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Web Hosts GZIP support

What is GZIP?  If your web host supports it, it is web site speed and performance!  GZIP is a data compression utility.  Virtually all current Web Browsers make web page requests with a GZIP compression option selected.  When your browser sends a request for a web page, it says to the Web Host please provide a GZIP compressed version of the web page to me.

What does that mean to you the web user?  The web page content should be compressed typically to about a size 4 times smaller than the original before it is transmitted by the Web Host to your ISP and then to you.  Web pages can open 4 times faster with GZIP compression.  But the request is optional, and the Web Host can send the uncompressed version of the web page.

Gee you say all web sites should support GZIP compressed content if it is so much faster.  Well surprisingly, probably 80% of the web hosts out there do not directly support GZIP compression!  Google supports GZIP compression, but many many web hosts don't.  Port 80 software surveys many sites evaluating their GZIP capability:

Top 1000 compression sites.

Port80software.com

I surveyed 10 Web Hosting providers and only 2 provided direct optional support for GZIP compression.  At least one other allows for GZIP compression only through the "back door" secret way.

Well why do they not support GZIP compression?

  1. Some web hosts mistakenly believe their servers CPU will be overloaded.  At some point in the past they looked at application CPU usage and saw it rise when they enabled GZIP compression.  If they'd just looked at SYSTEM CPU usage they would have seen only a small increase.
  2. Additional memory usage is a legitimate argument against providing GZIP compression, but it really does not use that much.
  3. In many cases Web Hosts make money based upon bandwidth usage, so, if they support GZIP compression their customers bandwidth usage drops by a factor of 4, and therefore the web host simplistically assumes bandwidth income reduces by a factor of 4.  They could just charge two different rates depending upon the use of GZIP or not.  Most web site owners probably would not mind too much as long as their bottom line remained the same. 

A tool to test for a Web Host that provides GZIP compression.

This is a great utility.  You will find it at:
Port80 Compression Check
This test defaults to foxnews.com, that is not compressed.  Port80 provides you with a lovely table indicating the byte savings and time savings you can expect for various Internet connection speeds.

Here is a test of the Google website:
Port80 Test www.google.com

You will see Google is GZIP compressed, BUT, I had to know the secret "back door" trick to get my site compressed.  My site is hosted by Ipower.  Their support is good, but you do have to know the secret.  I will let you know a little later in this article.

My survey

My survey was simple.  I just checked the home page of the web host in question to see if the Port80 utility said it was GZIPped or not.  I did query hosts by email and found in one case, though their home page was not GZIP compressed, they openly supported the option should you the Webmaster want it.

Port80 Test Web Host GZIPed ? Optional support ? Secret support ?
IX Web hosting IX web hosting Yes Yes N/A
         
IPower IPowerweb Yes No Yes
Dot5 Hosting Dot5 Hosting Yes No Probably
Host Excellence Host Excellence Yes ? ?
EasyCGI  Yes ? ?
         
         
         

I really liked the ix webhosting control panel, even the demonstration is excellent and they do openly support GZIP.  My site is now hosted by IPowerweb.  I had to use the secret backdoor trick to get GZIP.  EasyCGI was GZIPped when I first tested it but today, 7/24/2005 it was not.

The backdoor secrets at IPowerweb and probably Dot5hosting.

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BHT Created: 17 Jan 2005

BHT Revised: 22 Oct 2016

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Copyright 2003-2016 Robert Matheson.  All rights reserved.  Email Bob at BobsHowTo.com - . 

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