MediaTemple vs DreamHost

A cursory examination of the long-term reviews of MediaTemple suggests it is somewhat like DreamHost in terms of reliability, uptime, and support. If you need to host a low priority blog, website, or file sharing web app, and you aren't a total Linux geek, then either one will do.

DreamHost does have an amazingly simple and easy to use control panel. That is the best aspect of the service they offer. Relative beginners, who learn fast, and intermediate users can get their websites, and databases, set up and configured in minutes.

Remember, these hosts are dirt cheap and you get what you pay for. Carefully take into consideration what your actual needs are, and make sure that your expectations are realistic, and you won't have a problem. Also, remember that "unlimited" is a marketing ploy. There are no Twenty First Century hard drives with infinite storage capacities – there is always a limit.

If you're hosting files for some friends, or family, and a little down time is no big deal, then yeah, DreamHost or MediaTemple might be okay for you. Or if you just need a cheap web space where you can screw around, and reliability is not an issue, then go for it.

But if you have a serious business and you actually depend on your website to make sales, or your customer's perceptions of you are influenced by your website's availability, then no, DreamHost and MediaTemple are not for you. Shared hosting is not ideal for serious businesses. If you have a serious business then you should really be looking at Liquid Web for hosting. The question is: are you willing to pay for a premium host?

If you are turning your hobby into a business and your sales are only just growing slowly, then you can get away with hosting on DreamHost for a few initial years, until you outgrow them. A lot of people do that. Will you have some downtime and slowness from time to time? Yes.

But you can consider the minor hassles that come with DreamHost as part of your startup costs. Three years of hosting at $8.95/mo., plus a single domain, at $12.95/year, would run you about $361. Now if you can't make $361 in three years from your website then you have a business problem, not a hosting one.

Only after your website starts receiving many thousands of visitors and your databases start to become very large will you run into the real growing pains of staying with these web hosts. If your budget is so tight right now that you even are considering these sites then you can always switch to another host and start paying more when your business grows.

MediaTemple Incident Track Record

Let's examine MediaTemple's reported incidents from January 2014 to December 2014. They reported a total of 183 separate incidents. 36% of these incidents involved their GRID system. This seems like an alarmingly high percentage. Do enough research on MediaTemple and you will hear a variety of things, both positive, and negative about their custom GRID system, which is supposed to make it so that if a ton of people visit your site then it will stay up, and be able to deliver your content from a "grid" of different servers.

Category # of Incidents
GRID Interruption 62
GRID Connectivity 5
Maintenance 38
Word Press Problems 13
Network Connectivity 12
Support System 19
Miscellaneous 34
View the incident source-file

DreamHost Incident Track Record

In comparison, from January 2014 to December 2014, DreamHost only reported 86 incidents. Now, clearly, both companies had more incidents than they were forced to report, but the ones they report are the ones that can't be swept under the rug.

Category # of Incidents
Connectivity 5
Upgrades 18
Maintenance 25
Word Press Problems 4
DreamObjects 18
Support System 10
Miscellaneous 6
View the incident source-file

Overall, it looks like DreamHost has significantly better incident statistics for the 2014 calendar year. Their stats for prior years are not quite so great. But it appears that their number of incidents have gone down.

Cost Comparison for Shared Hosting Plans

Feature MediaTemple DreamHost LiquidWeb Standard LiquidWeb Webmaster
Monthly Transfer 1 TB "Unlimited" 120 GB 200 GB
Disk Space 100 GB "Unlimited" 5 GB SSD 20 GB SSD
Domains 100 "Unlimited" 2 "Unlimited"
Email Accounts 1,000 "Unlimited" "Unlimited" "Unlimited"
Price $20/mo $8.95/mo $14.95/mo $19.95/mo

If you are considering either of these hosts, then you want to compare their shared hosting plans. They both offer Virtual Private Servers and Dedicated Servers, but there are much better hosts out there for that. I also compared Liquid Web, which is a much more reliable host than MediaTemple or DreamHost, but more expensive.

Unfortunately this cost comparison table tells you nothing in terms of how much actual disk space, data, domains, and email accounts you can use at DreamHost. At least with MediaTemple you know what you are getting. But it is not unheard of for DreamHost users to have 10 - 30 gigabytes of data stored on their accounts and to transfer 1 - 1.5 terabytes of web data a month without trouble.

However, if you are looking at hosting in this price range then it is (appropriately) assumed that your usage will likely be well below the unpublished DreamHost limits. Are you running highly customized code, a bloated content management system, or database intensive web applications? If the answer is no, then you don't have to worry too much. If the answer is yes, then you are looking at the wrong hosts.

MediaTemple is more expensive, has more recently reported incidents overall, and wants to upsell you on a proprietary GRID system whose fundamentals are questionable. Dig around enough and you will find a copious amount of complaints about their GRID system – the statistics back it up. Their marketing looks much sexier than DreamHost, but it is just that – marketing.

If you're in the unique position where you're not a total beginner, not a total geek, and you can't afford (or figure out) a super advanced, or professionally managed, private server, and your websites are not critical, then I would say give DreamHost a try. You can always cancel after a month. If you can afford $15 - $30 a month for the DreamHost VPS packages then that would be a bit of a bump up from their shared plan. However, at that price range you may want to consider Liquid Web's shared hosting.

It might seem hypocritical to recommend DreamHost considering our article on "breaking up" with them, but the truth is that I simply outgrew them. They had served their purpose for 5 long years. And in all fairness to them, their incident reports have gone down significantly since January 2013. Everyone has to start somewhere and DreamHost is an okay place to do it if your budget is $8.95 a month, you're not a super-geek, and your expectations are realistic.

Give DreamHost a try and see what you think.



This circa 2015 project was a fun public data discovery & analysis of DreamHost and its users. How might the comparative stats for your industry and customers look like?


Need to get in contact with me?

Email Josh Schultz.

Disclosure: I receive a small commission if you click our links to web hosters I endorse. I only support those hosts I feel are worth it.