Thoughts on The Dreamhost Meltdown

As many readers of this blog know, I’ve been an enthusiastic user and supporter of Dreamhost web hosting since getting turned on to it by Stan a couple of years ago. The service has been great, uptime has been excellent, and you simply can’t find the amount of storage, bandwidth, and other options Dreamhost gives you at any other reputable host that I know of.

It has thus been with great stress that I’ve watched Dreamhost go from one of my favorite companies of all time to an unacceptably unreliable provider of web hosting in only a couple of month’s time. First it was some minor e-mail problems. Then, some short site outages. Then finally, over the last couple of weeks, I experienced a site outage of several hours and an e-mail outage of an entire day… among other things.

This is not world-ending stuff. Babies are not dying. But it was enough to make me consider both leaving the service and also dropping my public recommendation of them.

Both of these would be tough decisions for different reasons. Leaving would be tough, because frankly, Dreamhost is the best deal in town and I’m not crazy about migrating to another environment. Dropping my recommendation would be tough because, well — even though I didn’t plan it this way — it brings in quite a bit of money for me these days. In my two years of being with Dreamhost, I’ve directly referred 647 new customers. Dreamhost, being the cool company that they are, kicks users back $97 for each person they refer. Do the math. :)

That being said, I began recommending Dreamhost because I stood behind the service, and even at the cost of losing $30,000 a year in free money, I was prepared to walk away for nothing. Money aside, I’d always felt like I was doing readers a huge favor by turning them onto a such a great service. With that no longer being the case, it was time to do the right thing and pull my recommendation.

In the interest of loyalty, however, I wanted to give the company one last shot. I added a message to my web hosting recommendation page suspending my endorsement of their service until further notice, and sent them an e-mail to the effect of:

“When a guy making $30,000 a year by just including a text link to you guys is thinking about walking away, it means you have a big problem. I think a candid statement from the founder to all users is necessary… like now.”

I wasn’t expecting much of a response given the huge amount of e-mails the support staff is probably dealing with these days, but a staff member got back to me within a day and I was satisfied and impressed with what he wrote. So much so, that although I haven’t lifted the endorsement caveat, I feel like things are back on the up and up. And then, sure enough, yesterday came this:

Anatomy of an Ongoing Disaster — An entry on the official Dreamhost blog written by Josh Jones, the company’s founder.

This is a really great piece of writing. It’s exactly what I needed to hear, and it strikes the perfect balance of taking blame and explaining the series of unfortunate power outages that have caused problems not only at Dreamhost but at every site hosted out of this particular building in Los Angeles… including MediaTemple, iPowerWeb, and even MySpace! I didn’t even know MySpace was hosted out of the same building I was! I feel dirty now.

Anyway… long story short, if you host at Dreamhost or any other facility in the Garland building in Los Angeles, you should read the above blog entry. It doesn’t make me 100% confident that every hosting related problem is behind us, but it reassures me that everyone over there has been working around the clock to get this stuff fixed ASAP and that if the safeguards being installed now work as planned, reliability will be even better than it was before.

84 comments on “Thoughts on The Dreamhost Meltdown”. Leave your own?
  1. Erik says:

    I, too, was happy to read Dreamhost’s blog post on the problems they’ve been having. Hosting inconveniences aside, it makes me smile to know they can be this honest and direct with their customers. I have a feeling lots of hosting services out there would barely acknowledge it unless you sent in a support request.

  2. Adrian says:

    I have one account with them and I’ve been really disappointed from the time we’ve have ever asked for tech support. They take forever to respond to problems, there has been times when they have taken over 24 hours to get back to us. Every time we create an email address, we then have to send a support query to ask them to enable it. Something buggy with their panel.

    I just can’t recommend them to anyone.

  3. Jeff Werner says:

    I’ve been a pretty happy Dreamhost customer for a couple years now, but I won’t delude myself into thinking they are the best hosts around. I’ve been burned by uber-affordable hosting before. If my site, and many of my clients’ sites, go down for a day or get throttled or the other myriad problems Dreamhost customers encounter (it’s not just the recent, third party LA datacentre), I have only myself to blame.

    You always, always get what you pay for.

  4. Alan Cordle says:

    I had DREADFUL customer support from Dreamhost on a site I started, which was featured on the front page of the LA Times, among other places. DH regularly took at least 24 hours to respond to probs, and often did so by asking another question (which would have been answered had they read my first ticket). Then the next 24 wait would begin. I finally bailed last year.

  5. I don’t use Dreamhost myself, but I’ve noticed several prominent sites hosted by DH go down over the past few months. One of the more frustrating cases was having CSS Reboot go down the day of the reboot.

    30 grand a year is a helluva lot for some host pimp’n though.

  6. Christian says:

    I don’t use Dreamhost, because we run our own hosting solution, but I really have to wonder about the sanity of Dreamhost (and everybody else in the building, for that matter) co-locating out of a telecom building in Los Angeles. Earthquakes, fires, riots, and endless power grid problems are a few of the issues I can think of. Typically, colo facilities like to be in large, underground bunkers in uninteresting places, such as gypsum mines in the middle of Michigan.

    It’s not unforgivable, but honestly, LA isn’t anywhere near the top of my list of “good places to stick a colo.”

  7. Chris says:

    It’s the blog post and the System Status RSS feed that negates any worries a normal person would have, as far I’m concerned. Through all the shenanigans of the last week or so the RSS feed was updating throughout with explanations all the way.

    Then, topping it off with an über explanation of everything that’s happened just sealed it.

    I don’t expect anything to be perfect. In this age, I don’t expect explanations when things aren’t perfect. Going the mile (not the extra, just the standard type) and actually explaining what “system down, fix in progress” is all about means a great deal.

    I recall one issue with a server that was supposed to come down for preventative maintenance with a RAM upgrade. It wasn’t even a machine I’m on. An hour or so later the same person that left the original notice came back with something to the effect of “I screwed up and got the wrong RAM configuration, back to the store, upgrade will take place when I get back.”

    Most companies, in my experience, would have just done the upgrade and only explained why the server went down after much bitching. They certainly wouldn’t have mentioned the bit about a personal screw-up at all.

