Possible Reasons Your Website is Running Slow

Posted at November 18, 2013 at 4:43 pm by admin

When people visit a webpage they want it to load up and respond quickly.  In addition to keeping your visitors happy, having a website that loads quickly is also important for ranking well with Google and the other search engines.  If you find that your website isn’t quite as responsive as you’d like it to be, take some time to read through these possible reasons your website is running slowly.

When a site is slow, most people start out by assuming it is their web hosting.  The fact is, however, that your hosting usually not the problem, and it shouldn’t be the first place you look.  The following items are some of the more common causes for a slow website, as well as some tips on how you can speed things up.

Your Connection

If your website is suddenly seeming to respond slower than normal, the chances are good that the issue lays with your computer or your internet connection.  Fortunately, this is also one of the easiest problems to identify.  Here are some quick tests you can do to figure out if your computer or internet connection is causing your problem:

  • Try Other Sites – Visit a few other sites that you go to frequently.  If these are running slow as well, the problem is with your computer or connection.
  • Try Another Computer – If you have another computer you can use, attempt to connect from that one.  If it is still slow, you have ruled out your computer as the problem.
  • Check Your Speed – There are several sites online that allow you to check the speed of your internet connection.  One of the most popular is found at speedtest.net.  Visit this site and click ‘Begin Test’ to see how fast your connection really is:1

    The test typically only takes about 20-30 seconds, and when completed, you’ll see your results, like this: 2

    The three numbers at the top are your results.  You want the PING to be as low as possible.  Anything under about 40ms is fine.  The download and upload speeds you want to be high.  These will be largely dependent on the type of internet connection you have.  Most internet service providers offer guaranteed speeds, so check with yours to see what you should be getting.  As long as it is above 5Mbps, you should be fine though.

If you’ve gone through these items, and confirmed your internet connection is not the problem, it is time to move on to the next potential thing that can cause your site to run slowly.

Site Design

The design of your site is one of the biggest things that can cause it to load quickly, or slow it down.  There are many different things website owners can do to optimize their site, without sacrificing on the look or functionality of the page.  The easiest way to check to see if your site’s design is causing it to load slowly is to run a performance test on it.  We recommend using the free, online performance test from GTmetrix, which can be found at gtmetrix.com.

Once you’ve arrived at this site, you’ll see an option to analyze the performance of your site.  It will look like this:3

 

Simply type in your domain name, and hit GO!  The site will load up your page and do a variety of tests in the background.  Typically this only takes a minute or two, and then you’ll be provided with the results.  At the top, you’ll be provided with your summary score, which will look something like this:

 4

The better your grade, the more optimized your site is.  In addition, make sure to look at the “Page Load Time” score.  Studies have shown that after about 4 seconds, people begin to click away from a site that hasn’t finished loading, so ideally, you want your page load time to be under 4 seconds whenever possible.

This page will also break down your score into very detailed results, and provide instructions on how to fix any problems.  The breakdown results will be just under the summary, and will look like this:5

 

Take some time to go through and read about any areas that your site got a C or below on.  By clicking on the section where your site did poorly, you’ll reveal a description of what the actual problem is, and how to fix it.  These are typically fairly easy fixes which don’t require too much technical knowledge.  Once you’ve gone through and made the adjustments, rerun the test and see if the performance has improved.

Make sure to take note that there are several tabs on this results screen.  Look through each of them to see what types of things may be slowing down your site.  Whether you’re experiencing significant slowness or not, this is a good test to run periodically to ensure there aren’t any problems.

If you’re not showing any problems with the site design, then move on to the next step.

Hosting Problems

While rare, it is possible that website slowness could be caused by your hosting.  Here at Interserver we work hard to keep all of our hosting servers and connections to the web working as fast as possible.  That being said, however, we will still be happy to help you pin point any possible problems your site may be having on our servers.  Depending on the type of hosting you have with us, there will be quite a few different things that can be done to help improve the speed.  Here are a few potential things that may need to be looked at:

  • Type of Hosting – We offer a variety of different types of hosting options to choose from.  If you’re using one of our shared hosting services, that will mean there are several other websites on the same physical server as yours.  We monitor each of the sites closely to make sure none of them are causing any problems for the others, and if they are, we work to get it fixed as soon as possible.   If you’re having problems, however, we can look at your shared hosting server to try to help find and fix any issues.

