The location of your website (where the server resides) for best all round effect should be decided from the following question:
Where are the majority of your target audience?
Once you have answered this question you can then focus on the main points:
- Speed of connection - for your potential customers, and for you (ftp and to administer the website via an admin area).
- SEO search engine optimisation - you will need your web pages to be displayed in the relevant country so ensuring your target audience see your products.
- Legal issues - data protection.
- Cost - bandwidth charges vary greatly from country to country.
Each of these main points are considered in more depth below...
Speed of connection
The technical network processes which occur behind the scenes determine the speed at which your customers can connect to your website. Prior to the handshake process (read more here: wikipedia.org/wiki/Transmission_Control_Protocol) the potential connection (a new visitor to your website) must first lookup where your website resides. Via DNS the address is found then a route navigated. The round trip time (wikipedia.org/wiki/Round-trip_time) is calculated, this delay is called latency.
Latency is the time it takes to connect to a website, often noticed as a short delay (probably one of the better definitions of latency is here). This can vary dependant upon many factors (user connection type being the primary multiplier), however, in regards to a particular-location-to-host-your-website then we are concerned with the time it takes for your customers and locate the machine your website resides on. A simple network program can be used to measure this time, or round trip time as it is termed, this is "ping" (wikipedia.org/wiki/Ping).
Here are some typical ping (speed) tests from London UK:
to UK hosted sites:
seiretto.co.uk (London UK datacentre) = around 2milliseconds (ms)
webmail.seiretto.com (Leeds UK datacentre) = around 10ms
to EU hosted sites:
nu.nl (Netherlands datacentre) = around 11ms
holland.com (Netherlands datacentre) = around 10ms
hotels.nl (Netherlands datacentre) = around 22ms
to USA hosted sites:
facebook.com (California USA datacentre) = around 84ms
twitter.com (Colorado USA datacentre) = around 166ms
youtube.com (California USA datacentre) = around 114ms
(you can try your own ping tests from: host-tracker.com - OR - just-ping.com
ping from >50 locations around the World)
So what does this show? Well it is much slower connecting to sites over the Atlantic ocean than those close-by. No surprise there then; so this rules-out USA hosting for UK and Europe businesses. The connection time is very similar from Leeds to London as it is from Holland to London. So, as regard to speed, hosting a website in Leeds UK or Holland would be the same from a Londoners perspective.
The delay time of upto 40ms is not really noticeable, but when you get upto 80ms or more then it becomes evident.
However, compare those connection speeds with a satellite connection, latency is many hundreds of ms: wikipedia.org/wiki/Satellite_Internet#Signal_latency
Google has become the main source of web traffic for most businesses around the World. Care should be taken to ensure your website is listed within country's search results where your target customers reside.
For example to ensure your website is ranked well in the UK specific index you need a .UK domain name (eg. .co.uk, .org.uk), or host your site on a UK server. Google will list your website as per IP address (wikipedia.org/wiki/IP_address) if the domain extension does not dictate your location. If you have a TLD (.com, .net, .org, etc..) then it is even more important to host in the UK if you want to appear in the UK index.
Due to data protection laws you must not export your client data outside of the EU without specific agreement and knowledge of each customer.
If you, or your web designer, is hosting your website outside of the UK then you could be breaking these data protection laws by exporting client details.
The bandwidth charges in the UK have always been higher than mainland Europe and the USA. But watch out as it maybe essential for any of the above reasons to host your website in the UK.
Hosting over the other side of the Atlantic can be less-expensive, if potential customers are in the UK or Europe then due to latency you would be keeping them waiting at best, at worst they will tire of waiting for your webpages to load.
Choosing the right location is not as simple as it first seems, but if you take into account the location of your particular customer base then this should steer you towards the correct place. The speed of connection is important for both potential customers and your web administrator (especially if there is constant access to administer the website via an admin area).
For .uk domains hosting requiring UK traffic, and UK listings within search engines, then hosting within Europe will be fine. However, websites using TLD (.com, .net, .org, etc...) that require UK traffic, and UK listings within search engines, must host on UK servers. If your potential customer base is within the USA then host there.
If you would like to receive further details please contact us.
Or consider our UK business hosting.
Post to del.icio.us
Post to Yahoo!
Digg it? | DigThishost