7 best practices for your Drupal environment

First released in 2001, Drupal is a free and open-source content-management framework written in PHP and distributed under the GNU General Public License. Drupal is used as a back-end framework for at least 5.1% of all Web sites worldwide, putting it in 3rd place behind WordPress and Joomla. The various uses for Drupal range from personal blogs to corporate, political, and government sites including WhiteHouse.gov and data.gov.uk, to enterprise applications. image
According to Wiki, the Drupal community is well supported, having passed 1 million users in 2013. The site also boasts well over 31,000 developers and over 30,000 free-community contributed add-ons. What this all means is that as far as CMS’s go, Drupal is one of the most robust and customizable ones that you’ll find out there. In fact, this feature has meant that Drupal is also recognized as a web application framework. As with any CMS, such as WordPress or Joomla, Drupal has its own strengths and weakness, and there are things you can do to maximize and optimize the overall performance. One writer states it this way: “Drupal is not known as the most performant application, neither is the PHP language it is written on, but there are lots of things you can do to increase the performance of your Drupal site.” At the end of the day, you want to do everything possible to ensure that your Drupal application is running as smoothly as possible. In what follows we outline 7 best practices for fine-tuning your Drupal setup to make sure performance is optimal.

1. Cache as much as possible You’ve probably heard this term before. Caching is a mechanism for the temporary storage of web pages in order to reduce bandwidth and improve performance. When a visitor arrives at your site the cached version will be served up unless it has changed since the last cache. Drupal has a number of caching features that are worth using, such as Page Caching, Views Caching, and Block Caching. For more information on each of these methods, see this list of Drupal performance recommendations.   image

2. Reduce image size and number of images According to the HTTP Archive, 61 percent of a website’s page weight on a desktop computer is images. Make sure that your images are appropriately sized. Adopting new image formats, such as WebP and JPeg XR, can also help reduce image weight by 20 to 50 percent without sacrificing quality. It’s also really helpful to combine images into a single image file, thus reducing the number of HTTP request that are required to download the webpage. This feature is implemented by using CSS image sprites.

3. Try a CDN A content delivery network is a way of taking a websites static files, like CSS, images, and JavaScript, and delivering them through web servers that are closer to the user’s physical location. Shorter proximity amounts to faster load time.

4. Disable unused modules It’s a good idea to check which modules you really need and to disable unused ones, as these add to the total overhead for additional PHP code to execute on each page load and requires extra CSS and JavaScript files included with each page load, even if you are not using the module for anything. Even for those modules that are seldom used, it’s a good idea to disable them and try to find an alternate method to achieve the same result. image

5. Combine CSS files Drupal has an “Aggregate and compress CSS files” features that will take separate CSS files and concatenate and separate them into just a few files. This also comes with a compression part that will remove the whitespaces in the files that serve no overall purpose. By reducing the number and total size of CSS files, the overall speed of loading these files is improved.

6. Aggregate JavaScript files JavaScript files can be very large. In the same way that you compressed CSS files, Drupal also has a feature that allows you to compress your JavaScript files. By doing so, you save bandwidth, reduce time lag and latency, and improve the overall performance of your website.

7. Adopt cloud-based website monitoring There are significant advantages to offloading your website monitoring to a cloud based host – cost, scalability, efficiency, to name a few. Not to mention, this frees you up to focus on growing your business, which matters the most anyway. image

If you’d like to get onboard with the latest in cloud based monitoring then you should try a 24/7 monitoring service like Monitis. With its first-class global service, Monitis allows organizations to monitor their network anytime and from anywhere. For instant, with Monitis you can tell when your hosting service goes down, accompanied by timely notifications (via everything from live phone messages, to texts, to email and Twitter). Or you can load test your website to determine at what point it starts creating traffic issues. By keeping your CMS running smoothly and more effectively, Monitis alleviates the stress and helps you focus on running your business. If you’re serious about website monitoring, and especially your Drupal environment, then go on over to Monitis today and start a free trial. Once you see the benefits of the Monitis monitoring platform, you’ll be glad you did!

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