coldnorthpole wrote:Will enabling Gzip compression help your forum run quicker?
Will users notice faster page load times due to enabling Gzip compression?
*Run* quicker? No. *Load* quicker? Maybe.
Like everything in life, GZip is a tradeoff, so you have to decide what's important to you. Enabling compression *can* lower page load times, because you'll be reducing the amount of data your server has to send to clients. Less data to move = less time required to move it = faster load times for the end user. The catch is that the compression isn't free - enabling it means that you have to spend some amount of CPU time actually compressing stuff before sending it out, which increases CPU load. This is a problem, particularly on shared hosts - most shared hosting companies are a *lot* more sensitive about CPU load than bandwidth, meaning that GZip compression risks increasing the CPU load to the point where your hosting company will start complaining.
So when does compression make sense? It makes sense in a couple of situations:
1) You have your very own dedicated server, with a low bandwidth cap. In that case, the CPU is yours and you alone are responsible for the load - you don't have to answer to someone else if you start stressing the CPU. In that case, GZip compression can be a useful tool for managing your bandwidth usage and page load times.
2) You have a decent VPS, and you can afford to load up the CPU a bit to manage bandwidth and reduce page load times.
3) You're on a shared host but for whatever reason your hosting company allows you to add that load to the CPU, and you want to reduce page load times for your users or manage your bandwidth. This is mostly a theoretical situation - shared hosting companies are notorious for getting all over customers who exceed their fair share of CPU time
When does it *not* make sense?
1) You're on a shared host or VPS, but the hosting company has you on their 40 bazillion GB/month bandwidth plan. In that case, you may not be in any danger at all of exceeding your bandwidth allotment. If anything gets you in trouble with the host, it'll be CPU usage rather than bandwidth, in which case, skip the compression.
2) Well, there is no "2", really. If you can afford the CPU hit, try it out. If you can't, pass on it. It's pretty much that simple