January 6, 2007
To Dream, Perchance to Host
Employee owned DreamHost is offering their Strictly Business hosting plan free-for-life for US-based 501(c)(3) [read: non-profit] organizations. This bears repeating -- that's free-for-life hosting! If you have NFP clients who are looking for or are paying too much for Linux shared hosting, whose needs map to the offering, or are already a paying DreamHost customer, you can be their hero.
I've long heard good things about DreamHost, and over the holiday break moved informationgift to their Crazy DomainInsane! plan (check out the features/price and you'll understand the name). While their web control may not be as polished as Media Temple's or even 1and1's, it's a fully functional, developer-friendly no-nonsense tool and the DreamHost support Wiki, run by DreamHost and DreamHost customers, simply rocks.
Which is a good thing, because DreamHost doesn't offer phone support. Note that this could be a show-stopper for some; you're going to have to judge your NFP client's needs and comfort level with this vis a vis cost-free hosting. I suspect many non-profits would rather spend hosting dollars on their cause, while others may be able to justify paying extra for dedicated hosting and 24x7 phone support.
Of course, this last point could be said about commercial clients as well; price/features/performance vs. support level is part of an equation that needs to be solved in every hsp selection process.
Another factor that may need consideration is your comfort level with the DreamHost philosophy -- these folks are no suits and won't wear cologne, but their 10-year journey from four CS undergrads with a single server to a 700-server datacenter hosting 350K sites is a story in which I'm so far excited to share. I'm also bohemian-geek enough to appreciate their style and sense of humor, but ymmv, etc.
Posted by Lewis Francis at January 6, 2007 9:09 PM
Hmm...looks like Dreamhost also has interesting referral programs. For instance, you can create a promo code that friends or clients can use to get one-time discounts up to $97 on hosting; the twist is that YOU choose the amount of the discount, from zero all the way up to the max and pocket the difference.
Sadly, I discovered this before signing up and don't want the same to happen to you and yours, so I've created a code that gives the max discount at sign up with promo code: INFOGIFT.
I'm a little conflicted about joining and publicizing a referral program when I've only had a couple weeks of direct experience with the company, but what the heck -- if you or any of your commercial clients decide to sign up, you might as well save some money.
Meant to note that the default DreamHost setup allows index listings of all directories; for security reasons you really don't want to leave your directories exposed.
To disallow directory indexing, simply create a .htaccess file at root with the following content:
It would be good form to follow up with a custom 403 error page by adding:
ErrorDocument 403 /403.html
Where 403.html is the name of your custom error page.
DreamHost's Wiki has an excellent .htaccess article that you can refer to for this and other uses.
Just got a chance to check out DreamHost's backup functionality; had a system crash in the middle of updating my .htaccess file via Transmit's remote editing feature, which toasted the file.
DreamHost takes snapshots of your domain at regular intervals (two hourly, two daily, and two weekly). The Wiki article Automated domain snapshots shows how you can retrieve files yourself via a hidden .snapshot directory, and minutes later I was back in business. Nice.
I have a rather large .htaccess file that blocks known link farmers and redirects old-style MT numbered articles to the new human-readable format, and I didn't relish rebuilding from scratch or waiting for someone in support to retrieve the file for me.
Thought I'd add this SiteUptime stats link for folks interested in the uptime of this site on Dreamhost.