Can I be a file host, with DreamHost?

I’ve heard horror stories about people using too much CPU and getting their accounts suspended and terminated, dreamhost overselling capacity to no end, etc.

So my question is, what is the feasibility of operating a medium sized file server, where my users would be able to upload and download files, share with other people, etc?

Is this a no go by the TOS? I’m thinking it would probably be under 10 gigs a day each way.

People run into two problems with file sharing sites here:

  1. Hosting of copyrighted material.
  2. Site becomes too popular and adversely affects your server.

I see a significant number of people who post here after setting up a site without educating themselves about either of these two issues. They get burned by their users and don’t know how to solve their problems on their own, and leave or end up with canceled accounts.

With a moderate amount of effort on your part, you can avoid this unfortunate fate.

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Using too much CPU on a shared server is a “horror story” for anyone unfortunate enough to have to share a server with such users/sites, and has nothing to do with any “overselling.” In every case where the user has publicly shared the circumstances, the account suspension or termination has either been related to inefficient site operation, TOS violations, or just traffic beyond what is reasonable for a low-cost shared server hosting plan. There is a limit to what you can serve in a shared hosting environment without negatively impacting other users on your server; if you exceed that you are likely to need to use a dedicated server(s).

I think lensman is right on the money. CPU usage is not likely to be the major issue if your site is designed efficiently, but the number of concurrent connections being served by Apache may well be.

Bandwidth usage is far less likely to be a problem than Copyright/TOS issues related to IP.

Frankly, whether you are able to successfully run a “file” sharing site on DreamHost has more to do with these issues than anything else. Some sites just are not appropriate for use on a shared server due to the amount of http traffic they are likely to generate, and anytime you allow users to upload content in a “file sharing” atmosphere you are likely to end up with infringing content. :wink:


  1. Hosting copyrighted materials. Does DreamHost check your account regularly? Look through your files?

  2. You mention I would be able to avoid this fate, how can I do that?

Hosting copyrighted materials. Does DreamHost check your account regularly? Look through your files?

No, DreamHost will not be respecting your privacy that way although they have the right to do that. Rather, DreamHost runs a script which checks and identify possible copyrighted material. Thereafter, a email reminding you of the Terms of Service will be sent to you if it identifies copyrighted material in your account.

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Monitor your site and check loads. Analyze the efficiency of your site and determine its impact on the server. Tight coding and performance analysis is key.

OTOH, if the bulk of your traffic is giant downloads, as rlparker said, it’ll be the number of concurrent open connections that will be the issue. You’ll have to code to limit those to a reasonable number.

Other folks will have even more intelligent and sophisticated advice. If all this sounds more complicated than you want to deal with, you should consider getting help because this kind of stuff isn’t as easy as throwing up a static page or starting a blog.

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Really, that’s pretty interesting. That could be a problem. My users are kind of stupid like that. You could always though use a PHP encryption library and encrypt it in something like 32bit AES or some other simple scheme then the script wouldn’t find it, assuming it looks at the file hash. If it just looks at the filename, then just name the file some sequential number, and have that number relate to the actual name in a mysql database and just rename it upon serving then change it back.

Which won’t matter to DH. You are responsible for your account, not your stupid users.

Don’t forget about DMCA takedown notices. But then, stupid is as stupid does.


Firstly, How do I post a question without replying to something that is unrelated.

Paul, there’s a grey box above the list of topics. On the right hand side of that box is a group of buttons/links. The leftmost button/link labeled “Post” creates a new topic.

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Really I was just thinking that since DH offers a ton of cheap hosting I could set up a file hosting website for images/zip files and rake in some money using google adsense. Would a report this file link protect me?

Also if I put a built in limit on the number of active connections(I think you can set that in Apace) would that handle my cpu usage and resource drain?

IMHO, most likely not, but IANAL, and you really should discuss this with an attorney if you are intending to accept the fact that your “stupid users” are likely to expose you in this way. :wink:

It might, if you could control your own apache instance to that degree, and I don’t believe you can on a shared host. :frowning: