Comparing international vs local web hosting is one of the first decisions when you have decided to get your website going. There are a few factors to consider when making your decision and I will explain my choice and why I made that choice.
Historically, local hosting was notorious for having service offerings that were sup-par and even then at a higher price. In 2008, it was not unusual to pay R100 for 100MB bandwidth. That is 100MB allowance for all the users that would visit your website in a month. Things would get cost-prohibitive very quickly and it was not affordable for many a regular individual to afford a website that brought traffic.
Over the years South African service providers have come a long way from where they were and services have come closer to the value that international hosting offers but is not quite there yet.
Comparing International And Local Web Hosting
The first thing that a customer will consider before buying anything is the price.
To compare this variable between local and international, we will look at the market leader for web hosting in South Africa, Afrihost and compare it to an international market leader, GoDaddy is the largest domain registrar in the world and is among, if not the largest web hosting company in the world.
We will compare the cheapest package on GoDaddy and find comparable packages against Afrihost to see where you will get the most value.
Bandwidth is the amount of data that is available in you package for your visitors to use.
Media is becoming more data intensive The explosive growth of visual platforms like Instagram and Snapchat shows that audiences respond very will to imagery and imagery comes at the cost of bandwidth. If you are running a website that is going to have a lot of monthly visitors, you want to make an allowance for a surge in traffic than you might not expect.
If you have a limit is and exceed it, people can no longer access your website. Anyone who tries to visit your website will get something like this.
Image means a lot. In my case for example, I advise people on how to make money online. If a message such as bandwidth limit exceeded shows up, it will bring the legitimacy of my advice into question. Can I really advise people on running a business if I could not afford to keep my website running? Imagine i This is bad for business and can turn a customer off your website permanently as it looks unprofessional.
Afrihost offers unlimited web traffic but with a big caveat. The unlimited bandwidth comes with an Agreement Usage Policy. Section 9.1 of the AUP which pertains to bandwidth reads as follows:
9.1 Afrihost offers unlimited bandwidth (web traffic) usage on Shared Hosting platforms. However, this is subject to reasonable and responsible usage, as determined at Afrihost’s discretion. Shared Hosting is designed for serving personal hosting requirements or that of small enterprises, and not medium to large enterprises. Afrihost reserves the right to move Clients deemed to have excessive bandwidth usage to a Cloud product, which will better suit their requirements. Clients will be given notice as such, and will be informed of any cost implications.
The Infamour Fair Use Policy
The AUP/FUP is a South African trend that I dislike that keeps rearing its head. Unlimited means no limit and an AUP is precisely the introduction of limits. I think it would be better to simply say how much bandwidth you have available to you, as opposed to selling a product under a misleading description.
It is also not transparent with how much usage constitutes heavy usage so there is no way for you to know where you fall on the scale. It is easily possible for a vlogger who has a smaller but dedicated following who view videos on their website to use more bandwidth than a medium to large enterprise so if you want to an idea of how much web traffic the package entails, your guess is as good as anyone else’s.
The GoDaddy plan offers unlimited bandwidth with its own terms attached. I read through the Hosting Agreement to find these terms.
The bandwidth on GoDaddy is unlimited as long as it adheres to rules that preserve the integrity of the server, such as limiting CPU usage at any given time. There is, however, no limit on the actual amount allocated to you over the course of the month. The bandwidth limitation that they do have in the Hosting Agreement is on free trial accounts which are limited to 10GB monthly.
If we compare like for like, the closest thing to GoDaddy Starter (which costs R39) on Afrihost is Gold Pro which costs R175. The entry level package for Afrihost only gives 1000MB of storage space.
On average, my posts are a mix of text and pictures. I have not used any video or sound yet. That means that a post will come up to around 10MB. If you use rich high resolution images or videos you can easily have a 50MB post. 1000MB of storage space would only accommodate 20 of those posts.
That amount of space is good for a basic website that serves as a brochure with limited pages. If you are producing a lot of content with high resolution images, storage will run out quickly and you will have to start deleting content if you want to add any new posts.
Automatic Backup Tools
Backing up your website is as important as any high priority task in running an online business. You should back your website properties up manually at least weekly depending. Perhaps even more frequently if you publish daily. Automatic backing up is a nice-to-have that we will compare as it forms part of the package of many hosting offerings.
Afrihost does not offer automatic backup. As per section 9.4 of the UAP:
“Afrihost will not be liable or responsible for the backing up, restoration or loss of data under any circumstances. Clients are solely responsible for ensuring their data is regularly backed up and for restoring such backups in the event of data loss or corruption.”
GoDaddy’s policy on backups reads:
“A backup of the site is automatically created whenever you publish your site, restore it, select a new theme or restart your device. A maximum of five backups are created. The oldest of the five versions is deleted whenever a new backup is created. There’s no time limit on using the backups.”
Website backup is something you should take full responsibility over. It is your business and should no be left in anyone else’s hands. Still, it is an additional and convenient feature that is worth comparing when considering the different packages.
Reason For Local Hosting
A reported advantage of local hosting is improved site speed.
Local hosting is advantageous for a site whose content is entirely focused on the local market and attracts a huge number of visitors. An example is a local mainstream media site or a forum. In this case the high number can definitely affect the speed of your site if resources are limited.
By now you can already guess which I favour between local and international hosting. There are far more measurable benefits to the latter with the chief among them being price. Getting fewer features would make sense if the product was cheaper, but if it is a head-to-head for products that are the same price, I would rather take the better product.
The internet is a globalized marketplace and I think that local service providers need to step up their game if they want to entice us into buying into their services. Things have definitely improved in recent years but they can do a little more towards being competitive with the international service providers.
For our pick of web hosting services, check out the article on the 5 Best Hosting Services