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What is anonymous website hosting?

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(Image credit: Unsplash)

Anonymous website hosting allows you to register under a pseudonym, remaining private online, when setting up the best web hosting (opens in new tab) for your needs.  

What does anonymous website hosting do? 

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One element of anonymous web hosting is registering a domain name with a privacy-conscious provider (Image credit: Unsplash)

Anonymous website hosting is the closest one can get from being truly private online. It provides multiple different ways of ensuring there's no way of tracing the ownership of a website back to you. These include:

  • Registering under a pseudonym: users don't need to use their real name to sign up to anonymous website hosting
  • No postal address requirement: when registering a domain name (opens in new tab), you don't need to use your actual address to do so
  • Paying anonymously: most anonymous website hosting companies allow you to pay using anonymous and protected crypto transactions, rather than regular payment methods
  • Being located somewhere with tight privacy laws: like when using a VPN, the country of origin for a website hosting firm can dictate what privacy laws are involved; those with more relaxed laws are best for the most privacy-conscious
  • Whois privacy protection: many anonymous website hosting firms, as well as regular ones, use Whois privacy protection to ensure that others can't view their details online

How departments use anonymous website hosting 

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IT departments can benefit from increased security if a site is anonymously hosted (Image credit: Unsplash)

Customer service

Often, anonymous website hosting is used for selling products that a customer does not wish to be identified from. That doesn't solely mean anything illegal; it could also mean products that are of a private nature. Customer service departments can deal with a client without knowing anything more than the product involved, giving peace of mind to the customer. Anonymous website hosting can also mean less issues with spam for both the company and the customers involved, too. 

Marketing

Marketing is fairly unaffected by anonymous website hosting. While some users of the website may browse via a VPN (if it's a sensitive matter), thereby making tracking through cookies harder, there's no reason why it would affect regular marketing campaigns. Marketing can still work reasonably effectively through CRM tools and similar, so that they can generate strong sales leads for a customer. Generally, contact between customers and the company are what generates the best leads, rather than how open the website is.

HR

HR departments mostly benefit from anonymous website hosting because there are limited issues with spam and unwanted interest. HR can focus on ensuring employees are kept up-to-date with the latest developments within the company, instead of having to worry about other admin. Such admin can ordinarily include keeping an eye on Whois details, which is no longer needed when using anonymous services. Not having to worry about personal information being disclosed can also be a benefit. 

IT

An IT department can focus on the website's performance over potential security issues relating to information being leaked. As with knowing how to host a website (opens in new tab) that isn't anonymous, it's important to understand how web hosting security can impact a website (opens in new tab), but one of the most obvious ways of being tracked is removed through anonymous website hosting. An IT department can then use that time to look at hosting providers who offer the best uptime, speed, and general service.

Finance

Finance departments need to deal with things slightly differently when using anonymous hosting providers. That's because payment is not done in a conventional manner. Instead, the best way to pay is via anonymous means of payment such as cryptocurrency like Bitcoin or Ethereum. It's important to educate a finance department on how this differs from regular bank payments before committing to the process. They may also want to invest more in fake/temporary email addresses, or purchase a VPN service for maximum security. 

Features and benefits of anonymous website hosting 

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Anonymous website hosting offers the closest thing to online anonymity available (Image credit: Photo by Designecologist from Pexels)

Near complete anonymity

The biggest benefit of anonymous website hosting is in the name. By using it, your website and services are far more anonymous and private. Your business address isn't listed. so there is no chance of the website and business location being linked. It's also possible to use a fake name, so that no one knows who actually owns the website. It's the nearest to being anonymous online one can get. 

More payment options

Most anonymous website hosting firms offer cryptocurrency as a payment option, meaning there is more flexibility in how you pay for its services. For users involved in NFTs or other cryptocurrency-related industries, it can be far easier to pay for services using crypto rather than having to convert back and forth between conventional money. It's also more anonymous.

Limited risk of being discovered

If you're selling sensitive products, or simply wish to keep online life separate from offline, setting up anonymous website hosting helps make that possible. By keeping Whois records private, there's no way of tracing your business address via a web address, so there's no risk of someone turning up at your premises. When information can soon be pieced together for identity theft, it's a useful way of keeping more hidden away.

