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How to Make HTTPS Fast Without Compromising on Web Performance

How to Make HTTPS Fast Without Compromising on Web Performance

Today, an SSL or TLS is a highly essential requirement for e-commerce platforms, businesses websites, websites like PayPal that run online payment system, and social media networking platforms that deal a lot with sensitive information.

A fast loading website is highly crucial for any business since it gives a great user experience to visitors. Its importance is so high even Google had announced a few years ago  that they were considering page load time as one of the parameters in SERP (Search Engine Page Rankings). In addition to that, lately, Google also announced that they would be supporting websites that use SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) or TLS (Transport  Layer Security) in its search rankings.

However, on one hand adding SSL/TLS protection ensures website users that their information is secure and on the other hand, it kind of introduces complexity to the website right from the way it communicates with your users to gradually slowing things down which in return negatively affects the user experience.

In this post, let’s discuss how to implement TLS on your website to secure the data while keeping the website quick and responsive.

First of all, what is the difference between an SSL and TLS?

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and TLS (Transport Layer Security) are protocols that offer data encryption between a browser and server. The terms SSL and TLS are often used interchangeably or in connection with each other like SSL/TLS. SSL is the predecessor to TLS.

But what makes an SSL slow?

SSL commands an additional tax on the web performance. Wondering how? Let’s understand that part now. The primitive source of that SSL performance tax comes from the first setup of a new connection. Even before a web page information can be exchanged, an SSL session should take place between the server and client.

Let’s say if you have multiple resources on your web page under various domains, then your website users’ browsers will need to negotiate an SSL session for each and every domain. This is because each SSL session needs more or less 4 additional exchanges, the issues of fluctuating connections with high loss rates are expanded over HTTPS.

Basically, there are 2 areas that may hinder website’s performance and thus businesses need to focus

  1. Encrypting the Data

The data that will be sent back and forth between the user’s browsers and the web server must be encrypted and decrypted. If it is not configured properly, it may affect your site page load times and further it will become slower than unencrypted traffic.

  1. Building a Secure Connection

There are various levels that should take place before the user’s browser builds a secure connection to the website. Those include identity must be confirmed, the algorithm must be chosen, and finally, the keys must be exchanged. This is called as TLS Handshake and all this process can have a significant effect on website performance.

How to optimize data encryption

Usually, if a browser and web server communication process involves 3 steps then by using SSL, you are adding 3 more steps to the already existing process. The sender has to encrypt the data before sending it and on the other side, the receiver has to decrypt it before it can process it. All these steps will take place whenever a user visits your web page and every business wants this process to be as simplified as possible.

However, in order to get the best performance connection speed for your website, first you will need to optimize your TLS-secured site and here are four amazing tips you should consider for one such optimization.

Get Certificates from Reliable Sources

Even today, domain registrars can provide your business website with an SSL certificate. So make sure SSL from uncredible sources not only warns your users from going forward but also affects your website in every possible way. SSL2BUY is one such legit website that specializes in online security and provides credible Comodo SSL certificates start from just $8 per year. They are an authorised reseller of leading CA including Comodo SSL, Geotrust, RapidSSL, Thawte, GlobalSIgn and Symantec, so you can find broad range of certificates at one place.

Optimize TLS Handshake

The typical TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) connection uses a 3-way handshake to build a protected connection between the user browser and the web server. The client sends a connection request, gets an acknowledgment, and then forwards one more acknowledgment.

This is called the “TLS Handshake” and sometimes it needs extra rounds while knowing a compatible approach to encryption and verification.

Meanwhile, all this may enhance latency and affect the site performance and thus user experience by giving the. slow page load times.

There are a lot of ways to optimize the TLS handshake like sharding resources across various domains  is a proven method of enhancing performance for many websites. Still, enabling “persistent connections” is the best way to improve TLS-secured connections.

Enabling Persistent Connections

A persistent connection lets various requests in one connection. Usually, visiting a protected website many times in a few minutes may need a new SSL connection to be started. But, with a persistent connection in place, the SSL connection needs to be started only once and omitting the need for extra handshakes.

A persistent connection is also known as “keep-alive” method and it can be initiated by adding “Connection: Keep-Alive” to your HTTP header and will be located in the web server configuration file.

Utilize a CDN (Content Delivery Network)

A vital balance of websites can leverage CDNs to enhance page load speeds. Deploying a CDN also gives the advantage of improving the SSL/TLS performance. And this entirely can take over the above-mentioned steps right from optimizing TLS handshake to enabling persistent connections.

Final Thoughts

Optimizing your website’s TLS/SSL performance is extremely significant for enhancing the performance without compromising on security. Remember that these optimizations focus on improving your website’s user experience. Since Google is supporting websites that are protected using SSL/TLS in search engine rankings, it is important to improve your site loading time.

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