How fast can a webpage load?

MacBH928

macrumors 68040
Original poster
May 17, 2008
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I just need to confirm this with those who know more, I want to know how fast do webpages load on the fastest of connections. Currently for me websites vary from 4-11 seconds(including launch videos). I was told that they are impossible to load less than 4 seconds and anything more than 7 is considered slow.

Anyone here with fiber or super fast connection that gets pages loading faster?
What bothers me more is that sometimes websites would load but the content does not.

Some might say "does few more seconds really is giving a problem?" I say that I just like to maximize it if possible. Instant loading surely more satisfying that waiting 5 seconds from one page to the other.
 

TopherMan12

macrumors 6502a
Oct 10, 2019
501
454
Atlanta, GA
It is going to vary from site to site and having super fast connection isn't going to matter in a lot of cases. A simple web page can load in under a second. I don't think a fiber connection is going to download ~20 KB of data any faster than a 100 MBps connection.

Here is an example:
Simple web page
1581606291846.png


Here is macrumors:

1581606424956.png


The simple page has no javascript. No ads. Just pure HTML. Macrumors has a ton of scripts being loaded along with stylesheets and images. But even still we are only talking about MBs of data. The bottleneck here is probably going to be your computer and your browser before the connection speed.
 

velocityg4

macrumors 601
Dec 19, 2004
4,717
1,284
Georgia
How fast a site can load depends on a lot of factors. Beyond the speed of the connection. There is your distance to your DNS server and how responsive it is. Then there is your distance from the host. Plus there is the speed of the host to contend with.

Perhaps you may want to try changing DNS servers in your router. I use Google DNS servers (8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4). Which in my area are a little more responsive than Comcast and AT&T (full fiber). When it comes to AT&T DSL and U-Verse (fiber to curb) the Google DNS servers are much more responsive. This varies by region so you'll have to try it in your area and try other quality DNS public DNS servers. When I've serviced more rural networks with little local ISP's. The Google DNS servers provide even bigger gains in response times.

DNS servers don't actually make the connection faster. A better DNS server will just direct the connections faster to better utilize your connection.

FYI on good websites. My load time can be under one second. A lot of sites are one to two seconds. Some take several seconds. Junk or crowded sites can take noticeably longer. I use a gigabit AT&T fiber optic connection. My real speed is a 4ms Ping, 850 Mbps Down, 915 Mbps up but I've had a ping a low as 2ms.
 
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MacBH928

macrumors 68040
Original poster
May 17, 2008
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Simple web page
Thanks for going to great lengths to answer my question. That simple website still loads about 3-4 seconds for me and macrumors only 1-2 more extra seconds.

I heard you can setup your own DNS server on Raspberry Pi using software called "Unbound", do you think that would make things faster? I am not sure how it works, I don't imagine it will build a complete database of all domains and their IP addresses.

How does my browser and computer affect page load?

How fast a site can load depends on a lot of factors. Beyond the speed of the connection. There is your distance to your DNS server and how responsive it is. Then there is your distance from the host. Plus there is the speed of the host to contend with.

Perhaps you may want to try changing DNS servers in your router. I use Google DNS servers (8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4). Which in my area are a little more responsive than Comcast and AT&T (full fiber). When it comes to AT&T DSL and U-Verse (fiber to curb) the Google DNS servers are much more responsive. This varies by region so you'll have to try it in your area and try other quality DNS public DNS servers. When I've serviced more rural networks with little local ISP's. The Google DNS servers provide even bigger gains in response times.

DNS servers don't actually make the connection faster. A better DNS server will just direct the connections faster to better utilize your connection.

FYI on good websites. My load time can be under one second. A lot of sites are one to two seconds. Some take several seconds. Junk or crowded sites can take noticeably longer. I use a gigabit AT&T fiber optic connection. My real speed is a 4ms Ping, 850 Mbps Down, 915 Mbps up but I've had a ping a low as 2ms.
So is it possible that the responsiveness of websites in reality is about PING speed? People seem to say that a ping that is 4ms is faster than than say 300ms but... 300ms is only 30% of a second, is it even noticeable?
 