    If you’re on one of our virtual private servers, we can help by looking at performance logs and other statistics to help make recommendations.  If we find any problems on our end, we’ll get them resolved as quickly as possible.  If you have a dedicated server with us, you’ll be the only customer on that server, which gives you more power and flexibility.  We can run tests to help ensure there aren’t any issues with your specific box.

  • Traffic Levels – If your site has been growing rapidly, and you’re still on one of our shared hosting services, you may want to consider upgrading to a virtual private server or even a dedicated server.  While our shared services do offer unlimited disk space and bandwidth, sites can outgrow the capabilities of these servers.  We offer options that will meet the needs of any site, however, so contact our customer support team and we can help you choose a service that will help keep your site running smoothly.  We’ll also help with transferring your site over to a new server, so you won’t have to worry about any downtime or other problems.
  • Spam or DDOS Attacks – While not technically a problem with the web hosting, spam and DDOS attacks are often issues we can help with.  Spam problems that slow down websites are often related to people trying to fill your site with comments or email your site repeatedly.  We can help identify and block the users performing this spam.  DDOS attacks, or Distributed Denial of Service, is a common type of attack performed against websites.  It essentially uses programs on a variety of different computers to send your website huge amounts of traffic.  This traffic overloads the servers, causing your site to run very slow or even crash.  If you suspect this is a problem, let us know and we can help you get to the bottom of it.

Here at Intersever we are dedicated to helping each of our customers keep their sites up and running as fast as possible.  If you have any specific questions about your site, the hosting or why it is running slow, please don’t hesitate to open a support ticket with us and we’ll be happy to help you identify any problems.

Switching Hosts for Your WordPress Site

Posted at October 23, 2013 at 3:26 pm by admin

WordPress is the most common content management system around today.  There are millions of websites using this platform, and thousands more are being made every day.  WordPress has made creating, running and managing a website extremely easy.  When you’re moving a WordPress website, however, it is important to do it properly or you could experience downtime or even lose data.  The following steps will make switching hosts for your WordPress site quick and easy.

The following steps will move your entire site including files, themes, content, comments, plugins and everything else you’ve created.  It should be completely transparent to visitors to your site, and once completed, your site should function perfectly without any adjustments.

What You’ll Need

Before you get started, you’ll need to make sure you have a few things ready.  Take a moment to double check to make sure the following things are available on your computer:

  • Access to the phpMyAdmin account on your existing host (most likely through cPanel)
  • An FTP program such as FileZilla.
  • FTP access to your existing WordPress Site
  • Access to the DNS & Name Servers settings where your domain name is registered.
  • The information from your new hosting company including phpMyAdmin, FTP and Name Servers (this is typically all provided in a welcome email from the hosting company).

Step 1: Downloading Your Existing Site

The first thing you’re going to want to do is download your entire WordPress site.  This includes all the files for your site, as well as the database(s).  The following steps will walk you through how to safely download your existing site:

  1. Open your FTP program (FileZilla) and log in to your old web host.  You should have your FTP username and password from when it was set up, otherwise you can create one from the cPanel or other management console (you can also contact your old host for support on how to get this information, if you can’t find it on your own):ftp1
  2. Find the folder on your web server than contains all the files and folders for your website.  Drag them from the web server into a new folder on your local hard drive.  Make sure you have sufficient drive space to complete the transfer before moving the site.  Most sites aren’t too big, but it is important to have plenty of room.
  3. From the cPanel of your old host, access the phpMyAdmin screen.  Generate a MySQL export and save it to your computer’s hard drive.  Depending on the size of your WordPress site, this database could be fairly large so again, check to make sure you have sufficient disc space.  Make sure to take note of the database name, as it will be used in the next step.

You now have your entire site downloaded to your computer.  It is important to note that any comments made on your site from this point until you are live on your new host will be lost, so make sure you move quickly to reduce or eliminate any potential customer impact.  Of course, if you make any posts to your site at this time, they will be lost as well, but that is typically not a concern unless you have other people publishing content to your site.

