I was previously a Dreamhost customer. After some of the network issues (and my wife complaining that her business site was too slow using Zencart/MySQL), I was swayed by the press out there on the internet that Dreamhost was somehow a poor provider, since they had gotten too big. So I moved to another provider, and I moved my wife’s hosting too.
I however moved back recently (within 30 days), as I was shocked to see how limited their cPanel implementation was, and how much I missed the shell access.
You see, I’m a network admin by trade, and love me a little command line action once in a while. I also like the effortless spamassassin configuration.
Honestly, it’s a little (teensy?) bit slower. But my site on Dreamhost is not mission critical. I can live with the fact MySQL queries take a teensy bit more time than my old provider. What I like is the flexibility Dreamhost affords me, and the great service I’ve received. When switching back, my email support response time was very quick (less than 1/2 hour in most cases) and since I was within the 30 days of cancellation, all my settings were waiting for me when I returned.
So to all those on the fence, make your decision to host with Dreamhost. They have lots of great features, good support, and I’m happy to be back with them.
A Happy Dreamhost-Glad-To-Be-Back-Customer:
I agree, I much prefer the DreamHost panel over cPanel.
At first, there can be a bit of culture shock for those coming from a cPanel host, but the functionality offered by the DreamHost panel is superb, with more features being added all the time.
My one criticism of the panel would be it’s lack of speed at times. In the past it has been difficult to use due to this. Although, I must admit the panel has been rather fast for me since the last round of network upgrades.
The panel speed-ups have been due to concentrated development efforts independent of the network. We haven’t made any announcements yet as the project is ongoing, but it is good to hear that the work so far has been noticeable.
Being located in Australia, I was lucky enough that I was accessing the panel mostly during times of low usage. However, at those times when I had to access it when the rest of the world was awake, it was quite frustrating.
Whatever has been done has made the panel nice and quick, regardless of when I access it. Congratulations to whoever is responsible, the effort is definitely appreciated.
Thinkdreams, thanks for your post. I, too, desire a flexible host that doesn’t tie my hands. But what good does that freedom do for all of us, if the web services are only available to us part of the time? In other words, if our servers are down most of the time… (per dreamhoststatus.com), how can we really enjoy this freedom?
I’m a Dreamhost customer. Have been for a couple of years now. Since the beginning of the creation of my account, overall, things have been running fairly efficiently until the end of this spring. Since then, it has been awful (as chronicled in the aforemention dreamhoststatus.com blog). Daily downtime.
For those on the fence, if you are considering Dreamhost Shared Hosting for a Mission Critical site, DO NOT SIGNUP FOR THIS SERVICE! Unless redundancy is put in place and the hardware upgrades prove to be stable, do not use this service for “mission critical” sites.
For those on the fence wanting a development playground, Dreamhost might be the place for you, but you will have to accept certain downtime at intermittent times.
I appreciate the Dreamhost staff’s transparency about the difficulties that they are facing with their hardware. I truly believe they are doing all that they can to provide us with a good service. Well, that effort is failing somewhere along the line, because the servers keep going down and the service hasn’t improved. That begs the question, why the UPGRADE to more disk space and bandwidth? How in the world are they going to support that, when they can’t even support the previous levels?
My “dream” is that this host, would find a way to provide a flexible hosting environment that was also stable. If that means “Files Forever” goes bye-bye forever that so be it. If Dreamhost finds a way to host with stability in the midst of their flexibility, then I would say to those on the fence, give Dreamhost a try.
I thought it would be fair to share that point of view with those on the fence.
I’ve been very happy with Dreamhost for the few months that I’ve been on. I gave signing up plenty of thoughts when I was reading about the problems, but as I’m not for anything mission critical I gave it a try and I have to say I’ve been very happy with my choise. Sure, DreamHost is a bit slower than a domestic (I live in Finland) provider, but not in such amount that it would disturb me. Well, maybe sometimes the shell typing has a bit too much latency (it has to cross the Atlantic after all), yet I’m a happy customer.
