How To Optimize Your Web Server

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By Rahul Gladwin | August, 2011.

Improving Loading Time of your Server:

The loading time of your website is an important criteria for usability and higher SERPs. In this article, I'll explain three techniques which can help you dramatically decrease the loading time of your virtual dedicated server (VPS) or dedicated server.

While writing this article, I've made the following assumptions:

1. You server operating system is Linux 2.6.xx with full root access.

2. You're running Parallels Plesk Panel version 9.3.x and Parallels Power Panel Version 394.x.

3. Your Apache version is 2.2.x.

Note: Make sure that you *backup* all files before editing them. Editing these files incorrectly will render your web server unusable.

1. Enable Apache KeepAlive and Apache Module mod_expires:

First, you'll need to enable KeepAlive and Module mod_expires. KeepAlive is a process which maintains longer HTTP sessions over the same TCP connection. Module mod_expires is a way to cache static page elements like CSS files or Javascript on your client's computer. To do this, we'll need to edit the main Apache server configuration file - httpd.conf - located here: /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf

This can be easily done through the "File Manager" in the Parallels Power Panel. Locate and open the httpd.conf file and add these lines somewhere at the bottom of the file:

ExpiresActive On
ExpiresDefault "access plus 30 days"

<Directory /var/www/vhosts/>
Options FollowSymLinks MultiViews
AllowOverride All
Order allow,deny
Allow from all
ExpiresByType text/php "access plus 2 weeks"
ExpiresByType text/htm "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType text/css "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType text/javascript "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/gif "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/ico "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/icon "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/x-icon "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/jpg "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/jpeg "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/png "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType application/x-shockwave-flash "access plus 1 year"

NOTE: Those values are actual expiry dates used on my server; you may wish to modify them to suit your needs. While your httpd.conf file is still open, scroll up a bit and change:

KeepAlive Off


KeepAlive On

Reboot your server and make sure that you confirm your website headers.

2. Use GZIP Compression by Enabling Apache Module mod_deflate:

GZIP is a way of compressing your webpage, hence, decreasing download time and improving loading speed. Apache module mod_deflate is used to compress static data before sending it over to the end user. Add these lines to the .htaccess file located in your root directory:

AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/htm text/plain application/xml image/x-icon

<FilesMatch "\.(php|php4|ico|png|js|css|htm|gif|xml|txt|jpg|jpeg|swf)$">
SetOutputFilter DEFLATE

3. Enable Cache-Control:

Caching is temporarily storing common or frequently used page elements in fast media like RAM or SRAM. Cache-Control not only improves website loading speed, but also decreases bandwidth consumption. Add these lines to the .htaccess file located in your root directory:

Header set Cache-Control "max-age=290304000, public"

It is important to reboot your server for these effects to take place. Note that all values in this article are actual numbers I use on my server. You may wish to modify them based upon your design requirements.

Additional Readings:

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1. Voices from Hell: My Experience in Mussoorie, India

Religious Articles

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Internet/Technology Articles

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This page is written by Rahul Gladwin. Please do not duplicate the contents of this page in whole or part, in any form, without prior written permission.