2019 November 29th
GreenGeeks is the Californian-based eco-friendly hosting provider. With over 300,000 websites hosted, it runs solely on wind power. This is a green hosting company!
Talking about hosting services, GreenGeeks has shared, reseller, VPS, and dedicated hosting packages. It also resells domain names from Enom.
But there's something more interesting.
It does not follow traditional companies that praise their customer service. Or going all-in when it comes to performance. It also does not talk about cheap prices (though you can find them). The strategy of attracting clients for GreenGeeks is going green.
However, being "green" is not everything. Even if it's ecological, a host still has to be quick, reliable and offer terrific customer support. And this is exactly what we will try to find out today in our GreenGeeks review.
Is GreenGeeks a terrific hosting company offering eco-friendliness as a nice bonus? Or is GreenGeeks more ecological than good?
Let's hop in and find out.
GreenGeeks has 3 hosting plans, Ecosite Lite is cheapest of them and costs $2.95/month, fitting 1 website. Ecosite Pro costs $5.95/month and can host unlimited websites. Ecosite Premium costs $11.95/month and includes a premium Wildcard SSL alongside unlimited websites.
All of the plans include unlimited disk space, bandwidth, and email accounts. So where's the difference?
- With Ecosite Lite you can only host 1 website and you get the standard performance and a limitation to 300 emails per hour.
- Ecosite Pro gets you unlimited websites, 2x faster server and 300 emails per hour.
- Ecosite Premium will include a premium SSL certificate, 4x faster server, and PowerCacher Tool.
To get a better look, you can compare the features in the table:
|Ecosite Lite||Ecosite Pro||Ecosite Premium|
|Disk space limit||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|How many domains allowed||1||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Customer Support||24/7 live chat, phone, email||24/7 live chat, phone, email||24/7 live chat, phone, email|
|Free Automated Backups||Nightly||Nightly||Nightly|
Genuinely, that's really impressive. Virtually unlimited plans, even if lacking a couple of features, is really decent for a couple of dollars per month.
But of course, there's a catch like with many hosting providers.
To get the cheapest pricing, you'll need to sign up for the longest period of 3 years.
The price will also jump to its regular rate after the initial first term. You can see how it goes in the table below:
|Ecosite Lite||Ecosite Pro||Ecosite Premium|
It does look like a lot of money. However, most of the hosts are known to apply this practice. And with GreenGeeks you get the value - many premium features and a domain name is included.
GreenGeeks offer a number of hosting solutions and even more features including "green" servers, unlimited data, and a nice classic cPanel.
The selection is pretty wide - but you would be forgiven for thinking GreenGeeks is all about shared hosting. This is the services promoted left, right, and center on its homepage. Services like VPS or dedicated servers are demoted to a mere link in the footer.
So it's clear where the company's focus is. It's shared hosting. And GreenGeeks has just about enough features to make us excited about it. Let's have a look.
300% green energy based servers
GreenGeeks does not have its own wind farms - but it finds a way to support this kind of energy. The company buys enough wind tokens not only to power itself. It actually buys enough wind energy to support two additional companies its size!
Therefore, by using GreenGeeks, you actually support wind power and help the environment - it's a 300% Green Host.
Even the server locations are decided due to how eco-friendly they could be.
Current locations in Canada, the United States, and the eco-crazy Netherlands make sure that the servers you use are going all-in on environmentally-responsible power.
Fully unlimited hosting packages
GreenGeeks has 3 shared hosting plans and all of them include unlimited emails, FTP, data, and bandwidth.
No tricks, no overpaying just to get one small feature.
GreenGeeks uses a very simple approach and it is very much appreciated because it's beneficial to the end user.
But don't be mistaken.
No unlimited or unmetered plan is truly unlimited. If there was, Amazon wouldn't need its huge server farms to host its services. And even Amazon itself wouldn't be able to provide unlimited data to you - there simply aren't the infinite number of servers.
So if you choose GreenGeeks, read your service agreement and make sure your website will not overflow the host's servers.
Choice of server locations
Signing up with GreenGeeks, you get to choose one of 5 server locations - Phoenix, Chicago, Toronto, Montreal, or Amsterdam.
And that is great.
Choosing a server location you can make sure that you are hosting your site as close to your audience as possible. That will significantly increase page load times for your visitors. And by that you can experience quite a lot of benefits: decreased bounce rates, increased conversions, or even better Google rankings.
There's only one catch, however.
If you ever decide to switch the locations - move from Canada to the United States, for example - it's going to cost you $29.95. This is by far the biggest server location switch fee I have encountered yet.
You better take that into consideration. Although as the future tests have shown, worldwide speeds will be good on even the most remote locations, so maybe it's not a huge issue after all?
In terms of malware and DDoS security, the situation is quite simple - there is no third-party malware security installed, so you'll just have to believe the work of GreenGeeks.
The company is pretty adamant that constant security scans won't allow any malicious software to get in and so far, its track record appears to be really good.
