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Do Your Pages Download Fast?
By: Developer Shed
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    Do Your Pages Download Fast?
    by Bob McElwain

    You can answer this question yourself. It is easy to do, and
    we will get to it. First, let's be clear about what fast means.

    A number of people have said my pages download fast. Some
    have given numbers. But what do they mean? I recently read
    pages should download in 4 seconds. An expert site designer
    reported my pages downloaded within 10-15 seconds. A marketing
    guru gave times from 8 to 10 seconds. Yet on my system, it takes
    about 20 seconds.

    Why are qualified people reporting different speeds as the
    maximum acceptable? The difference lies in our individual
    connections to the Web. While the modem, disk, and CPU speed of
    your system are factors, the route traveled to your ISP (Internet
    Service Provider) and its performance are also critical. An
    overloaded ISP can really slow things down. Then there is the
    speed at which a server can deliver information.

    Back to the question, there is only one way to answer it.
    While the opinions of others are important, the numbers they give
    are not, because all are trapped by the limitations of their
    equipment and ISP.

    The only way to obtain good data is to delete your cache
    files. Your browser will not take the time to download anything
    already on your disk, even if you click Reload. Find your cache
    directory and delete all files in it. Now download your home
    page and note the time.

    Given graphics repeated from page to page, such as navigation
    buttons, times to download subsequent pages will be faster, and
    need not be considered. It is the time to download the first
    page with no files in cache that matters, for this is what new
    visitors will experience.

    Next, check the web for sites similar to yours. (If you have
    been to the site, remember to delete all cache files.) Check the
    download speed and compare it to yours.

    A common reason for differences in times is the number and
    size of graphics. Ignore results for pages containing more or
    larger graphics than you use, for they really slow things down.
    If you find that pages similar to yours in size and graphic
    content download as yours do, you are fine, regardless of the

    Why? Because all surfers are trapped by their system and
    ISP. All will have become accustomed to a speed they feel is
    adequate. You can do nothing to improve this speed, beyond being
    sure you are using a fast host. Thus if the download speed for
    your site compares favorably with that of similar sites, your
    visitors will be content.

    If your download speed is greater than those of equivalent
    sites, take a hard look at your host. A server often makes money
    by selling more capacity than it has. Then your visitors will
    always find things moving too slowly. (If you need a fast
    server, consider or; I use both and find
    their delivery speeds to be excellent.)

    So ignore all those numbers given about maximum download
    times, because the people giving them are also trapped by their
    gear and ISP. Compare the performance of your pages to similar
    pages. If yours are as good or better, all is well.

    Bob McElwain
    Web marketing and consulting since 1993
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    DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by Developer Shed, Inc. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. As such it is incumbent upon the reader to employ real-world tactics for security and implementation of best practices. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials. If this is a hardware review, it is not recommended to open and/or modify your hardware.

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