Improve Server Response Time

I’m hoping I haven’t made a horrible mistake in moving to a VPS.
I had gotten feedback on the shared server that my site was very slow and people weren’t staying. So when I made the decision to get more aggressive with my baby site, I decided to invest in a VPS.

It’s still so slow that people are telling me they can’t get it. I’ve installed W3 Total Cache, RocketLoader, CloudFlare with Railgun… everything but I still have a slow site.

One of the top suggestions in PageSpeed Insights is to Improve Server Response Time. How can I do that?
I switched from PHP 5.3 with FastCGI to just plain old CGI.

I’ve heard some people say that W3 Total Cache has slowed down their server response time? Have others experienced that? I’m wondering if my cache is too aggressive since I’m trying to build a bbpress and buddypress installation.

I’m definitely a novice at this level so any help and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Hi Mark,

Normally having a cache shouldn’t slow down your VPS.
I do see that our system has sent you an email about you VPS already using up the amount of memory you’re paying for. I also see that you tried to scale down the amount of memory you’re currently using. You would need to increase this. It’s not always a matter of plugins and themes. You’re site is just receiving a good amount of traffic, so upscaling the VPS accordingly should increase response time.
Let me know if you have any other questions.

Justin H

I did increase the memory to more than what the DH recommended level was last night. I still had the site show up as unavailable and it still showing as slow server response time.

I guess I’m still trying to understand where all this traffic is coming from. I’m not getting huge page views according to Google Analytics (around 400 a day).

And thanks for you quick response. I just need to get this under control without breaking my bank account

I too am experiening a Server Response Time issue. I signed up for Dreamhosts shared hosting account last week, but decided to try the 1 week free VPS trial. My client’s site was fast and received a Google Page Speed score of 89 out of 100 when I first moved it over to the VPS. Last night I noticed the site taking slightly longer to load and when I checked Google’s Page Speed score last night, it received a 0 out of 100. I checked again a while ago and also received a 0 out of 100. If I keep trying the test, it eventually gets up to 61 out of 100.

One of Google’s suggestion was to improve server response time. I looked further into it and most of the items that are taking longer to load are small images. I was not receiving this suggestion when the site was hitting the 89 out of 100 score. This tells me that the server is having issues serving some of the small images.

By the way, the site has only received an average of 20 unique visitors a day per Google Analytics. I submitted a ticket (#5697678) about 20 minutes ago. Hopefully it will be fixed because it may cause a problem with Google’s ranking of the site.

They posted about some memory issues not too long ago but I don’t see anything about that anymore. I’ve done my best to optimize my site but I still get knocked for slow server response. Out of a 4.54 second load time, 3.64 seconds is logged as waiting on server response. That seems a little excessive to me and I’d love to know what I can do to fix it.

I’m still experiencing this issue. My page speed score is terrible and Dreamhost support doesn’t seem to know what’s going on. I know it’s nothing on my end since the site was ranking 89 out of 100 before the “Improve server response time” suggestion started to appear. I did not modify anything during that time period, therefore it’s server related. I think I’m going to give this another week before I start shopping around for another host. Good think I only moved over one of my clients in order to test their service.

MarkGardnerLVP - On your VPS, I would turn off Jabber if you’re not using it. It’s a small bonus to speed/memory. I skimmed some of your domains, and they seem to be on PHP 5.2 - I would upgrade those to 5.3 (just go to domains, edit the domain, and change PHP to 5.3 or 5.4, both use less memory than 5.2).

I’m personally a fan of Google Pagespeed, and it works well with most caching plugins (just don’t use a minification plugin and pagespeed at the same time).

MrLopez, PageSpeed scores aren’t the be-all and end-all of how fast your site really is. They’re great for helping you understand what you might need to do to optimize things, but they don’t have all the information. Like if you don’t tell ySlow you’re a small blog, it always yells at you about not using a CDN. Most people don’t need one!

Looking at the sites in your account, one both use some Browser Caching and Gzip. It’s very possible your old host was doing this for you, or a plugin you were using on the other host needs to be reconfigured for this one. The other site has an 88/100 site-speed, and the only thing I would suggest is adding in expires headers.

