GreenGeeks is an unusual web host that has built its business around offering energy efficient hosting. Though its goal is noble and the features are plenty, GreenGeeks’s high price tag and inconsistency in speed put it just short of our best web hosting guide. That said, it’s not a bad option for smaller websites.
In this GreenGeeks review, we’re going to detail our experience after launching a WordPress website with the web host’s Ecosite Pro plan. Along the way, we’ll talk about features, pricing, ease of use, security, speed and more before wrapping it up with our verdict.
The “green” take on web hosting hasn’t been done as well as GreenGeeks shows. Though we appreciate the effort to keep web hosting renewable, there are cracks that haven’t been patched. Even so, the streamlined user experience and wealth of features may sell you on the service.
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Free website builder
- Free website transfer
- Full solid-state drive storage
- Solid speed
- Easy to use
- Malware scanning
- Nightly backups
- Breaks under load
- Not the cheapest
- Only offers shared hosting
Alternatives for GreenGeeks
Despite being such a simple web host, GreenGeeks includes many features with your shared plan. Before talking about the technical features, though, we need to talk about what GreenGeeks is all about.
It’s the first “green” web host, meaning it tries to host websites in an environmentally-friendly way. Though not talked about much, the electricity data centers use has a serious impact on the environment, accounting for around 2 percent of electricity used in the U.S. In fact, it’s estimated the web hosting industry will pass the airline industry in environmental pollution by 2020.
GreenGeeks aims to change that. In addition to being a recognized U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a Green Power Partner, it purchases three times the amount of energy it uses in wind energy credits. That means for every kilowatt-hour your server uses, GreenGeeks purchases three kWh in wind energy.
If being energy efficient is important to you, GreenGeeks can help, but the wind energy credits don’t change anything from a performance standpoint. Thankfully, the web host has a solid feature set outside of its namesake.
GreenGeeks Website Builder
For those not using WordPress, there’s a free website builder. Sitepad, as it’s called, is a solid website builder with a good range of templates, but it won’t be making our best website builders list. It’s similar in function to Weebly (read our Weebly review), providing a true drag-and-drop building experience.
That said, it lacks the integrations and advanced features that Weebly has. Sitepad can build you a website that looks good, but if you’re looking for a large app store or custom solution, you’d be better off with a dedicated builder. Weebly is solid, but we like Wix more (read our Wix review).
Outside of GreenGeeks’s lowest tier, you also get PowerCacher, which is a proprietary caching tool made by the web host. Caching allows you to store elements of your website so they don’t have to load each time a user accesses your domain, and we’ve seen versions of it from most web hosts. GreenGeeks’s works well, as you can see in the “speed and uptime” section below.
There are other features, too, such as full solid-state storage and free Cloudflare integration, but those have become common among web hosts. We’ll talk more about the security features in the “security” section below.
GreenGeeks Features Overview
|Web Application Firewall|
|Live Chat Support|
GreenGeeks focuses on shared hosting. We’ve seen a few other web hosts like that — read our Hostinger review to see an example. Though it’s easy to assume GreenGeeks is just as cheap as those providers, that isn’t the case. Its promotional rates are in line with theirs, but the full price of a subscription is more than we’d like.
The price listed above is the monthly rate if you purchase three years upfront, which GreenGeeks doesn’t clarify until you’re about to check out. That sort of deceptive pricing is common among web hosts, and we don’t like it here any more than we do with, say, Bluehost (read our Bluehost review).
Using Bluehost as a baseline, GreenGeeks is cheaper for the initial term. The price is higher after that, though. Bluehost, HostGator, InMotion Hosting and A2 Hosting renew at around $8 on their most inexpensive shared plans, while GreenGeeks renews at $10. If you’re looking for something even cheaper, read our Arvixe review.
Though GreenGeeks is more expensive than the rest of the market, the extra few bucks isn’t burning our collective bum too much. What’s more concerning is the deceptive pricing. Instead of making clear that the price listed is only for a three-year plan, GreenGeeks waits until you’re about to check out. The three-year plan is preselected, too.
Thankfully, monthly plans are available, but GreenGeeks has a soft lock against them. There’s a $15 setup fee that’s only applicable to the monthly plan, so though the monthly rate for a basic shared plan should only be $10, it’s $25.
A few years ago, none of that would be an issue, but many web hosts are moving towards being more transparent about their pricing, with providers like InMotion Hosting, A2 Hosting and SiteGround leading the charge.
GreenGeeks still falls into the annoying camp that only shows multi-year rates.
That said, this section isn’t all complaints. GreenGeeks includes a lot with your plan, and it does so regardless of which tier you can afford. No matter how you buy in, you’ll get a free domain, free website transfer, the website builder and nightly backups. The price is worth it, we’d just prefer that it was clearer what you’re buying upfront.
If you change your mind, you can take advantage of GreenGeeks’s 30-day money-back guarantee. It’s available across durations, but the $15 setup fee on monthly plans is non-refundable.
