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5 Ways to Optimize Your Server

Posted on by Aaron Binders
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Optimizing server performance is one of the most important factors in supporting end-user satisfaction. As your business or site grows, it’s vital to optimize servers to actively monitor functionality, security, availability, and other procedures. 

Also, keeping your servers (and sites) running quickly is especially important due to search engines like Google ranking sites based on speed.

Even website visitors expect your website to load in 2 seconds or less, making website performance all the more important.

Today, we’ll talk about five simple ways to optimize server performance, regardless of whether it is VPS, dedicated, or cloud servers. 

What is a Server?

Aserver is a system or computer equipped with special programs and/or hardware that provide data, services, programs, or resources to other computers we also call clients. This process of providing these services to the client happens over a network.

Think of it as a method of transportation; a bicycle can move one person, while a cars, buses, and planes can move multiple people at once. These vehicles are all ways of transporting people and goods with different capacities. The same works for servers too. Each type of server has a different capacity, but the whole point is transferring resources to clients.

What is Server Optimization?

Many companies rely on the availability and performance of their servers for everyday business processes. Moreover, they need to optimize their servers as their business grows.

Server optimization is a technical process used to improve the overall functionality and speed of a server. It’s a set of IT methods that improve things like application configuration, the efficiency of data processing, the consolidation of resources, and many more. 

The best server optimization practices involve stabilizing physical hardware inside a data center.

A server can also be optimized through virtualization. Server virtualization creates a layer within a server and allows it to function as multiple servers. That way, a single server is able to support more applications and operating systems as well as handle a large number of users.

5 Strategies To Optimize Your Server

5 Strategies to Optimize Your Server

1. Pick the Right Application (Instead of Default App)

Plenty of users work with apps that have been installed by default on their servers. This is not always the best option. Instead, it’s better to find applications that will boost the efficiency of your server.

Many cloud server, VPS server, and dedicated server owners are not aware of what makes default apps different from others. In fact, many continue with optimizing the site code without considering other techniques that could potentially fix problems with speed. 

You can alter the application server instead. Two methods are to:

  • Modify the settings to match the site load.
  • Enable cache to get optimal performance.

If you’re still using default application settings only, try these methods as your first alternative.

2. Enable Caching

Caching is one of the best ways to optimize a server, cutting website load time by over 50%.

With caching, the server will spend less time executing the app code, retrieving the database, fetching files from the disk, and assembling results into the HTML page every time a new visitor refreshes pages. 

Instead, the server will just forward a processed result to the new user. 

Here are a couple of locations where you can enable cache:

  • OpCode Cache: It collects results of earlier page requests which makes it a great solution for complex apps such as Drupal or Magento.
  • Memory Cache: This holds bits of data created by apps in system memory. When users request that same part of data, the server can provide it without processing. It’s great for big load-balanced sites since it’s faster than OpCode.
  • HTTP Cache: This one stores the entire HTML page instead of going with parts of the data. It’s perfect for web applications with high traffic because it’s the fastest.
  • Application Cache: Some applications like Drupal or Magento store processed template files in the form of pages for improved performance. You can use this one in combination with any of the previously mentioned caches.

Any of these caches are great to optimize the server and improve overall performance.

3. Defragment the Database Tables

Modern sites store content, product data, and do so much more using databases. Users post new comments, webmasters modify, remove, or add pages as well as add or remove listed products. All this activity happens on a daily basis and creates holes in the database tables.

In other words, there are small gaps where data was deleted and wasn’t filled back in. We call this fragmentation.

You should fix any database table that has over 5% of its size as holes, so don’t forget to check this part at least once a month. 

4. Optimize Your Database Settings

As the traffic on your website increases, the number of queries executed on the database gets bigger. Also, whenever you upgrade the web application or add a new plugin/module, the kind of queries executed on the database change.

Therefore, the load on the database changes over time, as your site becomes more complex. If your settings are not adjusted to stay aligned with these changes, your website will run into CPU or memory issues.

Adjust your database settings to match query or traffic demands on a regular basis.

Also, monitor metrics like slow queries, memory usage, and query latency to know when optimization is necessary.

5. Work on DNS Query Response Time

DNS query response time is an important factor when it comes to load time. The optimal number for a website’s DNS response is 30 ms or less. Yet, plenty of websites deal with traffic from outside of the hosted country which is why they go beyond 200 ms.

The main issue here is distance. The bigger the distance between DNS and a browser, the more time it takes for execution. The solution for this problem would be using a distributed DNS cluster

An example of a DNS cluster with VPS servers would be to:

  1. Purchase three VPS servers at a low cost in different parts of the world (Europe, Australia, America).
  2. Configure primary and standby DNS servers for each of the servers.
For those with VPS servers, see our VPS optimization guide.

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About the Author

Aaron Binders

Aaron Binders works as a Linux Support Technician at Liquid Web and focuses on resolving server-side customer issues. When not spending time with his family, he has a passion for sports such as football and boxing, as well as reading the latest ICT magazines.

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