DreamHost review: fast and affordable web host?
In this DreamHost review, I’m going to expose the good, the bad, and the ugly about this hosting provider. You’ll get real information about its plans and prices, as well as details about DreamHost’s main features, performance testing, security, control panel, and the level of customer support.
DreamHost is a titan of the hosting industry, one of the oldest providers too. It mainly focuses on WordPress, but if you have large-scale projects, you can go for VPS or dedicated hosting.
As the host has been around for a while, it’s no surprise that there are a lot of reviews. Surprisingly enough, the majority of them are very positive. The host seems to have it all – affordable prices, generous resources, good performance, and strong security.
It’s only natural this has piqued my curiosity. Now it’s my turn to cover DreamHost. So I simply purchased a hosting plan and put DreamHost, with all its praise, to the test. Down below you’ll find everything from price to features, performance, security, ease of use, and support discussed in great detail.
It turned out to be quite a read. If you're in a rush, there's a nice summary at the end of this article too.
|Price:||Prices start at $2.59/month|
|Hosting types:||Shared, VPS, cloud, managed WordPress, and dedicated server|
|Server locations:||The US|
|Support:||Live chat (5:30 AM - 9:30 PM PT), phone support, and 24/7 email tickets|
|Current deal:||Get DreamHost, now 72% OFF|
Pros and Cons of DreamHost
- Affordable and feature-rich plans
- Good performance testing results
- Easy website setup process
- Free domain, SSL, domain privacy, and daily backups
- Malware removal tool is paid
- Live chat is not 24/7
DreamHost video review
DreamHost pricing and plans
DreamHost prices look very average from the first look, with shared hosting starting at $2.59/month. Other options include DreamPress managed WordPress platform, VPS (Virtual Private Servers) for more server control, and dedicated servers for the biggest websites.
|Type of hosting||Best for|
|Shared web hosting ($2.59/month)||Starting a website. Affordable and easy-to-use hosting. $2.59/month|
|DreamPress ($12/month)||Managed WordPress platform with dedicated server resources, great for online stores.|
|VPS ($10/month)||High-performance hosting if you have technical skills.|
|Cloud hosting ($4.50/month)||Web-based application hosting. Affordable and highly powerful.|
|Dedicated hosting ($149/month)||Advanced projects. Provides the highest level of resources and server control.|
DreamHost has options to serve any kind of website and user. That’s great if you ever need an upgrade.
But shared hosting is the way to go for most of the websites, so I’m interested in how good the value is of these plans.
The good news is that there are only 2 plans, so the choice is simple. Also, both of them will get you a free domain and its privacy, SSL, content delivery network, and daily backups.
- Starter ($2.59/month) is best for a single personal website – to start a blog, host a portfolio, or list the company’s services. It comes with 1 website limit and 50 GB of SSD storage.
- Unlimited ($3.95/month) is a great plan for both individuals and small businesses and can be used for small online store hosting. You can host unlimited websites on it and get free email hosting. Storage is not limited either.
These are very good prices for shared hosting. Especially the Unlimited plan, as little to no providers offer similar features at that rate.
At the same time, Starter would be an amazing option for personal sites. But there’s one drawback – it doesn't provide a free email account which is essential to look professional online.
- Check out all available DreamHost coupon codes to get the best deal!
In any case, both plans can easily find their user and both of them offer good value. Still, there's one thing that you should consider.
Unlimited disk space and bandwidth
DreamHost Starter plan has unlimited bandwidth, while Unlimited includes both unlimited disk space and bandwidth. Sounds pretty cool, right? In theory, you should be able to host as many websites (and as big) as you'd like. Plus, thousands of people could scroll through these sites daily without any trouble.
However, truly unlimited web hosting is quite impossible due to physical server limitations. Just like any device, a server is not elastic and has a specific amount of storage, bandwidth, and RAM. More so, keep in mind that shared hosting hosts many users on the same server, meaning those limited resources are shared among users.
Yet don’t jump to judge DreamHost just yet. Although the resources aren’t really unlimited you do get much more than you would with a provider that has set limits for storage or bandwidth. You can easily host a small online store on the Unlimited plan with no issues.
Pricing need to know
More often than not, you’ll come out with an amazing deal if you choose DreamHost. But their terms change a lot and to get the best possible deal requires some analysis. I did it for you.
