DreamHost Review (2023)Can You Trust Their Shared Hosting?
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Since they were founded in 1996 (in Los Angeles), they’ve grown to host over 1.5 million websites (750k+ are WordPress sites) and have over 400,000 customers. Impressive.
DreamHost is one of those providers that you can find recommended everywhere. In fact, WordPress themselves endorses them. However, I’m not sure how seriously I’d take this endorsement, since they also recommend Bluehost, which is a much more questionable choice (compare DreamHost vs Bluehost or read our full Bluehost review).
For their small price tag, they seem to offer a lot: unlimited storage and data transfers, website backups, 24-hour live chat and email support and free SSL certificates.
But do they lack important features? And how does DreamHost perform?
I am going to answer all of these questions and more in this DreamHost review, so you can learn all about their pros, cons, pricing and when (and when not) to use them.
But if you don't have much time to read this in-depth DreamHost review, check out the video below:
What Products Does DreamHost Offer?
Alongside hosting packages, you can get domain names at DreamHost. DreamHost offers over 400 TLDs (like .com, .org, .net) or more exotic extensions (like .club or .guru). Country specific TLDs such as .es, .fr, .co.uk or .de are also available. Domain names vary in price. A .com domain name is $17.99 at renewal.
This entry-level web hosting will give you a lot for your money, on renewal they cost $6.99 a month for the 1-site plan or $12.99 for the Unlimited tier - straightforward pricing. This type of hosting is great to start, but if your project grows a lot (e.g. more than 50,000 visitors a month), you may need to upgrade.
You will also see hosting called "WordPress Basic" on the DreamHost website. This is divided into WordPress Starter and WordPress Unlimited, and is exactly the same as the Shared Starter and Shared Unlimited referenced above.
For Managed WordPress hosting, see below.
You can imagine a Virtual Private Server (VPS plans) as a shared hosting server that has been divided into smaller servers. This means that you can configure it to your needs. Therefore, your website will be hosted independently of other clients’ - the resources aren’t shared either. VPS hosting plans at DreamHost start at $15.99 a month on renewal and can go all the way up to $114 a month.
You will also see hosting called "VPS WordPress" on the DreamHost website. This is exactly the same as the standard VPS hosting.
But, if your website gets so big that you need your own dedicated servers, that’s when you should consider getting a dedicated hosting account - beware, these are a bit more expensive. Dedicated hosting at DreamHost starts at $149 per month up to $279 monthly.
That’s not all, DreamHost also offers cloud hosting plans. Imagine this as a series of interconnected cloud servers that host your website. This solution is ideal for those expecting peaks of traffic as more resources (e.g. RAM and CPU) can be added as you need them. Figuring out how much will you pay is tricky, as the price depends on the resources (e.g. RAM or storage) that you need. DreamHost cloud server packages start at $4.50/mo.
Managed WordPress Hosting
On top of all that, DreamHost offers also offer managed WordPress hosting plans. If you’d like automatic updates, staging areas and dedicated WordPress support, you can opt for a Managed WordPress hosting account, which starts at $19.99 on renewal (for one site only).
The focus of this DreamHost review is their shared hosting plans, so from now on, I’ll be referencing those.
- 1 website
- 50 GB storage
- 6 databases
- Email accounts not included
- Unlimited websites
- Unlimited storage
- Unlimited databases
- Email accounts included
Price Increases on Renewal
Almost all web hosting companies offer very cheap introductory prices to get you on board. However, unfortunately these prices are not forever. At the end of the offer period, your hosting plan will renew at the standard price.
These renewal prices are usually much more expensive than the introductory offers. However, since these are the standard prices, they are much more representative of the true value of your hosting plan.
And therefore it’s these renewal prices that you should use to compare different hosting providers, and they are the prices we use in all our hosting reviews.
In the chart below, you can see the price increases on renewal of the basic shared hosting plans for all the providers that we test and review at Tooltester:
As you can see, DreamHost starts off with a very low introductory offer that increases considerably on renewal. However, even on renewal, DreamHost remains cheap compared to many of the other providers.
