Negative Reviews?


My first year of using DreamHost nears an end, and I fully intend on staying aboard for another. But my site administrator side gets the best of me, and I ran around researching more about DreamHost.

New users, stop reading this and sign up with us. You won’t regret it. This is just idle speculation from a really bored webmaster.

There seems to be quite a handful of really really bad reviews for DreamHost. Do note that I selectively picked these out from a broad google search. For every one of these rants, there’s 7-8 other sites praising DreamHost.

What do you all think about this? Are these people just having a reactionary response to DH’s popularity? Or are there really issues that I haven’t encountered yet in my little hidden-under-a-rock site that might grow in the future?

I’m definately sticking around longer because of three simple things. I’ve amassed a small group of friends on DH already (I refered 6 friends on here by word of mouth alone… I wish I could retroactively grab them for rewards now.). Free WHOIS masking saves me a bundle in my domain registering costs (believe me, this is better than GoDaddy which will cost you $17 a year). Also any webhost that maintains something like the DreamHost Blog is the best webhost ever IMHO.




I am actually the one who wrote the article titled “Dark side of DreamHost”. By no means that it is a reactionary response to DH’s popularity. I am merely stating out the fact surrounding the CPU minutes issue. Not only does it affect DreamHost customers, but also almost all other shared hostings. Don’t let the big storage space and large bandwidth allowance blind you – if you are hosting a high traffic dynamic site running an inefficient CMS, then you’ll exhaust your CPU minute limit way before your bandwidth. This is just how shared hosting works.

My sites are still hosted on DreamHost, as fortunately (or unfortunately) they don’t attract lots of traffic. I have just updated that article with an “Epilogue” section to make it more clear.



Exactly, this is not an issue exclusive to DreamHost, it will be an issue on any shared hosting worth having.

The basic problem is that machine resources are finite, so hosting companies must try to make sure these limited resources are fairly distributed amongst all users on the server.

Of-course, there are cases where companies oversell and try to squeeze too many customers onto each box, but I believe the DreamHost limit of 60 CPU minutes per day is more than fair.

I think you’ll find that most of the cases where the limits have been exceeded are due to in-efficient scripts and/or very large amounts of traffic. In many cases, the owners of such sites should be looking at dedicated hosting. Yes, it does cost more, but it is not hard to make a high traffic site pay for itself.

Personally, I am glad the DreamHost limits are in place. I wouldn’t want my sites on a server where one rogue user could bring things to a standstill.


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Sure. Most other hosting companies won’t even tell you what their limits are, and kick you out whenever they feel like to without warning or without tools to help you optimise.

[quote]I think you’ll find that most of the cases where the limits have been exceeded are due to in-efficient
scripts and/or very large amounts of traffic.[/quote]

Unfortunately many scripts/open source apps were not made by skilled developers. But they are available and they are free, so people use them. What kind of server power do you need to host a dynamic/interactive site with 20,000 visitors a day? A dedicated server for sure, as it would 5 years ago. Except it was 800Mhz Pentium 3 5 years ago and dual 3Ghz Xeon today. Software just gets more bloated…

Personally I am not complaining about the performance of DreamHost servers. What I was trying to identify is, that many people came here because of DH’s generous storage space/bandwidth plans, but did not realise that they will be penalised for their exceesive CPU usage, before their bandwidth is used up, if you run a popular dynamic site.

Scott Yang | Truth About DreamHost Promo Code


We host quite a few popular dynamic sites. The vast majority never have trouble with cpu minutes. Sometimes the fix is as easy as stopping comment spam, or turning on page caching. Its important to note that we are very flexible. We don’t disable sites that are spiraling out of control, we just move them to a server with less customers. And we don’t do that until the site is affecting the other customers on the original server.

Even if you were running the site on a dedicated box you would want to optimize the site. Anyone who has ever run a popular site knows that optimization is one of the first topics that comes up. If you had a dedicated server and your site was crashing it you would not just keep buying more dedicated servers, you would optimize your site.

