Running VPS now

Posted by on Mar 13, 2011 in Letters | No Comments

Dear friends, as you may know in last few weeks, yes it is already so long, I was moving my web site to different providers and did a lot of testing. More than ten days ago I made decision and I chose to stay with VPS provider. Therefore this site is running on own virtual server.

WARNING: This is rather long technical post, which has nothing to do with photography.

This gives a lot of responsibility to me and a lot of freedom as well. Doesn’t it always comes together? I like to present you few graphs and information about performance I have measured in few days and some links for you, if you ever decide to measure performance of your web site.

I was using Watch Mouse for my performance measurement. This seems to be Dutch service available all over the world. They offer free 30 days tryout, which I have used. They have some other payed plans. Measurements they offer you are very interesting. you do not get only simple time response measurement. Like this:

In this image you can see how fast was index http file of three web sites loaded. Of course it is difficult to compare as size of each front page is different and can change in time. You can of course certainly see that time of the loading front page from www.richard-vanek.eu (rv) was decreasing.

Better idea about performance of each site can be obtained if we compare not total time of http loading but processing time. This is time from request is made until the first byte arrives. Because Watch Mouse is monitoring from all around the world you will get quite trustful result of how your web server is performing:

Again it is difficult to compare the web sites as each of them is using different php code. All of the are running wordpress, but of course number of plug-ins and php code is different. On other hand for my web site (rv) It is easy to see that performance has improved.

Before 23 Feb I was running on HostGo shared web hosting. I am very happy with their hosting, which gives you for very little money full shell access, fixed IP address, https and all other extras including live log files and rsync service. I tried to ask them if there is a way to improve the performance by move to better server or to have some better plan for increasing the performance, which was rather bad. Unfortunately there were to able to offer anything and that was the trigger to look somewhere else.

I was looking for VPS hosting right a way but all were too expensive and I was surprised by web site performance of my friend. His provider is offering 30 days try out so I decided to use it for testing. From 24th until 28th Feb I was running my web on their servers. Performance was really huge leap in better direction. The disadvantage was amount of limitations they have. https was not working right away, live logs also not. No ssh access no rsync, no cron and many small things I was used to from HostGo thanks their shell access.

So I have went back to the search for VPS hosting. I had no idea what parameters I need to have for running my web site. Due to higher prices for VPS hosting I was forced to look in lower parameters range until I have found Woo Servers. From the graph above you can see progress as I moved my web site there from 29th of February until now. It took a lot of work to get decent configuration and I had to overcome very steep learning curve. I am still not finished with all things I can do. You can see that performance after the 4th of March is really improved.

On thing which always bothered me was load time. This parameter is considered by Google as one of the measures for placing the site in certain position in search results. Alexa is also using this and even showing you. Month ago my site was marked as slow with average loading time 2.8sec. Now it looks like this and I am glad.

This is not top, but of course my site can not compete with multi-millions site backed up with many CPU and shared serves around the world.

 

Watch Mouse can give you even more inside to performance of your site. Following graphs shows total performance of the front page on the www.richard-vanek.eu. It shows time at which first data has arrived back to browser, shows when was browser able to display first visual information and when the complete page, including all CSS, JS, IMG was displayed. It clearly shows that from this point of view my web server doesn’t perform much better and that share hosting I have tested for few days in February was the best one. This means that I still have some room to tweak my apache, php and mysql to the better performance. There must be some way to improve loading of the multiple files from which the whole page is build.

I also like to bring your attention to another monitoring web site. Pingdom Tools for measuring web page load time doesn’t only shows you time your page took to load, but it shows you also load time of each component of your web page.

You may click on image to get full size of this image. This is very informative as you can see not only total time, but also reaction of your web server and time it took to load the file, order how they are loaded and how big the file is.

This information is very similar to the output offered by FireBug plugin for firefox as seen on next picture.

Another monitoring tool I have used is also from Pingdom offering. They offers you to monitor your site every minute and deliver warning if your site respond slow or is down using SMS or email. This is free service, they have more rich offering on their paid plans. Following image is showing response time measured for loading the front http page only. That means no CSS, JS or image files.

The whole dilemma of  running VPS  not managed or share hosting is difficult. The best solution would be Managed VPS hosting or to have somebody who will manage your server for you. I like the freedom of having own server and to be not limited by anything. That is a reason I have end up with running my site on VPS. Only time will show if that was a good decision.

I have plans for future which will require the freedom and better performing web site. If those plans will turn to profit as well I may be looking for professional administrator who will take care of my VPS server.

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