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Caching Dolphin 7 Websites

I don't know if any of you have messed with the various cache features in your Dolphin 7 Administration or not. I have played around with testing it the past few days. After a fresh install, some of it is enabled by default. I have tried enabling one at a time, and various combinations of 2, 3, and more cache features.

I am coming to the conclusion that I see very little benefits of enabling caching.

The only benefits I see or notice is you will have less files to load if you have .js or .css caching enabled. This could potentially make your site load slightly faster and more consistent. However, the file sizes tend to increase quite a bit resulting in more bandwidth and a larger amount of info to load. So you kind of win one, but lose one at the same time.

If you enable .html caching your page size jumps up a lot in size so more bandwidth again.

If you enable .js, .css, .html, and image caching the total size of everything to load jumps up substantially, meaning a lot more bandwidth. I am not a fan of a single homepage that has 1-3mb's to load up.

All of this could potentially reduce the load on the server a bit, but unless you have a busy site I don't see how this would benefit you much.

The other drawbacks is with caching enable it makes things more difficult to find should you want or need to edit some of the .css files for example. Instead of common.css you will see something like: cache_public/bx_templ_css_2cb3f4e1a3ee905ad5ac30930bf9d26c.css. Which creates some confusion to where the actual file is to edit for many users.

My site was actually smaller in terms of size to load up everything with no-cache when compared to enabling cache. I don't have the speediest internet connection, nor do I have the slowest either, but I didn't notice any load time differences. Maybe if you have a slower connection you might notice, but I didn't.

After messing with Dolphin 7's caching for several days I decided to take a different approach. I decided to see what I could do with gzip/deflate. Basically apache's way of sending content to a web browser that supports it in compressed format. Most newer browsers do support this. The server/host must also have gzip/deflate configured and enabled. Many hosts do, but not all of them.

I have so far taken my sites main homepage from a little over 800 kb's in size down to 350 kb's so far, and I still have a few more files to do yet.

I will continue monitoring and testing this over the next few days to maybe a week to gather statistics, but so far it has saved me a lot of bandwidth. It's hard to put an exact number on how many seconds it actually takes to load, but I do believe it is loading faster now too.

Like I said I will have a few more files to tweak yet, and monitor it for a week to gather more data to see if it really meets my expectations or not.

It works well on .css, .js, text/html, but not images as image formats like .jpg/.jpeg are already compressed.

Depending on the actual file gzip/deflate can easily compress 50-90%. Which is a lot of bandwidth savings, but also results in faster loading pages.

There is a little work involved to make it happen, but nothing crazy. Just a few simple lines of code to add. Most of the time involved for me was to actually find the necessary Dolphin files, which took a little time.

If it turns out that I am still pleased with the results in about a week, I will add a tutorial / article about how to do this if anyone is interested.

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02.17.2010 (4613 days ago)
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