Tips on Surviving DreamHost


I use DreamHost and it is by far the least reliable hosting service I’ve ever used.

However, they’re quite cheap for the vast amounts of storage and bandwidth provided. I also love their blog, newsletter, status page, control panel, and especially that they’re green!

Bottom line: DreamHost is great for some use cases, and incredibly dangerous for others. Here are some tips:

  1. Do not use IMAP for DreamHost e-mail. IMAP is wonderful…at least over a 100% reliable high-bandwidth, low-latency connection. I would recommend only using DreamHost for POP access or e-mail forwarding.

    I made the mistake of using IMAP and now have over 5,000 wonderfully organized and filtered messages trapped on DreamHost’s unreliable servers. I’m not a big fan of Gmail’s non-hierarchical organization scheme, and both Yahoo! & Hotmail have miserable user interfaces. So now I’m stuck with embarrassingly unreliable e-mail acces.

  2. Do not store any sensitive information on DreamHost. They just had a security breach.

    If you do, make sure that the file permissions only allow your user access to sensitive files: chmod 0600 <em>filename</em>

  3. Do not host sites which require high levels of availability. You’ve been warned. 😉

Enough bad news, here’s what I do recommend using DreamHost for:

  1. Personal sites (like my blog) or sites which don’t require high availability (small businesses or organizations).
  2. Serving static media files for a site hosted elsewhere (although some sort of failover should be used).
  3. Remote backup — as long as you encrypt any sensitive information.
  4. Shell access to a Linux server. If you want to play with Linux + Apache + MySQL + PHP/Perl/Ruby on Rails/Python, DreamHost seems like an excellent choice. Just remember to move to a more reliable hosting service before launching your Web 2.0 startup.