GreenGeeks Review 2021: The Good & Bad (Honest Thoughts)
Considering using GreenGeeks to host your website?
GreenGeeks is a popular web host with a focus on green energy – hence the name. Being green doesn’t mean sacrificing performance, though. Thanks in part to its use of LiteSpeed Web Server, GreenGeeks is one of the faster web hosts that you’ll find at its price point.
However, that doesn’t automatically mean GreenGeeks is the best host for everyone and there are some pros and cons that you should be aware of. In our hands-on GreenGeeks review, we’ll take you through this host in detail and help you decide whether it’s right for you, or whether you should pick a different host.
Here’s how we’ll divide our 2021 GreenGeeks review:
How We Tested GreenGeeks – We Bought Our Own Account
We always want our hosting reviews to be as objective as possible. So to make sure we’re able to offer an honest opinion on GreenGeeks, we purchased our own GreenGeeks account and used that account to put it through the paces.
Basically, we’re experiencing GreenGeeks just like you will if you become a customer.
For reference, we’re testing the EcoSite Pro plan, which is the middle-tier option in GreenGeeks’ WordPress hosting. We’ll talk more about pricing later on.
⚙️ GreenGeeks Key Features
To start our GreenGeeks review, let’s quickly run over the key features. We’ll go more hands-on in a second, but it helps to start by looking at the features so that you know what to expect.
- Unlimited bandwidth.
- LiteSpeed Web Server on all plans.
- Option to use LiteSpeed Cache.
- Memcached object caching on the highest-tier plan.
- Data centers in the USA, Canada, and Europe.
- Easy integration with Cloudflare for a free content delivery network (CDN).
- SSD storage.
- Automatic nightly backups on all plans.
- Staging sites via Softaculous.
- One-click WordPress installation.
- Free website migration.
- Unlimited email accounts.
- WP-CLI and Git (for developers).
- Free SSL certificates via Let’s Encrypt.
- Malware scanning.
- Malware removal – if something happens to your site, GreenGeeks will help you clean it.
Finally, one of the most unique things about GreenGeeks is that, true to their name, all of their hosting plans use green energy to lessen the carbon impact of your website(s). In fact, they have a 300% green energy match. This means that for every amperage they use, they match 3X that in the form of renewable energy via the Bonneville Environmental Foundation.
Overall, it’s a solid feature list. It’s pretty standard for a web host at this price point, but two of the most unique offerings are:
- LiteSpeed Web Server for performance (which allows you to use LiteSpeed Cache).
- The green energy match.
🚀 GreenGeeks Performance Tests
Performance is one of the most important considerations in any website hosting, which is why we’re making it the first hands-on section of our GreenGeeks review.
To assess GreenGeeks’ performance, we set up a site using the popular Astra theme and a full importable demo site (the Sierra Industry demo). This lets us create a realistic test scenario where we’re testing a real site, rather than just some dummy content.
Then, we ran it through two different performance analysis tools:
- WebPageTest – this lets us collect key details like TTFB, Largest Contentful Paint, fully loaded time, and more. We configured it to run nine separate tests and take the median value. To create a more real-world scenario, we also throttled the connection speed to “FIOS”. This will make the load times slower than something like Pingdom, but it’s more accurate to what your actual human visitors will experience.
- Load Focus – this lets us simulate a high-traffic situation by hitting our site with 20 visitors in the same 60-second period (load testing).
For each tool, we’ll run two sets of tests:
- One with the default configuration.
- One with LiteSpeed Cache installed to take advantage of GreenGeeks’ unique use of LiteSpeed Web Server.
In WebPageTest, GreenGeeks performed excellently with Largest Contentful Paint and fully loaded times well under one second. If we were nitpicking, we could say that the first byte time could maybe be a bit faster. But overall, GreenGeeks did very well in this test:
However, without caching, GreenGeeks didn’t fare quite as well in the Load Focus test. It wasn’t horrible, and it’s still better than most other shared hosts, but the response time stuck more around 2.2 seconds with a 90th percentile time of around 2.8 seconds:
However, this type of load test is where caching can make a really big improvement, so we’ll see if things change after installing the LiteSpeed Cache plugin.
