Bandwidth, latency, and speed.
How to make your website faster?
Speed of access of a server, at the data center level, depends mainly on two things:
- Network speed
- Server load
Of course, traffic has a major impact on points, as a high traffic amplifies the stress of network and server infrastructures.
A network is, basically, the exchange of electronic data between two or more computers. A common analogy to understand network speed is a highway between two cities. Let’s say we have buses, 50 seats each, and 500 people to transport from city A to city B.
How can you make the transport faster?
- Use faster buses. In network-speak this is called “latency”, or the time one packet of information takes for a round-trip between computers. It is usually measured in milliseconds (ms). It’s usually directly dependent on the physical distance between the server and the visitor. There’s not much you can do to improve latency, except making sure the distance between your servers and your visitors is as short as possible. This is why having a server in China is preferred if most visitors are in China also.
- Use more buses at the same time. This is bandwidth, usually measured in kilo(or mega)-bit per second. The higher the bandwidth, the more data can transit at once. This is important if your pages are heavy with images or videos, or if you have a lot of visitors at the same time. This is the easiest way to improve performance, however it comes at a cost, particularly in China.
For our analogy, you’ll move 500 people faster if you use 10 buses at the same time, carrying 50 people each, rather than 1 bus of 50 people doing 10 round-trips (bandwidth). However each individual bus will take roughly the same time to go from A to B (latency).
The server, dedicated or virtual, has a certain amount of processing power and of memory. The more complex your website, the more processing and memory it will use. If the server reaches its full capacity, for example because many visitors launch complex processes such as a search at the same time, the server will start queuing orders, and delay some responses. On the visitor side, this will translate by a slower experience, even if everything is fine on the network part.
This is why monitoring your CPU and RAM usage is important, so you can know when to upgrade, and what will be your ideal balance between capacity and cost. Having a history of usage and traffic growth gives you an idea of future processing power requirements, and allow you to start small and grow in time.
As you can see, determining the right requirements of your web site or web application is crucial for making sure your visitors enjoy the best experience. Cloud servers allow for very flexible configurations, and can be upgraded easily in just a few minutes. You can start with a basic package and add more CPU and RAM as your site grows.