Dreamhost earns mixed reviews

Back in July I looked at moving web hosts to Dreamhost as they got high marks on several Drupal related boards. Indeed they have a lot of great ideas. Ultimately two problems caused me to invoke the 97-day money-back guarantee.

The first problem reared it's head as I started to transition domains to Dreamhost. If one has a "fully hosted" domain with Dreamhost they presume that you will have your "www." name pointed to their www server. Therefore it's not possible to have their DNS setup without having www.example.com pointed at their server. This makes for tough going when one wants to test and transition.

Fatally, however, the email system for IMAP was terribly unreliable. Time after time it would ask for my password when it had just been given. Perhaps it's a client issue or a conflict between the client and server but whatever the root cause it proved fatal for their hosting. It does seem that POP clients worked reasonably well.

Dreamhost's MySQL, PHP and therefore Drupal support earn high marks. It would be great if they'd add it as a goodie to install in their hosting control but it works pretty well otherwise.

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6 Comments

Dreamhost

I'm using this same theme at MacMegasite :)

Here's how I deal with test sites at DreamHost: First I do the testing on my own home server. When I'm ready to go live with it, I'll set up a domain like test.mysite.com and a new MySQL database. I set it up at the test site and once it's working, I swap the directories & databases for both sites. That's how I normally do Drupal version updates.

I do something similar to

I do something similar to Mike C. for testing on Dreamhost.

I used to develop and test primarily locally on a home server, but I've found it much more convenient to develop and test on a dreamhost server so that I can access it from wherever I may be. I create a subdomain like test.example.com and create any number of sites under that subdomain. I keep it password protected via htaccess to keep web spiders and such out of it.

When a site is ready to go live, I move it off to its own domain.

This also gives me the benefit of having a production site (if I keep a given site on dreamhost, which I may or may not do, depending) on the same server as the test/development site. I can keep them synced up easily that way, and transition changes from the test back to production quite easily.

I've had a couple issues here and there -- occasional slowness and downtime when they are resolving network issues -- but all in all, pretty good.

be fair....

I think you have to be fair to what they are - first there are ways around the subdomain problem that you mention. The easiest one is to use the free something.dreamhosters.com domain. You can use that as a temporary domain while setting up your first account.

The second method is simply to buy another domain - they're less than $10 so it's hardly a huge cost of doing business.

I have had occasional problems with IMAP or with my server being slow, but I think you have to consider the fact that you are getting hosting with an enormous amount of space, enormous transfer, enormous set of features (like shell access) for less than $10 a month. I think it's basically impossible to get a similar deal elsewhere. So, given all the great things you get, having mail be flakey every once in a while doesn't seem like a big deal to me.

I'm obviously a more than satisfied - but other Drupal users dislike dreamhost. It's somewhat a matter of personal opinion I guess and hosting can be so challenging. They're just the best budget company I've used out of maybe 10 different hosts.

Some alternatives

There are alternatives to the subdomain problem, but they do not really and truly offer the flexibility to handle some common setups where sites are spread across different hosts with different strengths. I think Dreamhost has a lot to offer and I'm incredibly impressed with how well they stand behind their money-back guarantee. They ask a couple of questions and hand you the refund. Definitely the sort of business I'd look at working with again if their services seem to meet a need.

Unfortunately my IMAP problems were a lot more than occasional. Perhaps this is a temporary problem that will go away and there are certainly other possible ways to use email that may work well for many sites looking for hosting.