Next up in our ongoing series of web hosting reviews, Dream Host.
In comparison to the other reviews I’ve written recently, this one was a welcome return to normality.
A lot of Australian web hosting companies seem to confuse having a silly logo with having a sense of humor, and as a result their branding looks like it was designed by a child.
Not so here. Dream Host is the kind of company you want to do business with. Their website, and their general approach, is so adult that you might even feel a little bit intimidated.
In reality, though, this no-nonsense approach makes them a great web host. Not the best, certainly, and I’ll come on to that later, but pretty good. Their web hosting plans are well thought out, they explain them clearly, and their pricing is honest and fair.
If you want the quick and dirty, we think that Dream Host is a great host for people who are looking for a reliable shared hosting plan with no extra bells and whistles added. It’s simple and works well with tons of value for your money.
What I’ll Be Looking At
- 1 What I’ll Be Looking At
- 2 The Numbers
- 3 What Do These Numbers Mean?
- 4 Pricing
- 5 Extras
- 6 Dedicated Hosting
- 7 Talking To Dream Host
- 8 The Alternatives
- 9 Our Recommendations – With 60% For Our Readers
- 10 Some Final Thoughts
All of the reviews we do here at Aussie Hosting are based mainly on numbers, because we think they are fun. We also think that the best way to find a good web host is to actually look at their performance, rather than at their marketing material.
Our real time database looks like this…
So, while Dream Host might have impressively mature branding, today I’m going to talk about a lot more than just how their website looks.
This is how it works::
- First we’ll look at Dream Host’s uptime, speed, and reliability. If you just can’t wait for all those lovely numbers, I’ll just tell you the outcome now: Dream Host perform really well in comparison to other Australian web hosts. Well done them. 🙂
- Then we’ll take a look at their prices. There is a slight problem here. Although Dream Host offer a super good service in terms of speed and uptime, they are definitely not the cheapest service available.
- In conclusion, I’ll make some direct comparisons between Dream Host and the web hosting providers that we use here at Aussie Hosting. Dream Host are almost as good as them, and just a little bit more expensive.
But first …
Why Should I Trust You Guys?
Honestly, we know more about web hosting than almost anyone else. We spend an embarrassing amount of time looking at hosting statistics, and often bore our friends rigid by philosophizing on the relative importance of uptime vs. speed.
We also work with a lot of companies who want great, cheap, web hosting. Our advice, more often than not, allows our clients to build faster, more reliable websites that boost sales and traffic.
But perhaps the most important resource we have here at Aussie Hosting is data. Nobody can quite remember why we started tracking the actual performance of our client’s sites, but doing so now means that we have a huge database of lovely numbers that cover almost every major web host in Australia.
It’s those numbers that this review, largely, will be based on. So let’s cut to the chase.
It’s the bit you’ve all been waiting for. I’ll just copy and paste the numbers from our database, so that those of you who know what they mean can get stuck in.
Here you go:
- Uptime – 97.6%
- Average Loadtime – 1,912Ms
- Uptime – 99.8%
- Average Loadtime – 1,412Ms
- Uptime – 97.5% (little slow)
- Average Loadtime – 1,882Ms
- Uptime – 99.09%
- Average Loadtime – 1,658Ms
Not bad, eh?
Overall, Dream Host perform pretty well. They offer uptime and speeds that are among the best in Australia.
One thing that is really impressive about these numbers is that they are quite flat across the major cities. Even good web hosts normally have one or two places where they are not so hot, but Dream Host have managed to make their service in Adelaide almost as good as that in Sydney.
What Do These Numbers Mean?
For those of you who need an explanation of these numbers, let me provide you with one.
The first stat in the list above is uptime. This is basically just the percentage of the time
that your website is “up”, meaning “accessible”. If the majority of your sales come from your web site, the importance of this measure is almost impossible to overstate.
Web hosting is also an area in which a tiny difference can have huge consequences.
A good web hosting provider will have an uptime of more than 98%. A bad one will offer less than 97%. Even a .1 difference can create a huge change in the amount of sales you generate through your website.
The reason for this is not hard to work out. If people want to go to your site and it’s down, they’re not going to wait a few hours to buy something. They’ll just go to your competition.
Having poor uptime on your site not only loses you immediate business, it also means you miss out on the chance of securing loyal customers. Research show that with every second of loading time you’ll lose out on 10-15% of potential sales.
“Speed” should also be pretty easy to understand. But again, when comparing web hosts, small differences in speed really matter. Research suggests that even a 1 second
delay in page loading will mean that a lot of potential customers click away from your site.
