer support is a few clicks away.

With extras like free domain and privacy for the first year, generous 97-day money-back guarantee, and excellent WordPress support, our DreamHost review ranks it as one of the top-rated web hosting services available in 2020.

If you’ve read all our DreamHost reviews and still have questions? We’ve answered your common queries below.

FAQ

Does DreamHost use cPanel

No, DreamHost does not use the cPanel control panel. However, it has its own proprietary control panel that allows you to carry out many of the same functions. 

In some ways, this is more user-friendly to inexperienced users, plus this control panel is hosted by DreamHost separately and will not hog the resources of your own plan like cPanel does for many site hosting services. 

It does lack some features, such as on click install of certain scripts, but those same scripts can still be installed manually.

Which is better: Bluehost or DreamHost?

Both DreamHost and Bluehost are highly touted by the webmaster community and have a large user base. They offer essentially the same services, but we give the edge to DreamHost because it has more cost-effective plans in most areas. Some features worth considering:

  • DreamHost offers automatic daily backups, while this is a feature that must be turned on in Bluehost’s cPanel.
  • DreamHost has a slight overall speed advantage over Bluehost based on our own and independent testing, which is good for you, your users, and SEO.
  • We also found DreamHost to have a slightly faster and more knowledgeable customer support staff, though Bluehost is more than acceptable in that department.

The only real difference is that Bluehost has cPanel, but DreamHost’s own panel is just as good in most areas.

What is DreamHost happy hosting?

Happy hosting is simply another word for shared hosting and is the basic type of web hosting available. It means your site, files, databases, etc are shared on physical servers with other DreamHost customers. 

Of course, this is a virtual environment and no other customer has access to your account. But in extreme circumstances, such as an unexpected boom in traffic, it can slow down everyone on the same server. That’s why shared hosting is aimed at beginners with small sites and few visitors. 

You can get so-called ‘happy hosting’ for as little as $4.95 a month from DreamHost.

Where is DreamHost located?

DreamHost is one of the best mass consumer web hosting companies available in 2020. It offers great pricing, unlimited storage, and bandwidth for most plans, and it has proven to be faster than most of the competition. 

DreamHost accommodates everyone from beginners to large companies and enterprises, though the most technical professional features can be lacking and no cPanel will irk some if that’s what you’re used to.

Nonetheless, according to DreamHost reviews. for the vast majority of individuals and small to medium businesses, that need a wide range of features, guidance, and support, it doesn’t currently get much better.

ABOUT AUTHOR

A qualified journalist and longtime web content writer, Keelan has a passion for exploring information and learning new things. If he's not writing or pushing his own brands, you'll find him watching pro wrestling or trying not to rant about politics online.