Looking to start a website for your portfolio or business? DreamHost is one of the most well-known hosting services out there.
After running some extensive tests, we’ve put together an in-depth DreamHost review that will help you make an informed decision whether it’s the best web hosting service for you!
Table of Contents
Pros of DreamHost
- Easily meet the need for speed
- 100% uptime guarantee
- Officially recommended by WordPress
- Easy website builder
- Award-winning support
- Packed with security features
- Enjoy unlimited offerings
- Impressive 97-day money-back guarantee
- Monthly plans are available
Cons of DreamHost
- Data centers are only in the US
- Support can be “Limited”
- Control panel has a learning curve
- Some features cost extra
DreamHost’s Plans & Features
How Does DreamHost Hold Up Against The Competition?
Every road to fame starts with a step in the right direction, and that’s what the four founders of DreamHost did during their college years in 1997.
Headquartered in California, DreamHost now has a vibrant community of over 400,000 customers and 1.5 million sites. They’re also an open source champion (and joined the OpenStack Foundation as a Gold member) and regularly contribute financial backing and leadership.
Today, DreamHost offers hosting for a range of uses, skill levels, and budgets.
So, let’s first dig into what makes them world-class.
9 Reasons DreamHost Is A Great Web Host!
1. They easily meet the need for speed!
These days, our attention spans on the internet are shorter than ever. People expect lightning-fast speeds when loading content, so it’s important for websites to match that need.
Not only do slow websites get higher bounce rates – they can also get lower rankings on major search engines. That’s a lot of potential traffic to miss out on!
Why are we talking about this? Because a major culprit behind slow websites is a slow web host. The good news is, DreamHost’s server speeds are phenomenal in and around the United States!
We built and hosted a test site on DreamHost’s Shared Plan to test important metrics such as speed and uptime. Here are the results from our Speed Checker:
|US (W)||US (E)||London||Singapore||São Paulo|
|70 ms||2 ms||77 ms||242 ms||117 ms|
|194 ms||210 ms||169 ms||16 ms||87 ms|
DreamHost scored an A+ grade, with an average server response time of 118.4 ms! Speeds get especially impressive in locations close to their datacenter in Virginia, US.
This means that, for US-audiences, a well-optimized DreamHost website should load in a blink.In regions further away, server response times increase significantly, but are still very acceptable.
Curious about our speed checker?
Want to dive deeper into how speed is measured? Read more about Bitcatcha’s Speed Checker.
What’s the (not so) secret behind their speedy load times?
- DreamHost stores all data in SSDs which are 2x as fast as HDDs.
- Servers are WordPress-optimized, which means it runs WordPress like a dream.
DreamHost invests heavily into optimized servers that run efficiently while providing the fastest load times possible. So as long as you’re targeting audiences in the Western hemisphere, you’re set.
2. Stay online with their 100% uptime guarantee
On top of speed, hosting quality is determined by uptime, aka reliability.
Imagine visiting a site that loads fast… into an error screen! Many would be instantly turned off and go elsewhere.
That’s why one of DreamHost’s awesome pros is their unique 100% uptime guarantee.
If your website goes down due to a server issue, you get 1 day of service credited for every hour (or fraction thereof) of service interruption – up to a max of 10% of your next hosting renewal fee.
Most hosts only give up to 99.9% guarantees, which makes DreamHost the leader in uptime guarantees.
As part of our testing, we installed an uptime tracker on our test site.
Uptime since June 2021
The results from our test site shows that the site has not gone down for a second since we published it, which is great news. Of course we have not been able to test the actual refund-claim process since it stayed up.
According to their TOS, if your site has anything less than 100%, you can simply open a support ticket to begin the claims process, which should be easy and quickly resolved.
3. They’re officially recommended by WordPress!
So now you know DreamHost is fast and reliable. The next question is: Is it trustworthy?
Did you know?
DreamHost is one of only 3 WordPress-endorsed hosting services! Pretty impressive, considering WordPress powers 42% of the Internet.
DreamHost has been around since 1997 and was one of the most talked about services out there amongst bloggers. While competition is fierce, DreamHost’s features and offerings have kept them as industry leaders.
