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I have a Wordpress which currently takes about 1.8s to 2.5s for the home page to completely load in my country. The page weight is about 700Ko (static content included).

In order to increase performances, I'm considering two solutions:

  1. Switching to a dedicated host.
  2. Using amazon s3 cloudfront to serve static contents.

My current shared hosting have servers in a neighboring country but not exactly in mine, and both amazon and the dedicated hosting have some, so that's already an advantage. So considering all that, I still have three questions remaining:

  • Currently having a low traffic (100 unique visitors/days, but growing) will it make a huge difference between my shared hosting and a dedicated server ?

  • Knowing that I already use a cookie-less domain to deliver static contents (but using a redirection to the same server), would using amazon s3 make a real difference ?

  • Talking about the cons of dedicated vs amazon s3, if I choose for the dedicated server something like Ubuntu server and do daily package updates and have only port 80 open, would it be sufficient in terms of security (in comparison with my current shared hosting which manage everything for me) ?

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Just to clarify, when I talk about a dedicated server, I talk about something more or less like: quad core 3GHz, 16Go ram, and 1Gbits/s connection. –  user978548 Sep 25 '12 at 14:56
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2 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

You should run WebPagetest on your web page and see where most of the time to render you web page takes place. WebPagetest produces a waterfall diagram that allows you to see where the time to load your page is spent.

Here is part of a WebPagetest waterfall diagram and report:

enter image description here

For example, if your web page make lots of references to static content and that's where most of your time is spent then using Amazon or another content delivery network (Akamai is another example) may help improve performance.

If most of your time is spent generating your base page (this will be shown as first byte download time of the base page), then using more horsepower for your web server will help.

If most of the time is spent actually downloading the base page HTML, then moving the web server closer to your client browsers will help. Also, Akamai has services that help accelerate base page download. Amazon may also.

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Thank you for the answer. However, I have just a little bit of mystery remaining about the waterfall view: What does "Time to first byte" (in green) reveal ? I have almost 50% of the load time due to that - does it means that my server take too long to "prepare" the pages (php, etc..) ? And that I should try a dedicated one ? This seems consistent with google pagespeed's analysis which reports me a lot of "Waiting". –  user978548 Sep 26 '12 at 12:56
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Yes, time to first byte is normally the total amount of time that the web server is taking to build the base page response HTML for the request that it received. Normally WordPress uses a MySQL database. Where is your MySQL database hosted? On the same virtual server as your web server or another or shared MySQL server? Will you also move this database to a dedicated server? My main point here is to ensure that you consider the "total cost" to build your pages including the database component and that you have also taken advantage of page caching within WordPress. –  HeatfanJohn Sep 27 '12 at 20:40
    
Thank you very much for the extensive answer :) My db is currently on a separated shared db server, and I intend to move it along with the rest when I'll move to a new server. Also, I already did about everything I am capable of, including page caching, minifying, reducing the number of http requests, etc.. But you pointed out something I hadn't thought about yet: checking the time spent with the sql stuff ! Anyway, thanks again ! –  user978548 Sep 28 '12 at 1:12
    
Checking the time spent by sql was definitely a very good point ! I just did so and indeed, it takes about 600 (reload) to 1200ms (first load), so that is at least 50% of my performance problems. –  user978548 Sep 28 '12 at 1:17
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  1. A dedicated hosting solution vs shared can provide you with better performance because you are not sharing your resources with other unknowns. If traffic spikes, then there may not be enough resources to spare to handle it.. making site slower. However, if when you say shared you are referring to amazon s3 virtual machines, you won't experience this kind of problem.. amazon is great. Also bandwidth is often a problem, so try changing hosting providers. Ie. when I changed from godaddy to amazon, that alone increased site speed.

  2. cloud front usually makes a difference if you need to serve good amount of media/content to different distant locations.

  3. With dedicated, you will need to know how to configure to secure it properly. Shared can still be vulnerable, so follow all good security practices to secure your stuff.

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Thanks for the answer ! –  user978548 Sep 26 '12 at 12:57
    
Regarding security, I know that shared can still be vulnerable, but as someone mentioned somewhere, I imagine the provider, having 300 domains per server, probably takes care of the security problems with high caution. As I'm in no way a sysadmin, I wonder if I can get to more or less the same level of security if I take a dedicated, doing only what I know: updates, block unused ports, iptables, .. –  user978548 Sep 26 '12 at 13:05
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