Sunday 27th May 2018

GreenGeeks Review

Overview

Overall rating:

7.6/10

Price:

$2.95

Uptime (Jan 18):

99.92%

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Overview

Overall rating:

7.6/10

Price:

$2.95

Setup:

6 hours

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Overall

We like GreenGeeks; we’ve ranked them #2 overall of all the web hosts we’ve reviewed.

  • Performance is good – they’ve got strong uptime and response time is better than a number of hosts in this price range.
  • They set restrictions on I/O, RAM and entry processes – see more below. Their entry-level package – “EcoSite – Starter” – has access to 2 CPU cores (the vast majority of hosts don’t state how many CPU cores they assign to shared hosting accounts, however of those which do it’s usually only 1 CPU core) and their restrictions are far better than most web hosts at this price range
  • Like Siteground, InMotion and A2 Hosting, they use SSD storage for shared hosting accounts.
  • They offer a 30 day money back guarantee and a 99.90% uptime guarantee (more information below). They offer compensation if they fail to honor their guarantee however their formula for calculating compensation is a little bit more complicated than most.
  • They support HTTP/2 (unlike a few hosts eg Hostgator) however unlike a number of other web hosts at this price range they don’t offer free SSL
  • They offer free automated backup and restore functionality (a LOT of hosts charge for this functionality) however they’ve disabled manual cPanel backups
  • They offer free website migrations (quite a few hosts don’t offer website migrations or they charge upwards of $149.99 to do them)
  • They advertise that they offer unlimited websites (the number of websites you can host), data transfer, storage and databases – except they don’t really (nothing is unlimited)
  • They offer a free domain with every shared hosting package
  • They charge a setup fee for users who choose to opt for monthly billing (which is quite unusual these days, then again most web hosts don’t allow you to pay monthly)
  • Your hosting package will automatically renew and the renewal price is significantly more expensive than the introductory price – see more below. 

Features

8.5/10

service

7/10

Performance

7.5/10

Cost

7/10

Host overview

Performance: January 2018 (to date)

Response Time:

708ms

Uptime:

99.92%

Average uptime for all hosts in January 2018 (to date) is 99.80% while average response time for all web hosts in January 2018 (to date) is 1,254ms.

Cost, setup and website migrations

GreenGeeks do allow you to pay monthly but we advise against it. Their advertised monthly rate is $2.95 however this is only available if you pay 36 months in advance. The actual monthly rate is $9.95 and it’s accompanied by a $15 setup fee. This means, if you choose to pay monthly, a total annual cost of $134.40.

You can compare this to the $59.40 you’d pay if you opted to pay 12 months in advance at their introductory rate (it may be worth locking this rate in for 36 months).

Your account will renew automatically and it will renew at the more expensive rate of $9.95 per month and for the term you originally signed-up for (if your term is 12 months then that’s a total cost of $119.40). We spoke to their chat operatives about this because GreenGeeks terms of service aren’t particularly transparent on this issue:

“Accounts will be automatically renewed under the same time and fee structure as the plan that the client signed up for (unless plan changes were made or upgraded between the time when the client signed up & their renewal date)”

To us this suggests your account will renew at the introductory rate and for the term you signed up for. It’s particularly confusing because they don’t seem to mention what it costs to renew web hosting anywhere on their website.

The chat operative is going to pass the issue to management and hopefully they’ll add some additional notifications throughout their buying process about higher priced renewals.

Unlike a few other web hosts (eg Dreamhost and Bluehost), GreenGeeks offers free website migrations. We didn’t trial the migration process however it looks fairly simple; there’s a dedicated migration request form available in your admin panel and you just need to provide some basic details about your existing cPanel installation.

The standard price for a .com registration is $13.95 and their chat operatives tell us this is the renewal price too (a few hosts charge higher renewal rates than registrations rates). If you want to take advantage of domain privacy it costs $9.95 per year.

Unlike a number of hosts, and for those of you with externally registered domains, they actually send their nameservers in their welcome email (some hosts promise to but never do and we suspect it’s because they want to encourage domain transfers or new hosting accounts to register ‘free domains’)

Setup was quick; it took around 6 hours for everything to propagate.

Restrictions

GreenGeeks is fairly transparent about the restrictions they place on user’s accounts and they volunteer a lot more information than most (particularly in their admin panel).

It’s worth noting that all web hosts set these restrictions, it’s just some are more transparent about them than others.

