Should You Implement A COVID Surcharge? 4 Ways To Manage Your Profitability During The Pandemic

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GoDaddy Email Problems: Solving Issues w/ Forms & Not Receiving Email

This post originally appeared at GoDaddy Email Problems: Solving Issues w/ Forms & Not Receiving Email via ShivarWeb

GoDaddy Email Problems Solving Issues w Forms & Not Receiving Email

For years, I’ve had issues with email forms on websites hosted at GoDaddy. Whether I was trying to get a contact form in WordPress to work, or simply forward emails within cPanel, the whole troubleshooting process was just a pain.

The GoDaddy email issue especially pops up when a client switches from GoDaddy email hosting to a 3rd party email host like Google, Zoho, NameCheap, etc.

And it turns out that it’s not just me. It’s a documented issue with everything from WooCommerce to other non-WordPress software.

But GoDaddy’s documentation is straight-up horrible and poking around StackOverflow / Googling developer forums gets old after a while. So here’s a short guide to GoDaddy form email problems that I wish I had several years ago.

Background

There are a few concepts to understand before picking a solution.

1. Your website form does not actually “send” the email.

Instead, the data goes like this –

  • User types information into the form
  • Form passes data to WordPress (or your CMS)
  • WordPress (or your CMS) passes data to your web host via PHP
  • Your web host actually transmits the email with its email header information

2. Email Sending & Receiving Is Incredibly Insecure

There is a reason why you generally can’t contact your doctor via email. And there’s a reason why you get so much spam.

Email is inherently insecure. It’s fairly easy to fake the sending and receiving address (aka “spoofing”). Hosting companies and the big email providers spend a ton of money and thought on authenticating email headers. And a lot of this authentication is based on reputation. So, hosting companies don’t want their servers to get a bad reputation for sending spam.

3. GoDaddy has a uniquely bad email problem & a uniquely strict email security solution

Depending on how you count, GoDaddy is the largest single domain registrar and hosting brand in the world. With that kind of scale, they have unique problems with dealing with spam.

However, they have also split from the rest of the industry in creating a security protocol. Their solutions get technical, but they basically block an entire range of ports for sending emails from cPanel / servers in addition to filtering out form emails sent “from” the big email providers like Google, Yahoo!, AOL, etc.

That’s justifiable…except for the fact that GoDaddy is the only host that I’ve used that has these sorts of email issues. They are incredibly strict with their email security – to the point that, well, I have to write guides like this.

Solutions

So what can you do? I’ve tried hacking around with all sorts of settings – including disabling some website security settings (bad idea). But I’ve generally ended up with 2 go-to fixes for the problem.

Use SMTP Authentication for Forms

SMTP is “simple mail transfer protocol.” It’s the Internet-standard way of authenticating and sending email. The great thing about SMTP is that you can sync it directly with your forms / WordPress / CMS.

So instead of passing the email to your web host to send, you can “send” it directly via whoever handles your email.

In other words, this solution simply cuts your web host out of the equation.

If you are using WordPress, you can install a plugin like Easy WP SMTP or WP Mail SMTP.

You’ll need to install the plugin and configure your SMTP settings based on your provider. Once installed, it basically replaces the standard WP_Mail function with your email provider. So any submission to your form is like someone sending you an email directly to your inbox.

Upsides

  • You can keep using GoDaddy hosting without dealing with a migration.
  • Your forms should all send correctly.
  • The process is fairly quick and straightforward.

Downsides

  • It’s still a bit clunky to install just right.
  • Any mistake with SMTP settings will create delivery failed notifications.
  • It may create conflicts for any plugins that use WP_Mail functionality (ie, uptime alerts, etc).
  • You’ll have to maintain & update another plugin.

One of my clients used this solution for more than 4 years without issue. It worked and it made sense at the time.

Now – that last bullet downside finally got us. The SMTP plugin we used was no longer maintained. So with that, combined with other factors, it made sense to move to the longer-term solution.

Switch Hosting Providers

Like I’ve said in many hosting reviews, using GoDaddy for hosting is fine. They are cheap – and they integrate with their other products. They are usually “good enough” to use to just get started.

However, they have enough limitations – and even quirks like this – that switching hosting companies from GoDaddy is usually the best long-term option.

In the case of one client, I moved his website to InMotion Hosting and haven’t had any email issues since.