The service has been fully committed to WordPress hosting for over 10 years, contributing knowledge, research, and time to the WordPress community.
You can even install WordPress with just 1 click via the control panel, although Shared Hosting plans come with WordPress pre-installed for convenience.
WordPress runs perfectly on DreamHost’s plans, being fully integrated into the management interface and is linked to whatever plan you have. Many of DreamHost’s support staff are through and through experts at WordPress, so issues are solved swiftly and effectively.
As a beginner, you can have every confidence that DreamHost will keep your WordPress running efficiently and effectively. The full integration means that the site can scale up quickly when your business grows.
4. Set up your site with their easy website builder
Never used WordPress before? That’s not a big problem.
For beginners and solo business operators, building a website that’s fully-featured and aesthetically pleasing can seem like a daunting task. Traditional thinking evokes the image of a harried freelancer figuring out lines of text as their site crashes over and over.
To answer the needs of non-coders who want to build websites, DreamHost offers the WP Website Builder, a drag and drop website building interface that is easy and intuitive to use.
It’s a fast and simple process:
- Select a theme
- Drag and drop building blocks
- Fill it with content
- Customize where desired
No coding means getting a site set up is easier than ever, and these complete features allow you plenty of power:
- Unlimited pages
- Unlimited storage (with Unlimited plans)
- Mobile-ready themes and templates
- Custom colors and fonts
- Free, professional stock photography
- On-page SEO tips
The best part is, the Builder and its features are included with all Shared Hosting plans!
5. Access to award-winning support
Good tech support is essential when it comes to solving issues quickly.
You want a system that is knowledgeable, emphatic, and efficient so things get fixed fast and proper.
DreamHost offers these support options:
- Live chat
- Open a ticket
- Knowledge base
- Active forum
Overall, reviews often said that any issues were quickly resolved within the day by well-researched solutions provided by the tech team. Some even went the extra mile to provide additional reading for clients to improve their skills!
What about our own experience?
Support Response Times:
- In general, the live chat option is fast. Our quick test had a representative pick up our request in about 13 minutes – and that was after “a high amount of support requests in the morning.”
- Outside of business hours, people using the ticketing system saw responses within 1 hour of a new ticket.
- The knowledge base is quite extensive, with a text bot leading you to answers.
- The forums have many veterans who are willing to help.
How is DreamHost able to do this? By hiring talented folk and treating them like family.
The fully in-house support team are highly trained, experienced professionals that have extensive experience using WordPress. Each employee is a part owner of the company itself – you work hardest for your own company after all.
This hopefully means you won’t be left hanging if you have any problems as a DreamHost client.
6. They’re packed with security features!
When it comes to a WordPress-endorsed hosting service, security is a given. Still – it’s worth mentioning a few things that DreamHost makes sure to cover to help keep your website secure:
- Free SSL certificate registration, great for the budget conscious.
- Daily backups of your website’s data.
- WHOIS Privacy domain privacy protection included.
- Option to implement custom web application firewalls.
All in all, they cover many important security basics that small business owners will need. All of this can be later scaled up for businesses with large volumes or sensitive data.
7. Enjoy unlimited offerings
If you’re just starting up, you may be tempted to go with the cheaper Starter version to save on budget.
However, if you’re in need of a little more resources – the next tier up of their Shared Unlimited hosting plan unlocks a pretty amazing amount of value. You’ll have access to its “unlimited” offerings of:
- Website hosting
You can have many sites under one host.
Professional looking email addresses at no extra cost.
- Fast SSD storage
No need to downsize files or cut back on media.
- Subdomains (over 275 extensions)
Pick the best extension for your site.
- FTP/SFTP/Shell Users
Have more manpower? Add them in.
- MySQL databases
Manage all your databases easily.
The value of all these free items add up to much more than the plan’s subscription cost, not to mention the peace of mind of being carefree with many aspects of website management.
As an added bonus, new users can start with Unlimited at minimal risk, because they have … (read on!)
8. An impressive 97-day money-back guarantee
Shared Hosting plans that are paid with credit cards come with an industry-leading 97-day money-back guarantee.