Mikael H

macrumors 6502a
Sep 3, 2014
692
336
I heard you can setup your own DNS server on Raspberry Pi using software called "Unbound", do you think that would make things faster? I am not sure how it works, I don't imagine it will build a complete database of all domains and their IP addresses.
Any DNS server still needs to lookup addresses, but if it's configured to keep a cache of stored addresses you may lower the number of times that a certain address needs to be looked up outside of your own network. You're not guaranteed to see a real benefit from this as a single user, though.

However, running a local DNS can give you additional benefits, though: There are products like Piehole that block some scripts and ads even before they get a chance to load, by knowing beforehand which domains are mostly used for that kind of crap. Using that will definitely speed up your Internet experience.

How does my browser and computer affect page load?
Different browsers are good at different things. Some browsers do one thing really well, and if you mainly do that on the web, using that particular browser will improve performance.

Rendering modern web pages is an expensive process, computationally. A fast computer will do that faster than a slow one, simplistically speaking.

So is it possible that the responsiveness of websites in reality is about PING speed? People seem to say that a ping that is 4ms is faster than than say 300ms but... 300ms is only 30% of a second, is it even noticeable?
Yes, because TCP - the protocol used underneath the web page - is a two-way communication. A request for an element may look like this:
(C=client, S=server)
C: Hello?
S: Hello.
C: May I look at document "sexycatpicture.jpg"?
S: You may look at document "sexycatpicture.jpg".
C: OK, so please send me document "sexycatpicture.jpg".
S: Getting ready to send document "sexycatpicture.jpg" which is 54 KB in size. Are you ready to receive "sexycatpicture.jpg" which is 54 KB in size?
C: Yes, I'm ready to receive "sexycatpicture.jpg" which is 54 KB in size.
S: Sending.
C: Receiving.
S: I have sent "sexycatpictyre.jpg" which is 54 KB in size. Did you receive "sexycatpicture.jpg" which is 54 KB in size?
C: I have received "sexycatpicture.jpg which is 54 KB in size. Thank you.
S: De nada.
C: OK, bye!
S: Bye!


Now imagine that each part of this interaction requires 2 ms to reach its target, or 150 ms to reach its target. You will notice a 75 times decrease in performance. Add to this that sometimes you're not alone in wanting to watch "sexycatpicture.jpg", so the server may struggle to deliver on your request immediately. Or the picture has been archived and needs to be found on old-and-slow mechanical storage. Or any of a number of various things that affect immediate performance beyond just network latency.
 

Mikael H

macrumors 6502a
Sep 3, 2014
692
336
I was told that they are impossible to load less than 4 seconds
My full wordpress instance (which doesn't contain ads) loads in less than 2.5 seconds from uncached, when testing remotely. Curling the page (which loads the content but doesn't render HTML nor execute any scripts) takes 0.29 seconds from where I sit right now. Loading a static site can be done really quickly. In other words: Only inefficient bloat requires a site to load in several seconds.
 

jeyf

macrumors 65816
Jan 20, 2009
1,427
618
some fiber providers are inclined to have up and down load are the same
 

jeyf

macrumors 65816
Jan 20, 2009
1,427
618
when i used comCast the down load speed was much faster than up load
with fiber to the house up and dwn speeds are close to the same

reference the above; tcp protocol; there is a lot of hand shake
 

Mikael H

macrumors 6502a
Sep 3, 2014
692
336
when i used comCast the down load speed was much faster than up load
with fiber to the house up and dwn speeds are close to the same

reference the above; tcp protocol; there is a lot of hand shake
Aha, yes, that's correct. In older technology, especially ADSL lines with a bit of distance to the central, it was a necessary evil. In the case of fiber it's pretty much the customer being screwed by the ISP.
 

MacBH928

macrumors 68040
Original poster
May 17, 2008
3,676
1,287
Any DNS server still needs to lookup addresses, but if it's configured to keep a cache of stored addresses you may lower the number of times that a certain address needs to be looked up outside of your own network. You're not guaranteed to see a real benefit from this as a single user, though.

However, running a local DNS can give you additional benefits, though: There are products like Piehole that block some scripts and ads even before they get a chance to load, by knowing beforehand which domains are mostly used for that kind of crap. Using that will definitely speed up your Internet experience.


Different browsers are good at different things. Some browsers do one thing really well, and if you mainly do that on the web, using that particular browser will improve performance.

Rendering modern web pages is an expensive process, computationally. A fast computer will do that faster than a slow one, simplistically speaking.


