All three web hosts basically offer nearly the same features. The differentiating factors in this case boils down to price and reliability instead. From a price point-of-view, iPage is the cheapest, however, it may come across as being a little shady. Both iPage and FatCow Hosting are owned by the same parent company, which is accredited with an A- rating on Better Business Bureau.
On the other hand, GreenGeeks is much more transparent, and offers extremely responsive and helpful technical support in comparison.
Covered in this report
Responsive technical support that even bothers to answer customer queries on public forums
Eco-friendly initiatives promising a carbon-negative footprint for your website
Best for: Those who are looking for a cheap host with unparalleled technical support, and those who want their site to be eco-friendly.
Cheapest plan among the three, going from as low as US$1.99/month
Free site builder from which you can design your website from scratch
Best for: Those looking for the cheapest web hosting plan out there
Servers are powered by 100% wind energy, reducing carbon footprint
Accredited by the Better Business Bureau with an A- rating
Best for: Those looking for an accredited web host and those looking for an eco-friendly web host.
If you are about to launch a new website, you are probably keen on scrimping as much as possible in the event that your website doesn't take off. Hence, price is probably of most importance to you when choosing a web host to start off with. On the other hand, you would probably want that web host to be reliable enough for your hosting needs, as frequent downtime could very well doom your website from the get-go.
Today, we will take a look at GreenGeeks, iPage and FatCow Hosting, all of which offer hosting plans under US$5/month.
For most of us, this wouldn't be a particularly important selling point, however, GreenGeeks prides itself on being an eco-friendly web host. For every one unit of energy used by GreenGeeks' servers, they purchase three times the amount of wind energy credit. As a result, the carbon footprint of any website hosted by GreenGeeks would supposedly be negative. Among its various accolades, GreenGeeks was inducted into the United States Environmental Protection Agency's Green Power Partnership for its green initiatives.
For US$4.95/month, GreenGeeks offers a very comprehensive list of features. You can actually explore the entire list of features over here, however, some of the more distinctive features will be outlined here.
Like many web hosts in the industry today, GreenGeeks does not place any restriction on disk storage and data transfer. The usual features, such as CGI, PHP, MySQL, unlimited domains and POP3/IMAP support are also provided.
One of its standout features for its price is that it offers a free domain name for the life of your account. That means that the US$4.95/month actually includes the price of a domain name. However, the catch is that you do not actually have ownership over your domain name, which could be a potential cause of concern down the road when you wish to move away. Your domain name will be taken over by GreenGeeks if you terminate your hosting with them, unless you pay a one-time fee of US$24.95 to transfer the ownership to you.
GreenGeeks also offers a 'free starter site' service, whereby if your website is not yet set up, it will help you create a one-page informative page so that search engines can start crawling your website first, so as to improve your ranking down the road. If you are coming from another web host, it offers a free site migration service too.
GreenGeeks promises a 99.9% service uptime, round-the-clock telephone support in North America, and a 30-day money back guarantee.
GreenGeeks previously used the popular cPanel control panel, but is slowly phasing it out in favour of its own control panel solution. However, little information is available as yet about its new in-house control panel.
This page on Drupal actually outlines problems that users have faced with GreenGeeks. The main issue of contention among most is with regards to the domain ownership problem which was outlined earlier in this review. In addition, their billing department seems to be rather inefficient, leading some to claim that GreenGeeks is a 'scam'. On the upside, GreenGeeks' support has been rather responsive on the page, addressing most of the issues that users have faced.
Elsewhere on the Internet, such as on WebHostingGeeks, reviews of GreenGeeks seem to be much more positive. Most of them laud them for their good support, however, reliability seems to be more of a hit-and-miss, with some claiming frequent downtimes, yet others claim not to have any issues at all.
For US$4.95/month, GreenGeeks offers a very comprehensive set of features. It aims to be an eco-friendly hosting solution, and offers class-leading support.
iPage claims to be hosting websites since 1998, however, according to this review, iPage was actually inactive for several years before re-launching in 2009. iPage specialises in providing budget web hosting, and their Essential plan only costs US$1.99/month for the first three months, with a US$2.99/month charge thereafter (for the 2-year plan).
