DreamHost Overview

DreamHost web hosting has a very clear vision about what they are about: they make no pretense about being all things to all customers, although they give customers the tools to use their web resources in a wide variety of ways. This overview aims to capture this.

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What Aspects of DreamHost Define Its Service?

There are six aspects of the DreamHost approach that define its service. These are:

  • Which programming features they support, and which they don’t
  • Choosing to offer three levels of hosting
  • Approach to support
  • Available scripts/plug-ins
  • Approach to disk storage space
  • The uptime guarantee

Let’s review them in turn

Which programming features they support, and which they don’t

• DreamHost does not use cPanel. It doesn’t use vDeck either. It uses a proprietary web panel designed in-house for access to hosting customer controls. It is only available in English.

• DreamHost only offers domain registrations for the TLDs .com, .net, .org, and .info.

• As of June, 2012, the site offers the following information about programming languages and servers:

  • MySQL 5.1
  • PHP 5 (and in order to work with MySQL 5.1, PHP4 is no longer being supported)
  • Apache 2.0.63 as of November, 2009 (the last time the questions were updated, apparently)
  • Python is supported via SSH
  • Debian Linux 

Choosing to offer three levels of hosting 

• Many web hosts that specialize in shared hosting do not offer any other kind of hosting (or they hide it so deeply in their site that the casual visitor will never find it). DreamHost offers shared hosting, VPS hosting, and Dedicated hosting. They do hide their reference to colocated hosting on the page that shows images of the data centers, where you can find a phone number for more information. This makes it possible to upgrade accounts without having to switch web hosts.

Approach to support 

• DreamHost does not provide customers with a call-in number. Callout support is an upgrade for shared hosting and is limited to 3 calls per month. Email is available to all customers all the time. Live chat is available either with accounts or as an upgrade.

• DreamHost does not complete account transfers for customers – they need to do that themselves.

• In their responses to 116 common questions, DreamHost responds to a question about how long it takes for support to respond by saying  that, “Typically 50% of questions are answered within 1 hour and 98% within 24 hours.”

• As far as ticket resolution times, they say that, “That depends a lot on how clearly worded and complicated the support request is.” 

• Users turn on SSH themselves from their control panel.

• If you want to connect to your MySQL databses remotely, you do your own IP whitelisting from your web panel.

Available scripts/plug-ins 

• Dream Host does not support Simple Scripts. They offer a pared down One-Click Installer, that has one offering in most categories (but two photo galleries and four content management systems, if you count WordPress). 

Approach to disk storage space 

• DreamHost does not have a reseller program, but on the question page, they suggest that “regular” customers can use their access to unlimited domains,  unlimited disk storage, and unlimited bandwidth to provide hosting as a value added extension of other services. The DreamHost FAQs say, “we ask that you offer websites as part of a “Hosting Plus” service (you design the websites, perform maintenance, handle tech support, etc.). Making your account resources available (whether for free or pay) to the general public without any “Plus” is not allowed.”

This approach links to the origins of DreamHost. The original three founders designed websites, and DreamHost’s initial existence allowed them to extend their relationship with their clients by offering them hosting after creating their designs. This is often a good setup for both customer and host, and the website can be designed with the hosting specifications in mind, and the hosting support can be provided with in-depth knowledge of the customer’s needs and the site’s particular needs.

In addition, the unlimited allowance of resources does not mean that you shouldn’t optimize your site or use those resources other than as described in the unlimited use limitations (e.g., for file sharing).

The DreamHost uptime guarantee

DreamHost separates itself from many companies that offer shared hosting by offering a100% uptime guarantee. This does not mean that your site will never go down. What it means is that you have recourse if it does (other than for scheduled and announced maintenance). The program kicks in when you report your site problem via a support ticket. Besides fixing the problem, DreamHost credits you for a day of hosting for each hour or fraction of an hour that your service is interrupted starting with that ticket. You may be compensated for up to 10% of your next pre-paid renewal fee.

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