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  1. #1
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    Slow web host, need to find a faster one

    Hello,

    I currently have a hobbyist website and forum which receive about 275 visitors per day. A few months ago I decided to change web hosts. My original web host had fairly outdated systems and user interfaces which turned me off. Given the size of my site, and the relatively low traffic volume, I started my search for a new shared web host. I scoured websites for user feedback, reviewed ratings and tried my best to find a web host that would work well. After signing up I was initially very pleased. The overall user interface and control panel was far superior to what I was used to and things seemed to be going well.

    However, once I got my site uploaded and set up I started to realize the load times for this web host are unacceptably long. I was expecting website load times of 2-3 seconds but routinely receive load times in the 7-8 second range. I've even seen load times of 15 seconds or more. I've confirmed I don't have any website programming errors that are causing the slow load time. This morning I also opened a help ticket with the web host but have not heard anything back from them yet.

    Given this experience I'm likely going to cancel my account in order to find a web host with faster and more reliable load times. My question is, how does one go about finding out how fast you can expect your site to load on a given web host before you sign up? Any tips or suggestions on finding a quality web host that's affordably priced?

  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard
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    Hello. Are you hosting with an overseller? An overseller offers "unlimited" disk space and data transfer. Fact of the matter is that servers do not have unlimited resources to give. Those hosts tend to appeal to the lower end of the market who wants to use as much server resources as they can for as little money as possible. The usual result is an overloaded server with slow loading pages.

    I hosted with oversellers before learning my lesson. I now host with a fixed limit host and have never had any problems with server overloading.

    Load speeds are also going to depend on what scripts you are running. Wordpress? With plugins? If you are using Wordpress, please keep in mind that it is a very bloated and inefficient script. One Wordpress page load without caching is going to consume over 100 times the server resources as serving a static HTML page.

    Why don't you see the thread below where I posted a small script (on March 14, 2014) you can use to determine your server load. I cannot speak to the cause of your slow loading problems now. But odds are it may be related to server overloading. With the difference in server load times you mention, I would strongly suspect overloading.

    http://www.sitepoint.com/forums/show...ed-up-the-site

    Quote Originally Posted by 71Corvette View Post
    Given this experience I'm likely going to cancel my account in order to find a web host with faster and more reliable load times. My question is, how does one go about finding out how fast you can expect your site to load on a given web host before you sign up? Any tips or suggestions on finding a quality web host that's affordably priced?
    The best way to find a good web host is to ask an experienced web master. You cannot tell how fast your site is going to load before you sign up. Generally, new customers are placed on newer servers. As the server gets crammed with more and more accounts, that is when performance starts to suffer. So you may start out fine and then notice how load speeds degrade over time.

    If performance matters, you may want to avoid "unlimited" web hosts altogether and go with a fixed-limit host where customers sharing the server with you do not have the incentive to hammer the server for all it is worth. I have been hosting with A Small Orange for years now. I recommend them.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the reply. Your point about the types of people looking for unlimited bandwidth accounts is interesting, I hadn't thought of that but it makes sense.

    I'll check out the link you provided as well and post the results.

    I'm running a Joomla 3.x website and the new web host I'm using is www.arvixe.com (personal class account) which is an "unlimited" account.

  4. #4
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    Here are the server load numbers. Could you explain what these represent?

    Server Load Averages & CPU Info
    Server Load Average
    1 minute: 12.15
    5 minute: 11.15
    15 minute: 10.3
    CPU Info

    Could not get CPU info.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by 71Corvette View Post
    Thanks for the reply. Your point about the types of people looking for unlimited bandwidth accounts is interesting, I hadn't thought of that but it makes sense.

    I'll check out the link you provided as well and post the results.

    I'm running a Joomla 3.x website and the new web host I'm using is www.arvixe.com (personal class account) which is an "unlimited" account.
    I figured it would be "unlimited". How did I know? Because I had the same experience you have with another overseller years ago and I have read hundreds of such complaints over the years.

