Top 3 China Optimized Web Hosting Providers in 2016: A Quick Review

September 27th, 2016

For many years, the great firewall program in China has made it rare for businesses with operations or sales in China to market their services in the middle Kingdom, due to the various restrictions when it comes to hosting a website locally. Many global providers in the United States or Europe have their servers blocked or extremely slow to access from China. Due to that reason, it is of critical importance for big businesses as well as entrepreneurs of all sizes to find a web hosting firm that has services targeting web traffic from China, especially when such businesses do not have the local presence in China to obtain the various licenses for hosting content locally.

At MyChinaHosting, we have reviewed the existing solutions available in the market today and have come up with a shortlist of 3 great web hosts that can provide China targeted web hosting for global businesses, but also local companies in China that do not want to go through all the paperwork. Some of them have already been mentioned on our blog in the past.

#1: China Hoster

Among the three hosts selected, ChinaHoster is the newest. It comes with the crown however due to the fact that it has been developped with China Optimization in mind. ChinaHoster effectively solves the problem of not being able to host in China while most of one’s clients are based there. Operating from servers at China Telecom datacenters in Hong Kong, ChinaHoster has built a custom solution that combines using dedicated China bandwidth from Hong Kong with the use of DNS servers by Aliyun in China. Even the IP addresses used are registered in China so this is especially useful for Baidu SEO or optimizing websites for Chinese search engines. Ping times from China are excellent and very close to native China hosting in Shanghai or Beijing. The fact that ChinaHoster has among its clients foreign companies operating in China as well as local Chinese firms is a testimonial to the excellence of their service.

ChinaHoster is a Weebly Authorized Partner so if you are used to using this worldclass Sitebuilder platform, this will give you the opportunity to host your weebly-built website in Hong Kong and ensure fast access for your website visitors based in China or elsewhere in Asia.

ChinaHoster offers Personal Hosting, Business Hosting, Cloud Hosting and Dedicated Hosting all using the same model. The cloud and dedicated hosting servers all come with cPanel included.

This link on ChinaHoster website helps you to compare this company with the other alternatives in China, Hong Kong and the US.

-Pros: low pings+fast speed from China, SLA Guarantee, Weebly Support, 21 Days moneyback guarantee, 10-Day Free trial

-Cons: More expensive than alternative hosts

#2: Sino Hosting

SinoHosting has been around since 2007 and is considered the go-to-company when it comes to hosting for foreign companies operating in China. It is a true multi-location web hosts as it has servers in mainland China (Shanghai & Beijing), Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, the United States and Europe.

SinoHosting offers shared hosting, VPS, dedicated servers and server locations at various locations.

Companies registered in China can apply for an ICP license and host their websites on Chinese servers through SinoHosting. During the ICP license application, SinoHosting can host your website temporarily on their Hong Kong servers.

-Pros: Affordable, Multiple locations, Niche market leaders

-Cons: No free trial

#3: Aliyun

Aliyun (or Ali Cloud) is Alibaba’s cloud and hosting arm. If you are looking for a cloud server this is probably your best option. Aliyun offers cloud servers at various locations in mainland China, Hong Kong and the USA, among others.

-Pros: Large, Self-Owned Infrastructure, International Company

-Cons: No free trial, Targets primarily Chinese companies, Lack of English Support

We hope you will find this review useful. If you have other companies that you would like to recommend, please do so in the comments.

 

Alternatives to Gmail for Business Email Hosting in China

July 26th, 2016

As you are probably aware China does not play nice with Google services and for the last two years Gmail has virtually been unusable in mainland China. Below our top 5 alternatives if you need to use email for your business while in China.

1) Outlook / Office365: probably the strongest Gmail/Google Apps for Work alternative, and a worldclass mail service with excellent delivery. Two server options to consider: mainland China (offered by Microsoft in partnership with 21Vianet) or Hong Kong. While mainland China servers are theoretically fasters to access from the country, the privacy of data hold by Chinese operators is always a concern. As such, international companies are recommended in general to select the Hong Kong-hosted service. Both are offered by SinoHosting.

2) Corporate Email solutions offered by Chinese internet companies: many large Chinese internet conglomerates offer business email hosting which is generally reliable. English support can be a hit or miss. Some examples include:

3) Using a VPN: this would allow you to use Gmail as usual but there were cases where the Chinese firewall blocks or interferes with these VPN. So this is a temporary solution at best.