But yes, of course, for those people really needing a mission critical system, you shouldn’t be looking for shared hosting anyway! If you actually need 99.99% reliability, then going for shared hosting is the wrong place to save in. Like, hello…
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Choose your discount, 97-YourChoise supports me
I came to DH in summer 2004 from a much more expensive shared host that DID meet their 99.9% uptime guarantee without fail. I didn’t expect 99.9% uptime at Dreamhost’s price point, but I was largely pleased with the exception of the panel which needed and still needs serious work.
However, the downward spiral that started this spring and has continued through the catastrophe in July/August until now has me at the end of my rope. No, the problems are not fixed. I shouldn’t have to be trying to calculate the likelihood that one of my sites is going to be down or going at a crawl when I am thinking about buying advertising to promote it. I also shouldn’t be having some kind of a problem with e-mail EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
I’d be real happy to get the uptime levels back to where they were when I joined up, and get a panel that is mostly debugged and not glacially slow half the time. Stop adding features and disk/bandwidth allotments and FIX THE PROBLEMS. I don’t want more features, disk, or bandwidth, I want what I do have to WORK.
Basically, Dreamhost has as much time as it’s going to take me to do the serious research to find a reliable host that offers the features I need at a price I can afford. If things are still a mess at Dreamhost when I’ve done that, I’m gone.
Dreamhost runs PHP as cgi under suexec (runs as your user with your user’s permissions), and has not disabled exec(), but there are other limitations, most notably for some applications the disabling of allow_url_fopen (which you can replace functionally using cUrl). I suggest you exlpore related topics on wiki.dreamhost.com for more info regarding running php as cgi, etc.
DH does not use cPanel. The Dreamhost Control Panel that you see referenced in this forum is a custom application that has much more power and flexibility that cPanel, but is very different. Some have found it different enough from cPanel to have found it difficult to find their way around. Once you learn the way the DH Control Panel works, you will never again be satisfied with cPanel. DH also allows shell access. The combination of shell access and the custom Control Panel is, simply stated, orders of magnitude more powerful, flexible, and useful than cPanel.
The “true story” is, as always, that you should maintain you own backups. That said, DH provides a series of incremental backups of all files in a user’s space via a series of “.snapshot” directories, that are accessible to the user via ftp and/or the shell. They have worked very well for me. They also maintain “off-web” backups of mysql databases, and you can “restore” a database from the custom DH Control Panel. I rate DH backup facilities as very good. There is no “pre-installed” mechanism fro backing up to your computer “automagically”, but you have the full resources of the shell, and scripting, to devise your own methodology for this, and there are several "how-to"s in the dreamhost wiki that you might find helpful toward that end.
I have not used the “multi-site” mode of Gallery, so I can’t comment on it’s suitability for installation on DH.
There are many ways to “move” galleries, and I think the “best” way depends on your comfort level with the shell, command line tools, ftp, mysql, phpAdmin, etc. - it’s really one of those YMMV kind of things.
I have been very happy at Dreamhost and highly recommend them.
nphyre, we have a team whose specific focus is panel speed. In order to move the discussion forward lets talk specifically about individual pages on the panel. So for instance what is the page load time for you on home.overview? what about domain.manage? Is there a particular page you use a lot that you are seeing slowness on?
There is no downward spiral. It is true that we had network speed issues in August that had a cascading effect on many services, but that issue has been resolved. As per the other thread on these boards, a couple of your server mates had their resource usage shoot up and it was slowing down your machine. We have moved all the top users off of your server to new servers now though. You have to be really careful when it comes to system administration to not couple problems when they are unrelated.
The main failing that I see here is that the august troubles acted as a time suck and clouded the playing field as far as seeing what servers had increased resource usage from the users on it. Over the past month since the network problem was resolved there has been enormous effort put into rebalancing all the servers. This is obviously a continuous effort, but the catching up portion has been done and we are actively training the new support personnel to better recognize servers that have growing user needs. As an example we are in the process of upgrading about 20 xeon servers to 4GB of memory per server as the user needs for memory on those servers have grown.
I can see the lure of this argument, but there are a few problems with it. First, it is better to view a company of 50 people as a collection of different types of specialized computers rather than
50 identical general purpose machines. Second, companies and the teams within them have momentum and trajectories. Third, the web hosting industry itself has a momentum and a trajectory.