Anyways, no separate anti-DDoS and malware protection is never good.
There is a clear lack of features, which many hosting providers add to their more advanced plans. However - there is a serious tendency for improvement. For example, in May 2018, the host has announced that it will add a free Let's Encrypt certificate to each plan purchased.
But if you're still paranoid about the security, you can always buy Sucuri or SiteLock services, or find a host which will provide them with the plan. All your choice.
Purchase and user interface
The preferred payment option for GreenGeeks is credit cards. However, you can pay with PayPal as well.
At checkout, I had a "10yearsgreen" coupon automatically applied. It gave me a discount I was promised on GreenGeeks landing page.
But from there, the situation got more interesting.
It seems that GreenGeeks do everything manually - I attempted to do the registration multiple times, and in all of the cases, got told to wait until my purchase is approved by an agent. The agents' working hours are limited but eventually, everything started to click.
It was then when I ran into a very interesting problem. The host (without calling me) kept sending me letters about how it definitely called me and I didn't pick up. This continued even after I, by its request, have contacted the host myself. Clearly, the manual approval process isn't without a fault.
The purchasing, with manual letters, calls, and emails took about a day and was definitely one of the more awkward experiences I've had. Could definitely be improved.
After I was finished with that though, I got to finally see the GreenGeeks control panel.
Simple and clear - classic cPanel.
It's a very popular choice for many hosts and most likely, you won't have any problems with it.
It has a huge community, so if you have any questions - a simple google search will solve everything for you. That's one of the best things about a popular type of panel.
GreenGeeks Service Quality
In this part of our GreenGeeks review, we'll test some of the most important parts of every host: performance, customer service, and anti-theft policies.
So let's get straight into it.
GreenGeeks server performance
To test GreenGeeks performance we purchased one of its shared hosting plans. We set up a few websites and put them on a number of different tools to see, how they perform.
- Host Speed During Low Upkeep will show how a simple HTML website with barely 20 lines of code will perform.
- Host Speed During High Upkeep shows server performance with an average-sized website on it.
- Server Speed and Uptime will reveal how the servers are doing in a long-term period in terms of speed and uptime.
Let's get to the results!
Host Speed During Low Upkeep
NOTE - the website tested was hosted on the GreenGeeks Netherlands server.
HTML websites are simple. They do not strain the server and are expected to be the fastest pages you could ever host. Such is the test website I made - it took up just around 20 lines of code.
The server performance with a small website on it is average. Response times in the US, London, and Sao Paulo are great - the average won't climb over 200ms. Asia locations drag the result down.
In any case, don't let the "C" rating fool you. It's actually a solid, well-rounded result. Most of the location server speed is faster than the blink of an eye (200ms).
Host Speed During High Upkeep
Now, it's time to see just how good the GreenGeeks server optimization is. I picked SitePad - a GreenGeeks preferred website builder and came up with something way more clunky than a small HTML website.
The results are virtually the same as with the small website. You get great response time in the US and Europe, and slightly worse ones in Asia.
What does that mean?
A big website won't slow you down.
I can say that GreenGeeks servers and the SitePad website builder are optimized together quite well. You won't have to worry that your builder website will be slow and awful - it's going to be almost as quick as it gets.
Server Speed and Uptime
To check how GreenGeeks servers are doing in the long term, we set up a basic WordPress website. A website tracker was checking its performance once every minute - by doing so, we can now see the host's overall availability. Both in downtimes and in the fluctuating response times.
The first several weeks the response time was not promising. The industry average is 553ms, GreenGeeks averaged at 560ms. Could be better.
But as many of us may know - it's not how you start that's important, it's how you move forward.
At the beginning of this GreenGeeks review, the speeds were okay, but not ideal. Fast forward a few months to May 2018 and the performance has become much better. The response time dropped to 292ms, which is well below the industry average. Uptime is also great - 99.97% means you can expect 13 minutes of downtime monthly.
Previously, the response times were hovering around the 500-600 ms mark. Later, with several changes, it reduced to a brilliant sub-200 ms range.
Now, you can expect response times even lower. We recorded 185ms average response time multiple times on a regular day.
There's only one word to describe it - brilliant. Not only the data of this Greengeeks review shows the host's performance to be great, but it also points to the provider constantly improving its services.
Add that to the free SSL certificate recently being given to the new and existing clients and it paints a picture. A picture that shows Greengeeks caring for its customers way beyond the initial purchase. Some hosting providers tend to turn really bad after some time - not this one.
Previously I've said that if common spikes in performance would be fixed, this provider would be scratching the top 5. Now, it does. So I keep my part of the bargain.
Greengeeks may well be green, but its performance is red hot. Premium speeds and saving a bunch of penguins? - I'm down.
Anti-Theft Security Evaluation
To test how well GreenGeeks takes care of security breaches, I will be attempting to do a perfect crime - stealing my own hosting account without anyone noticing. By doing so, we will see what kind of security measures GreenGeeks is implementing for its services.
