Liar, Liar – How Web Hosts Stretch The Truth (Part 1)

I’m amazed at how far some large name web hosts will go in their advertising and marketing on their websites. It seems the word “truth” is not in their vocabulary. In this multi-part series, we’ll take a look at a few areas where hosts take too many liberties IMNSHO (In My Not So Humble Opinion).

Here are some things I’ve seen recently in the “Green” realm that reallllly sttttretch the truth.

100 % Green Hosting (Gone with the wind)

I was transferring a ShopSite ® ecommerce website last week from another web host, and when I went to the host’s website to log into the control panel, I noticed this statement on their home page:

Powered by 100% Wind Energy

Wow! Knowing how much power it takes to run a datacenter (think small town), I really wanted to see the thousands of windmills they must have, and the constant hurricane that would be needed to generate that much power (ok, slight exaggeration, but it’s still a lot).

As I dug deeper into their fine print, I found out that they simply purchase Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). I’m not knocking REC purchases, which are generally a good thing.

I’m pointing out that they purposely mislead people into thinking they are using these windmills directly to power their servers. Not to mention there is no auditing / accountability to show they are actually purchasing enough RECs to offset their electrical usage for an entire datacenter plus offices.

Don’t Forget Solar Panels!

Another web host likes to have people assume they use solar power for 100% of their electrical needs. They never actually state this (just a few photos of solar panels on their roof), but they would need thousands of panels (and possibly much more) to fully power a datacenter and their offices.

However, the pictures and statement of “green, responsible, solar powered hosting” lead you to believe they’re off the grid and living with the Jolly Green Giant.

LexiConn – Powered by 100% Nuclear Power???

This would be like us saying that since the power plant that provides electricity to the cities our servers are located in is a nuclear power plant, let’s tell everyone we’re 100% nuclear powered. We can even put a sign on top of the building in the picture of the power plant with our name on it.

Ridiculous?… yes.
In line with some hosts’ marketing tactics?… unfortunately, yes again.

We’re proud to state that our servers are in datacenters that have dual power sources – Traditional electricity from the power company (with proper safeguards and redundancies) and backup diesel generator systems.

Our clients might be shocked to hear that this summer alone our servers ran on diesel generator power for many hours due to storms and various power outages. All of this with *zero* downtime!

Speaking of downtime (or uptime) – We’ll cover that “truth” in part 2 of this series.

photo credit
windmill photo credit

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  1. Steve G says:

    You may not say it Rob, but I will, RECs are a scam and whenever I see someone claiming to use 100% green anything I tend to think that they are a scam as well.. Maybe I’m just jaded by the whole thing at this point, but “being green”, unless you are Kermit, has become one giant marketing tactic and generally has little real effect or meaning any more..

    And for the record, I priced out wind generators for here at the farm, 16 year payback and I would need 3 of them at current technology levels.. That makes it a 48 year payback.. No thanks..

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