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Where to host for a website targetted at Mainland China?

4:44 pm on Apr 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I've been doing some research on starting a website in Mainland China, but the most fundamental problem is simply where would I host the site? Does it make sense in terms of speed to host within China itself (in which I'm not sure which webhosts are reliable) or maybe in Hong Kong SAR. From here, how would I go about paying the webhost (I'm based in Canada and the USA)

Does anyone have any recommendation on how to go about this? And any experience with a trustworthy webhost in either China/HK?

7:24 am on Apr 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Ok, I will give a quick reply then follow up later once I have more details.

If you are targeting mainland China than your best to host from within China, this is because of 2 reasons:

1) Internet speed within China is often 10mb/sec so users really notice the difference between China and non-China sites. Now having said that there are 2 Internet providers in China and they hate each other, I know that there are hosting packages that run your site on both pipelines, but often you are on one or the other, and the other will reduce the speed.

2) If you are hosting withing China you don't go through the international firewall and are not at risk of the firewall turning your website off.

Now hosting in China does mean all your data is accessible by the government, plus there might be some other issues if you are doing certain types of business, but if yours in line with the rules and ok with the government looking over your back, hosting within China will be the best for your users.

Hosting in Hong Kong, Taiwan or South Korea are your other options, they are all past the firewall so speed will be greatly reduced and you run risk of getting blocked at the firewall.

Thanks to Google's new settings in the Google Webmaster Center you can host anywhere in the world and your rankings in Google China wont be effected as you can change your settings to become a China targeted website even if hosting in the US.

As for trustworthy hosting providers that's what I need to get back to you with, there are a lot of people offering hosting, but due to the regulations I don't have any of my go to companies based in China, but there are good China companies I just don't know them off the top of my head.

1:48 pm on Apr 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the helpful info so far Noton. I think you're absolutely right about the site having to be hosted in China. Looking forward to see what you recommend in terms of hosts.
5:56 pm on Apr 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Noton gives some very good reasons why hosting in China is preferable. We had a thread on this very topic back in 2005, and the thinking was very much the same: The importance of hosting Top Sites in China; Myth or Reality? [webmasterworld.com], and then we had a follow-up in 2006: Hosting in China [webmasterworld.com]

I think that the general consensus is that if you have customers in China, and you have a Chinese site, it's worth your while to host there.

3:30 am on May 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

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According to my experience in dealing with foregin clients, i'd like to remind the following matters before you make the decision:
1. Website hosting fee in China is higher than that of Hongkong. I am not sure if it's higher than that of US/CA.
2. Make sure the hosting company can help you apply an ICP license. If not, make sure you can find someone to help on this regard. Without an ICP license, website hosted in China maybe shut off any time.
3. You don't have to host your website in China unless you have a website that requires real time response. For example, a MMORPG site hosted outside China may have bad user experience for Chinese player.
12:15 pm on May 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I'm a chinese I answer the question

China webhost is not cheap

if you konw chinese you can very easy choose a cheap webhost

but the pirce is not the problem
You website host in china you must register in
or you website must be shut down
because you can buy webhost in HongKong
the speed is very as same in Mainland China
or you can buy Singapore.
Buy chinese webhost is not best way.

[edited by: bill at 1:11 am (utc) on May 16, 2009]
[edit reason] removed hosting specifics [/edit]

3:48 pm on May 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

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There are few hosting companies run by foreigners that I personal know of in China. They will probably be in a better position to advice on the challenges faced by someone from outside China.