    That’s why I stick with Dreamhost. That, and the newsletter is funny to me in an embarrasing way. Oh, and I’ve never had the sort of support waits others are reporting. Not saying they’re lying just saying it hasn’t happened to me the couple of times I’ve put in a ticket.

  8. Eric Atkins says:

    I am hosted with Media Temple, which is in the same building as Dreamhost. I can say that my sites didn’t go down during Dreamhost’s problems.

    Dh has great deals. Thanks for the write up. If I ever sign up with them, I’ll be sure to click through your site.

  9. Martin says:

    we’re with Mediatemple and experienced no problems at all.

  10. Virginia says:

    I don’t mind Dreamhost borking if it’s my personal site it’s screwing up, but I cringe when I think of the people I’ve recommended the service to. You’ve gotta wonder how much of your referrer cash is negated by the ill-will of people whose email goes down at an inopportune moment.

  11. Baxter says:

    Funny you should write this. I followed almost exactly the same arc (minus the 30k!) with them. Considering the amount of stuff I have tucked away on them, moving would have been hairy, but I wasn’t sure how much more I could take.

    A little honesty goes a long way. A little honesty coupled with real moves to fix the problems will go even further.

  12. DocDave says:

    I was one of those people that got you your $97 about a year and a half ago and have never been so happy. DreamHost was a great find! I host few sites and have always been satisfied with the support, features, and the way thing are handled in general. This whole mess could not of come at a worse time for me. I am now considering taking on actual clients and hosting there sites through DreamHost but the recent barrage of problems had me on the fence of staying and hoping or looking for someone else. After finding the blog post the other day, I felt much better. That is one of the things I have always like about DreamHost, no B.S., just the facts. Here’s to a hopefully long relationship with DreamHost.

  13. It’s Dreamhost’s honesty and straight-forwardness that keep me a loyal customer. I’ve experienced several different hosting companies and how they respond to outages and support requests, and Dreamhost definitely takes the cake.

    The outages and down-time are definitely frustrating, but (as Mike said) it’s extremely comforting to know that they are working hard around the clock to resolve the problems we’ve all been facing. Hopefully they’ve gotten over the hump and we can all look forward to better times ahead.

  14. Dave Metcalf says:

    I use Media Temple and, despite them being mentioned in the Dream Host blog post, I have not had any problems recently. They were down for most of a day last year, but that was because of blackouts in Los Angeles. I did get an email last week saying they would be performing scheduled maintenance, but I suffered no ill effects.
    It seems to me that they were just name-dropping other tennants and insinuating that they also had problems. Out of all the companies he mentioned, MySpace was the only one that he followed up on that actually had a problem.

  15. Steve says:

    You seriously make $30k off of DH registrations alone? WTF – that’s nuts!

  16. Dave Simon says:

    Jeebus, Mike, $30,000 a year is about what I make in general! I make about $300/year from pimping DH! LOL Note to self: Increase pimping power.

    I’ve been disappointed with the problems, of late, but I know that DH will pull through and become better because of this.

    I’ve been a customer of theirs since 1998, and I really don’t want to change. Many of these things would happen with any host.

  17. I was having email problems a while back as well. Otherwise I’m very happy with Dreamhost. I switched from MediaTemple to Dreamhost, even though I still have both accounts.

  18. BigDaddyDreamweaver says:

    Well ashamedly I have 17 sites on Dreamhost, and never had a penny for a referral or even tried. For fucks sake, people, I jst couldnt click one more fuckin time. i been raising kids while doing 17 sites…dont break my balls here… For almost a year I was so delighted with no problems at all. The panel works so great, I can run all those sites with databases and all so easily and a new domain would propagate netween diaper changes and voila! BUT…it just so happens that the only time their crap does go down is the exact moment somebody important wants to see something and comes bitching to me.

    When I went to switch hosting of course I realized what a pain in the ass it would be to move those 17 sites to any host I could find, even Media Temple, which has a disgracefully crappy management panel. I didnt mean the board of directors.

  19. Bob says:

    I used to work for a small hosting company (that had a few very large clients) and I can tell you, the level of honesty and self-flagellation displayed in their explanatory post is something you will almost never, ever see from anyone, much less a hosting company. I applaud Dreamhost for working through the issues and keeping their customers abreast of the situation from start to finish. Yes, my clients complained a little about the outtages, and there were probably a few missed sales (nothing earth-shattering) but in the end, I’ll stick with DH.

  20. Bob No. 2 says:

    I’m writing this a bit anonymously for various reasons…

    Dreamhost sucks. It’s a blunt statement and some might find it off-base, but it’s the decision I’ve come to after being with them for over a year.

    I was verbally referred by some of the best people I know, so it was a no brainer to sign up with them. Plus the amount of storage and bandwidth received has been incredible.

    However, I run a fairly public facing site which can’t stand to have major outages like the ones we’ve all been receiving. In addition, I’ve had some fairly serious DNS issues which Dreamhost has yet to completely acknowledge and take care of (you’d think ten megs of ping logs from four locations around the world would make them think I was telling the truth).

    It’s just completely unreasonable to stay with them now. We’ll be switching web hosts in the month of September to Site5 and see how things go there. Ideally, I’d do the hosting on my own, but it’s just not reasonable for sites bringing in so little money. I wish Dreamhost the best though, I really do. They’ve never been up to par with my previous hosts, however.

    Good luck though Mike.

    (And why aren’t you hosting on your own next to the Newsvine servers?)

  21. The tempermental nature of customers never ceases to amaze me. Especially with stuff like this.

    I totally think you have a right to expect great service, and should let your money speak, BUT, what gets me is how our culture is so “Serve me this instant”, that we think that it is somehow logical that a company with 200,000+ customers can go from really incredible to so thoroughly bad that everyone should jump ship in a matter of a few weeks.

    They didnt survive this long, and become the company they are overnight, and they wont un-become the company they are overnight.

    Im glad you put some pressure on them, but I am pretty sure that they put the onus upon themselves to get things back to status quo.

    I used to work in the hosting industry (not for Dreamhost, though), and perhaps it’s the inside look at what happens that colors my views, but I would say, with a company that you have a good solid history with, an appropriate amount of time to see before bailing is about 6 months.

    Why 6? Because unfortunately, as contrary to logic as it seems, Murphy’s law seems to clump together, and many times, multiple issues spring up all at one time.

