Pleased with WordPress and DreamHost

Disclaimer: I’m not being paid or getting any referral kickbacks from DreamHost. This is just an honest review.

Screenshot of DreamHost's website.

Backstory

COVID has forced us all to make changes in our lives and I’m no exception. For a year I’d planned to start building my video game in September when our daughter started school. Welp, that’s not happening quite like we thought it would. She’ll be starting kindergarten in front of an iPad rather than in a classroom, which means I’ll be playing teacher’s assistant most of the day. My opportunity to work full-time is gone indefinitely, so I’ll be looking at nights and weekends to limp along.

Rather than scrap the game, I set out to eliminate the non-game activities. Managing a website was one such casualty. If it sucked time, it had to go. I knew I could trade my Ruby on Rails sites for WordPress with relative ease, so I started making the switch.

DreamHost

If 40+ hours a week were available to me, I’d have stayed with my own Rails/Heroku site. I love Rails and Ruby. But right now I need to offload that dev/maintenance time to the WordPress folks. Luckily for me, I’ve built 100s of WordPress sites and despite not having tossed one together in four or five years, I found things mostly where I remembered them. Great!

The primary thing I was not looking forward to was hosting. WordPress and the shared hosting world give me nightmares. I’ve spent too many days (and nights) fighting performance issues, lack of server access, etc. Not to mention I’ve come to love a quick git push heroku main and being able to walk away knowing deployment was handled.

I don’t remember what path led me to DreamHost, but when I first got set up I was fairly happy not to see a cPanel staring me in the face. Here are the main things I’m liking so far:

Support

The documentation on various topics is good enough that I’ve only needed to contact support once and it went great. I started off on a shared plan, but I needed to be able to SSH in and run some Composer commands which are only allowed on a VPS or dedicated plan. No problem, just a few button clicks, and my hosting account was upgraded automatically. Then…

Oopsie, the webserver and MySQL server ended up in different data centers on opposite coasts. I was getting a 2+ second [TTFB](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_to_first_byte#:~:text=Time to first byte (TTFB,received by the client's browser.) on every single page of my site. That’s way too long for a website this light. So, per one of the support articles, I contacted them and asked that they migrate the servers to the same data center and it was done in a few hours. TTFB fell to an acceptable amount and all was well.

Summary

My free time has vanished and I needed to focus less on maintaining my websites. I found myself very please with a WordPress setup on DreamHost and can now, hopefully, move forward with some sporadic game development. Wish me luck.

Written by Matt Haliski
Consumer of tacos