A website’s performance and page load speed depends on choices made in choosing a programming language, database, content management system (CMS), web hosting provider and plan as well as ongoing optimization. When your website attracts more traffic, it consumes more hosting resources and if your server is unable to manage the load, that could slow down your website.
Part 1: Understand the connection between site speed and web hosting resources
Why does website speed matter?
Before we get into the best ways to optimise web hosting resource usage, let us understand why website speed and performance is important. Slow websites can make for a poor user experience for your visitors which could lead to high bounce rates and low conversions. It could also timeout on mobile devices leading to frustration among your customers. Moreover, Google uses site performance and speed metrics in its search engine rankings, which means that a slow website can have negative SEO impacts.
What are the various web hosting resources that can impact website speed?
Webnames hosting plans offer multiple plans with a range of resource limits: Memory (RAM), Disk I/O rate, Throughput in addition to the plan parameters such as storage, number of websites and bandwidth. Memory, I/O and CPU are the most common hosting resources that can have an impact on website speed, for small business websites which often use shared hosting.
In addition, if your website uses external content delivery networks (CDNs) and any other services, they may have an impact on the actual website speed as well and can be monitored from their respective management panels. If you are considering the use of a CDN, here’s an analysis of pros and cons of a CDN.
How to check website speed and performance?
A variety of free online tools provide different ways to measure website speed, as well as diagnostics on factors that may slow down your website such as on-page scripts, non-compressed images etc. A few popular website speed test tools are GTMetrix and Google Page Speed Insights. Many tools allow you to test website speed from different server locations, so that you can simulate the experience that a website visitor located in a particular city can expect.
How to monitor hosting resource usage?
You can monitor your current and historic usage of hosting resources from your Plesk Hosting Panel, as shown in the below screenshot:
These reports can help you monitor the resources consumed by your website(s) and help you identify correlations between website traffic patterns and resource usage.
What are the factors that affect hosting resource usage?
A slow website can be a result of several different factors, including:
- Outdated CMS versions: Older versions of WordPress, Drupal or Joomla may have poorly optimised code and may be vulnerable to attacks that can slow your website
- Too many plugins: Plugins are amazing tools that can add features and customizations to your website, but it is important to uninstall unwanted plugins and keep only absolutely essential ones. Plugins are often created by third parties and may consume unnecessary CPU, Memory and I/O resources for tasks that are not frequently used. They may also pose risks to website security, as they are not updated very often
- Outdated software (PHP, MySql etc.): Our Web Hosting and WordPress Hosting support a range of different software such as PHP Versions. You can configure the PHP version through htaccess, if your website is built in code that is compatible with the more recent software versions
- Misconfigured or no caching: Caching can be a huge force-multiplier for hosting resource usage as well as website speed. Webnames hosting supports LiteSpeed caching on WordPress which delivers a powerful boost to website speed and reduces your usage of hosting resources
Part 2 – Optimising website for speed and web hosting resources
Now that we understand the relationship between resource usage and website speed, here are 10 tips to optimise your website for speed and hosting resource usage.
Audit all your CMS plugins and remove unused plugins
As we identified in part 1 above, WordPress plugins (and other CMS plugins) and extensions can suck up hosting resources and become a drag on website performance. If you are on WordPress, login to your WordPress admin dashboard and navigate to Plugins to review a list of all installed plugins. Audit the list of plugins and prioritise them by utility and frequency of use. Uninstall all infrequently used or deactivated plugins. Install updates or enable auto-updates for plugins.
Upgrade your CMS versions and plugins
Ensure that you regularly review and install the latest updates for your CMS. WordPress issues core updates frequently and these are visible on your WordPress admin panel, often these are one-click installs with minimal disruption. In addition to helping speed up your website with better optimised code, WordPress updates help you keep your site secure against attacks.
If you use Webnames WordPress Hosting, you could opt-in for Automatic WordPress core updates which will ensure that you are always caught up on releases as they come in. If you have customised your website substantially, CMS core updates can be tricky to manage, as you have to review compatibility and test before you deploy.
