Server Performance

Overall performance improved  more than two and a half times from the end user’s perspective

We recently moved two client sites from a major host to our hosting server. This gave us a good chance to compare performance between their server and ours, using the same exact code base, line for line.

Both sites had caching software: the major host site used WPSuperCache, our sites use Google PageSpeed (optionally), which works at the web server level.

The Metrics

So the first thing we did was run a web crawler to download all the pages and images from the web site:

SiteNumber of Files ServedTotal TimeNetwork Speed
Site One on Major Host1531m 16s1.24 MB/s
Site Two on Major Host2282m 13s860 KB/s
Site One on Applied Autonomics LLC Secure Server11830s4.40 MB/s
Site Two on Applied Autonomics LLC Secure Server19658s3.08 MB/s

The Chart

The difference really shows up when you look at the side by side chart (in seconds, lower is faster):

Some Observations

These results are similar to the end users experience, since the web crawler pulled entire pages at a time.

Caching and Combining Files

One of the things that you can do to make pages load faster is to cache (preload), combining files, and optimizing content.  We do this at the server level.

At the major host, the sites used WPSuperCache.  WPSuperCache is a WordPress plugin that allows caching at the site level.  Although it is one of the best solutions available, you see that the server based cache,  using our configuration, did a better job of optimization and file combination.  This means that the end user’s browser has to download fewer files.  So our hosted sites load faster (and if it is a repeat visitor, sometimes the files do not have to be downloaded, as we tag the files so that the browser can keep local copies).

Hardware and Network

Hardware and network also make a difference.  We spend the money, and use high-speed servers with solid state disks (data is stored in chips, not spinning platters) and high speed network connections.  This shows in the network speed.

Craft, Automation, and Continuous Improvement

We use metrics based management of our processes.  Hosting is a process, so we spend considerable amount of time and detail on optimizing each and every setting.  One advantage of automation and standardization, is that when we learn something at one site, all clients benefit.

Finally

The speed of a site really makes a difference to the end user.  A client’s site is the 24×7 live window into their business, and is often a first impression.  These are good results, but we will not slack in continuing to improve, and delivering more value to our clients.

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The Chart

The difference really shows up when you look at the side by side chart (in seconds, lower is faster):

Some Observations

These results are similar to the end users experience, since the web crawler pulled entire pages at a time.

Caching and Combining Files

One of the things that you can do to make pages load faster is to cache (preload), combining files, and optimizing content.  We do this at the server level.

At the major host, the sites used WPSuperCache.  WPSuperCache is a WordPress plugin that allows caching at the site level.  Although it is one of the best solutions available, you see that the server based cache,  using our configuration, did a better job of optimization and file combination.  This means that the end user’s browser has to download fewer files.  So our hosted sites load faster (and if it is a repeat visitor, sometimes the files do not have to be downloaded, as we tag the files so that the browser can keep local copies).

Hardware and Network

Hardware and network also make a difference.  We spend the money, and use high-speed servers with solid state disks (data is stored in chips, not spinning platters) and high speed network connections.  This shows in the network speed.

Craft, Automation, and Continuous Improvement

We use metrics based management of our processes.  Hosting is a process, so we spend considerable amount of time and detail on optimizing each and every setting.  One advantage of automation and standardization, is that when we learn something at one site, all clients benefit.

Finally

The speed of a site really makes a difference to the end user.  A client’s site is the 24×7 live window into their business, and is often a first impression.  These are good results, but we will not slack in continuing to improve, and delivering more value to our clients.