If you’ve got a company that is based in China or that sells to people in the PRC and you’ve decided it’s time to get that website up and running, then you now have an important question to ask- Where are you going to host your site?

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Yes, like all things administration in China, the hosting of a website is a topic which is often asked about and met with lots of rumours, confusion and misinformation. The good news is that you can save yourself from all that. How? Don’t base your hosting in the PRC for your China facing website. You can set up a server and a domain name outside China in a matter of minutes, ready to build your site on.
Inside China? Time estimates vary, but it’s a long process, and one we advise you to skip.

What About The Great Firewall?

The simple fact is that you don’t have to put your website inside China- there’s simply no need in many cases. The Great Firewall of China stops traffic coming into China that is selectively blocked by the government. It doesn’t mean that your site won’t work if it’s based outside the country, or that your customers should make a coffee while waiting for your site to load. Occasionally some strange sites (like legitimate software products) have been known to get blocked seemingly randomly, but that doesn’t mean that yours will. As long as you are conducting legitimate business that doesn’t conflict with the censorship rules then your website will work without any problems. Just get the right hosting so as not to compromise on speed…

So Where Are The Best Places To Host?

If you are serving traffic inside the PRC and want to host outside the country to make setting up your website easier and more flexible, then you have a few options. Generally, internet speeds inside Asia are fairly slow with a few exceptions. Japan, Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong all have reliable and fast internet, and are close enough to China to give good page loading times.

Typically Japanese and Korean servers are pretty expensive compared to those of Singapore and Hong Kong. Singapore geographically is a little further away, so that leaves Hong Kong as the prime place to locate your server. Setting up your website in Hong Kong is as easy as setting it up in the South Africa or USA from a paperwork perspective. It takes minutes, and does not require any of the complex administration processes that mainland China requires.

Generally the providers in Hong Kong are straightforward to deal with, and we’ve experienced consistently good service for many years. The loading times in the PRC from Hong Kong servers are generally really good. Our website is a good example.

Can I Or Should I Host In China?

If you have an ICP license to host your site in China (for Chinese citizens and companies registered for business in the PRC), and you are facing mainly a Chinese customer base (for example e-commerce) then hosting inside China is preferable. The only delay is the paperwork for your ICP license which could take up to a month to process. This license simply states that you, or your company is legally responsible for data coming from your site, should you contravene Chinese information laws.

What If I Have A Lot Of Customers All Over The World?

Good question. Generally speaking a Hong Kong based server should deliver traffic to South African and the USA with good speeds, owing to its fast global connections. However, if you are going to be experiencing high levels of traffic or dealing with downloads coming from your site, it’s a good idea to consider cloud hosting either for your site, or the files that your customers may want to download.

If you’ve still got questions about hosting then let us know!! We haven’t seen many comments lately, so why not tell us directly on this page? Alternatively send us an e-mail with your story…