So we’ve been extremely busy around here lately, which is the reason there hasn’t been a blog post in so long. Many of you received our newsletter last week, which gave you some ideas of things we have in store for you in the very near future.
There are a several very big things that have happened recently that we have not had time to cover, most importantly our deal with Delta Fan, the largest fan manufacturer in the world — but those topics will require their own blog posts. In this post, we will try to briefly go over a few details of some pretty crazy stuff, so that you guys will be back in the loop.
New Dedicated Server!
Many of you probably read our most recent post about us and our partner sites making the switch from shared hosting to our own dedicated server. Don’t bother looking for that post now; it was only posted as a temporary update to clue you in on what was going on over here. That was the last post we made from our shared hosting account, and it was of course deleted after the switch, because we had to restore from a backup that was generated before the post was written. We also experienced a little bit of unexpected downtime, because we ran into some DNS issues and had to wait for the new settings to propagate, but all is well now!
Our new server is quite a hoss, indeed. The best part is that we made some new connections and partnerships during this whole procedure, and now we are able to utilize the resources of our data center in order to provide our own web hosting. We will be able to offer dedicated server, cloud server, and VPS hosting solutions immediately, and if you plan on migrating a group of websites that need to pay for themselves, we will also probably be able to setup a shared hosting environment, as well. Contact email@example.com with your requirements, and he’ll provide you with a custom quote.
Let’s Talk Speed…
If you’ve noticed our website acting kind of funky during the past week, it’s because we’ve been optimizing it for speed. We had previously been using a combination of settings that were optimized for a shared hosting environment, but now that we’re on a dedicated server, we decided to open up the throttle and push this baby to the limit!
We did exhaustive testing and benchmarking to see what settings would work the best, and we now believe everything to be fairly well-optimized for performance. Included in our testing was the new mod_pagespeed Apache module, created by the Google development team. It sounded like it could be an all-in-one quick-fix solution, however, it turned out to be quite a nightmare for our setup. We are running so much custom code and modifications on this site, that there was no way that it could work perfectly out of the box by using the default settings. After realizing it would take months to debug, we decided to use multiple solutions to create the ultimate speed demon.
Anyone familiar with web development knows that it’s hard to beat the speed created by the reverse proxy and http accelerator combination of Nginx and Varnish. However, there are also numerous things that are handled better by Apache. Well, we figured out a way for all three of those fellas to play nice together, and they’re responsible for the back-end speed we’re experiencing now as a result of their nice cooperation.
We also serve all of our static content such as scripts and images from two different content delivery networks, simultaneously. The CDN content is located on multiple servers distributed all around the world, and delivers content from the servers located closest to where the request originates, which means you will always receive fast content, no matter where you are located.
On top of that, we added several different types of caching to our website, and combined with the CDN, we have been able to reach the speeds that you can witness for yourself in the image above. Please note that this was not just a one-off result. We saw these same results numerous times. What you are witnessing is absolutely amazing. We are serving up a 1MB page in 872 milliseconds. For those of you out there who are not mathematicians, that is more than 1MB/s.
Of course these results can vary, based on location, browser, broadband speed, etc., but these are the average results, which is pretty astounding. We were even getting 1.2 seconds from Amsterdam! Our website should not take more than 3.5 seconds to load on your very first visit, and that’s on a completely empty cache, which you might experience while we are conducting maintenance and/or debugging. For every subsequent visit, depending on how warm the cache is, you should be seeing speeds at just over half-a-second. We are proud of this!
What’s even more amazing is the fact that our partner company, LMP Inc, is getting the exact same results within a couple milliseconds, and their page is twice the size of ours! We believe the reason for this is that they were able to utilize enhanced APC opcode caching on their site, and the opcode just doesn’t want to play nice with our site.
We’re also jealous of their performance grade, which is 92, compared to our 87 — but the 87 was expected, because we had to break a few “best practice” rules in order to squeeze the juice to its limit.
Speaking of juicy, we have much more news to tell you about, so keep checking back often, because it’s about to get juicy!