Compare this with most other hosting services that offer just 30 days – DreamHost is 3 times longer!
That’s 3 months of trying out DreamHost’s Shared plans without worrying if it’s the right choice for you. If you’re not satisfied, you can cancel and receive a refund to the registered card.
How simple is that?
9. Monthly plans are available
Another plus about DreamHost is in the availability of monthly plans. This is an especially attractive option for businesses with seasonal earnings.
Having this flexibility means you are not locked into the plan and can back out if you decide it’s not the best fit. Flexibility is key in this topsy turvy COVID era!
The monthly plans do cost a little more in the long run, so switching to a yearly billing once you’re confident will save some money.
4 Things We Didn’t Like About DreamHost
No service is completely perfect, and no review is complete without a list of downsides.
1. DreamHost’s data centers are only in the US
The first pro we started with was about DreamHost’s fast speeds.
However, it was also obvious that the further away a web visitor is from a data center, the slower the response speed.
With DreamHost servers being located exclusively in the United States, clients who build websites targeted at audiences outside the US may experience slower-than-ideal load times.
Referring back to our Speed Test Tool, we found that the Oceanic side of the world sees speeds of over 200ms – significantly slower than the 2ms enjoyed by US web surfers.
If speed is your #1 metric and your audience is far from the US (ex. Asia), you may want to choose a different web host that does offer servers in these regions.
2. Support can be “Limited”
The other downside also stems from DreamHost being HQ-ed in the US: their Live Chat support time is limited to 5:30AM – 9.30PM Pacific Time.
For customers on the other side of the world, it means being forced to use the ticket system to answer any queries or problems they have that are outside of those hours.
In addition to that, DreamHost does not offer call-in support, so support requests are dealt with online, in text.
You have the option of paying for call-back support (they’ll call you), but it comes with a steep price tag of RM40.80 for one call, or RM61.30 for 3 calls monthly. That would be fine for large companies to handle, but not so much a fledgeling freelance business.
As a counterpoint to that, reviewers were generally satisfied and often praised DreamHost’s online support for timeliness in solving issues.
You won’t be stuck endlessly going back and forth between representatives; instead, reviewers said they often received a solution within the same day.
3. Their control panel has a learning curve
DreamHost’s custom panel is great, but may take getting used to.
It is quite different from the cPanels used by other hosting services so even experienced site managers will need some time to get a hang of it all. Newbies and those used to cPanels may be overwhelmed by the various tools at first glance.
However, mastering it is just a matter of time and experience. With the help of the friendly and knowledgeable support team, we think this will become inCONsequential!
4. Some features cost extra
Although the Shared Hosting plans come with plenty of value-add features, it should come as no surprise that certain things cost extra.
Because Shared plans share servers with other sites, the server may not be enough for sites that have high traffic, are content rich, or require uber-powerful features. You would have to upgrade to the other plans to ensure a seamless, desirable user experience.
On top of that, malware protection for your website is an add-on service. This may be less important if you don’t have an upload system as part of your site, but is still a good idea for most beginners.
The silver lining here is the fact that many of these features are easily acquired, even if they do cost a bit. Scaling up is a simple matter of ‘add to cart’ and purchasing the features you need.
DreamHost’s Plans & Pricing
So now that you’ve read our DreamHost analysis, let’s get down to the actual costs!
Here’s a look at their Shared Hosting plans. Some features are the same between the two plans, so we’ll be listing what’s different:
Paying for 1-year or 3-year subscriptions will give you even more savings in the long run!
When deciding between Starter and Unlimited, keep in mind that costs for things like additional websites, email accounts, storage, and subdomains can quickly add up to be far more expensive than the Unlimited plan.
With the 97-day money-back guarantee, you won’t need to hold back on choosing the plan that best fits what you need.
We’ve spoken mostly about Shared Hosting in this article, which is perfect for most small to medium sites.
However, If your business grows or already needs a bigger, better plan, DreamHost also offers other forms of web hosting:
- Managed WordPress
- VPS Hosting
- Cloud Hosting
- Dedicated Server Hosting
These more expensive plans are tailored for larger, complex, and specific needs. Switching is simply a matter of choosing the upgrade you need.
