Big Web Host: Please Use Gmail for Email

DreamHost, one of the largest shared hosting specialists in the United States, is encouraging its customers to use Google’s Gmail for their e-mail, rather than the DreamHost mail servers. DreamHost is continuing to support all its existing e-mail offerings, but in a blog post last Friday, co-founder Josh Jones outlined some of the reasons why the company is nudging its customers towards Gmail:

Just over HALF of all the support requests we get are about email. Everything else we offer, combined, doesn’t add up to the amount of trouble, expense, use, and effort that goes into “simple” old email. And that’s kind of funny, because as far as I can tell, almost nobody CHOOSES a web host based on their email features. Everybody’s just looking at how much disk/bandwidth they get, what version of PHP they run, how good their support is, do they have a funny blog, is their CEO really studly, do the data centers have water beds, and so on …

Along the way, Jones addresses a question that has vexed many web hosting companies: is Google a useful partner, or a competitor that intends to make “traditional” web hosting companies obsolete?

DreamHost has clearly concluded that partnering with Google offers a way for the company to offload many of its most “annoying” trouble tickets, reducing the overhead for its hosting support staff. More from Jones:

It’s just not something people are looking for from us, and it’s something the big free email providers like Yahoo, Microsoft, and Google can do better. In fact, as you’ve maybe already seen, we recently made it very easy to use Gmail for all your email hosting with us, still at your own domain!

Will other large hosts follow DreamHost’s lead? Will Microsoft-centric hosts begin outsourcing email service to Windows Live Hotmail? This is a trend with interesting implications for the relationships between hosting companies and the leading cloud-builders, as well as the hosting companies and their customers.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.


  1. Doug Hill

    As a Dreamhost customer, I think the CEO's blog post is a pile of horsesh*t. It's arrogant and insulting for him to claim that webhost clients don't want email, when in fact many of the reasons to use a hosting service is PRECISELY for the email. If we wanted to use Gmail, we could have taken the easy route and done it already, rather than dealing with the hassle of administering a lot of it ourselves. We have business and personal reasons for using a service that doesn't store, index and serve ads based on our private emails. We just don't want Google doing those things with such an important part of our lives. If Dreamhost wants to get out of the email business, then I want to get out of the Dreamhost customer business.

  2. Peter

    Well, they still run email on the same server as the hosting server. Something we separated to independent servers many years ago. And our email issues are about 10% of all tickets. In my opinion, a large web host doing that admits incompetence. Email is *THE* most important features customers need. Admitting that you'd rather customers go somewhere else for that makes you wonder how capable they are... well seeing their status blog actually confirms how capable they are.

  3. Noah A.

    If you would have read the actual article, it's clear they *are* moving their email and hosting services to different machines. I've been with DH for years, and have recommended them time and again. I also work in IT at a prestigious university with Nobel award-winning scholars. They don't "get" email, either. Looking at our Help Desk ticket system, email-related tickets probably comprise 20-25% of volume, once you remove things like service initiation requests. Non-web-based email, still, is beyond the abstract-thinking skills of too many people. Web-based mail uses a clicky-clicky paradigm that people understand, and abstracts the mechanics that get exposed when you have to figure out IMAP or POP, TLS/SSL or Kerberos, SMTP, port 25, what the incoming hostname is, what the outgoing hostname is, etc.

  4. I've been a dreamhost customer for years. Over the last two, they've gotten a lot worse. No wonder. You can oversell 20 or 40 GB and get away with it. But not 400 GB. They have screwed up on: billing (year's billing took two months to correct and refund - "a mistake"), hardly an apology in sight hosting (shut down my accounts due to an error on their part) email (not worth mentioning) This is just arrogant offloading. Slacker fools, letting their reputation go down the drain. Now we are a design and marketing company, specialising in Wordpress, so we keep Dreamhost around just for testing weird stuff as they do tend to install the latest and greatest toys (SVN, Ruby on Rails, PHP5) earlier than other hosts (who are presumably too busy taking care of client sites to risk experimenting with the cutting edge gear). We wouldn't even run an inhouse site on Dreamhost, let alone a client site. So slow and hopelessly oversold. (For the curious, for our top tier sites, we only use Cartika Web Hosting. Instant service, near 100% reliability.)

  5. avi carmi

    I'll second Cartika web hosting. I moved our site to/from several hosts, till I settled on Cartika. They are the best so far. Not the cheapest, but the best, period. (I've owned a small web hosting company, and I can appreciate the quality of both hosting and service I get from Cartika) -avi

  6. Sam

    I'm glad their CEO took the time to fire off a blog entry more suited for a teenage Myspace entry... It made it easy to cross Dreamhost off my list of potential hosting services.

  7. I have to say i've been with all the big hosting companies over the years --- Dreamhost, Bluehost, Ipower, etc.. I finally found a HOME in Hostgator ( I have a reseller server account with them, and a dedicated server. Both servers offer great performance, AND, LO AND BEHOLD, they offer GREAT e-mail services and do a good job at combating spam, without outsourcing to google(spy)mail. This probably sounds like a giant advertisement disguised as a comment, but I don't really get passionate about too many services I buy/subscribe to. It's hard to find a good mechanic, a good landscaper, etc, and it's equally hard to find a good hosting provider, so I brag about it every chance I get

  8. I find it hard to believe that they are recomending you use someone elses email. While I've never loved the email service from most shared hosts - its good enough to use for me. And the email service we get with mosso - works pretty well for the most part. I never have had any issues with it.