Shopping around for next host



It’s come time to shop for a new host, and I have a few questions about DreamHost that I haven’t been able to find answers for elsewhere:

  1. May I directly modify the httpd.conf file? (I’m aware .htaccess can be used for most things, though that means the file has to be read and parsed for every request.)

  2. Is it possible to reset (stop and restart) httpd?

  3. May I create an email alias that pipes to a script/executable?

  4. Can “plain” telnet (port 23) access be disabled? (I will use SSH.)

  5. Would a tar backup of my entire visible file system include MySQL data? Or will it be necessary to perform a separate MySQL backup?

Thank you in advance for any insight – it’s a great help!

Best Wishes,


  1. No.
  2. No. Support might be able to help you out with this, but I can’t think of anything that you can do at Dreamhost that would require this.
  3. Hmm. There is no direct method of doing this that I’m aware of. You can use scripts to do things with E-mail - I know others in the forum have done various things along these lines. Perhaps Others will be better able to asnwer that for you.
  4. No, I do not believe that it can.
  5. No, but I have written an article in the wiki that deatils setting up an automated system to make backups of all your data and databases. See ‘automatic backup’ at

Sorry for all the No’s - Makes dreamhost look bad. Dreamhost really is very good about letting you customize your hosting enviroemnt, and there’s really quite a lot you can do. You’re most definatly welcome to post questions about what you’re hopping to accomplish, and perhaps someone here can tell if it can be done at dreamhost or not.

–Matttail - personal website


(Looks like you have to create a logon in order to reply.)

Thank you for replying Matttail. Mostly I’m trying to get a feel for what low-level freedom the system offers. But here’s some specifics:

  1. I use httpd.conf for custom server log formats, redirects, and so on. .htaccess is less than ideal for these things.

  2. On occasion I’ll rotate logs manually, which requires stopping httpd so that Apache will “let go” of the log files.

  3. This is useful for applications like a help desk, where you want emails to go into a ticket system. Mailbox/POP3 polling can also work, but I prefer script aliases.

  4. With SSH available, plugging the telnet hole is the first thing I’d do.

  5. That’s interesting, that implies the database files aren’t accessible in my file system. Do database files count against the disk quota?

Most VPS solutions tend to be limited in the amount of disk space. DreamHost has plenty of disk space but limits the control I like.

Thank you,



I don’t believe there’s any way to chage the format of the lags or to use redirects there. It’s not the support wouldn’t be willing to update this for you, but that any time you make changes in the panel for the domain, it rewries the httpd.conf file so it could end up being a contat back and forth thing. (changes like your php version, owning user, fascgi on/off…)

stoping and start httpd in this way would effect all of the other users on your server though, so that’s a definate no go for shared hosting.

I guess it’s just Dreamhost is providing what people are used to. Telnet and FTP are both aviable, but SSH and SFTP are also accessable.

Databases are stored on seperate mysql servers, not on localhost. Data storage there still counts against your total though. Also, your regular data isn’t physically stored on your server either, it’s a NFS setup. That way as dreamhost adds on more storage they just add it to the general pool, not to each and every server.

You can still access mysql database through SSH, you simply must specify the hostname and database. It is also possible to access the mysql database from an otehr server or your home computer, but you must allow access by IP through the Control Panel. Also, phpmyadmin is installed by default (but still falls victum to the 7mb php upload limit).

Databases and data in your home directory as also backuped on a regular basis. You can access One hour ago, two hours ago, one day ago, two days ago, one week ago, and two weeks ago in the .snapshot directroy. I believe mysql is backup just as often, but you must do the restore through the panel.

–Matttail - personal website


This is possible. I’ve been playing around with this a while ago, and I got it working. I don’t have the recipe at hand, but I can dig it up if you like.

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He can use ProcMail:


That’s the general idea, but you still have to be able to configure the MTA to forward mail to an executable, hence my question regarding whether or not DreamHost permits this.

Thank you everyone for your replies. It sounds like DreamHost would work great for my personal sites, but my business sites will be better off elsewhere.



I think the same can be said of any low cost hosting.

If you have critical business sites that simply can not go offline, perhaps shared hosting is not the answer.

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You can use a .forward.postfix to send email to procmail or your own mail processor as shown above. We rotate logs each night, but if you need full control over apache you will need to choose a dedicated or VPS solution where you do not share an apache.