In April 2010 Google announced, that speed of a web site will be considered as an aspect of web search ranking. This means that web site creators and webmasters need to optimize their websites. What is the best way to do that? What if web developers are out of reach? What if changing the code is not an option? We can offer several simple and fast solutions for improving your web site performance using Helicon Ape. To start with you need to download Helicon Ape and install it on your Windows server. Native Helicon Ape Manager allows you to change your web server setting using .htaccess text files. General simple advices:
1. Cache statics
In case there’s no such directory for static content and files are spread across folders of web site, than if you create following .htacces in the root of the site it will cache all static content on the web site by file extension:
This configuration makes server send http-responses to clients with information that pictures are to be cached for 15 days and scripts and css-files for 5 days.
2. Compress responses on the run
In order to save some time on loading the content, you can compress it. All modern browsers are able to receive comressed gzip-traffic. Text files (html-files, css-files, scripts, json-data) can be easily compressed and allow you to save 20-90% of traffic. Same time, music and video files can hardly be compressed as they have already be sized with special codecs. Here’s an example of enabling gzip-compression. Add the following line in .htaccess in the root of web site:
3. Cache dynamic responses at server side
Often large amount of requests, addressed to database server, hinder the web site performance. For example, blog’s main page shows recent entries, recent comments, navigation menu, category list and tags. Those are several complicated requests to database. In case that information does not change often or the relevance is not vital, html-responses need to be cached without hesitation. You can choose to cache the blog’s main page once in 5-10 minutes. But that would be enough to improve main page performance in browser. Practically, application developer must decide what pages need to be cached and for how long. Also he needs to bring into life caching mechanism “out of the box” . Unfortunatelly, that doesn’t happen most of the time. Likely, mod_cache in Helicon Ape will simply and easily allow you to enable caching at server side. mod_cache supports two types of cache: disk cache and memory cache. First type saves caches data on the drive, and the second one does on memory. Memory caching is more preferable. If your server doesn’t have enough RAM, use disk cache. For example, to cache site’s homepage, we need to add the following lines in .htaccess in the root:
Header set Cache-Control public,max-age=600 SetEnvIf request_uri ^/$ cache-enable=mem
This configuration enforces caching of site’s homepage request for 10 min (600sec). Response are cached in memory. Be careful! You need to enable caching carefully. For example, pages that need authentificaton mustn’t be cached as they contain private data and need to provide different information for different users. In any cases, caching must be taking application logic into account. We’ve reviewed three simple steps for increasing the speed of your web site. Besides tangible speed-boost, which you will notice at once, the acceleration must well enhance your rating in search engine results. You can see performance graph of www.helicontech.com made using Google Webmaster tools after a simple optimization. So equip your site with these tricks and enjoy dual benefit!