How Cloud Hosting Can Enhance Your Website Load Speed
When the speed of information is everything, websites must be fully optimised and use any technology available to help them serve content and functionality as quickly as possible. One way to enhance a website’s load speed is through cloud hosting.
This guide will look at how cloud hosting can enhance your website load speed and provide numerous other benefits that can improve your website’s performance.
Why is website load speed so important?
The key barometer for web performance is usually load speed, precisely how quickly a browser can fully display a web page to the visitor. This includes all text, images, video, and any code that provides functionality and interactivity to the page.
If a website loads slowly, many users will likely navigate away from it and look elsewhere. 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less, while 53% abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds. This can result in missed conversions and harm your search engine rankings.
On the other hand, websites that render quickly are automatically in a great position regarding user engagement, with faster-loading websites benefiting from higher Google rankings, more traffic, and a lower bounce rate. The bounce rate is the percentage of users that exit a website after only viewing one page.
Websites with long loading times do not deliver a good user experience, causing frustration for users accustomed to almost instantaneous information 24/7. That’s why page load speeds are a significant consideration for Google and other search engines. As a result, slow websites are unlikely to fare well against speedier competitors regarding Google rankings and their overall SEO efforts.
What factors can impact a website’s load speed?
Five key factors can impact a website’s load speed, which we will outline below.
1 – Hosting
Usually, the most significant factor that causes a website to load slowly is a poor hosting choice. Choosing the cheapest or most basic hosting package often means you will get precisely what you pay for, to the detriment of your business and customer satisfaction. However, high-quality hosting doesn’t have to be expensive, with many affordable options able to deliver fast loading speeds.
When choosing a hosting plan, you should always double-check what is on offer and ensure it matches the requirements of your business. For example, a shared hosting package is unlikely to work if your website uses large databases, so consider something more personalised.
When choosing your hosting package, a few factors to consider are:
- Server Response Time – Try to research online for an independent review. An important metric is ‘Time to First Byte’ (TTFB), which should be 0.8 seconds or less.
- Hardware – Although a cloud hosting solution is highly recommended, if you decide on a more traditional hosting setup, you should ensure the server is fitted with modern hardware. For example, AMD Ryzen processors and Solid State Drives (SSDs) are a considerable upgrade from older server components.
- How many accounts are on the server – When choosing a shared hosting solution, you could risk having too many accounts, which can significantly impact performance.
Moving this code to the footer part of the page will ensure the rest of the page loads first, improving the user experience. If you are using WordPress, for example, some plugins can do this automatically, so you do not need to edit any of the theme’s code.
3 – Poorly-written code
To ensure a website performs as well as possible, the code that makes up the website needs to be written as efficiently as possible. Sometimes, a developer may lack the capabilities to streamline their code, resulting in big blocks that only perform peripheral functions.
Removing coding elements that are not required can significantly speed up load times, and refinements such as getting rid of space, line breaks, and unnecessary formatting can all make a big difference. Tools such as Dirty Markup can help fix poorly-written code.
4 – Hotlinking
Hotlinking is the process of displaying images on a website that are hosted on another server. In this context, we are talking about other people using the URL of one of your images to display it on their site, which means you are effectively hosting the image for them.
If this is the case, it puts extra strain on your server, potentially sending thousands of queries simultaneously. This can severely impact the performance of your server, and in extreme cases, it could result in your hosting provider suspending your account.
You should alter your .htaccess file to avoid image hotlinking to avoid this problem.
5 – Installing too many plugins and widgets
The final problem is WordPress-specific. WordPress websites use plugins and widgets to provide various features and additional functionality. However, if a website becomes overloaded with this software, it can impact how quickly your website loads.
To avoid this, only install the plugins and widgets you need and uninstall redundant ones sitting unused and being needlessly rendered by servers. Also, ensure you only use plugins and widgets published by reputable developers that are frequently updated.
How can I check the speed of my website?
There are two recommended resources for checking the load speed of your website – Google PageSpeed Insights and GTmetrix.
- Google PageSpeed Insights reports your website’s performance on desktop and mobile. The report contains numerous suggestions for improving your website’s speed based on lab and field data.
