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DreamHost review: I’m a satisfied 15-year customer

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(Image: DreamHost)

I’ve been operating web sites on DreamHost for over 15 years, utilizing a number of their plans. They have not stood nonetheless just like the web, now providing a aggressive vary of services and products for people, small companies, and enterprises.

But this is not simply a assessment of DreamHost. It’s a meta-review of the spurious precision of host rating. Because whenever you take a look at completely different eval websites, the numbers are all over. 

So I’ll assessment DreamHost, protecting feeds and speeds, and on the finish, I’ll give my tackle who ought to give DreamHost severe consideration.

Hosting firms do not make it straightforward to check plans. There are many variables of their choices. How many web sites? Storage? Email addresses? SSL certificates? One-click installs? Malware scanning and removing?

Then there may be how a lot the annual worth jumps after the preliminary teaser price ends, which may require some math. DreamHost’s Shared Unlimited teaser price begins at $2.95 per 30 days billed yearly however then jumps to $10 per 30 days — and malware removing is one other $3 per 30 days.

On the opposite hand, the Shared Unlimited plan is precisely that. Unlimited web sites, site visitors, bandwidth, storage, and electronic mail accounts. Plus automated backups, free WHOIS masking, and a variety of one-click software program installers, together with WordPress, and assist for putting in or mapping to different well-liked providers equivalent to WooCommerce, Shopify, or Zen Cart for e-commerce, phpBB boards, or the Moodle studying platform. And there are not any startup charges.

Other options of Shared Unlimited embrace:

  • Unlimited MySQL Databases
  • Unix Shell
  • Access to Raw Log Files
  • Crontab Access
  • Reseller & Sub Accounts
  • Rails, Python, Perl Support
  • Unlimited SFTP Users
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Annually billed internet hosting plans in contrast. 


(Image: DreamHost)

Don’t will get

But DreamHost would not attempt to be all issues to all individuals. They have strengths and what is likely to be weaknesses for you. Here are a couple of issues that is likely to be deal killers. 

First, they’re a Linux store and do not provide Windows servers. If you require Windows for some particular software program, look elsewhere. But a plus for Mac customers is that the assist workers is normally conversant with the Unix underpinnings of macOS in addition to Linux. 

Also, they do not provide phone assist. That’s not a adverse for me as a result of getting a drawback solved takes simply as lengthy on the telephone because it does in a chat. I want DreamHost’s 18.5 hours a day of free on-line chat assist. But you might have considered trying that additional stage of soothing handholding that a voice can provide and are keen to pay for it.

Buying standards

Some individuals wish to pore over spec sheets and check outcomes, on the lookout for the optimum resolution. That’s not me.

I want “satisficing” — adequate is nice sufficient — most parameters and specializing in the 2 or three that matter most to me. For instance, in a cell pc, weight is vital, however I do not care a lot about thinness or sound high quality. If it suits in a messenger bag and I can hear a video clip, I’m good.

With my perspective in thoughts, listed here are the important thing shopping for standards for a internet hosting service.

First, do not buy internet hosting on worth. Companies largely purchase the identical servers and storage, hire the identical colocation house, and faucet into the identical networks. They do not have large price differentials. AWS, as an illustration, makes use of its large scale to juice margins and fund R&D fairly than passing large financial savings on to small prospects. 

What you’re really shopping for from a internet hosting firm is a utility service. Issues equivalent to uptime, response instances, ease of administration, and assist are a very powerful elements. 

But, as we’ll see, it is not straightforward to get dependable numbers for any of these parameters. 

Uptime

Uptime is normally measured each month. A 30 day month has 43 200 minutes, so 99.9% uptime interprets to a little greater than 43 minutes of downtime a month. Each 0.1% of uptime is 43 minutes up or down. 

Most downtime will probably be scheduled for system upkeep and deliberate for off-hours, equivalent to 0200 Sunday morning. Then there may be episodic or semi-planned downtime, normally for vital safety updates to system software program. A botnet exploits a new bug, a patch to repair it’s issued, and your internet hosting firm wants to put in it at first is pooched. 

Then there are the unintentional, unplanned outages that you just examine which have affected each main service supplier, together with Apple, AWS, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook. A upkeep replace goes awry, or a tech misconfigures a router, and issues go south, normally for hours. 

The fact is that uptime has a pronounced stochastic ingredient. Chance, or luck, if you’ll.

Measuring uptime can range wildly relying on the time interval — hour, week, month, 12 months. If you choose a host based mostly on a month-to-month uptime rating, bear in mind that one other one is more likely to be finest subsequent month. 

For instance, hrank.com lists DreamHost’s uptime efficiency over the past a number of years.  They’ve discovered that DreamHost’s annual uptime ranged from 99.877% in 2020 to 99.948% in 2018.

But over at WebsiteSetup, they are saying that DreamHost’s 2020 uptime was a lot worse, 99.62%. So which is it? Hrank’s 99.948% or WebsiteSetup’s 99.62% — which is sort of 2.4 hours much less? 

Who is aware of? Moreover, I’m inclined to say, who cares? There’s a bigger query right here. 

