Category: "Tips"

How to improve your website performance with a CDN

  April 30, 2014 • Category: Tips
How to improve your website performance with a CDN

Why you need a CDN

Using a CDN is one of the easiest and fastest ways to boost your website performance.

In order to see where the biggest peformance bootlenecks are, you can start by having a look at a waterfall graph of your website. The example above comes from b2evolution.net (before optimization). Any modern web browser will let you display this for you own site by using its developer menu/tools. When you do this for your site, just remember to clear your browser cache before measuring, otherwise your results won’t really show what your visitors experience.

The waterfall graph shows one line for each file that is downloaded to display your page. Here are the color codes used by Safari:

  • The blue line is the main PHP/HTML file;
  • The green lines are for CSS files;
  • The yellow lines are for Javascript files;
  • Finally the purple ones are for images.

Pay attention to 3 important aspects here:

  • There are usually more files than you think that need to be downloaded to display a single web page.
  • All files don’t start downloading right away.
  • Each file has a long Latency time and a comparatively short Actual Transfer time.

Let’s look at these 3 problems in order.

Full story »

Tags: webperf

Moniker DNS down again: an alternative solution!

  September 2, 2013 • Category: Tips

The problem

Many of us have registered domain names at Moniker.com. And while they are both effective and efficient at registering and managing your domain names for a low "bulk" price, their DNS servers have proven to be utterly unreliable with several day long outtages over the last year.

This means your domains are all good and safe but if you use Moniker's own DNS servers (instead of, for example, your web hosting company's name servers), people may experience additional delay in trying to access your site or they may even not get there at all.

One solution would be to use your web hosting's provider's DNS servers. But these tend to not be very reliable either... and to say the least, they are very slow.

The Solution

So we went out to look for a dedicated DNS service provider. There are many but only a handful use AnyCast. AnyCast allows your visitors to use a DNS server closest to them, cutting latency times and getting their DNS queries answered 10 to 100 times faster than with standard UniCast DNS providers.

Out of these, only one has affordable pricing: DNS Made Easy . For less than $30/year can host DNS service for 10 domain at lightning speeds!

Measuring results

Go check out the speed of your current DNS service here at ultratools.com. Look at the max delays! With Moniker DNS servers you may get delays as long as 350 ms, if not flat out dropped requests! You can compare it with b2evolution.net since we use DNS Made Easy ourselves. You should see results as low as 3 ms!

Unlimited web hosting! (NOT)

  May 22, 2008 • Category: Tips

After a year of relentless escalation, most shared web hosting plans now come with "Unlimited" disk space and bandwidth!

Too good to be true?

YES INDEED!

Don't fall for it! Many restrictions apply!

Of course, the terms & conditions of each hosting company and or hosting plan will vary, but most of the time, if you try to really go unlimited you will hit one of these limits:

  • The unlimited diskspace can only be used for public web content. It cannot be used for:
    • password protected content
    • or backups
    • etc.
  • The unlimited bandwidth can only be used for "regular web pages", not for:
    • videos
    • software downloads
    • podcasts
    • etc.
  • There may still be limitations on the number of web requests per second your server can handle.
  • There may still be limitations on the processor time your scripts can use.

Does it matter?

NO, NOT REALLY!

Unless you're actually trying to run high traffic sites at virtually no cost, you should not really be concerned about this. Actually, the fact that everybody has aligned on "unlimited" will let you shift your focus on more interesting differentiating factors between software companies, such as:

  • Is their software up to date?
  • Is their platform secure?
  • Is their tech support helpful?
  • Is your site going to be fast enough?
  • What is your commitment and can you change your mind if the hosting company doesn't live up to their claims and/or your expectations?

To answer all these questions, we recommend that you check out web host reviews, user feedback and tests sites already running with the company you have in mind (important for checking speed).

For more info on choosing a webhost, check out our Web Hosting 101 »

Web Hosting 101: How to GET STARTED FAST!

  May 14, 2008 • Category: Tips

So you're ready to have your own website?

Congratulations! Here's five easy steps to get started without wasting any time! B)

Step 1: How does it work?

In order for your website to be available to anyone at anytime, you need to host it with a web host (i-e a web server leased to you by a web hosting company).

Also, in order for your visitor to easily access your site by name, you will need a domain name such as yourname.com.

Most hosting companies will offer you a package including a domain name with the hosting of your site.

Step 2: Which kind of web site do you want?

Basically, there are 2 kinds of web sites:

  • Static sites (simple sites): you will build one or more web pages (called HTML pages) with software like FrontPage or DreamWeaver on your computer. You will then upload the pages to your host's server using FTP software like FileZilla for example.

    Every time you will need to change something on your site, you will have to edit the pages on your computer and upload them again. The website never changes by itself. That's why it's called a "static" site.

    Note: If you don't have any such software, don't worry: many web hosts will actually provide you with free "site builder" software to get you started.

  • Dynamic sites (blogs, forums, photo galleries...): you will install software (called a web application) on your web server. This software will let you add and edit content (text, pictures, videos...) at any time directly online without the need for any special tools on your computer. The software may also allow your visitors to leave comments or start discussions of their own if you let them.

    Of course we recommend the b2evolution software to start your own blog and more but there's plenty of choice here. Other popular web apps include WordPress, phpBB and Gallery.

    Note: If installing a web application sounds complicated, don't worry: many web hosts will automatically install the application of your choice for you. Their tech support should also be able to help you.

Full story »

What Linux distribution am I running?

  May 11, 2008 • Category: Tips

Sometimes you will be given a dedicated server or a VPS and you won't know exactly which flavor or distribution of Linux it is running.

Here is how you can find out when logged in through SSH:

# uname -a

This generally won't tell you as much as you'd like.

# cat /proc/version

This will generally tell you more than you'd like.

Once you know that you are running Red Hat for example, you can get to the point with:

# cat /etc/redhat-release

Or on Debian:

# cat /etc/debian_version

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