    From my own personal experience with multiple hosts, and working with one, 6 months really tells you if the ship just went through a rough patch under firm leadership, or if the situation has just gotten out of hand.

    Usually after 6 months, you can tell if it’s just bad luck, or if management has crapped out.

    Just my 2 cents :)

  22. Senor Adios says:

    Dreamhost is a joke. Based on the recommendation from this site as well as other respected bloggers I signed up with them. It was frustration from the beginning. I setup web sites that generated revenue and they were CONSTANTLY going down in the seven months that I was with them.

    This last episode was the last straw. Don’t believe the bullsh*t about the power outage, their problems are bigger than that. Not only did ALL of my sites go down I lost a considerable amount of revenue that they generated. When they finally got the back up A WEEK LATER my WordPress databases were hosed. Their response (after two days had passed)? “We don’t support 3rd party applications, have a nice day.”

    Their customer support is awful. You will wait at least a day or two for a response even when they aren’t experiencing a meltdown. I’ve learned my lesson regarding cheap hosting. Instead of writing those stupid glib newsletters the founder should focus on properly managing his business.

  23. Jesse Wilson says:

    Litmus test for a great webhost: when my site goes down, their site goes down.

    Unfortunately, was alive during most of the recent outages. Therefore I recommend we all switch to whomever they get to host

  24. Sharaf says:

    I usually keep hosting with three different companies, just in case, if one goes down I move everything to the other one, if two of them go down, then I still have one more server I can move everything over.

    But, if you are thinking of switching from DH or MediaTemple to a new hosting company, I recommend Hostgator

    For example, you can get 3.5 GB space, 50 GB Bandwidth and much more for 6.95/ year. That’s pretty reasonable price for all the features you get.

    That’s why I pimping Hostgator here.

    Also, their reseller packages are really good too if you are a freelance web designer and you want to sell web hosting to your customers.

  25. Sharaf says:

    Correction, $6.95/month not year.

  26. Josh Byers says:

    I too signed up under Mike when I had a bad experience with another host. I have been very happy with Dreamhost.

    A note to Jesse Wilson – When my site went down I did check their site and it was down as well at that particular time. It’s possible that when you checked they had already had some servers restored.

    It should serve as a good lesson to us all who provide a product or service for others. When we screw up or when bad things that happen out of our control, we need to admit it and do what we can to make it right.

    Just wondering, when this happens to you, how do you expect your customers to react?

  27. Anthony says:

    I was starting to wonder if their transparency was really a good thing or not. (Though I’m usually inclined to believe it is.)

    I set up my latest project with them based on the general web design blogosphere consensus that they are the best thing ever. (Even after last year’s melt-down.) I was happy with the features and bandwidth, of course, and added their Status feed to my Bloglines.

    That’s when things went awry. Now I’m sure all hosts have issues. At the host for my personal site they have a page for problems and stuff, but I never look at it unless I’m feeling a problem with my site or email and that is pretty rare.

    But every day I’m seeing all the problems in the DH Status feed and it makes it seem like things are worse they are, I guess.

    Now this latest post on their blog. Which again, I am pleased by the transparency and accountability, but it doesn’t really inspire a lot of confidence. It’s a great in-the-trenches war story, which I love to hear/read from people, but I didn’t get the feeling there is a real solution coming.

    This new site I’m working on isn’t launched yet and I’m wondering if I should move it.

  28. Baxter, imagine having all of your company driven blogs hosted on dreamhost … then your CEO hearing that everything just went down!
    made for a happy weekend.

  29. I have several Media Temple sites and I haven’t had any problems at all.

  30. I had no real problems with mediatemple, but as someone else in these comments mentioned, the administration panel for websites is absolutely terrible. The interface just isn’t well thought out and I always found ways to try to avoid using it. Then I switched to dreamhost (not knowing what the panel was like, just for the insane price drop), and I like it. I maintain both accounts, mainly because I paid for 2 years of hosting with (mt).

  31. Geof Harries says:

    I’m sorry, but MT has an absolutely terrible admin interface?

    Yes, it’s built on top of Ensim and is a little old-school, but it’s really not that bad. Just takes a bit of time and patience before it makes sense, but all of the functionality I require is there.

    Besides, there’s a new version coming soon that, from all appearances, looks to blow many others out of the water.

    I’ve been there, done that with Dreamhost. MT at least tries to be professional. Dreamhost’s admin is littered with bad jokes and references that leave much to be desired.

  32. Candy says:

    Woah! As a single mom, disabled to boot, I’d be able to live quite comfortably off those referral bucks you’ve been getting!
    I personally haven’t used Dreamhost yet; I have reliable, afforable hosting elsewhere.
    I have heard people discuss Dreamhost for quite some time and have always thought in the back of my mind that it was too good to be true.
    Thanks for the read!

  33. Robert says:

    Mike, I was wondering if you’d address Dreamhost’s recent problems. I’m glad that you did, and that you have some confidence in them.

    What I’d really like to know is where Newsvine is hosted?

    Personally, I like the Dreamhost public face, and I appreciate their explanation, but I would prefer (obviously) a hosting company that doesn’t need to apologize. The apology they posted is great, and I appreciate that they’re taking some steps to prevent the same thing from happening again. But at the end of the day, the reliability is very, very important, and I don’t have any way of knowing whether the steps Dreamhost is currently taking are sufficient.

  34. Mike D. says:

    Adrian: Weird. I’ve created hundreds of e-mail addresses in the control panel and never had a problem. It’s a bit weird setting them up, but it always worked for me.

    Jeff W.: Yes, definitely. A $7.95 a month host is never going to be the “best host around” as far as pure uptime goes. But to counter your other point, I do feel like you get much, MUCH more than you pay for there. You don’t get a dedicated server and everything else, but you get a TON of good stuff for about a martini a month. The value is still great.

    Christian: I agree about Los Angeles not seeming like the ideal place to run a co-lo. I would expect Dreamhost to move to other locations as they expand even more.

    Eric A., Martin, and Dave M.: I moved one of my accounts to Media Temple during all of this and am currently evaluating them. So far, I like what I see, but they *did* go down they same time Dreamhost did and Dreamhost actually came back online a bit sooner. My initial impressions of Media Temple are that they are probably a bit more reliable and also a bit more expensive (and have less features). We’ll see how it works out with them though. They seem like great people.

