Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

GreenGeeks vs Bluehost Review

This is my in-depth technical review and comparison of GreenGeeks and Bluehost web hosting services. It goes somewhat beyond what most reviewers write in terms of the technical details. Techie people will like this.

As you might have read from my last post, I’ve already signed up with Bluehost. But I really want to support a pro-green company. I had considered GreenGeeks previously, but unfortunately, their price was not attractive then. Now, however, with discounts and promo codes, it turns out that their 36-month hosting price costs less than Bluehost. Time to check them out!

So I signed up for an account with GreenGeeks. The nice thing about money back guarantees is that I get to evaluate both services side-by-side, then make up my mind which one to keep and which other one to give up.

GreenGeeks Bluehost
Cost: US$148.20 / 36 months US$178.20 / 36 months
Outbound Bandwidth: 401.2KB/s 200.6KB/s
Inbound Bandwidth: 1283KB/s 2034KB/s
Ping Latency: 248ms 216ms
Hops: 22 14
CPU: Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU L5310 @ 1.60GHz, 8 cores AMD Opteron(tm) Processor 6168 @ 1.9GHz, 24 cores
Memory: 8GB 32GB
Home Disk: 915GB (51GB free) 688GB (636GB free)
Linux Kernel: 2.6.32-29.1.BHsmp
Apache: 2.2.15 2.2.17
MySQL: 5.0.91 5.1.47
Perl: 5.8.8 5.8.8
PHP: 5.2.13 5.2.17
Ruby: 1.8.7 1.8.7
Python: 2.4.3 2.4.3
Gcc: n/a 4.1.2
Java: n/a gij 1.4.2
OpenSSH: 4.3 5.5
Max User Processes: 20 115
Max Virtual Memory: 200MB 2GB
Max Open Files: 100 1024
UnixBench Score: 564.0 686.9

In summary, in favour for GreenGeeks:

  • Better throughput bandwidth for downloads (outbound from website)
  • Slightly cheaper cost
  • Green

In favour for Bluehost:

  • Software suite generally more updated
  • Software development environment
  • Better latency, lesser hops
  • Hardware that is a hell lot more powerful (although benchmark score doesn’t reflect that significant a difference)
  • No swapping observed (swapping was observed on GreenGeeks)

I very much like to support green power, so I very much like to go with GreenGeeks because they are pro-green. Unfortunately, there are a couple of things going against GreenGeeks:

  • Swapping was observed. Swapping is a big no-no to me as far as a web server is concerned, because it negatively impacts performance significantly.
  • The hardware configuration is considerably mediocre by today’s standards. It seems to be somewhat “old tech” too. That means, firstly, that the hardware is probably less energy efficient than more modern hardware. Furthermore, it’s lesser compute power means it cannot take on as much load, and thus requiring more physical servers than if more powerful modern hardware was used. That’s not very green. (GreenGeeks’ Intel L5310 CPU has a rated TDP of 50W, and Bluehost’s AMD Opteron 6168 has a rated TDP of 115W, so indeed it looks like GreenGeeks’ CPU consumes far lesser power. But on the other hand, consider that the L5310 is 4-core, while the Opteron 6168 is 12-core.)
  • The company’s hosting size seems to be pretty small. My order number is 24xxx (it seems to suggest there were only like 24K accounts before me), and the server I’m assigned to is “server6…”. It’s not a very scientific way of estimating their hosting size, but nevertheless, I don’t feel good.
  • The company is fairly new. I don’t want to discriminate against a company simply because they are new, but the lack of anytime money back guarantee doesn’t instil much confidence in me about their confidence in keeping their customers. Also, without track record, and an apparent small customer base, I’m concerned about their long-term survival, particularly since I’m going to be signing on a 3 year contract.
  • I’m deeply concerned about the excessive capping on user processes and virtual memory. While performing the UnixBench benchmarks, I very quickly received an email about having violated their excessive use policy, threatening to suspend my account. I ran the benchmarks many more times on Bluehost without any trouble. (It could just mean Bluehost doesn’t monitor so closely, which could either be a good or bad thing.)

There are just two main issues that I’m concerned about Bluehost:

  • Comparatively lesser bandwidth.
  • While a big customer base is a good thing, I’m also concerned if they may have over-committed on server resources and overall network bandwidth.

Before summing up this review, I just want to mention a couple of things about “green”. GreenGeeks does not run on green power. Like almost all other web hosting services, the servers and data centres still take power from power grids fed from traditional power plants. There’s nothing green here. Green companies like GreenGeeks buy Renewable Energy Certificates, which pay for purchasing renewable electricity that is generated and delivered back into the power grid. The purchasing of Renewable Energy Certificates offset the non-renewable energy consumed by the company. In the case of GreenGeeks, they buy 300% as much Renewable Energy Certificates as the electricity they actually consumed. Green purists will certainly argue that this does not actually eliminate or reduce the CO2 footprint of the company.

There are true-green web hosting companies. If you are really interested in them, check out www.aiso.net (among others).

So, finally, what is my verdict? I’ve more confidence in Bluehost. I like green, and I like fast download speeds, but ultimately, I’ve more confidence in Bluehost’s reliability, server capacity, and their ability to keep their infrastructure up-to-date.

2 thoughts on “GreenGeeks vs Bluehost Review

  1. Bluehost set a limit in number of tables. This is rapidly a problem with multi sites and when testing modules (tables are created and not always deleted) we get rapidly to this limit of 1000 tables even if they are not used (deleted field tables or test databases,..). With this limitation blue host is no more good for drupal

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