Topic: Most of my users are in the UK. Can use a web host in the States?

I'm based in the UK and so will most of the users of my Rails application. There seem to be better deals on Rails webhosting in the US.

Firstly, is it ok to use a US webhost given my situation and that all of my sites won't be huge in terms of numbers of requests.

What are the pros and cons? Will speed be an issue?

Re: Most of my users are in the UK. Can use a web host in the States?

You can get US hosting, but two things I can think of off the top of my head are that response times will be longer than if your server was located closer. Also, if for some reason the UK/US puts a stop on allowing their traffic to hit each other, then you wont be able to get to it any longer. I think this actually happened in a country.

Re: Most of my users are in the UK. Can use a web host in the States?

First of all, most of my clients are from Romania and Hungary, and I'm hosting in a datacenter in the States.  I decided to migrate there from EU hosting in fall 2008, so more then a year ago.

What I gained?
1. A lot better value for my money (more bandwith, better hardware, etc.) Most US hosts have very good rates, but I picked a more expensive, but seemingly better solution.
2. Since the market is a lot more competitive in the US, more expensive hosts tend to have very-very good costumer support. So far, the costumer support was great. They did everything, from finetuning the server performance for my specific needs, to configuring Passenger, etc. They don't simply "have Ruby on Rails as an advertising line", but they indeed know a lot about it. I think it's mainly for the reason, that a very competitive field will filter out high price / low value competitors, and only the best price/value ratio can remain as a datacenter / hosting company.
3. It was a lot easier to get some new IPs when the old ones where used up.

What one might loose?
1. Due to physical distance the response time will be longer, but that's no big deal in case of most web applications.
2. Your accountant might not like invoices from outside of the Union, specially in case of services.
3. Some might consider the language barrier, but in UK -> US switch that will not be an issue.
4. If you have an English page with an international TLD (like .com), then Google will think it's an US site if hosted in the states. But if you us .co.uk or .eu, etc. Google will know it is not. Moreover you can set up the geolocation in Webmaster Tools, so that is not a real issue, really. I got a .com site hosted in the States, but since I set the location in WT, Google knows it's not from USA, really.
5. Some clients will specifically ask for a local or at least EU hosting. In that unfortunate case, you can start trying to convince them. I usually give them 6 months free hosting with bandwith limitations and RAM limitations if needed.

Last edited by WSzP (2009-11-10 21:38:33)

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Re: Most of my users are in the UK. Can use a web host in the States?

Linode is a US based company with data centers around the world.  They in fact have one in London.  When you set up your account you choose which data center to house your project.

http://www.linode.com/why.cfm