A Legit DreamHost Review: Pros, Cons and Purpose?

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Rating
4.8/5
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$2.59/mo
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Rating
4.8/5

Contents

DreamHost is a lesser-known web hosting provider compared to the mega giants of GoDaddy and HostGator. With that in mind, it’s surprising to know that the founding of DreamHost was back in 1997.

The four founders are Dallas Kashuba, Josh Jones, Michael Rodriguez, and Sage Weil. They all formed the idea inside of a dorm room within Harvey Mudd College. Back then, they said they were looking to create “web hosting with a purpose.”

DreamHost Early Days
Dallas Kashuba, Josh Jones, Michael Rodriguez, and Sage Weil

DreamHost manages to be one of the few old-school hosting providers that do not feel old. However, the different advertising styles and exposure methods have made this web host better known among web admins and designers.

With their 20-year anniversary passing in 2017, they’ve grown from a measly single server to over 400 thousand customers. Through this time, they’ve hosted over 1.5 million websites with over 750 thousand WordPress installations.

They also have a core values section that includes an image of Abraham Lincoln next to “Practice Shameless Honesty.” But does this office that likes to work hard and play hard actually translate to a good customer experience?

Let’s dig into the details in this review of DreamHost.

Is DreamHost Any Good?

Looking at the overall picture, DreamHost offers quality services to all potential customers. DreamHost web hosting is suitable for these people:

Would Recommend if…

If you are a small-time website owner with some tech experience, DreamHost is easy to use but not more accessible than some other hosts. DreamHost is fast and simple as a WordPress hosting provider. DreamHost provides above-average loading speeds and excellent state-side customer service.

I wouldn’t Recommend if…

DreamHost isn’t for people who work non-standard hours. Their lack of telephone support and limited time scope for that support make them less reliable for those who work internationally.

Pros and Cons of DreamHost

Below is our list of pros and cons for why you should consider DreamHost.

Pro's Con's
Very Fast No Free Trial
Unlimited Bandwidth No Phone Support
SSD Storage No Dedicated IP’s
Free Email Accounts No Windows Servers
100% Uptime Guarantee Live Chat Limited To Sales Team
97 Day Money-Back Guarantee Recent Data Breach (July 2021)
Cloud Storage Available Email Not Included With Lowest Plan
Free Domain Name With Annual Plans Confusing Pricing Structure
Great Disk Space for Shared Plans
Great Flexibility for Server Managers
24/7 Live Chat Support
Free SSL Certificate
Automatic Daily Site Backups
Staging Area

Pros

First, let’s take a look at what makes DreamHost a site worth going to.

97 Day Money-Back Guarantee

If you look at the standard DreamHost offer, you’ll find one of the weirdest money-back guarantees available. At 97 days, they outperform most other web hosts by leaps and bounds.

As a small business, you know it takes time to test out the quality of a web host. This extended period of potential refunds is a testament to DreamHost’s ample confidence.

Support for Website Building Through BoldGrid

For those familiar with website builders, BoldGrid is one of the more popular ones to use with WordPress. Given DreamHost’s WordPress-specific hosting, DreamPress, they’ve got ample support for many customization options.

Many of their WordPress offerings also come with a JetPack professional plan. JetPack is one of WordPress’s most popular security, backup, speed, and growth providers. JetPack is also known to provide some excellent design tools.

Unlimited Bandwidth

Many hosting providers use the word “unmetered” to describe “unlimited.” Thankfully, DreamHost shared hosting plans are solid for unlimited bandwidth.

Unmetered bandwidth refers to web hosts who do not track your bandwidth to charge you for the millage. Unlimited bandwidth refers to it being untracked and without any limitations. So if your shared hosting website gets a lot of traffic, you are less likely to have your site down.

Great Disc Space for Shared Hosting Plans

Another way that most shared hosting providers push you into the higher tiers is by offering limited storage. While it isn’t heavily advertised, even the simple shared hosting plan offers 50GB worth of storage.

Other web hosts typically limit the lower tiers to 10GB or 20GB. SiteGround, for example, is notorious for having great servers with bare-bones disc storage.

SSD and HHD Storage

DreamHost’s dedicated servers and shared hosting servers have support for both HHD and SSD storage. The flexibility isn’t so great for people who demand high server speeds and get stuck with a regular hard drive.

