When one thinks of the web hosting industry, the word “environmentalism” or “greenie” is not usually the first thing that comes to mind. Since electricity needed to run servers and the cooling servers need uses up a lot of energy, many would think that the web hosting industry is environmentally unfriendly. That would indeed be the case if not for this new revelation that some companies are picking up. This new revelation is known as “green hosting”.
Before you jump on the bandwagon and sing the praises of this new hosting strategy that not only serves your web hosting needs but is also good for the environment, there are a few facts that you should know.
First of all, most of these hosts do not directly help the environment by running off of alternative energy such as solar or hydro power. Most of these hosts that claim to be “green hosts” run off of conventional power sources. They can claim to be “green hosts” because they buy “green credits” that go to further the research on alternative power sources. These green credits are created when clean and renewable energy is used in place of oil, gas, or other “dirty” energy. So if a process like heating traditionally took 100 energy units to produce but now requires only 60 from traditional “dirty sources” and can use 40 “green credits” to substitute, then a surplus of 40 green credits gets added to the reserve. Green web hosts can then purchase these credits in order to offset the amount of “dirty” energy they have to use to power their servers and thus evens them out so they do not add any extra pollution to the environment.
Since these kind of green hosts basically run on the same servers, power sources, and hardware that regular “non-green” hosts do, there is really no difference in the quality of service or uptime of the servers themselves. The fees the customer has to pay might be a little higher to offset the costs of buying “green credits” for the hosting company, but overall the experience should be no different than the traditional web hosting company.
After looking at the merits of green hosting, it is pretty clear that from a service standpoint, it offers no real benefits from a traditional “dirty” web host. The quality of the hosting service still largely depends on the uptime and the quality of the customer service staff that the green host employs. The “green host” banner is more useful for marketing than for any other realistic purpose as the feeling of helping the environment is appealing to some people and may be the decision maker when choosing which host to use for their business. Businesses who are hosted by such companies can also claim to be “green business” and use that marketing line to attract clients to them. But when all is said and done, the green hosting label is mainly a marketing label and other factors such as customer service, uptime, and features are far more important when choosing a host for your website or business.
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