If you’ve made it to this page, chances are you’re already aware of how badly the web hosting industry impacts the environment, and you’re keen to host your website with a company that cares about putting this right. Kudos!
If this is new information to you, let us summarize the issue. We’ve often described web hosting as ‘renting a virtual plot of internet land’, and don’t get us wrong, it is – but each website’s data is stored in a physical location (i.e. a data center) too.
There’s a lot going on in these data centers, as you can imagine, and the hardware gets very hot – much like an old laptop with too many tabs open. If you’ve ever left your iPhone in a patch of sun, you’ll be no stranger to the fact that heat and technology are a bad mix.
So what’s the solution? Aircon, and lots of it. This is incredibly energy-intensive, and is the reason why, by 2020, web hosting is set to overtake air travel as the worst offending industry for the environment. Hosting a website is thought to generate around the same carbon footprint per 10,000 visitors as driving 5,000 miles in a new car. Yikes!
Fortunately, lots of big hosting companies are sitting up, paying attention, and – most importantly – putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to lowering their environmental impact. Many invest in carbon offsetting schemes, where they invest in renewable energy to effectively counteract the energy they’ve used themselves; some run on renewable energy alone, while many have taken steps to become more efficient in general.
But it’s no use having an eco-conscious, yet ultimately useless hosting provider – you need to strike a balance. We’ve carried out extensive research to ensure that the providers we’ve recommended here are offering products which are great in their own right, as well as green. Read on to find out who came out on top.
Here’s a sneak peek at how our top green hosting providers compare:
|Hosting Provider||Recommended For||Starting Price *||Cool Features|
|GreenGeeks||Most eco-conscious hosting provider||$2.95||Offsets carbon footprint by 300%|
Free daily backups
|HostGator||Best green hosting for larger sites||$2.75||Best dedicated hosting|
Great 99.9% uptime
|InMotion||Best green hosting for small businesses||$6.39||Best shared and VPS hosting|
|A2 Hosting||Best for customer service||$3.92||Anytime money back guarantee|
Excellent help and support
|iPage||Best cheap green hosting||$1.99||Cheap prices across the board|
Offsets carbon footprint by 200%
|DreamHost||Best for storage||$2.59||Loads of storage available|
*Some of these prices are promotional prices that are only valid for the first term.
Now let’s take a closer look at each one.
Most eco-conscious hosting provider
With GreenGeeks, you’re effectively offsetting your carbon footprint by a factor of three.
How green is GreenGeeks?
When it comes to web hosting, it doesn’t get greener than GreenGeeks. As well as optimizing its processes for maximum efficiency (a phrase admittedly bandied around by several providers), the company also goes one step further – in its own words, “for every amperage it pulls from the grid, it invests three times that in the form of renewable energy via Bonneville Environmental Foundation.” That means with GreenGeeks, you’re effectively offsetting your carbon footprint by a factor of three. Nice work, GreenGeeks!
How good are the GreenGeeks hosting plans?
Its hosting plans, however, are not the most sophisticated. There are just three plans to choose from; Ecosite Starter, Ecosite Pro and Ecosite Premium, offering shared, VPS and dedicated hosting respectively.
All plans are ‘WordPress-optimized’, but we think the starter plan packs the biggest punch. With a starting price of just $2.95/month (if you commit to three years), you get a lot for your money – unlimited domains, unlimited email accounts, and unlimited bandwidth and storage, to name a few key features.
GreenGeeks also offers excellent 24/7 support via phone, email and live chat. It’s rare for a provider to offer so many help and support options with such a low cost plan, and is proof of GreenGeeks’ commitment to be more than just ‘green’. The company also offers free daily backups with all plans – a huge bonus – and guarantees an uptime of 99.9% (the highest level possible).
GreenGeeks also offers a 30-day money back guarantee, plus free website migration if you’re already hosted somewhere else, so you can easily take their services for a risk-free test drive.
Best green hosting provider for larger sites
If you have a high-traffic site, HostGator has great dedicated hosting on offer. Just look how well it performed in our independent research:
How green is HostGator?
Our in-depth research found Hostgator to be the best overall hosting provider, but the company is committed to minimizing its environmental impact, too. For starters, HostGator uses servers that are 36% more efficient than the average. It then offsets the impact of the energy used by buying renewable energy credits, powering its servers with wind energy generated in Texas, where the company is based. In fact, HostGator buys 130% more credits than energy used. This means that – like GreenGeeks, but to a lesser extent – HostGator’s environmental impact is carbon-reducing, not just carbon-neutralizing.