- GTmetrix is another website performance reporting tool. It provides detailed analytics and recommended actions that you can take to speed up your website.
To test the above, you can enter https://ling-app.com as an example of a website that loads correctly and performs well. According to the GTmetrix report, LingApp has a performance score of 98%, and its TTFB is only 0.261 seconds, indicating that the site is doing well in terms of load speed.
What is cloud hosting?
Before we go over its benefits, we should first discuss cloud hosting. Cloud hosting is a form of web hosting that uses a virtual server instead of a physical one. This virtual processing power can be shared by large user groups or dedicated to a single organisation, helping power networks and software anywhere in the world.
From the user’s perspective, using a professional cloud hosting service is no different from using a traditional hosting provider. The setup is taken care of for you, and you get ongoing maintenance and security for the length of your contract.
You can also customise cloud hosting packages to ensure you only pay for the things you need. The hardware and applications can be selected based on your requirements, with expert recommendations to make the process easier.
Virtual servers guarantee high performance and reliability at all times, even during periods of significant traffic, meaning unexpected server downtime is a thing of the past. A cloud solution also allows you to scale up or down your package whenever you need it, which is perfect for growing your business.
How do cloud servers work?
A cloud server is a virtual computer server that provides resources to remote users over a network. A cloud server can provide all the same functions as a physical server (such as supporting operating systems and applications) but can also boast several advantages.
They work through the virtualisation of a physical server, allowing that server to be remotely accessed by users worldwide. You can use the physical server to create numerous virtual servers (cloud servers), achieved by following structured models incorporating a range of technology and software.
The cloud vendor (or cloud hosting provider) grants access to the cloud server’s resources and storage, and this is delivered using an IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), SaaS (Software as a service), or PaaS (Platform as a service) model.
IaaS includes only the virtual servers, storage, and networking capabilities, whereas PaaS provides a customisable cloud computing environment, complete with tools to develop applications. Meanwhile, SaaS is a complete computing environment fully managed by the vendor.
Types of cloud servers
There are three main types of cloud servers that a business or organisation can choose from:
- Public Cloud Servers – This is the most common form of cloud server provided by cloud hosting providers to users across the internet (publicly), using a web-based interface/console. This server type uses the IaaS model.
- Private Cloud Servers – A Private Cloud Server is a private cloud network situated on an organisation’s premises, delivering cloud services to internal users across a Local Area Network (LAN). However, this could also be extended to external users via the internet if secured access is provided.
- Dedicated Cloud Servers – A Dedicated Cloud Server is the physical server provided to an organisation to be used solely by them. This type of service is often required when an organisation needs very high levels of performance and security.
How cloud hosting can enhance your website load speed
Let’s take a more in-depth look at how cloud hosting can enhance your website load speed, ensuring a great user experience.
In the most basic terms, a cloud hosting solution distributes the workload across several virtual servers instead of a traditional setup where a single physical server is tasked with providing resources. This shared capability means there is less strain on the system and that there are always additional resources if required.
Cloud hosting provides functionality like file storage, the user control panel, emails, and backups, all the technologies necessary to provide a functional website. Spreading the processing requirements of these functions across numerous servers reduces the chances of resources being exhausted, so your website can operate at its total capacity at all times.
With a cloud solution, the average server load will generally be below 60%, even during peak traffic. This ensures that capacity will always be available and provides stability to all the websites hosted on the virtual network.
Some ways can make a cloud network even faster.
1 – SSD drives
Cloud servers that use Solid State Drives (SSD) instead of Hard Disk Drives (HDD) can process data quicker, providing even more rapid load speeds. As well as speed, SSDs also have a few other advantages over HDDs.
2 – Faster file systems
Solutions that utilise a ZFS file system and LZ4 compression offer much higher speeds than older systems such as EXT4, the system used by cPanel, the standard choice for traditional hosting solutions.
3 – Simple backup processes
If your cloud solutions use an advanced ZFS file system, you will also benefit from a speedy and uncomplicated backup process.
A Snapshot-based backup system is proven to be up to ten times faster than cPanel’s rsync system, which is known to impact server speed when processing.
Because Snapshot does not require many resources, backups can be completed regularly without impacting the server’s performance.
