Fun fact: do you know why Facebook moved its massive data center to Northern Sweden?
That’s because servers run hot, and cooling them down is expensive. Might as well keep them in a cold part of the world.
But more to the point in this GreenGeeks review: maintaining servers uses a ton of energy.
In fact, the Internet is one of the largest polluters in the world. Data centers account for 2% of the world’s CO2 emissions, about the same as the airline industry.
Well, if that’s a concern for you, I’ve got good news because the ‘green’ in GreenGeeks refers to their commitment to providing eco-friendly web hosting.
This is how it works, according to their website:
- The platform is designed with a maximum use, no waste mindset.
- For every amperage the company pulls from the grid, it matches it x3 in the form of renewable energy via the Bonneville Environmental Foundation
So they claim your website could be operating on a 300% green hosting platform!
While a growing number of hosting providers take the problem of energy seriously, (here’s an example from DreamHost), GreenGeeks really puts their ethos front and forward.
But what about other pros and cons, features and alternatives? Let’s put GreenGeeks through the wringer to see how it fares.
Let’s first look at how much it costs per month to host your website on GreenGeeks. The first option is for shared hosting (the one most website owners need). You’ll also find that they offer WordPress web hosting. As far as I could tell, there is absolutely no difference between the WordPress and the shared hosting option.
As always, we’ll only be mentioning the regular price, which is what you pay after a first year at a discounted price. The first 12 months can be 50 – 70% cheaper.
|Ecosite Lite||Ecosite Pro||Ecosite Premium|
|Monthly data transfer||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Emails per hour||100||200||500|
|Domain name||Free for 1 year (around $14 a year thereafter)||Free for 1 year (around $14 a year thereafter)||Free for 1 year (around $14 a year thereafter)|
|Physical memory (RAM)||1GB||2GB||3GB|
|Price (after renewal)||$24.95 / month|
$14.95 / month
|$9.95 / month|
You can purchase the plans for 12, 24 or 36 months. There is a significant discount for the longer terms, as you can see below:
GreenGeeks also offers VPS hosting, which comes with better performance, but a lot of limits depending on the plan you choose.
|2GB Plan||4GB Plan||8GB Plan|
|RAM (yes it’s what gives the name to each pan)||2GB||4GB||4GB|
|SSD Disk Space||50GB||75GB||150GB|
|Monthly data transfer||10TB||10TB||10TB|
|Price||$39.95 / month||$59.95 / month||$109.95 / month|
Finally, I should also mention that GreenGeeks has a few add-ons you can purchase to expand your hosting capabilities. These include:
- Dedicated IP address: $48 per year
- Premium AlphaSSL Wildcard: to secure SSL on multiple subdomains all at once.
- WHMCS license: useful for resellers who want to bill hosting to their clients (note that GreenGeeks does offer a reselling option).
Last but not least, you’ll have to pay $25 for every backup restore, if you do it more than once per month (the first one is free).
What can you expect from each GreenGeeks plan?
As you can see in the above table, there’s a lot of unlimited stuff with their shared hosting and WordPress plans. That includes:
- Unlimited bandwidth (or data transfer, which means the same thing)
- Unlimited disk storage
- Unlimited databases
- Unlimited email accounts
- Free SSL
The key limits to keep an eye on are maybe the number of ionodes, which is another way of saying the number of files on your site. It’s a very large number, mostly there to ensure you don’t abuse GreenGeeks’ generosity by hosting a file sharing website.
GreenGeeks Pros & Cons
|+ Green-minded: GreenGeeks is attempting to offset their server’s electricity consumption by using as much renewable energy as possible.|
+ Unlimited data bandwidth: you can host one or multiple sites with complete peace of mind when it comes to visitor numbers and bandwidth.
+ Unlimited data storage: your site can be as large as you like, so good for video, high-res photos and ecommerce with loads of products. Just keep an eye on the number of files. Hosting more than 150,000 could void your plan’s contract.
+ Server locations: three continents to choose from, the US, Canada and Europe.
+ Heavily reduced long term plans: it’s not unusual to pay less for 24 or 36 month plans, but GreenGeeks is slashing their monthly prices by up to 70% for long term users.
|– Missing advanced features: serious website owners and developers will need to look elsewhere for staging or premium DNSs.|
– No team management: it’s not possible to add multiple account users and to give permissions.