Less risk of spam

It's a small but significant help. By keeping all your details private, your business won't receive as much spam. There's no risk of a marketing company tracking down your details and inundating you with colds calls or mail, meaning less hassle for you. Such content can range from companies trying to sell similar services, to unwanted insurance schemes, and even to a company trying to find out more about your products in an illicit manner. 

Circumventing local laws and regulations

A bit of a gray area depending on the laws involved, by using anonymous website hosting it can be easier to circumvent some local laws. This may be highly inadvisable depending on the product involved, but as with the best VPN services (opens in new tab), it can be useful when dealing with a country with a repressive regime which may limit what can be achieved for your business, or even what can be discussed by someone. For the most part though, this isn't a recommended benefit for the average company.

How much does anonymous website hosting cost?

Anonymous website hosting often costs roughly the same as regular web hosting. As with any purchase, especially for your business, it's worth researching and finding the best plan for you. It's possible to spend a little or a lot on anonymous website hosting.

The cost generally varies depending on what you need from your web hosting. The more space and bandwidth you need, the higher the cost. Also, pay attention to how fast the website is and what its uptime is like. If a site is slow to load or is often offline, customers are liable to avoid it.

As with any web hosting package, read up on all the services available and check that you actually need them. Besides the need for anonymity, you may not need many additional features, and it can be a false economy to spend more on something you will never use.


Anonymous website hosting FAQs

How do I host a website completely anonymously?

It's best practice to use an anonymous website hosting company, but it is possible to host your own website anonymously. To do so, you need to use a VPN to mask your location before you host the site via a server of yours. From there, the process is much the same as when hosting a website from your own server. You'll still need to purchase a domain name however, so make sure that's from an anonymous provider. 

Can you hide who owns a website?

If you want to keep your domain ownership information hidden, but it's not essential to be completely anonymous, it's possible to do so. By changing details of your web hosting, you can update the Whois information to be kept private. While the information will still be known by your hosting provider, it won't be listed publicly. It's a good solution if you're worried about spammers or nefarious users. 

Can anonymous website hosting providers see what I upload?

Potentially, yes. This would only happen if the provider was located in a country where it was legally possible to request access to the files. That's why for the most secure user, they may wish to pick a host located in a country with tight privacy laws. For most users, this won't be a problem as - much like with VPNs - very few users will be pursued so much. 

Can a website owner be traced?

By using an anonymous website hosting provider, the chances are very low. Crucially, these are best aimed at those who worry about people using Whois searches and similar to find information on them. Potentially, depending on the location, authorities could track down the owner, but only in extreme cases. For the average user reading this, there's no need to be concerned, as it rarely happens outside of major legal investigations.  


Main takeaways 

man typing on keyboard

Not everyone needs anonymous website hosting: hiding Whois searches will be enough for most seeking web anonymity (Image credit: Unsplash)
  • Anonymous website hosting lives up to its name: by using anonymous website hosting, you're as hidden away online as possible - no details are listed or kept
  • Not everyone needs it: anonymous website hosting is useful for some, but few users need it, as hiding Whois searches will suffice for most
  • It can circumvent censorship issues: like a VPN, anonymous website hosting can be useful in countries with repressive regimes
  • Sensitive items can be sold through such methods: anonymous website hosting may encourage users looking to buy items that are of a sensitive but legal nature
  • It can cut down on admin: using such a service often means less spam from cold callers and similar, thanks to being more anonymous online

Further reading 

When considering anonymous website hosting, it's important to also evaluate your website security (opens in new tab) so your site is extra safe. Knowing what to look for when buying web hosting (opens in new tab) is useful too. Don't forget to consider one of the best VPNs (opens in new tab) as well, so your browsing activities are also safe and secure. 

Jennifer is a roving tech freelancer with over 10 years experience. Her main areas of interest are all things B2B, smart technology, wearables, speakers, headphones, and anything gaming related. Her bylines include T3, FitandWell, Top Ten Reviews, Eurogamer, NME and many more. In her spare time, she enjoys the cinema, walking, and attempting to train her pet guinea pigs. She is yet to succeed.