I’ve also used InMotion Hosting for this site for quite a while (read their pros/negatives here) – and have since tried out multiple contact forms. Every form from FS Contact Form to Contact Form 7 to my current JetPack contact form has worked well.

Now – it’s still ideal from an email security perspective to use SMTP rather than the default PHP mailer – however, their uniform and well-documented email setup at least allows more flexibility in my email/form setup.

Upsides

  • You get more flexibility with setting up forms & email.
  • Your forms will work with the default WordPress setup.
  • A move will likely pay off long-term with pricing & more advanced features.

Downsides

  • Migrating your website can be a heavy lift to solve a single issue – depending on how many services you have with GoDaddy.
  • You may want to install & work with an SMTP plugin regardless.

Next Steps

Forms & email are a critical part of any business website. Not receiving your emails or form submissions via GoDaddy’s servers is not really an option.

You can solve the problem in the short-term on WordPress with an SMTP plugin.

However, to solve for the long-term, you’ll want to move hosting companies to somewhere like InMotion Hosting or another good business host based on your goals & preferences or simply another good email hosting company.

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Why Small Business Owners Need To Understand Supply Chain & Risk Mitigation: COVID-19 Edition

The post Why Small Business Owners Need To Understand Supply Chain & Risk Mitigation: COVID-19 Edition appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Kinsta Hosting Review: Pros, Cons & Alternatives

This post originally appeared at Kinsta Hosting Review: Pros, Cons & Alternatives via ShivarWeb

Kinsta Hosting Review

Kinsta Hosting is a rapidly growing, independent hosting company founded in 2013. Kinsta is focused exclusively on managed WordPress hosting with reliable customer support and Google Cloud-driven performance.

See Kinsta’s Current Plans & Pricing

What is Kinsta Hosting?

Kinsta is a non-traditional hosting company only offers one service – managed hosting for WordPress on cloud servers. They don’t offer email, reseller, or any other type of hosting. They do integrate some 3rd-party tools like DNS (from Amazon) and SSL (from LetsEncrypt) and CDN (configured on their Google Cloud network). Here’s their pricing chart.

Kinsta was founded in 2013 to meet the increased demand for managed WordPress hosting services (which I’ll touch on in the next section). They are a remote-first company with an emphasis on global service with support provided in 7 languages.

Their service is provided via Google’s Cloud Platform, and they have an exclusive focus on WordPress.

I’ve had a long-standing client who uses WP Engine (Kinsta’s direct competitor), and have had experience using the various managed WordPress hosting products across the hosting industry.

Background on Kinsta Hosting

To understand Kinsta’s product, you need to understand four concepts.

First, WordPress is the most popular content management system software on the Internet. People use it to run websites. It can run on any hosting setup with PHP, MySQL, and Linux. In other words, it can run on almost any web host.

Second, Web Hosting is space on a computer server that can run web applications and serve data to browsers (aka, it’s where a website lives). Web hosting can come in various setups, depending on the configuration. Shared hosting is the most common where a single server that can run PHP, MySQL, and Linux is “shared” among various hosting accounts. I explain more here.

Third, WordPress Hosting is space on a web hosting account that is specifically configured in some way to help WordPress software run better. I explain more here. The definition of “run better” can vary wildly depending on the hosting company since technically WordPress can run on almost any web hosting account. I wrote about the differences between Web and WordPress hosting here.

Fourth, Cloud Hosting is a large network of data centers configured so that customers can lease computing power & storage for web applications on demand, anywhere in the network instead of using space on a single web server. The largest cloud networks are run by Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Digital Ocean, IBM, and Oracle. I explain more here.

With those four background concepts in place, I can explain Kinsta’s unique position in the hosting world.

Kinsta runs managed WordPress hosting on the Google Cloud Platform. They actively lease computing power & storage on Google’s Cloud, configure it to run WordPress quickly & efficiently, and manage & support each installation.

In other words, they offer a niche but also potentially powerful platform. Because of how they mix & match all these services, they don’t compete head to head with many providers. But they compete indirectly with *a lot*.

How Kinsta Hosting Works

In some ways, Kinsta works just like any other hosting company. You sign up and pay every month. In exchange, your WordPress website runs quickly and efficiently.

But behind the scenes, their setup is a bit more complicated.

First, you’ll technically lease your hosting from Google, so unless Google goes down…your site isn’t going to go down. There’s no “crashing” like there could be on a typical web server.

