SiteGround Now Has QUIC to Make Sites Fast Even When the Internet is Slow
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Update: Since the migration to Site Tools we have temporarily disabled the QUIC support on our servers. QUIC has evolved into HTTP/3 and we are currently working on implementing HTTP/3 and adding support for it to our build of Nginx. Once the HTTP/3 support for NGINX reaches a stable version, we will apply it immediately and publish a new blog post with more details on it!
This is a picture of Coron Island in the Philippines, definitely one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. I truly love it, but their super slow Internet connectivity was the one thing that kept me from going back. It is painful to see how slowly sites load there, considering how much effort we put into optimizing our website technology both on the server and application level. But now, SiteGround has QUIC on our servers and Coron may make it into my travel plans again.
QUIC considerably increases site loading speed when you have poor connectivity. It’s the base for the next generation of Internet protocol coming: the HTTP/3. And, as usual, we are among the first hosting companies to provide this hot speed technology to all our customers.
Internet Protocol evolution:
HTTP => HTTP/2 => QUIC => HTTP/3
HTTP is the protocol which is the foundation of the internet. Its initial version (HTTP 1.0) is still used today. In fact, all websites that do not use SSL are loaded using this protocol (or HTTP 1.1). However, it is quite old and that is why in 2015, we configured all of our servers to provide HTTP/2. HTTP/2 solves many problems and makes websites much faster. Since doing this, we’ve received tons of positive feedback from our clients about the performance of their sites. The adoption of HTTP/2 is on the rise. The W3Techs statistics portal says that out of the top 10 million sites, 34.1% use HTTP/2. We are glad that all of the SSL-enabled sites on our servers already use HTTP/2.
Now it is time to take things to the next level. The next level in this case is called QUIC and eventually HTTP/3. When HTTP/2 was announced, the performance improvements did not stop. At the time, many performance engineers started talking about QUIC and HTTP/3. In August, 2017, Google officially released a white paper about QUIC. This is a new protocol that offers better performance and security and will become the next standardized version of HTTP called HTTP/3.
What makes QUIC better?
The main advantage of QUIC is that it offers better performance for users connected to slow networks and ones with packet loss and high latency because it handles requests differently than previous HTTP protocols.
Original HTTP had a problem called Head of Line Blocking (HOLB). In plain words, this means that all requests needed to load a webpage are handled one after another in separate TCP connections. Thus, if one of the requests is slow all the others that come after it on the line will be slow too, as they wait.
HTTP/2 addressed this issue by introducing multiplexing support. It allows sending multiple requests simultaneously so that they do not wait for each other to be fulfilled. This works really well when there are no problems with the connection and results in faster loading. However, all requests are sent over a single TCP connection and if it fails when the connectivity is not good, the whole site loading is negatively impacted.
QUIC solves this problem by sending the different requests even more efficiently using separate but independent connections for each request. This way, even if one request fails, it does not affect the rest of the requests that need to be addressed. As TCP does not allow independent handling of multiple connections, QUIC had to change the underlying protocol it uses with UDP and this did the trick quite nicely.
How to get QUIC for your site?
We always strive to offer the newest technologies and this is no exception. We have already deployed QUIC on all of our shared servers and cloud servers will be receiving it this week. In order to use QUIC, you don’t have to make any changes on your end. The only two requirements are:
Your website should have a private SSL/TLS certificate
QUIC requires HTTPS connection to work and most of our users have the SSL installed automatically onfor their site by our system. You can manage the free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates we provide for your sites in our SSL Interface. In case your website does not use a private SSL/TLS certificate, it will be served using the standard HTTP protocol.
Your site visitors use Google Chrome or Opera
Currently these are the only two browsers which support QUIC. In case your users have different browsers, we will fall back to HTTP/2.
The QUIC technology is currently available only on our cPanel servers. We have stopped it temporarily from our Site Tools-powered servers since we are working on a new implementation of the latest version of this protocol – HTTP/3. We’ll keep you posted!