    Virginia: I have actually looked through all of my referrals and there have only been a small amount of people who have requested refunds. I take that as a sign that the great majority of people are happy with their service, but to your point, yes… how could anyone have been happy during July.

    Jesse W.: There are a lot of servers within the Dreamhost environment. It’s reasonable that there will be times when one is down and the rest are not.

    Anthony: Yeah, the DH status feed is a little verbose in my opinion. It mentions every little thing when in reality, it should probably only mention the major stuff.

    Robert: We host Newsvine in a co-lo in Seattle. Much cooler temperatures here. :)

  35. Mike Purvis says:

    I switched to Dreamhost after a fairly lousy year with Surpass. So I’m annoyed by the recent trouble, but as Jules Winnfield would say, “personality goes a long way.”

    At least the DH guys are trying, and they have a sense of humour about it. And heck, it’s dirt-cheap hosting. I wouldn’t be putting my corporate storefront up there, but it’s perfect for blogs and other experiments.

  36. Sam M says:

    I think possibly they are in LA, because of the lower bandwidth costs. My Co-lo says that if we get over a certain amount of bandwidth, they want to move us to their california data center. I guess not many other people colocate in Louisville, Kentucky.

  37. sean coon says:

    the last week or so has been painful as hell and i was close to jumping ship… they need to install some extra generators or lance in the closet, something. anything. i don’t have crazy traffic, but i do have a crazy addiction to blogging. we’ll see…

  38. scott evans says:

    After years of running my own box, I signed up with DH after seeing them enthusiastically recommended on lots of well-known blogs (think the referral fee has anything to do with that?). I figured it’d be easier than hosting myself. I was wrong.

    Turns out I hate waiting for support to get back to me, and I prefer to take my fate in my own hands. The last few weeks sealed it for me. I bought a box and put it in a co-lo and I’m happy again.

    That said, I *do* like DH’s level of transparency. Their stuff clearly isn’t being written by marketing people, and man is that refreshing.

  39. Zach Borichevsky says:

    I followed this link to the Better Business Bureau website and was surprised to find that Dreamhost has an F rating. The website provides no details on why, other than the chart of complaints. What gives?

    (Editor’s Note: I have always viewed the Better Business Bureau as a bit of a joke… but still, interesting nonetheless.)

  40. Rob Lewis says:

    Yep, I’ve had mixed feelings about Dreamhost as the service seemed to be going downhill, but there seems to be no other host on the market that gives you the amount of functionality Dreamhost does for the price.

    Of course, if your website is mission critical, it might be a different story, but for the average website, a *little* bit of downtime can’t hurt that much.

  41. thewebguy says:

    glad you made a post about this, and holy damn that is a lot of free money…

  42. michael h says:

    I loved the writeup by Dreamhost’s founder – kudos to them for their honesty and humor, but I’ll stick with Site5, thanks.

  43. Steven Woods says:

    Oh my god.

    Let me first apologise (a TINY bit) for stepping on peoples toes but HAVE YOU HEARD YOURSELVES?

    This is the most self-righteous drivvel i have ever read.

    “I *plump chest up* considered leaving the service, even though they give me 30k a year in referral cash”…. DO IT THEN, did you have to blog about it?

    Yet another person says “i too considered leaving Dreamhost but their services are the best in town blahbalahha”.

    Hosting is HARD, especially when you a) have a huge infrastructure, and b) are affected by outside influence and c) you know, a natural disaster is occurring!

    SELF RITEOUS DRIVVEL. This article smacks of boasting about how great you are by referring the 600-odd customers as if somehow Dreamhost shoudl somehow be grateful to YOU for being such a loyal feeder of customers.

    600 of how many customers? Get real.

    And all this as an aside for the fact that your service is provided for $7.50 a MONTH. Come on, what do you expect! If you need super-reliable-ex-plus-alpha-turbo-championship-edition hosting, dip into your 30 grand and pay for your own servers.

    And see how much better YOU can do.

    Also…. you warn people about how crap Dreamhost now are on your page? Nice! So after ages of being a great host and giving you 30k as a thank you for being other people to them, the minute they go titsup you slam them and recommend people steer clear. Hardly a loyal customer are you.

    If I was the Dreamhost CEO i’d be thinking, damn – might be nice to cut this guy loose, if 30k of referrals isn’t enough to appease someone in time of crisis FUCK HIM.”

    Argh, “A-List” bloggers, who’d have them!?

  44. Mike D. says:

    Hi Steven. Thanks for dropping by to crap on the lawn.

    I suggest you re-read this post before jumping to the false conclusions you apparently have jumped to. In particular:

    1. I *don’t* expect a $7.95 a month host to be perfect.

    2. I’m *not* telling people to steer clear of Dreamhost at all. Quite the opposite in fact. I’m expressing my opinion that I believe they are on the right track and given the candid statement from the founder, I am continuing my support of them… given what happens in the next few months.

    3. The fact that Dreamhost has given me referral fees is *not* a reason to keep supporting them. I starting supporting them because I liked their service. I recommended them to readers of this blog because I feel I am helping people by introducing them to a good host. I cannot be “bought” with referral dollars, and hence the need for this post in the first place.

    4. I *know* hosting is hard, and that is why despite running our own servers at Newsvine, I am not prepared to run a server for my personal site and mail as well.

    You seem a bit angry and I’m not sure why. This post was merely an attempt to communicate my opinion on my current hosting situation, especially considering that I am responsible for the hosting situation of 650 other people now.

  45. Steven Woods says:

    Oh please…You’re responsible for noones hosting except your own. People make informed decisions, and from what you’ve said, they made the right one – apart from this hiccup. However, if this hiccup is enough to take you away from Dreamhost despite their excellent track record previously, then perhaps they’re better off without you, especially since you have a louder voice than others.

    1. I *don’t* expect a $7.95 a month host to be perfect.
    —- Quite right.

    2. I’m *not* telling people to steer clear of Dreamhost at all. Quite the opposite in fact. I’m expressing my opinion that I believe they are on the right track and given the candid statement from the founder, I am continuing my support of them… given what happens in the next few months.
    —- Yes, but you felt the need to blog about how you WERE going to tell people to steer clear – after all their great hosting time previously, you bail on them at the first problem. Way to go!

