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Web hosting in Germany: Quo vadis GoDaddy?

The web hosting market in Germany is currently being thoroughly turned inside out. The main player in this: hosting giant GoDaddy from the USA. For many, this only means that there will be another important provider of website builders and smaller hosting packages in the future. For others, the alarm bells are ringing because they fear that, as part of GoDaddy's involvement in Germany, data security for hosting customers - and their customers - is at risk of being undermined. We summarize what exactly is happening, what that means for data protection and why Germany is highly recommended as a server location.

What is happening on the German hosting market right now?

A few days ago, the US hosting giant GoDaddy launched a web hosting offer tailored to customers in Germany on the German market. This means that there is now another provider to choose from for prospective operators of small and simple websites. As in the USA, GoDaddy will also be offering fully equipped website builders in this country, which will enable beginners and laypeople to create their own website with just a few clicks and keystrokes. That's not particularly interesting at first. But this step is another sign that things are currently moving in the German web hosting market. And for this reason there is currently wild speculation about what will happen next and where this development will lead in the medium and long term.

What happened until now

For a long time, the hosting market in Germany was quite relaxed. A large number of providers based in Germany were able to position themselves and expand in this still young area. Demand grew rapidly - and so did the data centers. There were soon two recognizable camps in the German web hosting landscape. On the one hand, providers established themselves for - more or less - inexpensive entry-level solutions such as do-it-yourself construction kits, ready-made CMS or online shop packages and shared hosting products, whose target group is primarily private individuals and hobby users. On the other hand, a number of hosting companies made a name for themselves as providers of robust solutions that are suitable for professional use: vServers, dedicated servers and server clusters.

But especially in the area of ​​the simple hosting solutions designed for broad use, there have been clear signs of some fierce distribution struggles, especially in the past few years. And in this situation, towards the end of 2016, GoDaddy - already the largest domain registrar in the world at the time - came on the scene, taking over the British Host Europe Group (HEG), which is also firmly established in Germany, as part of a shopping tour through dozen countries Host Europe also owns DomainFactory and Plusserver, and was able to call itself “European market leader in the field of cloud services for small businesses” in one fell swoop. A few months later, United Internet AG, based in Rhineland-Palatinate, which, among other things, already owned the hosting heavyweight 1 & 1, was able to buy its position as market leader in Germany, which was suddenly seriously threatened by GoDaddy's coup, from the up-and-coming and extremely popular web host Strato. - And now, almost a year later, GoDaddy is taking the next step to further expand its international market power in this country: The overseas giant is now also launching its own hosting offers in Germany.

And how does it continue?

The process of concentration on the European and German web hosting market, which is now well advanced, now leaves plenty of room for speculation: What is next? What does that mean for customers? Will prices rise soon? The discussion, which was not least carried out in comment columns, is additionally fueled by the resolute demeanor of GoDaddy, a US actor in Europe and now increasingly more specific and visible in Germany. Because while data protection is still very important in this country, companies whose servers are in the USA do not have to comply with EU data protection law. So anyone who concludes a hosting contract with a US provider or has entrusted their data to a host that has been sold in the USA must now ask: How secure is my data - and that of my customers?

Is data security for hosting customers acutely at risk?

While GoDaddy GmbH, founded for the German market, states that it only wants to save its customers' data on servers in the EU (more on this here), European and German customers are wondering how long it will stay that way. This also applies to customers of hosters who have been sold to the USA - or will be sold in the future. With regard to data protection, if you do not want the data from your own website to be transferred to a US server one day, you should therefore choose the hosting provider - or when looking for alternatives to a solution that has become insecure - Include long-term perspectives in your considerations. The security of customer data in hosting is an extremely important aspect, especially for online shops.

The EU data protection law

Since 2016, with an initial transition period ending on May 25, 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been in force in the European Union, which lays down extensive guidelines for the protection of natural persons when processing their personal data. Data protection has the status of a fundamental right in the EU and therefore enjoys the greatest possible protection. This means that all EU member states have a solid legal framework for collecting, storing and processing personal data. Anyone who operates a website or an online shop within the EU must ensure that the website meets the requirements set out in the General Data Protection Regulation. This is entirely in the interests of customers who are concerned about their data and helps to build valuable trust. Those who do not have their servers in the basement cannot fully protect the sensitive data of their customers themselves, but have to entrust them to a reliable hosting provider. If the hoster stores the data in the USA, for example, the European General Data Protection Regulation no longer applies - and the personal data is unprotected in some respects.

The legal framework in the USA

In the USA, data protection is only part of consumer protection law and therefore far from being a fundamental right. There is also no cross-sector data protection law such as the EU General Data Protection Regulation or the Federal Data Protection Act that was previously applicable in Germany. While the transfer of personal data is very strictly regulated in this country (keyword: informational self-determination), business and private individuals in the USA are given a free hand to regulate the handling of this sensitive data themselves. In addition, there is the Patriot Act, which enables the US secret services FBI, CIA and NSA to access servers located in the USA without a judicial decision, while corresponding steps in this country can only be carried out by order of a judge, with an additional duty of information to the authorities Affected exists.

Safe, fast, stable: server location Germany

Also and above all with regard to the protection of your own data as well as customer data, Germany is an excellent server location in an international comparison. Because here, in addition to the EU-wide framework of the General Data Protection Regulation, further data protection regulations apply. In addition, good data centers in Germany have very fast, redundant connections to important Internet nodes such as DE-CIX, AMSIX and LINX. This not only ensures extremely short response times, but also prevents disconnections due to any line defects. Therefore, with regard to data protection and the technical infrastructure, we recommend our customers to choose the server location in Germany - and of course we rely 100% on servers in data centers in Germany for our own hosting offers - for example in Managed Magento Hosting.

Conclusion

Anyone who operates a website or an online shop has to look very carefully when choosing the hosting provider - but not only on the price and the hardware, but also on the location of the owner behind it and the server location. Anyone who values ​​the favor of their customers and the maximum security of their data must be sure in the long term that the data center will remain in Germany and that the data will not be stored on US servers. The activities of GoDaddy and Amazon on the German hosting market have brought this topic to the fore for many - and it will probably keep us busy in the future.