Ease of Use
Signing up with GreenGeeks is simple, mainly because there aren’t many options along the way. You’ll find the type of hosting you want in the top menu, select the tier for that hosting and go to checkout.
Like many hosts, GreenGeeks preselects a multi-year plan. In this case, it’s for three years. As mentioned, the pricing isn’t clear until you go to checkout, and that can be frustrating. Plus, it doesn’t make clear that monthly plans require a $15 setup fee.
After GreenGeeks has processed your payment, you’ll get a series of emails detailing your purchase and account details. The email you signed up with will be your account username, and GreenGeeks will generate a password for you. The password is a random bundle of numbers and letters, so we recommend checking out our best password managers for a way to store it.
You can log in to your account dashboard with the credential GreenGeeks sends you. It’s simple, but to a fault. You can manage your billing, view your services and open support tickets, but it feels barren otherwise. Deeper integration with cPanel or a clearer view of your service would help.
There’s one important piece of information missing from the account area, and that’s GreenGeeks’s nameservers. If you’re coming with a domain that was registered somewhere else, you’ll need to point that domain toward the DNS servers at GreenGeeks. The only way we could find the address of the nameservers was to search on Google.
cPanel is easy to access, though, which isn’t surprising considering GreenGeeks earned a spot in our best web hosting with cPanel guide. All you have to do is click “cPanel login” from the account dashboard.
The build is mostly stock. GreenGeeks shows your technical information on the right and your apps on the left. The ordering of categories is strange, though. Instead of putting, for example, the Softaculous apps installer toward the top, it’s at the bottom. File management, search engine optimization tools and database configuration occupy the top slots instead.
Given how simple GreenGeeks is to use, it’d make sense to have the more advanced areas of cPanel tucked toward the bottom. Instead, Softaculous and, surprisingly, the Sitepad website builder are buried at the bottom of the interface.
Of course, a little scrolling goes a long way, but with how overwhelming cPanel can be to newcomers, it’d make more sense to tuck away advanced options so newbies can get acclimated. They may not know what to look for, and given all the configuration options at the top, they might get scared of breaking something.
Overall, though, GreenGeeks’s usability is solid. The web host has streamlined the checkout process, so much so that some small details, such as the setup fee, aren’t clarified. Outside of that, we wanted to see a smarter cPanel layout, but GreenGeeks isn’t doing anything too wrong.
GreenGeeks doesn’t offer multiple hosting types, but rather a single one. Shared hosting is the name of the game, and though we like to see a diverse set of services for customers to choose from, specializing isn’t a bad thing.
Shared hosting is when the web host stores multiple websites on a single server. Instead of getting dedicated resources, the websites share the CPU, RAM and bandwidth of the server. The upside of such a setup is that you can buy into hosting at a low price. That said, there are consequences, too.
Because there are no rules to regulate who uses what, those using shared hosting will have more inconsistency in speed and uptime. For example, if another website on your server falls victim to a distributed denial-of-service attack, it could take the server, and all the websites hosted on it, offline.
That’s especially important with GreenGeeks because the uptime guarantee doesn’t cover anything that’s out of GreenGeeks’s control. That means if another website hogs resources or otherwise causes the server to crash, it won’t count against the 99.9 percent uptime guarantee that GreenGeeks has.
Groaning aside, shared plans are offered across three tiers, and you can purchase them with or without WordPress preinstalled (read our best web hosting for WordPress). Reseller hosting is also available, though we like SiteGround’s credit-based approach more (read our SiteGround review).
A wider variety of plans would be nice to see, but GreenGeeks has always been a web host focused on the shared end of things — read our iPage review to learn about another. That said, if you want more variety, you should read our HostGator review.
Speed & Uptime
We tested GreenGeeks using Pingdom Speed Test and Load Impact on an Ecosite Pro plan. It was important to us that we tested Pro instead of Starter because it’s the first plan to use GreenGeeks’s PowerCacher. The tests were done with a blank installation of WordPress at our domain to keep everything as simple as possible.
GreenGeeks’s speed was surprisingly good, though not worthy of our fastest web hosting guide. We expect lower performance on mid-tier shared plans, but GreenGeeks puts up numbers that compete with high-end shared plans from hosts such as A2 Hosting (read our A2 Hosting review). Pingdom Speed Test gave it a score of 92 out of 100, which, though not the best we’ve seen, is quite high.
Our total load time came to 1.2 seconds, with around 400 milliseconds of that coming from DNS requests. As mentioned in the “ease of use” section, we pointed a domain registered elsewhere toward GreenGeeks, which accounts for the higher than average DNS time.
We aren’t as impressed with the Load Impact test results. Our first test, which you can see below, resulted in sporadic speed. Load Impact sent 50 virtual users to our domain over the course of five minutes to gauge how long it took for the website to load as the number of users increased.
To say GreenGeeks was all over the place would be an understatement. Even inconsistent providers such as InMotion Hosting (read our InMotion hosting review) look tame in comparison. In fact, GreenGeeks was so sporadic, we added a failure rate to the graph and ran the test a second time.
