Why server location matters for your website and business

Server/Website hosting Speed matters!

In Australia and around the world there are a diverse range of devices accessing the internet through a wide range of bandwidth qualities. In Australia and New Zealand this can vary from very good fibre (NBN) to down right poor dial-up in some rural locations. For the business owner with a website one of the easiest methods to improve your websites performance is to locate it closer to your main market. For Australian Businesses targeting the local market this often means locating your hosting to an Australian based datacentre.

There is more to consider than just being in the country

While physical distance is a factor, the ping or latency to your server is the actual measurable factor to be concerned with, offset by server performance, cost and accessibility.

Top things to consider

  • Ping time or Latency for data to travel to and from your server to the local market you wish to reach. You should test this. It becomes more important the larger your website and the more resources/files your website needs your users download to see the website.

  • Server performance, this is a little harder to quantify without having a website currently to compare it with. However, if you are going to be hosted on a VPS or similar some key things to look for are SSD based hosting, dedicated resources and whether reviews state the hosting provider oversells their accounts.

  • Backbone bandwidth and traffic this is an important one to consider. In Australia, generally Speaking the place to be is in Sydney. While some of the Datacentres are slightly better all are better than other locations and overall you will reach more customers consistantly faster from Sydney than the other datacentre locations, such as; Brisbance, S.A, W.A. The main reason for this is their has been a lot of investment into the backbone of Sydney, from which the main datacentre operate from. Further more Sydney is the major route for traffic offshore to the largest markets, USA, Europe, NZ, Most of Asia. Therefore if you also dabble offshore Sydney is a great place to be and any type of CDN service will help get you speed offshore as well.

  • Internal complicity of the servers or hosting. This is normally only a concern for VPS and Dedicated servers. Normally it is in the older setups or cheaper offshore hosting. What your looking for is 1 GB port speeds or better. If you have a larger site you'll need to do the sums and see if you need more. What you don't want is 'High speed 100MB/s' this is 10x slower and likely running on old switches and ports. There would be few modern setups that would run well restricted to those speeds.

    Location map

    Here is an interactive map to show where the major internet backbones are around the world. This may help with finding an interesting or logical place to host your site.

    Internet Cable Map

    A word of warning. Always host with providers who offer at least 24/7 email support, the last thing you want is to have a done website at 4pm Friday and they are closed all weekend. The second thing is consider the local environment, so exotic locations have fantastic bandwidth and cheap pricing. However this is often offset by, poor infrastructure (Yes it is true Indian, Kazakhstan don't have the same level of maintenance and speed of repair as western countries), Natural risks, such as; Earthquakes, floods. WAR I think this is over looked sometimes, but you should consider if the country your hosting is attacked what would happen. If your datacentre is blown up its gone, there is no one literally who can recover that. Even if it is just at risk of attack staff will unlikely be staying behind to make sure you site is up and making a backup available to you. Insurance! there won't be any so you could be opening yourself up to being sued as well.

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    Senior Developer at Mebsites on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. Mebsites is an acclaimed Magento and Custom Framework Web Software coding house.
    Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia Website