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How to measure server response time

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Last updated October 19th, 2012 by Lily Grozeva in Tools, Tech

Response time

You may want to measure any given server's response time for any reason, but the most common one is to gain a better understanding of the visitor's experience by using external testing locations. Another reason would be to ensure that the website is accessible by your clients. By performing a visitor emulation, you can determine the status of the server and get additional statistics based on the time it takes for each one to complete.

Usually, a good server response time tool will check the response time of any website, including specific page addresses. The first thing you will need to provide when using a server response time tool is the direct URL to the website (or specific location on the website). Then you can select from any applicable options that may be tested with the tool. As a result, the test will go through a process that will verify the server status and downloads the entire content of the HTML on the page and will provide a timed measure of the following:

Response Time - This is the amount of time that it takes for the server to send a response to the testing location. This variable may be impacted by the distance between the virtual visitor and the address of the website.

DNS time - How long it takes to reach the Domain Name System and set the time to live. This helps to ensure that data packets are not cycled indefinitely on the network.

Connect - The length of time needed to connect to the website session. Longer connect times may cause the time to live to expire.

Redirect - The amount of time needed to redirect to another location if the website has a redirect command.

First byte - The length of time it takes the browser to access the first byte of website resources being queried. For testing purposes, this will usually be the HTML content unless a specific file is being accessed on the server.

Last byte - The length of time it takes the browser to access the final byte of website resources being queried.

Size - This describes the total size of the data file which was being tested. Most tests will be only accessing HTML content.

You will need to select a testing location to utilize when using this type of tool. Usually, presets are available within major cities within various countries. Testing with multiple locations is recommended because it provides statistics which may vary from country to country. This is important for web business owners who may cater to specific locations and require accessibility to their website for these locations. Keeping in mind that some countries may have any range of IP addresses or domains blocked which may cause accessibility issues for these visitors.

You can see how an accurate server response time tool works in the video below.

This video is part of our Monitoring Video Tips series.

It is important to understand that server response time plays an important part in your visitors' website experience. Any issues that go unresolved may cause your visitors to have difficulty viewing your web page or accessing content. Why wouldn't you ensure that website visitors have accessibility and are having a positive experience when visiting your site?

If you want to see this test in action, try it out for yourself in our Test tools section.

Lily Grozeva

An SEO from tip to toe, Lily is cleverly disguised as a fun human being. Loves SEO (apparently) and London. Preferably SEO conferences in London.

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