With LiteSpeed Cache
One of the perks of choosing GreenGeeks over other shared hosts is that GreenGeeks uses LiteSpeed Web Server on all of its plans. LiteSpeed Web Server offers better performance than the Apache web server that many other hosts use and it also lets you benefit from the LiteSpeed Cache plugin.
In WebPageTest, you can see that LiteSpeed Cache really sped up the first byte time, dropping it from ~.3 seconds to ~0.07 seconds. This also led to a similar improvement in overall page load times because server processing was reduced:
Where we saw even bigger improvements, though, is in the Load Focus test. This was to be expected, but we were still impressed by the improvement. The average response time dropped from ~2.2 seconds to just 0.4 seconds and the 90th percentile time dropped from ~2.8 seconds to ~0.57 seconds:
Overall, if you’re going to use a host with LiteSpeed Web Server, you should absolutely be using LiteSpeed Cache. And with LiteSpeed Cache, GreenGeeks can load your site really fast.
🤗 GreenGeeks User Experience
GreenGeeks uses cPanel for its hosting dashboard, so the user experience is pretty “standard” in terms of shared WordPress hosting.
If you’re familiar with cPanel, you’ll feel right at home. If you’re not, you can find plenty of guides that explain various parts of cPanel.
In addition to cPanel, GreenGeeks does build in a few custom aspects that let you quickly access email accounts and a list of your WordPress sites, which is a nice addition.
When you first sign into GreenGeeks, you’ll be in the main dashboard for your account, which quickly lets you access billing, your hosting accounts, and cPanel.
This is also where you can contact support, either by opening a ticket or chatting.
Overall, you won’t spend most of your time here, but the interface is well designed and makes it easy to quickly access cPanel:
If you open one of your hosting plans, you do get some useful features outside of cPanel:
For example, the Email tab lets you create/access your email accounts and webmail without needing to open the full cPanel dashboard:
Similarly, the WordPress tab gives you a list of all the WordPress sites installed on your account, along with an option to quickly open the dashboard for each site:
Finally, the Security tab lets you install a free SSL certificate for your domain name without needing to go to cPanel:
To access all the options, you can click one of the many prompts to open cPanel. This gives you access to the “standard” cPanel dashboard:
If you’re not familiar with cPanel, it lets you perform a ton of different actions including:
- Installing WordPress (or other software).
- Managing/uploading files from your web browser using File Manager (or you can manage FTP accounts).
- Managing domain names and subdomains.
- Setting up security rules, like SSL certificates, hotlink blocking, IP blocking, and more.
- Managing your databases and viewing database details with phpMyAdmin.
- Setting up the Cloudflare CDN.
To learn more about it, you can check out our full beginner’s guide to cPanel.
One funky point is that, to create a staging site, you need to use Softaculous’ WordPress tool:
This does work, but it’s not quite as user-friendly as how other hosts implement staging sites.
📞 GreenGeeks Support Review
GreenGeeks offers 24/7 support on all plans. You can get help via live chat, ticket, or phone.
In terms of support quality, GreenGeeks is quite good, which you’d expect since you’re paying a slight premium for the service.
The support responses are prompt and the support staff themselves are helpful. Additionally, being able to get support via both phone and live chat is convenient as you might prefer one method or the other.
Many web hosts have started moving to live chat-only support, so still getting the phone option is great.
Overall, the support is definitely better than hosts like Bluehost, but you’re also paying more money, so there’s no free lunch. Speaking of money…
💰 GreenGeeks Pricing Review
In terms of pricing, GreenGeeks is a little bit more expensive than your average shared WordPress host, but the value is still quite good when you consider the performance and the fact that you can host unlimited sites.
Let’s go through the details…
Promotional vs Regular Pricing
First off, it’s important to understand that GreenGeeks uses very aggressive promotional pricing for your first billing cycle (which is what most cheap WordPress hosts do).
This means that you’ll pay the promotional price for your first billing cycle and then you’ll need to pay the regular price when you renew.
One the entry-level Lite plan, you can lock in the promo prices for up to three years (and you’ll get the lowest monthly rate by doing so). On the higher-tier Pro and Premium plans, you can only lock in the promo price for one year.
