This is just a point by point summary of how I've been tuning and tweaking our Joomla sites to get them running as quickly as possible. For reference, we run all our sites off a Rackspace dedicated server, with 1Gb RAM, a 2Ghz dual core Athlon, running Apache 2.0.x (current revision), PHP 5.0.x (current revision) and MySQL 5.0.18.
These are listed in terms of apparent speed increase – that is, not the sheer speed for the full page, but the speed before the page is usable to view content, even if not all features are loaded.
  • PHP caching. I had been running eAccelerator, but switched to APC today, and it has made the system even faster than before, and eAccelerator was a big boost over uncached PHP. Joomla is a big complex system, so using precompiled code is a big time saver. I use a 128Mb in-memory cache, which is plenty for our needs.
  • MySQL Query Caching. This one will vary depending on how dynamic your site is, and you can really kill the benefits by using the wrong extensions (any date/time based will need checking), but if you are serving pretty much the same queries each page load, it will drop the load times noticably.
  • Template Image optimisation – template images really slow down the initial page load for first time visitors, so optimising the hell out of them makes sense. Remember that your template is probably not going to change as often as your story content, so you can afford to spend more time on optimising the images for it that you would otherwise. I recommend Irfanview, with the pngout plugin active for PNG images, and it isn't bad for JPG and GIF images either. Don't forget to ramp up the compression level of PNGs, and, if possible, reducing them to indexed pallettes.
  • CSS compression. Easy one this – put a little script to output a gzipped version of your CSS file(s) and point your index.php at it. Example script below – I didn't write it, but it's short, to the point, and works.
             ob_start ("ob_gzhandler");
             header("Content-type: text/css");
             header("Cache-Control: must-revalidate");
             $offset = 60 * 60 ;
             $ExpStr = "Expires: " .
             gmdate("D, d M Y H:i:s",
             time() + $offset) . " GMT";
  • Strip unneeded modules, components, mambots from Joomla. If you haven't used them, the impact on your loading time is minimal, but with more components/modules active, there are more points of failure, and Apache errors are slow!
  • Scrutinise the Apache error log. It is amazing how many errors can crop up even with a fairly minimal Joomla install, and they don't necessarily affect the appearance of the page. Check your error log, especially if you are using custom components/modules, or any non-standard config settings. Once you've noticed any problems, it's time to fix the code creating them, and test thoroughly before uploading the fixed versions.
  • Keep rechecking as you add/remove features, redesign or change any server configuration options. Even things like adding virtual servers in Apache can affect speed of the server, as a missed config setting can cause general Apache delays.

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Marius Ion ANGEL HOT SOFT LLC (800) 316-7677