With more than ten years in the business of web hosting, GreenGeeks is a unique bastion for those seeking a service that is eco-friendly (more on this later).
Founded in 2008 by Trey Gardner, the company has benefited from his extensive experience in several large hosting companies. Today, Trey and his experienced core team of professionals have built GreenGeeks into a healthy, stable and competitive company.
The company’s roots lie in North America and has served over 35,000 customers with more than 300,000 websites. As an eco-friendly company, it has dedicated itself to leaving a positive energy footprint and replaces used energy with triple the energy credits that are used.
If you’re wondering why this might be important, market intelligence firm IDC has estimated that over the next 10 years, data managed by businesses will increase by as much as 50 percent. This means a notable increase in the number of servers required to handle the data, even considering advances in server technology.
Let’s take a closer look and see if this service, run by industry experts, can cut the ice as a great web host.
GreenGeeks pros: What we like about GreenGeeks hosting?
Pro #1. Environmental friendly – 300% green hosting (industry's top)
Given the company name, let’s focus on Green Web Hosting for a moment.
Not all green hosting companies but two key differences are whether they use Carbon Offset Credits or Renewable Energy Certificates. To fully understand the implications of each, read our article on How Green Web Hosting Works.
GreenGeeks lays claim to offering “300% Green Web Hosting Powered by Renewable Energy”.
This means that they buy three times more the amount of Renewable Energy certificates than is being used by the services they provide.
Certified Green Company
The company is a recognized EPA Green Power Partner which works with environmental foundations to purchase wind energy credits.
Aside from that, there is also the fact that one of their data centres is in Toronto. In recent years, several data centres have been moving there to take advantage of a phenomena called “free cooling”.
Free cooling in Toronto leverages on the chilly weather to help reduce the operational cost (and carbon footprint) of data centres by as much as 50 percent. These facilities have additional cooling circuits specially designed to allow the freezing outdoor air to supplement traditional cooling systems that the equipment demands.
Pro #2. Excellent server speed – Rated A in all speed tests
Running the usual gamut of our performance tests, GreenGeeks lights up… well, green across the board.
With our test server located in Europe, I’ve decided to throw in an additional test from London as well, just to observe if there’s any noticeable impact on hosting performance.
BitCatcha Speed Test (May 2018)
WebPage Speed Test – from Singapore
WebPage Speed Test – from Dallas, Texas
WebPage Speed Test – from London, UK
Not surprisingly, GreenGeeks performance tests showed best speeds from EU-based tests since our server is in the Netherlands. However, it also managed to show excellent speeds across the board as well – from Asia to North America.
However, if you look past the straight ‘A’s and dig into the number a little bit, there is a slightly higher Time-to-First-Byte (TTFB) from Singapore. This is expected since GreenGeeks has no data center in this location, but the timings are still pretty good.
HTTP/2 and MariaDB in GreenGeeks
The GreenGeeks offerings are HTTP/2 enabled and that’s a whole other story in itself. Although published a few years back and having many major browsers already recognize it, according to W3Techs only 26.5% of the top 10 million websites currently support HTTP/2. While some of this may stem from fear of the unknown or even sheer laziness, HTTP/2 can actually make your site load faster and is favored by Google.
It’s also worth noting that GreenGeeks is using MariaDB, which combines with SSD hard drives, Optimized LiteSpeed and PowerCache caching technology to form a powerful front line. This is probably a big factor in their speed performance and isn’t to be taken lightly.
Top tier performance based on Review Signal tests
GreenGeeks is one of the three hosting companies (below $25/mo bracket) that earned the Top Tier status in Review Signal's performance test. The eco-friendly hosting service performed exceptionally well (0 error for both tests) in the load storm and load impact tests. Quoting Kevin Ohashi, Review Signal founder, analysis
Last year they [GreenGeeks] earned an honorable mention, this year they earned Top Tier status. They had some minor issues last time and improved to having no issues with all of the tests. It's really nice to see some companies continue to improve their offering and having it be reflected in the results. Well done.
