Strong opinions, weakly held

Trash Dreamhost here

I’m thinking about trying out Dreamhost for Web hosting. I’m definitely not staying with TextDrive — I had to wait two hours to post this because the server crashed again. Unacceptable. I’ve heard good things about Dreamhost and did the requisite “dreamhost sucks” Google search to find contrary opinons. There are definitely some customers out there who have had bad experiences, but they seem to be in the minority.

The number one question for right now is, can I run my own install of Movable Type 3.2 that uses cgiwrap or suexec, so that I don’t have to make my directories world writable if I want scripts to be able to store files in them?

The other question is, of course, how reliable and responsive are they? They have an emergency status weblog which has few entries, either because they only report really big problems or don’t have that many problems. (You can contrast it with the TextDrive Status page or Pair.com’s system notices.)

By the way, you can see the difference between pair.com and TextDrive from the respective status pages. Pair.com has hundreds of servers, and yet when a server crashes (or even requires replacement of hardware), it’s rarely down more than 10 minutes. My server at TextDrive crashed this morning, and it was down for over two hours. Here’s a status update from pair.com:

eiga (www326) encountered an error and reset. While it was down, a new chassis was put into service. The new specifications are a Pentium 4 3.8GHz with 2GB of RAM. Downtime was under 15 minutes.

The obvious question you’d ask yourself is why I don’t just go back to pair.com? (I could easily do so. In fact, I didn’t even cancel my account, I just downgraded to the cheapest package.) The answer is that I had a rough time getting Movable Type working there, and if possible, I’d rather pay Dreamhost $8 a month than pay pair.com the roughly $33 per month that I used to pay.

I’m trying to do more due diligence this time, though, so if you hate Dreamhost, now’s your chance to get it off your chest.


  1. I moved to dreamhost from TD a while ago. My entire site is WordPress, but I had no issues getting it set up or migrating the data. There has been a bit of downtime but they are responsive to inquiries and I’ve been happy. I always found TD support to have a lot of attitude, especially in the forums. DH has much better bed side manner.

    I did just move my e-mail to a separate provider (webmail.us) b/c DH has had some issues with e-mail uptime although that is supposedly fixed. Since this is my business site, I really couldn’t afford e-mail downtime so I invested in a dedicated service for that. The DH admin panel made it very easy to update the MX record for my site, which was nice.

  2. Dreamhost enforces tight CPU limits; you can have tons of storage…but you can’t do all that much with it on the shared hosting plans unless it’s all static HTML…

  3. I second Michael. I will be leaving Dreamhost asap because of those CPU limits.

    Site5 gets very good ratings from folks using CivicSpace/Drupal. It might be where I end up going, if I do not use a dedicated host.

  4. I have a Dreamhost account but I can’t really speak to functionality because I don’t use it for much. But I did want to suggest that if you’re interested in checking it out, there are some frequent discount codes that you should try – ‘777’, ‘888’, and ‘BEST’ are frequently reused as discount codes for the “Crazy Domain Insane” 1-year package. I got my first full year for $7 using ‘777’ but other people have reported getting a year for $8 or $22 and change. YMMV. My impression from reading forums is that Dreamhost is very cheap, but not the best choice for high-load sites (IOW, you get what you pay for).

  5. There’s an interesting txd thread going here…


    I’m hoping the joyent thing turns things around for them.

  6. Rafe, I think your best bet is to email Dreamhost support and kill 2 birds with 1 stone. You’ll find out how responsive they are, and you can ask them about your specific MT intentions.

    I can only say good things so far, but it’s only been 6 days and I’ve not had to interact with them at all yet. I moved/imported/migrated everything by following their good instructions alone.

    Jeff, The “Ex-Textdrive Dick”

  7. I’ve had an excellent experience with Telana http://telana.com/ I don’t know if they’re what you’re looking for though. It’s a small hosting company but they’re super responsive. I’ve sent emails at all time of day and always gotten a response within a couple of hours.

