Digest>Archives> April 2002

Web News

Traffic on the Web

By Geoffrey Baker


Many people get on a website and don’t really think about what is going on. Sometimes, as they move from page to page, they will see a page open slowly, and sometimes another will open very quickly. What is going on?

Imagine you are in a cafeteria. You want to get your food, but you have to wait in line. How long you wait is entirely dependent on how many people are in the queue ahead of you, right?

A web site is pretty similar. If you are the only surfer on that site at that moment, you will generally find the site is pretty fast and snappy as you move from page to page. But if a thousand people are all trying to look at the same page you are, at the same time, traffic will slow WAY down pretty quickly!

Factors that affect speed:

First, there is your connection (is is a phone modem? cable? DSL?). The faster the better. If everything is slow, get a faster connection!

Secondly, how many other people are on your LOCAL “pipeline”? Example: If your ISP has a single T1 line to the internet, (a T1 is 1.5 million baud), then 10 people on will each only get (approximately!) a tenth of that. If 100 people access it, you are down to 15,000 baud... which means even if you have high speed access, your actual connection will bottleneck to half the speed of a 28.8 modem.. which is DARN slow these days.

Once you get past all these potential bottlenecks, the last two major factors that affect the speed at a web site are the number of other people accessing the site, and the complexity of the site itself.

So let’s look at the Lighthouse Depot web site.

First of all, we have incredibly high traffic... nearly 7 million “hits” in December, and down to a low of 4 million in February. These are VERY big numbers. Our site is constantly under massive pressure to deliver information and graphics to hundreds, if not thousands, of simultaneous users.

Each user can put a real strain on the site if they are looking at big graphics, or sending a complex request to the database (filling out a form, or ordering a product, or even searching for a particular lighthouse, will send requests to one or more databases.)

So, if you find our site slow at times, that’s why.

But relax . . . help is on the way.

Our plan is to move to faster, multiple machines, called “clustered servers.” As each computer reaches its maximum traffic load, it will hand the load to the next machine . . . so as long as we have enough computers, the site speed will not slow down.

We also plan to move some of the workload off the web servers. For instance, every time I or anyone else adds information to the site (a new lighthouse, the lastest edition of Lighthouse Digest) we are competing with YOU for server access . . . which we don’t want to do! So we will build a separate admin site on a separate server to handle that load.

So keep coming back to browse . . . The site is only going to get better, and faster!

This story appeared in the April 2002 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

All contents copyright © 1995-2024 by Lighthouse Digest®, Inc. No story, photograph, or any other item on this website may be reprinted or reproduced without the express permission of Lighthouse Digest. For contact information, click here.

to Lighthouse Digest

USLHS Marker Fund

Lighthouse History
Research Institute

Shop Online

Subscribe   Contact Us   About Us   Copyright Foghorn Publishing, 1994- 2024   Lighthouse Facts     Lighthouse History