If you want to build a Linux-powered website, DreamHost should be one of the first places you look. The web hosting service has a rich feature set that satisfies many personal- and business-related web hosting needs by offering shared, WordPress, virtual private server (VPS), cloud, and dedicated plans. In addition, its website-building software gives webmasters simple tools to create attractive, flexible sites. As a result, DreamHost is an Editors’ Choice award-winning web host, racing to the top alongside competitors like HostGator, Hostwinds, and Liquid Web.
Shared Web Hosting
If you’re looking to create a web site, but don’t want to spend a lot of money, shared web hosting is the way to go. Shared hosting is an extremely low-cost form of web hosting that sees your site share CPU, RAM, and other server resources with other websites. As a result, it isn’t a very powerful hosting tier; if you expect your site to see a large amount of traffic, you should look into virtual private server (VPS) or dedicated hosting.
Additionally, since the “shared” in shared hosting refers to the fact that each server may host multiple sites that share the resources of the hardware, you are to some extent at the mercy of your server mates. If one of them gets on the front page of Reddit, you might find that your site slows to a crawl as a result.
DreamHost has two shared hosting plans: Shared Starter and Shared Unlimited. Shared Starter (starting at $4.95 per month, or $3.59 per month with a one-year commitment) offers unlimited monthly data transfers and storage, but lacks email. That’s right: no email. For that, you must upgrade to the Shared Unlimited (starting at $10.95 per month, or $4.95 per month with a one-year commitment). That plan adds email and unlimited website hosting. The lowered price for the one-year plan (previously $7.95 per month) puts it in striking distance of the Starter option, making it a much better option than before.
That said, HostGator, the Editors’ Choice winner for shared hosting, is one of the few web hosts we’ve reviewed that offers Windows-based shared web hosting. That’s a big deal, as there are many businesses that require Microsoft’s operating system to run specific software. DreamHost, on the other hand, only offers Linux-based servers. HostGator also offers unlimited email across the board.
VPS Web Hosting
DreamHost offers four Linux-based VPS web hosting plans (starting at $15.00 per month, or $13.75 per month with a one-year commitment) for businesses that need servers with more power than what shared hosting offers. VPS hosting places your website on a server with far fewer virtual roommates than shared hosting. As a result, there’s more server power available for your site to tap.
DreamHost’s VPS plans offer unlimited monthly data transfers and domains, which is a nice perk. However, the base memory and storage is quite low; the Basic plan (whose prices are quoted above) offers only 1GB of RAM and a 30GB solid-state drive. On the other hand, the highest configuration ($120 per month, or $110 per month with an annual contract) maxes out at 8GB of RAM and 240GB of solid-state storage. Unfortunately, the VPS plans only offer the Ubuntu Linux operating system.
Hostwinds, PCMag’s top pick for VPS hosting, has superior VPS plans. It has wallet-friendly, well-rounded VPS offerings. Take the managed Linux VPS plans, which start at just $5.17 per month for 1GB of RAM, 30GB of disk space, 1 TB of monthly data transfers, and unlimited email and scale to $247 per month for 96GB of RAM, 750GB of disk space, 9TB of monthly data transfers, and unlimited email.
Dedicated Web Hosting
If you want maximum web hosting power, you need to get a dedicated server. With this setup, your website lives on a server all by itself, thus leveraging all the system resources. You should look into dedicated hosting if you’re expecting your site to see an incredible amount of traffic, and if your site is so mission-critical that it absolutely can’t go down or slow down.
DreamHost has several dedicated server options. The offerings start with the Standard 4 plan ($169 per month, or $149 for an annual commitment) that includes 4GB of RAM and 1TB of storage. The options top off with the $379 per month Enhanced SSD 64 plan that boasts 64GB of RAM and 240GB of solid-state storage. Each DreamHost dedicated server plan has unlimited data transfers.
