One of the main worries our new clients have when signing up with us is whether their site will not be blocked from access. If you have or expect traffic from China, there is nothing worse than finding out that web visitors are unable to connect to your website.
Although most people know about wikipedia, blogspot blogs, BBC etc., well-known sites that are not accessible from China, the fact is there are thousands and thousands of unknown sites that also are out of reach from Chinese visitors. Most of them are not specifically banned because of their “improper” content, but rather victim of random blocking by the GFW (“great firewall”), or because they share the same IP (shared hosting) with a site that has been blocked.
Many clients that we have, both in China and overseas, were previously hosted by well-known overseas hosting companies (such as Godaddy, Hostgator and the like) but found out that their sites couldn’t be accessed in China. Other sites hosted by the same hosting companies did not suffer the same problem…
The fact is, no hosting company can guarantee a site to be unblocked in China. I would even say that no hosting company, at least the overseas ones, can guarantee its own website(s) to be unblocked here. However, here are six ways that will increase your site chances from not being cut from visitors located in mainland China:
1-Do not publish politically sensitive content (in Beijing’s standards), adult material or the like on your site, otherwise you will risk to trigger the automatic block from the GFW (which will affect by the way all the other sites on the same IP address).
2-If you host overseas, make sure that your host can move your site to a new server/IP address within a minimum time in case it happened that your site was blocked. As a reference, for our overseas-hosted accounts, SinoHosting.net has a system in place to move accounts to a new location in case an IP is found to be blocked, within 30mn after blocking is confirmed.
3-Choose a host who has a no-adult material policy. It will be more difficult however to find a host who will guarantee not hosting sites related to issues Beijing dislikes (Tian An Men, Taiwan, Falungong, Tibet etc.).
4-Get a dedicated IP. If you can afford it and if it makes sense for your site (in terms of potential revenue loss in case of site blocking), you should get a dedicated IP since it will reduce the risks of having your site blocked because of someone else wrongdoings.
5-Host in China. Chinese hosts are less likely to be blocked; downtime can happen only in case of server failure or the hosting company is found to be operating without proper licenses. However if the server is found to host adult or other forbidden materials, the authorities will have the server shut down pending further investigation, and it can take days for your site to be back live.
6-Make regular backups of your site, and make sure you retain your domain name servers (DNS) access. In case the worst was to happen, you will need to have the option to move rapidly to a new host without losing your site and files, within the shortest period of time.
Do you have your own opinion or more advices on keeping your site unblocked in China? Feel free to share.