These days everyone wants to be as ecofriendly, or as “green”as they can be, but not many people realize that this doesn’t just apply to large businesses cutting down their emissions or to individuals recycling their rubbish; webmasters can also get in on the act, doing their bit to help the environment by utilizing the many “green hosting”options available to modern web developers.
Green hosting refers to website hosting that is carbon neutral, which refers to something that has no carbon footprint. Obviously, a website can be a power hungry thing, but the majority of carbon neutrality is not about using zero power and producing zero carbon, but about offsetting the carbon that is produced by creating or funding environmentally friendly alternatives or by planting trees.
It may not sound like it, but web hosting uses a lot of power and produces a lot of greenhouse emissions. These emissions may not be directly as a result of your actions, but you can guarantee that they will created by your server and your web host provider, as the process of keeping a server active and powered all day long requires a lot of electricity.
Beginning with a Green Host
There are a couple of ways that you can make sure your website is green and carbon neutral. The first is to do all of the work yourself. You can join a standard host and find out how much electricity they use, and then calculate how many green credits you need to purchase to offset this power usage.
If your host doesn’t specifically state how much power it uses then you can just email or phone them to ask, if they still don’t know then simply calculate it yourself. The trick to doing this is to always overestimate, that way you can guarantee that you will achieve carbon neutrality. So whatever number you reach upon calculation, add an extra 20% or 30% on top of that. The difference to you is probably just a few cents, but the peace of mind of knowing you did something worthwhile, and the effect that thing can have on the environment, is priceless.
Another way is to join a web host that provides clean and efficient hosting solutions, or one that offsets the carbon for you. This will of course be more expensive than a standard web host, but if you’re here reading this article then there’s a good chance that spending a few extra dollars to help the environment is not an issue for you.
The best options to try are:
Dreamhost : Dreamhost’s packages start from just under $9 a month, which is very affordable for all small, medium and large businesses looking to establish a presence on the web. They offer unlimited storage space, unlimited transfers and some great customer service and are generally the go-to host for larger businesses.
HostGator : HostGator was established as a respectable and trusted web host provider for many years before it made the move to green hosting. It is now one of the largest providers of green hosting in the world, and has a strong presence in both the US and Canada, as well as the UK. The packages begin at just a few dollars a month and the service at HostGator is second to none.
HostPapa : As well as powering its severs with 100% renewable energy, HostPapa also offers its customer a host of freebies (such as Facebook and Google ads) and unlimited web hosting with no hidden costs. It provides a great introduction into the world of eco-friendly web hosting and is relatively cheap.
GreenGeeks : GreenGeeks packages start at just a few dollars and their services are geared towards customers in the US and Canada. They are strictly a green hosting provider and are dedicated to providing green hosting solutions across the North American continent.
Green Hosting in Germany: If you don't want the NSA to be anywhere around you, AwardSpace have servers in Germany and they are a good choice.
There are also web hosts that use their own clean energy and rather than offsetting their emissions they power their servers and their offices using natural energy such as solar and wind power. WebCtl (http://www.webctel.com/solar.htm) who use solar power, are one of the better options out there.
These web hosts don’t cost the earth to join, but they might just save it.
Switching to a Green Host
If you already have a website or a business established with a standard web host and want to switch to more ecofriendly solutions, then simply following those steps:
First you need to decide which host you want to go with. They all offer great options on green web hosting, but don’t just pick one at random. Find the one that is best for you. Some of them cater solely for customers based in the US and Canada, others have an international presence; some are better suited for small businesses and individuals, others are geared towards medium to larger businesses that have immediate growth in their future. Once you find and join a new host, don’t immediately cancel your old contract, sit tight, wait and follow the rest of these steps.
You should now have two websites: a new one with nothing on, and an old one that contains all of your data. The trick now is to move the latter into the former. If you’re the developer or web master than you might know how to do this already, if not, and if you don’t have much technical ability, then you should probably ask your developer to do this for you. All of the data needs to be downloaded from the old site onto an FTP server, before then being uploaded onto the new site. If this sounds daunting then don’t worry as some of the green hosts will provide free and easy solutions that can make this process incredibly quick and easy.
Make sure all of your files from the old website are fully backed up on your computer and also on a cloud. It is better to be safe than sorry and taking a few minutes to prepare for the worst can save you a world of pain if the worst does happen. There are green hosts that can do this for you for free.
The next step is to change your DNS settings and to point your domain to your new website. Again, the green hosts might be able to do this for you for free, if not they will certainly provide step by step instructions that relate to your admin control panel. The changeover typically takes up to 48 hours to take effect, after which your domain will now point to your new green host.
Now you can cancel your old polluting web host and enjoy your new, carbon neutral host.
That’s it. It really couldn’t be any simpler and easier, so you have no excuse not to do it. Remember, one small change can make a huge difference. The options are out there for you to make that change, so what are you waiting for?
Not so many people are aware of green hosting solutions. Please share this article to spread the word