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by Bob McElwain

You can answer this question yourself. It is easy to do, and we will get to it. First, let's be clear about what fast means.

A number of people have said my pages download fast. Some have given numbers. But what do they mean? I recently read pages should download in 4 seconds. An expert site designer reported my pages downloaded within 10-15 seconds. A marketing guru gave times from 8 to 10 seconds. Yet on my system, it takes about 20 seconds.

Why are qualified people reporting different speeds as the maximum acceptable? The difference lies in our individual connections to the Web. While the modem, disk, and CPU speed of your system are factors, the route traveled to your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and its performance are also critical. An overloaded ISP can really slow things down. Then there is the speed at which a server can deliver information.

Back to the question, there is only one way to answer it. While the opinions of others are important, the numbers they give are not, because all are trapped by the limitations of their equipment and ISP.

The only way to obtain good data is to delete your cache files. Your browser will not take the time to download anything already on your disk, even if you click Reload. Find your cache directory and delete all files in it. Now download your home page and note the time.

Next, check the web for sites similar to yours. (If you have been to the site, remember to delete all cache files.) Check the download speed and compare it to yours.

A common reason for differences in times is the number and size of graphics. Ignore results for pages containing more or larger graphics than you use, for they really slow things down. If you find that pages similar to yours in size and graphic content download as yours do, you are fine, regardless of the numbers.

Why? Because all surfers are trapped by their system and ISP. All will have become accustomed to a speed they feel is adequate. You can do nothing to improve this speed, beyond being sure you are using a fast host. Thus if the download speed for your site compares favorably with that of similar sites, your visitors will be content.

If your download speed is greater than those of equivalent sites, take a hard look at your host. A server ften makes money by selling more capacity than it has. Then your visitors will always find things moving too slowly. (If you need a fast server, consider pair.com or jumpline.com; I use both and find their delivery speeds to be excellent.)

So ignore all those numbers given about maximum download times, because the people giving them are also trapped by their gear and ISP. Compare the performance of your pages to similar pages. If yours are as good or better, all is well.

About the Author:

Bob helps webmasters grow their sites by showing them how to work smarter for more fun and profit with less effort. He has been marketing on the Web since 1993.

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