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Trying Dreamhost for Backup January 22, 2007

Posted by Carthik in about, servers.

So finally I gave in and decided to give Dreamhost a shot. I need cheap backup space, and since Dreamhost promises 200GB or so of space with 2 TeraBytes of bandwidth, I thought it is worth a look. They promise to refund my money if I cancel within 2-3 months. Frankly I am still suspicious of the offer – so much space can’t be so cheap ($10 per month approximately). I guess, in the worst case, as I use up the maximum storage, or even, say, about 100 GB, I might get a warning or something. I can just up and leave then. I don’t really care about website performance, PHP, MySQL or anything else, since all I need is the storage space. I will get my rsync-based backup scripts going at work and school, and we’ll see.

In the best case scenario, they will let me use the space they promise, and I will recover the cost of the hosting from the referrals from this blog. If you, or anyone else signs up using my referral link, I will get $97. That is a lot of money, yes, so if you want to support a poor Ph.D. student, you have one more method to do that. If I were you, I wouldn’t sign up just yet – let me be the sacrificial lamb, so to speak.

$10 a month is still gnawing at my conscience – that is a lot of money for just backing up data, but if you look at it another way, it is less than what I think my data is worth. I know, I could just buy a huge harddrive and backup to that (which I do on and off), but there are a lot of advantages to backing up to a server somewhere – you can automate the process(don’t have to connect the USB HDD), and the physical seperation provides some extra peace of mind.

I also looked at other online backup service providers, most of which are listed and reviewed here, but none of them seem to be too eager to support Linux. Also, all I really need is a way to log in via SSH, and the permissions to run some rsync scripts. JungleDisk offers some utility to access Amazon’s S3 storage system for Linux, but at $0.15 per GB, and $0.20 per GB transferred, it will still cost me way more than $10 per month. The only thing is, with Amazon, I can trust and rely on my backups, with Dreamhost I can’t. Dreamhost has had data loss disasters in the past, and I must remember that I get what I pay for, always. I have also had friends who have been kicked off in the past because their blog used up too much of the shared resources. The only resource I will be using is the generous disk space. They use Debian, so there’s that little bit of feel-good factor in it for me, too. For starters, I am holding on tight to my local USB HDD backups while trying to store my data on this server. Anyone with any cautionary tales please caution me now, before it is too late! Does anyone else pay for data backup or is it just me?


1. robotgeek - January 22, 2007


Needless to say, I will be watching this space pretty closely 🙂

Thanks for being the “bakra”


2. Wes - January 22, 2007

I had Dreamhost, but gave them up because of their frequent downtimes. However, for your purposes, downtime isn’t the worst thing for the costs savings you are getting. I hope you have better luck that I ended up having.

3. Sohum - January 22, 2007

Yea, I’ll be watching this pretty closely as well.
I really NEED to start backing up, but I was looking at a local RAIDed NAS. I wouldn’t say no to online backups, though.
Let us know how it works for you!

4. Casanova - January 22, 2007

I have had bad experiences with DreamHost, but that was running an webapp on DH. Never tried it out for Data Backup though.

OT but DH has this killer process that kills user processes, like I can’t run a Django Devel server, etc. I hear the Rails has this problem too.

5. Martin - January 22, 2007

Hopefully you will store your data encrypted on it. Cause putting Backup Data unencrypted on a Webhost seems to be a ”’very”’ stupid idea in my eyes.
Even if the access is SSH2 only: You don’t now how good there internal security (i.e.: on shared hosts its happens that scripts oh the same machine have access to all the data on disk I have no expiriences with dreamhost but there low price must come from somewhere). An even if they are perfect in this way, the admin has always access to you data and you don’t no how professional these guys are.

6. Matthew East - January 22, 2007

I’ve had perfectly good service from Dreamhost. In terms of the price, most people use referral codes that give most (or all) of the money to the person signing up. For example, if you use my referral code, you’ll get $77 off (with $20 going to me): http://www.mdke.org/?page_id=54

That should give you a decent head start!

