Not just you Hun. The pages are taking between 25 - 35 seconds to load / refresh. Last time I popped in here it was slow and I thought it was me, so I cleared out all my cookies and temp internet files, carried out a registry clean and defrag of the laptop, today I popped in and it seems slower.
Is anyone else noticing this phenomenon or is is just us?
Having been through this on my own forum, I can say it's a craps shoot whether or not someone will see "slow downloads". There are numerous factors in the equation, including delays across the network (often a matter of how busy the network is), which/how many processes are running on the server, available server resources, etc.
For folks who are not familiar with how things work at the server end, here's a simplistic explanation:
Most of what folks refer to as "pages" are created dynamically (on the fly) and are not stored on the server. The forum software, written largely in php scripting language, is comprised of a large number of scripts or templates. The "data", including forums, membership info, topics/threads/messages, links to avatars and attachments, and more, is stored in a database.
When you click on a link (e.g. Quick Links|New Posts) several scripts run on the server and make maybe 10-20 queries to the database. Several more scripts parcel the results into a html file which is sent to your browser, which displays the familar look and feel of MHF. Click on the next link and the process is repeated. If a lot of folks are doing the same thing at the same time, proportionately more server resources (including CPU time and memory) get used up.
When someone reports "slow download", it's not obvious to anyone where things are getting bogged down. There are various tools available to admins and to members to help sort out the pieces. I wouldn't attempt to suggest what admins here would/could be using.
One recurring, but random, problem I had on my forum was that it went into serious overload. When I was on shared hosting, I didn't have all the necessary tools to monitor what was really happening on the server. I had forum members logging problem times and any error messages, and I'd periodically aggregate the data and file a trouble ticket with the host. They weren't a lot of help.
Meanwhile, the host moved to "new and faster servers" and also to a dedicated cross-country high speed optical network. But, our random problem continued.
A couple of months ago the host unceremoniously uplugged us, claiming "abuse of CPU time", and I was left scrambling for an alternative solution. I wasn't very happy at the time, but it turned out they did me a big favour.
I opted to go with a VPS (virtual private server) instead of shared hosting. Think of a VPS as our own partition on the server with its own dedicated resources. CPU time is still shared with other VPSes on the same server, but we have a defined amount of CPU time. For me, this was a simpler solution than a dedicated server (our own box).
The random issues continued, although apparently not as bad or as often. The VPS came with tools I didn't previously have, and I decided to install some additional tools to monitor server resources. That's when I discovered what was really happening. I was able to directly correlate server load/resource usage with visits by various forum members. What I discovered was that, when one particular member visited, the server was brought to its knees by huge numbers of hits in a very short space of time.
The member in question has 3 PCs and a smart phone, any of which he might use to visit the forum. With some cooperation from the member, we were able to isolate the problem to one of his PCs. This guy is a software developer who installs and sells his own software at custom sites, so you can imagine that safety and security of his PCs would be paramount. As best we can tell, he has some virus or malware on that one PC that just hammers our server every time he connects. He hasn't found it yet, despite using all the latest and greatest detection tools.
Going back into old logs, I was able to correlate his "abusive" visits with prior complaints logged by forum members and staff, and also verified that his PC was hammering the server at the old host just before they unplugged us.
Sorry about the long explanation, but wanted to illustrate an example of how a relatively simple problem with one member can affect everyone else's use of the forum. Until I discovered what was happening, I had other suspects on my list, including web accelerators and proxy servers used by some ISPs. Web accelerators typically work by downloading a lot of content from a web site or forum in anticipation of you wanting to look at it. Then, when you click on a link for content that was already downloaded and cache'd, the content is immediately available.
You could try eating laverbred. It might not help with forum speed, but it's renowned for putting lead in the pencil.
Most of the investigation, testing, etc has to come from the Admins. About the only thing you could do is check the delay across the network, but this info will help the Admins more than you.
Windows users would click start|Programs|Accessories|Command prompt, then type tracert www. motorhomefun. co. uk (omit the spaces after the dots), hit enter and sit back and watch. You'll end up with 3 columns of numbers, each column representing 3 'pings' to each node along the route from you to the server. The numbers are in milliseconds and represent the time between two hops. An asterisk means the node didn't respond within some default time (IIRC it's 4 seconds). If you get a lot of asterisks you could try extending the timeout by changing tracert to tracert -w 10000 (10000=10 seconds, 20000=20 seconds, etc).
As I said, this will help the Admins more than you and is only one piece of the puzzle. I'd only give them the information if they asked for it. However, it might give you a clue if some part of the network is really slow during a time when you're seeing continual "slow downloads".