Some hosting companies praise their customer service. Some go all-in when it comes to performance. Plenty of providers talk about their low prices. And most of the time, the absolute majority of hosts use the combination of the three aforementioned things in order to construct their values and marketing strategies.
When it comes to GreenGeeks, this company does it very differently. The Californian hosting provider is, first and foremost, an environmentally-responsible company. With over 300,000 websites hosted, it runs solely on wind power. This is a green hosting company!
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. 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.
- Shared web hosting
- Reseller hosting
- VPS servers
- Dedicated servers
- Domain names (reseller of Enom)
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.
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.
There's only one plan - and it includes unmetered domains, emails, FTP, data, and bandwidth. No tricks, no overpaying just to get one small feature. GreenGeeks use a very simple approach and it is very much appreciated because it's beneficial to the end user.
So there's that. GreenGeeks concentrates on the ecology of its services and simplicity of its plans. It appears to be an incredibly simple host for the eco-conscious people who wish to reduce their carbon footprint. But is using GreenGeeks reducing the quality of your site as well? I sure hope not. Let's find out anyway - by purchasing and testing the shared hosting plan!
What's included in the GreenGeeks hosting package?
If you're one of those people who simply can't choose between the multitude of options they're given, boy do I have some good news for you. As I mentioned earlier, GreenGeeks only offers one kind of web hosting plan:
Luckily for everyone, this plan is pretty much all you'll ever need. Nearly everything is either unlimited or unmetered. In case you need a slightly more clear image of what GreenGeeks offers, here are all of the main features, put in the table below.
|Shared Hosting Plan|
|Disk space limit||Unmetered|
|How many domains allowed||Unlimited|
|SSD or HDD used in servers||SSD|
|SSL||Included - Let's Encrypt|
|Anti-DDoS protection||Server level|
|Anti-malware protection||Server level|
|Website Builder||Included (SitePad)|
|Assisted Website Transfer||cPanel, free.|
|Money back guarantee||30 days|
|Customer Support||Live chat, phone, email|
|Choice of server location||Yes|
|Free Automated Backups||Nightly, kept for 24h|
Now, let's have a quick look at the prices. In the promotional screen you saw earlier, GreenGeeks was adamant about its web hosting price being "$3.95 a month". Is that really true, though? During my reviews, I have noticed a rather simple trick - such advertised prices often tend to only be available if paying for a long period in advance. So how is it for GreenGeeks?
Nothing new or special here. The genuinely lucrative unlimited $3.95 hosting plan retains its price only if you pay for 3 years in advance. The shorter your desired period is, the higher the monthly fee. Here's how the prices in the basket would look for each of the plan lengths:
|Payment Period / Plan||Web Hosting|
|1 month||$9.95 (+$15 setup fee, paid once)|
*The prices do not have any tax included - and we did not have to pay any extra. Your experience may vary, depending on your locale.
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. This is a new addition to the lineup, which gives just an extra reason to use GreenGeeks. Not bad!
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. If you're paranoid about security though, you can always buy Sucuri or SiteLock services, or find a host which will provide them with the plan. All your choice.
The multiple server locations are good but there is also one serious drawback. At the time of signup, you are given a selection of three locations. The United States, Canada or the Netherlands. You pick one, your websites get hosted there, very simple. Yet there is a catch. 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?
Genuinely really impressive. A virtually unlimited plan, even if lacking a couple of features, is really decent for $3.95 a month. Yet a huge increase in prices when picking a shorter plan is a little bit disappointing. $9.95 a month (plus $15 for setup) when paying monthly is still not bad - but not amazing. As long as you don't plan to switch the server location in the middle of the plan.
I am also glad to see that the renewal prices of this hosting will not increase when your plan runs out. Instead, the users get a simple option to pay the same amount of money and get the same length plan as previously.
GreenGeeks Customer Service
GreenGeeks give 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. Well, here I will be testing the three main types of customer support GreenGeeks offers. Here's what they are:
- Live Chat
And here's how they've done:
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 the 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. However, it's not 24/7. Instead, it only works from 9 AM to 12 PM EST on weekdays, and 9 AM to 8 PM EST on weekends.
I had to wait until 9 AM before I was able to make a call. When I did, 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
In this part, I will evaluate the chat services using the 3 main qualities every great company should implement:
- Response times. Live chat is supposed to be quick and "live" - people starting them often don't want to wait.
- General knowledge of the agents. They have to know the nooks and crannies of their company better than anyone else.
- Human factor. The agents are supposed to act like real human beings and be emphatic. It's only expected, considering a lot of people who come to them will be angry and want their problems to be resolved.
Here's what I found out.