Similar to GreenGeeks, iPage offers unlimited disk space and data transfer, with CGI, PHP, MySQL, unlimited domains and POP3/IMAP support. A comprehensive list of features can be seen here.
iPage also claims to offer an anytime money-back guarantee, and provides round-the-clock phone, chat and email support. For those who have yet to set up their website, iPage offers a free site builder, where you can choose from numerous templates to start creating your website.
iPage also uses its own customised Control Panel, as you can see below.
Among the most critical reviews of iPage, you may want to take a look at this post. Among the various issues, many processes, such as domain transfer and ownership, are not clear to the end-user, and even the tech support staff may not be so sure on the details. In addition, be forewarned that iPage automatically pre-selects certain add-ons that costs over US$10/year, so be careful if you decide to sign up with iPage. Comments on the post also reveal other users' experiences, which are mostly negative, with the most outstanding issue being the difficulty in cancelling your account and obtaining a refund.
On the positive side, iPage has an A- rating on Better Business Bureau, so if you bother to lodge a formal complaint, it is likely that your issue will be addressed.
On Google, most of the customer reviews of iPage are actually overwhelmingly positive, such that it actually feel staged. It could be the case where people are actually paid to write glowing reviews of iPage. Therefore, you may want to take most web reviews of iPage with a pinch of salt.
In summary, caveat emptor. With tech support that doesn't know their own stuff and the use of various tactics to make you pay more, and the false claim of being around since 1998, iPage may seem to be a little shady. However, if you're willing to take the risk, US$2.99/month, even for 2-years, is actually quite an attractive price. It is also accredited with an A- rating on Better Business Bureau, therefore, if you are willing to escalate your complaint, it is likely that it will eventually be solved.
FatCow Hosting was founded in 1998, with the goal of providing a simple, customer-friendly approach to web hosting.
FatCow offers an introductory rate of US$3.15/month for the first term; thereafter, it renews at a regular rate which costs at least twice more. The full details can be seen at this page.
Similar to GreenGeeks and iPage, FatCow does not restrict disk space and data transfer, and supports CGI, PHP, MySQL, unlimited domains and POP3/IMAP support. A comprehensive list of features can be seen here.
It offers one-year of free domain hosting as well, and their servers are powered by 100% wind energy, if that is of any concern to you. In addition, there is also round-the-clock phone, e-mail and live chat support provided. A 30-day money back guarantee is offered, subject to its Terms of Service.
FatCow uses a similar control panel solution as iPage, and a screenshot of it can be seen below.
HostingsThatSuck has actually done an analysis of FatCow over here, and from their research, only eight out of every 100,000 search engine pages for FatCow are negative. FatCow's parent company is also accredited with the Better Business Bureau with an A- rating. Most reviews of FatCow are rather positive, with claims of reliable and fast servers with professional and responsive support.
Similar to iPage, such overwhelmingly positive reviews may actually be suspicious. As it turns out, according to Hosting-Reviews-Exposed, FatCow Hosting seems to be under the same parent company as iPage. The same issues pertaining to iPage therefore applies, with complaints of poor tech support and difficulty in cancelling your account. This review also outlines the difficulties in setting up a website with FatCow Hosting.
However, unlike iPage, among the critical reviews, FatCow Hosting seems to be at least slightly better than iPage, at least from a reputation point-of-view. Perhaps this is because you are actually paying more for FatCow than iPage, and the parent company would probably want to focus more on FatCow instead.
Owned by the same parent company as iPage, FatCow uses the same shady advertising tactics and has much of the same problems as iPage. However, it seems that the higher price you pay for a FatCow plan actually translates to better reliability as compared to iPage.
Due to their shady tactics as mentioned earlier, I would not recommend iPage or FatCow Hosting other than the fact that they are a BBB-accredited web host. Do note that both iPage and FatCow are owned by the same parent company, with FatCow being slightly more reputable than iPage (though you pay twice the price).
The only thing iPage has going for it is probably its dirt-cheap price of US$1.99/month for the first three months, with a US$2.99/month fee thereafter. Otherwise, GreenGeeks is probably the best choice you can make out of the three. Unlike iPage and FatCow, GreenGeeks' customer service and technical support is top-notch and they actively respond to customer complaints posted in public forums while being very transparent at the same time.
Features wise, there are basically no notable difference among the three web hosts. Do note that all three hosts do not offer cPanel but instead use their own propriety control panel. Your choice instead shoud boil down to whether you want the cheapest solution (iPage), or the most reliable one (GreenGeeks).