Page speed: How do I speed up my website?

Actually page speed is more and more important. Google ranks pages with a short response time higher than websites with lower speed. But how you can make a website fast?

First of all in the creation process of a website you are focused on functionality. Your site needs to do everything for your needs. For each functionality there are a lot of plugins available for different Content Management Systems. But whatever Content Management you use, more functionality and more comfort for the user means more code to load for the web server.

And if you use a lot of plugins, you loose page speed. The best thing would be a plain HTML page with no javascript and no css included. Wau, thats fast, but who wants to see such a website? Nobody, right?

So the challenge is, how to improve page speed, with all the comfort and functionality a website operator expects.

You may think its your hosting company, they have slow servers and you want to move to another hoster, because they say, they have fast servers. But the power of the server is not always the reason, why the page speed is fast or not.

More page speed in a shared hosting environment

As long as you have a shared hosting, your possibilities to speed up a website are few. All what you can do is, to use so called “Caching Plugins” or cache techniques your CMS offers. What is this?

All your nice functions on your website are interpreted by the web server. More code to interpret means slower response of the server. This happens every time your website is requested by a visitor, even if there is no change on the website. So the cache makes a copy on the disk of such a page. Next time, the page is requested the copy from the disk is served directly instead of interpreting the code again. So this will be faster. But the web server has to handle both, cached pages as well pages requested where the code must to interpreted.

SSD Disks – Really the solution for speed?

And here comes the hoster in. As long the hoster has no SSD Disks, it will not be so much performance boost, because each disk requests requires an I/O Operation (In/Out). And additionally the server first has to decide if he can serve the cached page or not, in case something has changed. This causes a lot of disk access. On common disks this can take a while, depending on how much I/O operations are on the disk system in general. In case of an SSD hosting it is much better and it can be a performance boost.

In general if you are on a shared hosting, you should alway use the cache possibilities of your CMS.

But keep in mind, the request serves the same server, if the content is cached or not and the server has to handle both, cached and uncached content.

But this caching technologies offered by the most Plugins and CMS vendors will bring an average result. Maybe you are not really happy with the speed, but maybe it will be enough for your requirements.

When you really care about your page speed, there are other solutions, you can realize them with VPS servers.

Improve page speed with Virtual Servers

Beside of the shared hosting its much better to build a professional caching. It’s just easy to do so:
You create a normal web server on a VPS with apache and mysql. This server hosts your website with all needed php libraries and whatever you need for your website. Here its also recommended to use mod_pagespeed and you will see your server will speed up. But here we are still on the same server. This is not the end of the story to use mod_pagespeed.

Caching Proxy

Now you create a second server, a very fast server, the caching server. Here it is recommended to use an nginx server, because its very fast. Configure the nginx server as a transparent proxy server and then point your A record of your website to this caching server.

Now all requests will be served from the fast nginx server. This server is so intelligent, that it knows when he has to request the source server, which one is your usual web server, in case that something has changed. So you will get delivered all the time the actual content with a high page speed. The caching server does not have to interpret anything, he just takes care to answer the request. And he keeps a lot of pages in the RAM, which is only reserved for the caching server and nothing else.

Content Delivery Networks

If your website has an international audience, you should set up a CDN additionally. This is a content delivery network and works in the same way, with the difference, that this caching servers are distributed worldwide. That means, that you can have such caching server in multiple locations, lets say in the US, in Europe and in Asia.
The advantage is, that someone who requests your content is redirected to nearest node that can be reached.

So it does not matter, where your “main” server is located, the users are getting the content delivered from the nearest node to them.

If you have questions and if you are interested how you can speed up your website, don’t hesitate to ask us.
In common we just can give an overview, but if we know your particular setup of your website we can give you the right advise.

If you need help to speed up your website you can contact us here. You will get a free consulting from Virtexxa.

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