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How to Test a Web Server

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Last updated October 3rd, 2012 by Victoria Pal in Tools, Tech

Server response timeWeb servers are vital to ensure your website is up and running. Yet sometimes, there can be hiccups in service, and the response time of your web server can change drastically. Slow server response time can distinguish between a reliable website that anyone can access and a website that drives users away, perhaps from your competition.

Here's a brief example: domain and hosting provider GoDaddy recently experienced downtime with their servers, resulting in thousands of websites either being down or responding slowly (or even just hanging, never loading the page). As a result, GoDaddy had to go through an extensive PR mess to get everything fixed. They also had to deal with a crowd of angry business owners who relied on their servers to make a living.

What can a website owner do, then?

How can you test the web server response time of your website?

There are many options out there, but most of them either aren't too reliable or ask for a monthly fee. Fortunately, we provide such a service for free at Website Pulse! And it's pretty easy to use, too.

Here's a step-by-step process on how to use our free website response time tool:

  1. Select "Website Test" from the left-hand side of the Test Tools menu.
  2. Grab the URL to your website and copy-paste or type it into the "Enter Test Target" field.
  3. Choose a location closest to you in the box below the text field you put your URL in. The complete list of locations is available for members of WebSitePulse.
  4. Once you have chosen which type of response test you want and your location, just hit the "Perform Test" button, and our software will provide you with server status and response times.

To test web server times, our software downloads all of the HTML content and looks at the response time for the site - how long it takes to resolve the DNS, connect to the site itself, and download the first byte of data and the complete website. Ideally, the response time of your web server should be well under 2 seconds.

Remember, if your response times are slow, there can be many different reasons why. So, before you start switching hosting providers, think back on GoDaddy's problems or the possibility of server downtime for maintenance (although these are usually performed in the middle of the night, not during the "rush hour" of the daytime).

How to test only the server response time?

If you want to get really specific, especially with your servers, our full server response tool is in the "Service" tab, which includes testing HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, SSH, POP3, and many more. Just like the website test, put in your URL, check your location, and perform the test. If need be, change the port number, too.

Of course, you can use the tool whenever you need to check out and test web server response times for your website, free of charge!

Victoria Pal

She doesn't like queuing (particularly at Wimbledon). Likes traveling, tennis and reading. Loves working as a Project Manager at WebSitePulse.

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