DreamHost Shared Hosting and WordPress

Photo by Markus Winkler on Pexels.com

I recently moved my blog from DreamHost Shared Hosting to WordPress.com after years of trying to figure out why my blog was underperforming. I thought I had changed a setting or installed an add-on that was having a negative impact on my blog’s performance. After being on WordPress.com for about a month, it looks like the problem really was something DreamHost was doing after all. My site is snappier, and my page views are increasing again. I honestly feel like DreamHost cheated me for years, and I wish I’d never used them for hosting.

When I initially set up my blog on DreamHost, it was on their shared hosting tier, and it worked well. There was no lag. The pages loaded like they were supposed to. I could upload media with no problem. I even had a fancy theme. To top it off, I had a lot of freebies and bonuses because I signed up with DreamHost when they were trying hard to gain customers. My $120 per year included unlimited storage, unlimited bandwidth, and three free domain names.

Considering that I was running a simple personal blog, this was a great deal for me, and it met my needs with no issues. For most of the 9 years I used their service, I only had the one domain name. Every so often, I would register another for a year for a side project. It was fun and made it easy to experiment with different websites and services (ex:, just having DreamHost host the DNS and pointing the url to a Fediverse instance that I was self-hosting at home).

My problems started when DreamPress was released

My problems started when DreamHost launched DreamPress in 2013. DreamPress was essentially $7 more per month, or almost double what I was paying, with limited storage space and no free domain names for supposedly better site performance. But, my blog ran just fine at the time for what it was. I didn’t really need improved performance. And I think this was why, for no reason, my site suddenly started performing worse and worse.

First, I was no longer able to upload photos without constant errors. Then I had to disable the back-up plugin I was using because it would never successfully complete anymore, which makes sense because automatic backups were being offered in DreamPress. Right? Then, I had to switch to a super basic theme just to get the site to load. Then, I had to remove most of the plugins. Then, I had to remove all of my widgets. I honestly think that the only reason my site still loaded is because I had to hooked up to CloudFlare, because the more I removed, the worse the site performed over time. This went on for years.

I know, it’s pretty unbelievable that I just sat through worsening performance for that long, but I got comfortable and the thought of trying to move to another host was intimidating and later just something I didn’t want to deal with. I considered hosting my WordPress site at home on a home server for a while and probably would have done that, but I switched internet providers from Optimum to Verizon FiOS to get double the speed at half the cost and self-hosted servers violate Verizon’s ToS, but that’s another story. Anyway, I rationalized the degraded service by calculating the value of the unlimited storage space, bandwidth, and domain name registrations.

Eventually, though, it became such a hassle just opening the admin panel that I realized I didn’t even want to use my blog anymore. When DreamHost emailed me 30 days before my renewal this year to tell me that my yearly price had changed from $120 to $155, it was the final straw. Right after getting that email, my site’s performance improved. I hadn’t changed anything, but my site was suddenly running quite a bit better. I felt like DreamHost had improved performance temporarily to get me to accept the price jump, but given how my site had been performing previously, I wondered if they would immediately hammer me back down after getting my money. Paranoid a bit, I know, but at that point I decided to move my blog to a new host.

I realized WordPress.com was the better choice

I eventually settled on hosting my site at WordPress.com. The only thing that concerned me about moving to WordPress.come was not being able to have plugins, but by this point I had removed almost all of my plugins just to try to get my site to run. I realized that the only one that I would miss at all was wpDiscuz, a commenting plugin, but it was an ok trade-off to make. WordPress.com doesn’t allow plugins unless you have a business class plan.

Another bonus is that I got 50% off my first year of hosting at WordPress.com, so I only paid about $48. The weird thing is, I think I could have gone with the lower plan. On DreamHost, they claimed my blog was eating up 10 GB of space. I couldn’t figure out how. On WordPress.com, it’s listed at about 600 MB.

Summary

The short of it is that I wish I’d just gone with WordPress.com from the start. DreamHost progressively limited my shared hosting plan until my WordPress blog wouldn’t even load the admin panel 80% of the time and I lost interest in even using my blog. I would have saved myself a lot of hassle, enjoyed blogging more over the years, and I would have saved money. So, if you’re thinking of starting a WordPress blog on DreamHost Shared Hosting, don’t bother. I’m not sure what their shared hosting is good for, but a basic WordPress blog isn’t it.