Second, Kinsta has its cloud access explicitly configured for WordPress with things like server-side caching, security rules, staging environments, and more so that your site is faster than it could be on a vanilla Linux web server.

Third, Kinsta blends several 3rd party services for DNS (connects your domain to the host), SSL (secures your connection), and CDN (content distribution network) to make everything your website needs to work together.

Since they only have one product with no upsells, the signup is straightforward.

1 Kinsta Signup

The entire setup operates from a single account dashboard where you control your WordPress installs.

2 Kinsta Account Dashboard

I’ve been considering Kinsta for a client’s site, and decided to give them a try with a small site that I’m looking to consolidate.

Here’s my Kinsta Hosting review structured with pros, cons, ideal use cases, and alternatives based on my experience as a customer.

Pros of Using Kinsta Hosting

There are a lot of Kinsta 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 Kinsta Hosting.

Cloud Hosting Benefits

Since Kinsta uses the Google Cloud Platform, you get many of the benefits of cloud hosting without many of the downsides.

Speed

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.

So here’s the thing – Kinsta uses the same servers that you use to access Google.com and YouTube.com. With Kinsta, as long as they are configured well, they are going to be fast.

Additionally, with server-side caching, your WordPress website will be ready to go. Now, there are still plenty of issues that can slow your site down, but they likely won’t be Kinsta’s fault.

Here’s my first test with my Kinsta website –

9 Kinsta Speed Test

Again, if your site is loading slowly – it’s not Kinsta’s fault. It’s something with your site.

Geography

With the Google Cloud Platform, Kinsta can also offer data centers around the world. They have more than 23 at the time of writing ranging from Iowa to Southeast Asia and everywhere in between.

Their CDN runs on a global CDN network (KeyCDN) as well, so website assets can be staged close to any website visitor in the world.

It’s rare and expensive to build & maintain data centers around the world, so using Google’s infrastructure provides an advantage that a traditional hosting company can’t match.

Uptime

Remember the last time Google went down? Yes, it happens. But it’s rare. And when it happens, it’s a newsworthy event. With Kinsta, that means that, outside of a bad configuration on their part, your site is not going to go down unless Google goes down.

Consistent performance and reliability are the main advantages of Kinsta since they can take Google Cloud and make it accessible and WordPress-friendly to regular customers.*

*Yes, you can go to Google and sign up for cloud hosting yourself. In fact, I have a non-WordPress site running there now. But to setup & run a database-driven CMS with integrated file storage takes some…patience and wherewithal. It’s not a simple one-click WordPress install. Also, Google does not provide support or configuration help. So, still a considerable advantage for Kinsta.

Configuration, Focus, & Usability

Kinsta built their Dashboard from scratch. Their signup is simple and straightforward. There are some hiccups that I’ll get to in the downsides, but overall, their configuration and usability is amazing.

Their focus on WordPress and simple plan structure also makes onboarding (i.e., going from a new signup to active customer) straightforward. The design is uncluttered, minimalist, and well-designed.

6 Kinsta Easy Install

Their setup had jargon and technical information present, but it isn’t overwhelming and daunting like other managed WordPress hosting companies.

User-friendly Add-on Tools

While Kinsta does not have all the tools that traditional hosts make available, they do bundle several tools that are critical to running a fast, effective website. And again, unlike other managed WordPress hosting providers, they bundle them seamlessly in their dashboard.

DNS

DNS is the roadmap of instructions that connects your registered domain to your hosting, where your website lives.

Kinsta includes Premium DNS with all their plan levels, which makes setting up your website much simpler. Plenty of managed hosting companies (and even some website builders) leave the DNS up to their customers to figure out – leaving plenty of customers fiddling with TXT records, CNAMEs and MX records in vain.

4 Kinsta Built-in DNS

Amazon provides Kinsta’s DNS. It’s reliable and integrated directly in their Dashboard.

CDN

A content distribution network (CDN) allows you to take the load off your main server by distributing media files and scripts around the world so that your website can load faster and with fewer resources on your server.

Again, not every hosting company includes this option, but Kinsta integrates it directly within their Dashboard.

SSL

An SSL allows your website to provide an encrypted connection between itself and your visitor’s browser. It’s an essential part of every website. Again, it’s something that Kinsta provides directly in their dashboard via LetsEncrypt. It’s not the best or name-brand SSL, but it does the job.

Migration

Kinsta provides website migration services to its platform. It can be confusing enough, moving an existing WordPress website from one shared hosting account to another. But moving it to a managed cloud platform can create all kinds of hiccups.

