Using PING times to pick your hosting provider


Using PING times to pick your hosting provider

Posted on Aug 24, 2009 by Paul White

Recently I moved a few of my clients to Godaddy.  Even though I hear lots of bad things about godaddy, my websites are running faster than they had been running on HostMySite.  Turns out that this speed increase might have more to do with PING times than the hardware they were hosted on.

Take the first example of a client I have hosted at HostMySite.com
HostMySite Ping times
As you can see my ping times range from 68 ms to 70 ms.  This website is running a large VPS box inside HostMySite's Datacenter.

The next site is one I recently moved to Godaddy onto a dedicated box
Godaddy Ping times
Here the ping times are much lower with the average of 55 ms.  Since moving this site to Godaddy my client has been very happy with the site's responsiveness. 

Finally a friend of mine colocates his 1 U rack server at the local Level 3 datacenter here in Houston.  Here is the results of a PING to his server
Level 3 Ping times
Average 22ms ping times.  granted the data center is less than 30 miles from my home, but still that is very fast.  I might consider going with Level 3 when the time comes.

Recently I saw an advertisement on my blog for cheap server hosting. so I clicked on it to check out what they were offering.  Indeed they were cheap.  About $80 / month for a 1U rack server, and 500 GB of transfer.   I emailed their sales department and they responded in minutes.  Seems to be a pretty well run and supported datacenter.  For those interested the company is Acronoc.com.  Located in the Wedge Tower in downtown Houston on the 12th floor.  Everything seemed great, and with it being closer to my house, I would think that the ping times would be even faster.  Here was the result when I picked their website, which is running on a server within their network.
Acronoc Ping times
Average 53 ms .  This didn't make sense why would it take longer to reach them in downtown Houston, rather than the LEVEL 3 datacenter which is located in north Houston ( beltway 8 & I-45 )?

So I took the next step and tried a tracert to each
Here is the tracert to the LEVEL 3 Datacenter
Level 3 Trace Route
The funny thing is how the routing works.  As the greenspont comcast node is maybe a hundred feet from the LEVEL 3 data center.  I guess LEVEL 3 forces the routing to go through Dallas.  Forunately their network is fast and it doesn't cost us too much  in latency.

Here is the tracert for Acronoc
Acronoc Trace Route
Funny how Comcast routes the connections through dallas then atlanta, before finally handing over the data to cogent.  Somewhere in the hand off there is a delay. I suspect that Cogent isn't sporting the fastest hardware for their network. 

Summary.
Even if Acronoc is running on Cogent fiber,  most of my clients's visitors are in Houston and a mid 50s Ping time is still competitive to what we are getting with godaddy.  However if I wanted superior speed. I would have to colocate my box with Level 3.  If you are thinking about hosting a website somewhere, do a ping test to test the connection with the company's hardware.  Nothing worse than dealing with a lagging network connection when using terminal services to setup and maintain your colocated servers.
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