Hosting in China: What to Consider When Choosing a Web Host?

China has become a leader in global internet industry with 710 million internet users in 2016, reaching $967 billion of online shopping and internet consumption. How to tap into the China’s enormous market has been a quite big and important question facing global enterprises.

Having an online presence is a must-have for every company who looks to reach Chinese consumers. Specifically, choose a reliable web hosting in China. However, this could be a great challenge not only for newbies but also for experienced players from outside of China.

How to Choose a Reliable Web Hosting Provider?

As is known to all, great hosting boils down to the 4 S’s: speed, support, security and scalability.

There are a wide variety of hosting services with prices ranging from a few dollars to thousands of dollars a month. It is indeed a headache to find a more suitable web hosting provider from dozens or even hundreds of options. Fortunately, many industry experts have teased out some most important factors that you should take into consideration when doing the decision.

  • How much hand-holding do you need?

Basic customer service offers access to chat, email and ticket support. Turnaround time on requests. Some web hosting providers even provide 24/7 phone support. However, if you have purchased a non-managed service, your web host may answer questions about basic configuration via different support channels, it won’t be your system manager.
As going with a managed service means delegating the management of your site completely, your hosting provider will be responsible for properly setting up your system, keeping you away from security issues, patching your software as needed and managing backups, etc.

  • How much traffic do you expect?

Web hosting providers typically charge on the basis of the usage of storage and bandwidth. Bandwidth is the indicator of the amount of bytes your site uses over a certain period. If you want a lot of visitors to your site, you will need high level of bandwidth and vice versa.

  • What type of server do you want to host sites on?

Shared servers are definitely the cheapest hosting solutions because they can run hundreds of websites on a single instance. But there’s an important disadvantage: unstable performance.

VPS, the full instance of a virtual machine running on a box, is the next tier up. Besides a little more money, you usually will be required to have some basic knowledge of server maintenance and management, if you use a VPS.

Dedicated server lets you exclusively assign the server resources, instead of sharing performance with other sites. No wonder that this hosting service is the most expensive among other solutions and you’d better have system management skills beforehand.

Cloud server is a fast-growing hosting solution in recent years. Many public cloud giants like AWS and Microsoft Azure are reputable cloud service providers that can build whatever configuration that suits your needs. Being able to scale seamlessly is the biggest benefit of cloud servers.

  • You should own a domain name.

All fledgling businesses are recommended to own their domain names. That way they can change web hosting providers if needed and own any earned SEO benefits.

Hong Kong vs. mainland China: Where to Locate Your Servers?

Latency is a large factor in how fast your site loads. High latency will lead to a slow loading site. If you want your site to load as fast as possible for the best conversion rate, SEO rankings, or bounce rate, you should make sure your site’s server is as close to your visitors as possible.

For most global companies who are serious about reaching their Chinese consumers, hosting their servers in mainland China or in Hong Kong are two most common options they pursue.

Hosting in mainland China

There is various conflicting information about whether it is good to choose a local hosting provider, as well as how much it will affect the site’s performance and search engine rankings.

Advantages

  1. Improved loading speed. Hosting your site abroad, especially on the server that is geographically remote, usually has negative effects on loading speed. This, then, will hurt your site rankings on the local search engine, namely, Baidu. More than that, slow loading delivers bad user experience, which, in turn, leads to high bounce rate.
  2. Avoiding the great firewall. Internet traffic in China is heavily firewalled by the so-called Great Chinese Firewall, which results in an unacceptable high network latency for the pages served from outside mainland China. If you are able to host within the borders of the Chinese firewall, then you can naturally overcome the challenge.
  3. Optimal search engine results page. Although Google alike global search engines have assigned less weight on a physical location of a site nowadays, Baidu may not be in the same case. It is very likely that a site with the local domain, for instance, yourdomain.com.cn, and with the local IP will be ranked higher than a foreign one.

Disadvantages

  • ICP license required. Legally speaking, all sites hosted on Chinese servers are obligated to obtain an ICP license. Getting an ICP license is typically difficult and time-consuming for a foreign company, however.
  • Costly hosting service. It seems that power, space, and IP transit are all more expensive in China.

Best Chinese hosting provider: Bisend.cn, Aliyun, West.cn

Hosting in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is often recognized as the “springboard” and “gateway” between the rapidly developing mainland China and the rest of the world. Hosting in Kong Hong is also much easier, cheaper and faster to deploy than in mainland China.

Advantages

  • Superior infrastructure. The telecommunications industry in Hong Kong is privately owned and encounter no restrictions on foreign investments, thus attracting large amounts of capital regardless of it coming from a domestic or foreign investor. It is easy to understand why Hong Kong creates one of the world’s most advanced internet infrastructure.
  • Fast internet speeds. Hong Kong has repeatedly ranked the world’s leading connection speeds region. Importantly, it is also the best location for speedy mobile internet connections.
  • Free from censorship. Compared to mainland China, hosting in Hong Kong can help deliver the benefits of free flowing data. The data privacy laws there will help protect websites from being blocked, and protect content from being censored.
  • Free for ICP license. No need to apply for an ICP license is also a big reason why global enterprises are obsessed with a Hong Kong web hosting provider.

Disadvantages

  • Network congestion at China’s border. It is inevitable that you will be facing the problem of network congestion when your sites are visited by Chinese consumers from inside mainland China and without using traffic exchange service from China Telecom, China Unicom or China Mobile.

Best HK hosting provider: Bisend.com, GoDaddy, KnowloonHosting.com

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