NameHero allows you to choose where to host your website – the US or Europe, with the datacenters being in the Netherlands for the latter. This is great if your visitors primarily come from one area or the other. You can host your server close to them so that they get fast response times from your website. However, a few recent advances in technology have made me question how important location is for a certain class of websites. In this article, I’ll share my thoughts about when location matters in web hosting, and when it doesn’t.
New CDN Technologies Make Hosting Location (Partly) Agnostic
In late 2020, Cloudflare – the company with the most famous CDN – announced a new product called “APO” – Automatic Platform Optimization. I’d written about it earlier, and how it wasn’t yet ready for primetime. But the fact that the product exists, means it’s only a matter of time before it becomes good enough for everyday use. And once Cloudflare does something, other CDN providers can’t be far behind. Indeed, QUIC.cloud – operated by the same company that provides the LiteSpeed webserver – has been testing something like this beta for quite a while.
What APO from Cloudflare does, is it caches all your HTML pages on Cloudflare’s EDGE servers. This means that whenever a visitor requests a page from your site, it’s served from one of the many Cloudflare servers around the world – in most cases, a one closer to them than any web hosting service. And these pages are delivered fast.
So for a certain class of websites, the actual location of the web hosting server is almost irrelevant. Now, of course, there are many caveats to this and I’ll discuss them below.
Who Benefits Most?
For these kinds of static websites, the APO technology provided by Cloudflare truly makes hosting location irrelevant. Regardless of where your site is in the world, it’ll be served from a close EDGE server, depending on the visitor’s location.
Which Sites WON’T Benefit?
If your site is heavily dynamic, there’s no substitute for a server close to your visitors. By definition, dynamic sites can’t be cached. A forum? A shopping portal? A site where you customer the content to your visitor? None of these can benefit from CDN caching at the EDGE. You need something like LiteSpeed – a strong server provided by NameHero – to power your dynamic content.
Also, if your site doesn’t have a few heavily frequented pages, and instead has a “long tail” where the bulk of visits are made up to thousands of individual pages with just one visitor in less than two days, then APO won’t work for you either. But most websites have an 80/20 rule where a few pages contribute the most to site traffic, so I’m guessing that this will be a pretty short list.
You Can Have Both
Of course, even heavily dynamic websites have static content. Blog posts come to mind. And it’s these kinds of pages that will benefit the most from APO’s location-agnostic infrastructure. And maybe we’ll see a new kind of technology where business logic is exported to the EDGE, perhaps through an evolution of Cloud Workers or something like that. The next few years are going to be very exciting for web hosting!
I’m a NameHero team member, and an expert on WordPress and web hosting. I’ve been in this industry since 2008. I’ve also developed apps on Android and have written extensive tutorials on managing Linux servers. You can contact me on my website WP-Tweaks.com!