Datacenter internet UK? (Where to get 1GBPS?)


I'm planning to have one good server computer (Intel Xeon processor) running some linux server distro handling all the files for my file hosting website. I can buy it plenty of space (I assume I can just buy it huge hard drives) so that it will last the site's lifespan, and hopefully using 100% of the hardware and internet should give good speed for users downloading files.
My issue is that I'm not sure how fast internet I'll need (obviously I'll need something with unlimited broadband, fast upload, and fast download speeds).
How fast do you think I'll need? And do you recommend any companies in the UK that would be able to offer these services for "fairly cheap"? (Preferably <£70 a month)



Data Request UK Internet

asked Apr 13 '11 at 17:44
113 points
  • Hi Joesavage1 , and welcome on board. :-) Unfortunately my first comment to you is a bit difficult -- there is no way to answer you question. How fast internet for *what* -- how many users, how large files, requests per second? Also, if it's purely a sysadmin question, I think is a better place to post a revised question. – Jesper Mortensen 12 years ago
  • This is for what could be a large file hosting website. I want speeds to be able to handle a LOT of people. – User9331 12 years ago
  • I'm confused - you're asking about fast broadbad, or data centre colocation hosting? Broadband speed and allowance isn't applicable with colocation - speed is generally unlimited, but bandwidth is monthly allowance. As for broadband, unlimited is always constrained with "fair use" clauses, so there's no such thing. – Matt 12 years ago
  • I mean the actual speed (for example 1 Gigabit per second). I'm wondering what speeds I'll need and where I can get them for fast downloading and uploading of files. – User9331 12 years ago
  • Speed works one of two ways - unlimited with a use allowance, burstable. Users can download files at max possible speed until you use up that monthly use allowance. The other way is exclusive or shared connection - say a 10Mb connection - you're not limited on use, but restricted by the speed of that connection to outside world. Disadvantage for file downloading is if a number are downloading at the same time, such as peak hours, none will get maximum download speed as they're all sharing that connection. – Matt 12 years ago

4 Answers


You're seriously misunderstanding how broadband, hosting and websites work. Let's say you get 8Mb broadband. (20M broadband or cable isn't much better than this example)

In the UK on a home class line you get at best 8Mb Download 448k Upload.
Upload is the speed YOU send data to the internet. In other words it is the maximum possible speed your website visitors (ignoring more than one at once) can download a file from your site. You'll be pleased to know upload is almost never included in the data transfer limits by broadband providers.

You can run your own server over broadband, but this is typically for light traffic or hobby sites. You'll be limited to normal broadband speeds and contend with the fact it is a shared service - your users will be sharing that 448k upload speed with other users of your website, and any other traffic on your broadband block. I have no idea what broadband contention ratio is these days.

The other way of hosting at your own premises is via a leased line. They are ridiculously expensive, so we'll completely ignore those.

You could go SDSL or VDSL which give faster upload speeds - Upload 2M to 10M at best and £300+ per month.

Look at or for SDSL/VDSL providers. Both are business grade providers with good reputations.

So, the only affordable option left is web hosting at a data centre...

  • You can have a "colocated" server at a web hosts' data centre - You own/rent the server at their premises. They may handle backups. They will have tools for you to manage it remotely. They have a chunk of backup power, fire extinguishers and the like.
  • You can have a "VM" server at a web
    hosts' data centre - Same as above,
    but cheaper, as you only get a
    part of a server.
  • You can have a webhosting package -
    You get some shared space on their
    server, but won't decide what it runs
    outside their defined limits (for instance you won't be choosing your own Apache modules). They
    will almost certainly exclude file
    downloading hosts in their Ts & Cs
With colocation you almost NEVER get the opportunity to buy your own hardware and send it to them - you choose one of their own offered servers - from their point of view it's the only sane option. It makes replacement and repair feasible if they are all the same make. From an admin point of view, all being on the same OS means they can offer backups and the like.

A VM server is probably your easiest and most cost effective option. I'd look at as Jeremy suggested.

answered Apr 16 '11 at 17:40
2,552 points
  • Hmm, Ok - Thanks for this long description. I think I'll go for the colocation then (in which I assume I'll have to rent hardware although I'll query them if I can use my own hardware). Do you know how much (approx) on average these colocation services cost? (If I had my own server that fit their rack requirements and possibly their OS requirements would they be more likely to accept it?) – User9331 12 years ago
  • @Joesavage1 Pricing can start at about £70 a month for a dedicated server. are top of the heap for level of service, but they're not the cheapest. I'd absolutely recommend them for quality of service and their people however. They provide custom builds based on your needs, and a LOT of bandwidth so call them (They'll be more than £50 however!). Lower down there's 100s of companies... fasthosts, memset, webfusion etc (Avoid heart and UK2). Only way to find if they'll take your hardware is to ask I'm afraid - but most wont. – Matt 12 years ago


Rather than get (and maintain) your own hardware, better to go for one of the hosting firms out there.

