This post originally appeared at GreenGeeks Hosting Review: Pros, Cons & Alternatives via ShivarWeb
GreenGeeks is an independent, rapidly growing hosting company based in California, but with data centers across the US and Europe. GreenGeeks positions itself as a more environmentally friendly host with a focus on customer support.
What is GreenGeeks Hosting?
GreenGeeks is a traditional web hosting company that offers a range of hosting services, including Shared, VPS, and Reseller products, along with complementary products such as domain registration, website builder, and (nominal) WordPress hosting. Here is their pricing chart.
GreenGeeks was founded in 2008 by a veteran of the hosting industry with a then-novel promise of environmental friendliness in an increasingly dirty industry.
GreenGeeks also has a unique focus on simplicity in an increasingly complex industry. Along with InMotion, HostPapa, A2, and SiteGround, GreenGeeks is one of the fewer remaining large hosts that is not owned by Endurance International, the GoDaddy Group, or the Web.com Group.
I recently had a couple of small websites that needed their own hosting accounts. Since I’ve had readers ask about GreenGeeks, I decided to give them a try.
Here’s my GreenGeeks Hosting review structured with pros, cons, and alternatives based on my experience as a customer.
Pros of Using GreenGeeks
There are a lot of GreenGeeks Hosting reviews online – usually with user-generated reviews based on anecdotes and personal experience. That’s fine, but I take a different approach. Like I mention in all my hosting reviews, there is no such thing as a “best” web host. It’s all about the right fit for your project based on your goals, budget, experience & expertise. Here are the pros (advantages) for considering GreenGeeks Hosting.
Speed & Performance
A hosting account can be a lot of things to your business, but the core function of a hosting server is to serve your website files whenever someone requests them. But – the implied adverb there is to serve those files quickly.
In an age of global audiences and multi-device connections, speed matters more than ever. While there are a lot of variables in play with website speed, it’s primarily your hosting server’s job to send the requested files to the visitor’s browser as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
GreenGeeks Hosting makes a lot of claims about their speed.
Some of those claims are just marketing claims that are true across all hosting providers (we’ll cover in the downsides).
But overall, GreenGeeks Hosting does live up to their promises.
One of the main factors of site speed is Time To First Byte (TTFB) – ie, how quickly the server sends the first byte of the first file in response to a request. Here’s how my GreenGeeks Hosting website tested out with a standardized install
Their TTFB was much better than some of their big brand competitors like Bluehost or GoDaddy and competitive with other companies that focus on speed. For example, here’s my TTFB report from tests that I did on my SiteGround website.
A bit faster – but in the same ballpark – especially given the variance that can happen with TTFB tests. And of course, if you have a good server setup, you can do even more (with GreenGeeks Hosting or any other fast hosting company). For example, here’s my TTFB test with an optimized InMotion server.
Overall, GreenGeeks Hosting excels in one of their main claims to fame – speed & performance. If that’s your priority, then they are certainly in the running with other direct competitors.
Company Structure & Mission
First off, I don’t think that a company is “good” or “bad” simply due to its size or customer focus. It’s all about tradeoffs.
There are a lot of major advantages to using a big company. They usually have the resources to provide big comprehensive solutions. They typically have lower unit costs that can be passed to the customer. They are also usually more stable than small, upstart companies.
That said, small companies are usually able to be more agile, closer & more responsive to the customer, and less likely to view customers solely through the lens of a Net Promoter Score.
In the world of hosting – it really depends on your goals & preferences. There is no right answer.
That said, GreenGeeks does have two things going for it.
First, it’s a big advantage that GreenGeeks Hosting is a founder-owned, independent company – simply because that is so rare now. Most hosting companies are brands of Endurance International, GoDaddy or the Web.com group.
And not only is GreenGeeks Hosting independent, but they are also stable and growing and really use their independence to promote transparency and accessibility that a big brand simply can’t match.
If you are someone looking for a hosting company rather than a hosting brand – GreenGeeks Hosting will tick that box. If not, you can ignore this section and keep focusing on your priorities.
Second, is GreenGeeks’ sustainability mission that is built into their business & corporate mission. Web hosting is a pretty carbon-intensive industry. It is responsible for an increasing amount of carbon emissions at a time when our carbon use needs to go down.
