How HTTPS Affects Website Performance?

The Internet is a growing storehouse of data that can be accessed publicly and categorized as private or high-end, which is only accessed by individuals authorized to do so. There are a number of ways in which hackers can steal this data.

Do you know, nearly 9,00,000 WordPress sites are targeted by attackers in a week? In fact, the worldwide web cannot guarantee the safety of your data unless you transfer or store them securely. This is where HTTPS comes into play to ensure security to your site.

In 2021, and things have changed a lot. Now, Google searches are all done over HTTPS by default for over 40,000 search queries per second. But, for some reason, it slows things down on your site by putting too much overhead.

So, there is a mixed positive and negative perception about HTTPS, which I’ll clarify in this guide. Here, I’ll share how HTTPS affects website performance, along with the tips to improve HTTPS performance for your site.

How HTTPS Affects Website Performance?

Since 2018, Google has marked all the HTTP sites as “not secure” in the address bar. Google stated that HTTPS unlocks both performance improvements and powerful new features that are too sensitive for HTTP.How HTTPS Affects Website Performance

HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. As you can see, the additional “S” in HTTPS implies “Secure,” and this security is ensured by SSL, which is also known as TSL.

This SSL layer has two main purposes, and these are-

  • SSL verifies direct communication between you and the server that you are thinking of talking to.
  • It makes sure that, what you send, only the server can read and what it sends back only you can read.

When you search with a URL with https://, it tells the browser to connect via HTTPS. Then HTTPS uses TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) to load the site you want to access and send and receive data packets over the web. But it does so through a connection encrypted by SSL / TLS, which is missing on the HTTP.

With this TLS (Transport Layer Security), servers and clients still can communicate with each other just like HTTP, but with an additional secure connection that encrypts and decrypts their requests and responses.

Even after such good things, there are some things that can affect your site’s performance and impact the page load speed. So, let’s see how HTTPS affects website performance in detail.

1. TLS Handshake:

When you migrate to HTTPS, some latency is added, as before establishing the connection, the initial TLS handshake needs two extra round trips. While in an encrypted HTTP port, it requires only one round trip. Fortunately, this latency is very minimal.

2. Asymmetric Encryption:

Another encryption process between the browser and server that is used to exchange the information is known as asymmetric encryption. This encryption process is a bit slower than symmetric encryption because of its former longer key lengths and complex encryption algorithm.

3. Session Resumption:

Session resumption recalls information from a previous successful TLS session negotiation. Generally, TLS offers two session resumption mechanisms. The first one is session IDs, where the client and server store their own secret state. And the last one is session tickets, where clients store the server’s state, encrypted by the server.

When it comes to session  IDs, the server requires keeping track of the previous session that may continue at some point in time. As a result, it leads to additional work for the server.

Still, there are some optimization options that you can implement after installing an SSL certificate to keep your site both secure and faster. These are-

  • Using HTTP/2 to solve the shortcomings and inflexibility of HTTP/1.1. Use this tool called KeyCDN HTTP/2 Test to see if your server or CDN supports HTTP/2 or not.
  • Use GZIP compression to reduce bandwidth consumption and help your site content to load faster.
  • Start making the most use of HPACK compression to achieve an average 30% reduction in header size.
  • Use a CDN to make your packets travel faster physically by significantly reducing the roundtrip times and the total costs of TCP and TLS handshakes.

Conclusion

It’s true that SSL can actually affect your website’s performance. When you migrate your site from HTTP to HTTPS, very minor changes can happen. However, this minor performance impact is nothing compared to the increased level of security that SSL can provide.

In fact, in comparison with HTTP/2, HTTPS is only getting faster; therefore, the impact of any performance with SSL connection is rapidly declining. You can see a visual comparison between the loading time of an encrypted HTTPS and the unsecured HTTP version of the same page from here, HTTP vs HTTPS test.”

Hopefully, from this guide about how HTTPS affects website performance, you can understand the necessity of keeping up with the trends in web performance and security.

That’s all for this guide, if you liked this guide, or if you have any questions or need any suggestions, you can let me know by commenting below.

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