Why should Canadians choose a Canadian Web Hosting Provider?
One question we get asked very often by potential clients is why they should choose a Canadian web hosting company vs a potentially larger or cheaper one in the US (or anywhere else in the world). While this question has become less and less relevant these days as there are now many large and reputable Canadian hosting companies, along with the fact that bandwidth and datacentre space in Canada has become much more affordable (bringing web hosting prices down along with it), it is still one we felt needed addressing.
Why should you choose a Canadian web hosting provider as a Canadian business? Well for starters there are the obvious reasons that apply to virtually any industry - you are a proud Canadian and prefer to invest money in your own economy - directly benefiting the local economy and thereby indirectly benefiting your own company. Another obvious reason would be lower latency and therefore faster loading websites for your website visitors. These reasons have always been there, however now that the web hosting industry has grown tremendously in Canada over the last several years, there are other more compelling reasons - and ones that clients don't always consider initially.
SEO Benefits: From a business perspective, choosing a Canadian web hosting provider for a Canadian company can potentially have huge benefits. While choosing a specifically Canadian company won't affect (positively or negatively) your global Google rankings, it can and will affect your local Google rankings. Google tends to make an assumption that if your IP address comes from Canada, and your top-level domain is .ca, then you’re probably based in Canada. It will assume that your business is therefore more relevant to someone searching from Canada and (especially) using google.ca than it is to someone searching from the US using plain old google.com (source: SEOChat). Studies have shown that 43% of Google queries are done using Google's local engine (source: Search Engine Land), and up to 50% for mobile searches (source: Screenwerk) - so ranking higher for google.ca can have a massive impact on your traffic, and ultimately on your business. Essentially what all this means is that the people searching for your Canadian company will have a much greater chance of finding it if you are hosted with a provider in Canada.
DMCA Concerns: One of the largest reasons that Canadians have always chosen Canadian hosting providers (and in fact why many American and other worldwide clients also choose Canadian hosting providers) is the DMCA. There are countless stories of FBI agents raiding datacenters and seizing servers which contain allegedly illegal content. While we of course have no issue with illegal sites being shut down, the issue is that machines used as web hosting servers often have multiple sites hosted on them, the vast majority of which may have nothing to do with the alleged illegal content - meaning that if a server is seized by an overly broad DMCA claim, your completely legitimate site could be taken along with it (examples from New York Times, ARS Technica). Compounding this is the fact that American web hosting providers have at times complied with completely illegitimate DMCA takedown requests (example, example, example, example).
Choosing a Canadian web hosting provider can mitigate this risk as Canadian web hosting providers are not required to immediately comply with DMCA takedown requests - meaning we have a chance to review the claim and if necessary isolate the site in question from our other clients. Even when the issue makes it to the courts, Canadian courts have a long history of denying overly broad search and seizure request brought about by the DMCA. For example, in 2012, an Ontario court outright rejected a DMCA search request stating that "that there is an enormous volume of information on the servers and that sending mirror image copies of all of this data would be overly broad, particularly in light of the scantiness of the evidence connecting these servers to the crimes alleged by the American prosecutors" (source: Michael Geist).
Pricing: Pricing of course is always a consideration from a web hosting client's perspective. In the past, Canadian based clients may have chosen US-based providers because they were a bit cheaper and cost was their primary concern. With the recent expansion of industry heavyweights like PEER1 and OVH here in Canada, datacentre space has increased tremendously, bringing down prices along with it - prices that Canadian web hosting companies can pass on to their clients. In addition to this, when choosing a Canadian based hosting provider you are generally also billed in Canadian dollars - saving you several percentage points that are often charged by credit card companies for currency conversion that would be charged for non-Canadian providers. Also, with the introduction of HST across a large portion of Canada, Canadian companies who choose a Canadian web hosting provider no longer have to pay any tax on that service, as any HST paid can be claimed as an input-tax-credit come tax time.
Green Hosting: There's also the "green" factor. Canada is the world's third largest producer of hydroelectricity in the world (after China and Brazil), and one of few countries to generate the majority of its electricity from hydroelectricity (59% in 2006) (source: Wikipedia). What this means is there are a plethora of options for Canadian hosting providers to provide greener services. In fact two of Canada's largest datacentre's have gone above and beyond in terms of green factor:
The air conditioning at PEER1's datacentre at 151 Front Street is actually provided by Enwave's Deep Lake Water Cooling (DLWC) system - the world's largest lake-source cooling system. The DLWC uses Lake Ontario’s icy water as a renewable energy source. Over millennia the phenomenon of denser cold water sinking to the bottom of the lake has created a permanent reservoir of cold water on the bottom of Lake Ontario. Enwave positioned three high-density polyethylene pipes along the natural slope of the lake bottom to pump water from a depth of 83 meters and transport it to the Toronto Island Filtration Plant, ultimately using it to cool 151 Front Street along with many other downtown Toronto buildings (source: Enwave).
OVH's new state-of-the-art datacentre in Beauharnois, Quebec - one of the largest in the world - is powered entirely by green energy coming from a hydro dam located less than 300 meters away from the building (source: OVH). It was also architected to not use air conditioning, using proprietary cooling technology developed in-house. All of this results in a claimed Power Usage Effectiveness of less than 1.1 (source: Data Center Knowledge).
What does this all mean for web hosting clients? It means that in Canada we now have one of the largest selections of green-conscious web hosting providers in the world, and web hosting clients have a much greater chance of having a lower carbon footprint by choosing a provider in Canada vs other countries.
In Conclusion: In conclusion - if you're a Canadian individual or business looking for a web hosting provider, choosing a Canadian web hosting provider likely makes more sense today than ever. Not only will you be benefiting the Canadian economy and Canadians in general, you'll be benefiting your own business as well.
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