But let’s see what you will get for your money…
What Do Their Shared Plans Include?
|Tech support & customer service||
Live chat support and ticket (email)
Live chat support and ticket (email)
|Free domain name registration||First year||First year|
|Web hosting Storage||50 GB||Unlimited|
|Max. files (inodes)||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Bandwidth||Unlimited bandwidth||Unlimited bandwidth|
|Free SSL certificate||Included||Included|
|Email accounts||$1.67 a month for 25 GB||Included|
|Daily backups||5 days database
14 days website
|5 days database
14 days website
|Monthly pricing||1st month $4.95,
thereafter $7.99 a month
|1st month $8.95,
thereafter $13.99 a month
|Annual price||1st year $2.95 a month
thereafter $6.99 a month
|1st year $2.95 a month
thereafter $12.99 a month
*Free domain name the first year for annual and 3-year plans. DreamHost has an ‘Unlimited Policy’ and they don’t accept certain projects like file distribution sites.
Be aware that DreamHost offers interesting discounts for the first purchase term. For example, the annual plan comes out at $2.95 a month for the Starter and Unlimited plans.
I really appreciate that DreamHost’s pricing and plan structure are both transparent and simple. They only have 2 shared plans which come with most of the basics you’ll need – no aggressive and expensive upsells.
Let’s check out what plan will you need:
The Shared Starter hosting plan is limited to 1 website, so if you are only looking to host 1 site, this is your best option. Be aware that if you need email accounts, those are paid separately in this plan (start at $1.67 a month extra) – a fair price if you ask me. The only other limitation is databases (6) and 50 GB of storage – this is plenty for most small to medium websites.
To host more than 1 site you’ll need the (still affordable) Shared Unlimited package. This one includes email accounts, unlimited storage and databases too. There aren’t any other features added as the basic plan is already pretty generous with FTP accounts, bandwidth and so on.
There are also optimized pricing plans for WooCommerce users, that you can find here.
DreamHost Review: Pros & Cons
DreamHost is an affordable web hosting services, even the top shared hosting plan is cheaper than most alternatives.
Unlimited bandwidth and generous storage
All accounts come with truly unlimited bandwidth and generous storage. Unlike others, no inodes limitation.
Their backend looks very contemporary. It may take a bit of time to master for those used to cPanel dashboards.
No upsells and upgrades
So many competitors push you into buying add-ons with aggressive pitches. DreamHost is a breath of fresh air.
97-day money-back guarantee
DreamHost offers a money back guarantee, if after 97 days (yes 97) of using them, you are unhappy with their service.
When to Use DreamHost’s Hosting?
Well, a lot of site owners should think about using DreamHost, especially those looking for reliable, cheap web hosting. It combines both low prices and high quality, something that’s very difficult to find these days in the hosting world.
I would say that small projects (e.g. a dentist’s site) looking for the best value for their money should consider DreamHost.
However, larger sites could find a good partner in DreamHost’s shared web hosting services too. It has enough speed, good customer service and reliable uptime for avid bloggers and hardcore site developers.
Even if it’s not PCI-compliant out-of-the-box, DreamHost supports this technology – you could make it happen geeking around. This is obviously a massive pro for ecommerce projects.
When Not to Use DreamHost’s hosting?
But there are a few cases where I would not recommend DreamHost.
Finally, tech-savvy users like developers or agencies may miss some advanced features like staging areas, integrated caching system or pre-installed Git repositories. If you fancy having these, SiteGround or DreamPress (by DreamHost) is the way to go.
DreamHost Shared Hosting Details
* They have a truly unlimited policy (storage and bandwidth), but they do make some exceptions that seem to ‘affect to less than 1% of the users’. Basically, they don’t seem to want people abusing their Unlimited Policy (e.g. file distribution sites).
DreamHost Performance Tests
Is DreamHost slow and/or has constant service interruptions?
Before you commit and leave your website’s ‘well-being’ to a new web hosting provider, you should check out their performance.
Of course, I don’t expect you to have time to go and test 5 or 6 hosting providers over a number of weeks. To make your life easier, I’ve recently tested DreamHost’s performance and benchmarked it against their competitors.
DreamHost Web Host Speed Test
No one wants their website to take ages to load. Slow average page load times can harm your user engagement metrics (e.g. conversion rate) and mess up your organic (search engines) rankings.
Unfortunately, DreamHost didn’t perform particularly well compared to its competitors, in our web host speed tests this year:
And it didn’t perform much better over the previous two years:
|Page Load Time in Seconds|
Results in seconds
DreamHost came out 9th out of 15 providers tested, with an average speed of 1.75 seconds when we evaluated the performance of the test site. However, although there were lots of faster web hosts, an average page load time of 1.75 is OK.
You can see how DreamHost compares to other web hosting providers in terms of “price to speed” ratio in the chart below:
As you can see, DreamHost pretty good value for money when it comes to page load times!
