Have you ever wondered if it makes a difference which server location you choose when given the option while configuring your new hosting account or dedicated server? It does in-fact make a difference and can drastically improve your ping times which is how quickly you receive a response from the server when you send a request.
A drastic example of this concept would be satellite Internet, If you live far out in the woods you may have been blessed with the opportunity of browsing the web using satellite Internet. I say that extremely sarcastically. When you use satellite Internet and you send a request such as requesting a website, the signal must first fly out of your modem, to the satellite and up into the sky, From up there it figures out what you need and it beams the information back down to you. So your information must travel a few thousand miles up and then a few thousand miles back down before you get that website fully loaded. This is an extremely long journey, and as you probably expect, the longer the journey, the more time it’s going to take to complete.
So when you are given the choice of server just take into consideration where the majority of your audience is most likely to reside. Just basing it on your location isn’t always the best course of action if you live in South America but are creating a website that will have mostly United States visitors,. The reason behind this is if most of your audience is in the United States and your server is also in the United States, when they request your website the signal will not need to travel as far and is most likely wired into a network that is much closer to them as opposed to if you had a website setup in Europe but most of your audience was from the United States, in which case the signal would need to travel overseas and back before delivering that sweet, sweet content directly to their monitor in a vast display of pixelated knowledge you had manifested only moments before.
But How Much Does It Matter?
Taking into consideration none of us are hosting our websites on Mars (Yet), then the actual latency we experience from say a United States server versus a European based server is going to be fairly unnoticeable. The way the internet is wired up if your followers are using a wired DSL connection, and the host you choose is semi professional and aren’t running their servers out of their basement, then we should be good. Keeping this in mind makes it must less stressful to pick your location. In most cases I usually just pick whichever server is closest to me, figuring it will give me better upload speeds if the server is closer to me than the other options. Since although the difference in latency times will be small and for the most part unnoticeable.
It still makes sense to get the closest server even if the improvements are miniscule. Armed with this knowledge we can pick the most fitting server location from the options provided upon checkout. A much bigger factor would be what kind of Internet the datacenter you are renting from is wired into. If they are wired into a fairly reliable and well known internet provider will make a big difference. Most of the time when you’re dealing with a well known hosting company or datacenter then they will let you know the speeds that they are operating at. If you’re curious as to what kind of connection your box will be hooked up to, it doesn’t hurt to ask, and they may respect you just a little bit more as a customer knowing that you care what kind of connection you’re working with.
What’s More Important?
If you’re looking to speed up your followers experience, there are several other factors you can also take into consideration when you’re setting up or upgrading your hosting. If you’re buying a dedicated server to host your website you want to make sure that you have plenty of memory to support the software that is delivering your webpages such as Apache and MySQL. Some people even go as far as to move their databases to another dedicated server so that they have a special server that only handles their MySQL queries. MySQL queries are strenuous on a server and dictate speed in a lot of cases. The main reason being is that they access the hard drive and memory over and over again to store and retrieve data. So to get the most out of this you’re going to want to have not only a bigger amount of memory and enough space, but you’re going to want to go for quality. Ask the data center what kind of hardware they are using, such as the brand and specs of memory and type of hard drive they are installing. This will give you a good idea of the quality of the hardware you’re working with.
Armed with this knowledge you can make an educated decision on the location of your server and the hardware your server is using to accept and pitch data to your website visitors. So to wrap thing up, Yes it is semi important where your server is located, but since your website visitors will be all over the world and we are trying to create a quality experience for everyone, the best way to insure speed and reliability is to go with the quality and well manufactured server Memory, Hard drive, and Processing speed. If you have a good location, quality hardware, and your server is configured correctly, then you will have no problems with the speed at which your websites load.