    3. The fact that Dreamhost has given me referral fees is *not* a reason to keep supporting them. I starting supporting them because I liked their service. I recommended them to readers of this blog because I feel I am helping people by introducing them to a good host. I cannot be “bought” with referral dollars, and hence the need for this post in the first place.
    —- There was no need for this blog post aside from making your voice heard, since the statement for people with an interest in Dreamhost was made by Dreamhost themselves yesterday.

    4. I *know* hosting is hard, and that is why despite running our own servers at Newsvine, I am not prepared to run a server for my personal site and mail as well.
    —- Why? it’s not hard is it? Unless you know, shit happens like it has at Dreamhost.

    You seem a bit angry and I’m not sure why. This post was merely an attempt to communicate my opinion on my current hosting situation, especially considering that I am responsible for the hosting situation of 650 other people now.
    — Please – you’re responsible for your own hosting and noone elses, unless people are superbly naive enough to purchase hosting on the basis of a bloggers personal opinion without checking it out themselves properly first.

    I’m not angry at all. Your post was nothing to do with communicating your opinion on your current hosting, it was to make people question Dreamhost based on your opinion of your current hosting. A large difference. But hey, don’t worry – everyone will be fine now that you’ve decided to stick with Dreamhost, and they can go back to signing up :-)

  46. Mike D. says:

    I disagree that I’m not responsible for anyone’s hosting except my own. Signing up with a web host is not like buying a painting. You sign up based on faith, a bit of research, and recommendations, and then you hope for the best. With all the information and misinformation out there, it’s simply not possible for the casual user to make an informed decision without relying on people they trust (hopefully me). Shit, just look at that Better Business Bureau link someone posted above. Dreamhost gets an “F”! Why do they get an “F”? Because 22 people have complained about them and they apparently haven’t responded to the Better Business Bureau about it. 22 complaints to the BBB out of 300,000 domains hosted! And yet, the casual user sees “F”.

    I posted this because I owe my thoughts to everyone who has signed up with Dreamhost because of my recommendation. I was going to post it even *before* Dreamhost wrote their blog entry, but since nobody subscribes to the Dreamhost Blog anyway, I figured I should write my thoughts here and readers can draw their own conclusions henceforth and act accordingly.

    What’s interesting to me is that you’ve taken this as a *negative* piece, when clearly it was not designed to be negative. It was designed to communicate that I am thankful for being made aware of the root of Dreamhost’s recent problems and I think they are on their way to having them solved.

  47. Matt Edmunds says:

    I’ve been with DH for about 2 years before Inman ran to MT, hehe. As to Steven Wood’s comments you’ve got it all wrong. I agree with Mike D. and thought I’d throw my two cents in. Not to fuel the fire but rather to provide my support.

    First off I think its insane if you see this as boasting rather than a ‘standard Mike D. blog post’ where I commend him for explaining his motivations and why he feels responsible for someone’s experience either good or bad with any recommendation he makes. If I recommend anything to someone I want them to have the same experience I’ve had, thus the recommendation and not a poor experience.

    What I think is even more funny is you talk about how hosting is hard, then when Mike agrees and explains it, you still bash him for it.

    Regardless of the fact that you seemed to bash a host on your site about a month ago because they are Irish? Wow, thats mature.

    I’m not angry at all. Your post was nothing to do with communicating your opinion on your current hosting, it was to make people question Dreamhost based on your opinion of your current hosting.

    And your post on your blog about Vibus was? what? huh.

    Thanks for crappy on a good blog and leaving a stain, go back to your crappy blog and leave stains there.

  48. Carl T. Holscher says:

    I have been with Dreamhost since Dec. 2002 and this is the longest, most troublesome outtage period I can ever recall them having.

    I am confident they will fix the problems and continue to mvoe forward being one of the most reliable, affordable hosts out there.

    Newsletters, status udpate site that GETS updated and a blog that really conveys what’s been going on. Customer service at its finest.

  49. Nicolas says:

    I’ve always had good impressions of Dreamhost, although only based on the picture painted by others and not as a customer myself.

    On the other hand, the service – 24/7/365 LIVE phone/im/e-mail support – and pricing at Brinkster (unashamed pimpin’ even from a free package customer) is well worth investigating.

    Professional hosting at $7.95/mo, giving you 3Gb storage, 75Gb traffic and 400 e-mail accounts. Or for $10 more you could move up to their developer package, including 150Gb traffic!

  50. Judi Sohn says:

    When (mt) had problems in the building, a note in the support section said that the president of the company would personally speak to anyone affected. They’re not to blame for the building having a power failure, but as a service provider they took personal responsibility to not just say “oops. sorry.” but to make sure that every single upset customer was happy again. Customers pay for service, not apologies.

    I’m in the process of moving 15+ sites off Dreamhost (some to Pair, some to Media Temple). I’ve been blogging about it because it’s been such a PITA. It wasn’t my fault that DH has been so bad lately, you get what you pay for, yadda yadda yadda. Hogwash. I owe every single site that I administer the best experience possible. Doesn’t matter what they pay. Doesn’t matter if they’re “mission critical.” If I can’t deliver for the price they’re paying, I either charge them more or promise less. No excuses.

    What kind of customer base would DH have if they were always that honest? “Um, let’s see…we’re really nice people. We try really hard. We give you more storage and bandwidth than you could possibly use in your lifetime, want more? But you should know that if there’s a problem and you send a support ticket, we’ll maybe answer in a few hours while everyone else answers urgent tickets within 15 minutes. If it’s not an emergency, expect to wait a day or two to hear from us. Don’t call us, we’ll call you. Literally. And if there is a system-wide issue, we’ll update our status page with minimal information and wait until it’s all over…whenever that is….to tell you what actually happened.”

    I’ll soften towards DH once they turn a critical eye towards how they handle customer service. After the last major outage I promised the folks that I support that it wouldn’t happen like that again, so when it did I had no choice. It doesn’t matter to them, or me, that it was a different excuse this time. It’s hard, because when they do answer they are always really nice, very friendly. But think about when you call a company and you’re on hold for 45 minutes. When that person finally gets on the phone, are you happy just because they’re being nice to you? There will always be a problem sooner or later. No host or site is immune. Calling it “bad luck” is not good enough. I wish the kind folks at DH well.