Solid State Drives (SSD) are much faster than HHDs. This is because HHDs need to spin using the classic disc drive format. This makes HHDs far slower than SSDs when accessing information.

Granted, modern solutions have enabled HHDs to have much higher RPMs (Revolutions Per Minute). The faster you spin, the quicker you get to that data.

Free Email Accounts

You can have free unlimited emails at your domain for those willing to pay for the shared unlimited plan. The shared unlimited plan in the second tier up, costing about $3.95 monthly if you pay for three years upfront.

The only real problem with this comes from those at the bottom tier. We’ll revisit this issue in the cons section.

Great Flexibility for Server Managers

In their later tier purchases, you’ll find that they support unmanaged VPS. You can do these unmanaged Virtual Private Servers (VPS) in almost any popular Linux system.

While the standard DreamHost servers use the popular Ubuntu and Debian servers, DreamHost enables people to choose their own. It is as if you get the features of a bare metal server without paying for the extra bandwidth.

This means if you have a picky server manager that only likes one LinuxOS, that particular manager gets their wish. You just need to be willing to pay for VPS to get it.

Cons

Of course, not everything about DreamHost is a dream. Let’s see what issues this provider has that can potentially be a nightmare:

No Free Trial for The Website Builder

Like most hosting providers, DreamHost’s version of a free trial is a money-back guarantee. For discerning customers of limited budgets, this means you’ll have to put a bit of cash down to get anything out of this platform.

While this isn’t a problem when accessing the control panel, you need to go elsewhere if you want a free test of the website builder.

BoldGrid is a popular third-party website builder you can access here. However, you won’t be able to test out their expanded them list using JetPack Professional.

No Telephone Support & Limited Live Chat Support

Despite DreamHost’s excellent customer support, all of their hosting plans are limited to chat functions. For people who prefer the tactile sensation of telephone support, this might be a deal-breaker.

If that wasn’t annoying by itself, DreamHost also has limited customer service times from 3 AM to 9:30 PM PT (Pacific Time). Their “24/7” allowance is limited to email access.

While this might feel like nitpicking, access to customer support is incredibly important when solving particular tech issues. So anyone awake during the hours they aren’t available immediately receives almost no customer support.

No Windows Servers

Regardless of what hosting plan you choose, DreamHost has no support for any Windows Servers. Even on their unmanaged VPS servers, you cannot install a non-Linux operating system.

While Windows Servers make up a small portion of the population, it does weaken the DreamHost offer. With 1.5 million websites under its belt, it’s hard to believe that DreamHost wouldn’t have some Windows servers in the backlog.

No Dedicated IPs

Another unusual feature that DreamHost lacks is the lack of dedicated IPs from its hosting service. This is a bit strange, as almost all other major web hosting providers have dedicated IPs to some extent.

This is part of why we mentioned that DreamHost is a hosting service less suitable for larger companies.

A dedicated IP enables larger companies to access their domain when web admins cannot access domain names.

DreamHost justifies this decision by indicating that there are a limited number of IP addresses available. Also, with the popularity of IPv6, there is no need for you to have an IP address.

However, Dedicated IP addresses are necessary to help more prominent businesses access information when the domain name is inactive. This can be important for those businesses that require large amounts of data to run their business.

Dedicated IP addresses are also faster, but that’s likely because of the access to dedicated servers.

No Email Address with the Shared Starter Plan

The beginner-level DreamHost hosting plan, otherwise known as the Shared Start Plan, does not come with a free email address. Other web providers usually include this as part of their first offers.

This weakens the initial DreamHost offer quite a bit, making it more suitable for starting businesses to invest in the next level. However, most email addresses only cost a couple of bucks a month, so this is a minor setback.

DreamHost Performance

Our first goal is to test a medium-sized site if the server resources provide great speed. Speed and reliability are crucial when choosing the right host, so we’ve run three separate speed tests to check this out.

First, we confirmed a small business that used DreamHost hosting. Next, we plugged them into three different providers:

We start with Web.dev:

DreamHost WebDev Speed Test

Our first speed test was through Web.dev, which characteristically has been harsh on other web hosts. This practice is no different from our latest test, but it is slightly better with a speed index of 2.8 seconds.

