Dreamhost Shared Hosting Review

Founded in 1996, DreamHost has since crafted an excellent array of competitively priced services. Well documented instructions and specialized support teams for each service make using DreamHost a breeze for beginners. 4500 Linux servers currently power over one million websites through these services and active system administrators keep full backups of user information. Granted the 2014 Business Choice Award and a plethora of other consistent performance awards. DreamHost will get the job done well, for a price.

We will focus on only a single service offered by DreamHost in this review, the shared hosting plan using DreamHost’s custom panel.

Pros and Cons


  • a huge data center that’s optimized to be ecologically friendly
  • fast, reliable and consistent uptime backed by compensation for bad service
  • unlimited data and bandwidth
  • optimized for user security with privacy protection on all aspects of the service
  • great security and encryption bonuses included in the service package
  • wide suite of additional web hosting applications specifically optimized for DreamHost
  • excellent spam prevention tools
  • specialized technical support lines for services


  • Linux only servers
  • custom panel limits some technical abilities of a proper cPanel
  • one size fits all plans
  • a bit pricey compared to competitors

Servers, Plans, and Pricing

All shared hosting operations take place on DreamHost’s solid state hard drive (SSD) farms. A necessity considering that unlimited data and bandwidth comes included for all users on the shared hosting service. The extra speed and power of the SSD setup combined with access to a huge pool of resources lead to an all-around service that most competitors only offer at higher tiers of pay.

Since DreamHost operates all its servers using Linux kernels, it’s not possible to run any Microsoft applications. If your website services require using Microsoft software then you will need to find either a different shared hosting service or choose a different DreamHost plan.

There exists only a single shared hosting plan for users to start with. For some this may be a benefit, for others a negative; depending on what you’re hosting. Lack of customization in the shared hosting plan leads to the beginners just starting out getting the same resources and access as a professional webmaster managing a high traffic site.

On another plus note, DreamHost crafted its data center to be one of the greenest around. Currently, DreamHost holds LEED Platinum and EnergyStar certifications for their facilities as well as loads of energy-saving optimizations in their offices.

DreamHost offers a 100% uptime guarantee. This does not mean that your website will be always up. It only means that there will be no unplanned downtime. In the event of unplanned downtime, DreamHost offers one day of free service per hour of downtime. No other hosting providers offer this.

Instead of the standard cPanel, DreamHost has created their own in-house control panel for general consumer use. While the greater range of users will find themselves more comfortable using its intuitive layout, those already familiar with the technical benefits of cPanel may be turned off by it.

  • Monthly: $10.95/month
  • Annual: $9.95/month with free domain
  • 3-Year: $7.95/month with free domain

DreamHost shared hosting Security and Privacy:


DreamHost has carried ModSecurity over into its custom panel. ModSecurity focuses on reducing the number of ways hackers can access your website. Using logging of all HTTP traffic, the remaining access points are constantly monitored and any failed security assessment gets flagged for review. This process of reducing and monitoring security weak points is known as web application hardening.

DDoS Protection

All domains hosted under DreamHost automatically benefit from Cloudflare optimization. Cloudflare handles a range of issues from things like DDOS attacks to redirecting visitor requests to the closest Cloudflare cache instead. As a result, security increases while page times become reduced.

Most Cloudflare features can be managed in the DreamHost panel but some require using a free Cloudflare account. Cloudflare Railgun which manages dynamic content optimization, Lazy Loading which optimizes page loading processes and Mirage which improve loading on mobile connections are good examples.

Data Protection

DreamHost manages a malware scanning layer on top of all of their servers. For the shared hosting service, there are additional malware layers in place to prevent users from accidentally uploading hidden malicious software programs and affecting others’ data.

For customers in need of remote access to the server to perform operations, DreamHost supports both secure file transfer protocols (SFTP) and secure shell (SSH). For additional control over what connects to your domains, htaccess files and WebDAV are both available in the “Goodies” panel.

Spam Filters

DreamHost uses Vade to protect users’ emails on the shared hosting service plan from spam. Vade protects against:

  • malware and ransomware
  • phishing
  • e-mail compromise
  • general spam

In addition, users can set up block spiders on specific portions of their websites that they don’t want search engines to pick up on. You can block robots, Googlebots, and Yahoo crawlers; make sure not to accidentally block your entire website. Custom filters for e-mails and PGP e-mail encryption are also available for additional protection.

SSL security certificate

DreamHost will help you set up secure hosting and create your self-signed secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate for all domains that you host under their shared hosting service. These privacy and data integrity protocols create private connections that establish a reliable means to identify and authenticate users.

In addition, DreamHost offers free “Let’s Encrypt” level SSL certificates for all domains hosted under them. This certificate comes with a nearly identical level of protection as the paid $15/year Comodo verified SSL certificate but lacks the same seal of trust that some users may require. Those who need Comodo verified SSL’s would be users utilizing private information, such as e-Commerce sites that collect credit card numbers.

