Why does Amazon host many of their EC2 instances in Ashburn, Virginia?

Ever heard of Ashburn, VA before? I had never, until I started using some of Amazon’s elastic cloud compute (EC2) servers. Why would they pick a little town called Ashburn to house their east coast data center?

Turns out there’s a major internet backbone there. A lot of hosting companies, ISPs, etc strategically place their infrastructure near these international hubs in order to decrease the ‘last mile’. The last mile is the distance between a computer/server and a major network hub, and it usually accounts for most of the network latency. Decreasing the last mile distance is a common practice that has a huge impact on the speed of a connection.


There are also major international hubs in Los Angeles, Dallas, New York, and Seattle, to name a few. When picking a host, be sure to ask them where their data center is located, and strive for one that’s near a major internet backbone.