2 years ago, I left DreamHost because of an issue that turned for the worse when I tried contacting support. This weekend, I started the slow migration back.
Here’s the thing. I’ve been extremely happy with the support I’ve gotten from my current host, HostingMatters, which I was referred to by @tenthmuse. But I have two problems with my current hosting situation that are becoming increasingly aggravating, two problems that I didn’t have with DreamHost.
1. Permissions issues
HostingMatters is a standard webhosting environment. By that I mean that the webserver is running under its own user. This can cause permissions issues when you are running a web application (like WordPress) that’s uploading files since they will be owned by a user that’s different than the user who owns, say, the /uploads directory (which is probably your ftp user). You can get around this by using 777 permissions — making everything readable and writeable by everyone — but that’s a huge security risk, one that I’m not comfortable with even though that was suggested by HostingMatters’ support when I raised the issue. This can cause issues with updating WordPress if you don’t get the FTP info set up correctly when you add it manually to your wp-config.php file (something I had working on some of my sites, but not others, and couldn’t be bothered to spend the extra time figuring out which ones were broken) and it means you can’t use the editors if you need to put on your pink sombrero and edit some code live.
This was never, ever, ever, EVER a problem on DreamHost.
DreamHost was always the simplest solution to hosting WordPress I ever dealt with. DreamHost runs the webserver under your user account meaning that it will be the same user as your FTP account (unless you’ve created a separate FTP user, but I don’t see why you’d want to). Not only that, but you can change which user you want to use to run your website under. This means that these permissions issues never happen because everything is running and owned by the same user.
Of course speed is always an issue and even when I had the VPS set up on DreamHost I battled with this. The plan I’m running on HostingMatters currently is an unmetered plan, meaning unlimited pretty much everything, but of course, it’s still shared (it’s a special plan that Joelle has set up with them for her clients, but it’s basically the same thing as their unlimited anniversary package) and as far as I can tell, they don’t do VPS servers (their reseller accounts are probably actually a VPS, but it doesn’t actually say that anywhere and I have zero interest in reselling hosting). What I’ve been noticing lately is my sites are really…slow…
Not so say that they were always so snappy on DreamHost either, but if you have to wait several seconds for a page to load, you’ve got issues. And I’ve had that more of late than I care to talk about and I don’t remember having it nearly as bad on DreamHost unless there was a memory leak causing the server to lock up (which was fixable by a reboot).
The thing I haven’t said yet is that the original issue that caused me to move was a reboot — the server wouldn’t do it. And I had no means to force it. When I looked back at DreamHosts VPS info, remote reboot is supported — I’m assuming it’s new since I left — which means that my original problem could have been solved without even contacting support. That and the permissions issues alone are reason enough for me to come crawling back.
Why not another host?
Look, I won’t argue that DreamHost is the absolute best host out there ever. But, for my money, it works. It’s easy — particularly for WordPress users — it still has the best control panel I’ve ever used (HostingMatters uses cPanel which I’ve said before I hate with a fiery passion), and it’s configurable. I rarely need to talk to support and — with one notable exception — when I have, it’s been a good experience (again, not saying that HostingMatters has ever been unsatisfactory in that department). I thought about doing HostGator but they a) use cPanel but b) only if you get their shared servers (which I’m skeptical of) or a level 3 or higher VPS ($40/month). And let me tell you, the Virtuozo panel you get on levels 1 and 2 SUCK WORSE THAN CPANEL — you’ll be begging for cPanel once you try using those. Believe me. Which, I’m sure, is the whole point and — since they give that to their shared server customers — I find that asinine.
And I was tired of searching. Look, you can hear bad stuff about anyone. MT is supposedly great. It also supposedly sucks. The same is true for managed WP solutions and I’d argue that you can find equal parts “this is great” and “this sucks” posts about every host, ever. And probably, you’ll hear more about the hosts that suck than the ones that are great because people tend not to talk about stuff that’s good, they talk about stuff that’s broken. There were a number of things I missed when I left DreamHost, so part of me is honestly glad to be making the painful migration (because migrating sites is always painful) back.
So, DreamHost, I’m back. And anyone who wants to join me can use the promo code ARCANE20 to get $20 off 1 year or $50 off 2 year hosting plans.
Also, bonus: they are running WordPress on their main site and they are green. So there’s that.