3 Kinsta Migration

It’s a free service that would typically cost hundreds of dollars with a WordPress consultant.

Developer & Agency Tools

Kinsta provides a range of developer and agency tools that all sound either too dull or technical until you need them & use them.

They have well-implemented basics like built-in staging and user management so that developers can build client sites and hand them over with no hiccups or maverick approval processes.

5 Kinsta User Management

Additionally, they have SSH access, WP-CLI, and allow different versions of PHP.

But the most interesting piece for me is the fact that they don’t lock customers into a single WordPress configuration AND they’ll support non-traditional setups like reverse-proxy configurations.

8 Kinsta Staging Environment

As an SEO consultant, having the flexibility of configurations is critical for working with large clients who want WordPress for their blog…but, not their main site. It makes a big content marketing sell much simpler since developer time can be outsourced to Kinsta.

Customer Support

Most customer support stories are either *really* bad or *really* good. It’s the one-star vs. five-star problem. Like I’ve said in most of my hosting reviews, I try to look and see if the company treats customer support as a cost center, a profit center, or an investment center.

Based on how they’ve integrated their knowledge base throughout their Dashboard (rather than stashing it somewhere), and the fact that they’ve grown their team mainly with support team around the world – it seems like they’ve deemed customer support as an investment center.

And that’s a good thing if you are a customer. You know they aren’t looking to make a buck off you, or push you off. Instead, they are trying to develop goodwill and increase word of mouth. Kinsta’s main “thing” is customer support, since it makes their whole product run.

Cons / Disadvantages of Using Kinsta Hosting

Like any web host, Kinsta has disadvantages. There are plenty of Kinsta 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 Kinsta Hosting.

Pricing

Kinsta is expensive.

1-Kinsta-Pricing-Chart

No matter how you measure it – by WordPress installs, visits allowed, storage allocated, indirect competitor pricing, indirect competitor pricing – Kinsta is going to be competitive…but still the expensive option.

WP Engine is its most direct competitor. Kinsta does have more intermediate plans…but WP Engine has a pricing setup that can be a bit cheaper than Kinsta.

Competitors like InMotion Hosting and SiteGround offer comparable products for much cheaper (though they aren’t on Google’s Cloud). LiquidWeb does the same for managed WooCommerce websites.

And other indirect competitors like WPMU Dev do bundled cloud hosting with their plugin subscription that is competitive for agencies / developers.

There are two things pushing back on this disadvantage.

First, Kinsta is super-transparent about their pricing. There are no add-ons or excluded features like on WP Engine. There are no slight apples to oranges comparisons like you’d find with InMotion or SiteGround or LiquidWeb.

Two, expensive is a relative concept to value. Depending on the value that your website is generating, a few hundred dollars may or may not matter. If a few hours of downtime or a support misstep can cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars, then “expensive” is the wrong metric to look at.

On the flip side, hosting is a business cost. Any dollar that you save goes right to your bottom line. If you are on the fence about some of Kinsta’s features or have other website needs (see Feature bundles below), then Kinsta’s price is going to be a disadvantage.

Feature Caps

Kinsta has some pretty low caps, especially compared to non-cloud competitors. Since they are working with leased infrastructure, they have to pass along any and all of their hosting costs.

If you’ve run a rapidly growing website, you’ll know just how quickly visits, storage, and bandwidth needs can escalate. If you are on Kinsta, you’ll never have to worry about needs taking your website offline. But you may have to worry about those needs hitting your bottom-line.

I have one client who built a silly side-project on his website (hosted on WP Engine with similar caps to Kinsta). The silly side-project took off – in a big way.

In some ways, the project brought in indirect revenue with backlinks, brand awareness, etc. But in concrete terms, it single-handedly tripled his monthly hosting costs because it blew past every visitor cap…and then the bots & spammers showed up. He’s on an enterprise plan with the same amount of “real” traffic that should put him on a basic plan.

Now, that’s a good problem to have. But it’s created decisions that honestly would not need to be made if he were using a Kinsta competitor with a managed VPS or managed WordPress hosting product like InMotion or SiteGround.

In fact, some of Kinsta’s features are capped at lower levels than you’d expect with their marketing. For example, think about WooCommerce and membership sites. They recommend PHP Workers that can handle excess queries. Here’s an explainer on how they work. But basically they help with the shopping cart / user roles while the server cache loads the rest of the page.