7. Roderik - January 22, 2007

Coincidently I have also been looking into using a web hosting provider to backup my data. However, as Martin up there mentioned using it unencrypted is not really my optimal solution. Therefore I was looking into using duplicity: http://duplicity.nongnu.org/ . It seems to be a very good tool. Only requiring it to be run on the local computer and providing incremental encrypted backups.

I haven’t yet had the time to look into it but maybe this would interest you as well. I’d be very interested in your experiences with it. I have looked around and it seems some people are at least using it. I don’t know, however, how much it is maintained, not even if it is available from inside ubuntu.

8. Tim Kersten - January 22, 2007

You needing a backup server caught my eye… I had the same problem 3 weeks ago and came accross http://www.bluehost.com/ … They also offer 200GB of storage, but charge only $6.95 / month. It’s a once off payment of $166 and that’ll have you covered for 2 years. They run linux and give you ssh access if you provide them with identification. I’ve only had 2 weeks experience with them, so I can’t tell you if they’re good or not, but they’ve gotten some fairly positive reviews:



I don’t know if they’re genuine or not, but they look it, and it was good enough for me. So far (after 2 weeks) I’m happy.

9. pochu - January 22, 2007

Hey Carthik.

Look at this: 200GB, 2000GB data transfer, you can host 6 domains in the same package…



10. Jim - January 22, 2007

I have Dreamhost. I am not using it much (yet). I have a project (yes, it will be open-source once I get it workable) in the works. I have never had a problem with Dreamhost yet. They had some downtime issues before but it seems they have fixed most of that at this point. I never really experienced much (if any) throughout the whole ordeal. It seemed to be just a few servers here and there. I’m sure people who left because of it were just one of the rare cases, not sure. I am using the account as a backup as well, but I don’t have all that much I backup at this point. Once again, no problem. I do like that you get lots-o-space and bandwidth for very little price. Give it a try and let us know what you think.

11. Jim - January 22, 2007

REPOST: I suppose I should address at least these two…

In reponse to Martin’s post:
Oddly enough when I first signed up, I browsed the server and was able to view anyone’s accounts. Apparetnly they caught on to this security problem (or maybe I told them) cause you cannot get past someone’s username/home folder at this point. I doubt a script could either, but I will check later today.

In reponse to Casanova’s post:
I can fully understand their not allowing users to run unauthorized servers. I would ask them if it is OK to run a server process before hand. You might be supprised, they may say yes and allow you to. If not, I can fully understand their reasoning for doing so (using shared resourced, security, bandwidth, etc.). If you want to run your own server processes you most likely will have to have your own server.

12. Roy Schestowitz - January 22, 2007

Get an external HDD and cron the backups. If you have two PC’s then rsync them overnight.

My 2 cents…

13. Jason Brower (Encompass) - January 22, 2007

I can give you more space on my server…. not sure how much bandwidth my baby can handle… but she DOES handle an entire office building with no problem. The server is very reliable and build on ubuntu. It has nothing but rsync based connections. If you can help me make it more secure I will let you use the same space and you have the power to make it nice and secure. As long as you don’t choke out everyone else. 🙂 Same price per month.

14. Phi - January 22, 2007

I’ve got a personal account at dreamhost, and run two other websites for people on bluehost and servage.net respectively. They all offer about the same deal, but I’d recommended dreamhost most because of their attitude (ie. they’re Real People!). See their blog: http://blog.dreamhost.com/

Servage was picked because it includes a free .ca domain.

Bluehost was chosen because they offer PostgreSQL databases. I haven’t been as happy with bluehost support. But then again, that had more to do with the “complicated” nature of the website hosted (I wanted to set localtime on my part of the server, but apparently that’s not possible), and I haven’t really needed support from dreamhost or servage.

15. Luke - January 22, 2007

I’m a dreamhost user, and I’m basically happy with their service. They do have downtime issues every once in a while but usually they fix them within an hour or so.

Other than that they are really working great for me. I have my blog hosted there, and subversion repository for some of the stuff I’m currently working on.

16. Jeff O'Hara - January 22, 2007

I’m already a dreamhost customer & doing this. I figured I have a lot of space already that i’m not using. Why shouldn’t I support my backups this way.

