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The 6 Most Common Causes of Deteriorating Web App Performance

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Posted October 25, 2018

Despite the most meticulous planning and your best efforts, launching your web app does not mean the end of working on it. There are going to be problems from time to time. Knowing where these problems are likely to occur and taking proactive actions beforehand can prevent the deterioration of your application’s performance.

The following are some of most common reasons why your web app can stop performing as well as it should.

Computer. Image credit: attapontom via Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain

Computer. Image credit: attapontom via Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain

1.   Poorly Written Code

This should be the first thing you should look at when appraising your app’s performance. Poor coding may cause application deadlocks, memory leaks and inefficient algorithms. Poorly written code may be due lack of coding experience, the use of outdated programming techniques or a failure to understand the environment in which the application will be running.

There are automated tools that you can use to analyze your web app’s code for low quality code, dead ends, superfluous lines and needless iterations.

2.   Inefficient Databases

An unoptimized database not only lowers web app performance but is also a security risk. Missing indexes can slow down SQL queries and in the worst case bring down the entire application. Like coding problems, you can use scripts and keep tabs on key performance statistics to determine whether the optimization of your database is adequate.

3.   Soaring Traffic

If your web app gains traction with the market and sees its popularity rise rapidly, you can expect fast growth in visitor traffic. This traffic will exert ever greater demands on network bandwidth as well as server RAM and CPU. In addition, your web app is built with a specific maximum capacity in mind.

As you approach the carrying capacity of the hardware and software that your app runs on, you’ll notice a marked deterioration in speed as well as a rise in errors. This is where application performance monitoring tools come in handy. The early warning from such tools gives you sufficient time to make appropriate upgrades before the traffic complete cripples your app.

4.   Unmanaged Data Growth

Every web application creates and stores some form of data. How fast this data grows will vary from app to app. As the volume of information grows, it steadily lowers the performance of the web app. To prevent this undesirable outcome, identify the right storage medium and architecture for your data. You should also regularly archive old data that is hardly or rarely used.

5.   Problematic Third-Party Services

It’s impossible to run a web app without some form of third-party dependencies. Whether it’s the underlying hardware and network infrastructure, or it’s the OS and plugins, certain performance problems won’t be of your own doing or directly within your control. Nevertheless, users of your web app will blame you for performance problems even when it’s a vendor’s fault.

The good thing about problems caused by third-party services though is that they are relatively easy to resolve. All you need to do is move to a competing provider who is more reliable. Another way to guarantee consistently high performance is to sign a service level agreement (SLA) with the third-party.

6.   Shared Resources

Long gone are the days when web apps would be run from a dedicated physical server. Today, nearly all apps run on virtual machines (VMs). Virtual machines cost less, have a more robust recovery process and are quickly scalable.

However, there are often hundreds of virtual machines on a single physical server. Whereas each VM instance is logically isolated from other VMs on the same server, certain resources are shared. That means if one VM precipitates a performance problem with the physical server or starts to hog an excessive amount of system resources, this could affect the performance of other VMs on the same machine.

The key to ensuring your web app’s performance is always at an acceptable level is to pay attention to the early warning signs and act before problems spiral out of control.

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