You’ll get the cheapest price by choosing Starter for 3 years. That’s $2.59/month but you’ll have to pre-pay which totals $93.24. The plan currently renews at a $5.99/mo rate. Annual plan rate is also very good.
In comparison, if you wanted to get the same features with other providers, this is how it would compare:
|Provider||Plan (3-year)||Total initial||Total renewal|
So not only is the DreamHost plan cheapest initially, but it is also the cheapest long-term with only HostGator being close by.
The thing is, I hate the more expensive renewals. But in this case, DreamHost offers way more than other providers at a cheaper rate. So I can’t be too salty. The value is really good.
But as I mentioned, the terms and deals change. So always, always look for this small question mark and you’ll be good.
Anyway, that’s not all.
If you’re a first-time hosting user, you might not know that some things are better to be taken with a grain of salt. DreamHost is not an exception, and here are some bits I got after reading terms of service:
- A free domain name registration is only free for a year (that’s the case with all providers). The .com costs $15.99 to renew, whereas to register is just $6.99. Another popular TLD is .org. It costs $13.95, but you spend $15.99 to renew it.
- Extra services will be added to your shopping cart automatically, so don’t forget to uncheck those boxes if you don’t want to inflate the price. My experience tells me that all of these can be exchanged for free or cheaper alternatives.
- The very generous 97-day money-back guarantee is only valid for credit card payments for shared web hosting. Other services (domain, SSL, AdWords) will not be refunded.
Standard practice or not, these are a few things you better know if you decide to use DreamHost.
In all honesty, DreamHost prices are good. You can get a basic plan for a very cheap price, while more advanced options offer great bang for your buck. In fact, DreamHost includes more than a lot of its competitors for a similar or cheaper price.
Performance – is DreamHost fast?
DreamHost is perhaps the only budget-friendly host that is brave enough to offer a 100% uptime guarantee and deliver it >99.99% of the time. Talking about speed, it’s similarly impressive and can load both light and heavy pages in a flash. In this performance testing, I put a lot of pressure on DreamHost. Let’s check how it went.
DreamHost uptime and response time
First things first, I checked whether DreamHost delivers reliable performance in the long run. And it did. 2 months and counting, I’ve got only 1 outage that equaled to >99.99% uptime rate. Just a minute short of the guarantee – I cannot complain.
Server response time was great as well, averaging at 231ms. While the shared hosting industry is known to average at around 600ms, this is really good.
Overall, I think that DreamHost delivers in terms of reliability. While it does not reach 100% uptime, it would be naive to think that it would.
100% is the impossible perfection when it comes to servers. Even brand new servers need to be rebooted and maintained with countless software updates.
I’ve installed a blank WordPress on my site to test how fast it loads. Well, the US speed was impressive — a little more than 0.8 seconds to load Largest Contentful Paint (LCP). That’s the fastest it gets. Now, the results for Europe and India are worse. And that’s the expected result as the DreamHost data center is located on the mainland.
Why do I talk about some random thing that’s LCP?
Well, it’s a speed measurement that Google takes into consideration when ranking websites. One of the many, to be honest. But for our purpose, this measure helps to see what both the search engine and visitors will think.
LCP happens when the biggest content piece is loaded. Basically, many of us would go on to scroll that website at that point as we would think it is fully loaded while some lesser noticeable things are still loading.
If that happens within 2.5 seconds – we are good. And DreamHost easily fits in the benchmark across all locations with some time to spare.
DreamHost servers are located in the US and there’s no data center choice available. This makes DreamHost a good option for audiences that are located in North America but not for those in other continents.
Technicalities aside, DreamHost loads websites fast. This is an Astra theme with a template on it. Basically, an actual website that you’d see online. DreamHost loads the Largest Contentful Paint in 1.4 seconds.
Naturally, the heavier the website, the longer it loads. So LCP increase here was expected. Nonetheless, we still easily pass the test.
Also, speed visualization illustrates the whole loading process. So even though LCP happened in 1.4 seconds, the website actually stopped loading at 1.6s. Which too is fast.
DreamHost stress testing
Do these page loading speed results mean that there’s nothing to worry about? Kinda, but I have one last test handy.
For 5 minutes, I’ve sent 50 virtual users (bots) to my website. Heavy traffic is called heavy for a reason. It puts a significant load on the server, often causing it to slow down or, in some cases, shut down completely.
But, the results show a different kind of story. DreamHost has managed to pass my test with no issues.
