Great hosting (almost) for free at DreamHost: a guide to saving money with DreamHost

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Looking for the $50 DreamHost promo code? Here it is: DHPROMOGUIDE50

Click here to sign up with this $50-off coupon now!

That's $50 off (maximum discount possible) Dreamhost's 500 GB disk space, 5 TB monthly transfer, $5.95/month plan.

DreamHost is a great hosting service. They will give you plenty of disk space, more bandwidth than you'll ever need, shell access on a well maintained Debian machine, all the tools you want, etc. More details are available in the review of DreamHost below.

I am extremely happy with them. And it's even cheap. You can host an unlimited number of domains there for less than $10/month.

In addition, you can actually reduce this bill significantly by using their rewards system. You could even earn money if you did it right. This document explains how to do this step by step.

Summary for the impatient

This guide is targeted to people who are looking into hosting their site on DreamHost (read from step 1 below), but also to those who already use DreamHost (if so, go directly to step 2).

  1. If you do not use Dreamhost yet, open a DreamHost account: you will have 97 days to decide that you don't like it and get your money back.

    Use the DHPROMOGUIDE50 DreamHost promo code: it gives you the maximum allowed discount (see details below): $50. That will give you a year of hosting for less than $12, and that includes a free domain registration. It's hard to find a cheaper solution!

    The form should actually be filled automatically if you followed the link just above. If this is not the case, here is how to enter the promo code when filling on the signup form; you have to enter the code (DHPROMOGUIDE50) in the Promo Code field under Finally...:

  2. Once you are a DreamHost customer, create a DreamHost promo code (see how to create promo codes below).
  3. Tell your friends about your promo code.
  4. Enjoy your great hosting service, and get discounts.

Why use DreamHost? It's a great hosting service

Quite frankly, DreamHost is great. I recorded my first impression on my blog back in March 2006, and then raved about little things that I discovered since then (like their automatic backup), and I am still extremely happy with their service. Regardless of any reward plan, I highly recommend them.

Once you have opened an account with them, the lowest plan gives you 500GB (yes, that's not a typo, and it increases every week) and 5TB of bandwidth per month to host as many domains as you want.

Your site will be on a shared server with other sites, running Apache. With the .htaccess, you'll be able to control pretty much everything, and you get extra control (e.g. FastCGI) from the administration console. I believe that they have Windows-based options too.

Of course, PHP and mySQL are available, and there are even 1-click installs on your domain of WordPress, MediaWiki, Gallery, phpBB Forum, ZenCart Store, etc.

You can create as many FTP/sFTP accounts as you like, as many shell accounts as you like, as many email addresses as you like, etc. If you are a Unix geek, you'll be delighted to be able to do whatever you want (use the crontab, filter your mail with Procmail, etc.) from a shell, and if you are not and just wants something which works, you will be able to use a Web interface (the control panel) to control your Web and email settings, as well as other services (e.g. a Jabber server) that you would want to install.

They also have a wiki with great documentation and tips.

As I see it, for personal domain hosting, being a DreamHost customer solves all your needs with the most basic plann. If you're a company, you might have to use a higher plan, but it looks like you can find a workable solution too.

Their Web site has all the information about their plan, and it's impressive.

The rewards system at DreamHost

This section explains the DreamHost rewards system. This is here for background reading purposes, and you may want to jump directly to the part about creating promo codes.

DreamHost gives you a way to reduce your already small hosting bills using rewards.

97: DreamHost's magic number

97 is DreamHost's magic number. As mentioned above, when you sign up, you have 97 days to decide that you don't like it and get your money back.

It is also the amount ($97) that you're given as a reward for referring people.

Direct and inderect referrals

You can get money based on 2 types of referrals:

Options for getting money from referring people

You can either get money in one-time payments: $97 for direct referrals, and $5 for indirect ones:

One-time rewards

Or you can get a percentage of the money that people your refer spend: 10% for direct referrals, and 5% for indirect ones:

Recurring rewards

The images above are taken from DreamHost's Web site.

Creating promo codes

In reality, people use coupons when they sign up with DreamHost. It works as follows: you have $97 that you'll get as a reward. You're allowed to create coupons with the discount you want, and you'll be sharing the $97 with the person you're referring.

So if you create a coupon for $20 off, the person using the coupon will get $20 off their bill when they sign up, and the person creating the coupon will get 97-20 = $77 as credit towards their next bill. The referree becomes a direct referral and will give you indirect referral revenues too.

Strategy for promo codes

Now that I have exposed the theory, how should you use this feature?

It turns out that, as expected, everybody came up with their own promo code, and you can find promo codes for $50 on the Web easily. Therefore, although it may look like creating a $20 off coupon will save you a lot of money, it's likely not to be as rewarding as a $50 one in the long run.

Basically, people are giving up their direct referral reward, and hoping to get indirect referral money. And this is probably the best that they can do, as there are plenty of $50 coupons around there, and looking on the Web gives you a good discount.

So the bottom line for getting the cheapest possible hosting solution with DreamHost is the following:

Sign up with a $50 promo code: DHPROMOGUIDE50

Go to the sign up page.

$50 is the maximum discount you'll get. Below are the details for the DHPROMOGUIDE50 created in March 2008. It shows that, for each possible plan, it gives you the maximum discount that DreamHost allows one to give in a coupon:

Payment Period Cost Max Discount This Code's Discount
Monthly $60.90 $50.00 $50.00
Yearly $119.40 $50.00 $50.00
Two years $214.80 $50.00 $50.00
Three years $286.20 $50.00 $50.00
Five years $417.00 $50.00 $50.00
Ten years $714.00 $50.00 $50.00

If you find this document useful and want to thank me, please use this code. Below is what you should do on the signup page:


How did you first hear about us? (optional)
Promo Code or email of who referred you: (optional)
(Important: Using a promo code waives the right to say who referred you.
You may not change/submit a promo code or referrer after you've finished signing up.)

Otherwise, you will find others on the Web. I compiled a list of the best DreamHost promo codes on the Web.

Create a promo code

Once you've signed up and your domain is up and running, create a coupon of your own. In order to do so, go to the administration panel, go to Home / Rewards, and click on Create a new DreamHost promo code now!.

As mentioned, I advise you to create $50 coupons, but essentially, you'll need to fill a form just like the one I showed for DHPROMOGUIDE50 indicating which discounts you are willing to give people:

Screenshot: creating a promo code

Advertise it, and advise the people you referred to create promo codes too. If you use one of the promo codes on this page, I'll be happy to list yours here if you drop me an email with the details of your promo code.

What happened to all those $97 promo codes?

DreamHost, until the beginning of 2008, was allowing users to create promo codes worth $97. That was giving new customers their first year pretty much for free. The promo code (which is still active) for this was DHPROMOGUIDE97.

DreamHost however since changed their policy to allowing only a maximum of $50 cash back, hence the new coupon: DHPROMOGUIDE50.

You can still use DHPROMOGUIDE97 if you wish, but it will only give you $50 back nowadays. So it basically now is equivalent to using DHPROMOGUIDE50.

About this document

If you find this document useful, please use the DHPROMOGUIDE50 promo code when you sign up.

Hugo Haas