These days, a primary goal for most companies is to improve customer engagement with their websites by ensuring those sites are quick to access and easy to navigate. However, not all data is the same, which is apparent when viewing a website that uses video. While the text portion of the site loads quickly, the video portion will drag as the more sophisticated video data is retrieved from the server. Smart companies will seek out internet capacity that speeds up retrieval of all aspects of their data use to accomplish that goal.
Like any supply chain, the success of a data delivery chain depends on the strength of the individual links. That adage explains the fundamental reality behind internet speed and accuracy – pulling the right data from the nearest storage server and sending it to the customer’s website as fast as possible. The speed of data delivery is one aspect of choosing a web host. To make the right choice of web host for this purpose, business owners should understand the operations of the links in the internet speed chain.
Data storage location
Literally, this is the physical location of the hosting servers. These ‘data centres’ are dotted across the globe and hold trillions of bits of information waiting for transmission. As fast as data can travel, it still has to cover the distance from the server to the end user. A shorter distance means faster speed of receipt. All hosting services should be able to share with customers the locations of their servers. The delay of time between server access and website appearance is called the ‘latency’ period; longer distances mean greater latency periods.
Data flows in a river. And like a river, it flows faster or slower depending on the width of its channel and the amount of debris it might be carrying. For data, the size of the channel is the ‘bandwidth’; cable with more bandwidth carries more data. For an end-user business, increasing bandwidth should speed up data delivery to their websites and customers. ‘Debris’ in this sense indicates the complexity of the data – video versus text, for example. More complex data would take more time to download, so added bandwidth would reduce or eliminate that delay.
The right tools
Like a small home computer, the server network is also composed of computer processing units (CPU) and random access memory (RAM), only in much larger sizes. A host server must have optimized internal processes to enhance access speed of a hosted website. The host can offer a variety of programming as well, depending on the need. For some businesses, optimal server access means access to additional data storage. For others, it might mean faster processing time.
The expectation of the end website will guide how to configure server capacity to improve speed based on website need. For example, for speed purposes, often a Virtual Private Server (VPS) is suggested. A VPS is the lease of physical server space by the business, allowing exclusive – and fast – access. Cheap VPS server options are available at a variety of prices, depending on the computing or storage needs of the leasing enterprise.
The right information in the right place
It is common for the same data to be accessed by multiple users around the globe at the same time. Storage of duplicate data bases at multiple locations accommodates that demand, so local users can access them without a significant latency period. Web hosts will connect their website customers to the closest ‘content delivery network’ to ensure fastest access to their data.
Size still matters. Even after data has been reduced to infinitesimally small bits, it still takes up space and needs to be stored until retrieved. Businesses that invest in the proper hardware and hosting services will ensure their customers will always have fast, accurate access to their data, no matter what its size.
[Image credit: Yoann Jezequel, Flickr]