GreenGeeks purchases 3x the electricity that they consume in the form of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation – in addition to conservation measures at data centers.
Now – carbon accounting is outside of the scope of this review. However, RECs are pretty legit from a climate perspective compared to the iffy accounting of the more common “carbon offsets”. Here’s the difference if you’re interested. But the short version is that even though GreenGeeks’ data centers are powered in states with pretty dirty grid power, they purchase 300% of the equivalent electricity consumed from clean grid sources. The end result is that they are putting more clean energy back into the grid than the dirty energy that they are consuming.
The short version – GreenGeeks is an indie company that is more environmentally friendly than other hosting companies. They aren’t merely greenwashing for sales.
Product Simplicity & Transparency
GreenGeeks is simple. They have a few different plans. They have few, if any, upsells. The WordPress auto-install creates a blank, default install with no additional plugins or anything.
GreenGeeks is as transparent as they can be about what equipment you are receiving and why you are getting what you are getting.
GreenGeeks has some elements of marketing-speak that I’ll cover in the downsides (e.g., WordPress hosting vs. Web hosting), but by in large, they run a simple, straightforward operation. As a customer, it’s refreshing and…nice. Big upside for GreenGeeks.
Support Access & Options
Like I’ve mentioned in other hosting reviews, reviewing customer support is tricky. Just like your local restaurant on Yelp, the most positive and most negative reviews are generally worthless.
You never know when issues are customer-caused or when someone simply encountered that one amazing/horrible employee.
I’ve had a good experience with GreenGeeks Hosting. But that’s very anecdotal. So, I also like to look at “proxies” for customer support. In other words, things that indicate something about the culture & processes of customer support.
First – GreenGeeks Hosting provides a lot of different channels for customer support.
They have a phone number front and center. They have an extensive knowledgebase, and live chat. They do well triaging requests via social media.
Second, GreenGeeks’s reps are pretty hands-on – they’ll log into your account and attempt real fixes before having to escalate the issue. While some customers may or may not like that option, it does signal that they see customer support as an investment rather than a cost. That’s the type of general conclusion that I look for – and the one that I think matters in the long-term over a one-off experience.
Like their independent competitors in InMotion and SiteGround, GreenGeek’s customer support is a major pro to choosing them over a big brand hosting company (like GoDaddy) that may or may not prioritize support in the same way. This point segues into another big advantage for GreenGeeks Hosting.
Data Centers & Industry Contrasts
On a related but different note than speed & performance, GreenGeeks scores well as a globally oriented host that can efficiently serve websites around the world.
While there are lots of factors in website speed (like TTFB), the physical location of your server matters a lot. Requests for information travel over physical wires to a physical server. Even at lightspeed, distance matters, especially if you own/maintain a site or if your visitors need to load up many different files.
If you and your audience are on one side of the globe, it’s good to host your files near both you and your audience.
*Note – if you are in one country, but your audience is spread out, most sites solve this problem with a CDN.
Until recently, most cutting edge hosting companies were based & focused on the US market. If you were in Asia or Europe -then you might be stuck with lackluster local hosting and/or slow connection times.
GreenGeeks allows you to select your datacenter among the four that they operate in the US, Canada, and Europe. As long as you aren’t in Austral-Asia, you’ll be set with GreenGeeks.
But second, GreenGeeks is incredibly transparent and normal compared to industry peers. Part of this relates to the simplicity that I already mentioned. But, they are refreshingly straightforward. You can see in the screenshot above that they tell what their data centers’ IP addresses are. They tell you what they can and cannot do.
They provide an ad and upsell-free WordPress auto-install.
Their account management is so simple that it’s boring.
And it’s not really about the simplicity that is attractive per se – it can also have downsides – but it’s about what it says about the company.
GreenGeeks seems to be the type of company that sells a good product. They are proud of it. And that is all. For a product like web hosting, that type of company is usually good to work with.
Cons / Disadvantages of Using GreenGeeks
Like any web host, GreenGeeks has disadvantages. There are plenty of GreenGeeks complaints online. But remember, that like the pros, these are all in the context of your goals & priorities. With that said, here are the cons that I found while using GreenGeeks Hosting.
Like I’ve mentioned in other hosting reviews, comparing pricing across hosting companies can be maddening. It’s very difficult to compare apples to oranges because plans generally come with various caps.
