What are the different types of DreamHost users?

DreamHost offers the ability to create many different types of users, each of which are necessary for different tasks within the panel as well as interacting with your site. For example:

  • Website users (FTP, SFTP, Shell users)
  • Email users
  • MySQL users
  • Stats users
  • Dedicated server admin users
  • Application users
  • Remixer users
  • Account control panel users
  • WebID users

This article lists the different types and how they are used.

Website users

You can add a new website user on the (Panel > 'Users' > 'Manage Users') page. Click the Add A New User button.

The 'Type of User Account' section offers three different types of users you are able to create which allow you to access the web server to uploaded/download files as well as edit your website:

FTP users

An FTP user is required in order to upload a website you've created to DreamHost's servers, or to make changes to an existing website.

You can view and create an FTP user on the (Panel > 'Users' > 'Manage Users') page:

The Manage Users page shows the username and the type of user it’s configured as. In the example above, the user is named ‘dh_user’ and it's an FTP user.

Every website hosted with DreamHost is "owned" by exactly one FTP user. However, an FTP user may own more than one website. In that case, each site would have its own directory under the FTP user's root directory.

You can configure the account so that an FTP user only has access to one subdirectory on a DreamHost website.

FTP is not considered a secure protocol since all of your traffic (including your login information) is transferred over the Internet in plain text, where anyone could eavesdrop. For more information, see FTP Security.

For this reason, you should only create an SFTP or Shell user.

SFTP users

SFTP users are similar to FTP users except that this type of user creates an encrypted connection to the server. Port 22 is used in your client to connect to the server via SFTP.

Shell users

Shell users are users who can connect via SSH, SFTP, and (optionally) FTP. The "Shell" is the Linux command line on your hosting server, a useful alternative for advanced users.

When creating a Shell user, you are currently given 4 options for the command line:

  • Bash – stands for Bourne-again shell, and is the default shell on Linux and Mac OS based systems.
  • Tcsh – is an enhanced version of the Berkeley UNIX C shell. It is a command language interpreter that can be used as an interactive login shell and a shell script command processor.
  • Ksh – also know as KornShell, and is an interactive command line language that can provide access to the UNIX system as well as other systems on which it’s implemented.
  • Zsh – a shell made for interactive use and is also a scripting language.

The Full Name field

When you add or edit a user in the DreamHost panel, there is a 'Full Name' field you must enter.

This is technically referred to as a Gecos field and is used to store general information about the user in the user's password file.

Here a few guidelines to keep in mind when using the Gecos field:

  • This field is separate from the actual Username field, although you can copy the Username into this field if you like.
  • DreamHost does not allow users to enter domain names in this field as this would disclose too much personal information about the user.
  • Most commonly, users enter their full name or any other name besides the domain name.
  • You cannot leave this field blank although you may enter just a single space.

Why does it say my name is already taken?

On shared web hosting accounts, the "namespace" for usernames is shared across a fairly large cluster of machines. As a result, all the usernames created for FTP/SFTP/SHELL users must be unique across the whole group. Typically, common user names such as “admin” have already been taken so users may need to add extra characters to their user to ensure it is unique.

How do I share website access with another user?

Unfortunately this is not possible. View the One user per domain policy article for details.

Email users

Email users are only used for reading and sending email, and cannot log in to the web server via FTP. These users also have no Shell access to the web or mail servers. At DreamHost, mailboxes are all currently named in the format m######## although they can also be accessed using the entire associated primary email address. Each mailbox has one primary email address associated with it, but can also have unlimited other email addresses that also deliver to it. You can set this up from the (Panel > 'Mail' > 'Manage Email') page.

If a domain is removed from the panel, all emails associated with that domain are deleted. Make sure to backup your email before deleting a domain. See the following article for more info:

MySQL users

MySQL Users are used to connect to your database server.

MySQL has its own complex permissions system, and each time you need to access a MySQL database, you must log in with a username and password it recognizes. Every time you create a new MySQL database with DreamHost, you'll need to specify a unique username you wish to create to allow access to it. MySQL users are created on the (Panel > 'Advanced' > 'MySQL Databases') page.

When you create a user, it's given MySQL access only and must be unique across all other MySQL accounts at DreamHost. MySQL also checks where you are connecting from and only allows access from IP addresses or hosts that are authorized.

By default, this is set up so you can access it from any DreamHost server; but if you'd like to access your MySQL database directly from your home computer or from another server, you can add more allowable hosts (IP Addresses or hostnames) from the MySQL area of the panel.

Stats users

Stats users are users that you can create for the sole purpose of viewing website statistics.

Dedicated server Admin users

A Dedicated server Admin user is a special user only available on these hosting plans.

  • These users can provide sudo access to areas of the Dedicated server configuration settings normally managed by DreamHost via the DreamHost panel. You can add a Dedicated User on the (Panel > 'Dedicated Servers' > 'Admin Users') page.
  • An Admin user can be very useful for installing custom scripts or making advanced PHP or Apache configuration changes.

Please keep in mind that setting up an Admin user can be risky. Since an Admin user has access to all areas, they can alter any system settings. You should know what you are doing before setting up an Admin user.

Application users

Many web applications (CMS systems, blogging systems, and so on) have the ability to create their own users to manage and provide limited access to the features, files, and content for an application. These are not managed by DreamHost, but by the applications themselves. Examples of these are WordPress users, MediaWiki users, Joomla! users, and phpBB users just to name a few.


Remixer is DreamHost's 'custom-built' one-click site builder. The account owner is the 'user' that controls each Remixer site, and at this time it's not possible to add additional users to a Remixer site. View the 'Getting started with Remixer' article for further details.

Account control panel users

Account control panel users are used to log in to the DreamHost account control panel. This can be the primary owner of the account, or another user the owner has provided with credentials to log in to the panel.

You can create a user with account access privileges on the (Panel > 'Users' > 'Account Privileges') page.

To change the name of the account user, navigate to the (Panel > 'Billing & Account' > 'Manage Account') page. At the top you see your account number and name. Under this, click the 'rename account' link. Here you can change the name.

WebID users

Known affectionately as your Web ID, this user is the only one that doesn't give you access to any physical DreamHost server. Instead, Web IDs are only used for logging into the DreamHost Control Panel and managing your account. Web IDs are intended to logically represent one actual human being, so a Web ID can own multiple billing accounts, with multiple domains, users (FTP/Shell/Mail), MySQL databases, and so on. You can share access to any of your account's features as well by adding Account Privileges.

Because of this, there is no reason to have more than a single WebID. WebIDs are also permanent and cannot be renamed or changed.

Resetting passwords

Visit the Passwords article for detailed instructions on how to reset the password for different types of users.

See also

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Article last updated PST.