Thanks for the reply, but like I mentioned, I was receiving a score of 89 out of 100 and I was not receiving the “Improve Server Response” suggestion when I first set up the website here at DreamHost. Everything was fine up until a few days later. Something must have changed on the server that caused the slower server response. There is no reason a 236 byte, yes, byte, not KB, image should take 2 seconds to load. There are at least 13 small images under 3KB that take just as long or longer. I know it may not seem like a lot, but it ads up.

And yes, I know it’s not an End All Situation, but my point is that this was not happening when I first set up the site. This client came to me in order to increase their page rank. The site has only been up two or three weeks and it already appears on the first page of Google and Bing results when searching for this companies’ services in their geographical area. I don’t want the page speed score to somehow lower their placement in the results.

I have a few more sites that I would like to move over, but first I’ll keep an eye out on the performance and search rankings for this site. If the site stays where it’s at as far as search results go, then I will not worry about this any longer.

Thanks again! :slight_smile:

Nary a truer word spoken.

I’ve seen tips from these purported optimisation sites that actually increase the overall downloaded content size and reduce delivery speed - and yet give a higher “score” for the (now slower) website.

Are you getting those results right now, though? PageSpeed is an 88 on one site and less on the other, both sites load quickly for me and on right now. Well within acceptable levels. A brief outage or slowness at a specific time could be a lot of things. I don’t know when this was happening so I can only guess and look at what you have now.

[quote=“Ipstenu-DH, post:7, topic:59750”]
MarkGardnerLVP - On your VPS, I would turn off Jabber if you’re not using it. It’s a small bonus to speed/memory. I skimmed some of your domains, and they seem to be on PHP 5.2 - I would upgrade those to 5.3 (just go to domains, edit the domain, and change PHP to 5.3 or 5.4, both use less memory than 5.2). [/quote]

Not sure I how i missed these replies but thank you for looking. I have switched to PHP 5.3 with FastCGI on my primary concern ( I also just turned off Jabber. Hoping that will help as well.

I’m still getting a minimum of 4 seconds the server response time so hopefully this can help out.

I looked at Google PageSpeed and it sounds like there’s a cost involved, but I couldn’t seem to find anything about that. Do you know what the costs are? I’d hate to use them now and then get hit with more money in the future. Also, how does that work with CloudFlare?

GooglePagespeed is free.

Okay. I’ve disabled the minify in W3 Total Cache and activated Google PageSpeed. Here’s hoping it works with my bbpress and buddypress.

I am having the same issues. My scores where always between 90 & 91. Very consistent every time i checked. However, for the past month they have been between 25 and 52 and the high priority recommendation is to “Improve server response time”.

I know this isn’t the end all of all test, but I feel it’s pretty good indication and it confirms the feel of the site which is significantly slower than in the past. This only appears to be for my VPS site ( and not impacting any of my shared hosting accounts. I have one shared hosted site that has every plugin that the VPS is using (plus a few more), so I am pretty sure this is not a problem with a plugin.

After all of that I still have server response times that seem unreasonable. I just tested again and I’m getting over 7 seconds. I read that W3 Total Cache slows things down for people so I even tried disabling that for a bit and I still have really slow response times. Is there anything else to do?

Same here Mark. Not sure what to do next because submitting a support request didn’t do anything. Just ran pagespeed again and it got a 37 which is total crap. My shared hosted site is getting a 84, which is the worst I have ever seen from that site. Normally it hits close to 90. It also doesn’t seem to matter how much ram I give the VM, the server response time for the VM is horrible compared to the shared hosting.

Have you read the recent DreamScape article on VPS?

One of the ‘catches’ to a VPS is that it’s kind of like a kit. You get the basics, but the intent is that you’re going to optimize PHP, Caching, probably httpd.conf (there are some great tips at which I used the first time I touched a VPS).

I have not read those. In my case, I was consistently getting 91-92 on the pagespeed score. That was until the recent outages hit the West coast data centers. Ever since then, my scores are all over the place and range from the low 20’s to almost 50. Something has happened.

I’m still receiving the 0 out of 100 from Google’s Page Speed. I guess I don’t understand why shared hosting gives a better server response than a VPS. Shouldn’t a VPS automatically respond faster since there are less sites on it and more resources are allocated per account when compared to shared hosting?

By the way, I can’t seem to find the httpd.conf file. Do we need to create that file ourselves? Thanks.

I found mine, but after making the changes, it would let me save it.