This will be the first in what is hopefully an ongoing series of "Question of the week" posts. I get a lot of questions from clients, friends, and peers that seem to require a similar answer every time. So, in an effort to beat you to the punch (and to save myself from repetitive strain injury), I'm just going to try and post a summary of my most common answers here.
This week: Should I use XYZ company for hosting?
I get this one so often that it actually hurts (well, not really, but I feel like a painfully broken record). It usually goes something like "I just received our bill for the our Web site, and it reminded me that someone suggested such-and-such hosting. They seem like a cheaper alternative..."
Of course, in passing conversation, there's nothing wrong with a question like that. But, when that hosting is for a values-aligned organization -- an environmental group, a social-service organization, a social-mission business or social enterprise, an NGO, etc. -- I feel that the decision should carry more weight. For example, what if I asked my environmental colleagues a question about buying tissue products? Should I switch from 100% post-consumer recycled to the forest-destroying alternative just because it's cheaper? Gosh: I hope not! So why is it different when we're talking about Web hosting?
So, here's the run-down: if you're an ethically-guided person, make the ethical choice -- shop local, buy organic, have as little impact on the environment as possible -- by taking the time to look for a Web hosting company that matches your values. Here's a few to get you started (and remember, the more we ask for alternatives, the more we'll see):
Local and/or independent
- Organizing for Autonomous Telecomms: based in Toronto
- The Wire: independent and family owned, and in Toronto
- Web Networks: Toronto-based, non-profit
- Korax: Toronto-based host
Green, environmentally focused, or ethically guided
The Green Web Host: powered with renewable energy
- Eco Hosting: donates a % of sales and service to charitable organizations
- Ethical Host: green and donates a % of profits to NGOs
(UPDATE: there's a growing list of other options in the comments below. If you know of other eithical, green, local, or social-mission hosts, please pop them in the comments below!)