4 – Multiple locations
The physical servers that create the virtual servers that make up a cloud network can be situated anywhere in the world. The best cloud hosting providers ensure they have multiple servers across numerous continents. Load times are quicker when the physical distance between your clients and the data centre is shorter, so hosting from different geographical locations is a significant advantage.
5 – More intelligent user limits
Another way that cloud hosting provides excellent server performance 24/7 is by limiting the resources a client is allowed to use based on their maximum requirements. Instead of managing user limits based on storage space or traffic, a better way is to implement a CPU usage quota. This is a much more accurate system that ensures servers are not overloaded.
Cloud hosting providers use controller software to monitor CPU usage to ensure that each user has enough resources to work at their optimal level and that the server remains stable. This software also prompts the server management team to install additional hardware if the server needs more processing power to accommodate new users.
What are the other benefits of cloud hosting?
As well as breakneck speeds, there are four key benefits to using cloud hosting for your website.
1 – No downtime
A considerable benefit of a cloud hosting package is the number of connected servers, which means that another can instantly take over should one suffer an issue. This is not a benefit offered by physical servers, as should a physical server go down, your website will remain down until the problem is resolved.
2 – Disaster recovery
This virtual multi-server setup also enables automatic backups of all your website’s data. Should a server fail, nothing will be lost, and you will quickly recover the data on one of the cloud network’s other servers. On the other hand, disaster recovery can take much longer when using a traditional server.
3 – Costs
Cloud hosting is affordable, especially when tailored to your exact needs. This level of flexibility means it does not need to be a more expensive option when compared to traditional hosting solutions.
In most cases, paying for cloud hosting can also be much more flexible, instead of the outdated method of a monthly subscription. You can achieve this in just a few clicks if you need to upgrade your service.
Cloud hosting is also a fully managed solution, meaning there are no labour and maintenance costs for the server.
4 – Peace of mind
Cloud hosting ensures that your website is always secured and available. Downtime and slow loading times can deter potential customers, reducing conversion rates and resulting in a drop in profit.
Cloud servers also feature high levels of security, meaning your user’s data (i.e., bank details) is safe from cyber threats. For businesses, especially e-commerce websites, a cloud hosting solution is the sensible choice.
The limitations of traditional hosting providers
Traditional, shared hosting that uses a physical server, HDD, and cPanel is still commonly used worldwide. Many users are enticed by short-term offers that make it appear a cheap and effective solution. However, in the long term, traditional hosting has many limitations that should make people think twice:
- You may share your hosting with larger websites prone to large traffic spikes. When this happens, the server’s overall processing capability decreases, resulting in slower load times for your website and others hosted on the same server.
- Another critical disadvantage to shared hosting is security, as one compromised website could affect the entire network. Some cyberattacks exploit a single website, uploading malware to the server, which you can then use to steal sensitive data from other websites on that same server. All internet users must know best practices when accessing the World Wide Web in a digital world. This can help avoid security breaches and protect a person’s data from falling into the wrong hands. Educating internet users and practising digital citizenship is the best way to stop cybercrime.
- With shared hosting, all the websites on the server will likely use the same email service. If one user on the server is flagged as a spam sender, your domain may also be flagged as you share the same internet protocol (IP).
- Although the up-front cost of shared hosting can be very cheap, there may be add-ons that are required further down the line that can significantly increase your overall spending. One additional cost is SSL Certificates which are rarely included in the package for free, meaning your website is deemed ‘Not Secure’ by browsers.
Many cloud hosting providers include SSL certificates in the initial pricing, making life easier for clients.
Cloud hosting is a more advanced solution when compared to traditional shared hosting and can offer many advantages while remaining affordable for even small websites. From security to scalability, cloud hosting improves on shared hosting in every aspect. However, the main thing that makes cloud servers superior is their load speeds and performance.
A cloud network creates numerous virtual servers that provide resources to websites hosted on the network. This enables the hosting provider to allocate CPU usage to each user, manage performance, and perform regular backups.
From a user’s perspective, not only will their website load at faster speeds, but they can also benefit from improved security, and their requirements can be scaled up or down as necessary. Cloud hosting is a much more flexible and versatile approach that can cater to businesses and organisations of any size.