Unfortunately, DreamHost lacks Windows-based dedicated servers; it’s Linux or bust here, too. If you want a build a website using Microsoft’s operating system as a foundation, we suggest checking out AccuWeb, PCMag’s Editors’ Choice for dedicated web hosting, which offers Linux and Windows dedicated server options. AccuWeb also has powerful dedicated plans, including a $1,070 per month package that has 8TB of storage, 512GB of RAM, and up to 50TB of monthly data transfers.
You’ve probably heard of cloud hosting, which spreads resources across multiple servers (traditional hosting pulls resources from a single server). Cloud hosting allows sites to easily increase server needs when the situation calls for it. Fortunately, DreamHost offers three cloud hosting tiers—512MB RAM Server, 2GB RAM Server, and 8GB RAM Server—that come in Linux, BSD, and Windows varieties.
DreamHost has excellent packages that start at $4.50 per month (for 512MB of RAM, 80GB of storage, and unlimited monthly data transfers) and top out at $48 per month (for four CPU cores, 8GB of RAM, 80GB of storage, and unlimited monthly data transfers). As a result, DreamHost’s powerful specs make the web host the co-Editors’ Choice for cloud hosting services.
If you’re a corporate customer who wants world-class cloud hosting, 1&1 Ionos is the way to go. It’s a co-Editors’ Choice for the category that boasts incredibly powerful cloud hosting packages.
If you’re looking to get into the web hosting business, but don’t want to deal with infrastructure matters, reseller hosting is the way to go. Unfortunately, DreamHost doesn’t offer standalone reseller plans; you can resell your own server space, but only if you add other domains to your own. Check out DreamHost’s reseller FAQ page for more information.
If you really want to dabble in reseller hosting, we recommend Hostwinds, the category’s Editors’ Choice. Hostwind’s plans, starting at $3.29 per month, have unlimited email, storage, and data transfers. On offer are dedicated and VPS packages of both the Linux and Windows variety, as well as shared hosting, which is limited to Linux. The servers have the same RAM and storage amounts as those that Hostwinds supplies directly, which is not always the case. Hostwinds also lets you apply your own branding to the servers you rent, and it supplies 24/7 tech support, too.
Building a Website
Overall, we like DreamHost’s user interface—it’s simple and well laid out, and it made getting started on my test site easy. Instead of going the HostGator or iPage route with cute, screen-cluttering icons, DreamHost offers a tree of menu options on the left side of the screen. It’s easy to find billing information, manage domains, and view the settings for VPS and dedicated servers. We had no trouble finding the security options or the third-party app marketplace.
DreamHost now offers the WP website builder, which lets you start building your site right away. You no longer have to endure a long wait time as your Dreamhost account gets approved, as you once did. It’s a great addition. WP Website Builder comes with dozens of themes you can alter, using its simple drag-and-drop functionality. We found it refreshingly simple to add photos (my own, or those from DreamHost’s royalty-free gallery), text, and video. You also have the option of installing third-party applications to your account, such as concrete5, Joomla, MediaWiki, Piwigo, and, of course, WordPress.
WordPress Web Hosting
Like several of its competitors, DreamHost offers WordPress hosting, in three different categories: WordPress Basic, DreamPass, and VPS WordPress. DreamPress is the standard option with managed WordPress hosting, a service that gives your website the white-glove treatment by auto-updating the popular content management system software, performing automatic daily backups, and providing WordPress-specific security.
The entry-level WordPress Basic (starting at $4.95 per month, or $3.95 for a three-year commitment) comes with 50GB of SSD storage, purchasable email similar to the Shared webhosting, and unlimited monthly data transfers, as well as a variety of free WordPress themes. Moving up to the starting DreamPress option (starting at $12.00 per month), it kicks off with 30GB of SSD storage, unlimited email and monthly data transfers, and support for up to 100,000 monthly visitors. DreamPress Plus (starting at $24.00 per month) doubles the storage, increases the visitor count to roughly 300,000, and adds a content delivery network (CDN) for faster site loading. The top-tier DreamPress Pro (starting at $71.95 per month) offers 120GB of SSD storage and 1,000,000 visitor limit.
DreamPress lets you install any plug-in you desire; Pagely and WP Engine, on the other hand, restrict you from installing a small number of plug-ins that may impact your site’s performance. Recently, DreamHost added staging to its WordPress offerings, so you can test new site features on another site instance that won’t affect your live pages.
