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What exactly is a web accelerator and do we need them?

A web accelerator is a proxy server that controls or reduces the speed of a website’s access time. It’s a hardware appliance or a self-contained installable software. When using web accelerators default or standard web browsing, it will utilize Transmission Control Protocol or TCP.

If you use a web accelerator it will deploy a different type of protocol to help improve network performance. This protocol is known as PTP or Proprietary Transport Protocol. It uses a customized approach to automatically adjust the type of network you are currently using, this results in faster web browsing.

Basically, you can easily get a web accelerator in different locations on the internet. Though most web accelerators are reliable, it will always be important to do some homework in order to select the best one. Just as anything you download from the Internet, there is a chance it can contain malware.

Why do we need ‘Web Accelerators’?

Firstly, web accelerators can help keep your servers safe. This is for both, users and you and whoever has access to them. Protecting the servers from attacks and DoS attempts but it will still deliver the content.

Web accelerators are:

  • Cost-effective
  • Dependable security solution.

Web accelerators can be installed on:

  • Client  PC (*Personal Computer)
  • Mobile device
  • ISP servers (*that is on the server network/computer)
  • Combination of all

To accelerate good delivery through compression, it does require a type of base-hosted server to collect then compress to deliver the content to a client computer or PC. There are seven different technologies that can be used to speed up your browser.

Web accelerators use the following techniques to achieve this reduction:

  • It may cache recently or frequently accessed data, so they may be sent to the client with less intermission or at a faster transfer rate than the remote server could manage.
  • It might also freshen the objects in the cache to ensure that the frequently accessed content is readily available for display.
  • It may also resolve hostnames present in the data for HTML or JavaScript to reduce this intermission or latency and also optimize code from certain data, for HTML or JavaScript.
  • It will prefetch the data that’s likely to be accessed in the future.
  • It will compress the data to a smaller size, by sending only what has changed since the data was last requested.
  • It maintains a persistent TCP connection to and from the client and the proxy server.
  • It filters out ads plus other undesired objects so it is not sent to the client at all.
  • It will keep persistent TCP connections to and from the client as well as the proxy server.
  • The performance is improved via protocol level accelerations, like TCP acceleration.

How to use a Web Accelerator?

You are usually required to sign up on the website that provides the web accelerator software. If it's a paid web accelerator subscription, you will be asked to enter your payment information on a secure connection. Once you have completed the process you will be able to download and install the application.

If and when the web accelerator is running all you have to do is open your browser and it will automatically begin to work. You will notice faster loading web pages and a significant difference in the performance of the network connection immediately once your browser is open.

The Web Accelerator-Client:

Users can achieve two-10 times faster browsing using a web accelerator, some report a 5- to 20-times speed increases for certain web sites or/and pages.

Most ISPs(*internet service providers) will offer web accelerators included as a part of their dial-up and broadband service/services.

Web accelerators are designed for web browsing and, sometimes, for e-mailing and it can not improve speeds of the streaming, gaming, P2P downloads. There is a lot of work being done on client-side ‘Web Accelerators’ for ‘Application Delivery Networks’ by different companies.

These include:

  • Cisco Systems
  • F5 Networks for the demand for SaaS and PaaS

List of available client-web accelerators on the internet include:

  • Google Web Accelerator (*discontinued)
  • High Speed
  • On Speed
  • Polipo
  • Squid
  • WinGate
  • Ziproxy

The Web Accelerator-Server:

Different web accelerators will be targeted by the web site or web application owner/owners.

The version of web accelerator gets installed in front of web servers and application servers as I mentioned earlier,  it uses different types of the above techniques to better performance to users that will access the accelerated web sites or the web applications.

List of available server-web accelerators on the internet include:

  • aiScaler
  • Apache Traffic Server
  • CACHEbox
  • nginx
  • Polipo
  • Squid
  • Varnish
  • Ziproxy

There may be two sections to the proxy as well:

  • The server part will stay in front of a 'webserver' as it gets the input and output from the server.
  • The client part will stay in front of the 'end-users web browser' to get the input and output from the browser.