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Hosting and network performance

Should I move host?

     
1:20 pm on Aug 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I have to make a decison in the next couple of weeks whether to move host. The only reason to do so is to improve server and network performance, as I am happy with everything else. I have been with them for two years, and they are a friendly and helpful bunch, but quite a small outfit.

The site is a .com hosted in the UK on a Linux/Apache server. It makes extensive use of PHP, many pages have images of 30-40 Kb, and it also runs AdSense. Most traffic comes from outside of the UK with the US supplying about 35%, Europe about 20%, and the Far East about 15%.

I have been monitoring the host's performance via Webperf which samples transfer rates in different areas of the UK. (But unfortunately not outside the UK.)

My current host costs about 108 USD per annmum. Mean transfer rate is about 1800 Kb/sec with a low of typically 1000 Kb/sec for certain areas of the UK. Occasionally this dips to almost zero at certain monitoring stations, which I assume indicates a network problem in that area and lack of network redundancy. As it is unlikely my site is hosted on the same server as the page Webperf monitors, the results for my site could be worse.

There are hosts at about the same cost which return a better mean transfer rate, but they also typically drop to 1000 Kb/sec, and also suffer from network problems. Sometimes the network outages are worse than my current host.

It seems I have to make a big jump price-wise to get any real improvement. The top performing host (which costs twice as much) has a mean of 4300 Kb/sec with a low of typically 1500 Kb/sec. The same dips due to network problems are visible but rarely fall below 1000 Kb/sec, although I seen have the occasional near zero result.

Obviously I have no control over international links or links within the user's country. But my question is, would the difference in hosting performance be noticeable outside the UK when these other factors are considered?

2:32 pm on Aug 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Hi Harry,

Being based in the UK myself and running a site which has worldwide appeal, I've avoided UK-based hosting.

I've always found the prices here in the UK way too high and only really suitable for .co.uk's that will have mostly UK traffic.

Transfers from the server in the US to me in the UK are pretty good even on my basic account.

If you're happy with your current host - don't risk a move. If your site has a worldwide audience rather than just a mainly UK-based audience then I suggest trying a US-based host. The good ones will let you pay monthly from about $6 - I can recommend one if needed.

5:25 pm on Aug 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Thanks ToneLeMoan,

I agree about UK prices being too high. In fact my own UK hosting company has US-based servers which hosts UK customers at UK rates - nice profit!

The reason I have decided to stick to the UK is because I have a .com site and that gets me in the Google UK search as well as the world-wide search. I also get traffic from Baidu and other Chinese search engines so being in the UK is not a problem.

Another factor is I have been unable to find the US equivalent of Webperf, and without something like that there is no way of checking US hosting performance. I'm very leery about taking out hosting just because of pricing or the size of ad campaigns. When I checked out some of the well-known UK hosting companies that advertise in internet magazines, I found their performance was not very good - they must have been packing web sites into their servers like sardines into a tin.

So I'm prepared to pay more, even for bandwith I'm never going to use if it helps my pages download quicker. I don't want to be a sardine; I'd rather be with the salmon.

[Can anyone tell me why when I type in s-w-i-m w-i-t-h it comes out as sWebmasterWorldith?]

11:46 pm on Aug 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Anyone?

Essentially I need to know whether moving to a host with faster servers and a better UK network performance will make any perceivable difference to users not in the UK.

2:03 pm on Aug 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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ToneLeMoan,

Your so right about UK hosting costs. I queried a prospective hosting company about facilities.

Can I test the site after uploading it before switching DNS? Yes, if I have a fixed IP address - extra annual cost GBP50.

Can I use .htaccess? Yes, with a setup fee of GBP40.

Why do we Brits always price ourselves out of the market?

It looks as if I will be staying with my current host. But I would still like some feedback on my original question. Surely their must be some network experts at webmasterworld?