How to optimize and speed up your server by more than 20%
It seems intuitive that more memory, or faster CPU can speed up a server. But we’ve seen that hardware upgrades alone cannot guarantee better server performance.
A vast majority of online applications are hosted using a web server front-end and database servers in the back-end. Over time, these services tend to cause CPU, memory and I/O bottlenecks, that lead to poor performance or even server crashes.
If your servers are running resource-hogging applications, your investment on hardware would just go in vain. In our Server Administration services, we speed up the servers by optimising the services in them.
3 steps to speed up your server
While loading a website, each second counts. Visitors would easily abandon a web site that takes more time to load. Speeding up the server is vital to retain your business.
Hardware upgrades can improve server speed, but they are costly and ineffective if the server is running unoptimized services. Server optimisation helps to speed up servers without any huge investments.
For websites, we’ve seen performance bottlenecks in 3 main places – the website code, the web server and the database server. So, no optimisation is complete unless it fixes clogs in all these three areas.
Here’s a generic overview of how we optimize websites, web server and database server:
Step 1 – Make your website lean and mean
We help maintain websites of several small to large online businesses. Many of these sites use Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress, Magento, Joomla, etc.
Unless maintained carefully, these CMS applications tend to accumulate needless bulk via additional themes, plugins and media. Here are a few things we do on a regular basis to cut down bloat, and keep our customer sites trim and fit.
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a. Delete un-used themes, plugins and add-ons
Themes and plugins are a great way to extend a site’s functionality. Many web site owners keep adding a lot of plugins and custom themes to their sites, for enhanced features or looks.
But, we’ve seen that many poorly coded plugins and themes can delay page load speed by more than 10 seconds, which is high enough a time for any visitor to abandon the site.
Our experience supporting CMS sites such as WordPress and Magento give us an insight into various plugin performance. During our periodic performance audits, we review plugins and themes on these sites to make sure that there’s no performance impact.
Many a times we’ve seen duplicate plugins, poorly coded themes, and external script calls dragging down the website. In these situations, we help the webmasters tweak the plugins or recommend a faster alternative that doesn’t impose a performance penalty.
When website owners signup for our Server Administration Services, one of the things we test at the outset is the number of elements in a single web page. If a page uses more than 30 files, we work with the webmaster to cut it down to as low as 20.
c. Optimize images and defer its loading
While an average CSS file have a size of 5 KB, even a small image can be as big as 50 KB. Many webmasters do not think of images as a bandwidth hogger, and do not reduce their size.
Image optimization is one of the basic things we do in the customer sites we maintain. By choosing the right image format (such as JPG), reducing the resolution, and color density, we’re often able to reduce the size of even a banner image to less than 50 KB.
On top of it, we customize the website to defer image loading only when a visitor scrolls to the image location in the page. This makes sure that the initial page load is not blocked by the image download.
d. Enable compression
A majority of website files are text files such as HTML, CSS and JS. These files can be compressed to less than a 10th of their size, which will result in faster file download speed, and thereby faster page loads.
We maintain websites for small to large online businesses. We periodically audit the page load speeds of these sites, and page compression efficiency is one thing we check.
In some sites that have abrupt traffic spikes (such as during marketing campaigns), compression could cause a performance impact. This is because compressing a page requires server CPU. In such sites, we use statically compressed CSS and JS files, so that CPU usage is saved.