GTMetrix testing also revealed a similar page speed of 2.5 seconds:

DreamHost GTMetrix Speed Test

The last speed test was the most impressive. Pingdom shows Dreamhost able to load a 1 MB website in under one second (983 ms).

The average between the three shows a page speed loading time of around two seconds (2.03 to be exact). This makes DreamHost one of the fastest servers available on the market today.

Does DreamHost Have an Uptime Guarantee?

DreamHost is one of the few providers that has a 100% uptime guarantee. This information comes from their Terms of Service, meaning that this guarantee is legally binding.

Web Host Uptime Guarantee
WPX Hosting 100%
Kinsta 100%
Cloudways 100%
DreamHost 100%
Flywheel 99.99%
A2 Hosting 99.99%
WP Engine 99.99%
GreenGeeks 99.98%
BlueHost No Uptime Guarantee
HostGator 99.98%
SiteGround 99.97%
GoDaddy 99.96%
iPage 99.96%
Hostinger 99.95%
InMotion 99.95%
HostPapa 99.95%

Other web hosts make similar 99.9% guarantees. Still, they don’t immediately state their willingness to provide customer compensation for a maximum of 10% of your next pre-paid hosting renewal for each hour being down.

This is much better than other providers but also encourages people to make renewals in bulk. A site outage is not the same as DreamHost’s servers going down for maintenance.

DreamHost Security Features

DreamHost Security Features

DreamHost isn’t known for having an entirely clean security record. A Forbes report indicated that there was a leak of 815 million record databases on website owners.

The data leak was in June of 2021, not even a year ago when writing this. While DreamHost said the data only contained performance metrics, Jeremiah Fowler (an independent cybersecurity researcher) said otherwise.

Regardless of some sorted history, DreamHost still has some solid security offerings:

Free SSL Certificates Through Let’s Encrypt & HTTP/2

We’ve mentioned Let’s Encrypt as being a powerful security company associated with SiteGround. Let’s Encrypt enables websites to have a Secure Socket Layer (SSL ) or Transport Layer Security (TLS) certificates.

DreamHost’s willingness to work alongside top security providers is a good sign. All DreamHost and DreamPress plans include a free SSL certificate.

Malware Remover (DreamShield)

DreamHost’s malware scanning and removal service, now known as DreamShield, is part of a different cost. The service automatically scans your website every week, and you are notified via email if any issues are found.

You can add the malware remover directly from your DreamHost dashboard. It costs $3 a month or $29.99 a year.

Free Domain Privacy

Domain privacy features are also included free as part of all plans. This prevents your site from being added to unwanted email lists.

By shielding your contact information, you can avoid email spam and phishing attempts. Other providers typically include this extra, but it doesn’t usually cost more than a few dollars per month.

ModSecurity & LUA-Resty-Waf

ModSecurity is an industry-standard web application firewall for Apache. This firewall might be industry standard but is packed with the potential for custom rules and patches, which can be helpful for the right security group.

The same is said for lua-resty-waf, which is for NGinx and built on OpenResty. Both are open-source platforms that you could download if you want.

Choosing open source platforms is very much in line with DreamHost’s core values. You can download both of these web application firewalls yourself but need to customize them to get any use out of them.

Open source code typically means higher quality because it is under constant scrutiny from fellow developers.

Does DreamHost Have Good Customer Support?

DreamHost Customer Support Hours

From the image above, you can tell that they don’t offer 24/7 live chat support. However, DreamHost offers 24/7 sales help. This can be an issue if you are a newbie needing technical support during a non-standard time.

DreamHost Live Chat Agent

DreamHost is also one of the few web hosts that do not provide telephone support. Thankfully, the chatbot in the bottom-right-hand corner of every screen connects you to a human pretty quickly.

However, I found myself getting bumped from the chat after hitting the back button with a bit too much eagerness. Therein lays the importance of a dedicated live chat window.

It took me a couple of minutes to connect with a member of their support team the first time. The second time, I was instructed to leave behind a chat message:

Dreambot Gif Feature

After enough time waiting, I also found out that you could do GIFs.

With a wait of above five minutes, I was finally able to get Sergio on the line. Sergio was kind and not pushy, leaving behind a suggestion for their shared hosting plan.

