Africa Web Hosting: Are Hostgator Servers Too Far Away?
When it comes to web hosting, African websites are at a bit of a disadvantage. There aren't too many reliable hosting providers in the regain, and for many businesses in Egypt and Morocco, for example, choosing a global company like Hostgator makes a lot of sense. But what about the servers? Are the servers too far away for Africa based web hosting? There are a lot of factors to consider here, so let's take them one by one.
Pricing: Hostgator Still Has the Best Deals
Despite a lot of competition, Hostgator still provides the cheapest “all-round” web hosting service, with free SSL, and unlimited disk space. For example, this Hostgator coupon for 78% off is the best in the industry for 12-month hosting as shown here:
Other providers like SiteGround have more features, but they're also substantially more expensive. And this is particularly important for businesses in Africa, given the vast discrepancies between the US dollar and local African currencies like the Moroccan Dirham and Egyptian pound.
So price aside, what about the server distances?
Distances from Hostgator Data Centers to Africa
Hostgator has two datacenters in the US. One in Texas, and one in Utah. If we assume the web hosting server is in Johannesburg, then the distance comparison from Texas and Johannesburg to Cairo looks like this:
So on the one hand, we have a distance for 4000 miles to Johannesburg, and a distance for 7,000 miles to Texas. Yes, it's definitely significantly further way. But then we have to take the other factors into account.
Distance is Affected by Infrastructure
Unfortunately, in the hosting world, raw distance rarely matters. What also matters is the speed of the connections and their reliability. And this is where data centers in Africa suffer the most. At Infolific, we often have writers sharing their hosting experiences, and it's clear that one-dimensional numbers often don't tell the whole story.
The Internet infrastructure in Africa has a lot of catching up to do compared to the rest of the developed world. Not only that, bandwidth transfer costs in Africa are tremendously expensive, and this means that often the most efficient route is discarded in favor of a cheaper one. So while it might seem that a server in Johannesburg is closer, it will often have ping times that are much slower compared to a server across the Atlantic.
As a result, you might actually get faster response times from a Hostgator server in Texas, compared to a local hosting provider in Johannesburg. And while it's true that there are other web hosts in Africa with local data centers, I wouldn't place my trust in the infrastructure around them. A website needs reliability, and a datacenter needs high-end facilities.
Minimize the Distances with Cloudflare
Hostgator web hosting comes with Cloudflare integration, and this should take care of your CDN needs. It's free and is actually better than many paid CDN services because Cloudflare serves Africa visitors from Paris, Berlin, or Italy – three places that are much closer to where your visitors are likely to come from than either Texas, or Johannesburg.
So with a Hostgator plan and Cloudflare integration, you should be set up just fine. There are other hosting providers with servers in Europe, but they're typically much more expensive than Hostgator. For the combination of reliability and pricing, there aren't many other options that fit the bill.
Nigeria, Egypt, and Morocco Are the Hubs
Right now, there are three major countries in Africa that act as major sources of African traffic. Egypt, Morocco, and Nigeria. Out of these three, two of them are in the north, and that makes them closer to the US data centers of Hostgator than the rest of Africa. As a result, your clients will be well services with servers in the US, and in many cases will receive far faster response times than if it were hosted in Africa itself.