What Makes a Server Fast?
Naturally, you want to have a fast server. Whether you are accessing data from the server, or the server hosts your website, it needs to be fast. We live in a fast food world today, and that means people don’t want to wait a fraction of a second longer than they need to when they are using a computer. In the past, it might have been fine to have a website that took several seconds to load. Today, people need speed. Therefore, it’s important that you know what makes a server fast and things you might be able to do to improve the speed of your server.
The Hardware You Use
The server that you are using will be a huge factor in determining the overall speed of the server. The better the hardware the better the speeds. You want a faster hard disk, and you may want to upgrade the RAM, as well. If you are using an older server that hasn’t been upgraded in a while, and you are noticing slow speeds, it might be time to upgrade. If you are buying a new server, always look at the speed that it promises to offer to ensure it will work well for your needs.
The Cache Settings
One of the other elements that can affect the speed of the server will be the cache settings. Many feel that this is one of the best ways to speed up your server and to optimize it. Always enable cashing on the server, which can help to reduce the load times by up to half in many cases.
When you have caching enabled, the server does not have to spend as much time retrieving the files from the disk or dealing with other behind the scenes work. It results in a much faster speed. Keep in mind that there are several different places where you can enable the cache to improve speeds all around. This includes the memory cache, HTTP cache, application cache, and the OpCode cache.
The Application Server
Choosing the right application server can be important, as well. You want to make sure that the applications used are being used properly. Many people will use the apps that are installed in the servers by default. However, these are not always the fastest and could be slowing your server down substantially. By making changes to the application server and changing the settings to match the site load, it can help to boost speeds.
Check Other Settings
The settings you have for your server when you are just starting your business or just loading up the server for the first time will not necessarily last you forever. Your traffic is going to vary, and the complexity of your website might change over time. Therefore, you need to be sure that you audit your site and get a better sense of where you might be able to add some speed.
Let the server know how many visitors can be served at the same time by changing the MaxClients setting. Keep in mind that if you have it too high, you will be wasting resources, but if you have it too low, it could mean that some visitors are lost. This is why an audit of your traffic numbers is important to find that sweet spot.
Some of the other settings that you should check include Timeout, KeepAlive, KeepAliveTimeout, MinSpareServers and MaxSpareServers, and HostnameLookups. Tweak the settings so they work for your server needs without wasting resources that could cause slowdowns.
Use HTTP v2
Today, web servers are set to use HTTP protocol v1.1, but they can be switched easily to HTTP v2. This can provide you with faster performance when transferring files, using binary data rather than text data transfer, transferring important files to finish a page, etc. This is easy to do, but it is something that many people are not aware of.
However, it’s not as simple as clicking a button. You will also need to make sure that all of the site links have redirects with HTTPS. You also want to make sure that your server is upgraded to support server PUSH and that the reverse proxies you are using are configured from HTTP v.2. It may take some time to make the changes, but it will be well worth it.
Cut the Fat on the Critical Rendering Path
If a site has a number of plugins or visuals, the server will load pages slowly. You can make some simple changes to speed things up. Make sure that you remove any themes or plugins that you are not using. Minimize the JS and CSS files and compress them on a disk. Reduce the file size of images that you have on your site, as well.
All of these changes can help make a server faster than it was. Take the time to use these changes to help improve your server. It is often easier than you might think.