17. Jeff O'Hara - January 22, 2007

Roy, problem is external hard drive is still on-site. If you don’t backup to a different site and a fire happens, your backup and original just got fed to the fire. 🙂


18. Matthew Dornquast - January 22, 2007

Give CrashPlan a try! If you do the math, it’ll take quite awhile to get 200GB back. Having the data nearby makes a lot of sense and it’s more secure than some off-site central server.

It uses less bandwidth than rsync, it’s more secure, and it’s cheaper than dream host.

Buy a USB drive, stick it off-site someplace, $20 one time fee, problem solved.


PS>We’re eager to support linux. We’re running gentoo for CrashPlan Central. Soon we’ll have agent for linux desktop/servers too.

19. Robby - January 22, 2007

Another good reason for having a backup online is that they will also make backups as well. I go through Bluehost and they make daily and weekly backups so if anything ever happens (and it has), I’m fine!

20. ajitomatix - January 23, 2007
21. Ron Sheely - January 23, 2007

I’ve been with DreamHost for two years now. They support developers well. You can install your own applications if you need something other than what’s in user/bin. I host web applications for myself, including MediaWiki, Moodle, WordPress, and some custom stuff I’m working on. I also host a number of Subversion projects. MySQL support is good. I also sub-host a few clients. The backup works well. Their customer support is excellent. I purchased the Code Monster plan. I have not yet tried the secure hosting plans.

22. Andre - January 24, 2007

When I was in grad school I used the campus mainframe as my backup server. It was free-of-charge, located in a building a mile away from the lab I worked in, and had an automated tape-backup system.

23. Mathew Newton - January 25, 2007

Does Dreamhost support running rsync as root on their machines? If not, then backing up an entire system would be difficult with rsync given it would be impossible to preserve ownership permissions on the remote machine.

It seems to me that there a loads of home users running their own 24/7 servers at home nowadays (apologies if you dont’ fit into this camp – it’s the first blog entry I’ve read of yours) and with this comes the common desire for robust backups. As mentioned above it soon occurs to many that offsite is the (only) way to go.

Hence, it strikes me that one of the best (and cheapest) solutions to all of this is to set up reciprocal backup arrangements between yourself and someone else in the same boat – even going as far as agreeing on scheduling etc to ensure the inevitable bandwidth hogging that backups bring only happen when the server is otherwise ‘unused’.

Of course, with this brings the issue of trust and privacy – but I’m sure both of these that could be mitigated by choosing your backup partner with care! Not least there is the issue of rsync running as root gives the initiating partner full visibility of the remote machine…


24. Ron Sheely - January 25, 2007

DreamHost supports rsync, though I am currently using Subversion. I find it’s helpful to save the history. BTW, is there an easy way to save history using rsync?

25. Jon Bult - January 25, 2007

I wrote a wiki article on Duplicity which handles my own backup needs. I use it for sensitive personal data which needs encryption.


I have also looked at DreamHost. I’m currently a customer of Site5.com. They have a snapshot tool that runs on their hosting servers called Flashback, which could be handy if you are using rsync.

26. Dan - January 26, 2007

Make sure to look at their TOS and AUP as usually offers that are too good to be true are. Their TOS or AUP may prevent you from using their servers for backup purposes.

27. A Debian User - January 27, 2007

I’ve used Dreamhost for over a year now; I use them for my e-mail and very meager web site. I’ve been one of the lucky ones whose server on DH hasn’t been affected by their network or data center issues. I’ve never had any significant downtime; in fact, if I’ve ever had any, it must have been while I was offline, because I can’t recall any at all.

One of the reasons I specifically chose DH was their policy for disk and bandwidth and backup usage. I e-mailed them and asked about it before I signed up, and they said it would be fine. I’ve used Duplicity ever since. I use the SSH rate limit to 150kbit/sec so it doesn’t saturate my connection. I’ve had large Duplicity backup sets run for 13 hours or more with no problems (in fact, I think the first run was more like 36-48 hours). I let them run while I sleep or while I use the computer for whatever else I feel like; I nice it down so it doesn’t affect CPU usage, and the SSH rate limit keeps it from affecting network usage.