How Does DreamHost Hold Up Against The Competition?
Before we wrap this article up, let’s take a quick look at how DreamHost stands against the competition.
DreamHost VS Hostinger in Server Speed
Hostinger is another impressive international host. Since they offer similar packages, it’s interesting to compare DreamHost against it.
Since we’re suckers for speed, let’s first compare our same DreamHost test site (hosted in the US), with our US-hosted Hostinger test site.
Both websites scored an A+ grade for speed, making them both impressive web hosts for general audiences.
Digging deeper into the numbers, DreamHost’s average US speed was a slightly faster 36 ms compared to Hostinger’s 48 ms.
However – in terms of global coverage, there isn’t much competition here. Whilst DreamHost only has 2 US-based datacenters, Hostinger has a total of 7 datacenters located across multiple continents.
That means if a portion of your target audience is outside the US, Hostinger is probably the better choice, since you can choose to host from a server closer to your audience. For example, if your audience was mostly in Singapore – just pick Hostinger’s Singapore server and voila – faster speeds!
Hostinger’s wide global coverage also results in customer service in 13 languages, and 40+ localized Hostinger websites! Perfect for non-English clients too.
Want to learn more about Hostinger? Check out our Hostinger review!
DreamHost VS Kinsta in WordPress Performance
Kinsta is another web host that serves up WordPress-oriented hosting services.
How do DreamHost and Kinsta compare in terms of WordPress features?
First off – Kinsta is a highly-specialised, professionally-managed WordPress host. They aren’t WordPress endorsed, but Kinsta does walk the talk by providing very premium WordPress features.
The main difference is in how Kinsta lets you manage your WordPress website. They’re ‘fully managed’, which means you operate everything from their custom MyKinsta panel. This slick interface lets you access advanced features and analytics.
On top of that, Kinsta’s support team is made entirely of high-level WordPress experts. It’s obvious they know their stuff – Kinsta have even built their own proprietary WordPress tools like DevKinsta to help developers. However, Kinsta does come with a significantly higher cost (starting from RM123 a month).
Whilst DreamHost isn’t exactly a ‘fully professional’ WordPress host in the same way Kinsta is – we do find them equally impressive.
From our own experience and observations, DreamHost is a fantastic general-use host that’s optimized for WordPress. They’ve got a drag-and-drop WordPress website builder, a 1-click WordPress install, and offer free WordPress site migrations.
And best of all – DreamHost is officially WordPress endorsed!
At the end of the day though… comparing Kinsta & DreamHost is probably not entirely a fair fight. They’re targeting slightly different users.
DreamHost is a great host for general WordPress users, and Kinsta is probably better suited for business sites with a bigger budget and complex needs, OR advanced users like developers.
However, they’re both very, very awesome WordPress hosts.
You can learn more about Kinsta in our detailed Kinsta review.
Verdict: Should You Host With DreamHost?
To sum our review up, DreamHost Shared Hosting plans offer very budget-friendly yet feature-rich options.
The WordPress-endorsed hosting service gives you lightning-fast speeds, a full website building toolkit and award-winning support. Their 100% uptime guarantee means your site stays online, all the time, and you get something if it isn’t.
Even the most skeptical of clients can trial DreamHost at little to no cost with its 97-day money-back guarantee and monthly payment plans.
In all, their Shared Hosting plans are great for newbies and small business owners looking to build their first website, and you’ll have the scalability to add features as your business grows.
For businesses targeting US audiences, DreamHost is a solid choice when it comes to server speeds. However, if your audience is in Asia, you may want to consider other hosts.
DreamHost may also not be for you if you need to speak with people over the phone instead of doing things online, or if you simply prefer the usual cPanel to work on a site.
We hope you learned a lot about what DreamHost can do for you!
- ✓ Unlimited Websites
- ✓ Unlimited Storage
- ✓ Unlimited Bandwidth
- ✓ 100% Uptime Guar.
- ✓ 97-Day money-back
- ✓ 24/7/365 Support
- • Beginners
- • WordPress
- • e-Commerce
- • Local Businesses