Unit 28 (P2, P3): Factors That Influence Website Performance

Explain the user side and server side factors that influence the performance of a website (P2)

User Side Factors

Download Speed

Download speed can affect the loading time and performance of a website in several ways on the user end of the system. If the user has a low download speed, then the web page will take longer to load and complete tasks that the user is asking it to do. This is a user side factor that will influence the performance of the website that the user is trying to access. Slow download speeds will create a long waiting time in loading the website, and so performing tasks such as loading videos, clicking on hyper-links and navigating through the websites pages will take a long time and can become frustrating for the user.


PC Performance Factors

The user’s computer specification may be a factor that influences the performance of a website that the user is trying to visit. There are several factors within computer specification that may have an influence on the performance of a website.


Browser

The users’ web browser of choice may have an influence on the performance of the websites it is attempting to visit. Certain browsers perform better than others, and with Google Chrome being the most popular web browser of choice it is arguably the best suited web browser to use for internet browsing. Internet Explorer can have slow load times and is arguably behind Chrome in web browsing suitability.

Cache Memory

Cache memory is temporary memory stored on your computer. A computer with a larger cache memory will be able to store more of the temporary things that websites need to run. Cookies, passwords and other scripts that websites generally perform when you access the website. A larger cache memory will allow for more of these to be stored, allowing for quicker access and quicker website performance.


Processor Speed

The speed of the users’ processor will be a factor that influences the performance and speed of websites. A processor with a higher speed will allow the computer to perform tasks quicker, thus processing websites and all the scripts, cookies and other tasks that websites have on them faster. A higher processing speed will also allow videos and flash animations to load faster on web pages.

Server Side Factors

Web Server Capacity

Websites are all stored on web servers, and each web server has a capacity for the amount of information it can send and receive in a certain amount of time. When accessing a website, the user's computer will send and receive information from the web servers, and with a higher web server capacity, the website will be able to send, process and receive this information quicker which will then lead to faster load times for the user and the web pages the user is trying to access.


Available Bandwidth

Bandwidth is the amount of data traffic that can be downloaded from a website per second. This data traffic works like any traffic we know, if they are lots of cars on the road you will get to where you want to go much slower than if you were the only car on the road. This data traffic works the same in that if they are lots of people downloading from a website at once the download speed will be slower because each user will have a cap on the amount of data they can download at once. However if you are the only user that is downloading from a website your computer’s download speed would be much faster because you will be able to use most of the data available to download.


Executions to be Performed before Page Load

Each web page must execute several actions before the web page is completely loaded. These may be the loading of videos, animations, cookies or saved searches and tasks. The more actions that have to be performed before the web page is fully loaded, then the longer it will take. This will influence the overall performance of the website, as it may take longer to load each page.


Number of Hits

The number of web page hits can have a small effect on web page performance. If many, many people are on the same web page all at once, then it can overload the servers and slow down the website performance. Many web servers are prepared for this, and have large servers which can handle many hits all at once.


File Types

Bitmap

Bitmap images are saved so that the computer remembers each pixel type that has been saved. Common bitmap image types are .gif and .bmp, which generally have large file sizes and will slow down the loading time of a web page.


Vector

Vector images are more compressed and have generally smaller file sizes when compared to Bitmap images. A well-known vector image type is .pdf, which has a more compressed image and a small file size when compared to .jpg and .gif files. Having Vector images on your web page will slow down the loading times, though less so than using Bitmap images.


Wav

Wav files are one of the most common audio files, and can often be found on web pages. Wav files are not compressed audio files, which can make them very large in size and dramatically slow down web page loading times. While they are common, they often slow down web pages.


Mp3

MP3 files are compressed audio files, and so are generally a more popular and better alternative to Wav files. While the compressed files will generally have lower quality audio compared to the Wav file, the difference in quality is rarely noticeable. MP3 files will still slow down a web page, but as they are compressed files it will be slowed down less so than using a Wav file.

Security

Explain the security risks and protection mechanisms involved in website performance (P3)

Risks

Hacking

Hacking is a broad term to encompass malicious users who intend to exploit weaknesses in a computer and its internet software. They intend to force their way into the computer and discover personal information on the owner of the computer, and use it for identity theft or other malicious intent.


Hackers will use the information that they gain for malicious uses, often identity theft or fraud. This makes it vitally important that users and companies find good protection and anti-virus software for their systems to protect them from hackers.


Viruses

Viruses are malicious programs and software that has been installed onto a system. The software is intended to steal data and information on the user, and the stolen information will be used to steal details, usually on bank accounts. Some viruses are key loggers, which is a program that will log your keystrokes when using the keyboard. This usually enables the owner of the malicious software to determine your password from the keystrokes you make while using the computer.


Identity Theft

Identity theft is when malicious users use software, such as Trojans, to gain personal information on people and use it to steal their identities and use them for personal gain. They will gain their identity through passports or other ways of confirming a person’s identity, and using them they will open bank accounts in their name, withdraw money from their bank accounts and commit fraud.


Identity theft can cause users and companies to lose a lot of money, which makes it important that they protect themselves from these malicious users.


Phishing

Phishing is a term used to describe the act of taking a secure website, such as the login page for an online banking account, and copying it in its entirety and uploading it to another website with an almost identical address. The website will tell the user to login, and once they have logged in with their username and password, the website will show a page informing the user that the website is down for maintenance. Meanwhile, the user’s information is being sent to malicious users in another country, who will use the information to sign into their online banking.


Security Protection Mechanisms

Firewalls

Firewall is part of a network that is designed to block unauthorised access. It is a device that is used to permit or deny network transmissions based on a set of rules. When owning a web company or any other business it is terribly important to have a hardware firewall (this may be a router) as well as software firewall it’s important for you to have these when running a network of computers as it will help prevent the spread of virus throughout your network. So if one computer is to become infected it won’t spread to the rest.


Secure Socket Layers (SSL)

Secure Socket Layers is an internet protocol that provides a secure connection to another user via communication over the internet. This is done by encryption and will verify who each user is and the user of the computer, preventing malicious users from gaining entry to the system.


Adherence to Standards

Strong passwords are also key to security protection, as a strong password is much harder to crack and will reduce the amount of people that are able to break into your system. A strong password should contain, both letters and numbers, upper and lower case letters, over eight characters long and should contain symbols such as %, + and -.


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