Backupninja is great, although I elected to use a custom script for Duplicity. I have a list of directories in a text file, and the script backs up each one separately, in order. That way, instead of downloading the data for all of the backed-up files before even backing up any new data, it does it directory-by-directory. Then by putting the directories in order, it backs up the most important ones (financial, mail, etc.) before the less important ones (photos, music).

I uploaded it here in case you want to see it:


28. A Debian User - January 27, 2007


Duplicity stores date-based backups and you can restore from specific dates, just like rdiff-backup. Using SVN is nice, but it won’t encrypt the data before giving it to the server, so you’d better trust the server.

29. Craig Bell - January 27, 2007

from comment #27 ……….
“I’ve been one of the lucky ones whose server on DH hasn’t been affected by their network or data center issues. I’ve never had any significant downtime; in fact, if I’ve ever had any, it must have been while I was offline, because I can’t recall any at all.”

Ditto for us.
Have used DH for hosting & email since July ’03. Have been a very happy customer. Before DH we had nightmarish problems with bankrupt hosts and with bought-out hosts. I understand there are cheaper hosting providers, but DH provides the level of technology, value and reliability we require. As business people, they have been principled and friendly. I can confidently recommend DH without reservation.

30. Stephen - January 28, 2007

Try Amazon S3. I think the economics are much better and there’s none of that worry about bankruptcy.

Its also has a coolness to it.

31. A Debian User - January 28, 2007

Well, if paying per gigabyte is better economics, then yeah, I guess that is much better. 🙂

AFAIK, ssh/sftp bandwidth doesn’t even count against your quota with Dreamhost. (I could be wrong, but I’ve uploaded gigs and gigs of backup data, but the bandwidth usage only shows HTTP usage for my meager web sites.)

32. Ron Sheely - January 29, 2007

Hi Debian User,

Thanks for the update on SVN. I thought SVN was compiled or configured with SSL. I’ll have to check that. Nevertheless, I’ll take Duplicity for a spin, though I was considering doing so after reading the wiki article at https://help.ubuntu.com/community/DuplicityBackupHowto.

33. nik riviera - January 29, 2007

i’d love to get offsite backups going, and dreamhost seems rediculously good value. anyone have any tips for automated backups to a dreamhost server from one or more macs? i know how to design pretty things, but this sort of stuff is way over my head, so be gentle 😉

34. A Debian User - January 31, 2007


You can most likely use Duplicity on Macs since Duplicity just needs Python and rsync, and I’m sure those work fine on Macs. You might even be able to get Backupninja running on a Mac with a little work.

35. Sean Wilson - February 2, 2007

Dreamhost is a good value, and is pretty well set up. However, they are slow to upgrade versions of PHP and other tools. I also got frustrated with downtime on the MySQL databases which always seemed to happen when I needed it to be working so I could test apps. For storage, they ought to be fine.

However, I chose to move away from them. I had even sent a few clients to them, but no more.

36. Online backup « technonerd.wordpress.com - February 4, 2007
37. J Wynia - February 8, 2007

I’ve been using Dreamhost as a backup primary because of the SVN integration. I’m also using it as a private “Sourceforge” for managing software projects. It’s the cheapest SVN and project hosting I’ve come up with and doesn’t have licensing restrictions (I can host my open source projects as well as my private projects for clients).

38. markus - February 11, 2007

I have been with Dreamhost for over a year now, and just recently paid for the next 2 years there, as I am confident they will continue to offer the same support and service as they have already.

I collect bootlegs (live music) in FLAC format, and everything resides on their server, approximately 70GB so far (which, by the way, is roughly 30% of my allowed 222GB – yes, they increase the disk space every week). I have never, ever yet had any problems with bandwidth and disk space, but again, my sites aren’t that big.

What I like about dreamhost mostly is their friendly and helpful appearance towards customers, and their nice features I haven’t been able to find elsewhere, which include svn repositories, ssh access, ability to install almost everything on your account, etc. etc. I won’t be switching in the near future. 🙂

39. dordal - February 20, 2007

If you’re just doing backup, and not web hostings, etc. , you might try one of the dedicated rsync backup providers like http://www.exavault.com/

You don’t have worry about them going under, the TOS & AUP are designed for backup, and they provide instructions and support for rsync and linux.

