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Detailed hosting review - Dreamhost

 

 

Introduction and features

Dream Host seems to be offering a service which is fairly good from the environmentally point of view. Considering everything you get, Dream Host is also really cheap much cheaper in fact than most non-green hosting providers.

We have decided to try Dreamhost ourselves and will be updating this review as we gain more experience. So far everything has worked out great and we love it!

Support
The basic hosting plan does not include email or telephone support. These can be purchased separately if you need them. All support is handled via trouble tickets through Dream Host's online helpdesk. If you are not familiar with trouble tickets, these are like email correspondence, but you first need to login to your account before you can open a ticket.

From what I have heard, Dreamhost replies quite promptly to all technical assistance requests. They also have detailed instructions available in their own Wiki for most common situations, like switching to Dreamhost from another hosting provider and/or domain registrar.

Technical
In the past few years Dream Host servers have experienced some occasional down time. If your websites uptime is absolutely critical, you might consider another host to be more reliable. Personally I value their openness in this matter and don't worry too much about rare moments of downtime.

Interestingly Dreamhost has been very open about all this and always explained the reasons why even if the whole thing has been caused by their mistake. Most hosting providers don't offer this kind of transparency and might even keep insisting that everything is in order. With my experience I can say that almost all hosting providers do make mistakes from time to time. Personally I will feel better knowing that should there be a problem, I will at least be properly informed.


Features

The Dream Host hosting plan boasts unlimited websites, unlimited disk space and unlimited data transfer. They even allow you to use their servers for backing up files which are not related to your website (up to 50GB). I haven't seen any other hosting provider offering this and find it valuable to have the possibility to store my backups off premises without having to pay extra for a separate online service.

The "unlimited" storage and transfer does have the normal limitations, but as long you are hosting an ordinary website (opposed to something which is designed to be a resource hog) it should be fine. I have heard of websites having enormous traffic with more than 2GB of monthly transfer having had their websites slowed down. Some people have complained that Dream Host should be more open about these limitations and I agree. If you expect your website to generate massive data transfer, you might need to scrutinize the rules. For the rest of us with ordinary websites unlimited means just that much more than you could ever need.

As for other features, Dreamhost's hosting plan seems to have all the bells and whistles.

Environmental aspects
Dreamhost seems to have taken a real interest in their green values. They have started with energy efficiency and use Green Certificates for all their renewable energy needs. In addition they use carbon offsetting to make the whole company theoretically carbon neutral. I say theoretically, because the whole carbon offsetting trend is such a dubious concept (see Cheat Neutral for a hilarious explanation).

Still, there is no harm in complementing the Green Certificates with carbon offsetting. Dream Host has done the best they can and seem to be genuinely interested in cutting their emissions.

Conclusion

I find the features and price of Dreamhost to be quite irresistible. I would prefer a green hosting provider which has their own renewable power generation, but I can live with Renewable Energy Credits, especially as Dreamhost seems quite sincere in trying to cut their emissions. Getting these features from another green hosting provider would simply cost so much extra, that I have decided to be happy with Renewable Energy Credits for now. The price is unbeatable with the coupon codes we have available.

I hope Dreamhost turns out to be as good as I have heard. I will be updating this review as soon as I have more experience first hand.

 

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