Live Chat Agent with DreamHost

When you become a DreamHost customer, this is how the chat looks on the backend. You’re able to create a specific support ticket and an agent will get back to you during regular business hours. I really like how you’re able to attach files and even request a callback.

DreamHost Customer Support Dashboard View

While Sergio was informative, which is better than some sales-heavy interactions I’ve had with hosts, we can’t limit the overall experience to just mine. Here’s what I uncovered after skimming through one DreamHost review at a time from current (and past) customers.

The DreamHost Customer Experience – Trustpilot Reviews

Trustpilot can be rough on some web hosts, but DreamHost appears to be a significant exception. Out of two thousand ratings, over 80% of them result in a positive customer experience. By comparison, only 5% of reviews are at one star.

Let’s check out some of the less common negative experiences first:

“The worst hosting I ever saw. Why? About a month ago I was choosing a host for my WordPress site… on their site it said ‘Our hosting is uncrashable.’ I trusted and buy and setted up my site. Today I tried to open my site and nothing. Error: Connection refused. When I tried to login to os it told me that it can’t find user with my email. I make request to support… I need to touch thousand buttons before having opportunity to ask real person. Now it took almost hour, my problem is still not fixed.

Андрій Грушецький, 1 Star Review

The user from the Ukraine expressed frustration over needing to jump through hoops to get to a human during live chat. They also shared an immediate error related to an email address issue.

You’ll find that most of the lower reviews come from their international customers. Here is an average experience example:

“Great service but poor availability of live customer service. They have a great service, good downtime, good pricing and very helpful live customer service…when you finally reach them… the issue is their live customer service isn’t available 24/7 (they are only open 5:30AM – 9:30PM Pacific Time) and their email support times are atrocious (about 24hrs or more). This especially becomes a problem when your site is down when their live support isn’t available.”

Lao Tan, 3 Star Review

Customer experience is excellent when it is available. If you live in the US, those times are most suited to you. But international customers typically struggle with these limitations, as their offices are based in Los Angeles.

Those who live in a more fitting region typically have nice things to say:

“I have been with Dreamhost for over 13 years. They have always been so flexible and helpful especially during these difficult times. I reached out to customer service and not only heard back promptly but received the solution that I was looking for. Sergio couldn’t have been more pleasant or helpful.”

Timot McGonagle, 5 Star Review

Compared to other providers, DreamHost has a much more positive interaction with their customers. As a result, you won’t see DreamHost’s customer service agents lurking around the Trustpilot review page.

Is DreamHost Easy To Use?

Dreamhost cPanel
DreamHost Control Panel

DreamHost’s control panel provides some of the best practice examples you can get regarding management. From the image above, you can see that most everything is on the left half of your page:

  • Home
  • Domains
  • WordPress
  • FTP & SSH Users
  • Billing & Account Information
  • Support

The navigation bar also contains options to add additional products. Compared to other website providers like HostGator or A2 Hosting, it can feel like you have to get through a series of advertisements before getting where you want.

The center screen typically lets you log in via WordPress, register your domain, and manage your files. You can also manage your MySQL database if you manage accounts on your hosting service.

DreamHost also has something in common with SiteGround, offering access to BoldGrid, a popular WordPress website builder.

Is DreamHost’s Website Builder Easy To Use? (BoldGrid)

BoldGrid Website Builder
BoldGrid Website Builder

DreamHost is unique in that it provides 200 WordPress themes alongside its drag-and-drop website builder. So while DreamHost doesn’t offer access to its dashboard for free, you can get an idea of how WordPress or BoldGrid works by logging in.

With BoldGrid integration, you can quickly perform site staging. Thankfully, DreamHost also supports site staging from their platform.

In an attempt to be a one-stop-shop, DreamHost also offers professional website builder services. We will discuss the cost of those services below.

DreamHost Pricing & Plans

Almost all DreamHost plans offer an insanely generous 97-day money-back guarantee. However, this refund policy does not apply to their optional services (like the malware blocker).

All services below include free domains, SSLs, and access to their website builder.

DreamHost Shared Hosting Plans

DreamHost Shared Hosting Plans

Like many hosting providers, DreamHost has a great starting point for those wanting to use their services. For shared hosting, they offer two main plans:

  • The Shared Starter Plan – Initial pricing of $2.59 /mo if you pay for three years upfront. $4.95 /mo if you pay monthly.
  • The Shared Unlimited Plan – $3.95 /mo for three years. $8.95 monthly. $2.95 /mo if you pay for a year.