The important things here are these – the blue line that is speed and the grey line that shows the number of visitors.
In ideal cases, the blue line should stay flat. And it did, mostly. It only had a couple of micro bumps. But that did not cause the server to shut down or slow down overall.
So no matter if you are the only one visiting your website or there are 10s of people on it, DreamHost will work fine.
All things considered, DreamHost is great when it comes to performance. It is reliable, fast, and can handle the traffic. And this is what I am looking for in good hosting.
Security – is DreamHost secure?
In terms of security, DreamHost covers the basics and includes some more advanced stuff. All plans include SSL certificates, firewalls, daily backups, and domain privacy.
- Free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates are the ultimate essentials when it comes to web hosting. They are required for a secure connection between browsers and servers.
- Web Application Firewall comes with 100s of custom rules that filter the traffic that comes to your site. This way, you have basic protection from attacks on your site as well as bots.
- Daily backups is a feature that’s rarely offered for free. DreamHost backs up your website automatically, even on the cheapest plan. So in case something goes wrong, you can roll back a previous backup and prevent major losses.
- Domain privacy protection is another paid feature that DreamHost adds for free. This service hides your personal information associated with the domain that would otherwise be public.
This is a good set of security measures. Unfortunately, one important feature is paid.
DreamHost has developed its own malware removal tool DreamShield Malware Remover. It costs $29.99 per year or $3 monthly. It’s a useful thing to have as malware is very common. Unfortunately, DreamHost makes you pay for it.
I personally did not purchase DreamShield and opted to fill in security gaps with 3rd party tools.
Needless to say, DreamHost takes security seriously. It offers many features free of charge, unlike other hosting providers. And while malware protection is paid, it can be replaced by 3rd party alternatives. Overall, DreamHost has secured it's place on our secure hosting providers' list.
Hosting management – is DreamHost easy to use?
DreamHost is easy to use, with the main focus on WordPress hosting. While it is possible to host other applications, the users of WP are benefiting the most. Starting with an easy yet a little slow WordPress installation, 2 builders, and an intuitive custom-built control panel, it’s a workhorse for a great user experience.
Once you sign up, you’ll see this screen right here:
You might need to wait a couple of minutes until server space is allocated for your account, but this is the main setup screen. You’ll be able to install WordPress with literally one click of a button (Install WordPress Now). It’s really the only hosting provider I’ve come across whose 1-click WordPress installation is actually 1-click.
Also, don’t forget to set up an email address. There’s a convenient button for it too (Complete Setup).
To create a mailbox, you’ll just need to enter a name you want and think of a secure password.
By the way, the SSL certificate was installed for me automatically. So it took no more than 10 minutes (most of which was waiting for the WordPress installation to load), and I had 3 of the most important parts of the website setup done – WordPress installed, SSL activated, and a professional email account created.
This is all that most web hosting users will need. But if you want to take more control over your account, let’s see what the control panel is capable of.
What does the DreamHost control panel look like?
After initial website setups are complete, DreamHost custom control panel will look like this:
I definitely liked the initial setup screen better. In any case, you don’t need the whole central part of this interface. All the most important stuff is on the menu on the left.
This is where you can add additional domains, manage subdomains, or install new WordPress. Also, you’ll find your webmail access here and more advanced stuff like FTP and SSH.
In terms of first impressions, DreamHost does not disappoint. But how does it feel when it comes to day-to-day tasks?
How to add a domain and install SSL with DreamHost?
Whether you want to add a new domain, subdomain, or install SSL – you’ll need to head to the Domains tab on the left menu. DreamHost makes it easy to manage your domains and install SSL certificates.
I first wanted to check how easy it is to add a new domain.
Whether you have a domain in another registrar (like GoDaddy or Uniregistry) or you want to buy one, head to the Manage Domains menu option. Now, either pick the option to Add Hosting to a Domain/Sub-domain (I know, it’s a weird phrasing) or Register a New Domain.
I picked the first option. This is where you add already registered domains, or you can create subdomains that are already hosted with DreamHost.
All you need to do is fill out the information – the domain (or subdomain) and URL structure. I usually pick the Remove WWW. Other fields are either automatically filled out or optional.
It’s that simple.
Now, we’d also need an SSL to that domain. The great news is that you can install SSL on an unlimited number of domains. Some providers give only one SSL, which I think is weird.
