I get a lot of funny looks when I tell people I host everything on Dreamhost. It’s not a great fit for everything — I have some ideas for projects that would be better suited to Amazon EC2, and who knows, maybe I’ve just been on a lucky server — but it has generally been more reliable than any previous hosting company I’ve used, including when I used to run my own server.
Dreamhost succeeds because of scale. They have so many servers, and such low prices, that they are forced to automate everything. This means they can more quickly deploy new software, rebuild servers, or restore a broken installation, and that their panel interface has to provide access to every feature a customer might want.
“This post from their status blog”:http://www.dreamhoststatus.com/2009/07/18/network-problems-due-to-distribution-switch/ is revealing. There are over 600 machines on that list, but it must be only some fraction of their customer base, because my server name isn’t on there. “According to WebHosting.Info”:http://www.webhosting.info/webhosts/reports/total_domains/DREAMHOST.COM, Dreamhost hosts about 875,000 domains.
I strongly believe that “being small is a competitive advantage”:http://www.manton.org/2007/02/customer.html, but anyone who’s played the role of sys admin knows that automation means everything, and that’s what Dreamhost seems to get right.