Slow Server Response Time

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  • Answered

Ever since switching to InMotion hosting a couple of years ago my server response times as reported in PageSpeed Insights have been really bad.  3-4 seconds typically.  I realize that it's a shared server, but the shared hosting that I had previously never had these sorts of response times.  Is there anything that can be done about it other than switch to a new host when my current term expires, or upgrade to a much more expensive plan?

My site (wilhelmraceworks.com) is otherwise pretty well optimized.  Despite the slow server response my overall page speed scores are pretty good.  But now that google is reporting page speed in core web vitals and will soon be using it to determine search index, this is becoming more of an issue.

Pinned replies
Alyssa K
  • Answer

Hello Alex W, 

Thank you for your reply. If you'd like to request a server move, I recommend contacting our Technical Support for direct assistance:

https://www.inmotionhosting.com/support/amp/how-to-get-great-technical-support/

Best Regards, 

Alyssa K. 

Ronnie H.
Quote from Alex W
OK, for the benefit of anyone else reading this, here's how it all turned out.

First and foremost, what nobody bothered to tell me was that the new "Ultrastack" servers that InMotion advertises on their home page... those are only for NEW CUSTOMERS unless you specifically request that your plan be moved to them!  And there is a BIG speed difference between those and the old servers.  I had talked to tech support chat about this issue at least once, maybe twice, and they failed to mention that I could request a move to the Ultrastack servers.

The way I got to that point was first I renewed my plan for an additional 3 years, and in the process upgraded from the Launch plan to the Power plan, since there is an advertised speed difference there.  I was under the impression that this would come with a server change as well, but that didn't happen automatically, and there was no change in site speed between Launch and Power that I could detect.

So I submitted an actual support ticket instead of going through chat, asking if my account should have been moved to a different server when I switched plans, and only then did they finally tell me that I could request the move to the Ultrastack.  They made that change for me, and bingo, server response times dropped from 3-4 seconds to typically less than half a second (and there is a noticeable improvement in real world site speed, not just in Page Speed Insights).



Hi Alex, glad everything worked out in the end! This is unfortunately one of those things that the live Technical Support agents can do that we cannot, since they can get full account access and check what server you're on. I'm glad the new plan and Ultrastack are working out. 

Alex W
OK, for the benefit of anyone else reading this, here's how it all turned out.

First and foremost, what nobody bothered to tell me was that the new "Ultrastack" servers that InMotion advertises on their home page... those are only for NEW CUSTOMERS unless you specifically request that your plan be moved to them!  And there is a BIG speed difference between those and the old servers.  I had talked to tech support chat about this issue at least once, maybe twice, and they failed to mention that I could request a move to the Ultrastack servers.

The way I got to that point was first I renewed my plan for an additional 3 years, and in the process upgraded from the Launch plan to the Power plan, since there is an advertised speed difference there.  I was under the impression that this would come with a server change as well, but that didn't happen automatically, and there was no change in site speed between Launch and Power that I could detect.

So I submitted an actual support ticket instead of going through chat, asking if my account should have been moved to a different server when I switched plans, and only then did they finally tell me that I could request the move to the Ultrastack.  They made that change for me, and bingo, server response times dropped from 3-4 seconds to typically less than half a second (and there is a noticeable improvement in real world site speed, not just in Page Speed Insights).



Alyssa K
  • Answer

Hello Alex W, 

Thank you for your reply. If you'd like to request a server move, I recommend contacting our Technical Support for direct assistance:

https://www.inmotionhosting.com/support/amp/how-to-get-great-technical-support/

Best Regards, 

Alyssa K. 

Alex W
Quote from Alex W

Hmm, I looked through my .htaccess again specifically looking for redirects and the only things that even seemed to fit the definition were one to redirect to https (I can do that within joomla as well, if that makes any difference) and one to rewrite upper case to lower case.  This second one also had a check to ensure that there wasn't a matching upper case file name on the server, which I disabled on the theory that if it forced it to search through everything it might take extra time, but I suppose it should only be doing that if it was an upper case URL to begin with.  In any case, I don't use upper case URLs or file names, so it shouldn't matter.

Beyond that, there are some rewrites that are identified as related to SEF, and another section that is supposed to block certain exploits.

