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I was wondering if someone could give me a bit of advice.

I have just released a site live and it has maxed my bandwidth / space more than what i predicted.

Im from Australia so space and bandwidth is quite expensive, the first 5 days of the site being live the bandwidth has hit 5Gb, and the max for my account is 20Gb.

I've been told space is so cheap now that instead of opting for an account in the US i should go straight to cloud.

Im not really sure my next move, but i need to figure it out quite fast.

Is it possible to host sites in the cloud?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Yes, it's possible to host sites "in the cloud", but it's no different than hosting sites anywhere else when it comes to the basic economics of hosting in general.

What you really need to decide is "do I host in Australia, or overseas?". Hosting in Australia is expensive, because the bandwidth market is just stupidly expensive (the .au side pays most of the costs of hauling all that data across the Pacific, so in effect we're all subsidising the transit costs of the .us providers -- also, we're a much smaller and geographically dispersed market, which also drives up the costs). On the upside, if your customers are in Australia you can give them a wonderful low-latency browsing experience. Hosting in the US is cheap (bandwidth is orders of magnitude cheaper, for a start), with the latency downside for .au-based users of your site. Note that you don't necessarily have to go with a US-based provider to get US hosting -- there are several Australian companies that have local support teams, but can provide you with a US presence (so you get the upside of local support in your preferred timezone, but with the cost benefits of being in the US). (Full Disclosure: my employer is one of the companies that provides this option).

Is it worth it to host in Australia? It depends on your site and what your needs are. Only you can decide that.

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Good to see you back around these parts. – Wesley Mar 4 '12 at 0:04
@womble - Thank you for your response ... Im thinking of hosting the main parts of the site with US and just using amazon S3 for images as the site is basically users uploading collections of pictures ... Does that sound like a good way of doing it? – BigJobbies Mar 4 '12 at 7:56
Whether you use S3 is orthogonal to the question of Australian vs US hosting; S3 as a CDN is a pretty bad idea, though, if that's what you're pondering. – womble Mar 4 '12 at 11:11
Ok thanks for that .... So you would recommend just moving straight to a US based VPS? – BigJobbies Mar 4 '12 at 11:17
As I said in my answer... maybe. It depends on whether the lower latency to Australian users of an Australian-hosted server would be sufficiently beneficial to you. – womble Mar 4 '12 at 19:45

I suppose it depends on what you mean by hosting in the cloud and what your requirements are. There are plenty of sites in which you can rent space, such as Amazon's EC2/VPC services. You set up a server and serve your content from there.

Without knowing what you're hosting or what your needs are there's not much more to say. is possible to host sites in the cloud? Yes.

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Hosting your application "in the cloud" may require some alteration of your code, depending on the service that you choose. This is a moot point of course if your site is completely static server-side.

You've not stated how much dynamic and static output there is in your traffic pattern - you may get the gain you are looking for without moving the application code by hosting your images and other static content elsewhere, perhaps a shared host or VPS in another country or a "content delivery network" service like Amazon's "Cloud Front" (there are several decent CDNs around, some catering for small users and some optimised for larger concerns which may therefore be too expensive for your scale, so shop around).

20Gb does not sound like a lot of bandwidth (caveat: I know little of the Australian market) so. Am I right in guessing that you are using a "shared hosting" provider? If so then consider a VPS - most (even the cheaper options) come with at least a couple of hundred Mb of bandwidth allowance, some with a full Tb or more (though be careful: many hosts look "to good to be true" value wise and the usually turn out to be!).

If bandwidth is as expensive in your home country than you may have to look further afield even for the VPS option. If your audience is international than this may be a bonus: more of your visitors will get a better response than will get a slower one, but if your core audience in more local to you then you'll have to consider that the site will be less responsive for them if hosted on the other side of the trans-pacific links. This will be an issue for you no matter what hosting options you use (shared, VPS, "cloud", ...).

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Hey @David - Thanks for the post, Australian bandwidth is very expensive ... Currently the site is on a quite big VPS account, im considering US hosting but worried about the latency – BigJobbies Mar 4 '12 at 8:25
20GB of traffic per month isn't a "big" VPS, even in Australia. – womble Mar 4 '12 at 11:12

"Look at CloudFlare -- they have a free Content Delivery Network that is really impressive that will take care of the problem. The best part if you don't have to change your site -- just some DNS records."

Just a quick note that we should be able to help with the bandwidth. Since we don't have a datacenter directly in or around AU just yet (perhaps later in 2012), we might actually add a little latency for some visitors in AU (some would hit the USA, some would hit Singapore right now). If the bulk of the traffic is not in AU, then we should be a pretty good option.

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Just in case, I want to mention the other option: optimize bandwith usage.

Review your site and see if you can optimize it a bit:

1) Ensure HTTP caching headers are set correctly so clients can reuse images and static parts 2) You can perhaps configure your web server to compress html output 3) Compress Javascript code using code-minifiers 4) The web application or site may be optimized in terms of bandwith usage

If you haven't considered all this so far and, for exmaple, clients are not caching your images, you could obtain huge bandwith reductions.

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Look at CloudFlare -- they have a free Content Delivery Network that is really impressive that will take care of the problem. The best part if you don't have to change your site -- just some DNS records.

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