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I'm not sure exactly what details to post in regards to my issue, because I'm not sure what is relevant.

Prior to the end of September my websites all loaded quickly, in almost all cases. Loading time wasn't usually more than a few seconds.

However, since the end of September I noticed a big increase in page loading times. In some cases pages were taking 30 seconds or more to load.

I do have a remote monitoring service monitoring some of the sites as well, and the image below shows the response times over the past month. The response times shown at the beginning of this graph were what the usual response times were prior to this issue occurring.

Graph showing response times

You can see that there has been a significant increase in response times from the beginning to the end of this graph.

The thing is, the problem is not happening 100% of the time. If I click through the site, or even just keep refreshing the page, about 25% of the time the pages load quickly, the remaining 75% of the time they load slowly.

Sometimes the pages take so long to load that they time out, and don't load at all.

I have contacted my hosting provider, and they said things at their end was fine. I don't believe the problem is my home internet provider, because all other websites load without a problem.

The server is located in Texas, USA. This also raises another interesting point. My remote monitor checks my site from two locations, California, USA, and London, England. As you can see in the chart below the response time is actually shorter when checked from London, which doesn't seem to make sense, since the server is physically closer to the California monitoring location. I would have expected the London monitoring location to have higher response times since they are physically farther away.

Response times by location

I should also point out that in some traceroute test I've done it seem like the first connection to the server seems to take the longest, then after that the rest of the page loads quickly. Below is a little chart showing the times for the first connection to the server.

Connection times

So, what could be causing this problem, and what steps can I take to resolve it or at least narrow down the problem? Sending the request to the server was very quick, and receiving the reply back seems pretty quick, but the WAIT time is really long. So it connects, sends the request, but then waits close to 30 seconds before it starts receiving data back.

I am also aware that there are things I can do to speed up page loading times, like reducing the number of CSS and JS files used on a page, compressing images, etc. This is not really what the source of the problem is though, because nothing has really changed on the site since before the problem started, and other sites on the same server are loading slowly as well.

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1 Answer

Your hosting provider says that everything is "fine", but I wouldn't believe this. It really sounds the server is not powerful enough. This is the type of behavior I would expect to see when the server is overloaded and has a large number of requests backlogged.

If you are using shared hosting, VPS, or a less powerful box, then upgrading to a better hosting packing is likely the solution.

If your web application is running by itself on a powerful box, then this type of problem can be caused by bugs such as infinite for loops.

To diagnose this problem you will need information from the server itself. The following metrics are usually useful:

  • Load average
  • CPU utilization
  • IO utilization
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