Considering Dreamhost


I am currently looking at finding a new webhosting service. I am currently looking at Dreamhost and HostStage. I get mixed reviews about this one, but I wanted to find out some information anyway.

I’m looking here because I see that DH is advertising all over the site for unlimited storage and bandwidth. This is appealing because I was wanting to allow users to optionally upload their own created content to the server and distribute it freely, without the annoyances of free file hosting. You know, waiting times, intrusive ads, all that junk.

Please note that nothing illegal in the USA will be allowed. This includes copyrighted content. I will be monitoring uploads and removing anything that breaks any rules.

Now, my main point. Currently, my website is still new and doesn’t have many members. But I need to know ahead of time what I can and can’t do before I buy a service. Am I actually allowed to let people openly upload their content and provide for unlimited downloading of said content?

Please let me know of any requirements I need to meet for this to be possible. This is includes any restrictions on the type of content set by Dreamhost themselves. I need to know what I can and cannot allow ahead of time. As far as the plans go, I need to start as close to the bottom as possible, as currently I get no revenue from my website.

Also please note that I an a complete VPS noob, and have already failed several times (broke one server, somehow managed to delete everything) for just trying to upgrade PHP and MySQL to the latest versions. I’m hoping that maybe someone around here would be able to assist me with that process should it be necessary. PHP 5.4 and MySQL 5.5 are recommended for vBulletin 5, which I already own.


Good luck doing that on Dreamhost. I’ve tried to upgrade PHP, both via installing from source, and from using their script that’s posted in the DH wiki. End result? Completely broke my server (started saying PHP function weren’t working,etc). I couldn’t figure it out for the life of me. My guess as to why is they have some weird configuration/set up on their VPS’s that I couldn’t figure out. But, it didn’t make sense because the said, that, installing it from the script they have on their wiki required no further action on my part. Still, I ended up canceling my VPS, and buying a new one.

That’s a good question. Technically I don’t think Dreamhost would have any particular problem with letting users upload stuff to your site for distribution, or at least I don’t recall seeing any restrictions about this. The whole point of a site is to distribute content and as long as it’s content that you or your users have the rights to I don’t see how that could be a problem (but note that I don’t speak for Dreamhost).

More concerning to me, would be that in today’s shoot first and ask questions later way of doing things regarding copyrighted materials, user uploaded content is tricky with any ISP in the USA, unless you are a big company with good lawyers, and even then you might wake up one day with a gun pointing at your face and a police officer crushing your hand with his boot.

It’s totally impossible to check what your users upload if there is a significant number of them, and you can be 100% sure that some of them will upload material to which they don’t own the copyrights. You’d need to follow the DMCA procedure to the letter, but even that doesn’t always prevent authorities from targeting you, in which case your entire website and domain could be disabled at the drop of a hat.

Do you have a realistic plan to avoid such issues?

Thanks Otto, for the input. But yes, I actually am using vBulletin, and Dragonbyte Tech has a plugin for it that allows users to upload and download files. This plugin gives me full control over uploaded files with an easy to use interface. It also allows users to report files that need removed. Not only that, but because it integrates with the Credits plugin, I can place a cost for every download which will prevent one person from outright spamming me with tons of download requests. I can also automatically award credits to uploaders. Basically, it turns into a give and take system.

Downloadable files are all visible to the public, so anything illegal will be in view and therefore removed asap. If necessary, I can promote trusted users to moderators, and allow them access to moderate files.

If it becomes a REAL problem, then I also have the option of requiring every file to be reviewed, by me or a moderator, before it becomes publicly visible.

Here is a link to the plugin.
Hopefully that can help clear up some of your doubts.

I just need to hear from DH about potential limitations as to what I can and cannot allow, aside from what the US government says. And I need to know for sure that I can even allow this to go on in the first place. I don’t want to get it going and then start finding nasty e-mails telling me I’m using too many resources.

When it becomes a REAL problem it’s already too late, due to the trigger happy way they react your site will be offline before you can do anything.

The way I read that credit system it actually pays uploaders to upload stuff that will be downloaded a lot, which will be used against you to show that you gave people an incentive to upload stuff.

The copyright system hampers innovation and the game is rigged against small players like you.

However much I like Dreamhost, and I think they are the best, I’d never set up a site with user generated content in the US or under a US controlled top level domain, or use any US based service for any part of such a site. I’d pick a country like Norway or Sweden, where it wouldn’t be so bad to be extradited to if it all goes sour. The only downside is that hosting there is probably relatively expensive. Actually I even know which hosting provider I’d use…

I was actually planning on setting it to charge users for uploading after some content was added. This way it limits who can upload, and how much they can do. The credits themselves are part of another plugin, and they can be awarded for any activity on the website. There is a lot.

Considering the type of content it is, I’m not worried at all about the material that gets uploaded, as anything that doesn’t belong to the related programs isn’t supposed to be there anyway. The program itself is even freely distributed, and so are all the tools, plugins, etc. The models used are all created/edited within other free programs, by the users. Therefore, I see no problems with the created content.

As much as I am able to monitor the site, I hardly doubt any illegal content would be up long enough for the government of all things to find out about it. The time it would take for someone to come across it, report it, they find the report, and then try to come and find it - it would be long gone. I have no intention of allowing anything that might come in conflict with the law to exist in the downloads, and therefore it is something I personally will always be watching.

I have an incredible amount of control over the system. In fact, I can hide the entire thing from unregistered users, or I can allow only certain users/usergroups to see it. If I want, I can set it so that only content creators can upload - which is actually not a bad idea so I might have to do that. Just need to make a new usergroup, and let people apply for it. This would at least prevent any random person from coming in and uploading stuff.
There is a lot more that I can do, but I don’t think it necessary to write about it all here. Just know that I am 100% confident that my website will stay within any government laws. I certainly don’t want any problems with them.

Ah OK, that all sounds like a very narrow and specific set of things that could be uploaded. If you are sure that it’s 100% ok, then you should be fine here at Dreamhost. I’ve been a customer since 2007 and I am not aware of any rule prohibiting sites that allow users to upload content.

You haven’t much to loose anyway, initial signup get’s you a year shared hosting for a rock bottom price (using a Promo Code), if things go well for your site, you can easily migrate to a VPS.

I’m currently using Hostgator for my WP sites, I’ve been with them for almost 3 years now but the thing is I don’t get discounts when it’s time for me to renew the hosting services. I’m seriously considering to switch in other host, I’ve read that DreamHost is one of the best when it comes to WP sites. I have to read more comparisons and hopefully I can decide before my contract in hostgator expires

I moved from hostgator, dreamhost are alot better.

Did you switch? Thinking of leaving HostGator after their outage this week.

How long you been with DH? HostGator had a HUGE outage that lasted half the day last Friday and it was bad for my clients. Thinking of moving and wondering what you think. Thanks!

I’ve been with Dreamhost 7 years or so… and before that with other hosts. DH – like all web hosts – will have some outages. The biggest problem was a couple years ago (and it’s documented on the DH blog) when DH was hosting a web site that promoted a lot of DoS attacks. However, generally DH is excellent.