Reduce server response time

Average Score25%


Server response time, in a nutshell, refers to the time a web server takes to respond to a client browser’s request. Google recommends keeping the server response time under 200 milliseconds .


Time to First Byte (TTFB) is another metric of web performance that refers to the time a browser waits for receiving the first byte of information from the web server. It is dependent on many network, and server-side factors. Though TTFB doesn’t represent the total page load times, analyzing TTFB over a period of a time can help descry overloads on the web server. Server response time can be influenced by a number of factors like:

  • Level of optimization of your databases
  • Web host and the selected hosting plan
  • Extent of server resources used by the web pages
  • Web Traffic or the number of requests to the server
  • Configuration of the web server software
  • Level of optimization of installed plugins and extensions etc.


Broadly speaking, server response time can be improved by two ways – by the efficient use of all available resources, and by upgrading your server hardware or hosting plan. The chief factors affecting server response times, and their recommendations are detailed below.

1. Slow database queries:

When server responses involve databases, proper optimization of databases is the key to consistently good server response times. Slow database queries can result in significantly higher response times, even on powerful servers. Due diligence must be taken to ensure that indices, and schema are designed appropriate to the usage scenario. In general, using a clustered index was found to deliver overall performance benefits. Clustered indices have both the index and data pages, whereas a heap contains only the data pages. The data in a clustered index is sorted according to the columns in it. Normalizing your databases in the right amount will also deliver performance improvements, and make it easy to work with. A well designed database won’t require much modifications when new data sets have to be included.

2. Web host and the selected hosting plan:

All your meticulous optimizations at the database and application logic levels will become fruitless if you don’t have sufficient server resources to handle your web traffic. Choosing the right hosting plan from your web host will save you from expensive overage charges in the event of traffic surges, or front-end issues. Wisely upgrading your hosting according to the traffic trends will ensure that your optimized front-end will never run out of resources. It means regular monitoring of your web traffic and resource usage is inevitable for timely upgrades to higher tiers of hosting from Shared to VPS, dedicated or even collocated hosting.

3. Web server configuration:

Almost all web server software can be customized according to your requirements to leverage maximum performance. In its default configuration, the Apache server badly needs a skilled customization for optimal performance. Expert assistance may be needed in these cases. Nginx web server is suitable for high traffic websites by virtue of its low resource usage. The Litespeed server, though not widely used as Nginx or Apache, may be suitable for many usage cases, especially when PHP is involved.