Yes, because TCP - the protocol used underneath the web page - is a two-way communication. A request for an element may look like this:
(C=client, S=server)
C: Hello?
S: Hello.
C: May I look at document "sexycatpicture.jpg"?
S: You may look at document "sexycatpicture.jpg".
C: OK, so please send me document "sexycatpicture.jpg".
S: Getting ready to send document "sexycatpicture.jpg" which is 54 KB in size. Are you ready to receive "sexycatpicture.jpg" which is 54 KB in size?
C: Yes, I'm ready to receive "sexycatpicture.jpg" which is 54 KB in size.
S: Sending.
C: Receiving.
S: I have sent "sexycatpictyre.jpg" which is 54 KB in size. Did you receive "sexycatpicture.jpg" which is 54 KB in size?
C: I have received "sexycatpicture.jpg which is 54 KB in size. Thank you.
S: De nada.
C: OK, bye!
S: Bye!


Now imagine that each part of this interaction requires 2 ms to reach its target, or 150 ms to reach its target. You will notice a 75 times decrease in performance. Add to this that sometimes you're not alone in wanting to watch "sexycatpicture.jpg", so the server may struggle to deliver on your request immediately. Or the picture has been archived and needs to be found on old-and-slow mechanical storage. Or any of a number of various things that affect immediate performance beyond just network latency.
Much thanks for the detailed explanation. That was informative. I guess ping is really important. I thought it was more like:
C: Requesting information (300ms->)
S: Giving Information (<-100mbps)

I didn't imagine that response time on HDD will be a factor as well, because accessing files on an HDD is almost instant (loading picture, playing movie). Having SSD servers is extremely expensive, I don't imagine much data centers are doing it.

its still mind blowing though that to reach a server on the other side of planet earth and receiving data back in some seconds.
 

556fmjoe

macrumors 68000
Apr 19, 2014
1,686
1,025
For the m
Thanks for going to great lengths to answer my question. That simple website still loads about 3-4 seconds for me and macrumors only 1-2 more extra seconds.

I heard you can setup your own DNS server on Raspberry Pi using software called "Unbound", do you think that would make things faster? I am not sure how it works, I don't imagine it will build a complete database of all domains and their IP addresses.

How does my browser and computer affect page load?



So is it possible that the responsiveness of websites in reality is about PING speed? People seem to say that a ping that is 4ms is faster than than say 300ms but... 300ms is only 30% of a second, is it even noticeable?
Those times are quite strange. I am on a 25 Mb/s connection and they load nearly instantly.

Page load times are a sum of a couple factors.

1.) DNS response time. The faster your browser gets a DNS response, the sooner it can start connecting.

2.) The website size. More stuff to download means more time. Images, video, and Javascript are brutal here.

3.) The upstream server's connection and available bandwidth.

4.) Your internet connection and available bandwidth. This includes your router/switch/wireless AP's ability to push packets around. If it's under heavy load, it will be slower.

5.) Your browser's ability to parse and render all the data it received in its request. This ties into #2. More stuff to parse, render, and execute means more time spent doing that. The speed varies by browser engine and by your particular computer's horsepower. Again, this will slow down if your computer is under a heavy load.
 

smirking

macrumors 68020
Aug 31, 2003
2,427
1,862
Silicon Valley
Also be aware that load time can be artificially inflated by a slow loading JavaScript script running in the background. Everything on the page may be ready for all intents and purposes after 4 seconds to you as the user, but when you check the load times, it might say 10 or even 20 seconds. Part of the problem we have with modern websites is that they don't just load thing from one source. They load it from 30+ and any one of them could have bottlenecks that result in extended load times.
 

Mikael H

macrumors 6502a
Sep 3, 2014
692
336
I didn't imagine that response time on HDD will be a factor as well, because accessing files on an HDD is almost instant (loading picture, playing movie).
A good rule of thumb is that a good mechanical drive adds about 15 ms before it can start loading data - and that's unless it's otherwise busy: It needs to find the correct track, and then wait until the information it needs passes underneath the head as the platter spins.

Having SSD servers is extremely expensive, I don't imagine much data centers are doing it.
Less expensive than you think, frankly. Server-class drives aren't very cheap to begin with, and in a production environment you tend to run into performance issues long before you hit the drive's storage limitations for anything but archival needs.

