If your website isn’t performing as quickly or efficiently as you’d like, there are many ways our Helpful Humans can help. Oftentimes a server upgrade is required – luckily upgrading your VPS (virtual private server) is an easy process at Liquid Web. However, it is always beneficial to look into other solutions to speeding up your website before committing to upgrading your VPS.
In order to determine if upgrading your VPS is needed, we first need to evaluate the pain points your server is experiencing. Perhaps your site is running slower than normal, loading slowly, or not loading at all? You may have been experiencing an increase in traffic? Or perhaps your website is dynamic and heavy, or running numerous scripts? There are many factors that can contribute to any of these symptoms, so we recommend trying a few things to improve your site’s performance.
If you’re experiencing a slower website and you can’t find a practical cause (such as an increase in traffic, a new application hogging resources, etc.), then sometimes a few tweaks to your VPS is all that you need to bring your website’s performance back up to par. The default settings for many applications, such as Apache, might not allow your website to run as quickly as you like. In addition, there are simple steps you can take that will help you ensure your VPS is operating as efficiently as possible. These steps are described in detail in our blog on VPS optimization and include the following:
- Use the latest version of MySQL (Consult our Heroic Support® team for help with this delicate process.)
- Analyze your server’s performance metrics
- Introduce one or more caching methods
- Optimize your content
- Consider a CDN
2. Take Some Weight Off Your Site
If your site is particularly dynamic, uses numerous plugins or is running numerous scripts, you’ll see a better improvement in performance if you make some changes to your site setup.
- If you use WordPress Hosting, look closely at how many plugins you’re running and how recently you’ve updated both your plugins and theme. Too many plugins, especially if they are outdated, can slow down your site and cause security issues.
- If you have a mass of images weighing down your web pages, make sure they are properly formatted and compressed for the web. Images take a long time to load and oversized images will drastically slow down your site.
- Another way to lighten up a website and speed up its performance is to consider the number of HTTP requests on the homepage. When a page loads it has to download images, stylesheets, scripts, flash, and more. Each one of those actions requires an HTTP request and slows down the page load time. Anyway, you can streamline these elements, by combining stylesheets or reducing scripts, for example, will speed up your page.
3. Analyze Your Resource Use
If both your server and website are as optimized and light as they can be, then the next step is to analyze how your site is using the resources available to it. For Liquid Web customers, our Manage interface makes it easy to quickly review a few vital statistics. From within Manage, simply select your server and click on “Dashboard” for detailed information. It’s relatively easy to read these statistics and determine how your server is performing, but The Most Helpful Humans in Hosting are available to help you analyze anything you see and find out if an upgrade is the best course of action for you, and see if upgrading your VPS is a good option.
- Load Average: This metric is a gauge of how many processes are concurrently demanding CPU resources. Load average is taken every 1, 5, and 15 minutes. For servers with multiple cores, divide the load average by the number of CPUs. If you’re unsure how many cores your server has, our Helpful Humans can help you find out. If your load average (divided by the number of cores) is consistently at or above 3, that’s one sign you might want to consider an upgrade.
- Memory: Your server has a certain amount of RAM (physical memory) available for processes, but when it runs out, it utilizes “swap memory.” Swap memory is the reserved hard disk space utilized to supplement the physical RAM once it is completely used by applications running on your VPS. While swap memory is common and not necessarily a bad thing, it should not be considered a replacement for RAM, since on non-SSD servers access times will be much slower than RAM. If you see that your physical memory is hovering consistently around 80% and your swap memory usage keeps increasing, that’s one potential sign an upgrade, specifically more RAM, might be needed.
- Disk Usage: If your disk usage is high (roughly 80% or more), an upgrade to disk space might be needed. However, disk usage isn’t the only disk metric to be concerned with, and there are other metrics to take into consideration that aren’t shown in the Manage interface. It’s possible that your site is utilizing a large amount of Disk I/O, or input/output operations on your disk, which might slow down your site. In that case, a Solid State Drive might prove more beneficial. Our Helpful Humans can help you determine if this is the case for your server.
If, after using our above tips to optimize your server and analyze your resource use, you’re still experiencing a slow website or server, then you may need a server upgrade. Luckily, upgrading is easy. Read our detailed instructions on upgrading your VPS, and don’t be afraid to reach out to The Most Helpful Humans in Hosting, available 24/7/365, with any questions!