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8 Tips for a Happier, Healthier Server

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If your business relies on online sales for profit, you probably already know that your server – and how fast it performs – is critical to your continued success. Online consumers are demanding more of the businesses they transact with. They can’t be blamed because they have so many choices; for every product or service that’s provided, there are hundreds of other businesses that can do it in a better, faster way.

One of the biggest contention points with many online shoppers is the speed of their online transactions. You may have high quality products, but it doesn’t matter if consumers can’t access them. That’s why a slow server could be your downfall.

But what makes a server slow? And what can you do to remedy it? Here are 8 tips to help you figure it all out.

1. Your Server May Be Old.

Servers, like everything else in the IT world, have a lifespan – and a rather short one at that. What was in a year ago is already outdated. While hosting providers make it their business to constantly update their hardware, those updated systems could prove a little too expensive for a smaller business. So, if you can’t outright buy a new server, try to look for ways to increase its performance: RAM, hard disks, and additional bandwidth could be added to enhance your visitors’ experience. Unfortunately, this method can only be used up to a certain point.

2. Think of Installing a Reverse Proxy Server.

One thing that kills server performance is constantly switching between tasks as it handles requests from incoming connections. The more customers you have outside your network, the faster it has to switch between commands to address their demands. A reverse proxy server can help by taking some of the burden off your server by re-routing all connections. By allowing the de-cluttered and filtered requests to pass through a fast internal link, you’re ensuring faster communication between the server and the proxy. This frees the server up to focus on feeding the proxy’s requests, instead of sitting and waiting for the customers’ direct access. This can significantly improve data access and serving.

3. Data Caching

Your server doesn’t need to provide fresh data every time a request is made. When an original request for data has been made, it can be cached on another server (the proxy could work well) and instead of heading to the main server, customers’ requests can be directed to that cached server. The cached data has a short lifespan and will either be deleted when demand for it has waned or died off, or updated at intervals in cases where it remains in demand to ensure currency and relevance.

4. Load Balancing

Having two servers share a job helps increase efficiency. Instead of having just one server handle all traffic, you could add another server to take over some of the load. With regular synchronization, switching between servers for retrieval of data will be transparent to users.

5. Data Compression

Media files, like videos and images, take up a lot of server space. Whenever possible, use data compression to save disk space. But that’s not all. Your web pages – including HTML, texts, CSS, and JavaScript – are normally transmitted without being compressed. This creates a huge burden on the server’s connection, as well as the visitors’ method of data access, especially if they are using slow internet or mobile connections. In the end, compression helps everyone, so start compressing!

6. Software Updates

Operating system manufacturers are always improving their products. Make sure you are on top of updates and bulletins released from the manufacturers of all your software, not just that of your operating system, to ensure you  have the fastest performing equipment.

7. Enhanced Security

Illegal or unwarranted access of your servers could cause it to run slowly. If people who have no business being on your server are allowed to run amok, they will eventually eat up all of the resources that were meant for your legitimate users. Lock your server down and only allow those who have a right to be there in.

8. Regular Clean Ups

Over time, your server will collect data that is irrelevant. This could include old log files, unused data, or users’ files that shouldn’t be there. Implement a schedule to regularly flush the “debris” and keep track of your users’ data, too. If they have data they haven’t accessed or moved in a while, inform them that they either need to use it or lose it.

Finally, while it takes real courage to run and maintain your own server, you shouldn’t be afraid to move to a hosting server provider so you can let the professionals handle your data and its storage, while you focus on your primary objective: earning more profit!

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