How good are the HostGator hosting plans?
Like GreenGeeks, HostGator guarantees an uptime of 99.9%, meaning your website will be up and ‘live’ for the maximum amount of time possible. This is the best uptime guarantee of any provider – a great start.
The dedicated hosting options are great, too. In fact, they’re unbeatable – HostGator came out top for dedicated hosting in our research. The plans offer a great balance of power and price, with prices ranging from $189/month to $289/month.
When you strip back the promotional prices offered by all hosts for the first term, Hostgator’s shared hosting plans are among the cheapest, starting at just $6.95/month. Not only are the plans cheap, but they’re good value too, with unlimited disk space, unlimited email accounts, and unlimited sub domains. With the Baby and Business shared plans, you can even host unlimited websites, making them a great option for web designers. It’s not the best shared hosting provider – that would be InMotion, just below – but it’s a close second, and free use of its website builder is a great perk if you’ve yet to build your site.
A downside of HostGator? No free backups! But the help and support is excellent (live chat, phone and email are available with all types of hosting), and there’s always a money back guarantee available if you change your mind. Be aware, though, that this guarantee lasts just 48 hours for dedicated hosting, unless you’ve committed to a year or more.
If you’re after dedicated hosting, HostGator offers an unbeatable combination of ethics and quality. However, if you’re looking for shared or VPS, it’s worth checking out InMotion.
Best green hosting provider for small businesses
If you have a smaller site, InMotion is a winning option. It has the best shared and VPS hosting plans of any provider we’ve tested:
How green is InMotion?
While GreenGeeks and HostGator focus their green attention on offsetting, InMotion sees more value in reducing its initial energy consumption. Its green data center in LA uses an air cooling technique that circulates outside air, rather than relying solely on air conditioning. This has helped InMotion cut its carbon output by over 2,000 tons per year. Impressive stuff, yes – but its not ‘putting its money where its mouth is’ to quite the same extent as GreenGeeks and HostGator.
How good are the InMotion hosting plans?
InMotion offers a range of different hosting types, but we’ll be focusing solely on its VPS and shared plans here, since they are its strongest products – indeed, InMotion came out top for both in our independent research!
Let’s start with the shared hosting plans. InMotion offers three of them, ranging from $7.99/month to $15.99/month (not including promotional offers). The Launch plan is the cheapest, but we’d recommend spending a little more to get the Power plan for $9.99/month. That way, you’ll get all the same great features – unlimited bandwidth, unlimited disk space, free SSL certificate, free backups, free domain name – plus double the power (i.e. more CPU cores), so your visitors are never kept waiting.
InMotion excels for VPS hosting, too. It scored 95% for features in our testing, thanks to unlimited CPU cores, free backups, root access, and one of the highest storage capacities and bandwidths of any VPS plan. Put simply, we believe it to be the best managed VPS plan on the market. Plans range from $39.99/month to $144.99/month, but InMotion always runs some very generous offers for new customers, where you could save over 55% on this price.
Like the providers above, InMotion’s help and support is great. The one area it falls down in is uptime, guaranteeing only 99.97%. It’s worth remembering that this is only a minimum guarantee though, and only works out as a few hours each year. Either way, your best bet is to give InMotion a try, then make use of the generous money-back guarantee (30 days for VPS hosting, 90 days for shared hosting) should you run into any problems with uptime performance.
Best for customer service
A2 Hosting doesn’t have the best features, but it does offer excellent help and support:
How green is A2 Hosting?
A2 Hosting has used an energy offset scheme to effectively remain carbon neutral since 2007. It also encourages employee telecommuting to cut traffic emissions, and reuses old hardware. It’s not quite as impressive as schemes from the likes of GreenGeeks, HostGator and iPage (see below), but it’s more than a step in the right direction.
How good are the A2 Hosting plans?
A2 Hosting is a great all-arounder. It didn’t come out top in our research for any one particular type of hosting, but it scored well across the board.
In terms of price, A2 Hosting’s shared hosting prices range from $7.99/month to $18.99/month – reasonable, but not the cheapest. Its VPS hosting ranges from $49.99/month to $99.99 – again, fairly middle of the road – while its dedicated hosting plans range from $169.99/month to $349.99/month, putting them at the pricier end of the spectrum. At 99.95%, the uptime guarantee is one of the lowest around.