That said, I try to look at compare pricing based on the 3 “D’s” of core hosting features –
- Domains – how many websites you can run on your account
- Databases – how many software installs you can run
- Disk Space – how many files you can upload to your account
After looking at “core” hosting features, I like to factor all the possible “bonus” features. Bonus features are features that you should only factor in if they pertain to your goals. For example, if you plan on running Google Ads, then a credit there might be worthwhile, but if not, then it’s something to ignore completely.
Either way, GreenGeeks Hosting has 3 main tiers for shared Linux hosting – the Lite ($9.95/mo at renewal), Pro ($14.95/mo at renewal), and Premium ($24.95/mo at renewal).
With heavy discounting, their plans are not too bad compared to both competitors and discount brands.
That said – they are definitely pricier than most hosting companies that I’ve looked at for a few reasons.
First, their promotional pricing is only valid for 3-year plans. If you only want to pay annually – their renewal pricing is much higher.
Second, their Lite plan is pretty heavily capped. It’s really suitable for literally one website with no additional use cases.
Third, while they do provide some bonuses, they all have some strings attached and may or may not be worth the price jump between tiers.
Now – to be clear, that’s not a bad thing. Price is not a particularly good metric. Every customer should look at overall value for their needs. But either way, GreenGeeks Hosting works at a higher price point than other hosts, and I’m not sure their raw features meet the price point….which segues into the next section.
Product Selection & Feature Set
GreenGeeks keeps their product line-up simple. Even their “WordPress Hosting” is just plain Shared hosting with dedicated support reps.
They don’t have cloud hosting or managed WordPress hosting, or multiple flavors of shared or VPS hosting.
Among their features, they don’t have NGINX, built-in staging, or their own CDN network. They don’t bundle plugins or brand-name SSLs. They use a standard off-the-shelf cPanel and Softaculous installer.
And they set pretty low default memory limits on new WordPress installs.
The ironic thing is that this lack of product features is simply the flip-side of their simplicity and straightforward approach. Most of these features can be changed (like the low default memory allocation) or can be solved in other ways.
However, for customers who are expecting all the things to be pre-bundled and convenient – it’s a downside compared to other competitors.
Think about your local grocery store. Costco is able to keep stuff in stock and to keep low prices low because they have a shockingly low number of SKUs. You won’t find 26 brands of hot sauce in Costco. That would drive me nuts. I love going to my local Super Kroger with dozens of national and local brands…that might sometimes be out of stock or more expensive.
In the analogy, GreenGeeks is Costco. They have what you need, just don’t expect dozens of add-ons and bells and whistles. For example, they don’t have Bluehost’s super easy and custom cPanel and they don’t have InMotion’s custom WordPress plans. But that’s also not GreenGeeks’ thing.
Onboarding & Product Setup
In a similar fashion to feature simplicity, GreenGeeks has a pretty plain, vanilla process of onboarding and product setup.
Sure, they don’t have lots of upsells and clutter, but it’s also more old-school than other hosting brands. Here are their account setup emails.
As you can see, it’s solidly fine. They give you what you need. But there’s also no hand-holding. That’s great…unless you find hosting to be daunting and need some help / pointers.
Bundles & Bonuses
Lastly, and on a very similar note, is their lack of bundles and bonuses. Most hosting companies are racing to become “platforms”. And part of that is a push to bundle products to keep your customers around.
WP Engine bundles high-quality themes. InMotion bundles high-quality JetPack plugins and caching plugins. Bluehost has an entire theme / app marketplace. HostGator has a top-notch drag and drop builder.
And even among other hosting companies that aren’t bundling, they are providing more bonuses or carving out a unique position. SiteGround has a suite of developer tools. HostPapa has a range of international support options, etc.
GreenGeeks’ “thing” seems to just be their sustainability pitch. That’s great – and I certainly applaud that. But as a customer, it’s important to be aware of what you need & don’t need before you make that tradeoff. Individual action on climate is a must, but society-level action is still the most critical piece. I bought a used Nissan Leaf even though it has less range and less space than a petroleum powered car. But also…I don’t need lots of range or a lot of hauling space for my day to day use. The consideration should be the same with GreenGeeks.
GreenGeeks Alternatives & Comparisons
Out of all the hosting companies that I’ve used myself or via a client, here’s how GreenGeeks compares with a few select ones.