Pro #3. Choice of Server Locations
GreenGeeks' data centres are in Chicago, Phoenix, Toronto and Amsterdam.
Pro #4. Convenient and easy for newbies / non-technical people
For a sign-on fee of $3.95 per month (renews at $9.95 after initial sign-up duration), you’ll get practically unlimited amounts of everything, plus even free domain registration and website migration services thrown in.
GreenGeeks free site transfer service
For example, not only is web space unlimited, but it’s SSD storage, which is fast. Then there is the daily backup and free website transfer, which is practically not often seen at this price point. Round that up with everything else and you’ll be hard pressed to find a comparable offering.
WordPress hosting comes with slight differences, but many of you will be pleased to note that there is a free WordPress site migration service. This is something that many web hosts charge a significant amount for.
Sitepad Site Builder
GreenGeeks offers Sitepad as its de facto drag-and-drop site builder. While Sitepad is slightly more complex to use than the average drag-and-drop website builder, I’d still consider this a plus point. It still requires zero coding skills to use and is slightly more comprehensive than average.
It comes with many pre-designed templates (over 300) plus a wide array of widgets you can use to modify them. Most importantly, Sitepad is a third-party site editor that GreenGeeks has integrated into its control panel. As such, the original developer has the motivation to keep it current with new technology and tools.
Let's Encrypt Integration
GreenGeeks launched their proprietary built Let’s Encrypt Integration in July 2019 for users hosted on shared and reseller platforms. GreenGeeks users can now one-click install Let's Encrypt Wildcard SSL and renew their SSL automatically; without touching a CSR / Private Key / CRT files.
* Note: Existing GreenGeeks users – switch to the new GreenGeeks AM control panel to access this SSL tool.
Pro #5. Secured hosting environment
To ensure account safety, GreekGeeks takes a two-pronged approach, making use of account isolation as well as Secure vFS. By keeping accounts siloed, they are able to protect users from resource hogs within their own server environments. For instance, if another account based on the same server as yours has a massive usage spike, your account won’t be affected.
Each account is also secured with its own real time malware scanning. It’s another follow up on the silo mentality, but also means that your account will be safe from anything that may affect another account on the same server, such as malware.
GreenGeeks cons: What's not good about GreenGeeks hosting?
Con #1. GreenGeeks uptime = Mixed results
Monitoring of our server at GreenGeeks over the first month period showed that it does meet a 99.9% uptime service delivery rate.
However, results for some months in 2018 wasn't as great. As per our monitoring, GreenGeeks average 30 days uptime for August 2018 was 98.62% and March/April 2018 was 99.58% – both were not great.
GreenGeeks Uptime Guarantee
GreenGeeks' first month 99.94% uptime does meet the company’s 99.9% guarantee, but this is another case of a guarantee that doesn’t really mean anything. Aside from adherence to a 30-day money back guarantee, there does not seem to be any real penalty to the company for breaching the uptime levels mentioned:
GreenGeeks offers customers a no-questions asked money back guarantee on the hosting service that we provide. If you decide to cancel within the money back guarantee period of 30 days, we will provide you with a full refund less any setup fees, and domain registration or transfer costs.
Con #2. Room to improve in customer service
Nothing really bad, but can be better
GreekGeeks runs the gamut in terms of customer service, having almost everything a web host seeker would want. They not only have 24/7 email support, phone support and live chat, but also some interesting resources you can leverage on.
First is the knowledge base, for quick DIY assistance. There are also several basic tutorials to supplement this, covering everything from how to set up email on your account to even platform-specific help (such as for WordPress or Drupal).
There are also a limited number of what I would call ‘essential guides’ and include:
The resources are quite detailed and useful at giving those newer to the game a heads up – before making a purchase decision. I strongly recommend you have a peep here before buying any hosting plan. Of course, please also supplement those with one of our detailed reviews on web hosts.