Back when we had mechanical storage I spent way too much time calculating on which LUN to put servers based on expected performance needs vs theoretically available IOPS vs actual performance vs disk space requirements vs our budget. Nowadays that part of my job mainly consists of ensuring we have enough storage available - the speed, at least for most systems, is good enough with no or little additional planning.

its still mind blowing though that to reach a server on the other side of planet earth and receiving data back in some seconds.
Yep, that is cool.
 
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Erehy Dobon

macrumors 6502a
Feb 16, 2018
538
383
Thanks for going to great lengths to answer my question. That simple website still loads about 3-4 seconds for me and macrumors only 1-2 more extra seconds.
3-4 seconds for the simple webpage is pretty slow.

It loaded in maybe 0.75 second on my MacBook Air 2019 at home on my ghetto 1.5Mbps DSL connection with a heavy download taking place on another machine on my home network.

I have my router configured to use different DNS servers though:

9.9.9.9 Quad9 (IBM cybersecurity)
1.1.1.1 Cloudflare

than those from my ISP. DNS lookup and network latency can be major bottlenecks.

That said, DNS resolution is measured in milliseconds. Even if your ISP's DNS servers suck, it shouldn't result in a 3-4 second download of a simple web page.

There is something else really bad in your network.
 
Last edited:

Erehy Dobon

macrumors 6502a
Feb 16, 2018
538
383
Having SSD servers is extremely expensive, I don't imagine much data centers are doing it.
Actually you are completely wrong.

The big boys hold the most used assets in RAM so they don't have to go to disk. Top-notch web operators have been doing this for 20+ years, long before SSDs were common.

Ever hear about a ramdisk? Same basic principle. I think that was an Eighties thing.

Who started this? The porn sites. If you surfed to Danni's Hard Drive in the mid-late Nineties, the home page was from the server's RAM. They wouldn't go to the hardware's spinning disk to serve up some stupid site logo GIF. That would be unprofessional.

At some point, these content providers put everything behind load balancers so a HTTP request would get served up by the first available server, not one server going to disk or round-robin (a misconfiguration that some admins cluelessly fell for).

The Danni admins weren't freakin' idiots. They put their servers in major colos one hop away from hubs like MAE West. I believe there were private peering arrangements to get around some of the routing bottlenecks as well.

Go to a used bookstore (bricks-and-mortar or online). Look for a book called Oracle DBA Handbook (or something like that) written by Kevin Looney. Look for something published in the late Nineties. That book will describe the "22 disk dream database" where each critical Oracle file is on its own disk so there is no disk contention.

But yeah, the last thing you want to do is go to disk. The pros figured this out 25 years ago. That's the primary takeaway here.
 
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MacBH928

macrumors 68040
Original poster
May 17, 2008
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4.) Your internet connection and available bandwidth. This includes your router/switch/wireless AP's ability to push packets around. If it's under heavy load, it will be slower.
Is there a recommended router that handles this best? I am only expecting most modern home routers are already on the best possible performance. Mine personally is netgear r7000

3-4 seconds for the simple webpage is pretty slow.

It loaded in maybe 0.75 second on my MacBook Air 2019 at home on my ghetto 1.5Mbps DSL connection with a heavy download taking place on another machine on my home network.

I have my router configured to use different DNS servers though:

9.9.9.9 Quad9 (IBM cybersecurity)
1.1.1.1 Cloudflare

than those from my ISP. DNS lookup and network latency can be major bottlenecks.

That said, DNS resolution is measured in milliseconds. Even if your ISP's DNS servers suck, it shouldn't result in a 3-4 second download of a simple web page.

There is something else really bad in your network.
Is there a tool I can use to find which is the fastest DNS for me instead of having to test each one and eye ball the results?
 

Erehy Dobon

macrumors 6502a
Feb 16, 2018
538
383
Is there a tool I can use to find which is the fastest DNS for me instead of having to test each one and eye ball the results?
I don't know and I don't care.

If you do an Internet search (yeah, one of those old archaic behaviors that people used to do about ten years ago), you'll actually find some reviews of DNS resolving performance. At least one study claimed that Cloudflare was the fastest; Google and Quad9 were second and third with 1-2 milliseconds separating the latter two.

Remember that DNS resolving speed is just one of a bunch of factors that influence network performance.

I'm actually using the third place Quad9 because I want some of the protection against malicious domains rather than pure resolving speed.