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YSlow: Reduce DNS lookups

Overview

DNS lookups add delays to the initial requests to a host. Making requests to a large number of different hosts can hurt performance.

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Details from Yahoo!

The Domain Name System (DNS) maps hostnames to IP addresses, just like phonebooks map people's names to their phone numbers. When you type URL www.yahoo.com into the browser, the browser contacts a DNS resolver that returns the server's IP address.

DNS has a cost; typically it takes 20 to 120 milliseconds for it to look up the IP address for a hostname. The browser cannot download anything from the host until the lookup completes.

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DNS lookups are cached for better performance. This caching can occur on a special caching server, maintained by the user's ISP or local area network, but there is also caching that occurs on the individual user's computer.

Most browsers have their own caches, separate from the operating system's cache. As long as the browser keeps a DNS record in its own cache, it doesn't bother the operating system with a request for the record.

When the client's DNS cache is empty (for both the browser and the operating system), the number of DNS lookups is equal to the number of unique hostnames in the web page. This includes the hostnames used in the page's URL, images, script files, stylesheets, Flash objects, etc. Reducing the number of unique hostnames reduces the number of DNS lookups.

Reducing the number of unique hostnames has the potential to reduce the amount of parallel downloading that takes place in the page. Avoiding DNS lookups cuts response times, but reducing parallel downloads may increase response times. A good guideline is to split these components across at least two but no more than four hostnames. This results in a good compromise between reducing DNS lookups and allowing a high degree of parallel downloads.

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