    Joomla is pretty bloated, too. Expecting super fast loads with any bloated CMS may be a little much. A lot of code has to be executed and often a number of database queries have to be performed for every page load. The higher the server load, the longer it is going to take for all that to happen. Server loads are generally higher on "unlimited" hosts as the incentive for the customers is to use it for all they can get away with.

  6. #6
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    Before I managed to get a fast web host I used CloudFlare's free CDN system starter pack. I ran it with over 3,000 PHP Framework generated web-pages and the results were impressive.

    On your own slow shared webhost it is necessary to set the DNS redirection at root level to the CDN system. Your web-page is only called once and cached on their CDN system. Setup takes about five minutes according to their blurb

    Give it a whirl and see if it solves your slow loading times.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by 71Corvette View Post
    Here are the server load numbers. Could you explain what these represent?

    Server Load Averages & CPU Info
    Server Load Average
    1 minute: 12.15
    5 minute: 11.15
    15 minute: 10.3
    CPU Info

    Could not get CPU info.
    That load average is high. I don't know how many CPUs and how many cores per CPU your host has, but that is high especially for a Saturday night! Peak internet traffic is usually Monday - Friday in the late afternoon in America. So that load is probably going to be considerably higher during peak. If you want more info about server loads, you can read this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Load_average

    An idle computer has a load number of 0. Each process using or waiting for CPU (the ready queue or run queue) increments the load number by 1. Most UNIX systems count only processes in the running (on CPU) or runnable (waiting for CPU) states. However, Linux also includes processes in uninterruptible sleep states (usually waiting for disk activity), which can lead to markedly different results if many processes remain blocked in I/O due to a busy or stalled I/O system.[1] This, for example, includes processes blocking due to an NFS server failure or to slow media (e.g., USB 1.x storage devices). Such circumstances can result in an elevated load average, which does not reflect an actual increase in CPU use (but still gives an idea on how long users have to wait).
    The server loads are the average over 1 minute, 5 minutes, and 15 minutes. The higher the load, the longer it will take code to execute, generally speaking. Static HTML pages may continue to be served just fine on a server operating under high load. But code like PHP and database queries are going to wait a while to be processed.

    A general rule of thumb (not a hard and fast rule) is that a load average of 1 per core is acceptable. So if your server has 2 CPUs with 4 cores per CPU, the rule of thumb is that a load of 8 or less is acceptable (2 CPUs x 4 cores per CPU = 8 cores). A load over 1 per core may not result in noticeable performance degradation and still may result in acceptable load speeds. However, the higher the load goes the more performance degradation will be noticeable. The server does not have "unlimited" resources. This is my current load on A Small Orange shared server:

    Server Load Averages & CPU Info
    Server Load Average
    1 minute: 3.14
    5 minute: 2.71
    15 minute: 2.37
    CPU Info

    Architecture: x86_64
    CPU op-mode(s): 32-bit, 64-bit
    Byte Order: Little Endian
    CPU(s): 24
    On-line CPU(s) list: 0-23
    Thread(s) per core: 2
    Core(s) per socket: 6
    Socket(s): 2
    NUMA node(s): 2
    Vendor ID: GenuineIntel
    CPU family: 6
    Model: 44
    Stepping: 2
    CPU MHz: 2399.848
    BogoMIPS: 4799.87
    Virtualization: VT-x
    L1d cache: 32K
    L1i cache: 32K
    L2 cache: 256K
    L3 cache: 12288K
    NUMA node0 CPU(s): 0-5,12-17
    NUMA node1 CPU(s): 6-11,18-23
    That shared server has dual hex core CPUs. Or 12 cores (6 cores on each of 2 CPUs). So the load is 3.14 for 12 cores with plenty of capacity to spare. Server load rarely goes over 4, even at peak during late afternoons. That's why the pages always load fast.

    Load a few minutes later:

    Server Load Average
    1 minute: 2.32
    5 minute: 2.42
    15 minute: 2.31
    And a few more minutes later:

    Server Load Average
    1 minute: 1.48
    5 minute: 1.86
    15 minute: 2.1
    Slow loading is a complaint I have read about many "unlimited" web hosts. If you want good load speeds, your best option is a fixed-limit host.

