There are a variety of types of users available to DreamHost customers.
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.
Every website hosted with DreamHost is "owned" by exactly one FTP user. However, an FTP user may own more than one website; each one would have its own directory under the FTP user's root directory.
You can configure the account such that an FTP user only has access to one subdirectory on a Dreamhost website.
FTP is not considered a secure protocol, as 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.
SFTP users are similar to FTP users, except it's only possible to use a SFTP user to connect via SFTP, an encrypted alternative to FTP.
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 (or flavors) for the command line:
All FTP (including shell) users can also receive email. However, there are also special mail-only users (also known as mailboxes) that are only used for reading and sending email, and cannot FTP nor access the shell. These mailboxes currently are all 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 Mail > Addresses area of the DreamHost control panel).
Note: it's possible that if a domain is removed, any
m####### mailboxes associated with it might remain on the server. It is not possible to see such mailboxes in the control panel, only from the command-line.
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. Everytime you create a new MySQL database with DreamHost you'll need to specify a unique username you'd like to create to allow access to it. This user is only for MySQL access and must be unique across all other accounts we host. MySQL also checks where you are connecting from and only allows access from Internet hosts it knows are okay. By default, we set this up to be all DreamHost servers, but if you'd like to access your MySQL database directly from your home computer or some other server, you can add more allowable hosts from the MySQL area of the DreamHost Control Panel.
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 for logging into the web-based 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 with other Web IDs as well, so there's really no reason to ever have more than one Web ID per human being!
These are users that you can create for the sole purpose of viewing stats via the web at the http://example.com/stats/ URL. They are maintained in a .htpasswd file that you manage from the "Status -> Site Statistics" section of the account control panel, and have no other user or purpose on the system. For more information about this, see Accessing_Stats.
DreamHost PS admin users
This is a special user only available to PS account holder that can be created to provide sudo access to areas of the PS setup normally managed by DreamHost via the panel. Very useful if you really know what you are doing (and very dangerous if you don't). To create or manage these users, use the Manage Admin Users page.
Many web applications (CMS systems, blogging systems, etc.) have the ability to create their own users to provide limited access to the features, files, content, etc. of the application. These are not managed by DreamHost, but by the applications themselves. Examples of this are TWiki users, PmWiki users, MediaWiki users, WordPress users, Joomla users, and phpBB users.
Account Control Panel Users
Another kind of "user" is a user that is capable of logging into the DreamHost account control panel for an account. This can be the primary owner of the account, or another user which that owner has provided with credentials to log into the panel and certain authorizations to do things in the account.