Why Do Websites Take Too Long to Respond

How many times have you clicked off of a website because it was taking too long to load? Or, how many times have you simply received a failure to load error message? Slow websites are a big problem for traffic, and there are dozens of reasons that might cause slow speeds. Pinpointing the cause for slow loading speeds is the first step in fixing the problem.

web page error

What Does it Mean?

In some situations, slow loading speeds result in the user seeing an error message that says something to the effect of ‘failure to load’ or ‘connection timed out. These error messages are a significant deterrent for traffic because users will simply assume that your website is defunct and move on.

This error message is typically displayed if the server takes more than thirty seconds to respond to a user’s request to view a web page. Most users click away after two or three seconds, so if they were dedicated enough to wait it out for the whole thirty seconds, this error cost you high-quality website traffic.

Related: The Correct Way to Run a Website Speed Test

What Causes This Error?

There are many reasons why a connection timeout error may happen. Let’s talk about some of the most common causes and what you can do about them.

Server is Overwhelmed

The resources where your website is hosted are insufficient to handle the demand. Not all hosting solutions are equal or even distribute resources equally among the websites they host. Find out if your host servers can handle your memory usage. It might be time to upgrade to a new hosting plan or provider.

Internet Connection Problems

Internet connections are fairly reliable, but they sometimes fail. A connection problem is easy to diagnose and easy to fix.

DNS Cache

A DNS Cache is like a translator for your IP address. Computers use numerical data structures while the human brain prefers alphabetical structures, so the DNS Cache translates a string of numbers that your computer uses to identify a web page into a URL that you can recognize. Pretty neat, right?

In the interest of saving time, your DNS caches websites that you have visited before. Unfortunately, the cache can get stuck on an old data file, displaying an error message when the website works fine. To fix this problem, clear your cache and reload the page.

Antivirus Activity

Settings in your antivirus software may prevent web page data from loading. Try temporarily disabling your antivirus software and reloading the page to diagnose this problem.

Browsing History

Your web browser stores another cache of information intended to help sites load faster. Passwords, cookies, site names, and URLs are all stored in temporary files. Like the DNS cache, your browser might be holding onto an old cache file.

computer files

Outdated Extensions

Your browser also uses several extensions intended to improve the user experience, but as technology moves forward, these extensions become outdated. Make sure everything on your end is up to date.

Windows Host File

A host file is what maps your domain to your IP address. You can selectively block websites in your host file, which may prevent you from loading a specific URL or IP.

Network Adapter – Not Installed or Out of Date

Drivers bridge the communication between hardware and software so that your computer and internet work together. A missing or outdated driver can prevent web pages from loading correctly.

Issues with Chrome’s Default Profile Folder

If you are using Google Chrome, your computer stores a default file with your bookmarks and passwords. Sometimes data files in this folder become corrupted, affecting how pages load in Chrome.

Theme Incompatibility

WordPress is pretty great for creating fully customizable websites, but sometimes too many options create too many headaches. Theme compatibility is a big issue with WordPress websites. To see if your theme is causing your problem, try changing the default theme on your website. You can revert to your saved files if that is not the issue.

Corrupted Files

Any corrupted file in your browser or caches can cause problems. Try reinstalling your web browser to correct this issue.

Hardware Acceleration

Most of the tasks on your computer are handled by the CPU. However, specific specialized tasks like sound quality on audio files and picture quality on video files are delegated to support hardware like sound cards and video cards. And sometimes this hardware is the issue. You can adjust or enable hardware acceleration in your browser settings.

Too Much Data in Database

How big is your website? How many pages and how much content is being retrieved. An entire back catalog of blog posts and multimedia content is probably unnecessary, especially if the information goes back more than three years. Purge outdated and irrelevant content and implement a practice of updating old content instead of replacing it.

Check Connectivity

Sometimes the easiest fix is the most obvious solution. For various reasons, your internet connection may be the only reason a web page will not display. While you cannot control connectivity issues for users on your website, it is a good idea to check your connection before assuming there is a problem with your website.

Try running these tools to check for connectivity issues:

  • Name Server Lookup (Nslookup)
  • Ping
  • Tracert

Related: What Can You Do To Speed Up Your Website

How to Fix the Issue

If you suspect a problem with your website or see an error message indicating a slow response, work your way through the potential issues to rule them out. Most of these do not require any technical knowledge.

  1. Make sure you are connected to the internet. Contact your internet service provider for help with connectivity issues.
  2. Try to access the web page on a different device. If it works, the issue is with corrupted or outdated files on your device.
  3. Run an internet speed test. Contact your ISP for speed deficiencies.
  4. Check your server resources. Contact your hosting service for help if diagnostic tools point to a problem.
  5. Clear the DNS cache.
  6. Clear browser data and temporary internet files.
  7. Try reinstalling your browser and/or updating drivers.

Last Word

A website that times out when loading is a big problem. In a world where users have no patience for latency, these issues will drive traffic away from your website and cause your search engine rankings to plummet. Many things affect web page loading speeds, but it is important to quickly diagnose and correct the issue before there is too much damage if you experience a problem.