  8. #8
    Certified Ethical Hacker silver trophybronze trophy dklynn's Avatar
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    old vette,

    cd & JB are on the mark with your shared hosting. Permit me to go one step further, though, and say that using ANY CMS out there will REQUIRE a lot of CPU time and RAM (because of all the modules which need to be accessed and included in every #$%^ page returned to the visitor). Clearly, a basic shared account cannot accommodate the load you're putting on the server (and your host is likely restricting you to a small percent of the CPU time

    I had a similar problem with a client who was demanding more CPU (et al) than the shared server allowed for a Joomla account. After looking around, though, I discovered that WebHostingBuzz offers accounts tailored to the various CMS's:

    Quote Originally Posted by http://www.WebHostingBuzz.com
    specialist hosting
    Wordpress hosting
    Joomla hosting
    Magento hosting
    Drupal hosting
    E-Commerce hosting
    Those accounts are shared, too, but tailored to the higher CPU/RAM requirements of the CMS's. That also means that you're sharing a server with fewer other accounts but those accounts all use the same CMS. I had no complaints about his "Specialist Hosting" account (other than when he failed to update when Joomla patched ... that resulted in a "deserved" hack [which is why I loathe CMS's - they create a race to detect a hacking vector, generate a patch and update all the CMS users' accounts before the "script kiddies" have their fun]).

    IMHO, you either need to use one of these "Specialist Hosting" accounts or get a well appointed VPS/dedi to handle the high CPU/RAM requirements of your CMS. Additionally, you MUST check for Joomla updates (and patch immediately) at least daily (or you will lose the race).

    Regards,

    DK
    David K. Lynn - Data Koncepts is a long-time WebHostingBuzz (US/UK)
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  9. #9
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    Thanks for the feedback everyone.

    I checked my web hosts FAQ section and it looks like they run 12 core servers.

    What type of servers do you place your shared hosting customers on?
    Posted by Arvand Sabetian on 15 May 2009 02:08 AM

    We always utilize the best hardware. This means that you will experience the fastest website response times and highest reliability and uptime. All of our shared servers are at the very least equipped with:

    Dual Quad Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5620 @ 2.40GHz (12 Cores total)(Linux & Windows)
    12GB of RAM on Linux and 24GB on ASP (ASPs are Windows servers)
    RAID 10 Hard Drive configuration (Best Performance & Redundancy)

    However, in order to keep up with the latest technology and web applications. Newer servers are being provsioned with the following:

    Dual Quad Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5620 @ 2.40GHz (12 Cores total)(Linux & Windows)
    96GB of RAM on Linux and 196G on ASP (ASPs are Windows servers)
    RAID 10 Hard Drive configuration (Best Performance & Redundancy) with SSD drives.


    The current server load right now (9:30 AM ET) is as follows:

    Server Load Averages & CPU Info
    Server Load Average
    1 minute: 15.32
    5 minute: 14.12
    15 minute: 12.83
    CPU Info

    Could not get CPU info.

    Given the sever is overloaded on a Sunday morning this doesn't bode well for weekday afternoons and evenings. Considering all I've learned here I've decided to cancel my hosting account and find a new web host.

    I'll look into a small orange and webhostingbuzz to see what they offer.

  10. #10
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    DK - It looks like webhostingbuzz also offers unlimited plans. How will this result in a different situation than I'm in now?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by 71Corvette View Post
    Dual Quad Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5620 @ 2.40GHz (12 Cores total)(Linux & Windows)
    12GB of RAM on Linux and 24GB on ASP (ASPs are Windows servers)
    RAID 10 Hard Drive configuration (Best Performance & Redundancy)
    Dual = 2. Quad = 4. Two quad core E5620 CPUs is a total of 8 cores, not 12.

  12. #12
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    As mentioned above, always stay away from unlimited hosting if you have a successful website.

