VPS are a great technology for growing businesses, offering many of the features of a dedicated server but at much a reduced cost and with easier management. However, to get the most out of your VPS it is always good to look at ways to optimise its performance. Too frequently, the default settings for many applications, like Apache, are not ideal for the level of performance you need and, in addition, there are measures you can take to reduce load and improve site response times; these include caching, analysing performance metrics and utilising a content delivery network (CDN). To help you get the most from your VPS, we’ve put together these five simple tips to improve its performance.
- Optimise your Apache configuration
You should begin your VPS optimisation by looking closely at your Apache configuration. Poor configuration can lead Apache to unnecessarily use up most of your server’s resources and this can impact on all other processes you require your server to undertake. This is especially so with a VPS. You can improve the performance of your server by adjusting the settings of StartServers, KeepAlive, MaxClients, StartServers and MaxRequestsPerChild. Below are the recommended settings for VPS.
This directive sets the number of child server processes created on start-up. The value should mirror what is set in MinSpareServers. The StartServers value for VPS is recommended as 5.
KeepAlive should be on unless the server is getting requests from large numbers of IPs simultaneously. High volume and/or load balanced servers should have this setting turned off to increase connection throughput. MaxKeepAliveRequests should be set to 100 on a VPS. KeepAliveTimeout: it is recommended that this value is lowered to 5 on VPS.
This directive limits the number of simultaneous requests that will be served. Any connection attempts above this limit will be queued. The recommended limit for MaxClients with VPS is 150.
This directive limits the number of requests that an individual child server process will handle. After the number of requests reaches the value specified, the child process will die. For VPS the recommended limit is 300.
- Keep your MySQL version up to date
Keeping your version of MySQL up to date is essential for ensuring your VPS maintains peak performance and remains secure. Version 5.1 and below are now end of life (EOL) and are no longer recommended or supported. For best performance (at the time of going to press) versions 5.5 or 5.6 are recommended, with 5.6 being the most superior version with regard to both read/write and read only workloads and response times. Updating MySQL requires a fairly detailed technical understanding and is not an easy process to carry out, especially if you lack the necessary experience. If you are one of our clients, however, our 24/7 customer support will be more than willing to assist you in the process.
- Cache your content
Caching is another way to improve the performance of your VPS. Constantly requesting static files can be a resource-heavy and slow process; however, by caching to RAM, you can speed up processes and reduce latency through the temporary storage of frequently-used data. The caching software which you can use includes Varnish, a cache that improves the performance of dynamic websites and Memcached, an in-memory caching system, helpful for sites that rely heavily on databases.
- Optimise your content
There is a plethora of ways which your content can be optimised to be delivered more effectively. The best way to find out which are the most appropriate actions for your content is to use one of the many free, online tools that analyse websites looking for issues and offering suggestions for improvements, for example, Google’s PageSpeed and WebPageTest.org. Both of these tools will provide you with detailed and accurate speed and performance measures as well as pointing out where your content and server can be better optimised. They grade your site on a range of performance criteria and give detailed feedback on how to improve both back-end server settings and front-end configuration.
- Consider using a content delivery network
It takes time for data to travel across the internet and the further away a visitor is from your server, the longer it takes to carry out a request. A content delivery network is a paid for service which stores your static content on various servers at different geographical locations around the globe, so that when someone requests data, the static data is sent from the nearest location. As a result, content is delivered quicker and websites load faster. In addition, by freeing up the amount of work your server needs to do, your server can perform its other services better.
From reading this article you should now have a better understanding of the steps you can take to make your VPS server work faster and more efficiently. Improving the configuration of Apache, updating MySQL, caching, content optimisation and content delivery networks are all ways which you can improve your load times and help your visitors have a better user experience.
If you are considering VPS, take a look at our affordable VPS packages.