Overall in term of resources available for help, GreenGeeks surpasses easily 80 percent of the web hosts I’ve encountered so far.
In fact, the only drawback I can see is the lack of video-based tutorials, which are becoming increasingly important given our leanings towards rich media formats.
GreenGeeks Customer Complaints
This is where I have no choice but to include the “BUT”.
For all the surface promises that GreenGeeks is making, it appears that there are a fair number of complaints dedicated to this host.
Customer service is one of the most critical elements of a web host, and if even after more than ten years in the business, people are still complainant – there is likely a problem.
Con #3. Setup and domain fees are not included in refund
Under GreenGeeks 30 days money back guarantee refund policy, you can ask for a refund during the first 30 days trial period.
However, domain registration fees, other addon features cost (such as SSL, CDN cost, etc), and a “free” setup fees during purchase will not be included in your refunds.
While it's reasonable for GreenGeeks to not refund on domain registration and addon features as they need to pay for those third party services.
It is, however, unfair to charge users a $15 setup fees when they cancel their account within the first 30 days.
Con #4. Prices increase during renewal
Website hosting cost has always been a major concern for many WHSR readers. The price tag of $2.95/$3.95/$4.95 are only available for GreenGeeks first time customers.
When you renew your hosting plan after your first term, the regular rate for Ecosite Starter plans will be $9.95/mo.
While this practice is common in today's web hosting market; we think it's important alert our users upfront. A lot of customers don’t realize they are going to pay higher prices and they get sticker shock when they see the auto-charge on their credit card statement.
While GreenGeeks lays claim to offering unlimited space and bandwidth, there is that pesky line in the ToS that spells out an “Excessive Resource User Policy”:
A hosting account is considered using “Excessive amounts of resources” when it consumes 100% of the allocated resources on the subscribed hosting plan and/or subscribed scalable resource add-on(s) and/or 75,000 files also known as “Computing Resources”, and/or “Resources”, and/or “Resource Usage”.
Normally, all web hosts have this in place, but GreenGeeks doesn’t set a time limit. It is usual to complete that statement with something like “for periods longer than 15 seconds” or similar. This means that any time you hit the limits set, even for a second, they have the right to force an upgrade on you.
It’s also worth noting that maximum files/inodes are capped at 75,000 which is not all that great to be honest (in contrast both InMotion Hosting and Hostgator allows up to 250,000 inodes on paper; A2 Hosting allows up to 300,000).
GreekGeeks is a little of a mixed bag of tricks to me.
On one hand, as a technology geek who still hopes to have Earth (and the life on it) around for quite some time more, I appreciate the eco-friendliness. On the other hand, I remain a little leery of their one-plan-fits-all tactic.
There seems to be a mismatch in balance here and I am sure that I have not caught everything. However, also keep in mind the excellent speed performance that GreenGeeks servers have shown in our tests.
On a personal level, I feel that this is a host which would do admirably with anything from a blog all the way even to a small business. In fact, I think it’s an ideal place for a beginner to host their site, given the facilities, pricing and resources available.
I would, however, lack the confidence to host anything larger or more mission critical here.
In case GreenGeeks is not for you, here are some other hosting service providers to consider:
GreenGeeks is currently running a special anniversary promotion. Use promo code “10YEARSGREEN” to enjoy a one-time 70% discount during signup. EcoSite Starter plan starts at $2.95/month after discount (see image).
(P/S: Links point to GreenGeeks in this review are affiliate links – if you purchase via this link, it will credit me as your referrer. This is how we keep this site alive for more than a decade. Buying via my link doesn’t cost you more – please support us if you find our hosting reviews are helpful. )
About Timothy Shim
Timothy Shim is a writer, editor, and tech geek. Starting his career in the field of Information Technology, he rapidly found his way into print and has since worked with International, regional and domestic media titles including ComputerWorld, PC.com, Business Today, and The Asian Banker. His expertise lies in the field of technology from both consumer as well as enterprise points of view.
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