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USENIX Symposium on Internet Technologies and Systems, 1997

Web Facts and Fantasy

Stephen Manley
Network Appliance
Margo Seltzer
Harvard University


There is a great deal of research about improving Web server performance and building better, faster servers, but little research in characterizing servers and the load imposed upon them. While some tremendously popular and busy sites, such as,, and, receive several million hits per day, most servers are never subjected to loads of this magnitude. This paper presents the analysis of internet Web server logs for a variety of different types of sites. We present a taxonomy of the different types of Web sites and characterize their access patterns and, more importantly, their growth. We then use our server logs to address some common perceptions about the Web. We show that, on a variety of sites, contrary to popular belief, the use of CGI does not appear to be increasing and that long latencies are not necessarily due to server loading. We then show that, as expected, persistent connections are generally useful, but that dynamic time-out intervals may be unnecessarily complex and that allowing multiple persistent connections per client may actually hinder resource utilization compared to allowing only a single persistent connection.
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