Location Matters When it comes To Data Centers

Most people do not know how data travels through the Internet, they just know that it does. Any time a user sends or receives information from a web page or email, the data must travel from one computer to another through a network. This is comparable to cars traveling on a highway, and just like car travel, the further the data has to travel, the longer it takes.

Upload and download times were compared using a ping test to test how fast the data traveled. A ping test sends data from one computer to another and back again to test the connection and how long it takes the data to travel round trip.

Ping Tests And Results

For these tests, the data originated in Newark, DE and was sent to computers in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, CA. Although all three sites are located in the United States, there are considerable differences in speed between the two test servers. When you are sending or receiving emails or updating your site, these small time difference can become significant.

1. Site Update Speeds

Web developers send a lot of data to their server for site upgrades and tweaks, including images, text and other site content. In this test, a number of test files were sent to each location including (20) images files of 300KB each, (5) 1MB large files and (20) 10KB HTML files. The average time to reach the server in D.C. was just 1.87 seconds, while it took 21.13 seconds to reach the server in Los Angeles. The closer server was about 11 times faster than the server across the country.

2. Email Speeds

Email is has become the preferred method of communication for many people. The majority of businesses use email to communicate with clients and coworkers, so it’s important that emails are sent and received quickly. Email makes it easy to send large files such as videos, graphics, pictures and documents. Large files can take a long time to download, especially if the server is far away.

To test email speeds, three tests were performed, each testing a different function. The tests tried to mimic normal user behavior such as downloading a large amount of emails in the morning, sending and receiving files and sending large amounts of emails.

Email Test 1:

This test determined how long it took to download large email attachments such as pictures, PDF files and other documents. For each test, (30) 30KB text files and (5) 1MB larger files were downloaded through email from the 2 servers. When downloading from the server in D.C., they were completed in 1.03 seconds versus 23.5 seconds from the Los Angeles server. The closer server was an impressive 23 times faster.

Email Test 2:

This test measured download speeds for downloading many simple text emails without attachments. Specifically, (300) 30KB emails were downloaded and timed. The emails were downloaded in just 5 seconds from the server in DC, but it took 70 seconds to download from the server in Los Angeles. In this test, the closer server was 14 times faster.

Email Test 3:

This test is similar to the second test, but for sending the same 300 emails to clients. It took 6.94 seconds to send the emails to the DC sever and 79 seconds to send the same amount of data to Los Angeles. In this test, the closer server was about 11 times faster than the one further away.

3. Site Upload Tests

In this test, (10) 5MB files were sent to the server to simulate updating a site. The D.C. server took just 4.73 seconds, while the Los Angeles server took 52.58 seconds or 11 times longer.

Location Does Matter

For faster upload and download speeds, choose a server close to your physical location. This greatly reduces the time it takes for you to send and receive emails, including attachments, and the time it takes to update your site. A closer server can mean data transfers as much as 23 times faster than servers located across the country.

Maria A. is a project manager at a Los Angeles web hosting company and web design hobbyist. You can follow her and her awesome team of writers on Twitter @WHHG_InMotion.

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