First up, a brute-force protection check.
This is a simple one. Imagine someone having a clue of what your password is - but not knowing the whole thing. Or a script trying out all possible combinations until the password is guessed. I attempted to replicate these things by changing my IP and browser and quickly entering the incorrect password 20 times in the row.
On the 21st, it was finally correct. If there were sensitive brute-force protection measures applied, something would be there to stop me from logging in. Additional verification, temporary suspension, Captcha, anything.
Instead, there was nothing. I was easily allowed in.
This is not very good - there may be some protection but I wasn't quick enough to trigger it. Perhaps making it a bit more sensitive would be great? I know for a fact many hosting providers have very interesting protection mechanisms and I would like GreenGeeks to follow suit.
In the second test, I tried to lure the password out of the unsuspecting live chat service agents. I pretended to have lost access to both my email and GreenGeeks logins. With no solid evidence I actually own the account, did GreenGeeks give me the logins?
Not really. As a matter of fact, it turns out that this process is manual as well.
Chat service agents were unable to help me, but an email to the Billing solved everything out. They asked me for a huge list of personal information.
That's quite a lot and if someone has this much of your personal information, you're in big trouble. That being said, if you included any incorrect information while registering, you may have a problem regaining access to your account.
GreenGeeks Customer Support
GreenGeeks has a bunch of options to get support - 24/7 email, live chat, and phone. Knowledgebase and tutorials are also available.
GreenGeeks gives an ambitious claim, calling its customer service "the best in the industry". It will be interesting to see whether that's true or not.
If they have customer support which can back up the claim - it's quite amazing, as knowledgeable service agents can be incredibly helpful and make the overall hosting experience a lot better.
So let's see how GreenGeeks managed to perform.
Email Support Evaluation
According to the host itself, the average response time is around 15-20 minutes. After sending multiple requests from various accounts - all at different times of the day - I must admit that this claim is quite correct.
More technical requests take around 20 minutes. Simple regular questions often do even better than expected - here's an example of how quick some of the replies were.
Quite impressive - anything under two or three hours or so is very good, so 10 minutes is nothing short of brilliant. If those are the response times they pull off consistently, surely no one can complain about that.
The contents of the answers very really decent too, with the agents being engaging and proactive. Although they didn't appear to be very friendly and didn't seem to have any time for unnecessary politeness - straight to the point it was!
Phone Support Evaluation
Considering how widespread and popular live chat services have become, I fully expected a smaller company to not do any phone customer support.
But I was wrong - GreenGeeks do have a working line. And it's available 24/7.
I was impressed by the fact I didn't have to wait much more. The in-call menu was brief and simple. Including all menu options, selection, and wait to be assigned to an agent, it took me only 40 seconds to start chatting with someone. Brilliant.
In my other attempts, it was all around the same, never exceeding the 2-minute mark. In terms of wait times, this company is doing really quite well.
The agents, however, were not always 100% ideal.
Many times I felt like they were incredibly uninterested in everything that was going on. It was monotone voices and somewhat plain answers that made me feel this way. Although I can't speak for every agent in every situation, every host should expect its agents to be slightly more proactive and willing to at least sound interested.
Overall though, with the wait times being so small and the support generally helpful, there's not that much to complain about.
Chat Support Evaluation
The wait times were incredible. Once you open the chat, you are greeted with a generic welcome message. Once you reply to it, the chat starts and it usually takes less than 30 seconds for the assigned agent to read and respond to your reply.
The knowledge of agents was perfectly good enough.
I was unable to catch the agents lurking. Most of the simple questions I have asked have been responded pretty much immediately. This shows that either the agents knew the answers by heart, or their internal knowledge base is very, very effective.
The agents were brief, effective and straight to the point. Why was that a problem? At times, I felt like GreenGeeks chat support were a bunch of robots which have dominated the Turing test and are now out for the human jobs.
It's not that much a problem but more a specific thing that I've noticed. Surely it wouldn't hurt for the agents to feel a little bit more relaxed.
Overall, the same thing can be said about every type of GreenGeeks client service. Fast and efficient.
GreenGeeks Review - Conclusion
As we found out from this GreenGeeks review, it is a great and reliable hosting provider. It has great performance and uptime, as well as professional customer support. The website builder and cPanel are intuitive, so it is also easy to manage your website.
GreenGeeks is also an environment-friendly provider, covering its energy use 300% with renewable energy.
So not only it's fast, but you are also helping polar bears.
But not everything is great, GreenGeeks does not avoid some drawbacks.
The pricing, the same as with many providers is a bit tricky and you'll have to carefully read the conditions to get the best deal. You'll also have to trust GreenGeeks to take care of the security as they do not have third-party software included.
Overall, I think GreenGeeks is a good host with a very interesting selling point. Fully green and running on wind power, it has its quirks but you get a lot for your money. If you care about the planet, this is a terrific option to run your project on.
- Above average performance
- Great value for the price
- Professional customer support
- Expensive renewals
- Expensive server location change