If you’re running a website for yourself or your business, you need to have a good web hosting service in place so people can access it. There are many factors that need to be considered when choosing what hosting service to sign up for.
One of the most often overlooked things is the physical location of the servers being used for your site. Take some time to learn more about why the location of your servers matters and how you can find the best option based on your specific needs.
- Studies have shown that sites that have load times of more than a few seconds have a large percentage of visitors click away before the site loads.
- The longer the distance that data needs to travel, the more “hops” that it needs to take, hops are hardware points along the path that data needs to take.
- A good rule of thumb would be to make sure that, at the very least, you choose a hosting company that’s on the same continent as most of the visitors to your site.
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Why Does the Physical Location of Your Website Hosting Matter?
The speeds at which information travels through the internet are absolutely amazing. In many cases, the data travels at the speed of light because it’s transmitted using fiber-optic cables.
Users today, however, demand extremely fast load times for the sites they visit. Studies have shown that sites that have load times of more than a few seconds have a large percentage of visitors click away before the site loads.
The physical location of the servers on which your site is hosted has a direct impact on the response times you experience. For example, if someone from China attempts to access your website that’s hosted on servers in the United States, they’ll experience slower load speeds than someone in the U.S. Even though data travels extremely fast through the Internet, the fact that it needs to travel around the world slows things down.
The longer the distance that data needs to travel, the more “hops” that it needs to take. Hops are hardware points along the path that data needs to take. This could be a router, switch, hub, or another point. If the hardware at any of these hops is running slower than it should, it slows down your site further. For these reasons, it’s easy to see why the physical location of your hosting servers makes a big difference in the load speeds of your site.
Why Are Web Hosts in Different Locations?
Companies have set up hosting services in locations around the world so that they can better meet the needs of their customers. Some of the best hosting companies open data center facilities in multiple locations around the globe. Others specialize in serving specific countries or regions of the world and, therefore, only have one local facility.
Some companies build dedicated data centers that are used only for hosting websites. Others rent out a part of an existing data center to house the web servers in that area. Both are great options and have made it possible for people to get hosting that is as close as possible to their customers.
How Do You Find Out Where Hosting is?
When shopping for the best hosting for your site, you want to make sure that you know where their servers are located. Some hosting companies display on their website clearly where their data centers are located, which can make it quite easy to figure out.
Other hosting companies don’t display this information. When that’s the case, the best thing you can do is reach out to their customer support or sales team and ask them directly. If they’re unwilling to disclose at least the region that their data center is in, it’s best to choose another hosting company.
How to Choose the Best Location for Your Website’s Hosting
If you live in a part of the world where there are many different hosting companies to choose from, it’s a good idea to find one that has a data center fairly close by.
Asking yourself the following questions help you to determine the best location and how much importance to put on this one factor:
- Where are you located: Having a hosting company that’s close to you can be helpful. In addition to faster response times, a hosting company located near you is more likely to offer support in your language, so it’s easier to get the help you need.
- Where are visitors to your site likely located: The closer your website’s servers are to the visitors, the faster the page loads. While this is one of many things that impacts your site’s speed, it shouldn’t be ignored.
- What type of content is on your site: If your site is mostly text-based, the location of your servers matters less than if your site has many videos or offers real-time voice chat. The more bandwidth you need, or the closer to real-time responses you require, the closer you want the data center to your visitors.
- How is the infrastructure in the region: Most data centers are built in areas that have excellent infrastructure so they can provide reliable services. If you’re looking at a hosting company, you want one in a location that has reliable technical infrastructure in place.
Of course, every situation is going to be unique. Understanding your specific requirements and the options available in your region is very helpful. It’s also important to keep in mind that geographic location is one of many things that impacts your site’s performance.
How Close Should Your Website’s Hosting Servers be?
The quick answer to this is that the closer the servers are to your users, the better. If you run a small business serving a local community, for example, you can try to find a hosting company that’s nearby. If you have users throughout your country that are likely to visit your site, trying to find a centrally located hosting provider may make sense.
While it’s important to factor in the geographic location of the servers that are hosting your website, it’s not the only thing to think about. Compared to other factors such as quality of servers, level of support, price, and reputation, location plays a relatively small role. A good rule of thumb would be to make sure that, at the very least, you choose a hosting company that’s on the same continent as most of the visitors to your site.
In most cases, you can find a quality hosting provider that’s within the same country or even the same state or province. Finding the right balance between overall quality and geographic location usually won’t be a big challenge since there are so many hosting companies from which to choose.
Taking the Time to Choose the Right Physical Location for Your Website
The physical location of your website has the potential to impact your page in a variety of different ways. When you’re shopping for the best web hosting services for your site, you should include the physical location in your decision-making process. Fortunately, there are web hosting providers located all around the world so you can find one that meets your needs.