In a shared environment it is even more important to to be efficient, since causing a server crash affects many sites, not just yours. The alternative is that we let some people’s cpu usage run out of control and everyone else complains that our servers are slow and unstable.

As with everything at DreamHost we do our best to be fair, and we are always open to suggestions if you have a good idea about how to do it better.


The other complaint I see is about our BBB rating. (“Yes, the Better Business Bureau, a state-operated consumer watchdog”) First of all the BBB is a private orginization and has nothing to do with the US government. From their website: “the BBB is not a government or law enforcement agency.” They are a private organization that supports itself on membership fees from businesses.

They seem like an honest organization, and attempting to keep track of every business is a big job. Still 10 complaints over ten years and 270,000 domains seems very low to me. As anyone who has dealt with our company knows, we are very fair and understanding. So in this case the rating is clearly unrepresentative of our business.


Agh, I lost this thread among the spam outside.

From what I’ve seen from the Blizzard complaints and rating, they have some kinks to flush out. How would you improve your rating? It seems like whenever someone shops for a webhost, where service is key, they head over to BBB.


I’ve never checked out teh BBB when looking for a new host. But I’m not sure that is saying much.

That BBB rating has been talked about before here by Jeff. As I understand the way to up your rating is to pay their membership fees. Right now, thoes few people out of the hundreds of thousands have decided to make their complaint public with the BBB goes as unresolved becuase you don’t get to respond unless you pay.

Personally I’d rather take the opinion of the myriad of ‘happy unwashed dreamhost customers’ here in the forum, than what some company says.

–Matttail - personal website


As I have pointed out before, the BBB is hosted by Network Solutions - which ALSO gets the coveted “F” rating LOL.

Simon Jessey | Keystone Websites
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I hope you don’t mind me asking, since I’m mnot a programmer expert; I just like to design pretty sites but is cpu usage? Like what would be considered as using the CPU usage? :stuck_out_tongue: Thanks lol.


Michael wrote “We host quite a few popular dynamic sites. The vast majority never have trouble with cpu minutes. Sometimes the fix is as easy as stopping comment spam, or turning on page caching. Its important to note that we are very flexible. We don’t disable sites that are spiraling out of control, we just move them to a server with less customers. And we don’t do that until the site is affecting the other customers on the original server.”

I beg to differ.

I have been a dreamhost customer for just short of two weeks now and have had nothing but problems.

My site has taken off in a rather big way, I could even say unexpectedly big, considering it had no members immediately before I signed up with you, however you disabled my site completely today by putting in a ‘deny all’ in .htaccess.

This was done shortly after ( approx 1 hour after ) I received an email from support saying my account was being throttled due to overloading the servers.

I have emailed numerous times, daily in fact. First it was down to an email issue. I hit your cap of 200 per hour, this resulted in my emails being turned off completely. The emails going out were activation emails for the members signing up to my site.

You raised the cap to 500 approx 5 hours later and re-activated them. By this point I had 1500 bounced emails in my inbox and 1500 less members than I should have. I explained in a support ticket that even the cap of 500 would not be enough within a day or two and could I be changed onto a package that could support the volume I was getting. I received a response only to the effect that the cap was raised to 600 and that was over the maximum allowed.

My main gripe, and it’s a big one…where’s the support??? Surely before you disable someone’s site completely you need to advise them, warn them, offer them a new package, ANYTHING but disable the email functionality and worse, the SITE ITSELF, with no warning whatsoever.

I am now of course looking into dedicated hosting ( which you can only provide through ) but I still cannot believe the service I have received from you guys.

Sorry for the rant to the readers, this being my first post an’ all.


You just detailed a scenario that I am afraid could happen to any popular site on shared hosting at DH. It seems Michael’s post was intended to assure us that “it couldn’t happen to us”, but what you describe is exactly what I started earlier in the week on several threads as a “possibility” given the “newish” CPU and Email limits DH has in place.

Dallas, “Dreamhost Head Honcho and Founder”, recently posted, in a thread about these limits (found here ):

I responded in that thread that I was comforted by his remarks, noting that I hoped a method was in place for that “sufficient need” determination could be made quickly, but have seen no response. Your tale of slow response just at the time when your site needed to be at is best is disturbing, and precisely what I was concerned about.

