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How To: Boost Drupal Performance

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It's no coincidence the title of this video corresponds with exactly what you're probably trying to do with your Drupal site. Squeeze every bit of performance you can from whatever server you're on. Shared hosting, dedicated box, virtual server, you name it. So how does the mere Drupal user or admin get stellar performance out of Drupal?

It turns out, the tried and true method for the fastest web page response is simply allowing the web server to spit back a simple html page - just like the good old days of Web 1.0.

Now, Drupal is a complex Content Management System with years of personal investment by many talented and enterprising minds. It has a feature rich database with many creative optimizations in place.

But, guess what, as cool and addictive as Drupal is, you still can't beat that simple HTML web page! So, if you can't beat 'em - then join 'em. That's exactly what the Boost module does. It's a module for Drupal which can increase the speed of your Drupal site SIGNIFICANTLY!

Unless you already know how to install and use memcached or you're REALLY cool and can wrap your brain around using EC2 and Pantheon or comfortable with a Drupal fork such as Pressflow, then Boost is the way to go - especially if you're running on a server you don't directly control.

Boost won't save your bacon if you've got thousands of authenticated users (you need the other solutions above), but for every one of those content-based anonymous-traffic web sites running on Drupal. You simply can't ignore Boost and its Drupal performance enhancements!

I wouldn't call Pressflow exactly a fork (, a lot of what gets done for Pressflow gets contributed back to Drupal. Since Pressflow doesn't duplicate development efforts, I wouldn't call it a fork, I would call it a distribution. I was surprised Varnish didn't get mentioned, but thanks for your post, this is a very interesting area.

For many years, I've seen positive 'forks' and negative 'forks'. I guess we could call a positive fork a distribution and a negative fork competition. ;) Back in the days of my postnuke use (a fork of phpnuke) there was another fork called Xaraya. That was a 'hostile' fork (from my perception) so maybe 'fork' has too much negative associated.

I think the Four Kitchens guys rock and I'm always impressed with what they are doing. Hopefully, that will assuage any feelings caused by any negative association to the term 'fork'. For me... fork it up boys, because what you're serving, I'm 'a eatin'! :)

Hi Matt ,
Thanks for this great tutorial video. I'm excited to go install and implement the boost module. Your presentation is very clear and really easy to understand. Best Regards

Thanks Mat,
I have been thinking about setting up Boost on one of my sites for a while and have not done so..
I watched the video and it inspired me to set it up.
It took a grand total of 10 minutes and the speed has been enhanced remarkably.

I just contacted my hosting and they informed me they only use CGI for security reasons.

PHP caching mechanisms on their servers are not working.

Kinda makes sense now... why the sites are so darned slow that is.

If I use the boost will it make a difference without the APC enabled on the server?

I might be able to get them to change if necessary, but I would probably have to have a valild enough explanation to get them to do it.

I appreciate so much your videos, very well done.

Hey Matt

Thanks for this video tutorial on to setup the boost module. It really helped me to cut down time in making a website work faster. I'm working on a couple of Drupal sites and almost all of them have the same problem, they're simply to slow so I was looking for things to speed up the sites for a while, without having to do some hard core research and playing around with different files, setups etc. This video showed me how easy it is to make things work fast.

Also thanks for explaining how requests are handled and served, makes me understand things a little bit more. :D

Your tutorial helped me out a lot when configuring a site with 150 modules. It actually loads pages in under a second! Without you, This site would take longer than 2 minutes per page view. Thanks again.

I'm just looking for ways to improve performance on my local dev machine. I have a skeletal sites with a typical river of news front and a few typical blocks on side bars (navigation/recent comments). Typically, I get over 350 mysql queries and 3.5secs page execution time. When I edit a views and click save, I get nearly 4000 queries and nearly 20secs for the whole page. This makes development not very fun and makes me wonder how it will run on a shared hosting environment.

When I look at these and other screencasts, drupal looks pretty snappy. I don't know if my PC is just old or I'm doing something wrong. I have a AMD X2 3800+. Not bleeding edge, but not jurassic either. I have the typical modules that every tutorial says I should have -- cck, views, panel, imagecache, imagefield, admin menu, devel etc.

Are these number of queries typical? thanks

Hi Matt,

Thank you so much for this video tutorial. It's gold. Very well done. It made everything very clear and it works well.


I have to agree that boost is a verry nice module. But on websites where one or more components on the page are composed by using in example views or panels(some integration I believe, but highly complex) the caches will not be cleared when content is added.

So when like on most webpages you have a front page that shows the most recent content, comments or something else that cache will not be invalidated. Meaning you will have to wait out for cron to trigger. And by concept if you have the default cron setting of 1 hour and your cron triggers only once every 24 hours(verry cheap shared hosting) your cache will be served for the remainder of the time until cron fires.

The above can be verry frustrating for users and reduce the usability of your website. If a user posts a comment they want to see it right away. If they don't they will be frustrated. Also what is the use of a most recent content/comments block if it does not get refreshed?

Hi, thanks for the great tutorial. Looking forward to use it on my site. Are there any known issues using Boost on a Zeus Server?