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Tools to Troubleshoot your Website’s Performance

Sep 17th 2013

We here at DOSarrest work with a wide variety of IT and business professionals on a day to day basis, from Website developers to CEOs. Even though DDoS protection services is our specialty, we are often asked about website performance and how our service can help. Our service when used properly and configured to leverage our caching system can deliver some amazing performance. In order to maximize performance a websites’ code should adhere to some standards, be efficient and deliver the best performance possible.

We will explore some free tools available online to help evaluate website performance and show where improvements can be made.

First we will look at Yahoo’s free Firefox extension YSlow. Yslow integrates with the free Firebug extension (Firefox) and is also available for Chrome, Opera, Safari, and Mobile/Bookmarket browsers. YSlow will crawl the Document Object Model (DOM) to find all components of the website in addition to any information firebug has found about the site. Any information such as expires headers and gzip information not found through firebug or which is cached, is discovered through direct requests to the site. A letter grade will then be generated for the site based upon 23 of Yahoo’s defined rules for good performance. A letter grade will also be given for each of the 23 Rules defined by Yahoo along with suggestions on how to improve performance as it pertains to those rules. Additional information regarding YSlow is available at the following link.

Our second tool, PageSpeed Insights Extensions, is developed by Google for Chrome (Chrome Development Tools) and Firefox (Firebug) browsers, and available free of charge. Like YSlow, PageSpeed evaluates a site and gives a letter grade based on a set of rules, along with suggestions to improve performance based on those rules. The tool will perform several tests on a website’s server configurations and front-end code. The rules tested are based on a mix of Google Developer research, internal use by Google Applications, and suggestions by blog posts and articles published by the web community. PageSpeed will also allow you to choose to analyze the entire site, or only advertisements, trackers, or content. Additional information regarding PageSpeed can be found at the following link.

Both tools have their advantages and disadvantages, for example, they may give recommendations for improving performance that go against certain standard design and development practices. Keep in mind these tools’ only goal is to improve speed and performance load times for your site, and some recommendations may be restrictive for individual websites. YSlow and PageSpeed operate under different rules for website performance so you may see conflicting results, its best to run both tools in conjunction and take the recommendations that will work best with your site design.

I’ll be discussing additional tools over the next few weeks. Stay tuned…

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