Tossing out a lifeboat on the S. S. Dreamhost
August 7, 2006 12:59 PM   Subscribe

Dreamhost alternatives?

I've been with Dreamhost for about 2 years and it seems that in recent months the servers have trended towards slow, erratic, or unreliable. I'm also hearing on the grapevine that they've oversold themselves. That's quite believable as my account gets 2.2 TB of bandwidth and 78 GB of disk space, and I'm paying only $20 or so.

What else is out there that's dependable and on a backbone? What do you recommend? Why?

My shopping list is nothing remarkable, but in a nutshell: are basically hosted serving with 30 GB/month of bandwidth (and maybe breathing room), 1 GB of storage, PHP, mysql, and enough resources to run a discussion board with a couple of hundred active users, and servers that are not oversold. As a safety valve I also want a bandwidth throttle too so I'm not on the hook if I'm unlucky enough to get DDOSed... Dreamhost has one.
posted by shannymara to Computers & Internet (14 answers total)
it seems that in recent months the servers have trended towards slow, erratic, or unreliable.

Did you read the dreamhost blog entry about their latest problems? I've been with Dreamhost for a couple years now as well, and never really had a problem until the recent disasters - most of which are now fixed.

I give Dreamhost credit for, if nothing else, being honest about what's going on there.

I've heard the oversold thing as well, and I don't really buy it - it's all "grapevine" without a lot of basis in reality, that I can see.

Short answer, I don't know about other hosts but I wouldn't torpedo Dreamhost just yet - they're seemingly back on track and I'm gonna wait for a few months to see if that's a constant or if the trouble returns before making a move.

And no, I neither work for or know anybody associated with Dreamhost - I just think that for what I pay, they offer the best service for my needs, and they've always been responsive when I've had problems.
posted by pdb at 1:04 PM on August 7, 2006

Here is a pretty genuine-sounding post from the DH blog about the recent problems. They maintain none of the problems were as a result of overselling.
posted by soma lkzx at 1:07 PM on August 7, 2006

Response by poster: I'm aware they had trouble last month... however my site has been down all afternoon. I tried logging a support request and after tracking for 20 minutes it vanished and I'm having to requeue it.

I'm a bit forgiving of the server trouble but my users are starting to get cranky.
posted by shannymara at 1:28 PM on August 7, 2006

I've heard the oversold thing as well, and I don't really buy it - it's all "grapevine" without a lot of basis in reality, that I can see.

What would make it reality for you? Only dreamhost knows for sure, but what is reality is their business outlook has changed. I've been with dreamhost for years (5, or 6) and when I first joined their plans were not feature packed. You could find more for your money just about anywhere, but what you got with dreamhost was a better host (better support, more personal). In fact, I went with dreamhost all those years ago because I got tired of hosts promising the world for 5.99 and not delivering.

Now they compete with everyone, giving everything but the kitchen sink for not that much money. So I can see where the over selling idea would come from. No proof, but very possible.

That said, shannymara, there are a ton of hosting threads on ask metafilter. One, in the past month or so, almost your question word for word. You might want to search those threads out
posted by justgary at 1:51 PM on August 7, 2006

Answer to Question: I haven't found a better shared host than Pair. They're solid, careful about rolling out new features in favor of stability, and reasonably (aka. moderately) priced for what they offer. They're also almost always running a Refugees special, where they'll waive the setup fees if you're coming from another web host…or, you know, happen to read about the special and use the coupon code.

Unsolicited Ask Metafilter Commentary: If you're looking for something in the shared hosting space (aka. cheap), almost all the servers are "oversold" in some capacity or another. If you can filter out the, um, "inspired irreverent" tone and the (obviously) pro-Dreamhost point of view, this Dreamhost Blog post covers the topic pretty well.

The real problem with Dreamhost is their inability, from an infrastructure and experience standpoint, to deal with their massive growth while simultaneously running an aggressive customer recruitment program.
posted by alana at 1:53 PM on August 7, 2006

Any host selling services of this kind is overselling. Period. To think anything else is foolish.