Step 2: Setting Up your Site on the New Host

It is now time to move all the files and databases from your computer onto the new web host.  This process is fairly simple and basically just the opposite of the steps in the first section of this page.

  1. Connect to your new host using the FTP information provided when you registered.  You will have to use the IP address rather than the domain name at this point because the domain name is still pointing to your old host.  All the IP information you need should be in your welcome email from your new host.  *If you weren’t provided with an FTP account at set up, connect to your cPanel and create one first, following the instructions within the cPanel.
  2. Once connected via FTP, transfer all the files (not the database) from your computer into the folder where you want your WordPress blog.  This folder may be named Public_HTML if you only have one site on this host, and you plan on having your WordPress blog the only thing on the domain.
  3. From the cPanel, access phpMyAdmin again, only this time restore the database using the step by step instructions provided.  The default settings should be fine.  (If you need the database name or password, it can be found in the wp-config.php file, which will be in the main website folder on your computer and on the new web server).cpanel1

Your site is now live on the new web host.  If, however, someone visits your site, they will still be looking at the old host.  This is because the DNS records of the Internet are directing traffic to that site.  The next step is to get that updated so people will be routed to your new host.

Step 3: Update NameServers

Find out where your domain is registered, and log into your account there (this could be somewhere like goDaddy or NamesCheap or any other domain registrar).  Once logged in, locate the settings for the names servers for your site.  If you can’t find them, contact customer support or do a simple search on their site.  Once located, you simply want to change the name servers to the ones provided by your new host.  Typically there will be two name servers, and they will be something like NS1.newhostcompany.com and NS2.newhostcompany.com.  Enter them in, and hit save.

Once you hit save, the domain registrar has to update the DNS records, which can take some time.  In most cases, everything will be updated within a couple hours.  It can, however, take up to 48 hours for this to be completed.  To be safe, don’t cancel your old web hosting account for at least three days after you’ve changed your name servers.

 

A Step-by-Step Guide to Switching Hosting Companies

Posted at October 7, 2013 at 1:40 pm by admin

A Step-by-Step Guide to Switching Hosting Companies

If you run websites for any length of time, you’ll find that eventually you need to change hosting companies.  Whether it is because your hosting needs have outgrown the company, their service levels have gone down, or you just found a better deal somewhere else, it is important to know how to switch hosting companies properly.  When done correctly you can have no down time for your sites, and complete the entire process quite quickly and easily.

The following guide will help you to complete your website moved over to your new hosting without visitors to your page ever knowing that you changed a thing.   While your new host may be willing to help with the transfer, it is a good idea to know how to do it yourself as well.  It can save some money, and it also gives you additional flexibility.  When you’re ready to make the change, follow these steps:

