In this post, I’m going to tell you about my experience with Dreamhosts VPS service. I’ve been using this VPS hosting for years now and it is currently being used to host the website you are reading right now, so I’m pretty well qualified to write this post!
Let’s dive in!
My History With Dreamhost
Dreamhost was one of the first hosting providers I ever signed up with, way back in the day when I was starting out as a web designer and developer. I wanted cheap, reliable hosting for some side projects I was working on and somehow, I found Dreamhost.
Their service sounded good to me and the reviews were pretty positive so I signed up for the cheapest plan they had. I don’t remember the exact price of that plan – it was about 15 years ago after all, but it was certainly very affordable and no more than $5.
The first few years on this shard hosting plan seemed OK but after a while, one of my websites started to get some traffic and was actually making me a nice side income. When I say traffic, I’m talking under 100 visitors a day so nothing crazy, but then I started to notice problems.
I was getting way too much downtime and my website would often load very slowly. A number of times there were issues on the server because someone else on the server was causing problems using too many resources. Yes, this does happen with shared hosting but it was happening way too often and costing me money. I needed a better solution.
The Dreamhost VPS
I decided that the quickest and easiest way to solve my issues was simply to upgrade to the VPS service. This would cost more (around $20 a month instead of around $5 a month) but it was something I had to do. I was able to upgrade from the admin panel with the click of a button and I planned on monitoring the performance for a while before I decided if I needed a new host altogether.
Before I let you know about my thoughts on the Dreamhost VPS, let’s take a look at what a VPS actually is…
VPS stands for Virtual Private Server. This means that your website is hosted on a server along with websites owned by other people, just like shared hosting, but with a VPS, you get dedicated resources.
This means that if someone else’s website on the server starts to hog resources and use up lots of memory, your website won’t be affected and it will keep running smoothly.
So a VPS is actually pretty straight forward, and its a great solution for website owners who want stability without the cost of paying for their own dedicated server, which can be very expensive.
Most VPS solutions these days including Dreamhost come with great features such as super fast solid state drives to, scaleable RAM and plenty of storage space. Dreamhost also manages the server so you’ll never have to worry about keeping it running smoothly or applying security patches.
So let’s take a look at how the Dreamhost VPS service has performed for me over the years…
Dreamhost VPS Speed
Once I changed over to the VPS, I was very keen to see how my website speed would be affected. The performance was certainly better than the old hosting solution, but what was much more important was that it was much more consistent. I was no longer noticing frequent issues with slow load times.
Since moving to the VPS, I’ve set up many websites on the service and run countless speed tests and the results have always been very good. My most recent test compared a demo WordPress website on my Dreamhost VPS to the same site on WP Engine, and Dreamhost was the clear winner, even though it costs far less than WP Engine hosting.
Overall, I’ve been very happy with the speed offered by the VPS.
Dreamhost VPS Uptime
Improving my website uptime was the main reason I changed to a VPS to begin with. When I first moved over, I had Pingdom running on my website to alert me of any downtime. I didn’t experience any downtime at all for months so once I was confident that my websites were stable, I removed Pingdom and I’ve not noticed any unscheduled downtime at all since then either. This was a big relief for me as it meant that my websites would run efficiently and I wouldn’t need to go to the hassle of finding a new host.
Dreamhost VPS Support
So, two of the biggest factors in choosing a good web host – speed and uptime were pleasing, but what about support? Support is another massive factor for most people when choosing a web host, and it is also an area where Dreamhost is disappointing.
Whilst upgrading to a VPS improved performance in all other areas, support was poor on both my old shared plan and my VPS plan.
The first thing that bugs me about Dreamhost support is that they try so hard to stop you from contacting them in the first place. I totally understand that it must be frustrating getting constant support requests for simple issues that can be solved by reading the knowledge base but raising a ticket quickly or connecting to live chat fast is a massive bonus for most users.
Unfortunately, Dreamhost will try their best to redirect you to a knowledge base or article and make the process of talking to a real person quite tedious. For most of my issues, these articles were of no use and it took way to long to raise a ticket. You can see the popup that appears when you try to contact support in the bottom right of the screen:
When you do raise a ticket or connect on live chat, the waiting time has been very disappointing most of the time. Now and again I get a quick reply, but it is not very often.
I would say that Dreamhost has always been able to solve any issues I’ve had, so that is the main thing!
Overall I would say that Dreamhost support is acceptable, but has lots of room for improvement.
The Dreamhost Dashboard
Dreamhost have their own custom dashboard. They don’t use CPanel or Plesk so if you are used to those interfaces that may be something to keep in mind as you would need to learn how to use Dreamhost’s dashboard. It is simple enough though and doesn’t take very long to get to grips with. It has also improved dramatically over the years from a design perspective. Everything now looks fresh, minimal and easy to use.
You can see the Dashboard you’ll be greeted with on your Dreamhost account here:
You can also see the very simple and straightforward VPS dashboard below. You can easily change the configuration of your VPS from this dashboard whenever you like.
Dreamhost VPS Costs
The Dreamhost VPS service is very affordable. Plans start at $10 for a VPS that would be ideal for starter websites, but this price is only if you sign up for 3 years. For just $20 you can get a powerful VPS with 2GB RAM, plenty of storage and allowance for unlimited websites and traffic. This spec is the plan I currently use and it has been great for hosting this website as well as a number of smaller sites for side projects I’ve worked on over the years.
You can see the current plans below for accounts that commit to 3 years:
Dreamhost VPS hosting is very competitively priced and is comparable to many of the big names in the industry such as Bluehost. Most hosting providers such as Bluehost will also require you to sign up for 36 months to get the best prices. You’ll notice small differences in the configurations between the big names in the industry and prices are fairly consistent. For example, a plan on Bluehost comparable to the Dreamhost plan I use would cost me about $5 a month more but have more RAM and less bandwidth.
Overall, I’m very happy with the price I pay and the performance and reliability I get from Dreamhost.
I would fully recommend the Dreamhost VPS solution to owners of websites of any size. Their smallest VPS plan would be great for starter sites and their larger plans would be greater for larger websites that need lots of resources. All their VPS plan are perfect for hosting multiple websites too.
I’d love to see Dreamhost improve their customer service as this is really the only part of the service that has disappointed me. They have certainly made many improvements to their overall solution over the years I’ve been with them and they do seem to very committed to providing the best hosting to their army of customers, so hopefully their technical support will continue to improve along with the rest of their offering.
Is a VPS too expensive? If you’re just getting started with your website and you want to cheapest possible option, Dreamhost’s shared hosting plan will get you started for less than $3 a month and it is really easy to upgrade to a VPS if you ever need to. You can also read my guide on cheap WordPress hosting.