If you are using a Linux server for hosting your company website, then you would be probably using Apache which is an open-source software. The HTTP server project was started by Apache in the year 1995 and since then it has continues to make active development. Today, Apache is one of the most widely used and popular open-source software applications. If you are one of the Apache users, then you will want to focus on optimizing the Apache performance.
Although Apache runs fairly well after a fresh install, you might encounter latency issues or a dip in performance over time. This happens as the volume of transactions to your web server is increased. Preferably, you must seek for professional assistance from the web hosting company or from an Apache or Linux expert, there are some easy optimization tricks available hat you can execute yourself for improving your Apache environment.
Apache 101 : An Insight On The Basics
Here is some important information for the users who don’t completely understand how Apache works. It basically processes several programming languages including Pearl, PHP and Python. Web developers generate code that creates HTML documents which are served by the HTTP server.
There are various modules that can be added in Apache for extended functionality. This includes security, authentication, compression and multitude of the other scripts. It is possible to configure and extend Apache and as it is an open source software, the code can be customized according to the user requirements as well.
The Apache HTTP server belongs to the Apache software foundation. This is a non-profit corporation created for supporting a variety of software projects including Hadoop, HTTP server, Subversion and Jakarta and many others.
Before you start doing anything with your Apache installation, plane make a note of the following factors:
Have a root access : In order to configure all the items, you will need root access or administrative user access to your server. This is most likely done through SSH. In absence of the root access, you won’t be able to make the desired changes.
Backup : Before you make any modifications, ensure that you have the backup of your server and the files that you will be modifying.
Test : If you have access to the server clone, then perform all the testing activities on the clone itself. The cloud platform is perfect for this.
Document : As you do the optimizations, make sure to document all the changes made. You might prefer doing this in an external document. Therefore, if you dint have access to the server, you will have a record of what you were doing and when you made the changes. Also, comment on the changes and modifications made within the files.
Upgrade : Ensure that you upgrade to the latest stable version and patch level supported by your operating system. There are various performance and security improvements in the new versions.
Getting The Best From Apache
In order to make the most out of the Apache HTTP server, ere are many things that you can do for improving the performance of your server environment. However, optimization might not be necessary if your website is only processing a few hundred or a few thousand requests on a daily basis. In such a case, the default configurations are sufficient.
If optimization is required for your server, then here are few Apache optimization tricks that you can easily implement:
Disable Or Delete The Unused Modules : Apache comprises of many modules. Make sure to carefully review the modules that are enabled. You need to do this for ensuring that you are only activating and utilizing the ones that are actually needed. By not loading the modules that are not required, you will be able to save money on your server.
Use Caching : In order to reduce the overheads for your server and reduce the processor requests, activate the caching technology within Apache and use it. Use the feature of disk caching (mod_disk_cache) instead of memory caching (mod_mem_cache), especially if you have limitations in terms of the RAM available on your server. If possible, externalize the disk cache to a different external drive. If you are using caching, make sure to set the appropriate expire times; otherwise, you might not be able to achieve the purpose of caching. However, if you frequently use the data and sessions, ‘memcaching’ is sufficient and can reduce the burden of database queries.
Use Compression : Use compression wherever possible. Get into the habit of compressing the content before sending it. For example, the use of gzip will cut down the size of the files. These files can be uncompressed later on within the browser once they are received by the end user.
Turn Off Host Name Lookups : In the earlier versions of Apache, the setting for hostname lookups by default was ‘on’. As a result of this, there was latency in requests. This is because every time a host name was detected, a DNS lookup was activated. Although this setting is ‘off’ in Apache 1.3 and in the later versions, even then make sure to check on this setting.
Upgrade RAM And Storage : Although this is not an Apache specific modification, this optimization is required as it will improvise on the performance of the server. Incorporating more RAM in Apache means that the number of requests can be increased and thereby speed can be enhanced. It is important to upgrade the hard drive to a level that supports aster I/O. this will be beneficial especially for database requests and for all the disk-cache based transactions.
The most crucial thing while carrying out any kind of Apache optimization is to analyze whether Apcahe optimization is actually required, this is the first step! What maybe an area of concentration for one server environment might not be for other. It is important to take the necessary steps whenever required and you will be able to achieve the best Apache server environment.
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