Please keep us posted as to how all of this works out; it will become “personal” for any one of us (hopefully all of us) if we are fortunate enough to have a site with even the simplest “dynamic features” become even moderately popular.



Ouch, that would hurt. :frowning:

In my previous post in this thread, I incorrectly assumed that anyone with enough traffic to hit the CPU limit would know in advance the sort of traffic levels to expect and could make alternative arrangments, such as dedicated hosting. Obviously, this is not always the case.

The behaviour you describe is not something I would have expected of DreamHost and in my opinion is totally unfair on someone whose site is unexpectedly enjoying some new found popularity.

I understand that they may have been trying to protect others on the server from being adversely affected, but surely they could have moved your site to another box until you were contacted and the situation resolved.


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Until I visited these forums I had no idea what a ‘CPU’ limit was, I was only advised that my site was overloading the servers and they cannot afford to have my site affect others’ performance.

Fair enough, I can appreciate that.

Actually my site is back up and running now, with an apology from support saying they had removed the .htaccess deny all script from the root of my site but they couldn’t explain why it was put there as there were no notes.

I’m still throttled so i’m only running at about 30% of the visitors that are trying to get on, but at least until I can transfer over to dedicated hosting my users are getting some functionality rather than the dreaded 404 Forbidden message.

Another friendly warning to everyone here with sites growing in popularity. If your site has it’s own email software, maybe a newsletter or some facility to email your members, forget it. If you have more than 500 members you will hit the email cap. No matter what I said to support I was not allowed to email my own members due to their SPAM policy.

Now, I agree, like the next person that SPAM is the scurge of the internet, and I do appreciate Dremhost Concerns of a site on their network sending out SPAM due to the implications it can cause for others ( ie blacklisting hotmail, gmail, AOL servers etc ), however I tried my best to explain the activation process for my members, that they agree to TOS before signing up ( which includes occasional mails being sent to them from us ) and they must physically activate their account by going into their activation email and clicking through ( to stop people signing up under other users email addy’s ). All to no avail.

Basically if I want to email my own members I must use their discussion list software. This would involve me pasting over my entire subscriber base, which includes non activated accounts, and which would also send them another mail asking them to confirm they wish to receive mails from us. Not great I thought, but I can see where they are coming from so it’s no big deal really.

I have never had a site become so popular over such a short space of time so i’m now entering new waters. I looked at Virtual Private Hosting on ( recommended by dreamhost as they have no dedicated servers available ) which seems like a good option, I don’t want the ability to configure the servers etc…like on a real dedicated server.

Am I right in assuming as long as I have my own IP address with a dedicated processor and RAM that I should have no more issues with affecting other sites’ performance?

It’s not very clear on’s TOS. It looks like they are generic and don’t seem to apply to specific packages.

Also, would you think I would have an email cap on this kind of hosting package?

Appreciate your thoughts on this



I’ll say paying $67 a month for a managed VZ-based VPS with 256Mb RAM and 8Gb storage is expensive. It does not even come loaded with a commercial control panel.

I believe you shopped around before you picked DreamHost for your shared hosting needs. Do shop around if you want to find a good VPS provider.

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You have no idea how glad I am to hear that you are “back up and running”, albeit at less than “full throttle”. I was very concerned about your prior report, as it did not seem like the Dreamhost I have known (and enjoyed immensly!) since 1998.

Glitches do happen, and I think your attitude toward this whole things has been mature and professional. You have also given the rest of a a glimpse of the future, and I, for one, appreciate you sharing your experience with us.

As for your questions, you are going into territory that is “uncharted” for many of us here on shared servers, and I will be watching for answers along with you.

Regarding any email caps on or another similar service, the suitability of a given server configuration, etc. I do not know. I suspect that would have to be determined on a case by case basis with the proposed provider.

I cannot imagine that you would have any impact on other users, however, in such a circumstance.