You've two general options: renting your own server or renting a virtual instance. Until you're well established I'd strongly recommend renting a virtual instance -- you can start small and grow, and it's much cheaper until your traffic gets to the stage where you should be generating enough money to afford something bigger!

Amazon are a huge player in this market (see Amazon Web Services ) and have a data centre in Dublin that works just fine for the UK and Europe. For something tiny, though, they're quite expensive.

Alternatively, a less expensive option might be to go for something like the Miniserver at Memset. £10/month +VAT gets you root on a 512Mb box with 20Gb and 50Gb transfer/month - they have a range of packages that scales up, all the way to a network of full servers if you find you need to go there. I've no affiliation with them other than as a happy customer.

answered Apr 13 '11 at 18:13
Jeremy Mc Gee
371 points
  • I have considered options such as Amazon S3 for hosting my data - however I'd decided I want to keep it secure and use 100% of my powerful server hardware and store it myself. What kind of speeds would you reccommend? – User9331 12 years ago
  • Are you sure you want to build your own data centre? Unless you have much more than £70/month to spend you'll not beat their security, reliability and performance. – Jeremy Mc Gee 12 years ago
  • I have a lot more money for my good server, RAID hard drives, backup generator and such. My only issue is the internet speeds (how fast, and how expensive). I can raise the budget for the internet - but I'm just not sure how fast I'll need it (and how I could get these speeds). Any ideas? – User9331 12 years ago
  • Bear in mind many colo hosts will block using your own build hardware (or charge extra). If they have 8 racks full of the same make hardware / same OS their maintenance and admin is much simplified. A VM server like memset mentioned above is a good place to start unless you need the extreme reliability of someone like Rackspace. – Matt 12 years ago
  • I'm hoping to get the wire coming into my business location rather than me bringing my server to them (as I may need to buy more racks and such to add once I expand). Are there hosts that exist that can provide me Gigabit speeds with "unlimited" bandwidth to my location? – User9331 12 years ago
  • @Joesavage1 Oh 'eck! Hosting always means using their data centre - they tend to share locations (For instance Telehouse) where a lot of companies put their racks to benefit from **really** fast connections between each other and to the outside world. To have a line to your premises you need NO hosting - you either run your server on broadband at broadband speeds (remember broadband is shared and has usage caps), or you get a leased line (Ludicrously expensive: £3k a year or more for 2M) – Matt 12 years ago
  • Oh, ok. Well maybe it'd be more appropriate for me to put my own server hardware in their location (with their fast internet). I really want to be able to fully customize my hardware (and software) and don't mind if I have to pay a small extra fee. Do you know of any of these places in the UK? (I'm looking into Telehouse now - hopefully they don't "block using your own hardware") – User9331 12 years ago


Try RackspaceCloud for easy online management of server instances with a transparent pricing model that will scale with your needs and very well supported. Top tier hosting company. Sounds like I work for them doesn't it (I don't, I just use their services and I'm pleased with them)

answered Apr 14 '11 at 00:52
2,333 points
  • Thanks for contributing! One little caveat, at 0.18 USD per gigabyte of outgoing transfer Rackspace Cloud Servers will quickly get expensive for a large files download site. – Jesper Mortensen 12 years ago
  • I would tend to agree that this option is rather expensive and I'd much prefer to use a server at my custom location.. – User9331 12 years ago


Your needs and your willingness to work don't meet up. You want a "large file hosting service" and "to handle a LOT of people". Yet your planning for scalability and server resources doesn't involve doing basic math to calculate required line speed, and your budget is <70£ / month.

Here is some info I hope can be of help: Two of the leaders in cheap Internet connectivity for bulk data transfers (cheap, lower quality bandwidth measured on uptime, latency, and route diversity) are Hurricane Electric (HE) and Cogent. I'm not sure you can connect to any of those in the UK; look towards the USA which is the world's best market for cheap bandwidth.

If you're paying less than about 1 USD per MBit per second (i.e. less than 1000 USD/month for a 1 Gigabit connection), then you're probably getting lower quality network -- for example Cogent.

There are providers who specialize in high-bandwidth cheap hosting, f.x. FDC Servers who right now offer 1 Gbit for 700 USD/month. If you need additional names in cheap bandwidth, then the Web Hosting forums are usually the best place on the Internet to inquire about cheap hosting.

answered Apr 13 '11 at 21:45
Jesper Mortensen
15,292 points
  • What speed would you say was minimum though? A gigabit? – User9331 12 years ago
  • @Joesavage1: You can probably get by with a 10MBit connection to start with, until you get the first several hundred / a few thousand customers. Then a 1 GBit as the next step, yes. – Jesper Mortensen 12 years ago
  • No, 1gbit is pretty much needed. You want large file hosting? Most custoemrs will expect their local connection to be used well. WhererI live, people in teh city center can get for 70 USD a 120 Mbit (!) (10Mbit up) connection to their house. YOu should be able to handle multiple of those. – Net Tecture 12 years ago
  • I'm happy to get 1GBPS - however I do not know of any ISP in the UK that could provide this to me.. Do you know of any? – User9331 12 years ago

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