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Site takes several seconds to load

5 kb page can take 5-10 seconds to load

     
7:22 am on Nov 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

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My webhost has been very quick up until three days ago, when things became excessively slow. Around this time they upgraded from PHP 4 to PHP 5.

When I visit my website the browser sometimes says "Contacting" for several seconds, then "Waiting" for another second or two, then "Loading." I put in some code to time the PHP parsing, and even after all these seconds of waiting it says the PHP only took a few hundredths or thousands of a second.

It's not my connection or computer, because I have used webperf and other tools and they all agree that my site can take anywhere from 2-30 seconds to load. My page is only about 5 kb in size. It has calls to a database in order to retrieve information, but the PHP timer I put in suggests that this is not the problem.

The strange thing is that once I visit one page on the site (usually takes ~5 seconds to load), all the others I subsequently click on load almost instantly. It doesn't matter which page I start with, it always takes several seconds, so it's not some bad code on a certain page that could be causing this. Then if I leave my site and come back in a minute or two it again takes a long time to load the initial page.

I've watched my traffic drop over 50% since this began, as most of my visitors don't wait for my site to load. I'm guessing that they assume it's down.

My host has been excellent on all counts up until this point, but right now they seem unable to figure out what the problem is.

2:31 pm on Nov 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Could it be problem of DNS server of your host?
2:36 pm on Nov 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Sounds like a DNS issue to me...
8:34 pm on Nov 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the replies. Do you know of any specific DNS misconfigurations that might cause this? I used dnsreport and it didn't throw up any red flags, so I don't know what else to check. I haven't touched the DNS in a long time so I am a bit lost.
1:26 am on Nov 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I would suggest that you, or your system administrator, check whether your web server has not reached it's maximum connections/clients limit (apache would write warnings about this in it's error log).
11:13 am on Nov 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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If you are able to do so, try accessing your site using an ip address. If it is still slow, that probably rules out DNS issues.

Kaled.

7:41 pm on Nov 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I've had problems similar to this where everyone thought it was DNS issues but it still happened when I accessed the site by IP. Does anyone know what can cause things like this for people in different locations accessing a static .html page on a dedicated server with 2 cpus and no server load?
8:04 pm on Nov 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Have you tried pinging the site with a program like WS_Ping or something that gives you details on the ping. I'd look at the ms column. Anything over 50 ms and I might suggest discussing that with the host.

Also, have you tried a traceroute? Is there something in the along the way that holding things up?

And then, I've seen certain settings at the local level that will cause a site to load a little slowly. Firewall, NIS, etc.

What about external file references like CSS and/or JavaScript. Any issues there that might be holding things up? Have you validated your CSS file?

Is there a possible looping issue somewhere in a rewrite? Is one of the http requests getting hung up on something?

There are so many things that could affect site load times. Do a search in Google for "Web Page Analyzer". I use it all the time to see where bottlenecks are on pages. Great little tool.

8:11 pm on Nov 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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The strange thing is that once I visit one page on the site (usually takes ~5 seconds to load), all the others I subsequently click on load almost instantly.

After re-reading your original post, I'd guess that there is an external call that is holding things up. Once that call is made, and the file is cached at your local level, that would be one reason why you are able to browse the rest of the site quickly.

 

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