– Lack of free backups: you get one automatic backup every 24 hours. One free restore per month, but the rest are paid. Not good enough.
– Outdated design: Not a deal-breaker, but the whole system could do with a new coat of paint, which could also help with the user experience.
What is GreenGeeks used for?
I’d say GreenGeeks is best for website owners with green goals in mind. You can even show one of their green badges, to highlight on your site.
The generous bandwidth and storage is advantageous for those who own multiple sites. As far as the performance to price ratio goes, it’s good, and becomes more acceptable when you buy a long term contract of 24 or 36 months.
When not to use GreenGeeks hosting?
Anyone managing a team should consider that inviting others to join the account isn’t possible, and the lack of developer-friendly features could be a big no-no for certain businesses.
Developers with complicated workflows that need staging areas probably won’t be big fans of GreenGeeks’s platform either.
|Ease of Use||GreenGeeks’ panel is intuitive and well organised. They integrate cPanel, a visual tool to manage hosting services. It’s easy enough to use, but I prefer more modern-looking panels like the ones offered by SiteGround, DreamHost or Kinsta.|
Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be a way to create additional users for team management on the same account. This is very useful if you work with clients or have a large team with several members that need access to the hosting admin panel.
|Domain Names||You are entitled to a free domain name the first year, after that you’ll need to pay for it. A .com domain name renews at $13.95 per year, but prices can vary wildly.|
|Email Rating||It’s possible to create unlimited email accounts and there doesn’t seem to be any limitation on how much storage they can use.|
|Databases||Fortunately, with GreenGeeks there isn’t a limitation on how many databases you can have. I wasn’t able to hit or find a database size limitation, so in theory, they can be as big as you need.|
|Applications||GreenGeeks comes with Softaculous, a cPanel visual interface that will allow you to install dozens of apps and CMS like WordPress, PrestaShop, Drupal, Joomla or Magento.|
Be aware that the Lite plan will only allow 1 website to be installed, the other packages come with unlimited site installs.
|Webspace Limit||GreenGeeks website says that all their plans come with unlimited storage, which is true. However, they do limit the number of files your account will be able to host to 150,000 files for the Lite plan, 300,000 for the Pro and 500,000 for the higher tier.*|
|Monthy Data Transfer Limit||GreenGeeks doesn’t meter the bandwidth you get.|
|FTP Accounts and Secure FTP||Create as many FTP accounts as you need. SFTP (Secure FTP) and SSH access are also allowed.|
|Server Location||You can choose to host your site in a datacenter in three key locations: the US, Canada or Europe.|
|Security Features||With GreenGeeks you can enable SSL encryption for free. The latest PHP and MySQL versions are also valid, which would make your site more secure when you use them.|
GreenGeeks also isolates accounts, so if somehow one site is infected with malicious code, it won’t spread to all your other sites.
|Server Speed||Decent, according to our tests. GreenGeeks ranked number 5, with an average of 2.32 seconds loading speed.|
|Uptime||The uptime we saw in our tests is good, but there are providers offering a bit more. It hovered around 99.98%.|
|Backups||They only offer a backup of the last 24-hours and you can have 1 restore a month for free. After that, the fee is $25 for every time you request a backup restore.|
You can manually backup the site yourself, but there are two caveats. Firstly, you have to do it through the clunky cPanel feature, which I don’t love using. Second, if your account is larger than 10GB, each manual backup request will cost you $5.
|CDN||There is no included CDN. However, you can easily integrate Cloudflare with GreenGeeks’ dedicated cPanel feature.|
Note that Cloudflare can be free or purchased depending on the plan you need.
|Server Features||It comes with the latest PHP and MySQL versions. They use HTTP/2. Perl and Python are also supported. Its system is optimized to integrate with LiteSpeed and LSCache caching system.|
|Refunds and Guarantees||There is a 30-day money back policy.|
For uptime, GreenGeeks guarantees that your site will be running at least 99.9% of the time. If it drops below that rate, you’ll get some money towards your next monthly payment.
|Assistance and Support||You can reach GreenGeeks support via chat, phone and email. Please be aware that phone support is only available during EST office hours (Monday to Sunday from 9 AM to 12 AM). The support section has a lot of useful tutorials.|
|Overall Rating||GreenGeeks offers decent performance to price ratio, as long as you don’t need advanced features like team management and staging.|
The big selling point is the fact that GreenGeeks is more committed to renewable energy than other hosting providers.