4) Using Gmail/Google Apps but with a mail client: Some users have reported having no issues accessing their Gmail accounts through a mail client such as Microsoft Outlook or Thunderbird.

5) Using the email function of a standard web hosting account in Hong Kong: many Hong Kong web hosts such as KowloonHosting offer business email accounts that can be used only for emails if the necessary DNS records are configured correctly. If some users are based outside China, or you plan to travel frequently outside China, this would be a recommended solution as access to email servers based in mainland China from overseas can also be problematic due to the same Great Firewall issues.

 

Introducing Aliyun, Alibaba’s cloud service

December 23rd, 2014

Aliyun (www.aliyun.com) is the Alibaba’s response to Amazon Web Services (aws.amazon.com) for the Chinese market. Some would call it a clone, however Aliyun has not just copied the features and services of AWS, but rather developed a full product range that meet the requirements of the Chinese marketplace.

While Aliyun is mostly known for its cloud servers, it is in fact more than just that. The mean products include;

-Cloud servers (ECS)

-Cloud Server Loads Balancers (SLB)

-Elastic Scaling Services (ESS)

-Cloud Load Balancers

-Open Storage Service (OSS)

-Content Delivery Networks (CDN)

-Open Archive Service (OAS)

-Open Table Service (OTS)

-Open Cache Service (OCS)

-Relational Database Service (RDS)

-Analytic Database Service (ADS)

Aliyun flagship cloud servers are available at 5 datacenters locations: Hangzhou (where Alibaba headquarters are located), Beijing, Qingdao, Shenzhen and Hong Kong. Multiple Linux and Windows operating systems are available: CentOS, Ubuntu, Debian, OpenSuse, Aliyun Linux, Windows Server 2003, 2008 and 2012. Activation is done automatically online after purchase without any human interaction. Pricing is definitely competitive even when compared to local competition.

Currently Aliyun website is available in Chinese only and does not seem to support international payment options. Clearly it is a service that is targeting business and individual customers in mainland China at the time.

Alibaba also operates Hichina/Net.cn, one of the largest Chinese domain registrars and web hosting companies. Combined with Aliyun, Alibaba is a player to take into account in the IT service industry. The Alibaba Group has now well diversified beyond the original B2B platform to include today e-commerce (B2C, C2C and wholesale platforms), financial services, online marketing and cloud computing.

South Korea web hosting for website targeting Chinese users?

October 17th, 2014

Hosting a website in China is complex, and almost impossible for foreign companies and non-China residents. Should one consider hosting in South Korea when targeting Chinese users?

Well, it depends. South Korea has some of the most advanced IT infrastructure in the world and the internet connection speed locally is second to none. This does not mean however that access to websites hosted in Korea is extremely fast as this will depend of the international bandwidth of the specific datacenter, local internet speed of the user and the connectivity between the user ISP and the South Korean internet carrier. Furthermore, despite being a neighbor to China, South Korea is not within the Great Firewall, the system that notoriously slow down (or worse, block) access to overseas websites in China.

South Korean datacenters are also known to be very restrictive for contents hosted on their network (which would apply even if the website targets overseas visitors). We have seen cases where after adults pages were found on a website hosted at a specific Seoul datacenter, the whole server was taken down and the host had to migrate all other accounts to a different server and IP address, after the website in question was terminated.

In real life situation, South Korea would make sense for hosting websites targeting Beijing, Tianjin, Qingdao or the Northern or North-East region of China. Other conditions being the same, region south of Shanghai should get better access speed by hosting in Taiwan or Hong Kong.

SinoHosting is a web host that we recommend when it comes to hosting in South Korea. Packages are affordable, activation is done within 6 hours in most cases, and, differently from other South Korean providers, they do not require to sign documents or provide copies of passports and other identification documents prior to service activation. For more details, please visit www.sinohosting.net/web-hosting.php

How to host a website in China, as a non-resident?

October 16th, 2014

China is bound to become the largest economy in the world, and companies of all sizes from around the world have or are planning to sell their products or offer their services to Chinese consumers and businesses. The Great Firewall severely restricts access to overseas websites in China, either by blocking them, or by making the access speed extremely slow. In order to provide the best user experience to Chinese users visiting their websites, overseas companies therefore would preferably host their websites within the firewall, on a mainland China server.

The problem in doing so is the ICP license requirement which  the Chinese government has put in place and basically restricts hosting in China to companies incorporated within the country.

