HRank.com

The Geography of Data Centers: to Consider the Location in the Choice of a Web Hosting?

The selection of the data center location is a question that sometimes arises among website owners (especially new ones) when they look for a web hosting provider.

On the one hand, naturally, any properly made choice guarantees better efficiency to a website, while a bad choice means an unstable connection and problems.

On the other hand, a data center is not the first thing to keep in mind when it comes to having your website hosted.

Also, the excess of frequently contradictory information found on the Internet makes it hard to find a fast answer.

Why Bother at All?

The thing is that while a data center location is not the first obvious feature to look at, there are some related issues to take into account.

Does Closer Really Mean Faster?

A data center is a place where a website’s server is physically located. A very logical conclusion would be to just say that the location of a website’s server directly impacts the speed of a website. The closer a data center is to a website visitors, the faster is a website load speed.

Technically, it is true.

The time it takes for data to travel from a data center to a user is called latency.

Namely, it is the time spent by a server on receiving and processing a visitor request. When a server is located somewhere far away (on a different continent) latency is likely to increase and the site is very much likely to load slower.

Looks like if your web site visitors are mostly in Australia, and your hosting provider only has data centers in the U.S., your site will have to go a lengthy distance in order to get to them.

Yet, it is only true to a certain extent.

Go Local if You Are Local: True or Not?

Should you necessarily choose a provider with the data centers that are geographically located somewhere in your area?

There are options here:

  • It is advisable for a website targeted to users from one country to be located in this country as well. It will provide faster website load speed.

Yet, things are not that simple. It is possible that a local provider can have less money and resources to invest in the hosting infrastructure, thus, it can offer worse performance and downtime problems far more often than big global hosting companies. The latter due to its powers can compensate some half a second of delay in website load by 99.999% performance (even if your website is in Australia, and your servers are in the U.S.).

Surely, there can be situations when data is required to be hosted within certain specific borders. However, such situations are quite rarely attributed to a common personal website.

Thus, the answer is that if there are 100% reliable local web hosting companies around you locally, then they should be your first choice. If not, then it is wiser to work with some big web hosting company that would have everything covered.

  • Also, for websites with international users, server location is not very important. You can go for any global provider. More important here is the choice of CDN service (for targeting users from multiple locations).

Present Day Data Center Geographical Diversity.

The map of present day data centers is very diverse. Here is the map from Datacentermap.com (if you enlarge, there will be more and more of them).

global datacenter diversity

Here is another way to see the world’s data centers’ locations (via Datacenters.com):

It can be clearly seen that there are plenty of them around. Some are the facilities fully owned by web hosting providers (like the one in the Thames Valley, the UK, owned by Names.co.uk), while others are the facilities offered for rent or collocation.
For example, QTH.com uses 3 data centers owned by LiquidWeb in Lansing, Michigan, to host its servers. QTH does not own their own data center.

Here is why so many other web hosting providers chose to do the same:

  • Maintenance costs.
    Secure data center facilities with equipment, redundant power, and proper cooling infrastructure cost a lot of money. For many providers it is more convenient not to engage into this business but come and use the existing options, thus, they rent
  • Economy.
    Closely related to the first. Web hosting providers safe millions by using data centers.
  • Safety.
    Apart from the need to maintain a data center technically in a general sense, it is necessary to provide the level of safety and security that also requires effort, manpower, and expenses. Thus, by choosing colocation, hosting providers delegate this responsibility to a data center company and rest assured that it is up and running 24×7.

Thus, as a matter of fact, the choice of a data center location (either owned or rented) depends more on the price than geography.

The nearest Data Center (Web Server) for your Website

It is better to follow this logic:

  1. Decide where the most traffic comes from to your website.
  2. Define several local providers and contact their support teams.

    While it is logical to assume that a local provider is likely to have their data center somewhere close nearby, it may not be the case. Some local providers host their servers somewhere else, thus, it makes sense to inquire where your website will be hosted (and even request the IP of the server).

    Unfortunately, at HRank we can hardly be of use here as most of the providers in our list are from the U.S
  3. Define several TOP web hosting providers and send requests to their support team and ask about their server location options.

Check their answers and pick those who can offer the closest locations to you.

And here, we have done this work for you by having researched our top 10 providers in 2018, top 10 for 2019, and top providers for the past 30 days (as of June 2019). Here is what they answered:

top providers and their datacenters

Final Words

It makes sense to pay a certain share of attention to your data center location while choosing a provider.

However, it is not the first and foremost factor that has to impact your decision when you choose a hosting provider. Rather, you need to understand where your traffic comes from and where your audience is. And also, how good the performance of the provider is.

You can choose to go local, if your visitors are 90% from the same area and with the condition that the provider of your choice is good (and in terms of its support as well).

But if you have an international website, it is more advisable to work with some global web hosting, especially if it has data centers somewhere close to your location.

Leave a Reply
Post Comment