In addition, Google now ranks pages based on their speed, so if your website is slow than it will also slip down the search rankings.
There are many ways to improve the speed of your site, but one of the easiest and most effective is to get a fast web host.
You know I said that Dream Host’s approach was really straightforward? Well, nowhere is this seen more easily than in their approach to pricing. Take a look:
Here you’ve got one plan, and how much you pay depends on what length of contract you want, which seems fair.
I know I really shouldn’t be impressed by this, but the thing is that Dream Host’s pricing is incredibly straightforward when compared to other Australian web hosts.
Instead of offering 3 different plans, they just offer one. You can get dedicated hosting for a bit more, of course, and there are a few features that you can add on if you like.
But in truth their package comes with almost everything you need from a web host:
Of particular importance here is the fact that you can have unlimited websites, and you get free SSL.
This is great, not least because it means I don’t have to write my usual rant about the importance of SSL, and why it should be illegal for web hosts to charge for it nowadays.
The only disadvantage here, which I’ll return to below, is that Dream Host’s hosting is expensive. You can get the same level of performance with SiteGround, for instance, for half the monthly cost of Dream Host. I know that $3 a month doesn’t sound like that much, but over the course of 5 years it can really add up.
That said, if you want to take your web site to the next level, Dream Host are a really good choice. That’s because they offer a great list of extras even on their basic plan:
Now. You might not know what most of these things mean. But trust me, in a few years, you’re probably going to need some of them.
Of particular importance is the full CGI access that Dream Host offer: this is rare, but also a necessity if you are running an e-commerce site.
It’s worth mentioning one final thing about Dream Host before we get on to the alternatives. This is that they offer dedicated hosting at a really competitive price.
Most people won’t need dedicated hosting, of course, and so for most of you the alternatives I’m about to give will be better. But if your website is big, or your company grows into a monster, then Dream Host are the people to go to for dedicated hosting.
Their plans start at $169 per month, but are tailored to your particular needs. If you are tired of sharing a server, or simply just want an extra level of security and reliability, that’s a great price.
Talking To Dream Host
Talking to Dream Host is something that, thankfully, I’ve not had to do very much.
This is a pattern you see repeated across a lot of web hosts: if your hosting works, you kinda don’t need a huge customer services department. People only call their web host when things go wrong, of course, so if a host gets it right in the first place they don’t need to fix anything.
In general, though, I’ve heard good things. The guys and girls at Dream Host seem to know what they are talking about, and value their clients. Perhaps most importantly, they are based in Australia, so keep the same hours as you.
It’s a sad fact that by this section of the review, most of the time readers are desperate to know what the alternatives are to whatever crappy web host I’m reviewing. I don’t think I’m particularly cynical, actually, it’s just that most web hosts in Australia suck.
Happily, Dream Host don’t fall into that category.
The only problem with Dream Host, as I said above, is that they are kind of expensive. If that’s a problem for you, or you simply feel that you deserve the best value web hosting out there (and trust me, you do), then these would be our recommendations:
Our Recommendations – With 60% For Our Readers
Average Uptime: 99.95%
Average Load Time: 475Ms
Well, where to start? SiteGround represent the future of Australian web hosting, and the other companies have got a long way to go before they catch up.
For those of you interested in the numbers, SiteGround offer the best stats of any web host in the country. They are not that much better than Dream Hosts, but they are close.
And like Dream Host, SiteGround also offer free SSL, and a whole host of extra features that are useful if you are running an unusual site.
The only disadvantage of SiteGround is that they are a little more expensive than HostGator. The difference between the two companies, however, is about $1 a month, and if you are worried about that your company might need a more drastic change than just updating your web host.
HostGator are also a great web host, second only to SiteGround in terms of overall value.
Like all the best web hosts, HostGator offer a huge range of free tools on even their basic package, including free SSL.
They are also competitively priced, if you are willing to sign up for a year of hosting. I know that some people don’t like to sign up to hosting contracts, and prefer to pay by the month, but to my mind it’s worth paying up front just so you don’t have to worry about hosting for the next year.
In comparison to Dream Host, HostGator have slightly less impressive stats, but only slightly. It will depend on where you are based, but in general the two hosts offer comparable performance.
The major difference is that HostGator are a lot cheaper for shared hosting.
Some Final Thoughts
In short, Dream Host are a pretty good web host that do everything right. The only thing that stops them from being one of the best web hosts in Australia is their pricing.
That said, if you don’t mind paying a little extra, and are looking for a web host that is reliable, fast, and that offers really good customer support on the rare occasion when something goes wrong, you can do a lot worse than going with Dream Host.