Many companies that offer shared web hosting have little to distinguish them, and as a result, they seek to make an impression and distinguish themselves by a mascot (cow, alligator), pricing, or the writing style on their website. DreamHost actually is different, and this article explains how.
Which Features Distinguish DreamHost Web Hosting?
There are seven things that distinguish DreamHost’s web hosting plans from other highly rated plans:
- Multi-level Hosting
- Uptime Guarantee
- One-Click Installer
- Custom Control Panel
- Disk Space
- Free Trials
DreamHost Multi-level Hosting
Many web hosting companies that offer shared hosting only offer shared hosting. This means that if you start hosting with them and discover you need to upgrade to VPS hosting or Dedicated Server hosting, you will need to change web hosting providers and go through the hassle of switching web hosts. DreamHost obviates the need for such drastic measures by providing Virtual Private Server hosting and Dedicated server hosing, in addition to shared hosting. The page that shows photos of their data centers also notes that they will entertain requests for colocation by phone request.
This leads to the conclusion that DreamHost has not designed its hosting only for the entry-level customer who’s going to be staying at that level.
DreamHost Uptime Guarantee
Many customers who use web hosting services are used to seeing uptime guarantees that service will be available 99% or 99.9% or 99.998% of the time.
A 30-day month has 720 hours, so a site that guarantees 99% uptime can be offline (in addition to scheduled server maintenance) for 7 hours and 12 minutes without having failed to provide their guaranteed service. Of course, it does matter which 7 hours and 12 minutes your site might be down for, and this partly depends on where in the world your customers are, but you might not want to have to worry about this.
DreamHost offers a 100% uptime guarantee. This doesn’t mean that the servers will never go down: customers who were with DreamHost in 2006 may remember the power outages in July that caused major service disruption. What it means that from the time a customer posts a support ticket about the outage, DreamHost starts the clock and for every hour or fraction of an hour you are without service, DreamHost will credit your next pre-paid renewal invoice for a day of free hosting, up to 10% of your bill. In other words, it means that customers have recourse for any downtime they experience, other than scheduled maintenance that is announced in advance.
This leads to the conclusion that DreamHost is best for customers who are on their sites often and paying attention to its functioning.
If you’ve ever used Simple Scripts script installer, you know that it offers a whole lot of choice: there are 11 eCommerce solutions, 9 content management systems (CMS), 6 types of blogging software, 6 photo galleries, 6 website builders, 5 wikis, 4 forums, 3 project management systems, 3 social networking solutions, and that doesn’t even cover all the offerings. DreamHost doesn’t offer all of these. Through One-Click Installer, it offers Joomla!, WordPress, Pligg, and Moodle—which cover CMS, blogging, and Education content software. It offers one forum, one poll, one shopping cart, one wiki, two photo galleries, one calendar, one project management tool, and one-shot software in seven other categories: genealogy, conversation, ad serving, wiki/issue tracking, web analytics, phone system, and complex narrative creation.
There’s something that you usually find on shared hosting sites that isn’t here—your basic themed or drag-and-drop site builder. That’s right: DreamHost does not have a web builder. This leads to the conclusion that DreamHost web hosting is geared towards customers who are happy with this limited output, in many cases, probably because they are programming their own web sites.
Many shared web host companies offer 24/7 email, live chat, and phone support. DreamHost does not. Although all hosting plans offer 24/7 email support, live chat comes only with DreamHost VPS and Dedicated hosting, although shared hosting customers can upgrade to the live chat option. The live chat option includes up to 3 callbacks per month. There is no call-in phone number, no callbacks in any language other than English, and no callbacks to phone numbers outside the US and Canada.
This leads to the conclusion that DreamHost web hosting is best for customers who are adept at handling many of their own issues and who are adept at explaining their situation in written English.
DreamHost Custom Control Panel
In the DreamHost list of 116 common questions in its wiki, there are several questions about cPanel, one of which is answered with the flippant, “Bah! cPanel is for the birds, we have our own custom control panel: DH Panel.” The DreamHost panel is unique and designed to provide customers with access to account configuration, billing information, email configuration, web administration, and more. Referred to as the “web panel,” the DreamHost control panel was announced in June 2002. One of the headers in the announcement of the panel is telling: “Be Your Own IT Department.” The text beneath describes how the panel is designed to give users more control and eliminate lengthy back and forth between customers and tech support.
This leads to the conclusion that the hosting plans at DreamHost are designed for independent operators who don’t need to or want to have a heavy dependence on support contact, but wish to take matters into their own hands.
DreamHost Disk Space
DreamHost’s choice to set aside 50 GB of your drive space for personal backup use sets it apart from many hosting services that forbid any files other than those connected to the website. This means that users don’t have to find another place to stash their files and/or feel that for all their investment in a web host, their being treated ungenerously.
DreamHost Free Trials
DreamHost lets you try before you buy for 2 weeks, and also offers a 97 day money-back guarantee. This leads to the conclusion that a customer who knows what he or she wants has the opportunity to find out before committing. Customers who are new to hosting may not find that 14 days is enough to make a good decision.