Side wave Side Wave Pink

Multiple servers, one domain: reasons for multi server hosting

Opinion and industry comment, Technical updates for clients

Multiple servers, one domain: reasons for multi server hosting

15th September 2016

A web server was something of which you generally needed only one when the Internet first emerged as a commercial presence. That is now changing.

“My server is down.”
“We’re performing maintenance on our server.”

Both phrases we will have all heard or seen regularly over the years and both refer to a single server.

Increasingly, that’s an outdated way of looking at things. With web hosting technologies having evolved to the extent that they are now cheaper and more flexible than ever before, and with online activities ever more important to most businesses and organisations, it is now common to mitigate against some of the limitations of a single server by opting for a multi-server hosting to support a single domain.

What are the reasons that are driving people towards multi server hosting?
Load balancing

When using multiple servers, it is possible to balance the load of an influx of traffic across those servers. A spike in visitors to a website can quickly take a single server up to its capacity and cause the site to become very slow or even unavailable. By spreading the resources visitors use over two or more servers, the performance of the website can be more easily maintained.

Geographic location

We’re written previously about how the geographic location of a server affects user experience. The ideal scenario is for a server to be as close as possible to the customer or end user. For a business that has a big audience in the UK and also in the USA, for instance, it becomes a worthwhile exercise to host versions of the domain in both of those key markets to ensure all customers get the most efficient experience when navigating the website.

Maintenance backup

Remember those aforementioned maintenance windows? Updates to software and other tweaks are inevitable. But when you have more than one server, you can simply update one at a time and direct all traffic to the other server while the maintenance is being performed. That means your website never needs to be offline due to maintenance and has a much better chance of achieving 100 per cent availability.

Disaster recovery

Similar to the maintenance backup outlined above but, in this case, when one of the servers being unavailable was unexpected. A power cut to a data centre, technical issues in the data centre and human error are all things that can take your server, and therefore website, offline. The quickest way to return to business as usual is if you already have a version of the same website hosted at a different location and can direct all traffic to that version.


For high traffic websites that place the biggest demands on a server, often a multi-server architecture is a cost-effective option. Two or more very good servers might be cheaper than the humongous super server that would be needed to cope with the traffic alone.