The second test, which you can see below, produced similar if not worse results. We’re not sure what’s happening to cause the sporadic results, but regardless, our testing was unusual.
As for uptime, it was solid throughout testing, and GreenGeeks offers a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee. It’s plastered all over the website, at least. Digging into the terms of service, the word “uptime” is only mentioned four times, with little clarification as to what the guarantee, well, guarantees.
It simply says you’ll have 99.9 percent uptime, not what happens if the service falls below that. It’d be one thing to use vague wording on a product page, but not clarifying what the guarantee entails in the terms of service is a big no-no. If you want to read more about why that’s the case, check out our article on why you shouldn’t trust your web host’s uptime guarantee.
As with features, it’s surprising how much security is packed in with your plan given how simple GreenGeeks is otherwise. That said, one of the biggest security issues it has to overcome is protecting the shared hosting it provides.
As mentioned, one bad apple on the shared server can spoil the lot. Thankfully, GreenGeeks protects against that with hosting account isolation. Though you share resources with other users, your account and websites are isolated from others, meaning if one website becomes infected, it won’t infect your website, too.
Websites shouldn’t have trouble with malware, though. GreenGeeks includes real-time malware scanning across plans, which acts like an antivirus for your website (read our best antivirus software guide). Though a solid preventative measure, GreenGeeks doesn’t include a malware removal tool (read our DreamHost review for a provider that does).
In the background, GreenGeeks has hardware and power redundancy for ensuring servers stay online, constant server monitoring and automatic app updates for patching vulnerabilities. While you’ll never see any of this going on, it’ll protect your website from the latest threats on a server level.
Also in the background are automated nightly backups. Though that doesn’t seem like a security feature, backing up your website is important. If your website becomes infected, you’ll be able to restore one of your clean backups to solve the issue without resorting to costly cleaning services.
Though GreenGeeks is generous in offering nightly backups for free, you should still backup your website manually. Read our how to backup your WordPress website for the process for doing it.
GreenGeeks may be great when it comes to protecting the environment, but its privacy protection could use work. It’s not bad based on web hosting standards, but abysmal compared to any of our best VPN options.
First up is domain privacy, which GreenGeeks offers for a fee. When your register a domain, you’re required to put WHOIS information on record that includes your name, address, phone number and more. That information is publicly searchable online, too, meaning anyone can find you if you register a domain.
You can replace that personal information using WHOIS privacy protection, but GreenGeeks doesn’t include it for free. At around $10 per year per domain, it doesn’t charge as much as other providers, but free is still better. DreamHost, for example, is leading the charge on domain privacy, providing free WHOIS privacy protection with every registration.
As far as selling to advertising companies goes, GreenGeeks makes it clear that it won’t, under any circumstances, sell your personally identifying data to advertisers. It can share your personal information with law enforcement agencies if it sees fit, though. There is no mention of a court order or anything of the sort. If GreenGeeks wants to share, it reserves the right to.
GreenGeeks isn’t bad when judging it by web hosting standards. That said, the web hosting industry as a whole could use a good kick in the rear when it comes to user privacy, and GreenGeeks isn’t leading the charge.
GreenGeeks offers almost every form of support we could ask for. You can reach out over email, phone or live chat, with a solid number of self-help resources available. In keeping with the rest of the service, the support section of the website is easy to navigate, presenting you all forms of contact without some strange hierarchy.
Email and live chat are available around the clock, while phone support is limited to business hours. That said, phone support runs seven days a week, so it’s not too difficult to get a hold of someone on the phone.
Live chat is great for quick answers, but the reps are mostly there to provide simple troubleshooting steps or point you to the appropriate section in the knowledgebase.
That shouldn’t be undersold, though. Finding the knowledgebase isn’t difficult, but navigating it is. GreenGeeks has folders upon folders containing countless support articles, forcing us to give up searching manually and to use the search bar instead. It’s not offensive, but given how streamlined the rest of the website is, we had certain expectations going in.
Even so, the articles in the knowledgebase are detailed, covering many topics with great precision. Topics are accompanied by large, labeled screenshots, too, making it easy to follow along.
There are also website tutorials, which should help you get from setting up your GreenGeeks account to installing a specific platform on your site. Unfortunately, the tutorials don’t go as deep as we’d like, but as a baseline for getting started with web hosting, they’re great. If you’re looking for WordPress tutorials, check out our WordPress guides:
GreenGeeks is an easy-to-use web host that focuses on an area of web hosting that’s seldom talked about. Though an unusual and noble spin on the normal web hosting get-up, it leaves a lot to be desired. The speeds are decent, but resilience isn’t, and the features are great, but the price is high.
Overall, GreenGeeks isn’t a bad web host, but you could do better for your dollar. That said, the focus on green hosting is important, so if you want to stay environmentally conscious, GreenGeeks proves you can do so without sacrificing performance. If you’d like to go another route, though, check out our web hosting reviews.
What do you think of GreenGeeks? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.