Why I love DreamHost

Squarefree.com has been hosted at DreamHost since November 2001. I like DreamHost because for $10/mo, I get more than 120GB/mo of bandwidth along with all the features I need. (Sign up with promotion code squarefree to save $77 on any yearly plan; I'll get $20 for referring you.)

The thing I like most about DreamHost is that it charges extra for resources such as disk space, bandwidth, and non-shared IP addresses, but most features are free with any account. I haven't had to pay extra for the features I use: .htaccess, ssh, MySQL, phpMyAdmin, Analog, Apache log access, custom DNS records, Jabber and mail addresses @squarefree.com, and announcement lists. DreamHost even has a cool backup feature called snapshots.

Another thing I really like about DreamHost is that the plan I'm on keeps improving. For example, in December 2004, DreamHost tripled everyone's bandwidth allocations, taking mine from 30GB/mo to 120GB/mo. I had never exceeded 30GB/mo, but at one point I reduced the number of posts in my RSS feeds in order to avoid overage charges. (DreamHost originally described the bandwidth-tripling as a promotion that was extended to existing customers, but since it has lasted for over four months, it seems permanent.)

The only host I know about that would give me more than 120GB/mo for less than $10/mo is PowWeb (mentioned in a host poll), which offers 5GB/day for $8/mo. But since PowWeb's bandwidth allocation is per-day rather than per-month, it's only better than DreamHost's 120GB/mo if a site's daily variation in bandwidth is small. If squarefree.com only had 5GB/day, it might have survived the traffic spike around the release of Firefox 1.0, but it would not have survived being Slashdotted when I released Adbar, and it would not have survived me mirroring crashreport.wmv in order to add it to my del.icio.us bookmarks. Both events used 10GB within one or two days.

DreamHost's support, while not consistent, is usually excellent. The DreamHost knowledge base, along with Google, answer many of my hosting support questions. Also, since many people use DreamHost, searching Google with "dreamhost" in the search phrase often helps me solve problems. When I do contact DreamHost support, they respond to all of my questions within 24 hours. I get fast and helpful responses even for esoteric questions, such as a problem I had with piping tail -f through two greps. I get answers for most outage-related questions within an hour, although those responses are sometimes of the form "it seems to be working now" rather than an attempt to help me ensure my site doesn't break again.

DreamHost allows adult sites (contrast PowWeb, Pair). I don't know if Pair or PowWeb would consider squarefree.com an "adult" site due to Thumbs and Pornzilla, but with DreamHost I don't have to worry.

DreamHost even has a sense of humor. The monthly newsletters, which are written by co-founder and Harvey Mudd College alum Josh Jones, are often hilarious. Another example of DreamHost's humor comes from their support form:

Please select your general expertise in the area of this request:

There are two things I don't like about DreamHost. First, Gallery, Movable Type, and WordPress all seem slow; I haven't figured out why. (Update: WordPress and Gallery no longer seem slow and I am no longer using Movable Type.) Second, they don't use mod_speling, saying it would be too much of a performance hit. (Jakob Nielsen could remove an entire section from his 404 page if he used mod_speling, but he doesn't use it, so DreamHost could be right about the performance hit.)

The final thing I like about DreamHost is that they give me $97 if you sign up after clicking a link from my site (unless you use the promotion code squarefree, in which case you save $77 and I only get $20).

6 Responses to “Why I love DreamHost”

  1. Kri Says:

    Somehow I just stumbled upon this post at the Mozillazine Feedhouse. I just wanted to chime in and say that I use Dreamhost as well, and so far I love it. I don’t have any experience with other hosts, but I haven’t had the need to since I’m satisfied with Dreamhost.

  2. Paul Paradise Says:

    I’ve been a pair Networks customer since before Dreamhost existed, and have been generally happy throughout. To address your porn question, I don’t speak for them but I doubt you’d have problems – I’m responsible for the website http://www.paradisemarketing.com, a condom distributor, along with related sites like http://www.vividcondoms.com and even some names with “obscene” domain names, like numbbum.com.

    They run a tight ship as far as operations go; I’ve never had a problem with extended downtime. (The only extended outage I think they ever had was when they moved their entire datacenter, and even then they had the machines coming back online in 5-9 hours.) They have an NNTP server available for customers only, with an active community for support, and even the CEO pops in on occassion to help out.

    Pair’s biggest problem as I see it is price; they’ve gotten better over time, but DreamHost still blows them out of the water for high-bandwidth sites or for small sites that want a full development environment. If I ever get an idea needing a new account, I’ll probably try DreamHost out, and keep my pair Account for the established sites.

  3. zzz Says:

    Oh yeah keep spamming Mozillazine for your personal interests.. Arrgh !!

  4. Jesse Ruderman Says:

    zzz, I provide a feed that only contains my Mozilla-related posts (http://www.squarefree.com/archives/cat_mozilla.rdf). Planet Mozilla uses it. Mozillazine Feedhouse uses my regular feed, so it gets all of my posts.

  5. Doug Says:

    Lunarpages does 40Gb/month for $7.95, with no restrictions on content as long as it’s legal.

  6. Ali Ebrahim Says:

    As a pair customer, let me chime in that there’s nothing on your website that would even cause remote problems with pair’s adult website policy.

    I’m very satisfied with pair, but at the same time Dreamhost looks very attractive as well.

    I agree with Paul that pair’s biggest problem is its price points. I’ve had zero problems with them, and my server hasn’t had any downtime since May 2003, which is not bad, as far as I can tell.

    I’ve been thinking about getting a Dreamhost account to serve random media files from and set up custom DNS so that a subdomain of ebrahim.org gets pointed at a Dreamhost account, but I don’t have a need for this yet.

    For all my friends who are looking for hosting but who don’t want to pay the price premium that comes with pair, Dreamhost is the first place I send them. I would have probably signed up with Dreamhost myself (because its so cheap), but I discovered it after I was already set up with pair, and while pair is a little pricey, it isn’t breaking the bank, so I never really felt a compulsion to switch.

    For those who are keeping score, my previous host, Network Solutions sucks badly in pretty much every respect. Don’t host domains with them, and don’t give them your business.