Australian or Overseas Web Hosting?

I wrote this quite a while ago on Whirlpool forum over a debate on Australian verses overseas (usually US-based) web hosting. Thread has since been closed (not my fault :) but I think I will repost my thoughts here, looking at what is the most suitable web hosting solution for Aussies.

My take is this:

  • If a site is geo-targeting Australian audiences and utilising lots of HTTP connections, then Australian host is better.
  • Otherwise, choose an US hosting because it is cheaper and provides more space/bandwidth.

We all know that it takes 3 way handshaking to initiate a TCP connection. Therefore to start a HTTP connection, 12ms to Sydney and 180ms to LA round-trip time will be boosted to at least 18ms and 270ms -- more if the server is in US East Coast or Europe. So for sites where there are many external links (JS, CSS, images, etc) they do add up, if each request is on different HTTP connections in cases where HTTP Keep Alive has been turned off, and there exists restrictions on the number of simultaneous connections.

It can also be quite noticeable in interacting with those "Ajax" applications where each click might trigger a HTTP connection to be established. Assume that web server takes no time to process that request, feedback might range from "instantaneous" verses "half a second later..."

However, both Australian hosting and US-based hosting can easily saturated a 1500kbps ADSL connection (though you might need a good US shared-host to do that). In this case, 12ms vs. 270ms of TCP initiation time does not really matter, when it takes both 5 minutes to bring down the big AVI file. So for sites that have few large files (video, mp3, etc) then maybe US-based hosting is a cheaper choice. (Hint: DreamHost offers 20Gb storage + 1Tb bandwidth, from USD$8 per month [affiliated link])

So for sites geo-targeting Australia, maybe the best way to do it is to have 2 hosting plans -- one in Australia and one in the states. Put all your interactive scripts in the Australian host, and all the large media files overseas.

Make sense?

Actually I believe there are other reasons (which don't actually apply to me).

  • Prefer to support an Australian business.
  • Prefer to have support during business hours.

Anything else?