We all love web pages that load super fast and as Google pushes us to "make the web faster," we must heed the call.
In my search for ways to increase efficiency while decreasing page load times and bandwidth output, I happened upon the wonderful world of Zlib compression. This compression type uses gzip to compress the output of your files and feed them to the browser.
How cool is that?
While it might sound like it would be an impossible task, it's really as simple as doing two things-
Step 1. Make sure your PHP server has the zlib extension
All you have to do is create a file called something like phpinfo.php on your server and put the following code inside:
<?php phpinfo(); ?>
Once it loads, just find 'zlib' and check to see whether it's there and whether it's enabled. If not, you need to either enable it yourself or ask your server admin to do it.
Step 2. Pop in the code!
Put the following code at the very top of any pages you want compressed, or (preferably) in your header file for the entire site-
<?php ini_set('zlib.output_compression', 'On'); ini_set('zlib.output_compression_level', '1'); ?>
OR if that doesn't work for you, you can try this-
<?php ob_start('ob_gzhandler'); ?>
Now try reloading your page.
If everything went right, you should notice an improvement in load time and where you'll notice it most is in your bandwidth usage at the end of the month.
I tested the before and after on Sitdiary.net and the file got compressed by over 3X every time! In other words, I'm going to cut my bandwidth usage down by 2/3 on all PHP files.
*** UPDATE ***
On my WordPress blogs, I've been testing this out on the index.php and it seems I'm getting upwards of 75% compression rates!
Profiles Free, I'll admit, was something made purely out of curiosity. I wanted to see whether I could build a site that Google would like enough to keep users coming back to while at the same time generating a small stream of income, and it does just that.
The site incorporates Google AdSense and affiliate marketing ads in a very "in your face" kind of style.
One of the best things about this site is that it's almost maintenance-free. I check on it about once a month just to make sure it's still there and functioning.
|Language:||PHP w/ Smarty Templates|
Sitdiary started back in 2001 as a very simple idea: I wanted other people to be able to post blog entries about anything they wanted. What started as a small idea soon grew into a user-base of over 250,000, where at its peak had over 100 users online at any given time.
Time after time, the bandwidth wasn't enough for this "small" site and I was forced to continuously upgrade on a monthly basis. At one point, the cost became more than I could handle and that's when the popularity of the site started to take a downward turn.
As the site would be out of commission for days at a time, the user base soon dwindled down to around 50,000 and all of a sudden, bandwidth wasn't too much of an issue.
Bill Manager was initially built as a way to remind me to pay my own bills, but as I talked to other people I found that they were interested in such a service -- especially for free.
On top of reminders, the site also features a few informational articles, a series of tips on financial responsibility and calculators.
Currently, the site is still going an upgrade to facilitate multiple users but should be up shortly.
It should be noted that since this site was created, several others have popped up on the 'bill manager' search that do pretty much the same thing. This is no surprise, but I'm in the process of coming up with a killer feature to set it apart (if only temporarily).
The Weight Loss Tracker is exactly as its name implies: a weight loss tracker.
Users create an account and enter their weight loss goal and starting weight. Immediately, they can begin logging their weight on a daily basis. This way, they can see their progress over time.
Additionally, the site provides code that will allow the user to display a graphical ticker displaying their progress on their way to their weight loss goal.
This site was the result of a personal challenge I gave to myself: to create a simple, fully functioning website (with code documentation!) within ten hours. And actually I completed the site in about seven (7) hours and spent the rest of the time making the code and documentation prettier.
Blogflare.com, started in 2007, was made to allow blogs of all varieties to be ranked according to traffic and several other factors. In addition, they receive free traffic and better search engine rankings as a result.
The biggest challenge for a site like this is the ongoing calculation of traffic statistics. Version 1.0 of the website calculated statistics every hour on the hour, which seemed efficient at the time but drained resources, especially on a shared hosting environment.
Version 2.0 of the website changed things up a bit. After testing, I found it was best to calculate ranks every 5-10 minutes to keep the data load small and the impact on performance minimal during the update. The reason for this is that data isn't allowed to grow too large before being reset in that five minute window.
Of course, I've toyed with the idea of spacing the updates 30 seconds to one minute apart but at that point, the updates become noticeable.