Shared Web Hosting: Server Location and Your Site’s Speed
Last updated on Feb 5, 2015
This topic was already discussed a bit in section 2 of the web hosting guide, but since a lot of people have been asking me regarding this matter, I decided to write a whole article dedicated to it!
Server location is undoubtedly an important factor when you’re hosting a game server or anything where a few additional milliseconds in latency could spell the difference between having a high-quality experience or a crappy one. But when it comes to shared web hosting, should you really bother?
Instead of answering the above question in pure words, I decided to do a few quick Pingdom speed tests for a site located in New York City, NY.
I know a couple of tests won’t be able to tell the whole story, but these should be able to give you a general idea of how much of an impact server location has on your site’s load time.
For this test, I used two servers. The first one is in Dallas, TX and the other is in New York City, NY — the same area where my website is located.
Dallas may be around 1,600 miles away from New York but look at the difference in load time. 1.66s vs 1.47s. The difference is a measly 0.19s!
The Role of Content Delivery Networks
CDN companies own several servers located in different parts of the world. Your website’s content is distributed to these servers, and each of them will have a copy of all your website’s files. When users visit your site, the CDN determines where they are from and delivers your content from the server nearest to them. Because of this, using a CDN further eliminates the need to have your website hosted in a location near your target audience.
So, Does Server Location Really Matter?
It still does to a certain extent, but when shopping for shared web hosting I don’t think it should be a major deciding factor especially since CDNs happened.
Like I said in my web hosting guide, the difference in latency caused by server location is negligible if you are just hosting a small to medium website. For example, even if your business is in LA and your website is hosted in Chicago, your local visitors won’t experience load time issues unless of course if your host is shitty! This means that a host’s overall track record is more important than where their servers are situated.
Remember, a quality provider with quality network and servers in a not-so-near location will always outperform a crappy provider with old, overloaded servers, even if those shitty servers are located right where your target audience live!