  • They restrict I/O (input/output or read/write speed to the hard disk) to 4MB/s; this is a lot better than some web hosts eg HostPapa restricts I/O to 1MB/s.
  • They state in the admin panel that physical memory is restricted to 384MB (which is lower – worse – than comparable web hosts)
  • They restrict entry processes to 100. This is actually very good considering comparable hosts restrict this to 10. The number of entry processes signifies how many concurrent script executions can be made eg accessing an index.php file in a WordPress installation. 100 entry processes means 100 independent script executions at any given time. It’s worth noting that 100 entry processes doesn’t mean you’re restricted to 100 simultaneous visitors; a script execution may take no longer than a second, and once it’s facilitated it’s no longer an ‘entry process’. If you exceed your entry process limit then your visitors will likely be presented with a 508 response.
  • Their CPU restrictions don’t appear to be publicly available, however after a quick chat with their very helpful live chat operators we were informed you’re limited to using 20% of CPU resource and the CPU metric in their admin panel (“CPU: 0/100”) signifies how far along you are (what’s more, they actually seemed to know what we were talking about; when you speak about CPU metrics most chat operators tend to avoid giving you a straight answer).
  • We think they restrict the total number of files, or as is more likely inodes, to 75,000. This is a lot lower – worse – than most web hosts, however it should be more than sufficient for the average user (after a WordPress installation the standard inode count will be about 2,000)

They state they offer unlimited bandwidth, storage, databases and websites (the number of websites you can host). We didn’t find any specific restrictions on these (it’s a recurring theme with web hosts) however their terms of service state:

“If a customer’s hosting account is found to have violated the client content, excessive resource user policy and/or is storing files for archiving purposes, the contents will be removed and while we make best effort to contact customers beforehand, can occur without notice.”

What does it say in the excessive resource user policy?

“A hosting account is considered using “Excessive amounts of resources” when it consumes 100% of the allocated resources on the subscribed hosting plan and/or subscribed scalable resource add-on(s) and/or 75,000 files…“

Unfortunately, they don’t mention anything specific beyond this.

Backups, guarantees and security

If you login to cPanel you may notice that the traditional backup feature is conspicuously absent. GreenGeeks have disabled it because it’s ‘too resource intensive’. Rather, GreenGeeks takes nightly backups and these backups are retained for 24 hours.

If you ever find yourself in a position where you need to restore your website – web files, emails and databases – you are entitled to up to one restore per month (additional restores are available for $25 per restore).

However, GreenGeeks clearly state that their automated backups should not be used as a substitute for maintaining your own backups (they provide instructions on how to do this in their help pages, however they suggest going through FTP and PHPMyAdmin).

GreenGeeks offer a 99.90% uptime guarantee however their compensation formula is a little bit confusing (and not as generous as other hosts eg Hostgator simply offers one month of free web hosting if they fail to honour their uptime guarantee).

They calculate the rate by dividing the retail cost of a monthly shared hosting subscription divided by the number of days in a calendar month. They then divided this value by 24 to calculate an hourly cost for your hosting package and round this to the nearest hour.

In short, they calculate based on what it costs you for their hosting, not necessarily what it loses you if your website goes down. While we understand the rationale, the money you lose from paying for hosting that doesn’t work isn’t the primary consequence of downtime – lost revenue is.

GreenGeeks also offer a 30 days money back guarantee for shared hosting accounts. This is fairly standard however there are a number of hosts who offer superior guarantees (eg Hostgator offers 45 days and Dreamhost offers 97 days).

It is worth noting however that if you’ve taken advantage of their ‘free domain’ promotion then the retail cost of your domain ($13.95) will be deducted from any refund you receive (domain names are also non-refundable).

All hosting accounts with GreenGeeks will automatically renew at the higher monthly retail price (this means your hosting account will renew at the end of your term for $119.40).

The admin panel

The admin panel is a fairly standard cPanel installation and all of the features you’d expect to be there (with the exception of backups) are there.

  • DNS management – zone files are fully configurable
  • Email management – you can create new mailboxes, setup autoresponders and create filters
  • Security – a lot of the standard features like hotlink protection and IP address blocking are included
  • Database management
  • There are a number of 1-click installation scripts delivered through softaculous (including WordPress)
  • There’s also an option for easy integration with CloudFlare

GreenGeeks Customer Service

  • Live chat support: yes
  • Ticket support: yes
  • Phone support: yes

We have very few complaints about the level of service offered by GreenGeeks. We’ve sent them two tickets – the last one was on 22nd January, 2018 – and in both instances they’ve responded within 20 minutes. It’s worth noting a number of web hosts, particularly EIG web hosts, don’t offer ticketing support.

We weren’t particularly impressed with the standard of response to the last ticket, however we could have framed our question a little better (their response to us questioning how they can help migrate our website was to send us a link – this said, there’s a very prominent ‘Site Migration Request’ option in the admin panel).

Their live chat is also very good. It’s typically responsive and we rarely have to wait longer than a few seconds to get a response (unlike other web hosts – we’ve had live chats where we’ve waited upwards of 20 minutes and in some instances we don’t even receive a response).

EcoSite - Pay Monthly

Price

$9.95

Bandwidth:

Unlimited

Storage:

Unlimited

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EcoSite - 12 Month Term

Price

$4.95

Bandwidth:

Unlimited

Storage:

Unlimited

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EcoSite - 24 Month Term

Price

$3.95

Bandwidth:

Unlimited

Storage:

Unlimited

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EcoSite - 36 Month Term

Price

$2.95

Bandwidth:

Unlimited

Storage:

Unlimited

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