SSLs are under the SSL/TLS Certification menu option (uhm, no brainer). All that’s left to do is click on an Add button and choose the free Let’s Encrypt certificate in the next window.
The bottom line is that managing your domains and installing SSL certificates with DreamHost is not one of those things that cause a mountain of headaches. No matter what you do, your effort only lasts a few minutes, and you’re usually told what to do every step of the way.
How to install WordPress with DreamHost?
You get a chance to install WordPress on your first login to the control panel, and it literally takes just one click. But if you need additional sites, it won’t be much more difficult as DreamHost has an auto-installer script ready in its control panel.
All you’ll need to do is go to either One-Click Installs or WordPress (told you, weird UX choices), and click on Learn More & Install.
A pop-up window will appear. Just follow the instructions here, which basically means selecting a domain and clicking the Install it for me now button.
But there’s always a but. While it does take just a couple of clicks, DreamHost can take a while to actually install your WordPress. One time, I waited over 20 minutes. Other providers either do it instantly or take no longer than 5. So this was weird but not a deal-breaker.
Overall, no issues apart from some waiting time should arise if you’d like to add another WordPress website to your account.
Is DreamHost email service any good?
DreamHost has a pretty standard email service. Users purchasing the Unlimited plan will be able to create unlimited email accounts, while for the Starter plan users, 1 mailbox would cost $1.67 a month.
You can set up your first mailbox from the initial setup window or simply go to Mail tab on the left menu and select Manage Mail.
Creating a new email account is as simple as clicking on the Create New Email Address button and following the instructions there – filling out details like a wanted mailbox name, passwords, and so on.
Activation will take a second or two, and you’ll be able to reach your newly created mailbox by going to Webmail and clicking on your new account name.
The interface of DreamHost’s mailboxes is very simple and clean. It’s easy to find all the options, send emails, attach files, and even create nice signatures.
I personally did not have any issues with deliverability. But I have only sent out a couple of short emails.
If you’re planning big email marketing campaigns, it’s better to have a dedicated email service. Using shared hosting servers can hurt your mailbox reputation as it is shared by all accounts on that server.
In the end, DreamHost has a great mailbox for receiving your contact form submissions or contacting potential clients on a small scale. However, choose a dedicated email server for bigger email campaigns.
Website builders – easier website development?
If you're a first-time user or simply prefer creating a site with a website builder, DreamHost offers not one but 2 website builders you can use.
Let’s start with the first one.
With every DreamHost WordPress installation, you get to use (if you want) a Boldgrid Website Builder interface. It is a premium plugin that adds website builder functionality to your website.
It has its own templates – all responsive and well made. The choice is up to you.
In any case, you’ll be able to customize those templates using a block editor. Out of all block editors on WordPress, I can safely say that this is one of the better ones.
The thing about website builders is that you customize your website visually and can immediately see the result. That’s very easy.
Talking about easy, even less complicated builder is out there – Remixer.
It’s a tool to use in case you are in a huge rush or simply have no idea how to build a website. It has a few templates and a very simplified interface.
Again, you do edit everything visually, but there are fewer choices, so it takes no time to get a website ready.
I personally would only choose Remixer for a quick “Coming soon” page. But it can serve simple landing pages well too.
No matter which option you choose, you’ll come out with a professional and responsive website. When using website builders, everything depends on your imagination and not actual web development skills.
All in all, DreamHost is very convenient when it comes to hosting management and overall ease of use. Some UX choices or just poor copy can be questioned, but they do not make it more difficult to use. It’s both user-friendly and functional.
Will DreamHost customer support help me?
When it comes to customer support, DreamHost provides multiple channels that allow you to get in touch with an agent. You have a live chat (5:30 AM - 9:30 PM PT), phone support, and 24/7 email tickets. You can also consult DreamHost’s extensive knowledge base and access its community forum.
No matter the issue, DreamHost will always encourage you to find an answer in the knowledge base instead of connecting you with an agent.
The knowledge base is really good and up to date. You’ll find lots of tutorials and explanations there.
Meanwhile, the community forum is as active as a web hosting-related forum of a specific brand could be. You can expect to find several questions a week, but the replies are not too active.
So it’s all fun and games until you have a real problem and can’t get in touch with a person to help you out.
I really wanted to try out live chat, but because of the time difference (hello from Europe!), I was always redirected to ticket support.
