Unluckily, all the sites are not equipped with the powerful web host servers for website speed optimization as desired. The bottlenecks may also exist because of the applied software solutions at web host servers. Web host server infrastructure acts as the foundation for any website, therefore the potential behind running a site at fast speeds is quite dependent on the power of the underlying web host servers.
You can hire best of the racing drivers to participate in a car racing championship, but without a powerful racing car engine, even the best of the racers won’t be able to win any racing championship. Even the best of the Formula One Racing drivers would fail to win the races, if they don’t have access to the powerful Formula One cars.
Just like a racing car equipped with powerful engines acts as the backbone behind winning a car racing championship. Similarly powerful and strong web host server is the backbone behind speeding up websites. Web host servers are as important as website speed optimization procedures. Both are complimentary to each other as one would be incomplete without the other.
This website case optimization case study is a very good example, establishing the relationship between the website speed and the power of web host servers. WordPress site speed optimization is directly proportional to the power of its underlying web host server. Sites can only be pushed up on speed, only and only if, the web host servers have all the power and are also strong enough to fuel the power for speeding websites. Web host server is the backbone behind the strength of a website.
The next post in our series of website speed optimization case studies is about http://majorstocareers.com. The website is hosted on iPage. Mark de Scande did a preliminary check of the case study site as well as the web host server. Our objective is to explore all the possibilities for pushing our case study website up on the speed scale, either by using some caching solution or without using any caching solution at the site.
Step 1 : Remove Unused Plugins from WordPress
WordPress plugins are always associated with increased overheads, but the use of plugins also make the things much easier in WordPress. In fact, the simplicity and beauty of WordPress lies in the use of its plugins, a flexibility to extend the functions without disturbing the core files. Using plugins is good, but overusing plugins is bad. Our first step was to get rid of all the unused plugins from the WordPress Dashboard in order to reduce all the undesired overhead expenses.
Step 2 : Quick Cache Testing on Case Study Site
Quick Cache (Speed without compromise) was the first choice for trying our cache solution. We did not knew whether Quick Cache was going to work with the web host server or not as well as with the forum feature of the site. We had to install and test quick cache plugin on the site running over the existing web host server.
As soon as quick cache plugin was installed, a message popped up at the top of the WordPress Dashboard – This version of Quick Cache requires PHP v5.3+. The host was using a version of PHP lower than 5.3, thus quick cache plugin cannot work on this host. Either, the web host server needs to update their PHP version to at least PHP v5.3 or we use an older version of Quick Cache.
Second choice was better for us because it was in our control. We installed Quick Cache 2.3.6 (svn) at the WordPress installation of our case study site.
Step 3 : Tweaking and Configuring Quick Cache
Quick cache can be easily used out of the box, even by the beginners, but it is not enough for us. Being WordPress speed optimization experts, we have to make the best out of any web host server. As our next step towards our case study website speed optimization, we moved on to configure the values for gaining speed performance.
We added forum, forums and topic NOT to be cached by quick cache plugin. The site was tested to confirm whether forums and topics were cached or not. In order to check, whether a particular page was cached or not, we can use the “view source” option of our browser after loading the site. Looking at the bottom of the “View Source” page, you can look at the presence of three green lines stating that the page was cached. The cache lines at the bottom of the page will look like this –
<!– This Quick Cache file will automatically expire ( and be re-built automatically ) on Dec 27th, 2013 at 3:26 pm UTC –><!– +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ →
<!– Quick Cache Is Fully Functional :-) … A Quick Cache file was just served for ( majorstocareers.com/ ) in 0.00384 seconds, on Dec 27th, 2013 at 2:34 pm UTC. –>
The web pages not showing the above three green lines at the bottom of “View Source” page implies that the page wasn’t cached. In our case study, we tested it for forum, forums and topic. The above mentioned three green lines were not present, thereby confirming that the pages were NOT cached.
We also did some tweaking with the current version of quick cache plugin, so that it doesn’t keeps nagging us for new version updates. We edited the Version : 2.3.6 → 931128. In our case study site, there is no need to update quick cache plugin with the latest version because the web host server was using an older PHP version.
We were quite confident that the installation and configuration changes were more than enough to sort out the issues related to slow web host server. Before making any final statement, we had to conduct a series of site speed tests for quantifying and diagnosing the test result values.
Pingdom test results are looking great with a Page Load time of 1.97 seconds.
Test result report at Webhostinghero gave an over B score to our case study site and the undelying web host server. The report complained about the Page Size, which is 2.3 MB. The page size of our case study site is quite large as compared to many other web pages over the Internet. It is something beyond our control because the site was built like the way it is and nothing can be pulled off from the site because of its extended functionality.
We went through an article related to Web Cache Control at the iPage site. It explains some configuration changes to gain speed on sites hosted on their web host servers. Mark de Scande turned off Cache Control Tool on iPage and used his own speed optimization expertise to tweak the .htaccess file to achieve better speed performance for the case study website.
Let us test the site once again and diagnose the WordPress site speed test results by analysing the various parameters.
Serve scaled images and specify image dimensions are the two major areas in need of some attention. Web developers also need to work on the homepage of the site to get all the parameters on this report turn green.
All the values were green.
Analysing all the speed test results and the values against various speed parameters, Mark de Scande is of the opinion that the site as big as this case study needs much more power to run with full stability under heavy load. The case study website is not bad at all, but the problem will pop up only when the site experiences heavy traffic.
Whenever the site will start getting 1000 – 5000 hits per day then the power of existing web host server would fail to handle the load of high traffic on this case study site. The web host server would not be able to support such a huge traffic load on the site. iPage web host server used by the case study site is good, but the site needs more power to keep it running all the time without any failure.
Mark de Scande gave his recommendation by listing out three possible course of actions to improve the speed of this case study website. By following any of the given recommendations, the site will gain a substantial improvement at the speed front, even during peak traffic hours. It will help visitors enjoy a seamless super fast experience while accessing the website.
Alternative 1 : Upgrade the web host server account on iPage to VPS
After having a look at some other hosting solutions offered by iPage, we noticed another VPS hosting plan at iPage. The site can be upgraded to a big VPS at a price of $79 per month. It will surely resolve all the speed related issues in this case.
Alternative 2 : Host the site on WP Engine
WP Engine is another great web host server, specifically dedicated to hosting WordPress sites. We did a test with WP Engine to understand how fast can it run on WP Engine’s web host servers and got a positive report about it. WP Engine hosting starts at about $29 and is worth the investment for every penny spend. Even Mark de Scande runs his own site at WP Engine.
Read more about WP Engine web host server to speed up any website and why could it be the best choice for WordPress sites.
Alternative 3 : Host the Site on AECNU WPMU
The web hosting offered at AECNU WPMU is super fast too. It offers VPS managed servers starting at a price of about $29 per month. Mark de Scande enjoys full flexibility to configure and tweak the sites hosted at AECNU’s web host servers for achieving great site speed optimization results.
We must understand that without changing the web host server as per the recommendations, it would be almost impossible to speed up this case study website. Basic web host server is the major culprit in this case study site. It is pulling down the site speed at lower grades. Speed can be tuned up, but only when the fuel to speed is readily available.