    The one thing I think you’ll like is, rather than cgiwrap or suexec they developed an Apache module (http://www.telana.com/peruser.php) to allow your website to run as you. It’s pretty nice.

  8. I’ve had great success with OLM. http://www.olm.net

    I’ve had two MT blogs running on their Apache servers for years. In the past 4 years, I’ve had MAYBE 4 hours downtime – total.

  9. I’m hosting a small client site there, with a MT-powered calendar. No comments or trackbacks so the only CPU it takes is during posting. Everything else is just posting PDF files. It’s been fine. Nothing amazing, it just works.

    The mysql setup is a bit odd, in that you have to create a sub-domain for each database you want — probably because of their phpmyadmin setup.

    That being said, you seem kind of stuck where you don’t want to manage your own server but you still feel a hole where all that control was before. A ghost pain of not being able to do exactly what you want, how you want. Dreamhost will not fix that ghost pain.

  10. I run three low-traffic accounts on Dreamhost. Switched to them in July. I had been using Pair, but needed lots more space. DH’s email system is unacceptably unreliable. A couple days ago, they claimed to have fixed the problems. We’ll see. I’ve had a couple of MySQL outages, but nothing for very long. They were down when LA lost power because their generators failed. They were down when their (apparently non-redundant) router failed recently.

    I would not use DH for high-traffic or high-reliability sites. Otherwise, they’re a very good deal.

    They run CGI (and PHP) as the user, so nothing needs to be world-writable. Their inter-user protection seems very good.

  11. I second the recommendation of Site5. They have been excellent for me, and they support Ruby on Rails. Not sure if they support everything else you are wanting, but they offer good documentation of what they do support.

  12. Dreamhost also has a blog, which may help you learn more about them as a company.

    FWIW, I’ve always found them to be reliable and responsive. I second the recommendation to send them an email and see for yourself.

  13. I’ve used Dreamhost for over five years, but I’ve never used another web hosting provider, and can’t comment on how they compare to others. I will say, though, that their support is the best I’ve encountered for any type of service or product. They’re always cheerful, never condescending, and, by and large, reasonably knowledgeable.

    Dreamhost allows PHP 4 to be run as either a CGI process or as an Apache module. PHP 5 runs as CGI only. There is no noticeable performance difference between the two. All CGI processes run as a user of your choice using cgiwrap, I believe.

    I have the impression that all software packages besides Apache, PHP, MySQL, and maybe a few others are managed using Debian’s package management system, and Dreamhost always runs the stable release. What this means is that you may find yourself using outdated software for years (Python 2.2.1, for example), as Debian updates the stable distribution very conservatively.

    In the past, I have been annoyed by frequent outages, but haven’t had much cause to complain lately.

  14. The following URL shows my php info() on DH



  15. I used pair.com for years. I got fed up with their very low disk space limits and tried out dreamhost for a year for $9 or whatever. When it came up for renewal, I switched everything over. I have no complaints, and they have a lot more turned on in the cheap accounts, so you can play with stuff. On Pair, they want you to have a $30/month account for that kind of thing.

  16. Dreamhost has been very good for the most part. They are definitely responsive on tech support and pretty knowledgeable. I’ve had a couple screw ups with them and have been down for about 24 hours in the past 3 years. Also one day all my mailing lists disappeared. I agree that their mail stuff could use work. I just forward everything to gmail and pop from there.

    What I like about them is their control panel which gives you nice friendly ways to install major packages. I’ve put together a couple wikis in under 30 minutes soup to nuts. They also support WordPress and Joomla.

    I’ve never had any billing issues with them, which would turn me off immediately with a host. I think their new customers are getting a better deal than I am, but I’m happy – I’ve got them hosting 6 domains, which includes a Joomla, three Drupals, one PostNuke, two mediawikis and five MT blogs.

