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  1. #1
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    Physical Server Distance?

    In terms of web hosting how big of a difference does the physical distance between you and the server make? I know it makes a huge difference in gaming because if its high intensity but does it matter for standard webpages?

    IE if I am on the west coast is that centrally located server in Texas that much better of a location than the ones in the NY, NJ, Tennessee area?
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  2. #2
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    When it comes to web hosting, the distance doesn't mean all that much. A fraction of a second is hardly going to be noticed by the average visitor..
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  3. #3
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    If you're on a good network it's true that it may not make a ton of difference, but do keep in mind that you can never go faster than the speed of light.

    In a vacuum, light can travel 186 miles per millisecond. Nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. A completely unswitched, single fiber cable drawn 'round the world (none exist) would theoretically be able to transmit packets around the world's circumference (approximately 36,000 miles), and under ideal conditions it would be able to deliver a single packet in a time of just slightly higher than 193.54 milliseconds. If you want to go halfway around the world in this theoretical example, you are looking at your packet being delivered in slightly greater than 96.77 milliseconds just to cover the physical limitations of space, matter and time.

    Since the Internet isn't just made up of one long fiber cable, traffic needs to be switched. In real life, that means you add processing gear that connects fiber lines to fiber lines and networks to networks. This adds 'hops,' which in turn affects the speed of packet delivery. How much it is affected depends on a host of factors, most of which involve the types of networking gear, how they are set up, and how close to the speed of light they can analyze and process packets that are being transmitted through them. Of course, there are a huge number of variables here. Not all switching gear even runs over fiber - some runs over copper. Whenever copper comes into the mix you are looking at a whole new set of physical properties. If you have a satellite component to your network path, you immediately add an average of 22,223 miles up and 22,223 miles down, or an average of approximately 119.47 milliseconds each way, again just to cover physics. It can get complicated.

    Even in an ideal setting, switched network traffic will never truly near the speed of light. All routing and all switching brings about delays in the form of nodal processing delays, queuing delays, transmission delays and propagation delays. These are normal. What is actually happening during these delays? Well, think of a cross-country trip in your car. You can go at a pretty good speed on the highways as long as traffic isn't congested, but you still need to slow down a little bit on the exits and 'off-ramps' as you get on to other roads. It's basically the same thing with network traffic. A packet passing through a device will generally be slowed so that it can be analyzed and, well, routed properly.

    The types of delays I mentioned accumulate to give a total nodal delay that, when added together with the actual physical speed of transmission, give you your total packet delivery time. Internet traffic, except in closed test environments, doesn't actually travel at the speed of light because of the constraints detailed above. But the speed of light is a factor, and hence so is distance.
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  4. #4
    Higher distance means higher latency, that's all. It means that there might be a slight delay between receiving the elements of a website (pictures, css, javascripts, etc.). So if there are loads of small elements it may load slower (well, it will, but not always noticeably slower), but in other cases you won't notice it...

    Martin

  5. #5
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    It's not going to make a huge difference for most web pages. If you're doing a load of high bandwidth stuff - such as video, the distance will make more of a difference. Other factors like the quality of the network carriers will also play a significant role, other than distance alone.
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  6. #6
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    Higher distance means higher latency, that's all.
    Higher latency in turn means reduced throughput, so the effect is not all that simple to estimate.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Measuri...ork_throughput

  7. #7
    > Higher latency in turn means reduced throughput,
    > so the effect is not all that simple to estimate.


    In this case you're right. But this isn't true for all protocols. And it when it comes to TCP/IP it depends mostly on the packet size.

    Either way, if the client isn't behind the ocean(s), it won't make much of a difference.

    Martin

    PS. why the heck do i need write 5 posts before using a smiley?! can't even use quote...

  8. #8
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  9. #9
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    But this isn't true for all protocols.
    Fair point.

  10. #10
    > All the answers are right here >link<...

    No Chris, these are not the answers but the rules. This doesn't explain "why".
    I can't even reply to your post using "default behaviour"... and writing any amount of posts before being able to use quote or a smiley is... silly and frustrating...

    Martin

  11. #11
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    The rules and limitations were typically instated once people abused the existing system at the time. In any case, let's let this thread run its rightful course and stay on topic. If you have questions about the way the forum is run and think that there are things need some changing, please post in the feedback forum: http://www.webhostingtalk.com/forumdisplay.php?f=31

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by IH-Rameen View Post
    When it comes to web hosting, the distance doesn't mean all that much. A fraction of a second is hardly going to be noticed by the average visitor..

    Agreed. I moved my servers from the UK to the US due to price and spec offers.

    The ping time is slightly slower but the sites run MUCH faster due to far superior hardware

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by and1c View Post
    Agreed. I moved my servers from the UK to the US due to price and spec offers.

    The ping time is slightly slower but the sites run MUCH faster due to far superior hardware
    And that's the answer in a nutshell. It is a factor, but one of many, many factors and not always one of the more important ones.
    Christian Dawson
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  14. #14
    > Agreed. I moved my servers from the UK to the US due to price and spec offers.
    >
    > The ping time is slightly slower but the sites run MUCH faster due to far superior hardware

    I *really* doubt it's because of the hardware...
    Unless your sites do some crazy math before displaying html

    Martin

  15. #15
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    I've gotten servers from different providers and never really saw much of a difference.
    Hey Mikey likes it!

  16. #16
    Short Answer: it won't matter much for web hosting, depending on the quality of the network you are on.

    Longer Answer: I know in my business (game servers) latency is essentially the number 1 factor that keeps a client. However with webhosting, most people will not notice the .3 second difference (or however much it might be ) between a dallas and a NYC location.

  17. #17
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    Content will matter mainly, if you're moving something big like a media file, then sure distance will matter. If its just like a text site with not much, you can get away with a further distance and have not much speed decreases. Of course that also depends on the network and other factors.

  18. #18
    Depends on protocols. From my experience, it is always better to have your server closer to the majority of your users.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by shakey View Post
    > Agreed. I moved my servers from the UK to the US due to price and spec offers.
    >
    > The ping time is slightly slower but the sites run MUCH faster due to far superior hardware

    I *really* doubt it's because of the hardware...
    Unless your sites do some crazy math before displaying html

    Martin

    Umm....well, one of the sites is a large forum with 2000 + members online at any one time.

    had you ever run a BIG site (resource and bandwidth hugry) you would realise how ridiculous your comment sounds....

    Hardware makes a HUGE difference to a site like that.
    just not to a wordpress blog with 100 uniques a day

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