There is an extraordinary amount of planning that goes on to weave all these considerations together coherently. It is inherently an artful and creative process and when a mistake is made it creates the problems you have experienced. You have a right to be upset about those, for instance the mail password re-authentication problem, the network slowness fiasco of august, and the overloading of your web server.
The network problem of august affected all services and so while all work did not stop on things such as panel speed during that time, we did stop the introduction of new features and we did delay the sale for a month after its originally scheduled date to be sure that the problem had been resolved.
I have addressed the individual case of the overloading of your web server in another thread, but I would point out that it was solved within a larger overall framework or server resource monitoring that I have been implementing over the last month. It is because of the panel optimizations/monitoring and improved web server resource monitoring that I have been implementing with the respective teams, that I can safely say based on hard data that service in those areas has improved over the last month and is continuing on an upward path.
The mail authentication problem you have experienced is one that I am not personally working on, but one that I have been following closely. The work being done on that is on the load balancer configuration side of things. It appears to be dropping the connection to the user database on occasion causing the mail machine to re-ask for the users password. Intermittent problems do tend to get the least attention, but I have been pushing to make sure this problem has the proper resources assigned to it. It did take too long for that to happen, but the problem does seem to be nearing a fix, which is good. Something to note here though is that a mail server load balancer issue really is detached logically from bandwidth and disk usage allotments.
I agree that improvements are needed and we are working furiously towards those. Still, putting everything on hold isn’t the best solution in this case.
cajunz, server maintenance is a regular thing. If you have one server you might need to do maintenance once per year. If you have 1000 servers you are going to be doing daily maintenance. That we are in constant communication with our users on the maintenance going on in our data center is a positive thing. Your comment underestimates the size of our data center.
I do agree that there are areas that we should be improving as chronicled above. DreamHost status is part of the solution though, and the number of posts on that site per week is a poor basis for determining if things are improving or not.
Ditto the positive responses. As a new customer who is still well within her 97 day guarantee, despite iniitial problems (which have been well documented) I’ve been delighted with DH to date.
My biggest fear was the Control Panel. I’d not used anything but cPanel and was worrying about the transition. I still miss the instanteous nature of cP, but the DH Panel is incredibly intuitive. So to all perspective DH customers I say, sign up, try and them out . . . and you won’t be disappointed!
I wanted to write this post to correct something I told you when originally responded to your post (unfortunately, the time within which I can “edit” that post has expired, so this post is my only alternative ).
In response to your question as to whether or not Dreamhost had disabled php(exec), I responded:
A little history is in order here. Dreamhost had disabled php(exec), php (system), and other functions when running mod_php some time ago, and encouraged us all to run PHP as CGI to avoid these restriction. At that time, php(exec) was enabled if running php as cgi.
Since then, Dreamhost has removed the ability to run mod_php, for all new accounts. There was no announcement that PHP as cgi had changed, hence my answer to you regarding php(exec) being available.
Today while lurking on the Dreamhost irc channel (#dreamhost), I learned there have been some changes. According to a DH employee on the irc channel, system() calls, exec(), and the various p*() functions get blocked.
I just wanted to make sure you received this corrected information, as you indicated exec() was very important to you.
I’m very sorry for the “mis-information” I inadvertantly gave in response to your previous post, and appreciate your understanding that it is sometimes hard to keep up with “unpublished” system changes.
Thanks for this in-depth response which somehow got lost in my inbox. I found it as I was deleting old stuff. Over the past three weeks the QoS at Dreamhost has improved dramatically and the e-mail problem has been fixed.
Also, my search for an alternative web host with comparable basic features (in other words shell and databases and so forth, not Dreamhost-specific ones necessarily) did not turn up any viable candidates with an established reputation. If you guys keep improving and maintaining reliability, I’ll be happy to stay with Dreamhost as there isn’t another truly comparable host with an established reputation, though there are a couple that come close.
Keep things on an even keel for a while longer and I’ll start recommending you to friends again. I’m not trying to dangle a carrot or something like that, just pointing out that I would have probably already jumped ship if the pain to migrate all my stuff weren’t so large. I don’t WANT to, though, I want you guys to fix all your problems and keep them fixed. Then I’ll be happy, so will the friends I’ve recommended, and so will anyone I recommend in the future. It looks like you’re making good inroads.