The goal of this best host guide is to filter through all hosts online to find the most secure and privacy-respecting providers that passed all tests and meet the following criteria:
- Located in a good privacy jurisdiction to keep user data safe
- Long-term reliability
- Good performance throughout the server network (speed and reliability)
- Tech support/knowledge quality
- Trustworthy and well-established host provider with a good track record
FlokiNET is an Icelandic hosting provider that is quite popular with privacy advocates.
They allow users to pay with cryptocurrencies, as well as cash by mail and Paysafecard (prepaid card).
Flokinet is rated 3.5/5 at HostSearch. FlokiNET doesn’t have the near perfect review ratings that OrangeWebsite has, but unlike OrangeWebsite FlokiNET accepts payments via cash by mail and Paysafecard. The company’s Icelandic Virtual Private Servers are a lot cheaper than those from OrangeWebsite. This is a good option for those who want privacy friendly hosting in Romania or Finland.
A good sign that FlokiNET takes privacy seriously is that they allow Tor exit and relay nodes as well as VPN services to be hosted on their dedicated and virtual servers. Not many companies do this, especially when it comes to Tor exit nodes that get regular abuse complaints.
The FlokiNET staff use end-to-end encrypted communication systems and all of their workstations are pre-boot encrypted with AES 256-bit encryption.
OrangeWebsite is an Iceland-based offshore hosting provider that focuses on privacy and freedom of speech. The owner is said to be an anarchist that strongly supports freedom of speech and opposed SOPA and PIPA legislation.
OrangeWebsite ignores complaints that do not violate Icelandic laws or OrangeWebsite’s Terms of Service.
OrangeWebsite’s servers run on 100% green energy.
Iceland is widely regarded to be the best country to host websites for those who value privacy and abhor censorship. The 2016 Data Center Risk Index rated Iceland 100/100, making it the safest country for data centers among the 37 countries they looked into.
This is the country that told the FBI to leave Iceland when they came there to get Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. The Pirate Party is Iceland’s third largest party and the party’s leader is a former WikiLeaks member. That politician was in 2010 the chief sponsor of the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, which set out to make Iceland a journalistic safe haven. The proposal was adopted unanimously by parliament and under that proposal, the Icelandic government is now tasked with strengthening freedom of speech and information.
Another advantage with Iceland is that it’s situated between North America and Europe, making it the optimal country if you want to provide fast loading times to both continents without using a CDN
Exoscale embraces open source software and at the moment they have 217 repositories on GitHub. There’s a detailed guide for setting up a website with Nginx and Let’s Encrypt on Exoscale here. The data centers Exoscale rents are located in Geneva, Switzerland; Frankfurt, Germany and VAustria.
I emailed them and support staff answered within an hour early in the morning. I do however have some criticism. The payment options are credit/debit card and PayPal, but recurring payments via PayPal has not been enabled as a payment option. So unless you want to store your credit/debit card info with Exoscale’s payment processor PostFinance you’ll have to manually add funds to your account. This is a problem because Exoscale doesn’t notify you before your account runs out of money, they send an email when your account is out of money and your VPS has been powered down. They give you 29 days to pay the bill before the VPS is deleted, so your data will be preserved.
There’s also a similar Swiss VPS hosting company called cloudscale.ch. However, they are a lot more expensive than Exoscale without offering anything that Exoscale does not already provide. Cloudscale.ch also runs analytics in the form of a Matomo instance, which is as privacy friendly as you can get with analytics since Matomo is self-hosted and open source. However, apparently Exoscale don’t use any analytics at all, which is even better.
Bahnhof is a hosting provider based in Sweden, which has some of the strongest press freedom laws in the world. They have hosted WikiLeaks and The Pirate Bay in their nuclear bunker called White Mountain and are known as a free speech ISP.
The same people who run Bahnhof also run the privacy non-profit called the 5th of July Foundation. Bahnhof is currently providing hosting to a press freedom hosting service that helps news agencies in regimes to stay online. Bahnhof’s data centers are 100% powered by renewable energy and all the excess heat generated by the service is used to heat up nearby households.
What really makes Bahnhof laudable is their stance and actions against mass surveillance. Their slogan Internet with privacy says it all. Back in 2013 when the Swedish Security Service secretly started pressuring ISPs in Sweden into opening access into their systems in order to conduct mass surveillance. Bahnhof was the only ISP that spoke out and they did so when the CEO of Bahnhof, Jon Karlung, secretly recorded the Swedish Security Services demands and threats and leaked it to the Swedish press (article in Swedish).
Last year, Bahnhof leaked documents about a government proposal for increased data retention (which is also in violation of EU data regulations). The day the European Court of Justice overturned the EU data retention directive Bahnhof published a press release saying: “Just hours after the verdict I [Bahnhof CEO Jon Karlung] ordered our technicians to abort storing traffic data about our customers. Moreover, we erased existing data.”
When copyright trolls started suing Internet users across Sweden and demanding Internet subscriber info from Bahnhof, but since Bahnhof only stores IP addresses for 24 hours there was no data for the copyright trolls to demand from Bahnhof. The company then decided to register the name of the copyright trolls campaign, Spridningskollen (roughly translates to The Distribution Check) with the Swedish Patent and Registration Office, send the copyright trolls a collection letter for trademark infringement and start a website in Swedish called Utpressningskontrollen (roughly translates to The Extortion Check) about the issue and all of the ongoing legal cases.
NFOrce Entertainment is a Netherlands-based hosting provider that is known for donating dedicated servers to the Tor network via “torservers.net”. They are also one of the three hosting companies ProtonVPN uses for their VPN servers. Needless to say, they are quite trusted when it comes to handling private hosting. They are also quite generous when it comes to hosting live streaming sites.
Greenhost is an environmentally friendly hosting provider based in the Netherlands that focuses greatly on privacy and security. Greenhost hasn’t logged any data since 2009. They have urged other hosting providers to do the same by setting up an informative website in Dutch.
Greenhost is a big supporter of open source software and encryption. The service is mostly built on open source software, has integrated free, open source Lets Encrypt TLS certificates into their hosting platform, and supports DNSSEC.
Greenhost signed an open letter calling for state ambassadors to implement Net Neutrality in Europe making it the only hosting provider to sign the open letter and also the only corporate signee as all other signees were organizations. Greenhost also signed an open letter urging Mark Zuckerberg, the founder, and CEO of Facebook — to defend Net Neutrality. Greenhost has published a Basic Internet Security manual, helps journalists and and activists around the world to communicate freely and sponsors organizations that are committed to freedom. They are the host chosen and promoted by the non-profit organization Privacy First.
Datacell is a privacy-oriented provider in Iceland, recommended by PrivacyTools.IO. More information forthcoming…