    And finally, good for you Mike for posting this. In the long run, you’ll be better off. I for one know I’d trust a recommendation from you in the future. I wasn’t making $30K a year but I haven’t paid for DH in at least a year with a few hundred to spare. I’d rather walk away than recommend something I didn’t stand behind.

  51. uknow says:

    Dreamhost does suck.

    300,000 domains on a service (LOTS of porn) and people like Mike who drive more and more people to the service are what makes using any big host frustrating.

    Selling hosting shouldnt be like selling CRACK!

    Steven or whatever his name was is a prick.

    Good luck mike, you at least lightened the load on DH servers by my 21 domains.

    And I’m also most sure btw, that this is not by any means the first DH hiccup. Theyve been belching and spewing acid for 6 months.

  52. Ambrose says:

    I am absolutely baffled by people who, despite the fact that DreamHost service clearly, empirically, measurably sucks, post that they still like the company, feel loyal to them, and admire their honesty.

    How do DreamHost do that?

    Imagine it’s the guy who fixes your toilet, or your car. Imagine it’s your doctor.

    They fuck up, over and over again, they don’t do what they’re contracted to do, they cause huge problems, and somehoe, you still feel loyalty to them, you admire them for their “honesty” simply because they detail their problems in a cutesy way.


    CAR REPAIRER A: Fixes your car.

    CAR REPAIRER B: Doesn’t fix your car. Says it’s fixed, then it isn’t. Still hasn’t fixed your car. Sends you five or six messages a day about how they haven’t fixed your car. Says it’s fixed a second time but it still isn’t. Finally fixes your car, but says they don’t know why it broke in the first place and it might happen again. Writes you a long long letter with cutesy illustrations and lots of technical details about how things when wrong while they were trying to fix your car. Still no actual explanation of why your car needed to be fixed in the first place.

    In what twisted universe do people write “you gotta love the honesty of CAR REPAIRER B. CAR REPAIRER B are great! No big company like CAR REPAIRER A would do that!”?

  53. Chris says:

    Yeah, but CAR REPAIRER B only charged me 8$.


  54. Billy Wayne says:


    I am one of those 600+ people who have chosen because of you and your recommendation. I’ve noted the problems as well.

    From past experiences with hosting companies I believe that DreamHost is still the best. I cannot imagine taking my site down the road.

  55. Cody P. Skidmore says:

    You know, I’m tring really hard to be understanding here. I opened an account with Dreamhost months ago, and to be frank, there have been frequent problems.

    My previous host was Coast, Inc. I migrated because the fee was the same, but the amount of disk space offered by Dreamhost was substantially larger.

    Now, here I sit moving one customer after another onto Dreamhost, and the whole place is coming down around my ears. Right now, there is a message on saying everything is fine.

    I can tell you that this isn’t true. It has rarely been true. I have a brand new customer who cannot get to his email. We reset his password today and eight hours later he still cannot get to his email. do you think this guy will want his money back?

    There are two important things to my business. The first is credibility. If I say something will be done, something will be working, it has too be so. The other is referrals. I need current customers to refer other customers to me as often as possible for obvious reasons.

    As of tonight, Dreamhost owes me two phone calls, and multiple status on reported problems. Its 9pm on a Saturday night, and I’m sitting here working hard to keep my customers from running way. As far as I’m concerned, Dreamhost is flat out failing as a partner.

    What kind of recourse do I have here? To say the least, I’m angry and getting really tired of being understanding. Results are what are needed and in spades. If Dreamhost cannot do this they need to roll out compensation or refunds so people like me can find a dependable partner.

    I’m not here to “crap on the lawn”, as you put it to someone else. I’m trying to figure out what the heck I’m suppose to do now. If my customers start leaving, or worse, start telling other potential customers not do do business with me because of outages and other issues, I’ll never get my business past its first steps.

    The last time I saw something like this happen was in my military days. We had a problem to fix and worked 12 hour shifts around the clock for six months to fix it. If you think I hold Dreamhost to any less a standard, you would be wrong completely. Business is a tough, cold reality. Dreamhost has to knuckle up and work hard to button down every single problem that comes up until it recovers it credibility.

    I want to be fair here. Its hard to be when I’m so angry. All I can tell you is every single day, I get a call from a customer telling me something isn’t working. What am I suppose to say to Dreamnhost? This isn’t ok. Its far from it.

  56. Adrian says:

    I have used Ipower for years, and they were in the same building as Dreamhost.

    There was very little downtime, and I twice went to their live support and was told the problem would be fixed shortly – and both times it was!

    I have to admit after the second time I was starting to get concerned, but Ipower has done such a great job over the years that I still had some confidence that the problems would be solved.

    I do IT Management, and crashes, power failures, and who knows what – it happens! We can always be prepared, and work on getting things fixed. In this scenario with Dreamhost and its datacenters, the real issue is one of RESPONSE and ACTION. That speaks loads for the company.

  57. Cary Miller says:

    I’ve been a DreamHost cliet for a few years, but after this last fiasco I have pretty much taken all I can take. While they offer a whole lot of bandwidth and server space, the reality it that the server I’ve been on for all this time is incredibly slow, buggy, and seemingly over-worked.

    I appreciate that they are blatantly honest on their blog (I’m one of the few that subscribes to the feed,) but their honesty doesn’t fix the problems that I PERSONALLY have been seeing for at least the last twelve months.

    I have now moved a number of my sites to another host, and the speed increase alone has been worth the hassle.

    Yes, its more expensive, but for a professional site its obviously worth the cost.

    Honesty really is a great sign of the kind of people that are behind DreamHost, and I’m glad they are keeing their customers in the know, but that hardly fixes their problems.

    If they come out of this better than before then I may consider going back, but right now my sites are more important than standing behind DH.

    They make business decisions, and I have to make business decisions too — right now that decision doesn’t include DreamHost.

  58. Mike Irene says:

    I use Qubefactor for the host of my site and they’re great. For something like 8-9 bucks a month you get 5gigs of space, 90gigs of bandwith, unlimited emails, unlimited databases and a “host” (pardon the pun) of other great features.

