To get the most out of your website, you’ll need to closely manage several aspects of your web hosting, especially when it comes to balancing performance and affordability.
You’ll need to make your website efficient, ensure all the hosting resources you’re paying for are needed, and eliminate wasted resources.
Optimizing your web hosting resources can help you to create a responsive, highly functional website that looks good and gets you all the traffic you’re after, and you can do it without breaking the bank.
The hard decisions will come after you have attracted a lot of users. How will your site handle the added load of visitors?
The best way to make sure that your website can keep up with increasing traffic is to carefully manage your web hosting resources. You can easily create a platform that’s able to support your current traffic and grow along with your user base over time.
In this article, we’ll look at ten ways that you can optimize your web hosting resources to achieve the ideal mix of performance and affordability.
Avoid Third-Party Assets
Third-party assets are files requested by a webpage, such as pictures, videos, a database connection, or any other kind of service that’s not part of the same hosted service as your website.
When third-party resources are accessed, it takes extra time for your website to load. Your users experience these longer load times as a lag, and they don’t like it.
If your site links to external videos, longer load times will come with the dreaded “Buffering” message. Who of us hasn’t sat impatiently looking at that message while waiting for a video to play properly?
By serving all content directly from your website, you’ll be able to cut down on slow load times and create a more satisfying experience for your users.
Another advantage of hosting your own content is that you’ll no longer rely on third-party providers, making you that much more independent.
Use Website Caching to Reduce Load Times
Every time a user visits your website, all the site elements need to be transmitted to the visitors’ web browser. For every new page that a user navigates to on your site, many of the same site resources will be requested, creating longer-than-necessary load times for that page.
Caching can solve that problem.
Website caching instructs the user’s browser to not request duplicates of resources that it has already downloaded. By telling the browser to stop pulling down the parts of the page that it has already downloaded, you can see massive drops in page load time.
There are many web tools that will help you determine if caching is necessary. You can use them to find out whether caching will help your website performance.
Set Up Spam Filters
Communicating with customers and users is important, especially if you’re using your website to attract new business and traffic. You probably have a mailer that relays queries and other communications between you and your website. How do you filter out spam?
An easy solution for catching spam is to add a plugin to your comments page that validates submissions. Such plugins ask users to verify their identity by answering security questions. Tools like Google Captcha prompt users to prove they’re not a bot by asking them to identify pictures.
If you have an email address that’s used for visitors’ inquiries, you need to use a professional spam filter service. This will greatly reduce the number of unwanted emails you receive every day, and it will help streamline your communication channels.
Taking steps to reduce spam will result in a smoother web hosting experience and free up valuable resources and time.
Optimize Database Usage
It doesn’t matter what database you plug into—whether it’s MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, or any other platform—you can always use a little database optimization to make your site faster.
Database queries have a direct impact on how fast certain areas of your website load. If your site has speed issues, you should check how effective your current SQL queries are.
Many hosting providers will give you database functionality through MySQL due to the fact that it’s open source and very effective. MySQL works well in a web environment and is a responsive system that’s quick to set up and relatively easy to learn.
Whether you’re using MySQL or not, there’s always a way to improve database performance. It could be something simple, like correcting query structure and syntax, or you may need to upgrade your software.
By using basic optimization techniques, you can dig into what your database queries are doing. In MySQL, the built-in ‘explain’ command does a great job of showing users what each part of their query is going to do when it’s run. This will help you figure out why certain queries are taking too long to execute, and it can shed a light on how efficient your database is.
Monitor User Input
You can protect your site from people that would abuse your submission form and leave unwelcome comments. Monitor the incoming comments regularly and take steps to allow only constructive feedback.
One thing that can help is to limit how much text people can submit. All comments should be subject to a limit on how many characters can be used, so make sure that your site’s comment form enforces a maximum-character rule.
A comments section that’s not being administered and moderated properly doesn’t look good. Make sure that people on your comments board are treating others with respect, and that their use of language is acceptable to you and your platform, especially if you are running your business through the site.
Scan for Large Folders and Files
As discussed, website caching is useful, but sometimes the backend of your website needs a little maintenance.
Backups and old versions of your website are often stored on the web server and forgotten about. The storage space needed for those files adds up over time, and keeping them around can impact your website’s performance.
There are tools that can help identify these space hogs. They’ll show you how to deal with them by suggesting which files can (and can’t) be deleted.
You must ensure that you no longer need the files before you delete them. Backup what you need and delete the rest. If possible, script and schedule this cleanup task so that it will be handled for you automatically on a regular basis.
Select the Right CMS
Your content management system (CMS) is the backbone of your website. Choosing one that is both powerful and lightweight is not easy. There are many options out there, and finding the right one could mean the difference between your website being great or just OK.
Here are a few popular CMS platforms:
- WordPress: WordPress began its life as a blog creation tool, offering limited functionality beyond basic blogging features. That has changed, however, and it’s now a full-fledged CMS, with plugins (many of which are free) and tons of useful features.
- Joomla!: Joomla! has always been a CMS, and, over the years, it’s gotten better at doing what it does: managing online content and plugins.
- Drupal: Drupal started out as a messaging board service, but it grew in features and capabilities over time. Today, Drupal is an open-source CMS with over 114,000 active users contributing to the development of the platform.
Update When Necessary
In the world of computers and software, it’s always tempting to press the big Update button when you’re prompted to do it, but that’s not always a good idea.
If you have carefully crafted a custom website, you know that, sometimes, a software update can break things. A plugin might stop working, pictures might fail to load. If you haven’t tested the updates before applying them, pretty much anything could happen.
It’s a good idea to create a test version of your site, apply the updates there, and test them. That is a much safer approach than applying untested updates to your live website. If anything breaks on your test site after the upgrade, you’ll have a chance to fix it before updating your main site.
Monitor Your Plugins
Remove plugins that you don’t need. This sounds simple, and, for the most part, it is.
When monitoring your plugins, keep an eye out for those that don’t sound familiar. If you find plugins that you didn’t install yourself, that could be a sign that there’s a lapse in your website security.
It’s also a good idea to stay up to date with any changes that might have happened after a plugin update. This is another reason to ensure that you test any updates on an offline test site before implementing plugin changes.
Offload your System Logs
Many websites have logging capabilities baked into the system’s architecture. It helps site owners gather and store valuable information about visitors’ behavior on the platform.
Unfortunately, these log files can become too big over time and can start to negatively impact the performance of the website, especially if you had limited space to begin with.
It’s best to archive log files at set intervals and create offline backups of them in case you ever need them. This is a good habit to get into from a cybersecurity perspective, as you can find useful clues in your log files when you are troubleshooting or investigating a problem.
Make the Most of Your Web Hosting Resources
Hosting resources are often scarce, so make sure you use them efficiently.
If resources become strained because you’ve published richer content or experienced an increase in traffic, you could throw money at the problem, purchasing additional resources as your website’s performance changes over time. For example, you could add storage space or improve system specification with a faster CPU and increased RAM.
Eventually, that strategery will catch up to you, and you’ll end up with a more expensive website that isn’t very efficient.
A better approach is to make sure that you have optimized your web hosting resources, and then periodically verify that those resources are being used efficiently. You need to use what you have as effectively as possible to create the best user experience for your visitors, which will help ensure they come back time after time.
Are you doing anything to optimize your web hosting resources?