Understanding (and switching to) green web hosting for your site

You have created a company or you work in a comm’ team? It didn’t take you long to answer “yes” to the question “is a website necessary? The days when a Facebook page was enough are well and truly over. But did they ever really exist?

To set up a website, one of the key steps is to choose a web host. More or less expensive, more or less local and… more or less green. How to find your way around and how to choose one that really reduces the carbon dioxide emissions of its data centers and therefore, indirectly, yours?

What does "green web hosting" really mean?

First of all, before going to the tips, an explanation on hosting is necessary. Behind each of your web pages are hidden servers, these machines that need a lot of electricity, a lot of space and even air conditioning to store the data of your site (texts, images, videos). A good green host must, therefore, at least work on these 3 criteria.

Today, your site is very likely to be hosted not on a single server of your own but in the cloud. Cloud Computing – the name of hosting in the cloud – does not mean that the operation is totally dematerialized, quite the contrary. Rather, several servers are constantly connected on the same network to ensure the operation of your site.

One priority: getting out of coal

Choosing a green hosting company means first of all checking that its data centers use renewable energy, mainly wind and solar power. Many players promise this, but few actually implement it.

The only reliable indicators are the green energy certificates validated by third-party suppliers. These are the Green Power Partnership of the Environment Public Administration for the United States, and the ISO 14001 and ISO 50001 standards for Europe.

Another tip to make your task easier and to go beyond the flashy green logos (players are quite fond of them) is to look at where the data centers are located.

A green web hosting challenge: avoiding air conditioning

Alternative solutions to this environmental nonsense are emerging. In concrete terms, the simplest solution consists of equipping its data centers with servers that can withstand temperatures above 35°C, while cooling the data center with filtered outside air. This is the principle used by “Infomaniak”, a Swiss player and pioneer in green web hosting.

You experience this on a daily basis: when your computer is used for hours on end, it heats up. For servers, it’s the same thing: all their electrical consumption is transformed into heat by the Joule effect. A thermal surplus that must be evacuated from the data center by sending air, to avoid equipment breakdowns. Sending air, in other words, turning on the air conditioning and thus consuming even more energy while heating the outside air.

This example is unfortunately an exception. And this for two major reasons: on the one hand, not all regions of the world have a cool enough climate to ensure this technique; on the other hand, competition forces the players to invest less to ensure a much lower hosting cost. The end of digital pollution does not seem to be for tomorrow.

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