January 21, 2006

Dreamhost webhosting

I love Dreamhost. Sometimes. One time was today, when I realized that someone completely unknown to me had followed some link that I totally forgot about and then signed up for Dreamhost. So I get $97 credited to my account. That's about 5 times more than I've made off the web. Ever. That was when one guy I tried to help out with one of my goofy scripts forked out $20 via Paypal. Mostly though, what I've earned was not even a thank you when I've tried to help some poor confused soul who doesn't quite get it.

irritating Dreamhost gif

Well screw 'em. I'm going commercial. Just look at the irritating flashing button above if you doubt it. Like you could avoid it. I want to see if I can pre-pay my webhosting bill through 3006. Now that I'm pushing 50, I need to start thinking about what happens when my arms wear out and I can't swing a hammer any more.

Before I get accused of trying to con people into buying one of Dreamhost's plans (and making myself filthy rich) under false pretenses, let's discuss a few of the problems I've had in the past several years with Dreamhost.

The Bad

Occasional hardware failures.

This has led to problems, but usually not more than an hour or two. The only time I recall it being more than that was during a major DDoS attack (not really hardware related, I suppose), which seemed like it lasted for about a day (where the site and email was intermittent). And then of course, there was the big LA blackout, which killed off almost everybody out there.

Relatively slow/bad/inattentive tech support

It can take 24 hours for them to get back to you. And it can frequently take a couple of tries before someone who really knows whats going on takes charge of the situation. The really cheap plan doesn't have any phone support at all, so if this is a big deal to you, consider the next level, which is still only 16 bucks a month. But I'm still taking my chances at the $8 a month level. Until a few more of you suckers wise shoppers take the plunge and I can afford to upgrade.

As always, it's a lot easier to get questions answered by a smart person before you sign up.

Rare but catastrophic dumbass mistakes

This was really the only big problem I've had with these guys. At some point after the big DDoS attack, I started losing email sporadically. After a lot of back and forth with the slow tech support, someone finally delved into it. They discovered that someone had managed to delete the mailq on one of the servers that handled my email. This resulted in the email going straight to the bit bucket. Because it was received and instantly deleted, the sender didn't even get a bounce. I had several important requests from clients that just disappeared without a trace.

This sort of thing will probably be a dealbreaker for a lot of people, but I think it's just an issue you're going to have to deal when you get webhosting for $100 a year.

The Good

Despite the downsides, it does have a lot of upsides. Lots of diskspace and bandwidth, but big whoopdeedoo. They have great support for PHP and MySQL. You can even install your custom versions if you have the patience for that sort of thing. Also, shell accounts, Ruby, SSI, CVS (no, not Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome), and more. If you really care about the nitty-gritty, just look at this.

My single favorite geeky thing is being able to execute system commands right from within PHP, so if you want to do something like turn a postscript file into a PDF, it's as freaky simple as:

$convert_pdf = ` convert $_SERVER[DOCUMENT_ROOT]/$file.ps $_SERVER[DOCUMENT_ROOT]/$file.pdf `; echo $convert_pdf;

Of course you also have to name your script with a pcgi extension and make sure the permissions are right, but you probably already knew that.


So go ahead and sign up for Dreamhost. It's a pretty good deal for the money. Probably.

Just don't say I didn't warn you.

Posted by Hal Eckhart at January 21, 2006 11:27 AM | TrackBack

You filthy money grubber! Please note, the ability to swing a hammer is not the only (or the worst) thing you lose the abitlity to accomplish when you turn 50.

Posted by: Derek at January 23, 2006 04:06 PM
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