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. In which case, kudos!
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 web hosting accounts for 2% of the world’s carbon emissions – the same amount as the airline industry. 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.
But it’s no use having an eco-conscious, yet ultimately useless hosting provider – you need to strike a balance.
When we carried out this research to determine the best green hosting provider, their environmental impact and green efforts were given a high weighting, but weren’t looked at in isolation. Instead, we also analyzed features that make for a good and reliable shared hosting plan (the most eco-conscious type of hosting), such as inclusion of a domain name, SSL certificates, backups, support, disk space, uptime, and price. After using this holistic approach to evaluate the top hosting providers, these are the six that came out on top:
But first, what exactly makes a hosting provider ‘green’? Hosting providers normally approach this using one or a combination of the following methods:
- Purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) – Providers buy ‘credits’ for green energy to offset their carbon footprint by helping to provide equivalent ‘green’ energy (wind, solar etc.)
- Practices to minimise carbon footprint – These include using more efficient software and hardware, having a robust recycling process, and encouraging working from home.
- Supporting green initiatives – Such as tree planting.
Here’s a sneak peek at how our top green hosting providers compare:
|Hosting Provider||Green Credentials||Starting Price *||Cool Features|
|GreenGeeks||Offsets carbon footprint by 300%||$2.95||Free daily backups|
|InMotion||Energy-efficient hardware, partnership with nonprofit Trees For The Future||$6.39|| Best shared and VPS hosting |
|iPage||Offsets carbon emissions by 200%||$1.99||Cheap prices across the board|
|A2 Hosting||Supports tree planting initiative and has plenty of green workplace practices||$3.92|| Anytime money back guarantee |
Excellent help and support
|HostPapa||Offsets carbon emissions by 100%||$3.59||Host two websites, even on the cheapest plan|
|DreamHost||Green workplace practices||$2.59||Loads of storage available|
*Some of these prices are promotional prices that are only valid for the first term. We’ll explore both promotional and renewal prices in the more comprehensive reviews below.
Now let’s take a closer look at each one.
Best overall green 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. 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?
GreenGeeks has strong hosting plans, but doesn’t cover every type of hosting. It has options for shared, reseller, WordPress and managed VPS hosting. This is in line with GreenGeeks’ ethos – dedicated hosting is the most polluting type of hosting – but could leave really large sites short of options.
Since shared plans are the greenest and typically the most popular, we’ve focused our attention there. GreenGeeks’ Lite plan packs a real 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, as well a free domain, free backups, and a free SSL certificate.
GreenGeeks also offers widely praised support via phone and 24/7 live chat.
There’s a 30-day money back guarantee available, plus free website migration if you’re already hosted somewhere else, so you can easily take their services for a risk-free test drive. It’s clear that GreenGeeks is committed to being more than just ‘green’.
Best green shared hosting provider
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.
InMotion has also partnered with Trees For The Future to plant 5,000 trees across the developing world.
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 four exclusively discounted plans for WBE users, ranging from $2.49/month to $12.99/month. The Lite plan is the cheapest (plus, it’s only available for you WBE visitors!), but we’d recommend spending a little more to get the Power plan for $7.99/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 value green hosting
A2 Hosting offers a good, green product at a fair price:
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 carefully recycles old hardware. A2 Hosting was also one of the first hosting providers to offer SSD hosting, which is far less carbon-intensive than using traditional HDDs.
A2 Hosting works closely with Carbon.org, and has been known to run special promotions to plant three trees with each new sign up over certain periods.
How good are the A2 Hosting plans?
A2 Hosting is a great all-rounder. It didn’t come out top in our research for any one particular type of hosting, but it scored well across the board, and is the provider we found to offer the best value for money.
Although you lose out on a free domain, you do 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!
A2 Hosting has four shared plans to choose from, making it easy to upgrade as and when you need. With the Drive plan ($11.99/month) and above, you can even split your hosting across more than one site, and get free automatic backups too. This is why we’d recommend this plan most, even if you only have one site.
Best cheap green hosting provider
iPage offsets its carbon footprint by 200%. Plans are affordable, but features and speed 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 counteract its impact on the environment. iPage’s hosting is effectively powered entirely by wind energy, because iPage purchases wind energy RECs (Renewable Energy Certificates). In fact, it purchases enough to cover double the energy that it actually uses, meaning it’s effectively offsetting its carbon footprint by 200%. If you host your website with iPage, you can even display an eco-friendly badge on your own website.
Link to green policy: https://ipage.com/blog/green-hosting-the-what-and-why/
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. Keep in mind though that the renewal prices for iPage’s shared plans start at $7.99/month, which is the same as InMotion.
But as we’ve hinted above, iPage’s rock bottom promotional prices come 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 promoting your green hosting
HostPapa is a carbon neutral hosting provider, with plenty of ways for you to show your visitors that you care about the environment. Its shared plans aren’t as generous, however, as those of the providers featured above:
How green is HostPapa?
HostPapa remains effectively carbon neutral by purchasing enough RECs to cancel out its energy usage, and was one of the first hosting providers to start offering this. If you host your site with HostPapa, there are a few different banners and badges you can add to your site to show your visitors that you’re making green decisions.
How good are HostPapa’s hosting plans?
In a word: okay. HostPapa’s shared plans match up with competitors’ in terms of pricing (renewal prices start at $7.99/month), and include lots of the usual freebies; free domain name, free SSL certificates, free site transfer etc. The cheapest shared plan also supports two websites.
There are a couple of things to watch out for, however. While the cheapest Starter plan allows for two websites, it has a disk space cap of 100GB, compared to unlimited space offered by competitors. The money back guarantee is also a little sneaky; if you’ve subscribed for more than a year, you have 30 days – otherwise, it’s just 48 hours. You also need to pay extra for backups with a HostPapa plan.
These details, coupled with the okay-but-not-exemplary green policy, leave HostPapa down in fifth place.
Best for extra features
As you can see, we weren’t blown away by DreamHost. While plans aren’t the greenest, storage is very generous, and its plans are pretty cheap:
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 – Best overall green hosting provider
- InMotion – Best green shared hosting provider
- A2 Hosting – Best value green hosting
- iPage – Best cheap green hosting
- HostPapa – Best for promoting your eco-friendliness
- DreamHost – Best for extra features
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.
Find out more
Now that you know the best green web hosts, check out our guide for 3 Ways to Make Your Website More Eco-Friendly and learn how to build (and use) website in a greener way!
DreamHost! Not only is DreamHost taking important steps to counteract its environmental impact, but 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.
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.
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.