The wait times? 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? 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 human factor? Just like in email and chat, this was a serious shortcoming. 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, efficient, and lacking good human interaction. If human interaction is what you're looking for, perhaps it's worth weighing up other options. For many users though, it won't be much of a problem. GreenGeeks simply get things done.
First Impressions During and After the Purchase
The preferred payment option for GreenGeeks is credit cards. However, if you ask nicely, you may be given an opportunity with PayPal as well. The alternatives are there - you just need to look for them.
At checkout, I had a "ny2018" coupon automatically applied. Funnily enough, the host itself has told me the coupon is expired. Odd. Luckily, it didn't take long for the checkout to happen. A few minutes later, this is the message I received.
As you can see, I also got a SiteLock coupon to go with it. Here's your website security option, right there. But that's not what kept my interest. I was more worried about what happened later. 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 they definitely called me and I didn't pick up. This continued even after I, by their request, have contacted them 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 dashboard:
Simple and clear. There is not much to do here but you won't get lost either. The cPanel login is just at the bottom. This is how the panel looks like:
Classic paper_lantern cPanel - nothing wrong with that. It's a very popular choice for many hosts and most likely, you won't have any problems with it. If something becomes confusing, you're just one online search away from getting all of the answers. That's one of the best things about a popular type of panel.
How do I feel about GreenGeeks so far? At first, I was seriously impressed by the prices and the features you get for the money. Even with the disappointing omissions of DDoS and malware protection and an incredibly expensive server location switch service, the package still has a lot going on for it. It is now time to see just how good the GreenGeeks performance is. Here's what we'll be testing:
- Host's speed during low upkeep
- Host's speed with a website created using SitePad website builder
- Server's overall uptime
- Anti-theft security strength
The tests will get constant updates - the speeds are changing, the servers get upgraded and we can only expect the results of every host to fluctuate as the time goes by. Also, I feel like this must be made clear - the tools are never completely correct. BitCatcha and Uptime Robot tools that we use also have their own access points.
It is only expected for the results to slightly depend on them as well. The results you'll see down below, however, are perfect to compare with the other hosts we've done. After all, all of those tests use the same software.
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.
This is how it's done:
Nothing crazy good, nothing crazy bad either. Straight in the very usable middle. Singapore and India speeds are slightly worse - such is the case for many of the hosts we review. Another thing amused me though, considering the server was in the Netherlands, I am thoroughly impressed with the speeds in the USA, Brazil, and Sydney. In most of the locations, the speeds were 100-300ms. That's less than a blink! Don't let the "C" rating fool you, it's actually a solid, well-rounded result.
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.
These are the results:
Virtually the same, huh? A millisecond here or there isn't that crazy of a downgrade. Overall, 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 Overall Uptime
A basic WordPress website was set up. 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. Here's how it went through several weeks of testing:
Those peaks look quite interesting - like a sublime shot of the Himalayas. The speeds, however, are not bad.
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:
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. Nowadays, in May 2018, a regular day on a regular Greengeeks WordPress page may look a little bit like this:
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, 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 of 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 their performance is red hot. Premium speeds and saving a bunch of penguins? - I'm down.
Anti-Theft Security Evaluation
For the final test, 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. This is the list of information someone would have to put it to gain access to your account:
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.
IMPORTANT - keep your passwords and personal information safe. Don't use simple combinations and use encrypting software. Also, use genuine information while registering.
GreenGeeks Review - Conclusion
GreenGeeks is a very interesting hosting provider. The "completely green" ideology is a good selling point for many eco-conscious people. Yet turns out that it's not the only good thing about GreenGeeks! There are several other reasons to pick this provider, which don't include helping polar bears.
The shared hosting plan is relatively inexpensive and has very little limits on what you can do. Recently including the addition of a free 'Let's Encrypt Wildcard SSL' makes the simple and clean plan even more appealing!
GreenGeeks do not include something you would get for free in the first place. In a business of deceit, GreenGeeks is honest, transparent and responsible. Even if that transparency includes extra payments or some things not being included, it's a thing worth praising this company for.
Now - the issues. The customer service is a little bit awkward. A lot of the things are done manually, which means things may hold up for a while and there's a risk of some human error. Phone support isn't 24/7, and all kinds of customer service are incredibly efficient but perhaps lacking in empathy. It's not as much a problem, it's more of my own personal opinion.
Finally, the performance. It's improved by a lot. Fairly common hiccups in the past seem to be all but gone now - and the speed is definitely in the top 5.
Overall, I think this 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 blog on.
- Above average performance
- Good long-term and renewal prices
- Honest and straightforward feature options
- Manual processes may result in some errors
- Server location switch service is $29.95
- Customer service could be more friendly