Is DreamHost’s Web Hosting Uptime Good?
Some web hosting providers have constant interruptions and their availability (uptime) suffers. As you can imagine, this can be a big issue for hosting-dependent projects like online stores or digital marketing agencies. On top of that, Google and other search engines won’t treat you too favorably.
In light of this, I constantly monitor hosting providers’ uptime. Let’s take a look at DreamHost’s performance in 2022, compared to other web hosts:
As you can see in the chart above, DreamHost’s uptime score has barely been acceptable in 2022. This is a significant downturn compared to the previous two years:
To monitor uptime I use StatusCake, a tool that checks each website every 5 minutes.
At 99.83%, DreamHost’s uptime levels have been poor over the last 12 months. As you can see in the table, other providers achieved much better rates.
DreamHost Review: Do I Recommend It?
Yes, I do recommend DreamHost.
In fact, at Tooltester we are using Dreamhost for apptooltester.com using the DreamPress plan since it’s a WordPress website. Overall our experience has been a really positive one, with just one minor hiccup. We booked DreamShield, which is a security add-on that protects you from malware.
However, we still got hacked! Someone managed to put a spam link into our navigation menu, which only showed up on the mobile version of our website. The disappointment was that DreamShield didn’t protect us from that. However, in all fairness, it’s a malware detection system, which probably doesn’t work for this type of attack.
Dreamhost can be a good option for many. Fair prices, solid support and a very generous unlimited policy (for storage and bandwidth) are remarkably appealing perks.
They are a particularly good option for WordPress users that are looking for good value for money, and in fact we found them to be the best cheap WordPress hosting in our tests.
Be aware however, that if you are looking for professional features like staging areas, integrated caching and pre-installed Git repositories, DreamHost may fall short. Also, it’s not ideal if your traffic comes mainly from outside North America.
Yes, with DreamHost you can purchase domain names at a fair price. For example, a .com domain name registration will cost you around $8 and the yearly renewal is $17.99.
The list of domain name extensions is vast, DreamHost offers hundreds of extensions – from typical .com, .net, .org or .co.uk to more exotic extensions like .vodka, .wtf, .tatto or .tax (yes all of these are real extensions).
Sure you can. In fact, even the cheapest web hosting you can purchase at DreamHost (Shared Starter), comes with an easy-to-install WordPress wizard. You’ll be able to have your WordPress installation completed in a couple of minutes.
Of course, DreamHost also comes with WordPress-focussed hosting plans, read the next question for more information.
WordPress site owners that need further features to manage their website, can use DreamPress, DreamHost’s managed hosting service. They are a bit more expensive (than Shared hosting packages), but fairly priced too.
For as little as $19.99 a month (on renewal), you can have a hosting service optimized for WordPress with a couple of additional perks such as:
- Daily + On-demand backups
- Staging areas to test your code
- A drag-and-drop WordPress site builder
- Built-in caching to speed your site
Superior DreamPress plans offer extra features such as CDN, the Professional version of the well-known Jetpack WordPress plugin and priority support.
One caveat of these WordPress plans is that DreamHost will only allow you to host 1 single website regardless of the DreamPress plan you pick. Something you should consider if you have several WordPress sites to host.
Alright, I have to say that I do think DreamHost can be a good match to host most websites. However, let me suggest a couple of alternative web hosts for some scenarios:
- Along with DreamHost, SiteGround and InMotion Hosting offer the best support (compare them here).
- For those looking for a Windows-based shared web hosting service, I would suggest looking into InMotion Hosting or GoDaddy.
- In my experience, SiteGround is a top-performing and reliable hosting. On top of that, they offer a fully-featured web hosting service and are a great match for WordPress users.
- If you are looking for a top WordPress host and have some money ($25/month+) to spend, you can also check out Kinsta.
I hope I answered all your questions about DreamHost in this review. But please, if you do still have some questions, leave a message and I’ll do my best to help you.
We keep our content up to date
16 Dec 2022: Small update: prices and details
18 May 2022: Price updates and other smaller additions
03 Feb 2022: FAQs added
18 Jan 2022: Information on free domain added
27 Aug 2021: Performance and general update
05 Oct 2020: General DreamHost hosting review update and performance test
23 Sep 2020: Dedicated server, WordPress hosting plan information added
12 Sep 2020: DreamHost 1.5 million websites hosted
01 Aug 2019: First review
THE BEHIND THE SCENES OF THIS REVIEW
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