Putting consideration into where you’re hosting websites can make a big difference for the performance and security. In this article we will explore the best countries to host within and factors like Data Privacy and Performance you need to be aware of.
Performance and User Experience
The best server location for your users is often the one closest to them. For the case of a Business site based out of New York, you’d ideally want to find a web host who has servers on the East Coast US, or even better in the city itself for the maximum performance for the bulk of the target audience.
This is because the further away a site visitor is from the server, the higher the latency (delay) which may give the appearance of the site being slow to load.
If your site has a global audience this decision becomes much harder! Finding a solid host located central to you’re audience is important, but also ensuring the city is connected to the backbone of the internet with several fibreoptic cables going all over the world.
For an Audience serving both primarily Australia and to a lesser extent the US, hosting out of Sydney makes the most sense as this is where the large fibre optic cables linking countries are located. If you were trying to target SE Asia and US you might consider hosting in Singapore or Japan.
If you have a budget to do so and are able to justify the added expense, you could consider multiple servers across the globe and a Geolocation-based load balancer so users load off the closet server or use a CDN service such as CloudFlare which will cache larger files closer to the user for faster site performance.
There is no denying economics are a big factor in how we choose a hosting provider regardless of if we are an individual setting up a blog or a company wanting racks of servers hosted.
Some countries are more expensive than other’s to host in for a variety of different reasons. The top examples of these are
- Australia: High cost of Internet Peering and expensive power, leading to limited data caps and less competitive computing options. High taxes and labor costs are sharply increasing costs.
- Singapore: Energy and Land shortages have led to the country severely restricting new data centres being built. Rack Space is limited and being sold at a premium which is passed directly onto the end-users.
The cheapest and most competitive places to host are commonly Germany and the United States.
Data Sovereignty & Jurisdiction
Data sovereignty is an essential consideration for web hosting because you need to ensure you are in compliance with local data protection laws and know what legal jurisdiction you need to abide by.
For some sectors such as government, healthcare and accounting, it is a strict legal requirement the data does not leave the country. Failing to abide by these requirements could result in hefty fines or penalties on you’re business.
Countries will not always share the same laws as your home country. This could result in the site being shut down, data seized and legal issues arising. Common content types of concern are Adult content, gambling, controversial websites and hosting copyrighted material.
Privacy & Control Of Data
Not all countries are benevolent and respect privacy at the government level.
Germany is one of the leading countries when it comes to hosting with most providers having a strong adherence to the ‘General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)’ which outlines comprehensive rules on how hosting companies and governments manage user data. Similar policies exist in neighbouring including Iceland making them great choices for those who value privacy.
Hosting sensitive or valuable data in countries such as China can be fraught with danger as Data Privacy and ownership Laws appear very ‘fragmented’. If hosting within Asia it is strongly recommended to consider countries such as Singapore or Korea which are politically stable, independent and has very strong data protection laws.
There is current debate about the privacy expectations of hosting within ‘5 eyes’ nations (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States) that have strong agreements between governments, mass surveillance programs and broad legislation such as Assistance and Access Act 2018 which nullifies data privacy laws on request. For the vast majority, this will not be a concern, however if doing anything which could be considered against Western political interests it would be wise to consider how private your data is and under what grounds the hosting provider would be required to hand over data.
As covered, finding the right hosting provider is not as easy as sorting by the lowest price or the one with the flashiest advertisements. The best country to host your website will depend on your specific needs based on where your target audience is located, the types of content you will be hosting and a hosting provider that meets any compliance or legal requirements.
Not all hosting providers are built equally and you do pay for what you get. Be sure to read the reviews of the company to ensure their performance and support is up to scratch.
Where do you prefer hosting you’re sites, let us know in the comments below?