GreenGeeks vs. SiteGround
SiteGround is one of GreenGeek’s big independent (ie, also not owned by a big holding company) competitors. They both have a focus on speed with reputations for solid support. SiteGround shares many of GreenGeek’s positives (including speed, support, and data centers) with some of the same downsides. You can read my full SiteGround Hosting review here. If you are in Asia or Africa are looking for more hosting bonuses, then I’d use SiteGround. If you are in the US or Europe and want a straightforward host (or like GreenGeeks’ mission), then I’d go with GreenGeeks.
GreenGeeks vs. Bluehost
Bluehost is one of Endurance International’s most well-known brands. They beat GreenGeeks on pricing and onboarding. However, GreenGeeks does somewhat better with performance and core hosting features whereas Bluehost has better “bonuses” and onboarding. If GreenGeeks’ mission or independence matters more to you – then pay a bit extra for GreenGeeks Hosting. If you’re just running a project on a budget or need better Getting Started guidance, then go sign up for Bluehost.
GreenGeeks vs. GoDaddy
GoDaddy is the giant of the web hosting world. In fact, they have tried to go beyond hosting to become more of a platform. Their actual hosting products are sort of buried among all their other offerings. But in general, they’ll have better short-term pricing and better complementary products than GreenGeeks. But they’ll lag on customer support, core hosting features, performance, and long-term pricing. They also have a history of brand controversies that directly contrasts with GreenGeeks’ brand and transparency. Unless you have a specific reason to use GoDaddy, you should sign up for GreenGeeks.
GreenGeeks vs. A2 Hosting
A2 Hosting is one of GreenGeek’s big independent (ie, also not owned by a big holding company) competitors. They both have a focus on speed with reputations for solid support. A2 Hosting shares many of GreenGeek’s positives (including speed, support, and data centers) with some of the same downsides. You can read my full A2 Hosting review here. A2 Hosting has some additional upsides like Windows hosting, but also many more downsides like upsells and complexity. If you are in the US or Europe and want a straightforward host (or like GreenGeeks’ mission), then I’d go with GreenGeeks. If you have a reason to use A2 Hosting (ie, sale pricing or Windows hosting), then A2 Hosting would be fine.
GreenGeeks vs. InMotion Hosting
InMotion Hosting is one of GreenGeeks’s big independent (ie, also not owned by a big holding company) competitors. GreenGeeks offers global data centers and a simplicity in plan structure that InMotion does not. Beyond that, I’ve found that InMotion provides all of GreenGeeks’s benefits (even some of their environmental commitments & a cleaner grid source) without the downsides. InMotion has very involved support and a solid pricing structure. You can read my full review of InMotion Hosting here, but unless you need European data centers or GreenGeeks’ structure, I would recommend signing up for InMotion Hosting.
Next Steps & Conclusion
There’s a reason GreenGeeks is one of the fastest growing independent hosting companies. They have a solid product and a great support.
If you are looking for a full service hosting company with solid support, good performance, and a green mission, then – See GreenGeek’s Current Plans & Pricing
If you are looking for a hosting company with all the benefits of GreenGeeks Hosting – but with better pricing and product bonuses, I’d go with InMotion Hosting. See InMotion’s plans & pricing here.
If you are more confused than ever – then take my Web Hosting Quiz here or use my website setup guide here!
GreenGeeks Reader FAQs
What is GreenGeeks?
GreenGeeks is an independent web hosting service based in Los Angeles. They offer products ranging from Shared to Dedicated servers in addition to complementary products such as domain registration and website builders.
Is GreenGeeks Good?
GreenGeeks has strengths in product performance, customer support, simplicity, and their environmental commitment. They are a bit pricier and lack advanced hosting plans of some competitors.
How do I install WordPress on GreenGeeks?
After purchasing a plan (shared, VPS, or WordPress) on GreenGeeks, access your cPanel (server software) via your account dashboard. Browse to web apps, select WordPress QuickInstall. Fill out the fields, and wait while WordPress is auto-installed on your account. Explore screenshots at this WordPress set up guide.
Who owns GreenGeeks?
GreenGeeks was founded by and privately held by Trey Gardner since 2006.
GreenGeeks is a solid, independent hosting company with a focus on product performance, customer support, and environmental sustainability.
Application Category: Web Hosting