    I plan to do a extensive comparison between the major affordable providers shortly on my blog but from what I've seen after using 15+ hosts is that most EIG hosts are pretty bad from the get-go.

    If you aren't aware of EIG, here's some reading: Wikipedia page.

    They are a massive billion dollar hosting operation that buy up smaller hosting companies.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Searchnetics View Post
    If you aren't aware of EIG, here's some reading: Wikipedia page.

    They are a massive billion dollar hosting operation that buy up smaller hosting companies.
    They are buying up smaller hosting companies but still operating them as separate companies. What I said about oversellers promising "unlimited" resources and poor quality holds for pretty much all of them regardless of who owns them. The incentive for the customer is to use as much as they can get away with. While most hosting customers may not try to use "unlimited" resources, a few will and that will harm server performance. That incentive does not exist on a fixed-limit host because they don't have "unlimited" resources promised to them.

    My suspicion that the original poster was hosting with an overseller was correct because his experience is the same as mine when I hosted with an overseller years ago and the same experience that thousands upon thousands of webmasters face. There is a market for the "unlimited" hosts: the lower end, those from countries where $1 is a lot of money, people who are not serious about their websites like newbies, people starting boards for their friends to upload pictures, etc. The bottom line is you get what you pay for. If you are not planning to use "unlimited" resources, upload thousands of files, and so forth, you do not have any use for an "unlimited" web host and you will get much better quality hosting from a fixed-limit plan which may cost you the same amount of money as an "unlimited" host or a buck or three more a month.

    "Unlimited" hosts do not bother me so much if I can avoid them. The problem is that it seems a strong majority of shared hosts today are promising "unlimited" hosting and that cuts down the field of hosts for me to choose from because I'm not going back to an overseller. It was a bad experience years ago and still is today. I wish these "unlimited" hosts would stop pretending they have unlimited resources to give and go back to fixed-limit plans with an emphasis on quality instead of quantity--even if it costs a little more.

  14. #14
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    I agree with you entirely and even though EIG operates their buys as separate entities you'd be surprised to know that almost every host they buy very quickly takes a turn for the worse.

    The one exception was asmallorange but now they seem to be having quite a few problems as well.

    But yes, all in all - stay clear of "unlimited"

  15. #15
    Certified Ethical Hacker silver trophybronze trophy dklynn's Avatar
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    vette,

    Quote Originally Posted by 71Corvette View Post
    DK - It looks like webhostingbuzz also offers unlimited plans. How will this result in a different situation than I'm in now?
    IMHO, WHB utilizes the best hardware using the best software BUT shared hosting (especially "unlimited") is shared with a lot of other clients. You don't know which of those are using CMS's and you don't know the load they put on the server. The host does but they have to allot CPU and RAM evenly across all their shared account clients. THEREFORE, I believe that the tailored (specialty) accounts, the ones built and hosted to account for the severe requirements of CMS's, would be far superior.

    Suggestion: Use WHB's live chat and ask them how many are on a shared server vs how many are on a specialty account server. I have no idea what the difference is but I'm sure it'll be substantial.

    With the problems you've described, I'd recommend the specialty account UNTIL you reach the level where you can get a dedi server (with enough power to drive multiple CMS installations ... and managed).

    Regards,

    DK
    David K. Lynn - Data Koncepts is a long-time WebHostingBuzz (US/UK)
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Searchnetics View Post
    I agree with you entirely and even though EIG operates their buys as separate entities you'd be surprised to know that almost every host they buy very quickly takes a turn for the worse. The one exception was asmallorange but now they seem to be having quite a few problems as well.
    I've got sites on 2 shared servers and a VPS I am developing a (much delayed) site on and no, I can't say I've had any problems. One bit of downtime with the VPS due to a power outage to the rack or something a couple of months ago. Other than that I can't say I have had any complaints in a long time. Uptime is good, pages load fast. Every server is going to have downtime, undergo maintenance, be hit by a DDoS, etc. I don't expect perfection from any host or any company of any sort. I do expect good and I get it and then some. Never had a problem with server overloading on ASO. A few problems here and there over the years. But my standards are high. You will find complaints about every business. You can't please all the people all the time.

