Tag Archives: speed

Load Test Your Server with Blitz.io

Want to test how your server performs under load? If you’re in the process of optimizing a server, or have just installed a caching solution, it’s good to see the effect your changes have had.

Blitz is a configurable service that will pound your site with page requests, allowing you to specify the concurrency, timeout, and duration of the onslaught. As it goes about this, it builds statistics and plots them along timelines. You can watch response times, errors and timeouts as it slowly ramps up the number of concurrent users until it reaches the maximum. At the end, it even projects how many hits per day your setup can handle at that rate.

The service has a generous free tier, though they offer paid upgrades for higher concurrency and duration. The free tier offers 250 concurrent users over a one minute rush. (Though if you sign up with this invite link, they will add additional concurrencies to your account.)

I found Blitz very useful when I was trying to squeeze faster response times out of my WordPress setup, tweaking my caching system options and adjusting Nginx and PHP configurations. Since they use the connections at their datacenter, you get more real-world results than if you simply ran Apache Bench locally on the server, or from your residential internet connection. Both tools have their uses, of course, and Blitz is a good one to have in your arsenal.

Google Launches Page Speed Service

Google recently launched a Page Speed Service, an offering along similar lines to CloudFlare. You set up a CNAME to point your domain to their servers, which cache your pages and serve them at blazing speed. They also run everything through the lines of mod_pagespeed to lower file sizes. It’s basically like a CDN for your entire website.

Page Speed Service is an online service to automatically speed up loading of your web pages. Page Speed Service fetches content from your servers, rewrites your pages by applying web performance best practices and serves them to end users via Google’s servers across the globe.

This is targeted mainly at people running small to medium sized websites, such as WordPress blogs, on shared hosting. The service takes the load off your server, so you don’t have to worry about it running slowly or going down from traffic.

Page Speed Service is currently in a trial period, where it’s free for anyone who wants to use it, but it may end up costing more in the future.

It will be interesting to see how this competes with CloudFlare, which offers more features and a free plan that is more than sufficient for most users. (You can pay $20/month for extra analytics and some more advanced features.) CloudFlare isn’t just trying to speed your site up, though. They also want to help protect it from DDoS attacks, email harvesting, and other unpleasantness. It already has quite a bit of traction.

Speed Up Your Site With Head JS

Head JS is a 2.3 kilobyte script that makes it easy to asynchronously load your JavaScript files to prevent blocking. It allows the browser to load the web page separately from the scripts, so the rendering process isn’t held up by the download.

Non-blocking loading is the key to fast pages. Moreover Head JS loads scripts in parallel no matter how many of them and what the browser is. The speed difference can be dramatic especially on the initial page load when the scripts are not yet in cache. It’s your crucial first impression.

If you have a JavaScript-heavy website, it’s worth taking a look at. If you take a look at the demo pages they have set up, the page that uses Head JS to load the scripts definitely displays much faster.

Head JS :: The only script in your HEAD [Head JS]

CSS Selector Efficiency

Here’s a fun (and slightly puzzling) fact: CSS selectors are parsed from right-to-left instead of from left-to-right when the browser renders a page. This means that when you have a selector like .navigation a { color: red; }, the browser first searches for a elements and then narrows its search to the ones with a class of navigation.

This strikes me as particularly inefficient. Considering CSS selectors usually have the most specific criteria on the left, and then subsets more to the right. I don’t know why things are done in this manner, but it seems that they are…

What sorts of CSS selectors are more efficient than others? Chris Coyier of CSS Tricks has some answers.

Fortunately, computers run fast enough that you shouldn’t really have to worry about it too much. It’s nice to shame some minuscule amounts of time off of the rendering, but you’ll see a much more drastic speed increase by minifying and compressing your CSS and scripts.

Efficiently Rendering CSS [CSS-Tricks]

Beyond Super Cache: W3 Total Cache

Donncha O Caoimh’s WP Super Cache plugin has become very popular in the WordPress community, especially with bloggers with medium-traffic blogs on shared hosting plans.

But what if you’re running on your own server, be it VPS, dedicated, or something else along those lines? What can you do to squeeze some extra performance out of your high-traffic blog?

Enter W3 Total Cache, a plugin that the infamously slow-loading blog Noupe has recently started using to combat the sluggishness that their constant social media hits cause. It can do a lot of things, including:

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8 Tips For a Blazing-Fast Blog

No one actually likes waiting. Some of us are just better at it than others.

The internet seems to be a parallel reality where time passes differently, slow at times, fast at others. Web pages seem to take eons to load, no matter how fast your internet connection is. I remember having to wait more than a minute for most pages to load (that was back when I had dial-up). Nowadays I have a DSL connection that generally runs in the 700k-900k range. It’s a lot faster, but not fast enough. Sure, some pages load lightning-fast, but others still seem to crawl along. While they’re not taking over a minute to load, it sure seems like it.

While you’re using the web, time flies by overly quick. It seemed like it was taking an hour for that video to load, but it was really only five minutes. So why is it four o’clock? Oh yeah, you logged-on to World of Warcraft for a few minutes… But how does that come-out to be an hour?

Do you get what I’m saying?

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What Can You Do to Make the Most of Shared Hosting?

In response to Keep track of your shared hosting performance at the Royal Pingdom blog.

Many blogs and small website are hosted on shared servers. Unfortunately, those bargain hosting plans have their share of problems. Most of the problem come from overselling, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to improve your site’s performance. This guide will briefly detail some of your options.


PHP scripts can eat-up system resources sometimes. Simple scripts, like the use of the include() or require() functions to include bits of XHTML temlate throughout your site, don’t take much processing time, but more complex scripts (like Content Management Systems) can be really taxing under heavy traffic.

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