Impressive as DreamPress is, the Linux-backed A2 is the PCMag Editors’ Choice in the category. A2 boasts an optimized environment that is supposed to be six times faster than traditional hosting environments. Plus, A2’s WordPress plans offer unlimited storage and monthly data transfers in most of its options. For more on the fantastically popular content management system, you can read our story on how to get started with WordPress.
DreamHost offers the free ZenCart, which you can access from the One Click Install menu. This open-source online shopping cart software lets users quickly check out the products that you have for sale. It also supports Woo Commerce.
Along with a $100 Google AdWords credit, DreamHost lets you track site traffic and analytics via Chartbeat. This is different from most other services, which tend to focus only on Google Analytics.
Security and Other Features
DreamHost offers antispam on its email, but no antimalware services. That oversite aside, we like its attention to other aspects of website security. The control panel has an easy-to-find link for editing the .htaccess file to control access to the site or to set up a password. For parts of the site that shouldn’t get indexed by search engines, you can block spiders. You can set up cron jobs (automated batch jobs) to schedule tasks and monitor processes on the site. DreamHost also offers free secure-socket layer (SSL) certificates, which is a must-have addition for people who sell products online.
If you are a developer or manage a software development team, you will like the fact that DreamHost comes with Subversion, which can help you manage your source code files. Most web hosting providers restrict you to whatever applications are listed on its software marketplace. Version-control tools such as Subversion rarely make it onto these marketplaces, so it’s nice to see the option to set up your own repository. Of course, that’s assuming you don’t just use Git repositories for your code.
What if you don’t really want a website or a blog, but just a place to store your files? DreamHost also offers DreamObjects cloud storage plans, starting at 95 cents per month for 40GB and going up to 20TB for $299.95 per month.
Website uptime is a vital element of the web hosting experience. If your site goes down, clients or customers will be unable to find you or access your products or services.
For this testing, we use a website monitoring tool to track my site’s uptime over a 14-day period. Every 15 minutes, the tool pings my website and sends us an email if it is unable to contact the site for at least one minute. The data revealed that DreamHost is incredibly stable, and didn’t go down during the test period. In fact, there’s been only a single, brief failure in many, many months. As a result. you can count on DreamHost to be a rock-solid foundation for your website.
No Phone Support, Excellent Chat Support
DreamHost offers email and ticket-based support, as well as online chat. It has a robust knowledge database, too. Unfortunately, DreamHost lacks phone support, which is too bad; sometimes you just want to deal with a human being. That said, the chat support is quite good. We tried it on a weekday afternoon and evening. In both instances, we waited less than a minute before someone fielded my questions.
We asked about the differences between VPS and dedicated hosting. The representative gave me a thorough, satisfying answer. We also asked the representative how to import my WordPress.com setup into DreamHost and received a very helpful link with step-by-step instructions. Again, we was quite pleased with the answers. DreamHost also offers a Knowledgebase that answers many commonly asked questions.
DreamHost has a very good money-back guarantee policy. According to its terms of service, you can cancel your shared web Hosting service within 97 days of the initial signup and have the money promptly refunded. Considering most hosts offer 15 to 30 days, this flexibility is welcome.
A Power User’s Dream
Thanks to its extensive tools, including useful website-building software, security options, a generous money-back guarantee, and unlimited storage, monthly data transfers, domains, and email, DreamHost is a top pick and a PCMag Editors’ Choice for cloud-based web hosting services. That said, if you’re a corporate customer who wants world-class cloud hosting, 1&1 Ionos is the way to go. It’s a co-Editors’ Choice with DreamHost for the category, and boasts incredibly powerful cloud hosting packages.
Strong security features
Extensive domain-management tools
Excellent cloud hosting offerings
Unlimited data transfers per month
Generous money-back guarantee
Useful WordPress staging feature
The Bottom Line
DreamHost offers outstanding features at excellent price points, with a bevy of tools to make the process easy for novice webmasters.