Five Common Application Bottlenecks and Recommended Resolutions

by Sven Hammar

The term “bottleneck” refers to both an overloaded network and the state of a computing device in which one component is unable to keep pace with the rest of the system, thus slowing overall performance. Application bottlenecks can lead an otherwise functional computer or server to slow down to a crawl.

Fixing bottleneck issues is crucial and requires first identifying the underperforming component. We’ve discovered the five most common bottlenecks:

1. Memory Utilization
When the system doesn’t have sufficient or fast enough RAM, it’s considered a memory bottleneck. This situation cuts the speed at which the RAM can serve information to the CPU, which slows overall operations. In cases where the system doesn’t have enough memory, the computer will start offloading storage to a significantly slower hard disc drive (HDD) or solid state drive (SSD) to keep things running. Alternatively, if the RAM cannot serve data to the CPU fast enough, the device will experience both slowdown and low CPU usage rates.

Install higher capacity and/or faster RAM. In cases where the existing RAM is too slow, it needs to be replaced, whereas capacity bottlenecks can be dealt with simply by adding more memory. In other cases, the problem may stem from a programming error called a “memory leak,” which requires a program modification to fix the problem.

2. Network Utilization
Network bottlenecks occur when the communication between two devices lacks the necessary bandwidth or processing power to complete a task quickly. According to Microsoft, network bottlenecks occur when there’s an overloaded server, an overburdened network communication device, and when the network itself loses integrity.

This involves upgrading or adding servers, as well as upgrading network hardware like routers, hubs, and access points. In some cases you can limit the traffic by reducing object sizes like large images, videos etc

3. CPU Utilization
Processor bottlenecks happen when the central processing unit (CPU) is overloaded and unable to perform tasks in a timely manner.

CPU bottleneck shows up in two forms: a processor running at over 80 percent capacity for an extended period of time, and an overly long processor queue. CPU utilization bottlenecks often stem from insufficient system memory and continual interruption from input/output devices.

Increase CPU power, add more random access memory (RAM) and improve software coding efficiency.

4. Software Limitation
Sometimes bottleneck-related performance dips originate from the software itself. The most common cases of application problems are transactions that load the database and/or different system resources: static content, authentication, connections pools etc in way that is not optimized.

In many cases configurations of application environments such as web server etc are done with default settings that respond poorly versus peak load traffic and or identifying backend calls and or authentication calls that can be reduced to avoid loading DB to much

Improve caching on static content with CDN is also a good initiative to reduce load.

5. Disk Usage
The long-term storage, including HDD’s and SSD’s, are the slowest component inside a computer or server, thus creating bottlenecks. Even the fastest long-term storage solutions have physical speed limits, making this bottleneck cause one of the more difficult ones to troubleshoot.

In many cases, disk usage speed can improve by reducing fragmentation issues and increasing data caching rates in RAM. On a physical level, address insufficient bandwidth by switching to faster storage devices and expanding RAID (a data storage virtualization technology) configurations.

Load testing and monitoring tools are excellent at identifying bottleneck problems that hinder performance. Use these tools to optimize your business’s online platforms.

Sven Hammar is the co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Apica.



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