website speed optimization

Does it seem as if your website has slowed down in the past couple of weeks? Many people in various forums are reporting that they sense a speed reduction recently, and are asking for advice. Could a virus cause the internet to slow down?

The Effects Of COVID-19 On The Internet

While it is true that “viruses” can be a big problem on different operating systems (when was the last time you ran a virus/malicious program checker on your system?), it is also true that COVID-19 has had an effect in an indirect way on internet use, website speed, and a general slowdown. It seems that with over 20% of the world on a “lockdown,” there has been a significant increase in demand for bandwidth.

In Europe, it has become so noticeable that streaming services such as Netflix and Youtube have reduced the bitrate or quality of streams to help meet the demand. This, of course, means poorer quality video, but at the same time, has helped to some degree in preventing major bandwidth issues.

Significant Bandwidth Usage Can Affect Your Website Speed

No matter how fast the server your website resides on, to end-users who are visiting your site from networks that are experiencing bandwidth issues will experience slowness. This could be happening to you if you are visiting your own website, and your network and the routers in between you and your website are experiencing high usage. The reasons for a decrease in website speed can be many, and tracking them down often requires some specialized network tools to determine where on a route the slowness is occurring.

Other Reasons For Slow Websites

Let’s look at some of the reasons other than a Corona virus affecting the speed of your site:

Cheap Website Hosting

Your hosting can be one of the most significant reasons for a slow website. While website hosting is generally inexpensive, you should understand that most website hosting companies that focus only on hosting want to make as big a profit as they can with the least amount of investments for a high ROI. Having a goal of a high ROI is not a bad thing in itself; most businesses operate on the idea of a strong Return On Investment. But with inexpensive web hosting accounts, your hosting company is most likely overselling resources including disk space and bandwidth (ie, claims of “unlimited disk space, unlimited traffic”). They do this knowing that while some customers may use up a significant amount, other customers will use up very little of the server’s resources.

In addition, while many web hosting companies promise unlimited this and that, deep in their Terms Of Service (TOS), there are clauses that allow them to suspend your account and these include technical things like inode usage. While they promise you unlimited disk space, what they don’t tell you is that you are limited in the number of “inodes” your account can use up – and lots of small files and email storage can cause you to exceed inode usage, even though you have not used more disk space than you’ve been allotted.

But this is not a reason for slow websites but rather making you aware that unlimited disk space and bandwidth promises are often not all cracked up to be what is claimed.

With that in mind, website hosting servers can be slow because:

  • Poor server response times
  • Total bandwidth use of the hosting company network is high
  • Older hardware that causes slow responses on modern websites that use databases to serve up content
  • Poorly configured servers
  • And many other reasons

Poorly Optimized Websites

Your own website may be poorly optimized in the first place. If you or your developer used a bloated site-building tool or theme, or far too many plugins, this is often the cause of website speed issues. In fact, one poorly developed website that has been built using a bloated theme and site-building tool can actually cause a pretty powerful server to use up so much server resources, that it will affect other clients on a shared hosting plan. If this happens, site speed won’t be your only issue: the hosting company will likely suspend your account for a TOS violation.

That website that looks beautiful when you have no traffic might cause really big problems when you manage to generate a lot of traffic to it. Just when you’re getting great bursts of traffic and visitors interested in what you have to offer, your hosting company suspends your site – because it was not optimized in the first place.

Other website issues that can cause website speed issues include:

  • Databases that are not optimized: Databases require maintenance and this should be done regularly.
  • Security vulnerabilities in your plugins or CMS core that your site was built on
  • Over use of plugins that are not necessary
  • Images that have not been optimized for website speed
  • Using older version of PHP

There are actually quite a few reasons which we explain in our article, Speed Matters: Why You Should Speed Up Your Website. We invite you to read it and learn some of the reasons.

Can Your Website Speed Be Improved?

Unless your website is already very fast, there’s a good chance that speed issues can be optimized through a variety of processes and optimizations. One of the first things to look at is your choice of website hosting – even a shared hosting provider that seems to be reasonably fast at first will most likely, in time, experience chronic degradation.

We can provide you with a website speed audit, make recommendations and implement them for you. Contact Us to discuss.

In the end, there are many reasons for website slowness, and yes, right now if you are seeing speed issues, it is very possible it is due in part to the COVID-19 virus and the fact that many people all around the world – millions and millions, in fact, are sitting at home and streaming videos! But, there is still a good chance we can help you speed up your website despite this.

Call us today at (519) 940-3504. If we don’t answer, leave a message – we’re likely helping some clients right now and will get right back to you.

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