* Limiting files instead of size is pretty common practice with these “unlimited” hosts: it’s mostly a precaution to stop people from building file sharing websites.
Backups and restore are one of the areas I start considering a lot more these days when it comes to choosing a web host. A Sod’s law states: if something wrong can happen, it probably will, and at the worst possible times.
Anyways, this is how it works with GreenGeeks. Option 1 is to use the cPanel backup tool. I’s a bit clunky and manual but by no means too difficult to do:
- Login and click on the appropriate site’s cPanel button
- Click Backup in the Files section
- lick Home Directory under Download a Home Director
- You can also download a database instead, or a full Zipped account backup, which is what you’ll need to keep on your local drives.
A couple of important things to note:
- If your account is larger than 10GB in size, the whole cPanel backup option will be disabled. You’ll have to pay $5 per backup.
- cPanel backups saved to your home directory will be deleted automatically after 48 hours, so it’s better to download the ZIP file locally.
- The first monthly restore is free. After that, each restore costs $25. Note that it’s not unusual to restore at least a couple of times if there’s an issue (e.g. you chose the wrong backup to restore).
Option number two is to download files manually using an FTP program. If you use a CMS like WordPress or Drupal that also means you’ll need to backup databases. I always find that a big pain to do, and also slow. Which is why a better backup tool would have been useful.
GreenGeeks and WordPress
Although GreenGeeks has a special section on their website for WordPress hosting, I couldn’t find a difference between these plans and the share hosting ones.
In any case, here’s what you get for both if you want to install the world’s most popular CMS.
- Easy installation: it’s not 1-click, but they use an install app called Softaculous, which simplifies the process for you. Maybe 4 or 5 steps, which you can read about here.
- LiteSpeed Cache plugin: it’s a caching plugin that will make WordPress run faster on your site when properly configured. Be aware this is not GreenGeek’s own solution, but just a generic plugin they recommend.
To be honest, I feel like all the WordPress-optimized stuff is mostly there for marketing purposes. If you are really serious about WordPress experts (and you have the budget for it), I’d consider other options like Kinsta. SiteGround is also a great option if you need something a bit more affordable.
Final GreenGeeks Review Comments
GreenGeeks is certainly the provider we’ve tested that’s the most committed to protecting the environment. It’s an admirable choice, and businesses with a green goal will certainly be pleased to hear that they can host a website with a reliable performance, price, and low carbon footprint.
But there are nevertheless a few downsides to consider. The lack of advanced options like staging and team management features can be a dealbreaker for professional business owners. The limited backup features may be not enough for most.
It’s also not the cheapest provider out there. For example, at renewal DreamHost is more affordable and offers similar performance levels.
Frequently Asked Quesitons
How Do I Pay for GreenGeeks?
You can pay via all major credit cards and PayPal. No checks, money orders, wire transfers or Western Union payments.
Is Everything Really Unlimited?
Yes. Just keep in mind that there is a limit on the amount of files you can keep on your sites, though. It’s a really high number, so mostly a precaution against file-sharing websites.
Can I Get My Money Back?
There is an unconditional 30-day money back guarantee offer.
Is There an Uptime Service Guarantee?
Yes, if your website hosting drops below a 99.9% rate, GreenGeeks will refund some of your hosting fees.
Is GreenGeeks Really Environmentally-Friendly?
They’re certainly advertising as such. In practice this is how it works: GreenGeeks tells the Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) how much electricity they use. The foundation calculates how much green energy they’ll need to use to make up for it. GreenGeeks purchases that amount in renewable energy.
So it’s not like their servers use less energy than standard hosting. However, they are certainly committed to making up for what they consume, and using as much green energy as possible.
I hope I answered all your questions about GreenGeeks in this review. But please, if you do still have some questions, leave a message and I’ll do my best to help you.