Slow page loads are the bane of websites. Visitors are impatient, and just three seconds of waiting drives 40% of them away. Search engines use load time as a weighting factor, and a slow website will fall lower in the results. Ultimately, inquiries and sales will plummet due to the lack of website protection.
If your site is consistently slow, you need to find out why. Something may be happening that you need to know about, such as an infection. Quttera's website protection services will clean up existing malware and keep your servers safer in the future.
Speed and the 2020 Internet
People conduct more of their lives on the Internet today than they ever did before. They use it for personal communication, work, and shopping. They don't want it to waste their time.
Access from mobile devices accounts for more than half of Internet usage. A smartphone has less processing power and slower connections than a desktop. It's more likely to be used at odd moments, rather than while sitting comfortably at home. For these reasons, speed is especially important for the mobile audience.
People click on friends' social media recommendations or your promotions. If nothing comes up quickly, they'll move on. It's unfortunate that the Internet encourages short attention spans, but you have to keep up. People won't stay around for information that they can't get quickly.
Factors that Slow a Website
Loading a page requires a Web server to open and read lots of files. In addition to the page's main HTML or PHP file, it has to read:
- Setting and configuration files
- Core functionality files from the CMS
- Theme files and stylesheets that control the look and feel
- Images and videos
Some websites are bloated. In their quest for features, they load so many files that the site slows to a crawl. This is a design issue that isn't too hard to fix.
If the design is reasonably lean and the site is still slow, the hosting servers may be underpowered. As your business grows in popularity, more people come to your site. After a while, if you're still using the same server, it won't be able to keep up. A service upgrade is worth it to keep response times from degrading.
Geolocation is another consideration. If your customer base has grown to worldwide dimensions, network latency could slow distant visitors down. A content delivery network helps to overcome this problem.
Website Degradation Due to Malware
There's another factor that slows down websites, and it's harder to detect and fix. That factor is malware that you don't know is present. Aside from all the other bad things it does, malicious code on a Web server drags its performance down. Malware cleanup will make the site safer and give it improved speed at the same time.
When an infected PHP file is loaded, the malware performs actions that add to the load time. The worst cases are ones where it performs complex computational tasks. Cryptomining uses your service's processing power to generate Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. It's a legitimate process, except that it's happening at your expense. Your page loads might slow down to fifteen or twenty seconds.
While we hear about the alleged extraordinary skills of hackers, the truth is that most malware is badly written. It hogs resources and drags performance down. Its effect is apt to be worst when it can't achieve its objective, since it will try over and over. The code could have a memory leak that ties up more and more system memory until the server can't run. If you have to restart your server periodically for no obvious reason, malware could be the cause.
Malicious code in a data breach grabs information from your database and sends it to a remote server. The process increases the amount of access to the database and the Internet traffic on your server. Your data is being stolen, and the performance degradation adds insult to injury. The performance issue could be the first clue that there's a serious problem that requires malware cleanup.
Website Protection and Performance
To tell the truth, if you have malware on your website, degraded page loading is the least of the problems it causes. Your visitors are probably being sent off to bogus sites, losing control of their financial information, or seeing scam advertisements. Search engines will notice your site is acting strangely and stop listing it.
Sometimes, if you're lucky, poor performance is the main result. The perpetrators could have been caught and their systems taken down, but infected sites will keep trying to contact them. Some malicious code, such as cryptominers, is all about theft of resources. A lot of malware is just broken, but it still slows the server down. And if your site is infected, it's vulnerable to other, more damaging threats.
Sometimes a drop in performance is the first clue that there is an infection. If the drop is sudden, that's a strong reason to think something has gone wrong on the server. If your page load times have gone up, you should assess all the possible factors before throwing money at more expensive servers or a CDN. You might be solving the wrong problem.
Solid protection against online threats will guard your site against present and future performance degradation due to malware. Quttera's ThreatSign service includes a number of website protection tools, including malware cleanup to eliminate current problems, as well as a suite of tools to prevent future infections. The Web Application Firewall blocks hostile requests. Site monitoring detects suspicious activity quickly. External or internal malware scanning spots new infections. Blacklist removal gets you back into the search engine result pages.
With a well-protected website, your data is safe, your users are safe, and you're at less risk of slow page loading issues. Sign up for ThreatSign, and you'll find it's a win in many ways.