    I’m just starting to bump up against their CPU limits, but I’ve got worlds of disk. 3GB for a public FTP for example. I’m pretty happy with them for shared service, and account management is excellent. They could do better on uptime, and I’ve had some noticeably slack performance for a few hours in primetime once every three or four months.

    I give them 90%.

  17. I have been using dreamhost for over 5 years now, as a host for my postnuke-based site. I wouldn’t say it’s ‘high traffic’, but it gets a couple thousand uniques a day, and I have never had an issue with CPU limitations. They offer more storage and bandwidth than I’d ever need, unlimited emails and mysql db’s, and have a remarkable uptime record.

    I can’t think of anything bad to say about the company other than they refuse to give a phone number to anyone but their most elite clients – although support is always fast via email and forum requests.

    FYI stay the HELL away from godaddy, though. They’re abysmal on all counts except for domain registration.

  18. Hey Rafe, I’ve recently started trying out a dreamhost account to run my drupal-based site. Since I learned about them via your post, if you want to claim an affiliate fee you can put my ID (the same as the username in my email address) here: https://panel.dreamhost.com/?tree=home.rew.

    So far I’ve noticed one outage of about an hour. I’m not using them for email, although I was considering it before I came back here and read the comments. I don’t expect my CPU load to be significant for the moment, and I hope later on to be able to afford a dedicated server with them.

    The fact that they use Debian is the key selling point to me. I was on viaverio, which is freebsd and impossible to install Java on, which I would do if I went to a dedicated server.

    Later, Kief

  19. UnhappyDH_Customer

    December 12, 2005 at 6:40 pm

    I’ve been with DH for over a year now… joining with what sounds like thousands of others that were seduced by their specials. Yes, they were already cheap(considering the disk space and bandwidth they offer) but their specials obviously convinced many of us to swtich…

    Unfortunately, perhaps because of explosive growth(?), my DH experience has been a huge disappointment. As has already been said — DH email is HORRIBLE. Definitely not reliable. Don’t make that mistake.

    In comparison, their Web services have been better but still less than reliable. Don’t believe for a moment that they log even half of their downtimes on their service pages. It’s been clear for months now that DH is suffering from a systemic problems — they’ve yet to cop to that fact with their customers though.

    If you can’t tell — I’m shopping for a replacement. If you decide against my counsel and choose to sign on with DH then follow the advice of others around the Web and use your credit card! Not Paypal. You’ll have much more leverage when your woes begin.

  20. DH just suffered a huge DDOS attack today. I was down for two hours. I don’t know how huge is ‘huge’ but the details are here.

  21. I don’t understand how anyone can recommend dreamhost. I have used them for 5 months now (chose them based on ‘glowing reviews’ from happy customers). Unfortunatly i did not google ‘Dreamhost sucks’ before i purchased. Email goes out almost every day, the sites are slow, and the outages are frequent and and unacceptable. I am also shopping for a new host. Dreamhost is so bad, that i am willing to spend 3 days switching servers for 5 websites and moving tons of mysql data.

  22. Hello, Last 3 months I bought a hosting service 1 year for $119.40. They gave me 120GB bandwidth each month. However, you will never be able to use all of them, even 1/2 of them. They never told me about it, and it is only tiny part in their TOS. It’s talking about CPU.

    Your site only can use 2,400 seconds of CPU each day. You can’t use over it otherwise your account will be closed and your money is lost.

    Please take a look at my math about their CPU…

    • I have 120GB bandwidth per moth.
    • My CPU per day is 7,768.00 seconds (130 minutes).
    • With 7,768 seconds (130 minutes) –> I lost 3GB bandwidth per day.

    – 3GB x 30 days = 90GB bandwidth. So, I stil have 30GB nonused bandwidth everymonth.

    However, With 40 Minutes (also means 2,400 seconds), how much bandwidth I will lost? Let SEE: – With 130 Minutes —————— I will lost 3GB bandwidth – With 040 Minutes —————— How much bandwidth I will lost ??GB

    *** I will take 3GB x 40 Minutes devide 130 Minutes = 0.923GB per day.

    So, with 40 minutes I will loose almost 1GB bandwidh per day(?)

