DreamHost has many features to satisfy your personal- and business-related web hosting needs. The company’s shared, WordPress, virtual private server (VPS), cloud, and dedicated plans offer plenty of options for webmasters looking to create attractive, flexible sites. In addition, DreamHost’s website building software makes site creation a simple task. As a result, DreamHost stands at the front of the pack with HostGator and Hostwinds as our Editors’ Choice picks.
Shared Web Hosting
DreamHost’s tierless shared web hosting plan (starting at $10.95 per month, or $9.95 per month with a one-year commitment) offers unlimited disk storage space, domains, email, and monthly data transfers. DreamHost gives you your first .com, .net, .org, or .info domain for free, but you have to pay the registration fee for additional domains.
Most competitors, including HostGator (the Editors’ Choice for shared hosting), offer unlimited domains only as part of their higher-tier plans, which makes DreamHost particularly attractive.
That said, HostGator is one of the few web hosts I’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 monthly data transfers, storage, and email.
VPS Web Hosting
DreamHost offers four Linux-based VPS web hosting plans (starting at $15 per month) for businesses that need more power or expect higher traffic volumes. 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 $15 per month plan offers only 1GB of RAM and a 30GB solid-state drive. On the other hand, the highest configuration ($120 per month) maxes out at 8GB of RAM and 240GB of solid-state storage.
Still, Hostwinds, PCMag’s top pick for VPS hosting, has wallet-friendly, well-rounded VPS offerings that start at just $7.50 per month for 1GB of RAM, 25GB of disk space, unlimited monthly data transfers, and unlimited email. Hostwinds’ plans scale to $129 per month for 18.5GB of RAM, 130GB of disk space, unlimited monthly data transfers, and unlimited email. Note: DreamHost lacks Windows-based VPS servers.
Dedicated Web Hosting
Dedicated server options (starting at $169 per month) on DreamHost aren’t radically different from what many competing web hosting services offer—you get 1TB of storage and can configure the servers with up to 16GB of RAM—but you get a highly desired feature: 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, I suggest checking out Hostwinds, PCMag’s Editors’ Choice for dedicated web hosting, which offers Linux and Windows dedicated server options.
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 and Windows varieties.
DreamHost has excellent packages that start at $4.50 per month (for 512MB of RAM, 100GB of storage, and unlimited monthly data transfers) and top out at $48 per month (for four CPU cores, 8GB of RAM, 100GB of storage, and unlimited monthly data transfers). DreamHost’s specs aren’t quite as powerful as those offered by Arvixe, but it’s a far more dependable service. As a result, DreamHost is our Editors’ Choice for cloud hosting services.
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 dedicated 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, I recommend Hostwinds, the category’s Editors’ Choice. Hostwind’s plans, starting at $25 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.
Overall, I like DreamHost’s user interface—it’s simple and well laid out and 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. I had no trouble finding the security options or the third-party app marketplace.
DreamHost now offers the Remixer 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. Remixer comes with dozens of themes that you can alter using its simple drag-and-drop fucntionality. I found it incredibly 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, known here as DreamPress (starting at $16.95 per month). In fact, DreamPress is 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 single-tier DreamPress also comes with 30GB of storage, unlimited email, and monthly data transfers, as well as a variety of free WordPress themes.
DreamPress lets you install any plug-in that 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.
That said, TMDHosting remains the PCMag Editors’ Choice in the category. TMD boasts a pre-built environment comes with many WordPress-friendly features, including live malware protection and curated plug-ins that are designed to enhance your experience.
TMDHosting’s specs are similar to 1&1’s, but differ in one significant way. TMDHosting offers unlimited storage across the board. As a result, the company is the new Editors’ Choice for WordPress web hosting, knocking 1&1 from the top spot. For more on the fantastically popular content management system, you can read my story, How to Get Started With WordPress.
E-Marketing and E-Commerce
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 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. However, I 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 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, I 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 me an email if it is unable to contact the site for at least one minute. The data revealed that DreamHost is incredibly stable. In fact, of the web hosting services I’ve reviewed, it’s only one of a handful that went down zero times. You can count on DreamHost to be a rock-solid foundation for your website.
DreamHost offers email and ticket-based support, as well as online chat. Like Arvixe, DreamHost doesn’t offer a way to call customer support, which is too bad; sometimes you just want to deal with a human being. That said, the chat support is quite good. I tried it on a weekday afternoon and evening. In both instances, I waited less than a minute before someone fielded my questions.
I asked about the differences between VPS and dedicated hosting. The representative gave me a thorough, satisfying answer. I 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, I was quite pleased with the answers. DreamHost also offers a Knowledgebase that answers many commonly asked question.
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, bandwidth, domains, and email, DreamHost is a top pick, and a PCMag Editors’ Choice for web hosting services. It’s also our first choice when it comes to cloud-based hosting.
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