    Not to mention, their customer support system is speedy — they email you back with an answer to your question in no time at all. The only problem I’ve had with them so far is that they were down once for an hour or two a while back…but besides that, they’re great and I highly recommend them.

  59. Cary says:

    hehe… now that I’ve moved all of my important sites to a new host I actually find it kind of funny that my sites at DreamHost are down again this morning.

    It’s like a tragic comedy!

  60. ZenBug says:

    DH hosts half a dozen sites for me, also thanks to Mike’s recommendation. I’ve been with them for almost a year, and I have indeed noticed problems with downtime and e-mailing. I do apreciate the maintenance updates on their blog, but from my clients’ point of view, that’s meaningless. Bottom line is their site is down and that’s bad.

    Before DH, I hosted through a friend of a friend who runs his own server, so I really don’t know how common these problems are with other hosting companies. (I moved to DH because of their great features.)

    But now I’m asking myself, do I really need 20GB of space and 1TB of bandwidth? I’m sure you do Mike, but many of the other hosts recommended here would be just fine for most of us I think. QubeFactor, Site5, and Host Gator seem to be the best, although, again, I don’t know if their service is any better. Many of them do, however, have inticing 99.9% uptime and “uncrowded server” guarantees. I don’t see that with DH.

    I hate the hasstle of switching hosts. I would try hosting just some sites with of those other companies just to compare service to DH’s, but it seems like a waste of money to pay two companies when either one could host all my stuff.

    I suppose I’ll give DH one more chance.

  61. ZenBug says:

    I changed my mind. I think I’ll move to Host Gator.

  62. Rob says:

    You get what you pay for. I pay my local, smaller hosting company $20 CAD/month for reasonable space/bandwidth. They don’t oversell and I can call them when I need support.

  63. Jim Renaud says:

    I ALWAYS take complaints on the internet with a grain of salt and remember to myself that people write about things with venom way more than they do out of love which is unfortunate. I bet most of the Dreamhost users who have been happy with their service won’t even read these comments but all the folks who want to rebut or trash will be here telling there story.

    I have been with Dreamhost since 1999 (wow, 7 years!), so I am extremely biased, but I love the company. I have had one not-so-good customer service issue a year ago, but I also had 3 or 4 times when they saved my ass and really helped me out (my fault types of things).

    That being said. If I needed the most reliable site hosting because revenue would be effected then I would not choose Dreamhost. You will have to suck it up and get more of a dedicated hosting solution which Dreamhost is not and deosn’t try to be. However, if %99 is good enough and you want to save an assload of cash then Dreamhost rocks.

  64. Rich says:

    Mike is responsible for far more people than 600 or so. I know for myself, I signed up under Mike and have recommended it to several people because I was having the same good results as he was. So several people have signed up to Dreamhost under me because I signed up under Mike. You know so many other people have done the same way. The number maybe exponentially more than just 600 people. I dare say that if this were a pyramid scheme, Mike would be one wealth(er) fellow.

    I go to Mike for recommendations for web hosting for the same reason I would go to Einstein with a math problem. They’re both experts in their field and I respect that they know more than I do.

    Thanks for the blog, Mike.

    And yes, I do know that Einstein is dead.

  65. Cody P. Skidmore says:

    In the interest of fairness, so far this week, there don’t appear to be problems with their email or hosting (at least as far I’m concerned). They buttoned down email this week, and for two days now, my customers are not reporting any problems at all with email or their websites.

    The last issue that came up is now posted on their status page say a server configuration was made to prevent relays.

    I don’t want Dreamhost to fail or struggle. I want them to prosper and be a part of their success. It makes my job much easier because I can focus on customers instead of setting and configuring servers, keeping them up to date and secure.

  66. Richard says:

    I don’t use Dreamhost but about a year ago I was helping a friend set up a wordpress site and it seemed that textdrive was what many people were raving about (we considered Dreamhost too). So, we went through the process and got things set up with Textdrive. Within a month the server her site was on was up and down weekly and she was frustrated. Feedback and support on this from Textdrive was awful.

    During this time, people with sites on the same server were raving about how great Textdrive support was (while their sites remained down).

    The point is not that one of their servers went down but that during and after it people who had (have) sites on that server went overboard talking about how great textdrive is/was and how great their support was.

    People will put up with a lot to defend a decision they’ve already made until a tipping point is reached. Everyone has a tipping point but I found that there was another variable in play with Textdrive that kept people with them longer: it was cool to host there.

    Being part of the Textdrive community put you in a club of people in the know. People were willing to put up with a lot of less-than-good service to be included in the group and to defend their decision for joining. We left and found another host and have had no problems but that’s not the point. Others who also suffered the problems we did stayed and continued raving about the service. I was dumbfounded by this until I figured in that it wasn’t about the service, it was about being part of that club.

  67. Sebastian says:

    I am one of those who followed Mike’s recommendation and hosted with Dreamhost; it’s been very good, and what I like about it is that it’s very affordable for people like me working out of South America with little money to spend on hosting.

  68. Ryan says:

    I contributed to Mike’s $30k when I signed up with Dreamhost, but as of last week I canceled my account and switched to Media Temple. Why? Dreamhost IS cheap (although I should note that MT’s base-level plan is equally as affordable, and is more than enough for anyone’s blogging needs), but it was also… SLOW. Previously I’d been at BlueHost and had no complaints, but Dreamhost’s referral fee situation was very appealing. After I noticed a significant slowdown in my embedded quicktime files downloading, I complained to DH and their answer was, “if you want more speed, upgrade to a dedicated server.” At this point I took advantage of their 97-day money-back guarantee, which is pretty impressive (I was at day 92).

    But now I’m at MT and I have to say, it’s twice as fast, for the same price. YMMV.

  69. beth says:

    I’ve been using BlueHost for quite some time now, they’re very reliable and have *excellent* customer service. You may want to try them on a smaller site and see how you like them.

    In the past year BlueHost has experienced a couple minor outages, neither of which affected me, but they were always on top of it immediately, sending out an email to all their customers, and posting on their blog.

    BlueHost constantly upgrade accounts with all sorts of freebies, just because they like their customers. The only downside, is their referral program is only $50 or $60 a user. (Can’t remember which.)

