Why You Shouldn’t Be More Than A Couple Thousand Miles Away From Your Server

Even the most experienced web developers sometimes take for granted how data transfers, such as emails or FTP uploads, actually occur. How does the data arrive at its intended destination? It has to physically travel through a long, complex system of networks. Data that has to travel long physical distances will take much longer to complete its course, and that means more time spent waiting and decreased productivity. You can quickly test potential data transfer speeds by using a ping test. This is a simple operation that involves sending and receiving data from one location to another, and reporting how long the trip took.

In a test sponsored by a InMotion Hosting, different data transfer situations were examined in relation to distance and speed. The scenarios were performed at a test location in Newark, NJ to transfer locations in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, CA. Overall, transfers to the nearby location were much faster. Tests included design comp uploads, website update operations, and a variety of email simulations. All transfers to the nearer data center showed speed improvements of at least 11 times over the distant data center.

Data transfer operations are a constant component of web development and daily communication. Email communications and FTP uploads that involve sending or receiving large amounts of data can cause lengthy download times. It makes sense to select a hosting company whose data center is close to your location. The time spent waiting for files to upload and download can be decreased by over 20 times, translating into a significant improvement in time management and productivity.

Speed issues must also be considered from your customers’ perspective. You want your pages to load quickly, because your users dislike waiting just as much as you do. If your pages are slow to load, your traffic simply won’t return. For this reason, data transfer speeds are also an important component in SEO rankings. New trends involve website speed in search engine ranking algorithms. Fast loading websites rank higher in Google’s search results.

It is crucial to ensure that a website loads as fast as possible. Fortunately, there are a number of fairly simple methods available to improve server time. One of these is an easy compatibility fix: your website should be IE 8 compatible. This can be easily accomplished with the insertion of a META tag in each page of your website. The other methods involve reducing file sizes.

When a user requests a web page, the browser first loads the page file and then begins acquiring the associated files such as CSS files, JavaScript, images, and other media. More requests mean longer page loads. Additionally, most browsers limit the number of files that may simultaneously be downloaded from the same domain. The actual page loading represents a small portion of the download time. To improve page load speeds, you must decrease the number of requests required to completely load each page.

The first step is to join JavaScript and CSS files. Join JavaScript files under a single file and do the same with CSS. Then join all the images that are used on multiple pages. This can be done using CSS sprites, which join multiple images under a single file, which is then displayed in the proper areas within the browser.

Compressing JavaScript and CSS files will also dramatically improve a slow loading website. File compression can be accomplished with a number of software tools.


Packer is an easy-to-use JavaScript compressor that provides a run-time decompression option.


JSMin is a popular compression tool due to the fact that it will not alter your files’ names during compression.

Dojo Shrinksafe

Dojo Shrinksafe caches both JavaScript and CSS.

YUI Compressor

YUI Compressor combines the best features of the three, and is known for its reliability and efficiency.

Google Closure Compiler

Google Closure Compiler compresses files in the same way as the other tools, while examining your codes for errors. It will also automatically correct and debug your errors.

Another effective option for improving website speed is by using a content delivery network, otherwise known as a CDN. A CDN is an extensive network of servers that each cache static website content and deliver the content to the end user based on their geographic location. A CDN transmits the website’s static content and applications to its network of servers that are strategically placed all over the globe. Each server, or “point of presence” (PoP) contains the cached content.

When a website user requests one of these CDN linked files, the request will be redirected to the PoP nearest the user, which then delivers the requested content. This method reduces the physical distance that certain data is required to travel. When the user requests content that has not been cached, the CDN will coordinate with the main server to deliver the request.

Using a CDN will immediately improve your website business operations, end-user experience, and search engine rankings. A CDN will improve the delivery of all kinds of content on any size website, and can also improve speed of mobile applications or those that have global or specific geographical reach. CDNs also protect websites from high-traffic related crashes due to the fact that the heavy load is distributed over a number of servers.

When using a shared server or a virtual private server (VPS) plan, hundreds of other companies can be competing for the same server resources. CDNs solve this problem. They ensure extremely rapid page loads and are completely transparent while users navigate the website. The most popular CDNs give their users the option to mask the CDNs URL, so it is nearly impossible for any website visitor to know that some of the content is arriving from a different location.

Implementing any or all of these methods for improving data transfer speeds will mean a more satisfied customer base, a higher search engine ranking, and eventually a drastic increase in traffic. Optimize your website and put it to work by joining and compressing your heavy files, using a nearby server location, and utilizing a CDN to ensure rapid loading of all your content.

Brian Flores is a SEO and blogger for InMotion Hosting, one of the top providers of dedicated hosting in the country. He works with a team of awesome writers to post useful tutorials on WebHostingHelpGuy. You can follow him on Twitter @WHHG_InMotion or @BrianAFlores.

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    Nice post, but Dean Edwards Packer should not be mentioned here, it is outdated, browser compressor, that slows down page load on every load, even on page refresh. It’s just proof of concept that someone can build compressor/decompressor in javascript, not for real use. Browsers have much better handling of uncompressed files, than packed file. Not sure why this packer gets any focus.

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    Amen, Pastor Steve! Thank you for giving the truth that is found in the Word of God. We don’t need to get confused or deceived, if we would just know the word of God. God’s word is truth and Jesus said the truth will set us free!