    With almost 1GB per day x 30 days = I will only use 30GB per month when I have 120GB limit permonth. (???)

    Sound doesn’t fair, does it?

    I edit and test my site everyday from 3 to 6 hours. With that time, 40 minutes which YOU gave me will be used by only me.







  24. I’d be very, very leery of Dreamhost. I’ve ran a Drupal site on with them for the past year and just started receiving the CPU limit threats from them. My site gets decent traffic, but it’s very odd to receive warnings like this now given the fact that, in October, I was linked by Talking Points Memo and got thousands of hits in one day — no CPU warning from Dreamhost then. But now that my site has been running as normal, the same way it has been for months, Dreamhost is threatening to shut me down. Additionally, I told them that I needed help in reducing my CPU time and they have offered absolutely no help; they simply reiteriate their “lower your CPU time” script.

    I used to refer Dreamhost to friends, but no more. Not after this crap. Dreamhost can’t be trusted.

  25. Hi Rafe,

    For a nice discount you can get a promo code at http://www.dreamhost-promo-code.com. Currently you can get two years of hosting for the price of one, or 6 months free the first year.

  26. Are you a current or ex disgruntled Dreamhost user? There’s some people getting together to create an anti-Dreamhost website to warn others of their terrible service. Contact me if you wish to share your horror stories.

  27. How I hate Dreamhost. Two days ago they took down my website and disabled my email. After numerous emails to them from their site, I learned that I could do nothing until they got some info they had sent to an email I had several years ago that’s defunct. In order to be able to communicate with them, I got a yahoo.com address, which they don’t accept email from because it may have spam. I tried faxing but they don’t acknowledge faxes for billing or tech support problems. They asked for some digits of a credit card I haven’t used in a couple of years as it expired and would not accept my new cc number via their site’s customer support email. I hate them. I have wasted two days on this with no email or website. My solution? Switch to Godaddy, which has great live support and numbers you can call, techs with lots of patience. And I got a new URL just to make sure I’ve left them behind forever!

  28. Here’s the story, I signed up with dreamhost for their 777 promotional deal. I used them for 1 year, without problems. I renewed my account for the full $119.40 this month. Immediately after that (and I had no changes to my files that were on the server) they started e-mailing me saying they were going to cancel my account without a refund because I was using up their CPU. They refused to tell me how or what I was doing to use it up. Since I had only paid a few weeks ago for the next year that I was going to be using them, I decided to cancel and get my money back so that I could find a different host. Upon canceling they basically said there were no refunds for non credit card accounts. I proved I paid with a credit card, and then they told me that there are no refunds after 97 days. I showed them the date I paid, and they continued to tell me that I used them for over 97 days in the past. So, now I have no hosting + I’m out $119.40. Also, in the time I was with them they had the worst customer support of all the web hosting companies I have used.

  29. absolutely stay away from dreamhost. i am a resilient and smart user, and i have seen the worst days of my life since i am on dreamhost. today, they deleted my database (mysql) which holds my clients’ photos, blogs, etc. all gone.

    oh. how i hate dreamhost. use something else. and let me know what you get, cause i am running out of options…


  30. Trust me dear buddys..

    I am infact not against any hosting service personally. Only once in life I felt like fucked off and I was real helpless… only thing I can do is warn you. It is up to you to choose your host. but I learned the worst way.

    My project on a imagehosting site always need a server with good server space with some TB of bandwidth.. and infact I got to say i got sold with their ads on such a reduced amount. But as like always I checked for the review of users to find many good and much many bad reviews on the same. Infact I got to say I visited this site too which had some warning from previous customers. But the ad had already taken me and I though i would give it a try!!

    Since I am running a security related site; I registered the site in that name and thought of hosting new project along with the same server space I can get as said in free multiple hosting that is permited with each and every site.

