Improving Hosting Experience at ZNetLive (1) – Website Speed
Our technical team has been working on multiple factors of late to improve your hosting experience. Two areas that have been of prime focus to us are – Speed and Security.
In this post, we’ll cover technical implementations on our servers that greatly improve the speed of websites hosted. But before that, let’s understand – why is it important that your website loads as fast as possible?
Why is it important that you website loads fast?
You created a content rich, informative, engaging and instantly likeable site. You are paying a premium amount for hosting it on a server with 100% uptime. Everything seems to be rosy and perfect. But when visitors visit your site, they have to wait for many minutes before the website files load and its content is finally visible. How long do you think your visitors will last? Researches have concluded that customers cannot wait for more than 2-3 seconds for a website to load and are put off by long loading times.
Speed of your website may seem like a very negligible entity but in reality it directly affects a number of metrics, including page views, search ranking, bounce rates and importantly reader satisfaction, retention and conversion. In 2010, Google also included ‘site speed’ as a new signal in its search ranking algorithms, making it explicit that website speed matters! Faster load times translate to higher search rankings and these convert to more traffic to your site.
Improving your website speed by hosting optimization
ZNetLive has installed two new caching mechanisms on its servers- Implementing Google’s mod_pagespeed and SSD Caching.
1) SSD Caching
ZNetLive recently added 120GB SSD caching to all its shared hosting servers, VPS and dedicated servers. SSDs are many times faster than hard disks, but they are much more costly for the storage space. We use the SSD drives (rather than a traditional HDD) to cache and store a second copy of most commonly accessed data of your website/application, so that your website’s cached data is loaded much faster than if it had to be directly from the hard drive.
What is SSD caching?
SSD Caching is a proprietary caching technology that uses cache or stores commonly accessed data of a website/application. SSD caching combines conventional mechanical HDDs and SSDs and bridges the gap between the two.
It continuously tracks data writes and reads operations on a standard hard drive and caches the data that is accessed most frequently to a faster low capacity solid state drive cache. Thus, servers that use normal HDD for main storage also benefit with SSD like performance and faster access.
Behind the Scenes
In order to understand the modus-operandi of SSD caching, one needs to understand what goes behind the scene when a visitor is trying to find the data he needs on the server your website is hosted at.
When a program is first run, all of the different files needed to launch that program are read from the hard drive and loaded into the different levels of temporary storage found on a server. On most servers, the basic hierarchy goes:
Whenever a server needs to find data, it goes through this hierarchy of different storage locations starting with the CPU cache and working all the way back to the hard drive. As you go through the list, the speed of the storage gets slower so ideally you want the most commonly accessed data higher up on the list. For example, reading data from the CPU cache is much faster than reading from the RAM, which itself is much faster than reading directly from the hard drive. SSD caching adds an extra step between the RAM and hard drive, so this process becomes:
Since SSD drives are much faster than traditional hard drives, this gives the system one more place to look for data before having to read from the comparatively slow hard drive.
To measure the operational efficiency of SSD caching, ZNetLive performed the testing of SSD Cached servers versus traditional servers in live environment.
The SSD caching solution decreased page load times on average by 36% across all of our test nodes!
The details of results can be see this whitepaper on our website.
2) Google’s MOD_PAGESPEED
How does PageSpeed speed up your web-sites?
Also, it optimizes images dynamically by eliminating unutilized meta-data from all files, images are resized as per specific dimensions, and re-encoded images are presented to the user in the most effective format available.
PageSpeed provides various advanced filters that site owner can turn on for gaining higher improvements in performance. PageSpeed comes with a fixed set of core filters that are designed for safely optimizing the content of user’s site without changing its behavior or looks.
In order to learn more about PageSpeed, watch this video:
Several more technological advancements on our servers are underway, and we shall keep you posted as and when they happen 🙂
Please use the comments section below for queries.
Note – This post is part of a series post on ZNetLive’s Hosting Experience. Part 2, 3 and 4 will be made live soon and will deal with our Security implementation, Enterprise grade hardware and Value Added Services that come free with our web hosting.
Update 1 – Part 2 is now live.
Update 2– Part 3 is now live.
Update3– Part4 is now live.