Does Hosting Location Matter?
Simple answer: Yes!
Complex answer: Also yes! … with caveats (CDNs)
If you’re asking this question, you probably already knew the answer. What you really wanted to know is how much it matters. Let’s go over the reasons why server location matters, in order of importance.
Internet exchange quality
Think of an internet exchange as an interchange of multiple highways.
To get to your destination, you’ll probably want to pick the road with the most direct route, least traffic, highest speed limit, and most lanes.
You don’t want an exchange that only has two-lane winding roads headed out, full of traffic, with slow speed limits.
Regardless of geography, select a host that’s located on the strongest, fastest, and most reliable internet exchanges.
Number of hops
No, not beer. Wrong hops.
In internet speak, a hop is the signal passing from one router to another, between the origin (you) and the destination (the site you’re visiting).
Each time a data packet is passed to the next device, it’s a hop.
Hosting far away from your visitors means more hops, which can result in longer times that your visitors must wait to load your pages and download your files.
If your visitors are mostly in Europe, hosting across in the USA can add time to your page loads. And remember that page load time can affect your search engine results, as site speed is a metric now considered by Google!
Natural disaster zones
If you’re in the EU, do you really want to be affected by an earthquake hitting the west coast of North America? Or a tsunami or a nuclear meltdown in Asia?
While web hosting services cannot be blamed for the weather events, you might be. How understanding will your EU customer be when your reason (excuse) for problems is an event from the other side of the planet?
Latency is the time to first byte ( TTFB).
For example, when you’re in the EU, and load a webpage from USA, a request is sent across the ocean. It may take a second or two for that round trip communication before the page starts to load.
By hosting local, the TTFB can be reduced to a portion of a second, not several seconds. It may seem like a small amount, but research has shown people to be impatient when a site take longer than 1 second to load.
It didn’t matter much in the 90s, because internet connections were slow. But it matters in the 2010s.
Bonus: CDNs and CloudFlare
CDNs and services like CloudFlare mirror content to multiple locations all over the world.
Going back to the highway interchange example, using a CDN is like having a clone or yourself at every exchange.
So if you need to go to the Great Wall of China, your Asia clone gets in a car in Asia. If you want to see the Statue of Liberty, your USA clone gets in a car in New York. Your trip is made shorter.
Understand this is complex. CDN only work on static content, not dynamic. So the speed of a site using CDN really depends on what you’re doing on the site. CDNs also cost money. And while CloudFlare has a free tier, most features are reserved for the paid plans.
While we didn’t want to overlook the affect of CDN on modern hosting, it’s important to realize that it’s still a secondary consideration to the main server location.
EuroVPS = a fast host!
Between datacenter-grade internal routers, and using the AMS-IX, EuroVPS does everything possible to give you the fastest possible service. We’re not only fast to EU customers, but even Asia and USA customers are pleased with our speeds.
Our managed hosting services are excellent for customers all over the world. And they’re especially fast for anybody in Europe.