Website Hosting Speed Tests 101


By Tim Brown

Web Speedometer Icon ThumbnailWe are living in a world of immediate gratification. We want it and we want it now. The same holds true for our Internet speed. Visitors to your site expect it to load lightning fast, otherwise they’re off to your competitor’s page. In fact, a recent survey discovered that half of all website visitors expect a site to load in less than two seconds. If the site isn’t up in three seconds, 40 percent abandon it and look elsewhere for their desired information. Needless to say, you want to make sure that your site is up to the challenge.

What To Test

There are a few things you can do to ensure your loading time is optimized. The first is perform a website hosting speed test on your current site to get a baseline. Use one of the many available free speed tests to see where you stand.

With your site’s speed now known, you can check the speed of other hosting providers. Some hosts will offer a download or speed test on their main webpage. Be careful when you do this, though. Often, a hosting service will store their business site on its own server, separate from the sites that they host, giving it a little better performance than those that are grouped together—this is especially true for shared and VPS hosts. If they don’t offer a test, you can usually request one from them (or the results of tests by independent parties).

Keep in mind that the results of the test will be the speed from the host’s data center to you and not from your visitors to your site. Instead, find some sites that the company hosts and perform a Web hosting speed test on those sites. You’ll get a much more accurate representation of the host’s performance that way.

What To Look For

When you run one of these tests, you will be presented with a list of rates for different times which affect your site’s overall speed. The total time to load all the page’s content is usually the first item listed. After that, you’ll see connection time, which is how long it takes to establish a connection with the Web server. The download time is how long it takes to download the average chunk of data. You’ll probably also get the average speed for the connection during the download.

Another important thing to look for in the results is the domain lookup time. This is the time that it takes to connect the tested domain to the correct server IP and DNS (domain name system). This is an interesting item because quite often the DNS and domain are registered with a third party. You can run a separate DNS speed test. If you are not happy with the results, you might want to look for another domain registrar.

Hopefully, you now know whether your website is a Formula One racecar or a horse-drawn carriage with the info we’ve provided above on speed testing!

If you are eager to learn more about Web hosts and what factors to consider when selecting one (like download speed for instance), click here.

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