  70. Derrell says:


    Slightly off topic, but I am considering switching to Dreamhost, still.
    I am just wondering if I would benefit in any way from using your name as referral.

    Referring Dreamost is a small business after all, and the referee is the one to keep it alive. What would they get?

  71. Schmelding says:

    Why host in California?

    I’ve never figgered this one out. <sarcasm> If I were starting a hosting company, the ideal location would be a place where:

    – frequent rolling blackouts occur
    – riots happen there more than anywhere else in the US
    – earthquakes. Mmmm…earthquakes.
    – will fall into the ocean someday

    Sounds ideal, doesn’t it? </sarcasm>

    Why there aren’t more hosting companies with NOCs located in Phoenix, AZ or Las Vegas is beyond me. The only thing that happens in those places is it gets hotter than tarnation. Other than that, there are no earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes or anything else worth mentioning. Plus, when Cali finally does fall into the Pacific, they’ll both have beach front property. w00t!

    Well, except that Las Vegas will someday have brimstone rain down on their heads because their all going to Hell. Just kidding.

  72. Adam says:

    Hey Mike,

    I have hosted a tiny site of mine on DH and larger sites on TotalChoiceHosting. The former has been down/unreliable surprisingly frequently, and the latter… well, there’ve been a couple of major boo-boos, but overlall it’s been okay.

    Here’s what I plan to do soon (or at least by the start of 2007):
    – Move all of my e-mail hosting to Gmail (disclaimer: I work for Google, but not on the Gmail team) and use ZoneEdit to forward backup copies of to an additional location (for IMAP access, backup, etc.)
    – Consider moving all my domains to MediaTemple (which I’ve heard is pretty reliable) or to Dreamhost (uber-cheap, not very reliable, but… hey, I don’t really have any critical domains presently). But I want them all in the same place, ’cause managing different domains on different hosts is a bear.

    With that said, for your critical domains (or for others with critical domains), I’d recommend Pair networks. A bit pricey, but of my friends who’ve used that hoster, they’ve had nothing but good things to say about their reliability.

  73. Praexis says:

    Mike Davidson: Thoughts on The Dreamhost Meltdown

    More on the Dreamhost ‘Meltdown’ from Mike Davidson of the popular Mike Idustries. My quote of choice:
    Mike Davidson: Thoughts on The Dreamhost Meltdown: “‘When a guy making $30,000 a year by just including a text link to you g…

  74. technical difficulties…

    Dreamhost (my server) has been down for at least an hour every day for the last three weeks. I like the people over there — they’ve been quick to help me in a crunch a bunch of times — but enough is enough. I don’t know how big …

  75. Josh(ua/y) says:

    Hmm, I just went to that post at the Dreamhost blog and got an error message: “The server at is taking too long to respond.”

    Apparently things are not all rosy now.

  76. Hey Mike, I’ve sincerely been enjoying your writings and your insights on web 2.0 and quality design lately, and I found the older link to this article… I’ve been hosted with Dreamhost since mid-2006, and in that year and a half I’ve experienced a few problems. I’m just curious, after all this time, do you still recommend the service or not, and what changes have you experienced with it?

  77. Mike D. says:

    Hi Cody: I’m still with them, but I’ve officially stopped publicly recommending them after a security-related incident that has me feeling less than satisfied.

  78. […] issues I’ve had with DreamHost as of late, I encourage you to check out Mike Davidson’s post on the matter (aptly titled “Thoughts on the DreamHost meltdown”). As he points out, he makes around […]

  79. phototristan says:

    I’ve been following the comments here for a while but never really felt compelled to leave one of my own until now.

    The bottom line is that Dreamhost is fine as a cheap host. Sure you could get faster and possibly slightly more reliable service if you are willing to pay over twice as much (think Media Temple, EngineHosting). But compound those fees over say 10 years and you are really looking at a lot more money for not that much more benefit. Dreamhost is generally quite reliable and also mostly fast.

    Dreamhost has served Mike well throughout the years and the fact that he is still hosted with them to this day should also tell you something.

    There are other good cheap hosting companies but compared to DH, each and every one of them have some negatives. Either the control panel is not as good, you don’t get SSH or equivalent features, or they practice censorship.

    Example, Bluehost will delete your account if you post any pictures that are even the least bit sexy. It doesn’t even have to be nudity-if it’s a sheer or slightly see through top, you are in violation. Not that I want to host porn or anything but I’m against this kind of censorship especially when it’s perfectly okay for a customer to post a photo of someone killing someone but not one of the natural human body form.

    Again, other cheap hosts have other issues and I have literally not found one that can compare to Dreamhost for the price.

  80. Mike D. says:

    FYI: I have deleted all comments by “dhsux” and related conversation because I just Googled his name and he’s spamming a ton of blogs with the exact same message. This blog will not host such material.

  81. phototristan says:

    A friend of mine has been experimenting a bit with HostGator and concluded that their load times are way faster than most (including DreamHost) primarily because with them the MySQL database resides on the same server as your web pages, rather than on a totally different server.

    As luck would have it, my Dreamhost site seemed slow and also had gone down a few times in just the last two weeks. I was still under their 97 refund period so I canceled my account with DH and switched to Hostgator.

    They are about the same price yet my site is noticeably faster and I have better uptime. I frankly think less of DH now than when I posted my last comment since I really did have too many incidents of down time due to the server being too busy.

  82. Hey Mike,

    Are you still using DH at this stage? I am thinking about switching and wondering if you would publicly recommend any other solutions.

    -Jeremy Wilson (a former Sherpa)

  83. Mike D. says:

    Hi Jeremy: Yep, I’m still on Dreamhost. Have tried three other hosts and none was as good as Dreamhost, unfortunately.

  84. Thanks Mike. I finally decided to throw in the towel with them after several years. Bastards are still trying to charge my credit card so I finally had to ask BofA to put a block on them. I simply becametoo busy with my new role as the only Web Developer at Laplink Software this past year and let my site go. No more though.

    Since joining the great team at Laplink, I’ve learned so much about Apache, Apache Tomcat, and Debian Linux distro’s that I just decided to dive completely into the deep end of the pool and built my own server out of spare desktop PC parts at home . I intend on hosting it out of my wife’s non-profit office space and will upgrade her bandwidth as needed.

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