For example, in your control panel, you can fill out a support request form, and there are 2 buttons – ticket and live chat. Live chat for me was inactive, as it was not during the working hours that I had questions.
In any case, ticket support was impressive.
I usually got my questions answered and problems solved within an hour.
In this case, my WordPress site disappeared. What the agent did was solve a problem and only then text me to tell me that all is clear. I really enjoyed this as there was minimal input required from me.
Also, this happened within an hour – sometimes, even live chat support takes longer.
So while you might not be able to reach live chat 24/7, tickets are very efficient in the DreamHost case.
On a more negative note, phone support is available, but it is paid. It costs $9.95 for a single call back, or you can opt for 3 monthly calls at a $14.95/mo rate. Honestly, I think this is quite expensive.
The bottom line is that while DreamHost has multiple support channels, they are a mixed bag. I enjoyed ticket support that was fast and efficient. On the other hand, live chat is not 24/7, and phone support is paid. What saves the situation is an extensive knowledge base and community forum.
Dreamhost review – the final verdict
First things first, I do recommend DreamHost. It’s a good and reliable service and great for users looking for WordPress web hosting. This DreamHost review found a dozen more pros than it has cons. But that’s just my opinion. You can check the facts:
|Feature||Great for beginners|
|Pricing||Pricing is very affordable considering that shared hosting plans include more than enough both for a simple blog and for a fully functioning business website. It starts at just $2.59/month.|
|Ease of use||DreamHost uses a custom-built control panel that has some questionable UX choices. Nonetheless, it’s still functional and easy to use. Plus, the setup process is effortless.|
|Performance||In terms of performance, DreamHost proved itself as reliable, fast, and powerful. It delivers more than you would expect from cheap shared hosting.|
|Security||Security basics and even some more advanced tools are included in all DreamHost packages. You’ll get free SSL, daily backups, domain privacy protection, and a custom web application firewall.|
|Support||Support might be the only field that actually needs improvement. While you can reach ticket support 24/7, live chat is only available during DreamHost business hours while the phone option is paid. Fortunately, ticket support agents are quick and helpful.|
Who do I recommend DreamHost to?
DreamHost can be a great option for beginner users as well as small business websites. The cheapest plan is best for personal websites, while the Unlimited one offers the best value for professional use.
Alternatives to DreamHost
DreamHost is a strong contender on the web hosting market. However, it may not be quite right for your business. If that’s the case, you can check out a couple of great alternative options below.
SiteGround is a popular WordPress-oriented alternative. This web hosting service is known for a great 24/7 support team, fast loading speeds, and a range of advanced technology. It’s also a good option if your audience is not in the US as SiteGround has servers in Europe, Australia and Asia too.
Prices are a little high, starting at $3.99/month, so it’s best suited for business use and larger projects. In return, you’ll get high-quality hosting with several advanced functionalities such as staging and caching.
Hostinger is on the other side of the spectrum, offering cheap plans (less than $70 for 4 years). It features an intuitive control panel, friendly 24/7 customer support, and servers in 7 different locations worldwide.
While Hostinger is cheap, the performance does not budge in this department too. Overall, it’s really one of the best options if your budget is tight or you need a specific server location.
What is DreamHost?
DreamHost is a web hosting company that offers a full suite of solutions for web development. These include shared hosting, VPS plans, cloud hosting plans, dedicated servers, and domain management services. However, the most popular option is shared WordPress hosting.
Is DreamHost good?
Yes, DreamHost is a good and reliable hosting provider. In this DreamHost review, I overviewed its services, including performance, user experience, and security, among others. It has proved itself as a good provider worth recommending.
Is DreamHost safe?
Yes, DreamHost is safe. Not only is it an established and reliable company, but it includes strong security features as well. That is free SSLs, daily backups, domain privacy, and web application firewalls. It will keep your website (and business) safe.
Where are DreamHost servers located?
DreamHost currently has 2 data centers and one is located in Ashburn, Virginia, and one in Hillsboro, Oregon.
Who owns DreamHost?
DreamHost is a private US-based web hosting provider that is owned by New Dream Network LLC. It was founded in 1996 by Dallas Bethune, Michael Rodriguez, Josh Jones, and Sage Weil. Michael Rodriguez is the current CEO.
What does DreamHost offer?
DreamHost offers shared, managed WordPress, dedicated, and VPS hosting. It also has marketing, web design, web development, and web management services on offer.