Please note: I haven't used any of these services, though I must admit I am a VPS aficionado and have used most unmanaged VPS providers out there.
I scoured the internet to find reliable, quality and committed hosts to privacy and security.
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
- Transparent about protocols and what they will do if and when the stuff hits the fan
- Trustworthy and well-established host provider with a good track record
If a host did not fulfill all the criteria listed above, it was not featured in this guide.
This list will be constantly be updated. If you have any additions you would like to see here or would like me to look into a host don't hesitate to ask!
Even though the countries mentioned below have strong privacy laws, many of them still perform mass surveillance to some degree.
FlokiNET is an Icelandic hosting provider that is quite popular with privacy advocates. It is one of the most privacy-friendly hosting providers on the planet: They allow users to pay with cryptocurrencies, as well as cash by mail and Paysafecard (prepaid card). Flokinet is rated 3.5/5 HostSearch. FlokiNET doesn't have the glorious near perfect review ratings that OrangeWebsite has, but unlike OrangeWebsite FlokiNET accepts payments via cash by mail and Paysafecard, their Icelandic VPS' are a lot cheaper than OrangeWebsite's and it is a nice option for those who want privacy friendly hosting in Romania or Finland. Romania is the country with the least surveillance in Europe (though that might have changed since the report is from 2010) and Finland increasing their mass surveillance in the country. A good sign that FlokiNET takes privacy and freedom of speech seriously is that they allow Tor exit and relay nodes as well as VPN services to be hosted on their dedicated and virtual servers, which not many companies do, especially when it comes to Tor exit nodes that get regular abuse complaints. FlokiNET also runs several Tor nodes themselves in order to support the Tor Project. FlokiNET's servers are encrypted with AES 256-bit encryption and FlokiNET performs daily backups for free. FlokiNET doesn't enforce DMCA - and also has a legal department to deal with abuse complaints like that - which is good considering how out of control DMCA has gotten.. The FlokiNET staff only 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 of OrangeWebsite is said to be an anarchist that strongly supports freedom of speech and both he and the company itself were strongly against the SOPA and PIPA legislation. OrangeWebsite ignores complaints that do not violate Icelandic laws or OrangeWebsite's Terms of Service. A good indication of OrangeWebsite's commitment to privacy and freedom of speech is that they accept Tor relay and exit nodes to be hosted on their VPS servers, which not many companies do, especially when it comes to exit nodes that get regular abuse complaints.
OrangeWebsite offers two-factor authentication, only require an email address to create an account, and - in addition to accepting credit/debit cards via PayPal and bank transfers - they also accept anonymous payments via cryptocurrencies. OrangeWebsite's servers run on 100% green energy.
OrangeWebsite is the highest rated Islandic web host with a rating of 4.72/5 on HostSearch and 9.0/10 on TrustPilot. According to WebHostingStuff, OrangeWebsite has an average uptime of 99.95%, which is above the industry average of 99.94% uptime. From February 2011 to February 2018 it has had 57 outages, resulting in a combined 52 hours and 20 minutes of downtime in seven years.
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 finding ways to strengthen freedom of speech and freedom of information, as well as provide strong protections for sources and whistleblowers. 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 is based in Switzerland and has a nice DigitalOcean-like platform. It also has configurable firewall settings that you add the ports that you want to use into. Switzerland is one of the best countries for online privacy. I can't find many user reviews about Exoscale, but CERN uses Exoscale. Exoscale embraces open source software and at the moment they have 217 repositories on GitHub.
There's a nice, 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 Vienna, Austria.
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 so that Exoscale can automatically charge your credit/debit card you're going to 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 untouched. Another thing is that their prices don't include taxes, so a 5€ VPS costs 6,20€ in reality, for example. That said, I'd recommend Exoscale over other fancy DevOps cloud hosting platforms like DigitalOcean (which I had their service for a few months). The biggest con is that Exoscale is slightly more expensive and offers less of a bang for the buck specs-wise than a lot of their bigger competitors, but if you just need a small VPS for a low traffic site, they're a solid choice.
There's also a similar Swiss VPS hosting company called cloudscale.ch, but they are a lot more expensive than Exoscale without offering anything that Exoscale does not already provide, as far as I can see. 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, as far as I can see Exoscale don't use any analytics at all, which is even better.
Bahnhof is a hosting provider and residential ISP that is the role model for how a responsible company should act. Bahnhof is 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 security, privacy, and liberty 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. Bahnhof started a certification for this process that is called Triple Green.
While hosting WikiLeaks is a great thing to do, what really makes Bahnhof applaudable 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 to give the Swedish Security Service automated direct 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 (You need translate). Just 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 Bahnhof was told by Swedish telecoms regulator PTS that they still had to log their customers' Internet activities under Swedish law Bahnhof provided a VPN service run by the 5th of July Foundation for free to all its customers.
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. Bahnhof 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 Dutch VPN servers. Needless to say, they are quite trusted when it comes to handling hosting with a high need for privacy and security. They are also quite generous and flexible when it comes to hosting live streaming sites. NFOrce Entertainment offers paid backups with recovery points. User reviews for NFOrce Entertainment are positive and can be found on Web Hosting Talk (Search using NFOrce site:webhostingtalk.com) and Reddit.
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, and have urged other hosting providers to do the same by setting up an informative website in Dutch about data logging in the Netherlands. Greenhost is a big supporter of open source software and encryption, is mostly built on open source software, has integrated free, open source Lets Encrypt TLS certificates into their hosting platform, and supports DNSSEC. Greenhost performs daily website backups and daily database backups for free. Greenhost was one of seven Internet service and communications providers to file a legal complaint calling for the end of GCHQ's unlawful hacking of network infrastructure for mass surveillance. Greenhost signed an open letter calling for state ambassadors to implement Net Neutrality in the EU, 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 on Facebook's Internet.org platform. Greenhost has published a 244 page long Basic Internet Security manual, helps journalists and and activists around the world to communicate freely and sponsors organizations that are committed to freedom, sustainability and culture, such as Free Press Unlimited and De Concertzender, helps five whistleblowing sites with their technical expertise, and is the hosting provider chosen and promoted by the non-profit organization Privacy First. Greenhost also developed a now discontinued proxy plugin for WordPress in order to prevent censorship.