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Want some good conscience mixed in with robust features in your web host?
Then keep on reading! Today, we’re reviewing the mean, green machine that is GreenGeeks.
Pros of GreenGeeks
Cons of GreenGeeks
GreenGeeks Plan & Pricing
We love a good origin story, and GreenGeeks has one that’s as good as any.
Back in 2008, American entrepreneur Trey Gardner was alarmed by how much energy the web hosting industry was guzzling up each year. It was even predicted that, by 2020, the web hosting industry would have the same carbon footprint as the airline industry!
Enter GreenGeeks, on a mission to become THE most eco-friendly web host in the world.
Today, GreekGeeks has hosted an impressive 500,000 websites to date. They’ve been listed in the INC 5000 Fastest Growing Companies in America for 4 consecutive years, so we figure they must be doing something right! But what?
Today, we’re looking into what we love about GreenGeeks, and where they may fall short. Are they a solid host for YOUR particular website? Let’s find out.
Many people are surprised to learn the internet isn’t very environmentally friendly.
But it’s not, and especially not for web host providers. Every data center is stacked up with servers that need to be always-on, climate-controlled and secure. Keeping them that way takes a heck of a lot of energy! Supposedly, 40% of all the energy used to power the internet goes into keeping servers from overheating.
So, we’re always glad to see different hosts trying to lower their carbon footprint – whether it’s by planting trees or minimising waste. Some call it saving the planet, some call it a clever marketing ploy.
However, GreenGeeks takes this to a whole new level. We’ve simply never come across any other host that puts green practices so at the forefront of their business.
Hosting with them is not simply carbon-neutral, but “carbon-reducing”. They commit to replacing THREE times the energy that they consume, via purchasing wind energy credits that are credited back to the grid. Pretty cool, no?
What’s more, they’re certified green. Their efforts have scored them plenty of environmental awards, and the status of official Green Power Partner with the US Environmental Protection Agency. Hosting with them should thus mean you are directly helping the environment.
You’ll also be able to choose from a number of badges to display on your website to let visitors know that your online business is earth-friendly. Whether it’s to inspire others to do the same or, well, brag a little.
A fast website can make all the difference. The difference between a visitor staying on your site, or leaving it for a competitor’s. The difference between a completed transaction, or an abandoned cart.
That’s why one of the first things we always look at is host server speed. It can impact hugely on how fast your website will load for your audiences!
On top of that – we always want to be sure that a host provider can deliver excellent speeds to whichever region your audience is based in. That means you’re generally going to want to host from the data center that is closest to your audience. Luckily, GreenGeeks has decent worldwide coverage by offering a total of 5 data centers for you to choose from – 2 in the US (Chicago and Phoenix), 2 in Canada (Toronto and Montreal), and 1 in Amsterdam.
So, back to the big question – how fast IS GreenGeeks as a host?
To find out, we used our Bitcatcha Server Speed Checker tool that gives a host’s speed a special ‘grade’ that ranges from E up to A+. It does this by calculating the average server response time from 10 different virtual nodes around the world, each representing a visitor from different countries accessing your site.
We currently have 2 Bitcatcha test sites hosted from 2 GreenGeeks data centers – you bet we tested both!
Here’re the Speed Test results from our Canada-hosted test site:
|US (W)||US (E)||London||Singapore||Sao Paulo|
|66 ms||19 ms||191 ms||455 ms||151 ms|
|324 ms||262 ms||214 ms||9 ms||95 ms|
We were happy to see a A+ score for its worldwide average, which is the highest possible grade you can score!
With an average speed of 178.6 ms, hosting from GreenGeek’s Canada data center should mean your website will be fast no matter where your audience is based. If they happen to be in Canada too, you’re looking at incredibly fast server response times of 9ms.
Now, what about our US-hosted test-site?
|US (W)||US (E)||London||Singapore||Sao Paulo|
|50 ms||23 ms||86 ms||218 ms||145 ms|
|208 ms||186 ms||151 ms||20 ms||99 ms|
Another A+ for worldwide speed! And great speeds of 23 ms from the East Coast.
So, it’s clear that GreenGeeks is definitely impressive on the server speed front – no matter where you choose to host from, or where your readers are.
We’re sure that their use of the latest speed-primed technology, like SSD RAID-10 Storage Arrays, doesn’t hurt.
Sure, your host server is the engine that helps drive how quickly your website loads. But it’s not the only factor!
The best host will offer you further software optimisations to help keep your page loading lightning-quick.
We were pleased to see GreenGeeks offer an in-house cache Powercacher. They combine this tech with LiteSpeed Cache website acceleration (LSCache) to further provide page speed acceleration. It’s also great to know
they offer the latest network protocol, such as enabling HTTP3 / QUIC to further speed up in-browser load times.
If you’re wondering about CDN – yes, GreenGeeks also include CloudFlare integration. Sure, you can easily sign up for a free CloudFlare account on your own. But it’s still handy being able to enable and control it through your cPanel directly – who doesn’t appreciate a shortcut?
