Speed Up Your Site – Using HTTP Compression!
by George Petrov

George Petrov, founder of DMXzone, Flashfreaks and the Dynamic Zones network assesses httpZip, a production utility that compresses the files sent to a browser, saving bandwidth and money!

So you've built your magnificent site and people love it - and you're getting huge number of visitors. Nice! - but can your server handle it all? Even if your server can handle it - do you have enough bandwidth? This was the main problem that we at Dynamic Zones had to face running our very popular zones like www.DMXzone.com, www.DNzone.com and www.FlashFreaks.nl.

The Problem - Bandwidth

This product assumes that your site is running on a good system and you have enough CPU power available. Check the performance monitor to make sure that CPU power isn't your bottleneck.

httpZip targets your bandwidth usage. This is one of those things that you really can't control - it is up to your visitors: how many there are and how many pages they browse (which depends, of course, on how good and interesting your site is).

To many, this is a kind of luxury problem that many site-owners only dream about: not how you can get more and more visitors to your site, but how to satisfy the huge crowds coming now - without really increasing your hosting budget.

This product can stop you being a victim of your own success, and decrease the amount of bandwidth usage, but still serve the same and even more visitors with your current set-up.

Solution

The technology has actually been around for quite a while - it is called HTTP compression. This means that every html page gets compressed before it is sent to the client browser - and client's browser decompresses and displays the content to the user.

This feature has existed in all today's browsers for a long time already, as it's standard HTTP 1.0 protocol. So you might be asking - but why it isn't used so widely yet?

Until now very few servers could provide really good HTTP compression that can be understood by all of the browsers. For example, even the latest version of IIS (the internet server supplied with Windows NT/2000) delivers very poor HTTP compression out of the box. It works only on IE and also very unreliable.

What's really needed is compression that all major browsers understand, or if the browser tells the server that it can't understand compressed content, it should be served a plain uncompressed html page.

There are such solutions for the Apache servers, but if you're one of the 27% using IIS (see http://news.netcraft.com/archives/2003/05/index.html ), what is your choice?

httpZip

I've discovered this amazing plug-in for IIS called httpZip. It is developed by www.port80software.com - a very well known software company, specializing in developing high quality plug-ins for IIS.

The Features

So what is really hot about httpZip? Here are the things I really love:

  • The software uses standard zip compression - which is amazingly fast and can squeeze your original page down to 2% of its original size..!
  • White space removal - this is also something cool - it will make your pages mostly unreadable by automatically removing all the white space like tabs, spaces etc - which are really waste of bandwidth. So by removing those there is even less to compress! Also to make the compression optimal - all tags can be even automatically converted to lower case.
  • Build-in caching - this is also one of those smart things to do! Why compress the same file twice - just store the compressed version in a cache, so it is available on second request! This is also really smart caching - - you have full control of  it - but you can even specify to cache dynamic pages like ASP, ASP.NET, PHP etc
  • Full support for compressing dynamic pages - this is also very cool as most big-league sites these days are dynamic, built in a server language like ASP, ASP.NET, PHP, ColdFusion, Perl etc

So here are the advantages at a glance

  • Most efficient and cost-effective HTTP compression tool on the market for IIS
  • Reduce bandwidth costs
  • Improve page load times, enhancing the usability of your site (especially for dial-up users!). Unless you have a really old machine, the client can decompress faster than it can receive the uncompressed version of the file. (because decompression happens on the client machine, the speed is dependent on the clock speed of the users' machines).
  • Maximize current server resources
  • Rapid deployment with little maintenance: install, enable, and enjoy a faster site
  • Higher compression rates with safe HTML/CSS white space and comments removal

George Petrov

George PetrovGeorge Petrov is a renowned software writer and developer whose extensive skills brought numerous extensions, articles and knowledge to the DMXzone- the online community for professional Adobe Dreamweaver users. His expertise in countless languages and technologies gives inspiration and teach valuable lessons on his website – DMXzone.com which is most popular for its over high-quality Dreamweaver extensions and templates.

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Reviews
Ping your website
June 10, 2008 by will mr
One thing not mentioned is memory preasure on a webserver. Most servers host 100’s of websites & if yours is not one of the most popular then your code will not be in memory. A popular method to get around this is to ping your web site. This will keep the site in the servers memory and keep your site responsive. I use a free service called Site Stalker (http://sitestalker.prestigedevgroup.com). They also collect stats on how often your site has outages and average response times.
willt this be availeble for apache also?
August 21, 2003 by Peter Van Laer

will this plugin be available for apache to?

greets
I3lair

RE: Compression results
August 20, 2003 by George Petrov
We really saved 30% of the total bandwidth. Html/asp files were compressed by 80% so it is not only html compression I'm talking about. The total compression is about 30% because other types of files were compressed (like WAV, BMP) that are less well compressed.
Compression results
August 15, 2003 by Eric Lund

Nice review.  I also recently did some tests with httpZip and thought it was a pretty good product.  Their support was great and very helpful.

However, one point that is easy to miss is how compression will affect your actual bandwidth usage.  I had httpZip set up to only compress HTML pages (leaving images, etc. uncompressed).  httpZip reports that it was saving 30% bandwidth which was true.  But this % savings is really 30% of that bandwidth that HTML files use.  Since HTML files make up about 30% of my total bandwidth, the reduction in TOTAL bandwidth usage was more like 10%. 

I just thought I'd point that out so that people out there don't think they'll be seeing a TOTAL Bandwidth reduction of 35%-40%.