Now how that overselling is managed is quite another issue.
posted by FlamingBore at 2:39 PM on August 7, 2006

I don't understand this. Everytime we have a can-anyone-suggest-an-alternative-to-Dreamhost question, people choose to pile in, ignore the question and attempt to explain why the questioner is wrong.

I ask this in all seriousness: Those of you who are still recommending DH even after the past few months of screwup after screwup: have you ever used a proper hosting company? As posted in a previous thread, here's my uptime since 01/01/06: 54 separate outages.

My VPS2 from Verio, in comparison, has had 4 outages in this period. OK, so I don't get 80Gb of diskspace (!) but, since Verio place reliability above headline-grabbing, the server platform is as solid as a rock. And I get root. And telephone support. And no bandwidth charges.

Don't use Dreamhost for anything that matters: it's really not worth saving a few quid. I know they're expensive in comparison, but Verio have been the most reliable host I've ever used.
posted by blag at 3:54 PM on August 7, 2006

blag: very true. Heck, I even own a web hosting company with actual hardware, not just resller accounts. I'm really surprised that DH is having *that many problems* these days. I haven't had the problems that they have, but then again I'm not overselling at all.

shanny: your request is a very simple one to fill. See the URL in my profile if you're interested. We haven't had any downtime, and our web servers are very very lightly loaded.
posted by drstein at 4:02 PM on August 7, 2006

DreamHost explain themselves that "everyone oversells". Airlines oversell because there's always someone who doesn't make the flight, gyms oversell because they know some people lose motivation and stop coming.

Which is true but doesn't help.

I think I've gone as deeply into the DreamHost thing as anyone here in recent weeks, having posted a question, contacted them about other stuff, and set up a fairly complex website hosted with them.

It boils down to this:
  • they have been incredibly, unforgiveably unreliable the last few weeks
  • even before that they were pretty unreliable
  • some highly experienced staff have left the company recently
  • they posted a long, self-flagellating explanation of the troubles, lots of which they say were their fault and lots (like power failures) which they say weren't
  • even the bits that weren't their fault come down to them being too trusting of third parties
  • even when you take away the third party stuff, they still have massive network problems which they don't understand and can't explain
  • people still complain of email problems which DreamHost not only can't explain, but seem to ignore completely
  • which server you're on seems a key factor; if you can get a friendly tech to move you to another server, your service may dramatically improve; on the other hand, you may well get someone who denies this completely and refuses to countenance moving you
  • no matter how much you rag on DreamHost, no matter how much DreamHost rags on itself, there's always someone out there awed by their "honesty" and vowing eternal loyalty
But again, this is all a derail.

A lot of people have good things to say about MediaTemple and TextDrive.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 5:05 PM on August 7, 2006

Previous threads.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:13 PM on August 7, 2006

I don't understand people who defend Dreamhost, just like I don't understand people who defend Six Apart. A little blogger loyalty seems to go a long way.

Personally, I use -- very reliable, pay-as-you-go hosting for $1 per GB transfer. No affiliate marketing crap, a strong stand on free speech, and lightning-fast responses to support queries. I'd recommend 'em.
posted by reklaw at 5:42 PM on August 7, 2006

I've been with LivingDot for two years and the support is nothing short of stellar (responses within 5 minutes not including the canned "Thank you" response).
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:40 PM on August 7, 2006

if you can get a friendly tech to move you to another server, your service may dramatically improve

I can definitely speak to the truth of this. I was on a rather overloaded machine for my first few months at Dreamhost, and it wasn't very Dreamy - I had at least one 5-minute outage a week every week.

Then I asked to be changed to a new machine. Since moving to the new one in January, I've had only three outages other than those that affected the entire building, and each was less than ten minutes.

So, yes, they've been doing pretty badly lately, but it hasn't been affecting everyone.
posted by dmd at 8:31 PM on August 7, 2006

I've been using Futurequest for about five years now and found them to be very friendly, reliable and helpful. (Support similar to what KevinSkomsvold described.)
posted by jiawen at 11:44 PM on August 7, 2006

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