Dreamhost Hosting Review

Soon after I opened my own Dreamhost account, my company needed an external hosting environment for Joomla instances, and I recommended Dreamhost. I mentioned it supported unlimited domains, MySQL databases, etc., and had a large amount of space/bandwidth for any of our sub-projects within the company. They even have a One-click install for Joomla! It sounded like a low-cost solution, and seemed to be perfect for what we needed.

…or so we thought.

We moved our most important project of the day from it’s ol’ reliable hosting to the Dreamhost hosting (because that’s where we had been developing the new website). The new site looked amazing, and up to that point all testing had returned positive results.

The evening of the first day after moving to Dreamhost, I get a call around 10 PM about the site being down. Investigating, I found out that our MySQL database was being hosed. I open a ticket with the company (the only way to contact them), expressing the urgency of the issue, and asked that a tech investigate what was happening to our database.

A short time later, with no word from support, our database clears up. Sweet! We’re back in business. In about 6 hours, we receive a response from a Dreamhost tech, and he mentions that they don’t see the issue, but offered a helpful suggestion with a few MySQL commands: show processlist -and- kill <processid>. I think to myself, “Cool! If this happens again, I’ll have the tools to fix it.” With this strange event behind us, I put faith in them again. I even convinced the CEO that we have the tools to fix the problem if it happens again, which was entirely true, and that we didn’t need to look elsewhere for another hosting company.

Big mistake.

Two days later, we receive a support message from a different tech – a complete polar opposite of the last guy that helped us out. Here is what he said:


I was investigating the high load on your MySQL server when I discovered
that your sql user was running the following query more than 100
times on the website database (here’s the beginning of that command):

select u.id, u.name, c.avatar, c.showOnline from jos_users u,jos_fb_users
c where u.id = c.userid AN

In consideration of the other customers using that server I have disabled
SELECT privileges for your database user. This has dropped the load on
your MySQL server from 180 down to around 15. Please optimize
your sites to run those queries much less frequently. Let me know if you
have any questions.


Awesome! I had been up until 3 AM that morning working on non-related stuff at home, and this guy decides to throw this at us at 6:45 AM on Saturday morning. The calls/emails start swarming in, and I’m up trying to figure out why the hell the site went down again. Disable SELECT permission on our main SQL user? Are you kidding?

Being the obstinate users that we are who like to be able to read data from their database, we re-enable SELECT permission for our main user. At the same time, I activated the built-in Joomla caching feature, bringing the load down to a minimum. Then I also removed code with the Joomla core that prevents browser-side caching, further improving the performance of our website. Take that! The website moves faster than ever!

Exactly one day later, we receive yet another message from our friendly neighborhood Dreamhost technicians saying that they have renamed our index.php file to index.php.Disabled_by_Dreamhost, citing too many connections on that specific file (Joomla is run off the main index.php file — go figure), and then “suggested” that we should look into Dreamhost Private Server. The kicker is that we already contacted them about DreamhostPS earlier, but were rejected because it’s invite only, and was still in the development phase. Whatever.

So the day this happened was a Monday, and I was supposed to have a day off because of overnight maintenance that needed to be done Monday evening/Tuesday morning. So I get the call that Dreamhost did this at around 9 AM, and so at that point we decide the screw Dreamhost and move. We move it back to a server in-house while we acquire a dedicated server elsewhere, and I spent most of my day off moving the website once more.

Happily, we now have a super fast dedicated server far away from the mingling hands of the Dreamhost techs.

With all this being said, I wanted to make some public apologies:
– I apologize to Dreamhost for putting a website on your servers that needed to use one of our unlimited number of databases.
– I apologize to Dreamhost for renaming index.php.Disabled_by_Dreamhost to index.php because our website was down.
– I apologize to Dreamhost for using an instance of Joomla byway of their built-in ONE CLICK INSTALL.
– I apologize to my company for ever considering using them for a website that has any interest in being nothing more than a stick in the mud.

I will admit that we had a lot of users, and that Joomla isn’t the most efficient engine out there, but the way Dreamhost handled the situation was very unprofessional, and we’ll be closing our account with them soon.

On the other hand, if you have a bunch of websites that don’t get any traffic, but need a place for all your domains, DH isn’t bad. I have my own account with them, and so far the 2 or 3 people that visit those websites on my account, haven’t had to deal with any down time. I’ll just have to make sure to move before any of them become popular…

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