As such, if you want the Lite plan, we recommend paying for three years upfront if you can afford the cost to lock in the cheap promo price for all three years. For the Pro and Premium plans, though, we only recommend paying for one year.
No matter what, make sure to consider both the promotional and regular pricing when making your decision.
GreenGeeks has three different pricing plans for WordPress hosting. The entry-level tier only supports a single website, while the other two tiers support unlimited websites.
The main difference between the Pro and Premium plans is that the Premium plan offers faster performance because it has more resources and implements more advanced caching (Memcached).
You can view a basic summary of the plans below:
To help you understand the full picture of prices as they pertain to billing durations and promo vs regular pricing, here’s a table that lays out the monthly cost in all situations:
|One Year Promo||$4.95||$4.95||$8.95|
|Two Years Promo||$3.95||N/A||N/A|
|Three Years Promo||$2.49||N/A||N/A|
👍👎 GreenGeeks Pros and Cons
To recap, let’s go over some of the pros and cons of GreenGeeks…
- GreenGeeks uses LiteSpeed Web Server on all plans, which is rare to find at this price point.
- The performance was excellent, especially with LiteSpeed Cache installed.
- You get cPanel access, which is an advantage of people who like cPanel.
- GreenGeeks offers good support for the money.
- The 300% green energy match is nice if you’re worried about the environmental impact of your website.
- GreenGeeks is a little more expensive than other shared hosts. They justify this with top-notch performance, but you can still find cheaper hosts if you’re on a really tight budget and don’t need excellent performance (e.g. for hobby sites).
- The staging feature isn’t as user-friendly as other hosts because you have to do it with Softaculous.
❓ GreenGeeks Review 2021 FAQ
As we near the end of our GreenGeeks review, let’s go over some FAQs.
Is GreenGeeks hosting good?
Yes – for the money, GreenGeeks offers excellent performance thanks to its use of LiteSpeed Web Server. You also get solid support, cPanel access, and green web hosting.
Where is GreenGeeks located?
GreenGeek’s headquarters is located in California, but the company has a global team and offers datacenters in the USA, Canada, and Europe.
Which GreenGeeks plan is best?
When in doubt, we recommend going with at least the Pro plan because it gives you unlimited websites/storage/email accounts and better performance. It’s also the plan that we tested in our GreenGeeks review.
What makes GreenGeeks green?
GreenGeeks offers a 300% green energy match. Essentially, this means that for every unit of energy your site uses, GreenGeeks works with the Bonneville Environmental Foundation to offset 3X that amount in the form of renewable energy certificates (RECs).
🤔 Should You Use GreenGeeks in 2021 and Beyond?
Now for the most important question of our GreenGeeks review – should you use it for your sites?
To answer that question, let’s go through some scenarios where GreenGeeks makes sense, but also where you might be better off with a different host.
Use GreenGeeks If…
Overall, GreenGeeks fits in the space between ultra-cheap shared hosting and premium managed WordPress hosting.
At regular prices, GreenGeeks is a bit more expensive than the really budget options like Bluehost or DreamHost, but it justifies that extra expense with much better performance and support.
At the same time, GreenGeeks isn’t quite as good as managed WordPress hosts like Kinsta, Flywheel, or WP Engine. But it’s also a lot more affordable and it supports unlimited websites.
So that’s where GreenGeeks makes the most sense:
If you want better performance than the really cheap options but you’re not ready to jump to premium managed WordPress hosting (maybe because you have a lot of low-traffic sites), then GreenGeeks is a great choice.
Use Another Host If…
We kind of talked about this above, but the main reasons to choose another host would be:
- You want an ultra-cheap option and you’re willing to sacrifice performance. In this case, consider something like DreamHost – just remember that DreamHost will not load your sites as fast.
- You only have one or two sites and you want even better WordPress hosting and you’re willing to pay for it. In this case, you could consider WP Engine (read our review), Kinsta (read our review), or Flywheel (read our review).
For even more options, you can check out our full collection of the best WordPress hosting.
Do you still have any questions about GreenGeeks or our GreenGeeks review? Ask us in the comments!