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International and offshore hosting is not something simply used by criminals to avoid legal trouble. Hosting your website in another country can be highly beneficial for a variety of reasons. Since Linux-based hosting is available in just about every country in the world, transferring your website or web-based applications over to another host is not much of a hassle or issue. Before deciding to make the leap, you should determine if your website really has a reason to be hosted overseas and what country you should host it in. While many countries have near identical hosting packages, bandwidth and pricing can vary dramatically.
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The primary reason to have an additional or your only hosting provider in another country is to facilitate faster content distribution. Having servers close to your clients can reduce their latency and produce more responsive web applications. When building a content distribution network (CDN) for an international website or company, having servers located in other countries is vital to successfully using anycast to provide the fastest possible route times for your clients. Additionally, picking the right countries may help you to save on bandwidth. Websites with content for countries like New Zealand, that charge by the amount of bandwidth used, might be best hosted nearby at a data center in the Philippines, where bandwidth costs and therefore hosting may be much cheaper.
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Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plays a key role in moving traffic to your website. Without the proper inclusion of SEO products on the page, your ranking may never increase and your traffic stay stagnant. Based on your domain name and server location, you can see an increase in rankings for having a server hosted in the country of your target clients. Hosting a German-geared site in Germany, on a German IP address, can raise your standings in some search engines and drive more German traffic to your website. If you have a multi-language, internationalized website it may be beneficial to have an additional server geared toward each market, hosted in that country's own IP scheme.
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Uptime and Privacy
Lately, it seems like not a week goes by that there is not a federal raid on some data center in the United States. In the process of the raid, a vital machine or component is disconnected and thousands of websites go offline or are replaced by a Department of Homeland Security seizure page. When hosting a professional website, a simple mistake like that can be catastrophic to your online presence and cause innumerable problems. The profit lost from the downtime alone may severely affect your business. Moving your hosting to a nearby country such as Canada or an offshore Caribbean host may provide the same latency times, but reduce the risk of having your website brought down by a mistake.
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Laws and Regulations
Depending on the content that your website is distributing, it may be beneficial to have your web server hosted internationally or offshore. When working with a client whose business is legal in their state or province but not in your own (such as gambling), you may need to host their website elsewhere for legal reasons. Additionally, some content has restrictions or taxes that may be applied to it depending on what country the hosting provider is in. Changing to a more relaxed and free hosting environment can keep your business from cropping up with unnecessary legal troubles.
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After the United States, Europe leads the world from Linux-based web hosting. Germany and the United Kingdom are the top contenders, while many other nations continue down the leaderboard. Both countries are near identical, but you can typically find better bandwidth in the United Kingdom, due to the stress the country has placed on network development there, while Germany has better pricing.
If you are looking for a more private web host, it may be tempting to look at countries like Switzerland. While there is a decent amount of privacy and protection, it's important to remember that a lot of content is still heavily regulated. Due to shifts in thinking on copyright and other issues, more and more network laws are being defined or modified that may upset your hosting in Europe later on.
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South American Hosting
Linux hosting in South America is a growing industry, with many new data centers popping up in Argentina, Brazil, and Panama. The relaxed Internet laws bring many web-based companies trying to avoid high taxes in their own countries. This has a sprouted up a little "offshore" hosting business that more and more people are taking advantage of. Often times, the pricing in South America is much cheaper than hosting services in Europe, but the reliability may not be as good. However, as the market grows, so does the dependibility, and a number of South American providers come highly recommended on web host review sites.
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Asian and Russian Hosting
There is not a lot to be said about hosting in Russia and Asia. For the most part, Russia is plagued by the amount of illegal content hosted by its providers. If you are hosting critical applications, you may find that the IP address range for your Russian host will be blacklisted by malware scanners or that your E-mail servers may be mistakenly pegged as spam servers. This is simply because of the amount of illegal content that Russian hosting companies allow on their servers. As far as Asiatic hosting, not much is really different or advantageous from the rest of the world. Asian hosting is typically more expensive than other international counterparts. However, if a large part of your client base lives in an Asian country, a nearby content distribution server is nearly essential.
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African and Pacific Hosting
Africa is still an emerging Internet market with countries like South Africa leading the way. While these countries do offer cheap hosting, their infrastructure may not support hosting your website or Linux-based web applications from there alone. Latency and development issues are still being ironed out and although, like South America, there are more and more recommended hosts, it may be hard to find the perfect spot to place your content distribution node in the region. Pacific hosting on the other hand is varied with a lot of countries having highly developed infrastructures. The problem with countries like Australia and New Zealand is the price of bandwidth. The exorbitant costs and restrictions make it hard to effectively host rich media applications from data centers there.