Once the SSL certification level has been chosen and implemented, DreamHost will also help set up a certificate signing request (CSR) and private key. These are used for accessing encrypted forms of the website.

Domain name privacy

The free domain credit includes WHOIS privacy for your domain which masks private information in the domain registry database. Some of the domain elements masked include:

  • date domain was registered
  • domain expiration date
  • particularly important so people can’t swipe your domain and charge you back for it
  • registrant information such as name and date of birth
  • nameservers

Additional applications and services

The DreamHost panel offers a suite of popular tools to help streamline your web hosting security. On the DreamHost “Goodies” menu, you get quick access to database tools such as MySQL database and Jabber IM to fulfill all your chatting/VoIP needs. There’s access to one-click installs as well as Subversion for those that need to create multiple version environments to handle more complex coding set-ups. To complement DreamHost’s all Linux servers there’s a cron jobs page in the “Goodies” menu as well that allows you to set up any type of UNIX scheduled task.

There’s a wide range of other tools not included in the “Goodies” menu but still available to DreamHost users. Decoders for PHP scripts such as IonCube are compatible with DreamHost. A whole set of statistical tools can be added to any fully hosted DreamHost website for great data such as:

  • total requests to the site
  • domain specific traffic
  • individual file views
  • browsers used in site requests
  • operating systems of users
  • reference URL hit tracking

Google App integration is supported for connecting your domain’s custom emails to workspaces as well. DreamHost has a simple integration system for connecting Google Apps with your domain and will handle all DNS records needed for functionality.

Up-times and performance

If you’re concerned that the unlimited data benefit may be abused by other users you share hard drive space with, DreamHost has a few guidelines to prevent unnecessary strain for everybody by not applying the unlimited bandwidth rights to:

  • Copyrighted Content
  • File Distribution
  • Redirection Sites

Here’s a quote from DreamHost justifying the parameters, “This whole page is just to announce to the <.1% of people who want to try and run free porn affiliate sites or anime video trading forums or host pirated rips of The Dark Knight on DreamHost that we’re not having any.” [1]

We asked a customer service representative if there’s been a history of users trying to abuse the unlimited policy or other issues with the policy that could open up security issues on the server. They said, “While many customers have pushed the limits on that, it’s unheard of for legitimate storage being an issue. It’s always people backing up their hard drives, etc. that run into issues.”

Over the last six months, DreamHost has maintained an average 99.91% uptime with an average response time of 746 ms.

IMAGE HERE: https://imgur.com/xFrNS8F

Getting Started

DreamHost streamlined the sign-up process for all user levels. First, a user creates an account on DreamHost, they then log into the DreamHost panel at the end of the signup process. From here users set up their domain. Using either the free registered domain that comes with the annual package or a domain obtained from an alternate source, users connect the hosting service they purchased from DreamHost to the chosen domain and done.

If a user needs to migrate their website to DreamHost, the process involves a few extra steps.

  1. backup your website files
  2. upload and confirm site them to DreamHost
  3. update and point DNS to DreamHost

Should you have any issues, DreamHost’s customer support will quickly provide assistance.

An important thing to note, authorization and provisioning can take a few hours. If you’re doing something that needs to be up and running faster than that make sure to contact support for quicker setup.

Technical Support

DreamHost offers a wide variety of wonderful support options. At any time you can check DreamHost’s status page which displays a list of all currently operational services and scheduled maintenance dates. There’s also a section highlighting the specific email and core services that are being improved based on user feedback.

The DreamHost community forums have daily questions being asked and answered. They’ve recently moved from a phpBB setup to a Discourse setup for increased ease of use and interaction. Most general case problems have been asked and answered already in them. If not, posting a question and interacting with the community is a straightforward and painless experience. Forum questions typically receive a response within 24 hours.

There’s a live chat that in our experiences responds within two minutes. All the people working the chat have excellent English skills and most importantly, integrity. Nobody tried to answer questions they weren’t able to and quickly redirected to an appropriately knowledge support staff member.

Specialized technical support lines for unique services offer varying degrees of accessibility. The shared hosting service is no exception and offers many ways to get your questions answered. If your question isn’t directly related to the service they’ll most likely have enough know-how to answer it regardless.


DreamHost offers some of the best security and privacy options around. Nearly every element of the web hosting process gets a bonus encryption or security protocol included with the package. Great email protection and spam prevention help to keep the workflow steady.

While a bit pricier than some of its competitors, you’re paying for one of the least frustrating web host services available. That alone may be priceless to new users or those who have experienced the giant time sink that is problem-solving bugs. Not to mention environmentally friendly and fast.

Compensation for downtime events and other guaranteed returns means that even the occasional downtime can be somewhat profitable. Unlimited data and bandwidth mean you’ll always have the resources you need to get the job done. A huge selection of additional web hosting apps covers just about anything that DreamHost doesn’t.

Well documented and easy to set up with great customer service at every step. Users of all levels will find DreamHost to be a wonderful service. As long as you don’t need any Microsoft specific software that is.