What is TTFB (Time to First Byte) and what does it mean?

The TTFB is a very interesting and important parameter, because it reflects the performance and the speed of a site. How long will we stop to wait for loading a site web and go back to Google to look for another? According to both daily experiences and various studies , a few seconds , very few. Consequently, if your intent is to get a visitor to enter your site and not instead go to visit a competitor’s, the site must be snappy, responsive and must be viewed by the user in moments. On this aspect there is no excuse, whether it is a showcase site or a portal rich in content, reducing the TTFB, also called waiting ttfb, is of fundamental importance.

What is TTFB

Acronym for Time To First Byte , the TTFB is one of the most important criteria for evaluating the performance of a website and corresponds to the time it takes the visitor’s computer to receive the first response byte from the server . Technically, it is the time that the server where the website resides takes to receive the HTTP request, process it and send back the first byte.

Going deeper into the matter, the TTFB is the result of various operations of which the inexperienced user is generally unaware. From DNS lookup to TCP handshake, or SSL handshake in the case of connections using the HTTPS protocol, a secure evolution of HTTP.

How it is measured

The Time To First Byte is measured in milliseconds and is exactly equivalent to the time the response is sent , i.e. when we start to receive the first data from the site. The shorter the request time, i.e. the time that elapses after typing the URL into the browser’s address bar and pressing the Enter key. We can test the TTFB of any website using one of the many tools available online for free, such as ByteCheck .

Despite its undoubted usefulness in understanding the responsiveness performance of a website , the TTFB should be taken with a grain of salt. Rereading the first few lines of this paragraph, you can see that I have talked about the time to send the reply . The main object of the TTFB is therefore the response, not the content of the site. We are therefore talking about the HTTP response that informs the client (visitor’s computer) that the site exists, that it is available and that it will soon begin to receive the data that make up the requested page. That is the structure of the page (HTML), any other text files such as scripts and css and multimedia content.

For technical correctness, therefore, we should understand the TTFB as Time To First HTTP Request Response Byte .

Why the TTFB is important and how it is evaluated

From what we have just read, we can understand that considering only TTFB as a criterion for evaluating the speed of a website, understood as loading time, may not make all this sense. The server can respond immediately, within milliseconds, but the user’s computer can take a long time to receive the first few bytes .

Why might it take longer?

The time it takes the client to receive the website data is affected by multiple factors:

  • server performance, such as processing capacity (CPU), RAM speed and storage access (HDD or SSD);
  • the performance of the hosting infrastructure;
  • the performance of our connection and that of the web server;
  • the performances of each other hop;
  • client performance;
  • browser optimization.

Websites are no longer simple static files but real software , written using the many existing programming languages ​​and connecting to as many software and services. All of this actually makes a website more like a software system than an HTML page, which is just what we receive as a user. All these factors make a website perform up to 2, maximum 3 seconds, from when the user makes the request until he starts viewing something .

How to optimize the TTFB

It is very important to understand how to reduce the TTFB. Succeeding is not impossible and it is an operation that anyone involved in the development and maintenance cycle of a website should consider, without ever neglecting it. Below we look at some ways to improve TTFB.

Use a CDN

A CDN (Content Delivery Network) is, as the name implies, a content delivery network . That is, they are geographically distributed servers that store a copy of the website and provide it to visitors , physically located nearby, thus reducing the TTFB. In addition to the reduction of the TTFB, the CNDs offer other important advantages, such as protection from DDOS attacks , the lightening of the workload of the server where the site resides and a decrease in bots .

Website and database optimization

Most websites today are built using CMS (Content Management System) and on-the shelf components, pieces of software created by third parties and usable within your site, such as plugins, themes and extensions. Just to give a famous example, this is the template used by WordPress.

The use of these tools has countless advantages, but unfortunately also a significant disadvantage: optimization . CMSs are used in two ways that seem similar at first glance but are actually very different. We can use a CMS and some plugins for the entire creation of a website, without going into the code and technical aspects, or use it as a basis and then proceed with customization, revision and optimization of the code, adding ad hoc components.

Reduce HTTP requests

When we visit a website it happens more and more often that the contents we are viewing are not all on the same server as the site. This means that in addition to requesting website data from the server, we will have to contact the network to upload other files, such as scripts, css, fonts, images and videos that reside on other servers. So it will be necessary to make as many HTTP requests, increasing the waits and often ruining our efforts. Having a website that loads in two seconds and then inserts a resource that requires 6, is completely frustrating the efforts.


In conclusion, the Time To First Byte is certainly to be taken into consideration when we create a site and choose the hosting , buying a plan that provides us with a server with good performance. This is particularly important if we do not want to use a CDN service, geographically located close to the user base we want to reach. With good hosting, the web server will be more easily configured and matched to a cache, which can be useful. Furthermore, it must be remembered that the best results can be achieved by focusing on what a little more above I have defined as Time To First Http Response Byte.


by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

Leave a Comment