5 Tips to Boost Performance of Your Apache Web Server

When it comes to serving web pages, Apache web server is one of most popular choices out there. With its open-source nature, stability, and flexibility, Apache is used by millions of websites worldwide. However, like any other software, it requires proper configuration and optimization to ensure top performance. In this article, we'll look at 5 tips that can help boost performance of your Apache web server.

Enable Caching

One of most effective ways to boost performance of your Apache web server is to enable caching. Caching is process of storing frequently accessed data in memory or on disk to reduce time it takes to retrieve that data. When a user requests a page that has been cached, Apache can simply serve cached version instead of generating it from scratch, resulting in faster page load times.

Apache offers several caching modules that can be enabled, including mod_cache, mod_disk_cache, and mod_mem_cache. Each of these modules has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it's important to choose one that best suits your needs.

Here's an example of how to enable caching using mod_cache −

LoadModule cache_module modules/mod_cache.so
LoadModule cache_disk_module modules/mod_cache_disk.so

<IfModule mod_cache.c>
   CacheEnable disk /
   CacheHeader on
   CacheDefaultExpire 3600
   CacheMaxExpire 86400
   CacheLastModifiedFactor 0.5
   CacheIgnoreCacheControl On
   CacheIgnoreNoLastMod On

This configuration enables disk caching for entire site and sets default expiration time to 3600 seconds (1 hour). It also sets maximum expiration time to 86400 seconds (1 day) and instructs Apache to use last modified date of a file as a factor in determining whether to serve a cached version.

Use Compression

Another way to improve performance of your Apache web server is to use compression. Compression reduces size of data sent over network, resulting in faster page load times. Apache offers several compression modules that can be enabled, including mod_deflate and mod_gzip.

Here's an example of how to enable compression using mod_deflate −

LoadModule deflate_module modules/mod_deflate.so

<IfModule mod_deflate.c>
   AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html text/plain text/xml text/css application/javascript
   DeflateCompressionLevel 9
   DeflateBufferSize 8096
   DeflateMemLevel 9

This configuration enables compression for HTML, plain text, XML, CSS, and JavaScript files. It sets compression level to 9 (maximum compression) and sets buffer and memory levels to 8096 and 9, respectively.

Optimize Configuration

Another important factor in boosting performance of your Apache web server is to optimize its configuration. Apache offers a wide range of configuration options, and optimizing them can help reduce server load and improve page load times.

Here are a few tips for optimizing your Apache configuration −

  • Keep number of modules loaded to a minimum.

  • Set appropriate values for MaxClients, MaxRequestsPerChild, and KeepAliveTimeout directives.

  • Use latest version of Apache.

  • Use a separate virtual host for each domain.

  • Disable unnecessary features and modules.

Use Content Delivery Networks

A content delivery network (CDN) is a system of distributed servers that deliver web pages and other web content to users based on their geographic location. By using a CDN, you can reduce load on your Apache web server and improve page load times for users around world.

To use a CDN with Apache, you'll typically need to modify your DNS settings to point to CDN's servers. You may also need to modify your Apache configuration to allow requests from CDN's servers.

Here's an example of how to configure Apache to work with Cloudflare −

# Allow Cloudflare IPs
SetEnvIf CF-Connecting-IP "^1\.2\.3\." trusted
SetEnvIf CF-Connecting-IP "^2\.3\.4\." trusted

# Deny all other IPs
Deny from all
Allow from env=trusted

# Forward visitor IP to logs
LogFormat "%{CF-Connecting-IP}e %h %l %u %t "%r" %>s %b "%{Referer}i" "%{User-Agent}i"" cloudflare
CustomLog /var/log/apache2/access.log cloudflare

This configuration allows requests from Cloudflare's servers (identified by their IP addresses) and denies all other requests. It also logs visitor's IP address as recorded by Cloudflare.

Use HTTP/2

HTTP/2 is latest version of HTTP protocol, and it offers several performance improvements over its predecessor, HTTP/1.1. One of key improvements is support for multiplexing, which allows multiple requests to be sent over a single connection, reducing number of round trips required to load a page.

To use HTTP/2 with Apache, you'll need to have a valid SSL/TLS certificate installed and enable http2 module. Here's an example of how to enable HTTP/2 −

LoadModule http2_module modules/mod_http2.so

<IfModule http2_module>
   Protocols h2 http/1.1

This configuration enables HTTP/2 and falls back to HTTP/1.1 if client does not support HTTP/2.

Implement Browser Caching

Implementing browser caching can help to further reduce page load times for returning visitors. When a visitor first visits your website, their browser will download all necessary files (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, images, etc.). By setting correct headers, you can instruct visitor's browser to cache these files for a specified period, reducing amount of data that needs to be downloaded on subsequent visits.

Here's an example of how to set correct headers for browser caching −

<IfModule mod_expires.c>
   ExpiresActive On
   ExpiresByType text/html "access plus 1 day"
   ExpiresByType image/gif "access plus 7 days"
   ExpiresByType image/jpeg "access plus 7 days"
   ExpiresByType image/png "access plus 7 days"
   ExpiresByType text/css "access plus 7 days"
   ExpiresByType application/javascript "access plus 7 days"

This configuration sets expiration time for different file types, such as HTML, images, CSS, and JavaScript. In this example, HTML files are cached for one day, while images, CSS, and JavaScript files are cached for seven days.

Use a Content Management System (CMS) Cache

If you're using a content management system (CMS) like WordPress or Drupal, you can take advantage of built-in caching features to further improve your site's performance. These caching features work by storing rendered HTML output of your site's pages, which can then be served to visitors without need to regenerate page every time it's requested.

For example, WordPress has several popular caching plugins, such as WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache, which can be easily installed and configured. These plugins can help to dramatically improve performance of your WordPress site by reducing load on your Apache web server.

Minimize HTTP Requests

Every time a visitor requests a page from your web server, their browser sends a request for each file required to display that page, such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and images. more files that need to be downloaded, longer it will take for page to load.

To minimize HTTP requests, you can −

  • Combine multiple CSS and JavaScript files into a single file.

  • Use CSS sprites to combine multiple images into a single image file.

  • Use lazy loading to defer loading of images that are below fold.

  • By minimizing HTTP requests, you can reduce amount of data that needs to be transferred, resulting in faster page load times.

Monitor Server Performance

Finally, it's important to monitor performance of your Apache web server to ensure it's running smoothly. Monitoring tools can help you identify performance bottlenecks, such as high CPU usage, low memory, or slow disk I/O. By identifying these issues early, you can take steps to optimize your server and improve its performance.

There are many monitoring tools available for Apache, including ApacheTop, Apachetune, and Munin. These tools can provide detailed statistics on your server's performance, such as requests per second, CPU usage, and memory usage.


Optimizing performance of your Apache web server is a critical part of ensuring a fast and responsive website. By following these 5 tips, you can improve page load times, reduce server load, and deliver a better user experience. However, these are just a few of many ways you can optimize Apache. To get best performance possible, it's important to experiment with different settings and configurations and find what works best for your particular setup.

Updated on: 11-Apr-2023


Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started