Another year…

I’ve had this blog set up for something like 12 years now. I haven’t really been using it that much recently. It’s not so much that I don’t have things to talk about, but that I don’t know if what I have to say really matters in the grander scheme of things. Or would have any impact anyway.

When I started this blog, I was living in Singapore. Or rather, I started a version of it there on Blogger. Then some other blogs, and then I rolled them all into this blog and kept posting. In Singapore, blogs seemed to matter quite a bit. People took them seriously in a way that they just never did in the US. So, when I posted something, I had an expectation of a reaction of some sort.

Now, and maybe especially now with the rise of Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. etc., posting on a blog is sort of like screaming into the wind, or into the eternal void. You can make a lot of noise, but chances are that no one will hear you or even notice.

And even if you say something really important and meaningful, it hardly matters anymore. Maybe I could add a blue check mark to the title of my blog? I dunno. I think it’s because of the polarization of online content in general. People only want to see what’s loudest on both ends of the spectrum. There’s not much room or interest for what’s in the middle. That’s pretty sad but I guess it must be human nature.

And so I let this blog sort of stagnate.

Beyond that feeling that blogging just didn’t matter as much here, I was having a lot of technical issues with Dreamhost. I still am, actually. I’ve had my blog constantly getting restarted by their server because it’s supposedly taking up too much RAM or eating up too much of the CPU, which seems ludicrous to me. I’ve trimmed it down to being really basic and it hardly gets that much traffic anymore, but it’s still apparently being problematic. I can’t even do updates without the thing crashing half the time. Honestly, I think Dreamhost is just punishing me for not upgrading to Dreampress.

Fuck Dreamhost. Fuck them in their ass.

I’ve been coming to a realization though, that I’ve been thinking about blogging the wrong way. Maybe I always have been. Or maybe I started doing this at some point without realizing it.

There’s a difference between blogging to be heard and blogging for myself.

And I think I was blogging to be heard and when I realized that I wouldn’t be heard, or most likely wouldn’t be heard, I lost interest.

So maybe I should be blogging for me. As a way to get my thoughts down and work through them and maybe come to some interesting conclusions. A professor I took a history course with told me once that you never really know what you think about something until you have to write down your thoughts about it because it forces you to really clarify your opinions. She was right. Thanks, Professor.

So, I’m going to try to be a bit more consistent here, even if what I’m posting is something that is only going to matter to me. I’m not trying to be a news outlet. Just a me outlet.

Obsessive Compulsive About Blog Organization

I was just looking through some old posts and I realized that I moved this blog from Google’s Blogger to self-hosted WordPress more than a year ago. During that process, a lot of the images didn’t transfer properly. There are just broken image placeholders in a lot of the posts, which is really a shame since most of my older posts were about visiting places in Asia and the photos are fantastic. Well, they’re fantastic and the posts don’t make sense without them.

I’ve been trying to get around to fixing these broken images, but it seems like things just keep coming up that I have to get done. I suppose I’ll get them fixed eventually. Maybe this summer? Maybe if I just start doing one or two each day they’ll all be fixed before I realize it. I certainly can’t just put off classwork to fix broken links.

I really need to get this done. Self-hosted WordPress is fun but expensive. If I ever decide not to stick with it, I need my blog data to be all put together so I can export it to some other platform. I’d rather not do that, but I want to be prepared.

I spend so much time trying to put this blog together or get it organized the way I want that I haven’t put much effort into actually writing posts over the past year or so. That is partly because I’ve been busy with school, but also because every time I open the post editor I think of how the blog isn’t the way I want it to be, the posts aren’t fixed, images are broken, my blog keeps going down because some script is eating up too much RAM on the server, categories need to be rearranged, etc.

I’m too much of a perfectionist. Maybe if I just find a really nice, minimalist theme that has nice color accents and incorporates the newest features of WordPress, I’ll be happy with it and just stick with it for a change. I suppose I’m not particularly happy with how 2014 looks and besides having those broken images, I’m dreading the amount of time it’s going to take me to find a theme that I like that suits a personal blog with a bit of personality but isn’t completely dumbed down.