Renting land versus buying hosting

We’re running a survey today about OpenSim hosting providers, and I’m getting the sense that there’s a lot of confusion about OpenSim hosting when it comes to renting land on a grid, versus buying hosting from a third-party vendor.

Part of it is understandable — there are a lot of gray areas.

But there are some differences.

Hanging out at the beach on my private OpenSim grid.

Private hosting

Getting your grid or region hosted privately is a little like using GoDaddy or Dreamhost to host your Website — as opposed to just having a page on Facebook.

Your private Website can be just one page, or can be as big as you want, and so your private grid could be just one region (a standalone), four regions (a mini-grid), or a million regions.

There are a lot of hosting providers out there that provide this service — Dreamland Metaverse, SimHost, MA Hosting, Virtyou, Talent Raspel, and many others.

As part of the package, you get full ownership — and full responsibility — for all the content on your grid. And if you want to, you can download the entire grid and move it to another hosting vendor.

Similarly, if you have a Website, your hosting company isn’t going to look at what you have up there until someone complains — there’s no prior review of content — and you can move it from one Web host to another at any time.

You, not the hosting company, own all the content. You own the regions, the assets, the avatars — everything. You set your own terms of service. If you want, you can have users on your grid — many hosting providers offer user management panels — and you can tell your users what to do and what not to do.

Again, the hosting company has zero claim to your content. None. Nada.

But, in return, all they offer is the grid and region management services — restarts, backups, upgrades, new region setups, user password resets, that kind of thing. They’re not going to help you find content, learn how to move your avatar, take you to a freebie store — unless they’re really nice and happen to have some free time.

Today’s survey is for the folks who buy hosting, to allow our readers to compare the various hosting companies.

Bottom line: This is a good option for schools, companies, non-profits, and creators and other individuals who want to be totally independent and have full control of their content.

Renting land on a grid

If you rent land on a grid, you get a lot more service, and you can rent parcels of land smaller than a full region. You get access to all the amenities the grid provides — mentors, freebie stores, shopping malls, community events, training classes, pre-fab regions and houses, and much more.

You get to be part of the grid’s community.

On the flip side, you have to agree to that grid’s terms of service. That might include not being able to move your content to other grids. Or not bringing certain kinds of content to that grid. There might also be age restrictions, or a dress policy on themed role playing grids.

Depending on the terms of service agreement, the grid owners may have the right to take your creations and use them for their own needs — for marketing, or to distribute to new residents, for example.

Grid owners also have the right to kick anyone they don’t want off the grid. For any reason, at any time. Without letting you come back and get your stuff — or any money  you might have on deposit in their private virtual currency.

Of course, there’s no reason why someone can’t have a private grid, and also rent land on someone else’s grid. For example, a furniture maker could have a private grid that they use as a manufacturing facility and warehouse, where employees come to work. Then the furniture could be sold in stores on closed, commercial grids.

Bottom line: Renting land on someone else’s grid is a good option for folks looking to rent smaller parcels, or who want to be part of a safe, protected and managed community.

The gray areas

Some hosting companies not only host private grids but also have their own social or commercial grids. ReactionGrid, for example, hosts private grids, while also running its ReactionGrid grid. So does JokaydiaGrid, and Virtyou, and SpotOn3D. You can rent land from these companies on their grids, and get support and community and everything that goes along with it.

Or you can hire those companies to host private grids for you, and get just the basic hosting services.

Another area where it gets messy is with open grids. You can host your own region with a third party vendor, or at home on your own computer, and connect it to open grids like OSGrid and New World Grid and ScienceSim. It’s your region — you can download it at any time and move it to a different hosting provider, or a different grid. But your avatar would belong to the grid, as would its inventory, and you would still need to comply with your grid’s terms of service.

These terms tend to be less restrictive than on closed commercial grids but there’s still a chance that you, say, annoy the grid owners so much that they ban you.

And some commercial grids, which run all the land themselves, have an open door policy — you can download your region and leave at any time, and you can hypergrid in and out. These include GermanGrid and Island Oasis, for example.

Of course, you don’t have to rent land on an open grid to take advantage of its mentors, support, stores and other facilities. You can have a private grid or mini-grid and teleport in via the hypergrid.

OSGrid in particular has become a central hub for folks who come in to socialize and shop after a day toiling away in isolation on their private grids.

Bottom line: Open grids are a nice option for folks who want to own their own regions, but still want to be part of a community and to have neighbors.

Maria Korolov