What options are there to host your contents in China?

First, you can consider teaming up with a Chinese company which will serve as your marketing partner in China. The ICP license can be applied under their name which allows you to host your website in China. Make sure to keep control over the domain name you have registered for this venture, to prevent it to be stolen by the partner.

Second, if you have a Chinese individual which you trust, you can apply for a personal ICP license under their personal name. This option is not 100% legit if you are running a business site, furthermore in case of audit the ICP license will be revoked and your website blacklisted.

Third, depending of your investment capabilities, you can set up a new company in China. Registered capital requirements are been waived in multiple Chinese cities which make it easier to set up an operation in the country, even with a limited presence.

Finally, you may consider instead hosting at a nearby location for a relatively faster access (as compared to sites hosted on US or European servers). Such locations include Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan. One host that we regularly recommend on this blog is SinoHosting which offers both China and multiple nearby countries hosting at affordable prices.

We hope this post has been useful. If you have more suggestions in terms of hosting in China for non-China residents, please feel free to post a comment.

Do you really need to host a website in China when targeting Chinese users?

August 14th, 2014

One question we are often asked is whether it is really needed to host a website in China when targeting visitors, clients or in general users from mainland China?

The reply is yes and no.

China is today the second largest economy in the world and many Western companies are involved with China in a way or another. Many are importing products from China, others have products that have a potential market in China. Some are even considering moving to China to establish a branch there. Most Fortune 500 companies have branches, factories or representative offices in China.

For many companies whether online or brick and mortar the internet is playing a very important role in day to day operations. While using emails or running a website might be an after thought in the developed world, the existence of the Great Firewall Program however makes it a real issue in China. The Great Firewall Program basically is a program run by the Chinese government to monitor and filter the internet, all international connections from and to China will go through this program.

The most known effect of the Great Firewall is the blocking of various overseas websites in China. Thus, when a website is deemed to breach Chinese laws, it allows the government to prevent its access from any internet connection in mainland China. While using virtual private networks (VPNs) is a way to bypass this, the greatest majority of Chinese users will not go through the hustle of purchasing or configuring one.

Another less known effect is that due to the GFW filtering foreign websites access is significantly slowed down in China. The farther the foreign server, the slower its access within China. Websites hosted on servers in the East Side of the US, or Western Europe would in general be very slow when accessed from China. Websites hosted in the west coast of the US, Japan, Singapore etc. will be comparatively faster.

For a general business website, without much media content, hosting is a nearest location of China should be sufficient to reach Chinese users, even if not as optimal as hosting locally. One host we often recommend on My China Hosting Blog is SinoHosting (www.sinohosting.net) which is focused on hosting foreign companies targeting China, and offer servers in Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea which are fast to access from various regions within China (for example websites targeting Guandong province should host in Hong Kong, while those targeting Beijing or the Northern China should host in South Korea etc.).

Websites that are blocked in China are usually adult-related sites, political websites and the like. As such, it is unlikely that your business website will be specifically blocked by the great firewall, unless they share a server or IP address with a site that happened to be blocked. As such, it is recommended for websites heavily targeting China to choose a host that focuses on China users such as SinoHosting or Kowloon Hosting.

For companies that have a legal presence in China it makes sense to go through the hassle to apply for the ICP license which is required to host your website in China. Others do not have the option to host in China due to the impossibility for them to apply for the ICP license, and therefore should host at one of the locations mentioned above.

Top 5 Web Hosting Companies in China with English Support

September 8th, 2012

When it comes to hosting a website targeted to the Chinese audience, size is not everything. Finding a company that provides decent technical support and understands international clients requirements, and also has secure, powerful and well-maintained server infrastructure is essential. Below five companies that are clearly leading the rest of the pack when it comes to hosting international customers in the greater China region.

1. SinoHosting

SinoHosting (www.sinohosting.net) is probably the most known among Chinese hosting companies providing English support. With offices in Shanghai and Shenzhen, SinoHosting hosts its customers on servers in mainland China (Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, Jiangsu), Hong Kong, Singapore, the US and the UK. Its customers include all size of foreign-invested companies in China, ecommerce websites, foreign embassies and consulates in China, Chinese companies going international etc. Its services include Linux and Windows shared hosting, virtual private servers, dedicated servers, web design and email marketing.

