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How To Prepare Your Magento Store For Holiday Peak Loads

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Magento store owners spend numerous hours on customer’s experience, nice layouts, handy extensions to cater customers requirements with a goal to make overall customer’s buying flow better and smooth. You don’t need to read a study to figure out that stores having much higher traffic have much better conversions and revenue. Unfortunately, they tend to ignore one of the most important thing “Holiday season peak load”.

Preparing Magento to handle holiday season traffic peaks

If you haven’t invested enough hours preparing your Magento store to handle high load already, you must be thinking why should i care. Well, Magento has inbuilt caching and runs very well on a wast number or reputed servers. Still, in holiday peaks even the best of the servers crumbles down due to performance issues.

Following are some interesting tips to ensure that your server doesn’t go down in holiday season peaks because that’s the most special time of year when you expect huge sales.

12 Tips to Ensure Peak Performance of your Magento Store

Rethink Failover and Backup Strategy

Almost most of Magento stores have their own backup and fail-over strategy in place. But it would be wise to review and rethink the strategy well in advance of holiday season just to be prepared. Magento database backup extension comes handy here as it takes your database backup at multiple locations (if configured that way). Ensure that you have a working copy somewhere which can be used to put your store back online in just minutes.

Quick Replication and Scaling Strategy

Holiday season, Cyber Monday, Black Friday etc. can send you enormous traffic (load) spikes as customers are in spending spree. Ensure that your Magento store doesn’t go down due to this. In other words you are ensuring and keeping a standby system, additional hardware to accommodate increased load spikes.

Stress and Load Testing

By now, you must be well aware of the projected customers, visitors count on your store. Before holidays beging, it’s wise to put immense stress, load on your server with such quick calculations. This will tell you the peak when your server is bound to fail. Keep in mind all kinds of activities i.e. Shopping, browsing, adding to favorite etc. There are services which does very good job in predictive load testing i.e., Concentric or Gomez. Go for little higher spikes that your projection and see how your store responds to that kind of traffic.

Timings of Routine Tasks

All stores have a backup routine in place which does a variety of tasks i.e. backups, order imports etc. Ensure that these back-end processes don’t coincide with traffic peaks. It will be embarrassing to find that the failure was caused by some back-end routine which occured at peak load time.

Efficiently use Magento’s In Built Caching

Magento has a strong caching mechanism in place which lets you cache blocks, collection data, configurations, layouts, translations, web-services configurations and even full page caching (supported in Enterprise edition only). These specific cache types can be managed from store’s admin panel which helps in improving overall store’s performance. You can expect anywhere between 10-25% improvement if you use cache effectively.

Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Ensure that you are using CDN which supports your perspective traffic generating regions. Serve static content like HTML pages, CSS, JavaScript files and images from CDN to reduce bandwidth and processing at server end. CDN usage will enable your server to handle more concurrent users during peak load times as a majority of the static content is offloaded to CDN. Akamai has the best coverage but costly whereas MaxCDN seems cheaper with good coverage.

Clean up old or Unused stuff

Trust me when i say that inactive CMS pages or out of date products do consume some server resources. To make your Magento store more responsive and fast, simpley get rid of these unused rules, products or CMS pages. Keep in mind that every rule you apply takes little time to validate, so minimize rules if possible.

Archive old orders and limit your shopping cart lifespan

Magento retains your customers’ abandoned shopping carts, items indefinitely unless specified otherwise. In holiday season set a reasonable limit on shopping cart lifetime values i.e. 30-45 days. Moreover, archive and offload old order data, last season’s data to make room for new orders and transactions.

Limit concurrent promotions

Keep in mind that more promotional rules you create, the more calculations Magento needs to perform at checkout which slows the performance down. Instead of setting up multiple promotions, try targeting specific customers using conditions.

Apply Catalog Price Rules Early

Magento requires time to update catalog price rules i.e. markdowns. It’s wise to apply these price rules well in advance so that Magento gets enough time for these updates and it doesn’t slow down at peak load times.

Do Not Schedule Activities In Peak Hours

Never schedule admin activities in peak hours i.e flushing cache, re-index catalog etc. as these activities takes fair amount of time to rebuild. Moreover, these activities can make your site very slow as your server is suppose to do many tasks in parallel.

Disable Modules You Ain’t Using

You should disable whatever you are not using to see the real Magento performance. For an example if you are not using gift cards or wish lists try disabling these modules for faster performance. Also clear your log table and get rid of unused extensions.

I Hope these tips will help you prepare your Magento store to survive the Holiday peaks when the traffic spike load is more than usual. Please leave us a comment and share your experiences with us.