Both plans include at least one website, a free domain, unlimited traffic, preinstalled WordPress automated WordPress migration, a website builder, and a free SSL certificate.

The shared unlimited plan offers unlimited websites. Site storage for both shared plans is 50GB, which is a pretty generous amount of storage.

DreamPress: DreamHost Managed WordPress Hosting

DreamPress Hosting Plans

For those who have nearly 100 thousand visitors, DreamHost recommends its Managed WordPress Hosting plans. Those are broken down into three categories:

  • DreamPress Basic: $16.95 /mo if you pay one year in advance or $19.95 monthly.
  • DreamPress Plus: $24.95 /mo for one year or $29.95 monthly.
  • DreamPress Pro: $71.95 /mo for one year or $79 monthly.

You can receive promotional pricing for the first three months if you choose monthly options.

These plans are divided by the number of visitors, with 100, 300 thousand, and one million visits. They also provide 30, 60, and 120GB of SSD storage, respectively. They all include features listed above alongside these listed below:

  • The plus and pro plans have an unlimited content delivery network (CDN) for faster loading.
  • All include The WordPress Jetpack Plan (which is where the 200+ themes come from). Only the Plus and Pro plans have the JetPack Professional Plan.
  • All include automatic daily backups.
  • One-click restore options
  • Free domain privacy, email accounts, and a custom control panel

You’ll also find that managed WordPress hosting falls under their WooCommerce hosting plans.

DreamHost VPS Hosting Plans

DreamHost VPS Pricing

DreamHost Also offers VPS hosting plans, which are great for expansion once you exceed the shared hosting plans. VPS plans come in four forms:

  • VPS Basic: $10/mo for three years upfront. $15 monthly
  • VPS Business: $20/mo for three years upfront. $30 monthly
  • VPS Professional: $40/mo for three years upfront. $60 monthly
  • VPS Enterprise: $80/mo for three years upfront. $90 monthly

SSD Storage doubles from 30, 60, 120, and 240GB of disc space. RAM goes from 1, 2, 4, and 8GB. All plans include unlimited email and free SSL certificates for unlimited websites and traffic.

These are all for managed servers. Their unmanaged VPS servers are through their service known as DreamCompute. The open option supports the installation of multiple Linux platforms. These include MongoDB, Redis, node.js, ruby, and python.

Unmanaged VPS Server Dreamhost

The “choose your own operating system” approach is an excellent way to give users control over their systems. This enables excellent domain transfer potential ranging from $12 to $48 monthly.

They also support VPS WordPress hosting plans that fall under the exact pricing as their standard VPS servers.

DreamHost Dedicated Server Hosting Plans

DreamHost Dedicated Server Pricing

DreamHost’s dedicated hosting plans come in two primary forms:

  • Standard: Varies from $149 to $249 depending on yearly/monthly and speed of your desired plan
  • Enhanced: Varies from $279 to $399 depending on yearly/monthly and speed/storage of program.

The standard plan comes with 4 to 16GB of RAM, a 1TB HHD, root access, MySQL support, Unbuntu, and DDoS Protection.

The enhanced plan has similar aspects to the standard plan, only they start at 2GB of HHD space and have an optional 240 GB SSD. Ram speeds vary from 16GB to 64GB.

Depending on how much you are willing to pay, you can get Intel Xeon 4-Core 8-Thread or 12-Core 24-Thread. Technical terms aside, these are high-speed servers that support both VPS and dedicated servers alike.

Depending on your preferred type of hosting and whether you want speed will determine what you select. Despite offering dedicated servers, DreamHost does not offer dedicated IPs. This can be an issue if you are sending large volumes of data.

DreamHost Open Source Cloud Hosting (DreamObjects)

DreamObjects Cloud Hosting Prices

DreamObjects is DreamHost’s unique cloud storage option. Having a cloud storage solution can be handy for those who need to store large quantities of data but need easy access to them anywhere.

The more you store, the more cost-effective the pricing will be. Often, people end up paying monthly prices that vary from $1 to $299.95 per month. The monthly price rate averages the effective cost of 2.5 cents per gigabyte.