    As far as HostGator, there are a couple of guys here who have been hosting with them a long time and maybe they could chime in. You see, there is a nasty bit of EIG bashing going on out there now, deserved or not. Web hosting is a competitive market with slim margins and if you can sully the reputation of a competitor, maybe you can get a new customer. Some of the complaints about HG have seemed to be justified. Some have not. One guy on a board was complaining that HG emailed him saying he had to upgrade his account. He was running a phpBB board with plugins/mods and getting over 5,000 unique visitors per day on his little shared account and he was upset he had to upgrade. I would not consider that to be a valid complaint. That's expecting too much from a little shared account.

    Quote Originally Posted by Searchnetics View Post
    But yes, all in all - stay clear of "unlimited"
    If you have a website you consider important, yes, I recommend one to steer clear of "unlimited". A serious webmaster is going to realize server resources are limited whether or not the people sharing the server realize it. Whenever I see someone complaining of slow load performance, the first thought I have is "I bet they are hosting on an 'unlimited' host". I am usually right, as I was in this case. Poor performance is a problem all too common with "unlimited" hosts. But as I said before, there is a market for "unlimited" hosts. That market does not include anyone who wants to make a good impression on his or her visitors such as a web designer or developer or small business owner. A hobbyist creating a site for his buddies and nothing important, "unlimited" may be suitable. If an "unlimited" host watches the servers like a hawk and suspends accounts consuming too many resources right away, then they could theoretically maintain good server performance. But all that does is leave a bad taste in the mouths of customers who are upset they are not getting all the "unlimited" resources they thought they were promised because they didn't read the terms of service. And the fact that you read complaints about slow load speeds means the "unlimited" hosting companies are not controlling accounts using excessive resources. That is not a problem on fixed-limit hosts.

  17. #17
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    Hey all,

    First off let me just say how impressed I am at the responses I've gotten. You're all a very helpful group and for that I'm grateful.

    Here's a quick update of where things currently stand:

    I did get a reply to the ticket I opened yesterday and they said they found a couple abusers and "had taken care of them" on Sunday. Since that time my site load times have been better, but still not to my liking. Also, I checked the sever load throughout the day today and values ranged from a low of 9 to a high of 47. The server load was around 9 most times I checked.

    So, at this point I've pretty much made the decision to move on to another host.

    Tim

  18. #18
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    small orange
    run away
    9 to a high of 47
    overloaded as the others have suggested get a host with limits
    Lowest Host/Empire Technology LLC
    Affordable Hosting solutions http://empire-hosting.net/
    Master reseller solutions http://lowesthost.com/

  19. #19
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy Karl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cheesedude View Post
    Dual = 2. Quad = 4. Two quad core E5620 CPUs is a total of 8 cores, not 12.
    E5-2620 is a Hex Core CPU

    12/24GB RAM would be an odd amount for them as well, as they are quad channel RAM, so you'd generally see 8/16/32/64/128GB. The older 55xx and 56xx were tripple channel so 12/24/48/96GB were common to see then
    Karl Austin :: Profile :: KDA Web Services Ltd.
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    Call 0800 542 9764 today and ask how we can help your business grow.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by John_Betong View Post
    Before I managed to get a fast web host I used CloudFlare's free CDN system starter pack. I ran it with over 3,000 PHP Framework generated web-pages and the results were impressive..
    CloudFlare is great! I use it in one of my sites and its incredibly fast. The host i use on the site has made it easy for us to set it up on the site. Very simple.

    However not all of the host provide this setup. If its not provided on the cpanel, then its a bit difficult to set your site to use CDN system.

  21. #21
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    You have to understand the cause of the slowdown. It's not always a server problem.

    In my experience, I this kind of situations, problem resided on theme code.

    First, use tools.pingdom.com/fpt/ to understand if there is a SPOF. Then remove it.
    If you can0t find it, then try to debug theme code printing time (such as timer.start and timer.stop) in more points, so you can understand what is really slowing down your site speed.


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