GZip Compression, What is It?

As technology has become more advanced, and file sharing more common, compressing files has become a widespread method to compress files for easier and faster transfer of files. GZip is one of such methods.

GZip is also considered a file format. File compression can allow the files to be rendered faster for all kinds of users even when their connections are slow.

It is a standard procedure to enable this method. If you are unable to take advantage of the procedure, chances are that your website is loading slower than your competition. It can put you on the back foot when it comes to user-experience.

If you did not know better, there are different types of compression techniques that you can use to compress the web page and increase website speed.

How to know If GZip Compression has been enabled

Since GZip is used widespread, by default it is enabled on all servers of Kinsta. As most web browsers support the Gzip, you don’t have to worry about browsers. Following is the list of browsers capable of handling the HTTP response header ‘content-encoding: gzip’.

  • Google Chrome (Immediately after its launch in 2008)
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer (Version 5.5 and above from July 2000)
  • Opera (Version 5.0 and above from June 2000)
  • Safari (Immediately after its launch in 2003)
  • Mozilla Firefox (Version 0.9.5 and above from October 2001)

If you are making use of any other WordPress host, it is always important that you test to ensure it is enabled as sometimes, the server administrators may overlook this part of site optimization. If you don’t know, there are a few ways to check to know if it has been enabled.

Verify with the tool for GZip Compression

One of the easiest and simplest ways to understand if it has been enabled on your website is to use the free GZIP Compression Tool. You only need to put your website address on the tool and click search. If your website has this format enabled, the search will return the amount of data saved by compressing your webpage. If it is not enabled, then the search will return an error telling you that it isn’t.

Also be reminded that it will apply to all the static assets on your website as well. This means that if you are supporting assets rendered from any CDN, it is important to get the GZIP Compression enabled for them as well. All the modern CDNs, if you use them such as CloudFront, Cloudflare and KeyCDN, etc., come with the option enabled. You can also test this easily by running any of the JavaScript or CSS files on the CDN you use upon the tool.

GZIP content-encoding HTTP Response Header

You can use this method to check if it is enabled on your website when you have the “content-encoding: gzip” HTTP response header rendered active on your website. When a browser sends a request to a server, this is the response the browser is looking for. In Chrome DevTools, you can check for the response header that you see first in the network section.

In the same way, you can simply click upon the option ‘view large requests’ to see both the compressed and original size of the page you are testing.

How you can enable GZip Compression

If you are thinking how to enable GZip compression, the following ways will help you;

  • You can have the web server configured to get the compression enabled
  • Depending upon the web servers that you use, the instructions for the same are different.

Following are the most widespread methods used to check and enable GZip compression, and they include such web servers as Apache, Nginx, .htaccess and Litespeed web servers. There are also several compression tools.

Enabling compression with .htaccess

In this method, you can enable the compression by infusing a certain code to the file referred to as .htaccess on the corresponding web server or host. It means that you need to go the file manager on your webhost or the server.

Since .htaccess can get tricky sometimes, it is important that you get a fare idea on how to do that or get the help from a company offering web design services for you.

You can add the code as given below to the .htaccess file while trying to increase page speed using .htaccess.

Download the code here.

Once you have added the .htaccess file, save it and refresh the page to take effect.

You can check if the compression is working heading onto the tool to check for GZip Compression as explained earlier in the post.

Enabling compression on Apache Web Servers

The code and instructions given above will work on the Apache server as well. However, if in any case, they don’t work, you can try the alternative way.

Remove the above code and use the one given below.

Download the code here.

Enabling Compression on NGINX Web Servers

If you are trying to have the option enabled in NGINX web server, you will need to add the code given below to the configuration file on the server.

Download the code here.

Enabling Compression on Litespeed Web Servers

The most convenient and best way to enable the compression in Litespeed web servers is to have it done via configuration under the tag ‘tuning’. You can go down on the same to see if the compression is enabled. If it is not, go to ‘edit’ and turn on this feature. Also check for various GZip options available there as well.

Using WordPress Plug-in Enable Compression

One of the simplest ways is to use a plug-in with caching feature that can enable GZip compression in WordPress. You can make use of WP Rocket and it automatically adds various protocols for compression in the .htaccess file with the help of the module ‘mod_deflate’.

You can also use W3 Total Cache for the same and you can find the option under the ‘Performance’ sector.

If the plug-in does not have the permission required, you need to get the same from the host or use the following code to grant access.

Is GZip Compression Effective?

While it may not appear to be most-talked about aspect, compressing your CSS and HTML files with the help of this tool can save about fifty to 75 percent of the file size by reducing web page size. What it means for you is that your pages will load much faster, respond quickly to your visitors’ queries and improve the overall user-experience, which is definitely a big deal.

How the Files Compressed Files Work on the Internet?

When a user sends a request for a particular web page in a browser, the server return the smaller and compressed file if the browser tells that it can render the compressed files effectively. All the modern web browsers have the capability to understand and accept all compressed files effectively.

This must provide you all the answers needed if you are thinking how to reduce page size of website.


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