2. KowloonHosting

KowloonHosting (www.kowloonhosting.com) aims at providing Hong Kong web hosting with American charateristics and level of service. While its office and servers are in Hong Kong, most of its customers are in mainland China, Japan and South East Asia. Its shared hosting services,. using a LAMP architecture and cPanel, boost a 24h support in English. It is also the leading reseller hosting company in Hong Kong. KowloonHosting also offers Hong Kong dedicated servers and SSL certificates.

3. ABCHK

ABCHK (www.abchk.com) is one of the oldest web hosting companies in Hong Kong, boosting over 2,000 small and medium size business clients in the special economic region. It is now expanding its customer base accross mainland China.

4-HostMacau

HostMacau (www.hostmacau.com) is the newest among the companies in our list and comes from Macau, a city most known for its casinos and tourism. HostMacau targets business clients and is quickly becoming a leader in this field. In mainland China, HostMacau has both foreign and local Chinese clients, and works in partnership with tens of web designers in Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Beijing. HostMacau has servers in Macau, the US, Europe (Netherlands) and Brazil

5-HiChina

HiChina (en.hichina.com) is a well established Chinese web host serving millions of customers nationwide. Its English language division targets foreign invested medium to large businesses operating in China. The division is relatively new and support can be a hit or miss as it is operated with Chinese business mentality. Nevertheless HiChina is recommended for joint ventures or if people managing your websites are mostly Chinese.

If you are looking to host your website in China or have a website catering to Chinese visitors, we hope this list would be helpful and you will be able to find a suitable host among the companies listed above.

HostMacau, first cPanel host in Macau

July 18th, 2011

We would all agree that Macau is more known for its casinos than being an IT hub. Things might start to change now with HostMacau.com, which provides cPanel hosting for companies and entrepreneurs in Macau.

HostMacau.com is a brand of Cycom Hong Kong Limited , a web hosting group which owns 11 hosting brands accross the Asia Pacific  region. It is however the first time the company is offering shared hosting in Macau. Using the standard LAMP architecture, with cPanel control panel, Hostmacau targests businesses not only in Macau but in the greater China region, but also international companies targeting the Chinese customer base. Macau is well connected to Hong Kong and the neighboring Guangdong provinces, and can be a great alternative for websites catering to cities such as Zhuhai, Zhongshan, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Dongguan etc.

HostMacau offers Macau hosting, USA Hosting, Brazil Hosting and European hosting (Netherlands).

For details on pricing please check for yourself at www.hostmacau.com

Alternatives to .cn domain names

March 11th, 2011

As we all know, the CNNIC, the .cn registry, has decided to make it impossible for non-Chinese nationals, or companies registered in China, to register for .cn domain names. What options are then available for foreign companies looking to build a website targeting the Chinese market? Below a couple of pretty decent alternatives.

#1: .hk: as the traditional gateway to China, Hong Kong is still the primary hub through which foreign corporations enter the Chinese market. .hk domains can be registered by any individual or foreign corporation through the HKDNR/HKIRC affiliated registrars and partners. A second option is the .com.hk which however requires to be incorporated as a business in Hong Kong. One issue however with .hk is that it gives the feeling of being restricted to Hong Kong only and it is not that popular in mainland China.

#2: .asia: .asia domains are available from all major registrars but requires to have one of the domain contacts to be based in Asia (most registrars can provide you a contact if needed). .asia also allows you to expand later to other Asian countries under the same domain.

#3: .cn.com: this domain is one of the CentralNic domain names and has .cn in it. Its major shortcomings is that it can be easily be confused with .com.cn, furthermore it is not popular in mainland China.

#4: cn.yourdomain.com or china.yourdomain.com: you can use the cn or china subdomains of your main domain to build your Chinese site on it. This saves the cost of purchasing and renewing a separate domain name for the Chinese market.

#5: yourdomaincn.com or yourdomainchina.com: more and more companies add cn or china to the end of their main domain to register a new one for the Chinese market.

Hope the above has been useful and will help you in selecting the appropriate domain/sub-domain for your site targeting the Chinese market.

KowloonHosting, new host in Hong Kong

August 13th, 2010

If you are looking for a host in Hong Kong/China you can take a look at www.kowloonhosting.com ; although relatively new, this company appears to be professional, and their offerings are definitely competitive as compared to what you can get from the usual competition. This is not a review as we have not got an account with them to test the service. We will however do a review later this year.

KowloonHosting provides shared hosting (Linux only), reseller hosting (cPanel+WHM) and dedicated servers in Hong Kong.