  1. Sign up for your new host – Signing up for your new hosting account is the first thing you should do.  Getting everything set up and ready to go can take some time, and you want to keep everything up and running on your existing hosting account until you are ready to make the move.  DO NOT cancel your existing hosting account, or even let them know that you will be canceling soon.
  2. Move Your Files – Once you start this process, you want to make sure you have sufficient time to complete the entire move.   This is especially important if you are running a site which utilizes user submitted content such as forums.  In order to move your files, you’ll need an FTP (file transfer protocol) program.  One of the easiest to use is FileZilla.  It is free, and can be downloaded HERE if you don’t already have it.  It is a free program.
    1. (2a) Once FileZilla is downloaded, open it up and sign in to your old hosting server.  You place your website address in the host box, the username set up for your FTP account in the username box, and your password in the password box.  Most sites won’t require a Port.  If you don’t have access to this information, contact your old host to get this  information.  ftp1
    2. (2b) Browse to the files for your website.  In most cases the files will be in the /public_html/YourSite folder. ftp2
    3. (2c)Create a folder on your hard drive to temporarily hold all your website files.  Once created, drag the entire folder from the website hosting area to your folder on your hard drive:ftp3
    4. (2d) Depending on the size of your website and the speed of your Internet connection, this could take quite some time.   You’ll see all the files and folders opening and changing quickly during this process.  This is completely normal.
    5. (2e)Once the files have been backed up on your hard drive, it is time to move them to your new hosting server.  Essentially, we will perform the same steps in reverse.  First, connect to your new host via FTP.  You should receive your FTP information in an email from the new host.
    6. (2f)Once connected, drag the entire folder from your hard drive to the public_html area:ftp4
    7. (2g)The files will begin to upload onto your new website host.   Moving these files is the most time consuming tasks, so while this is happening, you can move to the next steps.
  3. Backup Databases – Almost all types of websites use databases to store and display data.  You need to back up your existing database so you can move it to the new hosting server.  If you have access to cPanel (access instructions will be available from your old host) log in to that, and find the phpMyAdmin icon:cpanel1
  4. Click that icon, which will load up your phpMyAdmin page.  Your website’s database will be listed along the left hand side.  If you only have one website you are moving, you can just click export at the top.  If you have more than one on this hosting account, you’ll need to back them all up individually.  Click on the database you wish to back up:cpanel2
  5. Click Export:cpanel3
  6. For most sites, you can use all the default settings.  If you are an advanced user, you can choose some customizations, but it is typically not necessary.   Export method can be left as quick, and format should be SQL:cpanel4
  7. When you hit go, it will download a file to your computer.  It will be named your_database.sql.  Just keep track of where that database has been saved, you’ll need it in a moment.
  8. Now, you need to get to the phpMyAdmin for your new server (also in cPanel, or whatever hosting interface you use).  Now, create a new database, with the same name as the one on your old server.  This can be done by finding the databases section, and clicking on MySQL Databases:cpanel5
  9. Name the database, and click create:cpanel6
  10. Create a username to access that database.  This username (and password) must be the same one which was used to access the database on your old hosting account.  Depending on the type of website you are moving, this information can often be found in the functions.php file.  If you need assistance finding your specific username & password, reach out to your old hosting company’s tech support.cpanel7
  11. Add the user you just created to the database you just created:cpanel8
  12. Choose to give the user all rights to the database when prompted.
  13. Now that the database is created, it is time to add the data from the old site onto this new one.  Go back to the phpMyAdmin page, just like before.
  14. This time, click Import at the top:cpanel9
  15. On the next screen, you need to choose the database file saved from before.  All the other settings can remain the same:cpanel10
  16. Follow the step-by-step instructions on the screen until the database is imported.
  17. Your website has been moved (though users are still going to access it on the old host), now it is time to test it.  In order to test, you need to get the IP address of your new hosting.  This typically comes in an email when you sign up.  To test, simply type in the IP address into any browser, followed by “/YourSite/” where Your Site is the name of the folder we created in step 2F.  So, in the browser you will see something like this:browser1
  18. If everything works properly, you should see your page.  Note that not everything will work like normal because some links on your site won’t use the IP address.  If the site looks normal on the front page, however, everything should be all set.
  19. Update DNS – DNS is the technology the Internet uses to make sure people get to the sites they want when they type in an address.  Currently, the internet directs people who type in your URL to your old host.  To update this, you need to go to the site where your domain is registered.  This could be a site like goDaddy, 1&1, NamesCheap or any others.   Each domain registrar is different, so identify the specific instructions from your specific company.  The process, however, is largely the same.
  20. Locate the Name Servers Setting – Once you’ve found where you can edit your name servers, update them to the name servers of your new host.  Typically it will be something like “NS1.yourhost.com” and “NS2.yourhost.com”.  Almost all hosts provide two name servers, and these will typically come in an email from your hosting company.
  21. Once entered and saved, it can take up to 48 hours for all traffic to be directed to your new website.  Typically it only takes a few hours for most traffic though.
  22. Wait 48 hours, and test all the functionality of your site.  If it is working properly, you can canel your old hosting service.

Setting Up Your New Server. An InterServer Tutorial

Posted at September 19, 2013 at 3:44 pm by admin

tutorial

This documentation is based on my personal server setup experience and on the experience I’ve had helping Interserver customers with their new servers.

Protect Your Data

First and foremost, configure backups for your server. The server is worthless without your data. Data is your business. Imagine what would happen to your business if you lost just some of your data. There’s no excuse for neglecting backup when configuring your new server. Interserver offers several options for data protection and backup to fit any of your needs.