    My credit card info was granted at first and since I had a discount coupon; I had applied for the same. But the status always showed account not activated even after the payment. I wait for couple of days before I sent them my first mail. They replied with a message to forward a fax to them copying the credit card along with a letter authorizing them to get the money.

    But again they said the info is not enough and asked for second fax with the signature of the card holder (I used the card of my friend) and I had mentioned this in my first mail. But even after the second fax (International) the status looked te same. An enquiry to cc office confirmed the payment has been issued. I couldnt understand what was going on. I was still on deadline for my project to get hosted and I couldnt waste more time due to sponosrs agreement.

    After that a response came after some 48 hrs that my account cannot be activated due to illegal content. I couldnt make out their excuse ‘coz the same security site is under the sponsorship of google ads (adsense) and they do have a strict policy than this s*****. I wrote back with the details also mentioned the guy to check the messages included “not to submit illegal queries” in each and every page of the site. The reply was “in the guest book some one have asked about hacking”. Still I wrote back with the reply that i had already given from my side “sorry for incon and you will be banned if you continue with the query”. .. I still couldnt understand what is makin them lag. The answer was “htis is not the right way to answer a query on hacking” and that he should be banned without any warning. I couldnt understand this and I asked them for a refund.

    It took another 2 weeks to get the 2 year refund back with a $10 deduction. They say I have used some space and bandwidth in the mean time when I have not even got the account enabled. Might be they are talking about the trouble tickets I issued on getting the account activated. But since I am international user I dont think it is worth going behind justice for $10 and the time I need to spend for all the mess.

    It is not the money or time. But the way they responed was like to a 3rd rate customer holding some illegal site when the sponsors of the same site is google adsense and yahoo!!

    I still cant trace out a reason. But I guess my words on first page of my site “we are unable to handle the high amount of bandwidth and moving to a host with more than 750GB data transfer” might have got them. But then why do they advertise 1TB?? when they cant handle the same.

    .. The worst experience is to get critized and to be mentioned as a 3rd class admin when holding a good site with more than 2.5 Lacs of page views and good sponsor for a silly meaningless reason.

    .. I wish they could have mailed in better manners. but time is still there.. One day it gonna be my turn. I am really pissed off.. Buddys; Let me warn you once again. It is up to you to decide.. but all these reviews cant go wrong when once I thought it was..!!

    Regards Mathew

  31. I have had great success with DreamHost! It has not let me down a single time!

    I once made a 3rd party picture section for Digg (digpicz.com, (see also reddit pics :)), and the shared hosting for $9.95 a month handled 100’000 (hundred thousand!!!) visitors the first day!

    I blogged what I optimized to handle such a traffic on a cheap shared host in this post: A few words about Digpicz.com.

  32. DreamHost’s poor customer service has led to a serious privacy invasion. When my client attempted to sign up for an account, the transaction hung halfway through. When customer service (which can only be reached by tedious email exchanges) “fixed” the problem, the pay by credit card option was no longer available. The customer service representative insisted that we use Google Payments. I proceeded, and then my client realized his financial information is now in the Google system. The worst possible scenario then came true. Instead of completing the transaction, Google called my client’s bank for “preapproval”. This was not to complete the transaction (which was never completed), but to gather information for Google’s marketing. My client is furious, reviewing everyone’s privacy policy, and is looking into ways to bring this problem up at the political, and possibly the legal, level.

    Throughout this whole situation, Dreamhost has been nothing but pig-headed. Every customer service representative ignores the case history and either refers us back to Google Payments or says patronizing things like we could have paid with the original credit card system. I offered them a solution where I quietly pay for the account using Google transactions, and they won’t even let me help bail them out!!!

    I will never refer another client to dreamhost. Right now I’m looking for the best place to air this complaint publicly in as many places as possible. People have to know that when Dreamhost pushes people into using Google Payments, Google then has their financial information to aggregate and deploy for their own purposes.

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