If you’re interested in starting a website, one of your many considerations will be who you purchase your domain name and website hosting from. Like every other purchasing decision you make, this choice will result in you contributing to this business’s ongoing success. BATC encourages you to opt for businesses whose business practices aim result in a better society. In this case we think its easy to opt for a domain registrar and web host that considers its energy usage and uses green electricity. When building our website we considered lots of hosting companies. We want to pass on our research and help you, through this green web hosting review.
Green web hosting review – the companies
After reading various articles on the top green hosting companies, we shortlisted Green Geeks, Host Papa, and Fat Cow for closer inspection.
All companies are reputable and large, having been around for a decade or more (20 years in Fat Cow’s case), and hosted hundreds of thousands of websites.
They all claim to be:
- High performance
- Have scalable resources
- 30-day guarantee (in some form)
- Purchase wind power renewable energy credits (REC) to offset energy use
- EPA green power partners
- Free domain for 12+ month term
The key distinction for Green Geeks is that they purchase 3 times the RECs needed to offset their use. They also have international data centres.
Frankly, for starter sites, you’re probably not going going to be able to tell the difference between different hosting companies from a technical perspective. Are you going to diligently benchmark your site across 3 hosting companies? No. So check out our key review points below, to assist you in your decision through other perpectives.
Green web hosting review – what to watch for
We’ve considered the scenario of purchasing a basic/starter wordpress hosting package for each company. Here are some of the key points to watch for:
- The first thing to note is that advertised prices may sneakily require a 3 year term, e.g. $3 a month, but for 36 months! Greek Geeks and Host Papa do this, but Fat Cow doesn’t. Fat Cow’s advertised price is for a 12 month term, which seems more transparent to me. Well done Fat Cow.
- All of the deals are introductory prices. The prices will increase upon renewal (see our table below). I recommend getting a 12-month package and seeing how you get along with your new website. But try to pick one with a reasonable renewal price, as it can be hassle switching in 12 months time, if you are successful with your web ventures.
- Green Geeks list their international prices ambiguously. For example, if you go to the Canadian website (.ca), the prices stated are in USD, not CAD. And the site doesn’t give you an obvious currency indication. It’s contained in the T&Cs, but not listed in any kind of obvious way.
- Watch out for a ‘setup fee’, and ‘domain registration fee’. Greek Geeks include these fees for ‘free’ as part of sign-up, but then doesn’t include them as part of their 30-day refund guarantee. This caught me out personally, when I was unhappy about their unclear US/CA pricing.
- The guarantees vary in quality. Although Green Geeks delivered on a guarantee, it was subject to various T&Cs, which arguably contradict some of their images and banners (though comply with their T&Cs). Fat Cow have less stringent T&Cs which works to your benefit if you’re unhappy.
- All add domain privacy at $10 / year. This can reduce the chance of you receiving spam through your domain registration details. It’s not essential, but can reduce the risk of later hassle.
- Although each company has extensive help files online to assist you through your website setup and construction, direct support from people still speeds the process up. Having used all 3 suppliers, I’ve had the best customer service and technical support through Host Papa. I could livechat with technical staff to aid in my site setup, who would then sometimes raise support tickets if more senior support was needed. In these cases, issues were resolved quickly (hours).
Green web hosting review – pricing
- 1 USD = 1.35 CAD
|Green Geeks||Host Papa||Fat Cow|
|Advertised price||$2.95 US||$3.95 CAD||$3.75 US|
|Initial monthly price, 12 month term||$4.95 US||$5.95 CAD||$3.75 US|
|Initial monthly price, 24 month term||n/a||n/a||$3.75 US|
|Initial monthly price, 36 month term||$2.95 US||$3.95 CAD||n/a|
|Renewal, monthly price, 12 month term||$9.95 US||$10.99 CAD||$9.49 US|
|Renewal, monthly price, 24 month term||$9.95 US||$9.99 CAD||$8.49 US|
|Renewal, monthly price, 36 month term||$9.95 US||$8.99 CAD||$7.49 US|
Green web hosting review – our recommendation
We were looking for transparent practices, high performance packages, competitive pricing, great green credentials, and excellent customer service. Although the green credentials of Green Geeks are top notch, their ambiguous pricing and weak guarantee left me feeling ruffled. Fat Cow have clear and honest pricing, but couldn’t quite match Host Papa in terms of responsiveness and clarity for customer support. So although Host Papa aren’t the cheapest, they are competitively priced, and the combination of green credentials and top customer service won me over.
If you want to try them for your website, please click through on the image below:
For other resources we use at BATC, see our resources page here.