5 Ways to Reduce Server Response Time

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5 Ways to Reduce Server Response Time

Your server response time is a metric that tracks how long it takes your device to receive feedback from the server; this may also be called time to first byte (TTFB). Server response is an important metric to monitor, since many web applications, such as HTML, cannot function or proceed without a response.

Reducing your server’s response time will help deliver quality web site performance for your users, reduce lags and delays, and optimize performance. When you take the amount of traffic your site receives and manage to enhance your server response, you’ll notice an improvement in speed and site usability.

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Reducing Your Server Response Time

There are several factors that can influence the way your server responds, which means optimizing your response time may require different methods or steps. In this article, we will touch on five different ways to reduce your response times and increase user satisfaction with your content delivery. The methods touched on below include:

• Utilizing a content delivery network,
• Implementing a caching service for your server,
• Choosing an alternative web server,
• Combining JavaScript and Cascading Style Sheets for query reduction, and
• Optimizing the database query.

1. Utilize a Content Delivery Network (e.g. Cloudflare, Incapsula, MaxCDN)

Content delivery networks are sometimes called content distribution networks or CDN for short, are a group of servers that are distributed across different data centers that provide for high uptime and high performance. The use of CDNs have grown dramatically, now serving a big portion of the internet and the available content; this includes web objects, downloadable objects, applications, live and on-demand media, and even social networking content.

CDNs often function as a go-between for the content owner and the user. This works with the content owner paying for the CDN service, and the CDN service pays the network operator to host their servers at their data centers. This allows the CDN to deliver the content owner’s data to the user quickly and efficiently.

2. Implement a Caching Service on Your Server (e.g. Nginx, Varnish)

Caching services offer a type of storage for web documents, like a web page or image, to help reduce the bandwidth usage, server load, and any perceived lag. Using a web cache, temporary copies of these data types are stored, allowing for a quicker response when the user loads a page or image; this allows requests for content to be delivered from the cache, if applicable.

Server side caches can function similarly to a CDN, which retains copies of web page content to deliver results faster while reducing strain on the server. Web caches need to fulfill three basic to be controlled accurately, which is freshness, validation, and invalidation.

Freshness means the cached response can be used without the originating server re-checking the response. Validation means the cached response is checked for validity based on its expiration time. Invalidation occurs when a cached response has a request pass through it; this can cause the cached response to be invalidated.

3. Choose an Alternative Web Server (e.g. Nginx, Litespeed)

Alternative web servers provide an option that’s reliable, powerful, and secure. There are some server deployments that may require more than these servers can offer, but if you want a lightweight server, open source server, or a server with a small footprint, these alternatives may be for you.

Nginx has increasingly become one of the more popular and utilized web servers over the last several years. Nginx has gained popularity for the scalable, event-driven architecture, sometimes called asynchronous architecture, which makes it more efficient with memory usage or low-resource deployments.

4. Combine JavaScript and Cascading Style Sheets To Reduce Queries

When your web page loads, JavaScript (JS) and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are loaded based on their location and the number of each file type stored. What this means for your server response is that the more JS or CSS files located on the site, the more times the files need to be fetched by the server to load the content.

One way to reduce strain on the server is to combine the files into a small number of related scripts. For instance, combining multiple CSS scripts into one file that manage the site’s background and color scheme is more effective than having multiple CSS files addressing each aspect individually.

Additionally, consider where you load these files into your browser scripts since loading them into the header section can delay your content loading time when the site fetches the files. Unless the content is dependent on the JS or CSS file loading first, you may be able to fetch them at a later point in the page, reducing server strain.

5. Optimize the Database Query

Optimizing your database queries means maximizing the speed and efficiency that your queries are processed and retrieved. A database can store a large amount of information at any given time, which means designing the database to handle the demands of user queries is essential.

Query optimization works to improve your server response times by determining the most effective and efficient way to run a provided query. Query optimization, traditionally, is not an accessible function to the end user but rather a part of a successful database that runs when a user inputs a request for information.

Before engaging in a query optimization method, such as logical optimization or physical optimization, the cost of the method, the processing power of the method, and the overall optimization offered must be assessed. Database searches can become larger over time, especially as the database increases in size, which means one method will not work for every database.


Finding ways to reduce the response time for your server is essential if you want to have a responsive site that’s user-friendly and stable. Delays in accessing content can lead to a loss of user satisfaction and a lack of quality. Ensuring continued monitoring and issue resolution, however, is key to keeping server responses timely and consistent; addressing performance issues when they occur is critical to continued success and user satisfaction.