Uptime is a pretty great indicator of how reliable a host is, and how well they can manage their servers.
So what do GreenGeeks promise to offer?
First things first, we were happy to see GreenGeeks offers a 99.9% uptime guarantee.
We had a check of the fine print and it seemed solid. As usual, the guarantee doesn’t cover service interrupted from any client errors, or any type of DDOS, internet or cyber attack. But if their server goes down, their uptime guarantee will at least offer some sort of compensation for the problems that downtime can cause.
From here, we had a deeper look into how seriously GreenGeeks takes its security, and were not disappointed.
They actually use a container based approach to help keep your hosting account secure. Every account is isolated and uses private dedicated computing resources and a secured virtual file system.
In plain speak – it means that you won’t be affected by the resource use of other websites who share the server. If someone starts to hog more than their fair share, it won’t affect your website performance. If they are attacked by malware, your websites should be safe out of reach.
You’d also benefit from their pro-active Server Monitoring – something we’re always a fan of. Combine this with their clustered threat analysis technology, and you’ve got a solid line of defense. In short – GreenGeeks should be able to help take action against security threats at very early stages and before they lead to the dreaded downtime. Naturally, there’s also a Let’s Encrypt SSL integration too as a tiny cherry on top.
So, that’s what GreenGeek promise. Did they deliver?
We set up an uptime tracker on our test sites, with the help of the handy UptimeRobot – and the uptime results for our Canada-hosted test site were super impressive!
Uptime since May 2019
It’s a solid 100% since May 2019! That’s a solid 13 months from the time of writing. Not bad at all.
Similarly, we went ahead and checked out the uptime tracker on our US-hosted test site. We were very happy with the results to date!
Uptime since June 2020
So, definitely no complaints on this front.
Doing business with a green company feels nice, but you obviously also want to know that you’re getting real hosting value for your coin. You might assume going for the ‘greener’ option may come with a fancy price, and fewer features.
But on the contrary – a GreenGeeks shared hosting plan comes with a lot of value!
Signing up for their EcoSite Pro plan, you’ll score unlimited SSD web space, unlimited data transfer, unlimited domains and databases.
They also throw in important freebies like a free website migration – great for existing website owners looking to upgrade to a better host.
And you’ll even get a free domain for the first year. It’s a nice throw-in that many hosts don’t bother with, at least not on the ‘cheapest’ plan tier. Ten points!
They may be ‘green’, but they definitely don’t lack experience. In fact, the GreenGeeks management team has supposedly over 40 years of experience in providing high quality website hosting.
We felt like this was reflected pretty well in their customer service too.
You can reach their support department 24/7/365 via email and Live Chat. They also offer phone support, for those rare souls who still prefer real human interaction to solve any technical issues.
We spoke to their team on Live Chat at different times of day on the chat and always received a prompt and friendly reply within 1-2 minutes!
In cases where they needed to escalate the issue (typically only when I asked about something super specific, like PIPEDA-compliancy), or needed further research, they opened a ticket for us and got back to us with the answer pronto.
Further research online showed that plenty of other customers have great things to say about GreenGeeks’ support too.
GreenGeeks maintains that its staff members are never outsourced, but all based in North America and speaking excellent English. Knowing that a skilled and friendly team is always at hand is a big win.
Another thing we like about GreenGeeks is its user interface.
Both the dashboards to manage your GreenGeeks account, and your website itself, are clear and intuitive. And they’re easy on the eyes too!
They use the cPanel – one of the industry favourites that both a complete beginner, and a seasoned developer would appreciate.
An example of one of the beginner-friendly features is the SitePad website builder, which allows anyone zero coding knowledge to create a website. GreenGeeks even integrate a thumbnail-view of the different SitePad themes into cPanel to make it even simpler to use.
Even if you’re a total beginner, you’ll be able to easily drag-and-drop your way to a decent, brand new website.
Is GreenGeeks a good pick for the newbie website owner who needs a bit of handholding? Yes. How about for the seasoned IT professional who wants the freedom to customise their site? Yes again.
cPanel also makes it super easy to install a lot of important software, which leads to our next point…
If you’re a small business owner, there’s a good chance you’ll want to use one of the many popular e-commerce apps on your website like Shopify, Magneto or Prestashop.
However, different web hosts offer different bundled software and integrations and may not always be compatible with these big names.
That’s why we’re pleased to see that GreenGeeks’ cPanel includes the Softaculous installer. Softaculous has you covered for 400+ software, including installing WordPress and other leading 3rd party tools in seconds.
Peace of mind is something we value in a host, and GreenGeeks does particularly well here. They offer really comprehensive data privacy.
We have a theory that it may have something to do with their data center locations. They currently run an Enterprise class data center in Montreal, Canada, which is a country that’s known for its very stringent privacy laws (cough, PIPEDA).