So why go with A2 Hosting? It’s a company that offers exceptional help and support, alongside reliable and relatively powerful plans. You get free site migration when you join, access to friendly help and support 24/7, and best of all, an anytime money back guarantee. That’s right – A2 Hosting is so sure you’ll love its products that it will refund you at any point if you’re unhappy. You’ve got to admire a company with confidence!
Best cheap green hosting provider
iPage offsets its carbon footprint by 200%. Plans are affordable, but features are not a strong point:
How green is iPage?
For a hosting provider that’s often labeled a bit ‘cheap and cheerful’, we were really impressed by the steps iPage has taken to minimize, then counteract its impact on the environment. For starters, iPage is powered entirely by wind energy – if you host your website with them, you can even get a badge for your own website that says it’s ‘Hosted by 100% Wind Energy’.
But iPage takes things even further, purchasing enough Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) to not only prove it uses exclusively wind energy as its power source, but to actually offset its energy usage by 200%.
How good are the iPage hosting plans?
iPage plans are super affordable. The company also offers heavy promotional discounts, meaning you could pick up a shared plan for just $1.99/month, or a VPS plan for $19.99/month. There’s also dedicated hosting on offer, but this isn’t so competitively priced.
But as we’ve hinted above, iPage’s affordability comes at a cost, and that cost is speed. Across all types of hosting, iPage also consistently scored poorly for features when compared to competitor plans. Further still, it has the lowest uptime of any provider we’ve tested, guaranteeing just 99.94%.
iPage simply lacks the power and reliability to fully support a sizeable website. However, it’s a good option if you’ve got a small, personal site that you need to host cheaply, and in an eco-friendly way.
Best for storage space
As you can see, we weren’t blown away by DreamHost. That said, its storage is very generous:
How green is DreamHost?
DreamHost takes a number of steps to be eco-friendly, such as partnering with an energy company that uses many renewable methods, and using reclaimed water in its cooling systems. Great stuff, yes – but in terms of quantifiable positive environmental impact, DreamHost doesn’t quite match up to other hosts on this list.
How good are the DreamHost hosting plans?
DreamHost’s hosting plans, like A2 Hosting’s, are fairly middle of the road. Unlike A2 Hosting, DreamHost doesn’t come with the same level of dedicated support.
Its plans are good value for money, with its (full priced) cheapest shared plan actually working out as one of the cheapest at $2.59/month (if you commit to three years). The VPS and dedicated plans are similarly affordable.
But why choose DreamHost over another provider higher up this list? The answer lies in the amount of storage space DreamHost offers, particularly for its dedicated plans. On the curiously and catchily named ‘Summer Moon SSD 64’ plan, you get access to a massive 64GB RAM, 24 CPU Threads, and 12 CPU cores – basically, a lot of power and storage.
Because DreamHost has so many dedicated plans to choose from, it’s really easy to start off on the lowest plan ($169/month), then gradually upgrade, so you’re never paying more than you need to. For that reason, we’d recommend DreamHost to eco-conscious, media-heavy sites which are just looking to make their first step into dedicated hosting.
So there you have it: our list of the top green web hosting providers, ranked and reviewed. We couldn’t not give the top spot to GreenGeeks; green web hosting is very clearly its ‘thing’, and it’s got a decent product to match.
Best Green Web Hosts: Recap
Let’s remind ourselves of which other providers are doing great, green things in the web hosting world:
- GreenGeeks – Most eco-conscious hosting provider
- HostGator – Best green hosting for larger sites
- InMotion – Best green hosting for small business sites
- A2 Hosting – Best for customer service
- iPage – Best cheap green hosting
- DreamHost – Best for storage
At the end of the day, with all providers offering some form of money back guarantee, your best bet is to give one a go, then simply switch if you don’t get on with it.
1. What’s the best green hosting for nonprofits?
DreamHost! Not only is DreamHost taking important steps to counteract its environmental impact, it also offers free web hosting to nonprofits. That’s right, DreamHost will host your charity’s website completely free of charge. Nice going, DreamHost!
Check out our guide to the best web hosts for nonprofits to find out which other hosts are offering a great deal to non-profits.
2. What does it mean when a company ‘offsets its carbon footprint’?
Put simply, it means the company uses energy as normal, but then invests in renewable energy schemes to pay for the equivalent (or more) energy to be supplied by renewable means. Check out this guide to Renewable Energy Certificates (also called ‘Credits’) for more info.
3. Help! What kind of hosting do I even need for my website?
Hey, we hear you! The hosting industry is as confusing as it is polluting. But don’t worry – we’ve covered all the different types in our guide to web hosting, so go ahead and check that out before you decide on a plan.