That distinction is nothing. But if sensible of us who’re sincerely attempting to measure uptime are to date aside, how a lot ought to we depend on revealed stats? 

Which takes me again to satisficing. I’m keen to guess that any internet hosting firm that has been in enterprise for 10 or extra years — DreamHost is 25 this 12 months — most likely has first rate uptime. 

Some hosts obtain 100% uptime for restricted intervals. But when even multi-billion greenback corporations staffed with PhDs have outages lasting hours, effectively, what are you able to conclude aside from downtime is variable. If a host is constantly poor, keep away from them. But do not evaluate the most recent numbers pondering they’re carved in stone. As monetary corporations say, “previous efficiency is not any assure of future efficiency.”

Latency

Often known as response time, that is one other quantity that looms massive in internet hosting evaluations. I’m a large fan of low latency in storage and demanding of cloud-based storage resulting from web latency. 

But selecting a internet hosting firm based mostly on revealed latency? I do not suppose so.

Why? The similar reasoning as in uptime numbers: they’re everywhere in the map. Hrank sees their 2020 latency as averaging 436 milliseconds, which is nice. WebsiteSetup sees, for a similar 12 months, 1,161 milliseconds, an nearly 3x distinction. 

So, once more, which is it? Who is aware of? 

Ease of administration

Many internet hosting firms use cPanel, a product from cPanel LLC that’s one thing of a de facto business commonplace. Its greatest benefit for internet hosting firms is that it’s cheap: 17.5¢ per account in bulk.  

But DreamHost makes use of its personal panel. Looking at each of them, there’s not a lot of distinction past the structure. This isn’t a shock, on condition that they each carry out related duties. 

Here’s a partial cPanel screenshot:

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cPanel screenshot.


(Image: cPanel, LLC)

Here’s a DreamHost panel screenshot:

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DreamHost management panel homepage.


(Image: DreamHost)

The large distinction is that DreamHost aggregates all of the capabilities within the higher left nook. Each matter is a drop-down menu. Choose Manage Websites beneath Websites, and also you get a record of your web sites with their important options and one other Manage button. That takes you the small print of that web site with, the place applicable, extra administration choices. 

The cPanel, providing extra decisions on the primary display, appears to be flatter, however the demo mode would not allow you to see how far you might need to drill down. The DreamHost panel appears to require one or two extra clicks to drill down into the specifics of a area or an electronic mail account. 

Unless you’re a cPanel wizard, the variations between the 2 consumer interfaces aren’t more likely to sway you in both route. 

Support

Accounts include 18.5 hours a day — 3:00AM – 9:30PM PT — chat assist, and 24/7 electronic mail assist. I’ve discovered their assist to be usually good. Sometimes they’re a bit fast to shuffle you off to a data base article that covers your drawback — RTFM! In quieter intervals, I’ve discovered the techs completely satisfied to go above and past by shortly fixing points that a consumer might deal with themselves. Wait instances, in my expertise, usually vary from 3-10 minutes, relying on the time of day.  

Being a Linux store, they’re educated in Linux/Unix and related free and open-source software program. And they’re actually good on WordPress and the same old plug-ins.

Who is DreamHost for?

How are you able to inform if DreamHost is for you? Here are some key elements to think about.

You are a WordPress consumer. WordPress.org has beneficial DreamHost for internet hosting since no less than 2005. If WordPress is your jam, that is about all it’s good to know. 

If you’re a skilled net developer designing and sustaining a number of websites, you can find a lot to love on DreamHost. If you resell internet hosting, DreamHost may very well be a good match. If web site site visitors warrants it, upgrading to a VPS or devoted server takes minutes. Adding DreamHost administration providers can lighten your load and offer you skilled web site studies that remind purchasers simply how useful you’re.

Who is not DreamHost for?

If the sight of HTML code offers you the creeps, you most likely need a easier net builder service equivalent to Wix or Network Solutions to construct your web site. DreamHost provides a web site builder based mostly on WordPress, however it is not as easy. I discover the web site builders require a lot extra pointing and clicking than I like, however should you want one thing fast and simple, they might be just right for you.

If you’re completely immersed within the Windows world, DreamHost will not be a good match. And should you do not care about WordPress, then you definitely’ll be ignoring one among DreamHost’s core competencies.

Summary

The internet hosting market is pretty mature, which implies most distributors have related price buildings resulting from operating on commodity {hardware}. The statistics on uptime and latency aren’t notably dependable, so I’d use the net report playing cards to remove the worst firms fairly than depend on them to decide on “the very best”. 

Choosing a internet hosting firm is value investing time in as a result of shifting to a busy web site is non-trivial. Keep in thoughts that a lot of the hassle in beginning a web site is one thing you solely do as soon as, which makes it worthwhile to think about hiring skilled assist. But as soon as the positioning is up, it is best to be capable of deal with a lot of the administration and updates your self, until it is a large web site. 

With no HTML expertise, I began a running a blog web site 15 years in the past on DreamHost. It labored out effectively, and I’m a satisfied customer to this present day.

Comments welcome. 

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