It seems simple — Rule No. 1 of hosting a WordPress website is to keep the ultra-popular content management system and plugins updated to avoid security risks. I know this and tell others about it all the time… but don’t always practice what I preach. When I sign into one of my WordPress sites, I just want to get to work. Who has time to wait for updates to install?
WordPress will automatically take care of updates in the background if you’d like, but installations can happen when you aren’t looking and might cause issues with some of your plugins, themes, or customizations. As such, I’m a sucker for hosting companies that offer automatic updates and expert managed services on standby in case something goes wrong.
One of the few hosting providers recommended by WordPress itself, DreamHost does exactly that. The company provides domain registration, web hosting, and cloud services to 1.5 million sites, blogs, and applications. WordPress users can choose between a shared hosting service and DreamPress, a performant and reliable managed hosting plan that delivers security, auto-updates, and a support crew well-versed in all things WordPress. We took their services for a test drive and are eager to share our comparison of the two hosting platforms.
DreamHost “WordPress” Review: 4.9 / 5.0 Rating
Started by four friends in a college dorm room in 1997, DreamHost combined the Founders’ passion for technology, open-source software, and helping customers succeed. To that end, the company specializes in providing easy setup, around-the-clock support, and automated updates and backups.
Most important to client success, however, just might be the 100% uptime guarantee DreamHost includes with all WordPress hosting services — if your business website or eCommerce store isn’t available, you’re not making money and losing potential customers. Additionally, the company’s 97-day money-back guarantee is perhaps the best in the business, giving customers ample time to see if DreamHost services are the right fit.
DreamHost doesn’t restrict the themes or plugins customers use, and the company allows files to be stored on super-fast solid-state drives, or SSDs. In addition to a pre-installed SSL certificate from Let’s Encrypt, DreamHost boosts site security with a WordPress-specific firewall that shores up known weaknesses and offers support against brute-force attacks. See our review of DreamHost’s shared WordPress hosting plan:
- Preconfigured and fully managed option available with DreamPress
- Multiple caching layers with Varnish, Memcached, and OPcache
- 1-click install and automatic updates
- WP-specific firewall for security
- Pre-installed SSL/TLS certificate
- Get started on DreamHost now.
DreamPress “Managed WordPress” Review: 4.9 / 5.0 Rating
DreamHost serves more than 400,000 customers, ranging from web designers and developers to content creators, small businesses, and entrepreneurs. With such a varied client base, technical abilities can range from seasoned pros to clueless beginners.
That’s where DreamPress comes in. DreamHost’s managed WordPress plans allocate two virtual private servers per customer to boost performance, scalability, and reliability. One VPS is optimized for serving up the frontend, while the other caters to MySQL databases. DreamPress customers receive the same SSD storage found elsewhere in DreamHost plans, but the company includes multiple caching layers, isolated server resources, and auto-scaling memory to provide five-times-faster performance over the regular WordPress hosting plans.
The price tag associated with DreamPress is on par with other high-end managed WordPress hosting providers, including WPEngine and Flywheel, so we have zero qualms about recommending DreamHost’s high-powered services:
- Fully managed, stress-free WordPresshosting
- More than 5x faster than traditional shared hosting
- Advanced site backup and security features
- Now includes Jetpack Premium! (normally $99/year)
- Easily scale to handle traffic spikes
- Get started on DreamHost now.
Benefits of WordPress Hosting with DreamHost
Choosing a host for your WordPress website is no easy task. Finding the best provider is not a one-size-fits-all solution since every person and project has different goals, budgets, computing requirements, and technical know-how. Here are some of the reasons DreamHost might work out for you:
- Incredible uptime and reliability: 100% service-level agreements are hard to find for such an affordable rate. Such a promise is usually reserved for cloud, VPS, and dedicated plans, not the shared services DreamHost offer.
- Perhaps the industry’s longest money-back guarantee: Customers can request a refund up until a whopping 97 days after purchasing services from DreamHost. InMotion Hosting offers refunds through 90 days, but you’d be hard-pressed to find any other similar plans.
- Performance: Both WordPress plans come with SSDs, and DreamPress is further optimized for performance with isolated server resources, a finely tuned version of PHP, and multiple layers of caching through Varnish, Memcached, and OPcache.
Simply put, DreamHost comes with more features and optimizations than your run-of-the-mill shared hosting provider. Any host that so much as attempts to optimize its infrastructure for WordPress is worthy of serious consideration.
Room for Improvement in DreamHost WordPress Plans
As with any web host, DreamHost can’t possibly meet every user’s needs. Here, we’ve detailed some of the drawbacks or quirky attributes we think you should know about:
- Customized control panel: We do like how the company arranges administrative tasks in its one-of-a-kind administrative portal, but there will be a learning curve for the majority of customers who are used to the industry standard of cPanel.
- Expensive shared hosting: Yes, regular WordPress hosting from DreamHost is an above-average plan, and customers should expect to pay more. However, several hosts offer SSDs for about half what DreamHost charges — a rate you only get by committing to a three-year plan.
- No phone support: The DreamHost support staff are unequivocally experts in both hosting and WordPress; all employees are trained to a Tier II level and really know the ins and outs of the software. To talk to someone over the phone, however, customers need to add (read: pay for) an upgraded service — that still limits them to receiving three callbacks per month.
As you can see, most of the DreamHost flaws really just boil down to personal preferences and experience. None are really deal breakers, as DreamHost enjoys a positive reputation across the web hosting industry.
Don’t Love DreamHost? Check Out Popular Alternatives for WordPress
Although my content management system choice has stayed the same for something like a decade, I’ve bopped around to several different hosts, searching for my WordPress-hosting heaven. Some have excelled, while others have stumbled.
Because WordPress powers nearly 60% of websites that use a CMS, or 28% of the entire internet, web hosting providers are clamoring to appeal to the large pool of potential customers. Add in the extra revenue potential associated with charging for related managed services, and you can see why the WordPress hosting market is so crowded.
As with all big purchases, be sure to do your hosting homework and see what added services hosts include to sweeten the deal. Popular providers, including DreamHost, may or may not be the best option for your website, blog, or application. Hopefully our DreamHost review, along with comparisons to other hosts, will help send you down the right path.