Swimming with the Sharks

Shark at Kronos Reef by USFWSThis is going to be technical. Consider skipping to the last paragraph.

Ever since I got some more traffic on my blog and especially after I started publishing quest spoilers for “The Secret World”, my webhost has slowed down. It took often 8 seconds or more until the page was finished loading. I dropped a few plugins, reviewed what caching I was using, asked a few friends what else I could do and eventually found Cloudflare. Cloudflare is a service that caches your website across the world and therefore is able to deliver faster. It also has some additional security features and can take off a good amount of overall load. Happiness all over.

Well, not so much, it took still 4 seconds until everything is loaded. By then I had learned that Google doesn’t like slow websites and ranks them lower. In parallel I had been working on a small business website for a friend of mine, who had it created using “Weebly” and wanted some more options. Not much of a problem, until I installed it using WordPress on his web host (iPage). It took 4 seconds before it even started to download a page. Which made me look closer.

The download speed of a webpage consists of 2 distinct phases. Response time and the actual download. You can divide this even further, but we don’t want to go overboard. What I had experienced so far was the time needed to download text and data, and probably some processing, DNS lookups, pulling icons from other websites etc, etc. Caching can improve the download time a lot, since it generally brings the data closer to the user. But response time is difficult. It’s the time it takes from the user clicking on a link or typing in the webpage until the first bytes arrive. That time is spent by loading WordPress, MySQL or blogger and having them try to figure out what you want from them until they know how to answer.

  • For my server at Westhost, it took somewhere between 1.4 and 1.8 seconds.
  • iPage needed 4 seconds for a WordPress site, and .4 seconds for a “Weebly” site.
  • Bluehost, where http://www.scaryworlds.com/ is hosted, took .8 seconds
  • Safesharkhosting run by “vitamachinae”, who’s well known in the MMO blogosphere took between .4 and .6 seconds for a WordPress blog.

Welcome to the last paragraph. In the end, it’s been an easy decision to move to Safe Shark Hosting. The price is competitive, Westhost is actually the most expensive option and iPage the cheapest. There are some additional perks like WP, theme and plugin update service. Now lets find out how it works out long term. Mind you, I don’t want to trash the other hosting companies. IPage does good things at the right price for their user profile. I am just not in that profile anymore. Westhost’s service is outstanding and Bluehost is well known and respected as a shared hosting service.



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