DreamHost Pro Services

DreamHost Pro Services

We’ve already mentioned that you can hire custom website builders at a minimum cost of $1499. But Dreamhost also offers services to assist you in other means:

  • Marketing – this includes social media marketing and SEO marketing. This service starts at $399 per month.
  • DreamCare – Hire someone to keep your website up and running for $59 per month.
  • Site Optimization – Pay $399 or more to look at your website to be sure it meets Google’s speed requirements.
  • Website Transfer – Pay $99 to move a more extensive website over to DreamHost. DreamHost does support a WordPress plugin for free transfers of more straightforward sites.
  • Site Update – Pay DreamHost to check your site for technical updates. It starts at $299
  • Hacked Site Repair – This starts at $199 if you need your website to be diagnosed and repaired.

DreamHost also has web developers that you can pay to produce code to change your website, update your customer management system, or handle other code-related issues. Costs for this are around $125 per hour but can be lower for more time-consuming projects.

Alternatives to DreamHost

When comparing DreamHost with other hosting providers, here are three alternative options you can consider:

BlueHost powers an additional 500 thousand websites on top of the 1.5 million DreamHost powers. With this in mind, Bluehost also has equally generous discounts and a cleaner interface.

But when comparing a hosting service, online reviews tell us that DreamHost makes BlueHost look a little bruised. BlueHost’s Trustpilot ratings are meager compared to DreamHost.

Web experts say the downfall of BlueHost can be linked to their acquisition by Endurance International Group (EIG). Still, BlueHost does powerful WordPress hosting features.

SiteGround goes toe-to-toe up against DreamHost for the best customer service team ever. Both are present to speak to, and that is coming from personal experience.

SiteGround also has many of the same features a bit better interface regarding user-friendliness. Regardless, the two giants of web hosting providers are equals on many fronts.

HostGator is another company acquired by EIG. However, they’ve not seemed to receive the same “service optimization” treatment that others have suffered from.

HostGator is just as comprehensive as GoDaddy, offering a complete web service line that includes ad credits and SEO tools. HostGator has a slightly lower user review score but offers more extensive hosting packages.

Comparing the two website builders, HostGator’s also a bit more intuitive.

DreamHost User Reviews – Looking at Twitter

If you are looking for a user-based DreamHost Review, Twitter is a great place to get started. Below, we’ll list some of the positive, negative, and neutral user experiences that Twitter has shared with DreamHost.

Final Thoughts

DreamHost is an excellent addition in a world where we expect everything to be solved in one-click installs. Despite having a limited time for customer interaction, they are winners when seeking a shared starter plan. They provide any type of hosting as long as you don’t count windows hosting.

DreamHost services fewer websites than BlueHost, but the websites it does service are quick. The result makes them better known in the tech world, meaning they cater to a more technical clientele. However, they are still simple enough to be considered beginner-friendly.

DreamHost web hosting is easily one of the highest-quality web hosts in the world. Despite having a high-profile data breach, their work with open source technology proves their commitment to high-quality offerings.

For your small business endeavors, we can recommend DreamHost as a great provider.

FAQs

WordPress is free with Dreamhost. Whether you choose shared hosting, VPS, or dedicated WordPress hosting, they enable you to install themes and plugins standard with the business plan. Of course, you’ll need to pay for the plans required to access WordPress, so while it isn’t technically free, you don’t have to pay anything extra.

Companies that use Dreamhost vary: They go from 10 to 50 employees and those who make up to 10 million in revenue. Major companies that use this host to some capacity include: Dell, University of California Los Angeles, The Advertising Specialty Institute, InMail, and MaximumFun Podcast Network.

DreamHost provides services regarding domain names and works with small accounts that could potentially grow to larger entities. Given DreamHost’s excellent reliability and speed, they are a great choice for your blog, especially if you plan on using WordPress.

DreamHost is owned by New Dream Network, LLC, meaning it has not changed hands since its creation. Micheal Rodriguez is still the CEO, who was one of the founders.

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Written by:
Chris Altamirano

Chris is a digital nomad. He loves tacos, tech & traveling. His favorite soccer team is FC Barcelona. He created 2BW to help people navigate through the maze of getting online. Learn more about Chris.

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