Of course, on the downside is that they are a bit more expensive, but I’ve never figured out how Dreamhost can make any money anyway

40. Jason - February 26, 2007

Well…. Fires are allways unexpected, you would never “dream” it would happen to dreamhost.com

41. Wordpress 2.2 & Dreamhost at live@haliluya - May 17, 2007

[…] 进入DH的后台很慢,但没给我404,等待一会,升级成功。不过紧接着我就看到了又一篇Dreamhost Suck的文章。最近我看到好几篇了。同文章头几个被称为Dreamhost fanboys的留言者一样,我也认为DH速度一点都不快,但也没有时时刻刻折磨我的忍受力。不过,这万一。尽管我们这台服务器还没出过大事,但出事怎么办呢?好像是赌运气,而不是放心地买服务。像Ubuntu Blog的这篇文章最后讲到不敢信任DH,我现在也多少有些不信任了,开始怀疑当初推荐Zeal租DH是否正确(也许,我当初看到的都是Dreamhost fanboys的留言:))。 […]

42. Dainius - July 9, 2007

Dreamhost code to get 97 USd discount:


this is maximum discount!

43. Foliovision - November 20, 2007

Did Crashplan ever get sorted to work with Dreamhost?

44. Alex Brown - February 15, 2008

I just got a note from DreamHost that their Terms of Service (TOS) does NOT allow backups. They are offering to allow me to continue to hold backups there, but then all the disk space used on my account will be subject to a $0.20 per month, per gig charge.

I think I will probably wind up paying the fee, because I am relatively happy with DreamHost, and because I cannot find an off-site backup solution for less than $20/month for 100 GB.

45. Mike - February 24, 2008

Dreamhost has hacked their own customers and denied them access to their files. Also it goes against their TOS.

You really lose if you go with dreamhost.

46. Mat - September 5, 2008

Dreamhost cannot be primary used as backup service:

http://www.dreamhost.com/tos.html state:

The customer agrees to make use of DreamHost Web Hosting servers
primarily for the purpose of hosting a website, and associated email
functions. Data uploaded must be primarily for this purpose; DreamHost
Web Hosting servers are not intended as a data backup or archiving
service. DreamHost Web Hosting reserves the right to negotiate
additional charges with the Customer and/or the discontinuation
of the backups/archives at their discretion.

So basically the way the make money is as following. If you they do make money with you, all is fine. If you use what you have been offered they give you two choices:
1. Cancel account
2. Pay for “extra” service which is 0.20 USD/GB per month.

Any recommendation for another service which offers about 100GB space for a reasonable price?


47. Christoph Dollis - September 15, 2008

Mat, Dreamhost JUST started offering 50GB of bona fide data backup for free with additional GB only $0.10 each. It’s a great value.


I found the upload speeds very slow. My ISP gives me 1MB/second uploads and DreamHost was doing less than a 10th of that. So that didn’t work.

iDrive, however, is awesome. The software works well. More importantly, my upload speeds are almost 1MB/second, and you can buy 150GB of online storage space for $49.95 USD/year, or $4.95 a month, your choice.

Highly recommended.

48. sikiş izle - September 26, 2010

I had Dreamhost, but gave them up because of their frequent downtimes. However, for your purposes, downtime isn’t the worst thing for the costs savings you are getting. I hope you have better luck that I ended up having.

49. antalya ilaçlama - September 27, 2010

I found the upload speeds very slow. My ISP gives me 1MB/second uploads and DreamHost was doing less than a 10th of that. So that didn’t work.

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Look at this: 200GB, 2000GB data transfer, you can host 6 domains in the same package…

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It seems to me that there a loads of home users running their own 24/7 servers at home nowadays (apologies if you dont’ fit into this camp – it’s the first blog entry I’ve read of yours) and with this comes the common desire for robust backups. As mentioned above it soon occurs to many that offsite is the (only) way to go.

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55. dhruvpatel - June 9, 2013

I think more or less data losses occurs on every web hosts. DreamHost is not the only one. We don’t keep only one copy of backup. You have to have 2 different copies of backup at the same time on different places.

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