Offshore hosting simply means using a hosting service that is based out of another country. Usually, this means that the business that runs the hosting and the physical servers are located in that country.
Offshore hosting is used for a variety of different reasons. Sometimes the offshore hosting is intentional, where someone is looking to host their site offshore for specific regulatory or legal reasons. Other times, someone will pick offshore hosting without really thinking twice about it. Because of the nature of the internet, there’s no real reason that you should host your servers in a different city rather than a different country!
How Does Offshore Hosting Work?
Well, offshore hosting works exactly like onshore hosting. It’s a place where your website lives and is serviced!
Some offshore hosting solutions will specifically be targeted at a kind of consumer with a specific language or from a different country. Such solutions will also use SEO to try and target such customers. For example, a hosting solution in a different company that wants to attract North American users may need to use English as their language and brand their hosting solution for North American customers.
Servers can be connected to the world wide web from anywhere on earth. But because of political, economic, social, legal and business considerations, there might be advantages to running your hosting through an offshore hosting solution.
What, Exactly, is Offshore?
Keep in mind that a hosting company has a number of different moving parts. There is the business level of the company, which must be located in a specific country. There are the servers, which must be located in a specific country. And there are further considerations like customer service, maintenance, and parent corporations. All of these individual parts might not be located in the same country.
For example, you could get a hosting company that is based in the United States that has offshore servers. Or you might get a company that is completely offshore, as well as its servers.
Is Offshore Hosting Legit?
There’s a couple of things to consider here. The first one being, is offshore hosting a legitimate service, as in can you find really good hosting solutions that are located outside of your own country? The answer to that is “of course.” There are good businesses and good servers almost everywhere you could look for them. The second question might be whether people and businesses that seek out “offshore hosting” are legit. That one is a bit more complicated.
There are reasons that people would choose offshore hosting that have legal ramifications, and there are reasons that have nothing to do with legal matters. Sometimes, offshore hosting is simply cheaper. Businesses might be cheaper to operate in other countries, and data, often like clothing and food, can be made cheaper in a different place. It might be for purely economic reasons that someone would choose offshore hosting.
Of course, there are very illegal reasons that people opt for offshore hosting as well. Many offshore companies are not subject to the same legal parameters that United States companies are subject to, and this may become relevant if dealing with privacy issues, illegal forms of web behavior, and explicit content.
The short answer? Offshore hosting is a bit like an offshore bank account. There are both legitimate and shady reasons that people seek them out.
Offshore Hosting Considerations
Legal Issues and Regulations
Let’s talk about this one first, because it’s one of the first things that most people associate with offshore hosting, just like the term offshore bank account. Yes, the United States has some laws on what you can put on the internet. When you opt for an offshore hosting solution, those governments might have different laws. For example, Japan bans gambling. (it allows you to win prizes for skill based games, so it gets complicated here). If someone in Japan wanted to run a gambling website, they would need to host that site with an offshore hosting solution. One of the reasons that people choose to host elsewhere is because of government regulations.
There are a lot of different ways that your information gets associated with your online data in the United States. When you want to run a website, for example, you’ll need your name and address (probably), your payment information which carries your name and address, and even your DNS and VPN can be traced if there are legal issues. Offshore hosting can work by disguising more of these personal identifiers. You can use alternative payment methods, like cryptocurrencies, and may not even be required to give much personal data if payment goes through.
Offshore hosting solutions that are targeted might accept certain kinds of payment options. For example, there are a number of offshore hosts that will accept cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. This is a great solution for anyone looking for payment privacy. Of course, once you’re in the territory of bitcoin, you’ve entered the land of scammers scamming other scammers, so be careful. There are tons of legitimate bitcoin hosting services, but there are some illegitimate ones as well.
Language, Culture, Customer Service
Some offshore hosting companies are simply not built for an audience that only speaks your language. If you’re going to need great customer service and find that you’ve got a language barrier between you and the hosting company, this could be a huge issue. One thing to consider when going for offshore hosting is whether or not you’ll be able to effectively communicate with the company that you’re working with. If you have other considerations than customer service that are more pressing, then that’s fine, but for many people customer service will be something to consider. In this case, there are many offshore hosting solutions that will still work, but you may want to do a bit of poking around first.
Offshore hosting is simply hosting that takes place in a country that is not your own. It might mean that the business is offshore, the servers are offshore, or both the servers and the business is offshore. It is a good solution for people that are looking for alternative payment methods, additional privacy, to avoid legal concerns from their own country, and as a potentially cheaper alternative.