Shared Hosting: GreenGeeks

Disclosure:  This post includes affiliate links to the recommended service, which means if you click on the link and make a purchase, I may receive a commission or bonus.  All my reviews and recommendations are based on my personal experience with the product or service.

As a technical consultant and service provider for small businesses, I’m often asked to recommend a shared web hosting provider.  Although I strongly feel that a business should use cloud-based or VPS (or even dedicated) web hosting, shared hosting can be appropriate for a freelancer, blogger, or a business just starting out and testing the waters.

However, it’s tough to find a quality shared hosting option.  Certain large companies with big marketing budgets saturate the advertising space, and they historically have subpar performance and less-than-stellar reputations.  From my experience with several of these companies, that poor reputation is deserved.  While some deliver adequate performance for small, low-traffic sites, the security measures for these low-cost plans are often horrendous.  A “security service” is a common upsell, but I’ve had clients with sites compromised even when they purchased the “security”.  I’ve seen sites hacked due to cross-contamination, and I’ve seen overloaded servers running software that is years out of date.

I was lucky enough to run into Trey Gardner of GreenGeeks at a WordCamp, and after a short conversation, he invited me to check out GreenGeeks hosting.  I’m pleased to say that I now have a solid recommendation for shared hosting – if you are in the market for shared web hosting, I invite you to check out one of the GreenGeeks plans.

(Note:  GreenGeeks does offer VPS hosting and dedicated server hosting as well, and while I have no doubt those plans are also excellent, I have not personally tried them.)

Performance

For a shared hosting plan, GreenGeeks has comparatively good performance.  They offer all the basic items you’ll find in most shared plans (unlimited web space, data transfer, MySQL databases, the underlying software needed to host popular platforms such as WordPress or Drupal).  With three levels (Starter, Pro, and Premium), you can find an inexpensive plan to help get that blog started, or a little more robust plan if you want to test out your business idea without a large upfront outlay of cash.  My recommendation even for small sites is to start with the “Ecosite Pro” plan, but if you just need something for a low-traffic personal site and are really cash-strapped, the “Ecosite Starter” can get you going.  GreenGeeks has implemented a scalable hosting platform, so if you find the standard resources don’t quite meet your needs, you can purchase a memory upgrade to help boost your site performance.

When you sign up, you can choose from 5 data centers – if you’re located in the US, Canada, or Europe, you’ll be able to choose a location near you for faster loading times.  They also offer integration with the CloudFlare Content Delivery Network, which can help with page loading speeds by caching content and serving it from a location close to your site visitors.  And their proprietary PowerCacher service (on Pro and Premium plans) can help speed your site up even more.

GreenGeeks uses state-of-the-art hardware, with solid state drives and name brand server and network gear.  In addition, they stay current with the latest web software and protocols, using both HTTP/2 and PHP 7.  This is important not only for performance, but also for security.

Security

As mentioned, GreenGeeks is up to date with the software running on their servers – something not all inexpensive shared hosts do (I recently helped someone with a web issue and discovered their web server was running PHP 5.2 (as of the original date of this post, end-of-life for PHP 5.2 was over 8 years ago, so it’s not at all surprising the individual had website troubles).  GreenGeeks also offers secure FTP, giving you a secure connection to transfer and access your files.

GreenGeeks uses a container based approach, provisioning each account with a secure virtual file system.  This helps to keep accounts private; although you share space on the server with many other accounts, users can only see and access their own accounts.  Along with security scanning and server monitoring, this approach helps to protect against malware, and reduces the concern of cross-site contamination if there happens to be a “bad actor” on your shared server.

Finally, GreenGeeks offers a free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate with all hosting plans – a must to ensure your site uses the important https and doesn’t get marked as “non-secure” by the Chrome web browser.  While most reputable web hosts will offer the Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate, many of the low-cost shared hosting plans charge to set up and install the certificate for your site.

Support

Other than the free website transfer offered by GreenGeeks, I have not had the need to use their support.  My support request for the website transfer was handled quickly and I had no issues.  If you do have occasion to need support, GreenGeeks offers email support through your Account Manager area, 24/7 live chat, and phone support from 9 AM to midnight Monday through Friday, and 9 AM to 8 PM EST on weekends.  If, like me, you prefer to try to figure things out yourself first, they do have a robust knowledge base as well as a number of tutorials on common topics.

Other

GreenGeeks’ claim to fame is, as evidenced by their name, being an award-winning “green” web host.  They are proud of being an environmentally friendly web host, by not only making the maximum effort to be energy efficient, but also investing in renewable energy to reduce the inevitable environmental footprint created by technology.  And when you host with GreenGeeks, you can use one of their cute little “Green Badges” to show that your website is eco-friendly!

Although personally I’m more interested in the security aspects of the hosting I use, I can’t deny that being as energy-efficient as possible is good for all of us.  Oh, and Trey is a really nice guy!

It’s Not Easy Being Green

If you need an inexpensive shared hosting plan that still offers good performance and security features, as well as giving you the satisfaction of “being green”, then check out one of GreenGeeks hosting plans.

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