However, there is one other thing, SOMETIMES a test will show a server response time under 1s.  No particular pattern to it, sometimes it's just fast.  Then a retest will go back to being 3-4 seconds.  So it really feels like it's not configuration specific on my side, just that it's getting stuck in a queue somewhere.

Is it possible to request that my account be moved to a different server?

Alex W
Quote from Ronnie H.

Thanks for the graph, Alex! I'd actually been referring to specific issues with redirects in the .htaccess hat can cause slowdown, but they don't really seem to apply here-- it's just something I habitually check for in situations like this. Based on your graph that's definitely not what's happening. 

I'm a bit limited in what I can say for sure, since here in the Support Center we can only go on publicly available information you provide, but I ran the graph by one of our senior support technicians and he suggested that your previous plan likely had a form of built in server caching while your current plan does not.

If you switched to a plan with cache management on the server level, that should bring things more in line with what you're expecting. Of the Shared plans, that would include Power or Pro. If you do choose to upgrade for the caching, be sure to note your server name and number in cPanel so that you will know when the migration is complete. 

Hmm, I looked through my .htaccess again specifically looking for redirects and the only things that even seemed to fit the definition were one to redirect to https (I can do that within joomla as well, if that makes any difference) and one to rewrite upper case to lower case.  This second one also had a check to ensure that there wasn't a matching upper case file name on the server, which I disabled on the theory that if it forced it to search through everything it might take extra time, but I suppose it should only be doing that if it was an upper case URL to begin with.  In any case, I don't use upper case URLs or file names, so it shouldn't matter.

Beyond that, there are some rewrites that are identified as related to SEF, and another section that is supposed to block certain exploits.

Ronnie H.
Quote from Alex W

Are you suggesting that there is some setting in the .htaccess file that could be causing slow response?  Or do you mean the usual steps of setting up cache expiration times in .htaccess (I have done this).  I have read a lot of articles on the subject, and I don't recall any of them mentioning anything in that file other than cache control as having an impact on speed.

Also, like I said, this issue got worse when I switched hosts a few years ago.  Here's a graph of average load times that I saved from (I think) my google search console shortly after the switch.  I'm not sure if this tool is available any more, and it only provided data for the last month, so I don't have any way to re-check this, just the old screen shot.  But my account with InMotion was opened on June 13th of 2018, and the site transfer happened a few days later.

Thanks for the graph, Alex! I'd actually been referring to specific issues with redirects in the .htaccess hat can cause slowdown, but they don't really seem to apply here-- it's just something I habitually check for in situations like this. Based on your graph that's definitely not what's happening. 

I'm a bit limited in what I can say for sure, since here in the Support Center we can only go on publicly available information you provide, but I ran the graph by one of our senior support technicians and he suggested that your previous plan likely had a form of built in server caching while your current plan does not.

If you switched to a plan with cache management on the server level, that should bring things more in line with what you're expecting. Of the Shared plans, that would include Power or Pro. If you do choose to upgrade for the caching, be sure to note your server name and number in cPanel so that you will know when the migration is complete. 

Alex W

Are you suggesting that there is some setting in the .htaccess file that could be causing slow response?  Or do you mean the usual steps of setting up cache expiration times in .htaccess (I have done this).  I have read a lot of articles on the subject, and I don't recall any of them mentioning anything in that file other than cache control as having an impact on speed.

Also, like I said, this issue got worse when I switched hosts a few years ago.  Here's a graph of average load times that I saved from (I think) my google search console shortly after the switch.  I'm not sure if this tool is available any more, and it only provided data for the last month, so I don't have any way to re-check this, just the old screen shot.  But my account with InMotion was opened on June 13th of 2018, and the site transfer happened a few days later.

Ronnie H.
  • Answered

Hi, Alex! When I've looked into situations like this before, skipping the sort of advice that involves upgrading or setting up a CDN like CloudFlare, the easiest way to improve response time is going to involve optimizing the .htaccess file. Since this is a Joomla site, though, all of my usual advice on doing that won't apply (our articles on the topic are written for WordPress). 

I'd start by checking Joomla-specific guides on .htaccess optimization, and maybe try a few different module configurations to see if one in particular causes a delay. Hope that helps point you in the right direction!