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In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, we discussed how to determine if you need server hosting in China and the network/data center landscapes in China. Here in Part 3, we will explore additional factors to consider when choosing a data center in China.
If you want to serve customers primarily in Northern China (Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Inner Mongolia, Hebei, Henan, Shandong and Shanxi provinces, along with the municipalities of Beijing and Tianjin), China Unicom will typically have the best coverage and lowest latency.
On the other hand, if you want to serve customers primarily in Southern China, China Telecom will generally be the best choice for performance.
China Mobile may also be a good choice, especially for the southern provinces.
You’re most likely to find highly rated, carrier neutral data centers in Tier I cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen). However, they generally command a 30-50% price premium over data centers in Tier II and III cities, primarily due to higher power cost.
If price is an issue, depending on where end users are located, it may make sense to look at hosting in Tier II cities. For example, rather than hosting in Beijing, you may consider Shijiazhuang; Wuxi may be a replacement for Shanghai; Foshan may be a replacement for Guangzhou or Shenzhen.
Tier III cities tend to have lower quality data centers that may be less reliable.
Service can be extremely variable in China data centers.
To ensure consistent service in China, it would best to (1) utilize a data center operated by a global provider (but there are only a handful in China and only in a couple of cities), or (2) to go through a trusted third party who has local resources and manpower that can vet out domestic data centers and provide 24/7 English technical support.