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Dedicated Server.worth it for faster load time?

11:38 pm on Jan 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I have a high-traffic site that is on a shared server. I have seen some packet loss in the past few months, and even some spikes in the "time spent downloading a page" graph in GWT. I am concerned that slow-loading could adversely affect both the user's experience (if they are on a slower connection) and my Google rankings (since they factor in page load time). My question is whether or not I would benefit from using a dedicated server. Will there be a noticeable difference in performance speed? Right now, according to some of the tools available online for testing webpage load time, my homepage takes 15.57 seconds on 56k, 6.57 seconds on 128K, 2.94s on T1.

Those seem like very small numbers, but the spikes in load time as shown in Google Webmaster Tools concern me. Would I benefit from a dedicated server?

Apologies if this is in the wrong forum, but I am on an Apache Server.

12:16 am on Jan 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

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3 seconds on a T1 line sounds fine.

My guess is that you're getting slow response on the occassion when others are gobbling up server resources - though one would think hosts would have that under control.

Rather than a dedicated server, you might step your way into a virtual dedicated server. It's like shared hosting, but at the server level. Start there instead of actually getting a whole physical server (in fact, I suspect that these days virtual dedicated servers have many advantages of a physical dedicated server).
12:24 am on Jan 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I use a dedicated server for that reason - speed. We have fairly consistent load times in Google Webmaster Tools. We have 2 gig of memory available and typically only have 1 gig active and 1 gig inactive on a FreeBSD server. Loads are almost always under 0.1. Our entire website and images including discussion forum is about 150 mb.

I see almost instant response when grepping from a file that is updated just once a night. My guess is that our daily active files are in memory and there is no disk access time.

My guess is that on a shared server, besides server load to contend with, your files may not be in active memory and need to be loaded from the disc.

[this was added after the posting above was made as I was writing - I suspect that a VPS - virtual private server - will have the same memory problems if your calls are not constant - the server will push your files out of memory and have to make the disk call again]

If you are making money, I would recommend going to a dedicated server to eliminate any problems.

I spent some time last year looking at the waterfalls of load time using [webpagetest.org...] - I found I had some javascript calls I did not realize I had with Google Custom Search and an internal search engine. I changed these around and moved some of our images to 2 extra ips I had on the server and called the images by IP. While some recommendations were for a content distribution network, I found this was faster as it avoided an extra dns call.

My load times dropped from 4-5 sec to 1.2-1.2 seconds with no apparent change to our users.
6:54 am on Jan 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Full dedicated if you need the speed. Virtual dedicated is just another way to get caught with a slow shared server beyond your control. Besides, you can get a reasonable dedicated these days starting at $99 at very reputable companies.

I have a few, the big server (far from enterprise gear) is a multiple-quad core box, it screams, less than $400/mo.
11:57 am on Jan 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Don't forget to consider port speed on a dedicated server. Just because a server its self is a "screaming fast" dedicated server doesn't mean much even if the port speed is 10Mbps up link. Another factor is the ISP and whether the data center is directly connected to multiple backbones.
12:19 pm on Jan 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

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A good spec VPS is possibly a very cost effective half way house and could well be "Better Enough" to suit your purpose. I use a couple and get excellent performance even at busy times.