“Closer” services?

XANA asked 3 years ago


I was just reading a post on this very website forum and I saw one of you refer to Atlanta as closer to your location, which somehow means it gives faster speed test results.

Can you explain what it means to be 'closer' to a service?

2 Answers
Shnerdly Staff answered 3 years ago

When you contact any website, the request goes through many different servers to get to the site you want. The connection to each server takes time so the more servers you are connected through, the slower the response.

You can check how many servers you connect through by using a program called TraceRoute. The command an syntax are as follows including the results I got with my query. This is run at the command prompt.

C:>tracert whatismyip.com

Tracing route to whatismyip.com []
over a maximum of 30 hops:

1 <1 ms <1 ms <1 ms
2 9 ms 42 ms 10 ms
3 9 ms 7 ms 7 ms te-4-2-ur01.hamlake.mn.minn.comcast.net []
4 9 ms 9 ms 9 ms te-8-3-ur02.hamlake.mn.minn.comcast.net []
5 17 ms 11 ms 11 ms te-0-2-0-10-ar01.roseville.mn.minn.comcast.net []
6 41 ms 39 ms 40 ms pos-0-14-0-0-cr01.350ecermak.il.ibone.comcast.net []
7 36 ms 37 ms 37 ms be-10-pe03.350ecermak.il.ibone.comcast.net []
8 39 ms 46 ms 37 ms
9 37 ms 37 ms 35 ms as13335.xe-8-0-3.ar1.ord1.us.nlayer.net []
10 39 ms 37 ms 37 ms

Trace complete.

You can see that it took 10 hops for me to get to the website. My connection had to go through my router, my node server, a few comcast servers, an unidentified server, nlayer and finally to the website.

If you ran the test, you results would be very different with the exception of the last few.

The hops don't always make geographic sense either. All of my traffic goes through the same first 7 hops regardless of the direction to the server I am trying to connect to. For example, I want to connect to google in California. My request goes from Minneapolis to Ham Lake, MN., to Roseville, MN., East to Chicago, then it starts heading West and finally gets to google.

Rob Vargas Staff answered 3 years ago

I'm going to pretty much mirror what's already been said. A few more details.

When the Internet technologies were being developed, one of the ideas they wanted was a system that could automatically deal with a loss of pathway. So they developed a series of software applications that seek out pathways from one destination to another, and between devices.

That system does not designate single pathway to a destination. When you try to come to our site, a whole set of calculations has occurred to step you from one device to the next, with the goal of getting you there. The devices in this trip aren't necessarily cose together physically. But each device is called a hop.

To be "close" on the Internet is to have as few hops between you and your destination as possible.

Not too much gobbledygook, I hope. 😀

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