If you’re handling the data of Canadian citizens, PIPEDA compliance is something non-negotiable. But even for the rest of us who have audiences elsewhere, we’ll all still benefit from this knowledge and experience that GreenGeeks has had to obtain in order to operate here.
Because GreenGeeks themselves need to be compliant, you can be sure that they take data security really seriously. This includes your own customer data privacy, but also in helping keep your website secure.
Here are just SOME of the measures they take to prevent the loss, misuse and alteration of data under their control.
We did, then couldn’t help but asking them more about it directly. They told us they work with many Canadian organizations, including the government!
I mean, if they’re good enough for the Canadian government, it’s probably good enough for the rest of us.
In a perfect world, there’d be a unanimously-decided ‘best host’ that you’d sign up for and host happily ever after with.
Unfortunately, that’s not real life.
Even if you do all your research and pick a really fantastic host, there could still be a chance you don’t end up loving it for YOUR particular website.
That’s why it’s always great to know that you can always have a second chance if things don’t work out. So we were pleased to see GreenGeeks offer an ‘unconditional’ 30-day money back guarantee. If you’re not 100% satisfied for any reason, you can get a full refund of your hosting fees.
To end our list of GreenGeeks pros, we wanted to point out that GreenGeeks remains privately owned.
It may sound minor, but it puts them in contrast with a lot of hosting providers who are owned by massive parent companies. Some own a portfolio of ‘different’ host brands and occasionally bear the baggage of past data breaches or questionable practice (we won’t name names!).
Of course, flexibility and independence can be both a good AND a bad thing. But in GreenGeek’s case – at least for now – it definitely seems to be working in their favour.
They’re definitely offering something that’s a breath of fresh air, and also growing quickly and scooping up awards. We’re excited to see how they keep innovating and will definitely be keeping an eye on them.
Still, there are some possible shortcomings to GreenGeeks that you should keep in mind.
Everyone has different preferences for the types of support.
If you prefer to talk on the phone to tech support, you’ll be disappointed to learn that their phone support lines are only open from 9:00AM – midnight EST.
So if you’re in a totally different timezone, it may be tricky to call someone for urgent help. You’d need to rely on their Live Chat instead.
Of course, any host that claims to offer unlimited bandwidth or space, does not literally mean ‘unlimited’. You need to take this with a grain of salt.
Since they offer a shared hosting service, they need to keep an eye on resource use, so as not to disrupt the service quality for other customers.
This means they have the right to place temporary restrictions on your resource use if you use up ‘Excessive Resources’ – something that they define as a site that “consumes 100% of the allocated resources on the subscribed hosting plan and/or subscribed scalable resource add-on(s).” It’s a little strict.
If your website exceeds the included computing resources, it will probably be slowed down automatically for as long as the resources are being overused.
This means that GreenGeeks is probably best suited to small-to-medium sites, rather than sites with huge turnovers of traffic, or a site that is growing very quickly.
If you’re faced with a sudden traffic spike, your site may be slowed down automatically (although they say they’d try to notify you first), your account may be suspended, or you may be asked to upgrade your hosting package.
GreenGeeks offer quite a wide range of hosting solutions – from Shared Hosting to VPS Hosting and Reseller Hosting.
Let’s take a quick look at what you can get for each.
First off, GreenGeeks offer a brief, but decent range of Shared Hosting plans.
They’re broken into 3 clear categories with clear Lite, Pro, and Premium descriptions that should help you find the tier that suits your website needs.
Whichever Shared Plan catches your eye – you’ll get a lot of great features and support for a reasonable starting price.
However, be sure to read the fine print as there are some pricing caveats you should take note of.
Their lowest introductory price of $2.95 (Lite) does require a 3 year commitment, which understandably is a little long. If you prefer a shorter 12 month commitment, It hops up to $4.95. If you decide you want to pay for 1 year first (instead of 3), the price for their Lite plan goes up to $4.95/mo. It’s not bank breaking, but it’s worth taking note of the $24 increase in yearly fee.
If you want to pay month-by-month, the price starts at $9.95. You’ll also now need to pay a setup fee, and for the domain name. This isn’t hugely uncommon, but it’s worth keeping in mind.
Also, if you decide to claim on their 30-day money back guarantee, remember you won’t get back any setup fees, domain registration or transfer costs.
Managed VPS hosting is also available. Here’s a snapshot of their plans & prices:
Lastly, if you want to build a small hosting business of your own, GreenGeeks also offers Reseller Hosting. Here are their plans & prices:
From its inception, GreenGeeks has been making waves in the hosting scene – not only for it’s environmental dedication, but for being a well-rounded host for just about anyone, especially small-medium sites.
At the end of the day, not many host companies can say their carbon footprint is negative. So if sustainability is something that you’re passionate about, GreenGeeks is truly the best on market you will find.
And even if sustainability isn’t a top priority – we say check out GreenGeeks anyway. They’ve got us quite impressed.