vBulletin forum and results

I have a forum and want to increase its speed. My results are: http://www.webpagetest.org/result/111020_YD_1YAZS/1/performance_optimization/#first_byte_time

I have poor results in:

  • First Time Byte: F
  • Cache Static Content: F

Any suggestions on what I can do to increase performance based on my results?



That’s a pretty painful first byte time. Unfortunately there’s not a lot we’re going to be able to see to help from the outside - 99% of the time for things like this it is because of database performance (and the repeat view was faster because most of the queries were already cached in the database).

If you have a way to see the slow query logs for your database you might be able to add some indexes to help speed things up. Otherwise (assuming you are not on dedicated hosting) you may have to reach out to your hosting provider and see if there are any known performance issues with the database (and you may have to move up to VPS to speed things up).

I know a few people on here have been working on v-bulletin systems so hopefully they have more specific back-end experience.

I am with a premium VPS at the moment who specialise in vbulletin hosting. Average number of users online at any one time is about 600.

It’s probably worth having a conversation with them then to see if they need to allocate more resources to the database.

On your recommendation, I contacted my host and they upgraded Litespeed to the latest version and now I’ve got an A!

Wondering if there are any other tweaks I can now do?

I do use MaxCDN. I have one pullzone that covers the graphics, css and javascript. Is it best to have just one pullzone or several?

One pullzone is usually a good balance. Newer browsers open 6 parallel connections to each so sharding has become less important.

The connection view waterfall is a good way to see if you would benefit: http://www.webpagetest.org/result/111020_YD_1YAZS/1/details/

From the looks of it, you are hardly getting any connection reuse as it is so using more won’t help. From the looks of it, the VAST majority of the requests are for ads and tracking (like 100+ of the 184 requests) and most of those are to new domains on new connections.

That’s a difficult one. They bring home much needed revenue for the site. I suppose its one or the other.

Yeah, I wasn’t thinking you’d actually be able to remove any of them. I don’t know enough about the different ad units on your page to comment intelligently but I do know that AdSense at least loads asynchronously - not sure what other providers you are using. If any of them don’t it might be worth looking to see if they have other embed options.

You might be able to set up test pages in isolation with each unit to get an idea of how they perform in isolation and if any are REALLY bad you might be able to move things around.

Hi Jon,

Your forum actually feels “fast” on my end. To try to speed things up even more, you could consider turning off some of unessential vBulletin features, either turning them off completely, or at least turning them off from the view of guests. Some of the obvious ones would include the What’s going on module on the bottom of the home page, the Posting rules module on the bottom of all your Forumdisplay and Showthread pages, the Forum jump, which is also a site-wide module, and also perhaps not needed, at least not by non-members.

Go to AdminCP > vBulletin Options, and look through the options one by one. Chances are you will find a few more features you will decide to live without.

Stick with your current version 3.8.x. I bought a license for the new 4.x, set up a test forum, and after a couple of weeks of trying to modify it for speed, it was still considerably slower than my 3.8.x forum.

Jon, the following is a link to my forum. It also is a vBulletin 3.8.6, just like yours. I’ve removed every single unessential feature, every single unneeded gif, jpg, png, js, unused css, etc, either via Options in AdminCP, or manually from templates, or by plugins.

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Marvin, I have to say your forum is a complete inspiration to me as to what is possible. Very impressive!

Currently, my forum home page is faster than it used to be, after a few modifications. However, the thread view seems to be appalling! With this in mind, I thought I should post the latest test results. Or should I open a new thread?

Recent results

Home page: http://www.webpagetest.org/result/120917_FA_E2E/

Thread view: http://www.webpagetest.org/result/120918_N8_FGD/

Any suggestions for either home or thread page, but especially thread pages?

Note that surveymonkey is a popup I have for 1 in 4 visitors to my site.

Jon, I browsed your forum last night, and it loads much faster than the above tests would led one to believe. I’m not sure what other improvements to suggest. Your pages have a lot more requests in comparison to mine so they will naturally show a bit longer load time in test results.

I am thinking about changing CDN supplier. Average page load time according to Google Analytics is 20 seconds in India! Currently, I am with MaxCDN but I do not have an Asian pop with them. Currently looking into who to go with. On the surface http://www.cdn77.com/ look good, although I do not know much about them. Edge resellers are another option. Not sure why page load speed is so slow in the far east.

One thing to be careful with real-user data is that demographics and environment also factor in. Shared low-bandwidth connections in Internet Cafe’s are pretty common in parts of Asia. Not saying it’s not worth looking at other CDN’s but it may not solve the problem.

I tried running WebPagetest on another CDN that had Asia (and Australia) POPs for a week but I didn’t get a measurable improvement from those regions. Granted, WPT has a fair bit of dynamic content that isn’t served through a CDN (waterfalls and screen shots) but there is a good bit of cacheable shared code as well.

Yes, I considered the isp speed of different regions. I looked for a way to measure the speed by type of connection, but I couldn’t find anything in Google Analytics that tells you what connection speed people are using. Did I miss something?

I wonder whether turning a bunch of the images into Sprites would help. I did it for the nav bar at the top of the page.

I have 4 different advertisers so I wonder if that is part of the issue. Is there anything suggesting my host is slow? Not sure how I work that one out.

Jon, I just used different WebPageTest locations around the globe for testing purposes. That I thought gave me a good idea how my changes affected my forum’s speed in far away locations.

The “page timings” in the analytics speed data should give you visibility into all of the parts of navigation timing (including socket connect time and server response time). It’s over on the “Performance” tab.

You can look at the histograms of the socket connect times and the server response times to see how your host is performing (the host performance should not really vary by region).

It looks like you might be able to create your own custom advanced segments based on “connection speed” but I’m a noob in analytics and not sure how good that data is.