Speeding Apache up using Compression

By | December 24, 2008

As of late I started to notice my little VPS server had more difficulty keeping up with the amount of data it has to sent to the webbrowsers. I knew that the amount of requests increased and after some tracking I found out that the average page size also increased.

Keep in mind the average page size is not only the size of the HTML but also adding the external CSS, JavaScript and images. Which could dramatically increase the amount of data the users are downloading. So I started looking in the compression options of Apache 2.0

First I looked on the official Apache page, but as usual the data is probably available but not very user friendly. So after some testing and crashing I found out the following procedure which seems to work fine to enable compression per Virtual Host.

Firstly enable the module that supports compression by executing:

:> ln -s /etc/apache2/mods-available/deflate.load /etc/apache2/mods-enabled/deflate.load

This will instruct Apache to load the needed library (module) for compression using GZip. The second thing you will need to do is add the following lines to every single Virtual Host you want to use compression on.

    <Location / >
       SetOutputFilter DEFLATE
       BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4 gzip-only-text/html
       BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4.0[678] no-gzip
       BrowserMatch bMSI[E] !no-gzip !gzip-only-text/html
     </Location>
 

This will enable the compression for output (everything sent to the end-user) but not for incoming requests, which in my case is enough compression for right now. It also exludes some browsers that do not support compression.

Now restart or reload your apache by running the statement below and your website should support compression. This will make the loading of pages faster, though the client software needs to decompress the pages from this point on.

:> etc/init.d/apache2 reload

If you have any trouble enabling compression just leave a message and I’ll try and help you where I can.

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