WordPress plugins get frequently updated as well, and the plugin manager provides a way for the plugin developer to indicate compatibility with your version of WordPress. Please ensure that you install updates to plugins when they become available. You could also refer to our blog on how to improve wordpress performance.
Optimise your website code for performance
If you have a custom-developed website, or if your website uses a CMS with a lot of customisations, review your code for opportunities to improve memory usage, redundant processes and open connections. If your code is in PHP, there are a number of PHP optimization techniques you can use, including upgrading PHP versions, reducing the use of global variables etc.
Backups and restore plugins are common on most websites, but they can also be highly resource intensive due to the sheer amount of data, archiving and storage. If you are running into resource usage alerts, consider upgrading hosting plans to our Web Hosting Advantage and Pro plans which include daily backups and restores. These daily backups are operated by our server administrators in a highly efficient set up.
Review WordPress Theme or website templates
Review the theme you are using for your <WordPress website> and investigate whether it has opportunities for improving performance. WordPress themes can be a key factor in determining website speed – factors such as the number of HTTP requests, the size of downloadable files used in the template and code that renders the pages. Optimise your wordpress theme for improved performance and select a theme that has favourable reviews for its speed.
Optimise database structure and queries
MySql is among the most popular databases and is designed to be fast and efficient but the way it is used in the code that runs your website could have an impact on website speed. Ensure that you do not open too many database connections and do not keep connections open for longer than necessary. Use plugins or login to MySQL to optimise the database tables from time to time.
The structure of the tables in your database, especially if you use custom tables in addition to a CMS can have a telling impact on resource usage. Follow table design best practices and periodically review your code for opportunities to improve the efficiency of the database queries for speed.
Update your software versions
We briefly touched on PHP versions earlier in this post, but it bears repeating because this is one of the most common causes of a slow website. Whether you use WordPress or a custom-built website in PHP/MySQL, a switch from older versions to PHP 7.x can deliver a measurable boost to both website performance and security. If you are receiving alerts about high hosting resource consumption, a switch to a more recent PHP version along with smart plugin management could help you boost performance and avoid resource alerts.
A simple edit to your .htaccess file in the right directory is all it takes to update your PHP version. The same rule goes for updates to any other software you may be using on hosting.
Activate caching on your website
Both Web Hosting and WordPress Hosting from Webnames include support for LiteSpeed cache. Activate caching and take advantage of this performance boost, if you use WordPress, you can install the LiteSpeed Cache plugin for WordPress which works in concert with our server-side installation and unlocks a measurable performance improvement. Moreover, this can help you minimise hosting resource consumption as assets are now cached and served efficiently to visitors, reducing the load on the web server.
Minimise using external assets
Using externally hosted (on third-party servers) assets on your website does not directly impact your hosting resources, but it can be detrimental to page load speeds. This is because servers may be configured to allocate lower priority to requests from external traffic and it may also require additional steps in the form of HTTPS handshake and domain resolution. It is highly recommended that you host all the images, files, scripts on your own server and use external assets in narrow cases such as streaming media such as video, where the user experience of the embedded player such as YouTube might be a significant advantage.
Optimise and compress images and minify scripts
Images are among the heaviest assets on most web pages (barring video) and they take up a large chunk of I/O resources, bandwidth and server load. It is critical to ensure that the images you use on your website are light and compressed for use on the web. Use lossless compression to ensure that optimised images suffer from minimal blurriness, while reducing file sizes dramatically.
Choose the right Web Hosting plan for your website
One of the most important factors that determines whether you run the risk of going over hosting resource limits is the limit itself. The Web Hosting Resource Limits are defined by the web hosting plan that you choose.
It is possible that your website traffic has grown over time, or that your website has more data and pages now than when you launched. Your hosting plan may therefore need to be upgraded to a new one with more resources and higher limits. Our guide to choose the best hosting plan helps you choose a plan that works best for you – whether you are starting a brand new website or considering an upgrade to an existing website.
The website speed optimization tips listed above may not all be applicable to your website, but implementing even a few of these will help you avoid web hosting resource usage alerts and dramatically improving your page load times.