Control panels like cPanel and Plesk include backup functionality and can be configured to automatically backup regularly an FTP/NAS account. Configure backups now, before doing anything else. Before migrating or copying your data to the server. This first (nearly empty) backup will be quick. Test the backup by restoring the data. If your server has RAID, it important to remember that RAID is not backup!

Use Strong Passwords

Interserver sets a random, complex password on every new server that is provisioned. Don’t change it to a weak password using names, birthdays and other trivia that can be found or guessed easily. Remember, a strong password doesn’t have to be a complicated one.

Firewall

Firewalls block network connections. Configuring a firewall manually can get very complicated, especially when involving protocols like FTP which opens random ports on either the client or the server. A quick way to deal with this is to use the system-config-securitylevel-tui tool. Or better, use a firewall front end such as APF or CSF. These tools also simplify blocking or unblocking IPs.

Beyond blocking and allowing IP addresses, it’s also important to lock down the ports on your server. The only open ports on your system should be the ones you want to use.

DNS

DNS is a naming system for computers and services on the Internet. Domain names like “interserver.com” is easier to remember than IP address like 66.228.118.53 or even 2607:f0d0:1000:11:1::4 in IPv6. DNS looks up a domain’s A record (AAAA record for IPv6), to retrieve its IP address. The opposite of an A record is a PTR record: PTR records resolve an IP address to a domain name.

Hostname

A hostname is the human-readable label you assign to your server to help you differentiate it from your other devices. A hostname should resolve to its server’s main IP address, and the IP should resolve back to the hostname via a PTR record. This configuration is extremely important for email, assuming you don’t want all of your emails rejected as spam.

PTR Records

Many ISPs configure their servers that receive email to lookup the IP address of the domain in a sender’s email address (a reverse DNS check) to see that the domain name matches the email server’s host name. You can look up the PTR record for your IP address. In Terminal.app (Mac) or Command Prompt (Windows), type “nslookup” command followed by the IP. If the PTR doesn’t match up, you can change the PTR easily.

SSL Certificates

Getting an SSL certificate for your site is optional, but it has many benefits. The certificates will assure your customers that they are looking at your site securely. SSL encrypts passwords and data sent over the network. Any website using SSL Certificates should be assigned its own IP address.

Now that you’ve prepared your server and protected your data, you are ready to migrate your content to its new home. Be proactive about monitoring and managing your server once it’s in production. Choose Interserver for highly reliable and best-in-class Cloud VPS services and feel the difference!

Interserver & Litespeed

Posted at April 9, 2013 at 2:56 pm by admin

Interserver and Litespeed banner

Interserver and Litespeed

 

 

Interserver has been partnering with LiteSpeed since they opened in 2002 to provide our most demanding customers with the speed, reliability and performance they require.  Since both companies are based in the New Jersey it was a perfect fit which allowed us to quickly learn about the exciting technologies which were being developed by the engineers at LiteSpeed so we could become leaders in implementing this technology into our web servers.

We have been dedicated to providing comprehensive web hosting solutions to individuals and companies of all sizes since 1999.  From the beginning we have been committed to providing the highest quality services to our clients and one of the ways we do this is by always using cutting edge technologies which is why we immediately began working with LiteSpeed when they were founded in 2002.

The LiteSpeed services are available on both our VPS and dedicated server products which means they are affordable to clients at virtually all price points.  Our team of engineers and the experts at LiteSpeed understand that it isn’t only the huge multi-national companies that require the fastest response times for their web pages which is why we offer the LiteSpeed web services to customers at almost all price points.

Our clients have benefited from the increased reliability, performance and speed which they can enjoy by using the LiteSpeed web servers.  Large websites with heavy loads appreciate the fact that they can get the increased performance they require through this affordable software based solution rather than purchasing expensive new hardware.  Many of our smaller clients have found that because they often get the bulk of their traffic in short bursts of time the LiteSpeed services are a great way to keep their site loading smoothly without having to pay the higher rates of a dedicated server.

Since 2002 Interserver has been extremely happy to use and offer the LiteSpeed services, and we look forward to continuing this extremely beneficial partnership long into the future.