How green is your website?

Using the internet seems a bit like magic.  You click on your computer and the fruits of knowledge of the whole world are at your fingertips. Just like that.

And now we are told that we do not even have to store information on our own machines – we can store it all ‘in the cloud’.  One pictures a sort of golden cloud floating benevolently above the earth, radiating knowledge and wisdom to the multitide.

But its not really like that of course.  All information on the internet has to be stored somewhere, and it is not in the sky, but in a server, down here on earth, rows and rows of servers in cabinets, using up masses and masses of electricity.

So if you wish to be green (as I hope all readers do) you should try to find a company which either uses green energy, or which at least does its best to offset the carbon used, to host your web-site.

This is what I decided to do when I made the decision not to host my blog at my usual ISP, largely due, I have to say, to the rather large hosting fee he quoted.  ”No”, I thoght, “I’ll see if I can find something cheaper and greener.”

I  decided however that an essential requirement of my new ISP, as well as green values, was that the servers on which my blog was to be hosted, would be in England (where I live).  This though, I found, very much limited my options.  Most of the companies, even English ones, offering a green hosting service, turned out to have their servers in Amercia, normally in California, where the sunshine is.

In the end, it came down to two:

The first was Ecohost at https://www.ecohost.coop/ecohost. This is run by a co-operative in Manchester. Their servers are stored in a bunker in Lincolnshire, and they say they are the only UK data centre 100% powered by renewable energy.

The second was Ecowebhosting at www.ecowebhosting.co.uk. This company is located in Cambridge and their servers are in Nottinghamshire. They don’t at present use green electricity, but practice carbon offsetting by planting trees.

I did also come across another site named ‘eco servers‘, but this turned out to be part of a company called UK Fast, which I suspect is very very good, but which is also very very expensive, so this put it out of the reckoning for hosting a couple of blogs.

In the end I decided to go with Ecowebhosting, and this is where this blog is hosted now.  Ecowebhosting, although not the ‘pure’ solution, make a big effort to be green (and as apparently their trees more than compensate for the carbon from their servers, it is a pretty good effort).  And they have a fantastic website through which their service is run.  They also provide a lot of other facilities, including the ability to install WordPress easily and quickly.    And they are amazingly cheap.

In fact it was a bit of a revelation to me.  For £20 per month, I can host unlimited web-sites, using up unlimited space and bandwidth.  I can also set up as many email addresses as I want.  Plus their domain names are cheaper than I have seen elsewhere.  As well as this, Rob Percival, who runs the service, has been incredibly helpful and supportive.  Which means that I, a solicitor with no proper web training, have been able to set up and develop several web-sites and blogs extremely easily and cheaply.  And buy domain names and set up personal email accounts for my son and my Mother!  Not bad.

So as a result of this exercise I feel far more in control.  I know where my site is hosted and I know that the owner is concerned for the environment and is seeking to offset the carbon used (and persuade the data centre he uses to use green electricity, which he says may come soon).  Due to the superb facilities provided by the company and the easy (well mostly) to use web-site, I am able to host my own sites,  and others for colleagues and family.

Although the three sites listed above are the ones that I found, there may well be others.  I hope this post will inspire you too, to find and use a green internet host.

Do you use a green hosting company?  If so, do the servers live in your own country or elsewhere, and if elsewhere, do you mind this?