For their Starter and Pro plans, Kinsta only provides 2 PHP Workers…which is not recommended for ecommerce websites. In comparison, InMotion’s cheapest managed WordPress plan comes with a limit of 4 PHP Workers.

And again – many of these limitations come not from Kinsta (they are transparent about all this) but from their product structure…which is the next disadvantage.

Size & Company Structure

In a lot of ways, Kinsta is my kind of company. They are founder owned & operated. They are boot-strapped with zero investor funding. They are product-focused with a smart, thoughtful marketing strategy.

They are small enough to have direct contact with customers and processes. They are remote-first, global, and diverse. I’m glad to spend money with them.

But the hosting industry is structured the way it’s structured for a reason. And Kinsta is moving in the opposite direction of the rest of the industry.

Web hosting business is built based on the depreciation of fixed assets and high customer retention. It’s similar in many ways to the physical real estate industry. Almost every hosting company is away from pure-play hosting to becoming a hosting “platform” with lots of amenities.

Since Kinsta leases its infrastructure from Google, they use an entirely different business model. They have to have low overhead costs (ie, remote-first is a must), low acquisition costs (ie, their inbound marketing strategy), low labor costs and high pricing. Additionally, they are completely dependent on Google staying competitive & in the Cloud hosting business.

In other words, Kinsta is kind of like the WeWork of the hosting world (in a good way). Kinsta has avoided most of WeWork’s mistakes. But the core business model of sub-leasing servers while adding value via convenience, accessibility, and support is tricky.

WP Engine made it by using investor money to acquire market share and big amenities while building a hybrid data center. But others have failed or have been bought out – like FlyWheel and Nexcess.

Right now, Kinsta is committed to organic, long-term growth. But if you are looking for a 5+ year host, I’d pause and look around the industry before committing.

Feature Bundles & Add-Ons

Most direct and indirect competitors are moving to a “hosting platform” model with bundled plugins, themes, and other amenities. Almost all of Kinsta’s direct and indirect competitors bundle some sort of WordPress amenity with their managed WordPress hosting product.

  • WP Engine bundles StudioPress themes & products.
  • LiquidWeb bundles iThemes plugins & themes.
  • InMotion bundles JetPack and the BoldGrid website builder.
  • WPMU Dev bundles its premium plugins.
  • SiteGround bundles custom amenities like developer toolkits and email.
  • Pressable bundles JetPack and WP101 Training.

The flipside of this disadvantage is that Kinsta is truly focused on WordPress and hosting – they aren’t trying to compete with amenities and bonuses. They are just doing what they promise to do.

That’s great – and certainly a strength. But it’s also a downside for some customers.

Kinsta Hosting Alternatives & Use Cases

Just like cars, houses, appliances, etc – there is no such thing as a “best” host. There are just better & worse hosts for different customers with different needs. Here are some ideal use cases for Kinsta, along with some direct alternatives.

Growing Ecommerce or Membership Site

A growing ecommerce or membership website built with WordPress can create resource strains and technical demands. Kinsta’s architecture and support experience are really made for both types of sites (especially at higher pricing tiers).

Kinsta is a solid, straightforward, but still affordable option for ecommerce / membership websites that can pay a premium to have things “just work” with no troubleshooting. View Kinsta’s plans here.

Developer or Agency w/ Premium Clients

Kinsta is a great option for developers or agencies that build high-quality websites for premium clients with ongoing maintenance budgets.

Kinsta has the social proof, technical specs, pricing, and management tools that will assure brand name clients while still sticking with their budget expectations. View Kinsta’s plans here.

Premium Support & All-in-One Needs

Kinsta is ideal for DIY customers who run a high-margin website that needs premium support and/or all-in-one hosting needs. Kinsta’s monthly costs are high, but nothing considering the costs of hiring a WordPress developer to solve intermediate issues for a day (i.e., installing a new SSL certificate or repointing a subdomain). View Kinsta’s plans here.

Out of all the hosting companies that I’ve used myself or via a client, here’s how Kinsta compares directly with a few select ones.

Kinsta Hosting vs. WP Engine

WP Engine was the first company to offer a managed WordPress hosting product, and they’ve been the market leader ever since. They focus on the same customers as Kinsta. I’ve reviewed WP Engine here.

They have some advantages over Kinsta, including more features & amenities. But they are also more technically oriented with a more confusing backend. Kinsta is cleaner and simpler.

