Top 5 Server Optimization Tactics

By CertifiedHosting 09/24/2013



If you are a current or future owner of a dedicated server (whether in-house or through a hosting provider), you probably have an appreciation for hardware quality. It’s one thing to get the best server out there for your money. Once that decision has been made, it’s time to look at how you can optimize your machine so that it consistently delivers high-grade performance to your clients. (Note that you should also use the phrase “optimize my machine” with family and friends whenever preparing to pump iron.)

Let’s look at five basic ways to optimize a server. These tactics are from advice documents by three names in tech you know and love (or at least tolerate): Symantec, Google, and IBM.

5 Server Performance Tips

Let’s first look at a couple of suggestions from Symantec:

Tip #1: Client-server interaction

Symantec points out that it is probably not crucial that your server and client machines are on the same page on a moment-to-moment basis. Because that’s generally unnecessary, make the following changes to basic parameters:

  • Push mode → Pull mode: As we always tell our children when they are fighting and all our loved ones when they try to get in doors, “Pull, don’t push.” Pulling will allow you to reduce the frequency with which your server delivers updates to clients. It allows your server to maintain strong performance with larger client volume.
  • Listen to your heart: Now that the mode has been switched, you can also change your heartbeat – because, as we tell our loved ones, by slowing down our hearts, we can work more efficiently. If you have less than 100 clients accessing a server, adjust the heartbeat so that the interval is between 15 minutes and half an hour. If it’s between 100 and 1000, make the interval between a half hour and an hour. Finally, randomization of downloads should occur at intervals 1 to 3 times that of the heartbeat.

Tip #2: Content update reduction & randomization

Lengthening the time span between updates helps, but you can also vastly improve performance by cutting down on the amount of updating that takes place and randomizing its occurrence:

  • Distribute: Use a number of different management servers to handle large tasks (by clustering and load-balancing).
  • Diversify: Change the way that content is made available. You can either use software that specializes in distribution or a Group Update Provider. The latter uses client CPUs for downloading.
  • Deliver at night: Perform downloads when clients are inactive. Wear a cloak and a demonic cackling jack-o’-lantern mask, even if setting up in advance, because all nighttime activities should be conducted in that attire.
  • Randomize: Set downloads to occur at random. This tactic evenly positions the work across time in the same manner that you equalize servers with a load-balancer.

Now let’s switch to Google for a couple of their suggestions. Google’s ideas are a little more basic, which is great because many third-graders these days spend their idle time reading technological administration advice.

Tip #3: Measurement

As a general rule of thumb (remember, that’s the one next to your index finger), look closely at all the data related to your server’s performance. If you want, you can install software to perform this task for you. What you’re looking for is “web application monitoring” services, some of which are available as open-source tools.

Tip #4: Change everything

Now, let’s switch to the left hand. We have a rule for its thumb as well. Once you have fully analyzed the data and determined what’s getting in the way of high performance, set out to fix each issue one at a time. It’s just like putting together a Popsicle-stick sculpture: don’t get ahead of yourself. If you are using a framework or CMS that’s widely used (e.g. WordPress, Joomla!, Drupal), you should be able to find support materials to specifically help within that system’s parameters.

Finally, let’s take a look at a tactic recommended by IBM:

Tip #5: Alignment of memory & user volume

You don’t want your memory to be unnecessarily high for any service. Set it to a reasonable amount for each user. Configure your memory based on memory configurations recommended by providers of any applications so that you aren’t unnecessarily over-allocating resources in the wrong directions. For instance, make sure that your hardware isn’t spending inordinate amount of times trying to remember its shopping list, believing for some unknown reason that it needs to fill an anti-anxiety prescription.


That covers a few basic ways to optimize your server. IBM also recommends, as you might guess, that improving disk drives, CPUs, and networks can make a major impact on server speed. In other words, once you’ve worked on configurations, you can take another look at the component parts of your server.

Another major factor influencing how well your server operates is the company you are using for hosting. Don’t take our word for it: take a quick look at our customer reviews. Then check out our managed dedicated hosting here.

By Kent Roberts