GreenGeeks Review: Web Hosting
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|Green host with solid reliability, free domain privacy, but clunky beginner tools; better for intermediate and advanced users|
GreenGeeks combines decent performance and good reliability with a strong commitment to environmental responsibility. However, the host's internal tools are better suited for intermediate and advanced users than beginners.
GreenGeeks offers web hosting at three price points, depending on how long a commitment you sign up for. Their cheapest plan falls in the middle of the range for web hosting at $3.96 a month for a three year commitment, with two year plans at $6.95 per month, one year plans at $7.95 per month and monthly plans at $14.95/month. All three options offer the same set of features, including unlimited bandwidth and storage as well as POP3 and IMAP email accounts.
GreenGeeks offers domain privacy (a service we highly recommend) by default and for free, although the company will also register your domain publicly under your name if you'd like. The company provides free registration for your primary domain as long as you stay with GreenGeeks, an increasingly rare feature, and charges $9.50 per year to renew any additional domains you register through them. If you already own your domain, you can transfer it to GreenGeeks and still receive the lifetime free renewal. If you plan to maintain a website for multiple years, free domain registration will save you around $10 to $15 per year.
If you cancel your plan within 30 days, GreenGeeks offers a money-back guarantee. However, their domain registration fee will be deducted from your refund, and at $24.95, it's a little on the pricy side. Although a non-refundable domain fee is pretty standard, the higher price makes this plan a bit more of a risk if you think you're likely to change your mind about hosting early on. If you do cancel your hosting plan, you keep the domain name in exchange for the registration fee.
As you might have guessed from the name, GreenGeeks puts a strong emphasis on environmental responsibility and offsets the power it uses in hosting and server maintenance by purchasing wind-energy credits. For each unit of power consumed, the company buys three units worth of wind credits, so using GreenGeeks is a great way to shrink your carbon footprint.
Even GreenGeeks doesn't recommend their template-based sitebuilding tools, RVSiteBuilder and SoHoLaunch Pro, and we have to agree. In our tests, RVSiteBuilder was slow, clunky and unintuitive, although it does offer a huge selection of templates for basic sites. For all but the most novice webmasters, the GreenGeeks site recommends that users learn to use one of the more complicated content management systems like Wordpress, Drupal or Joomla. While those systems can be great, we'd like to see a viable option for the true beginner.
GreenGeeks uses the popular cPanel interface and provides a wide range of plugins and tools, including access to an array of scripts through Softaculous and Fantastico De Luxe. Through the script managers, GreenGeeks provides auto-installation and configuration of several common blog software options, including Wordpress, Nucleus and b2evolution, as well as some more complex content management systems like Drupal, Joomla 1.5 and PHP-Nuke. Installation of Fantastico tools through GreenGeeks was generally smooth and simple, but support comes from each tool's creators individually, so it falls outside the realm of GreenGeeks' support staff.
Through Fantastico De Luxe, GreenGeeks provides auto-installation and auto-configuration of Cube Cart, Zen Cart and OS Commerce, all of which installed quickly and easily. These three options are not among the simplest shopping cart providers, but they work well for users with large inventories and provide a good range of customization once you've learned to use them. GreenGeeks partners with e-onlinedata for credit card processing and payment, or customers can use the options provided through the shopping cart applications.
For advanced users, GreenGeeks offers unlimited MySQL databases, as well as support for PHP, Perl, CGI, Python, SSI and Ruby on Rails. Shared hosting accounts are hosted on Linux servers, and users have secure shell access for making advanced commands.
Since it uses the standard cPanel interface, GreenGeeks should feel very familiar for many web hosting users. In general, we like cPanel's organization, and consider it one of the easier interfaces to use. We did have some trouble navigating GreenGeeks' help section, but other than that it was very intuitive. Support personnel were helpful, and once we found them, the video tutorials explained how to use the tools very clearly.
Though we have only been testing its performance for a short time, in our tests, GreenGeeks lived up to its promise of 99.9% uptime. Response times ran a little slower than average, and when we tried to test download time for a 77MB file, we discovered that GreenGeeks has a 25MB file size limit, so they may not be a good choice for media-intensive sites. See the chart below for performance details. For uptime, higher percentages are better. For response time, lower numbers indicate better performance.
GreenGeeks offers robust online help documentation, which is detailed and useful, but can be a little tricky to navigate. The service has recently added a range of video tutorials aimed at beginners that can answer some common questions about how to use the host's tools to build and manage a site.
Support is also available via phone, chat and email. Toll-free phone support operates from 9am to Midnight, EST, Monday through Friday, and from 9am to 8pm EST on the weekends. GreenGeeks divides its phone support into three levels, so more complex technical questions bump you up to a support person with more technical knowledge and experience. Email and chat support are available 24/7.
When we used chat support, the GreenGeeks representative was a little abrupt but mostly solved our login issue, although the site still occasionally rejected our password, forcing us to go through the GreenGeeks main page to successfully log into cPanel. Phone support was much friendlier and picked up our call within two minutes, even volunteering to wait on the line so we could be sure their solution worked.
GreenGeeks is a mid-priced solid performer with a big selection of advanced hosting tools. They offer some rare features we really appreciate, like free domain privacy, and a few we weren't so fond of, like their template-based sitebuilders. If you're not a beginner, green hosting is your top priority, and you don't mind paying a little extra, GreenGeeks offers a pretty good hosting experience with a big commitment to environmental initiatives.
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- GreenGeeks Review
Here is NextAdvisor's review of GreenGeeks: http://www.nextadvisor.com/web_hosting/greengeeks_web_hosting_review.php