If you are a solo DIYer, developer, or small agency, you’ll likely gravitate towards Kinsta. If you are a corporate-type, you’ll likely gravitate towards WP Engine.

Kinsta Hosting vs. LiquidWeb

LiquidWeb moved into the managed WordPress space with their Nexcess acquisition. LiquidWeb is one of the largest independent hosting companies and has a specific focus on agencies and developers. They run their own data centers and have been around for a long time. They really excel with ecommerce websites.

Since they operate their own data centers, they have major price & feature advantages over Kinsta. But Kinsta’s setup runs on the Google Cloud and has better focus & usability since they *only* do WordPress.

If you are looking at cost but still want a lot of the developer features of Kinsta, you’ll likely go for LiquidWeb. If you like Kinsta’s focus & cloud setup, you’ll likely go for them instead.

Kinsta Hosting vs. SiteGround

SiteGround has been a rapidly growing host in the WordPress space. They have a big appeal among developers. They also have a global reach with data centers in the US, Europe, and Asia.

Since they operate their own data centers, they have a big cost advantage over Kinsta with managed WordPress hosting. They also bundle a lot of the same features as Kinsta including CDN, SSL, DNS, migration service, and user management. But again, Kinsta will likely still have some advantage with speed & performance since they run on Google’s Cloud.

If you are looking to save money but still have a developer-oriented company, SiteGround will likely be a better choice. If you prize speed & performance and have budget for Kinsta, you’ll likely go for Kinsta’s plans.

Kinsta Hosting vs. InMotion Hosting

InMotion Hosting is one of the most consistently growing hosting companies on the Internet. They are independent and have grown organically over the course of 20+ years. They offer a wide range of hosting products, including managed WordPress hosting, with a focus on small businesses.

Since they run their own data centers, they have a big advantage over Kinsta with pricing. They are able to offer much higher caps on features compared to Kinsta. For example, remember the PHP Workers mentioned earlier? Kinsta provides 2 PHP Workers compared to InMotion’s 4 Workers on their cheapest $8.99/mo plan. They also bundle a lot of business-friendly amenities with their plans (like JetPack for security).

If you are looking at the overall value of features & support for the price, InMotion Hosting would be a better fit. If you like Kinsta’s exclusive focus on cloud & WordPress, then they would be a better fit.

Kinsta Hosting Review Next Steps

Kinsta Hosting is an amazing option to have in the world of WordPress hosting. They have a fast, simple, solid product in a competitive field. If you have budget for a managed host and like the appeal of using the cloud, then Kinsta is likely an excellent fit for you.

See Kinsta’s Current Plans & Pricing

If you are looking for other options, check out the ones listed above, or explore my WordPress Hosting page.

Kinsta Hosting

Kinsta Hosting is a rapidly growing managed WordPress hosting service built on the Google Cloud.

Application Category: Managed WordPress Hosing

Editor's Rating:
4

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How To Start An Online Tutoring Business: Prerequisites & 8 Steps To Success

The post How To Start An Online Tutoring Business: Prerequisites & 8 Steps To Success appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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The Complete Guide To Credit Card Networks: Visa, Mastercard, American Express & Discover

The post The Complete Guide To Credit Card Networks: Visa, Mastercard, American Express & Discover appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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The Best Free eCommerce Platforms & Shopping Carts

The post The Best Free eCommerce Platforms & Shopping Carts appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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GreenGeeks Hosting Review: Pros, Cons & Alternatives

This post originally appeared at GreenGeeks Hosting Review: Pros, Cons & Alternatives via ShivarWeb

GreenGeeks Hosting Review

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.

See GreenGeeks’ Current Plans & Pricing

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 Pricing

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

GreenGeeks Speed

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.

SiteGround Speed

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 Simple Install

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.

GreenGeeks 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 Data Centers

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.

GreenGeeks Simple Install

Their account management is so simple that it’s boring.

GreenGeeks Account Management

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.

Price Point

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).

GreenGeeks Pricing

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.

GreenGeeks Monthly Pricing

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.

GreenGeeks cPanel
GreenGeeks Web Apps

And they set pretty low default memory limits on new WordPress installs.

GreenGeeks Memory Limits

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.

GreenGeeks New Account
GreenGeeks New Account Info

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 Hosting

GreenGeeks is a solid, independent hosting company with a focus on product performance, customer support, and environmental sustainability.

Application Category: Web Hosting

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