Should You Host Offshore? The Pros and ConsLast Updated:
When you put a new website up on the Internet, do you put a lot of thought into where your servers are based? For many users, server location isn’t a crucial factor when it comes to web hosting. And that’s fine–the average website typically works well enough regardless of where you’ll find its hosting servers.
In some cases, though, location matters; and offshore web hosting companies build their business on those cases. Typically located outside your country of residence, these companies will also let you run a website from almost any other place on the globe.
You might ask: What’s the point? Why bother seeking out a web host specifically for this option? Well, offshore web hosting comes with a number of significant advantages. As you might expect, though, these come with some trade-offs, too. Here at Comparakeet, we’ve listed the biggest pros and cons of offshore hosting to help you decide if this option is for you.
Privacy and Security
One of the biggest draws of any offshore hosting service is the assurance of privacy and security–both physical and virtual. Offshore hosting tends to come with stricter security protocols for the data centers involved, ensuring that your servers are physically sheltered from causes of failure like power shutdowns or fires.
What’s more, many offshore hosting providers go the extra mile to ensure your anonymity. Some won’t take payment methods that are attached to any of your personal data, while others won’t even keep records of your information on file when you register as a new user. Switzerland-based Hostpoint, for example, earned the top spot in our ranking of offshore web hosts, thanks in large part to its ISO- and FINMA-certified data centers.
Should your website or your web host’s servers ever suffer from intrusions or malicious attacks, you can rest easy knowing that your personal data hasn’t been compromised, as well.
Many countries like Panama now boast of robust Internet and communications infrastructure, so you simply need to pick an offshore host that lets you use this to your advantage. If your target audience mostly resides in other countries, using servers that are geographically closer will ensure faster and more reliable connections for them–and upticks in business for you.
If you’re not sure where to start, the UAE-based company Temok offers servers from more than 10 locations, from Canada to the United Arab Emirates and everywhere in between. Temok currently ranks second on our list of the top offshore web hosts, so you know it’ll be a good choice if ever you do decide to take your business global.
Hosting your website on offshore servers puts it outside the jurisdiction of your home country’s law and authorities. This can mean everything from a pass on taxes to the freedom to run a website that caters to niches that might not be legal in your territory.
This doesn’t mean all offshore hosting services are hotbeds of illicit activities. Nor does it mean that offshore hosting is a free pass for any sort of legal liability. After all, your hosting provider is still answerable to the law–their country’s and internationally–and it’s in everybody’s best interests to keep things legal. Offshore hosting can be a valid and viable solution even for legitimate establishments, which can benefit from reduced hosting costs due to lighter taxation rates in other territories.
Many hosting companies that are dedicated to offshore services usually have fewer staff than the more popular industry stalwarts. There might not be enough to provide the attention and technical assistance that all of their customers might require. Unless your chosen hosting provider offers 24/7 support, you’ll also have to consider factors like different time zones and the difficulties of coordinating your troubleshooting efforts across continents.
Speed and Reliability
Unfortunately, your customers’ connection speeds are still affected by both traffic volume and their location relative to your servers. While smart server selection can result in boosted speeds for your core customers, those who happen to live elsewhere might not be so fortunate. It’s up to you to check what your hosting provider can do to ensure top-quality connections across the board. Usually you’ll get speed options for different areas, or even the ability to use servers from multiple areas; however, these often involve additional fees.
Costs will depend largely on your choice of location. You can potentially save a lot of money: Panama, for example, has become a major spot for offshore hosting companies, thanks to its reasonable tax code, privacy policies, and fiber-optic networks that enable cross-continental links at lower costs. However, not all offshore hosting companies will reflect those savings in their prices. Some may jack up fees based on the added value of privacy, while some may trade overall savings for the protections and favorable web regulations of countries like Norway.
That brings us to pricing and billing. There are a lot of offshore hosting providers out there, so aside from picking one that offers the features you need, make sure to canvass prices, too. As we said earlier, some companies tend to charge more for services that come free with other web hosts. Since you’re basing your business in a different country, currency is a major consideration, too. Some payment systems charge extra for transactions in other currencies or for cross-country payments. Make sure you can set up a payment arrangement that doesn’t hurt your budget.
Offshore hosting isn’t an absolute must for all websites, but it does offer significant benefits for site owners who want more privacy, location options, or a different set of regulations to operate under. However, these benefits come with some trade-offs, so it’s up to you to decide if offshore hosting is a worthwhile choice for your company or not.
Here at Comparakeet, we hope our quick guide has helped you get a sense of what offshore hosting can offer–and what it can cost–your website. For more specific recommendations, you can also check out our reviews of the best offshore web hosts. We’ve compared the most popular choices out there across a set of criteria that include reliability, security, and cost. With this guide and our reviews to lend you a hand, you’ll have a trusty offshore host in no time!