What Is Brotli Compression? A Comprehensive Overview

Are you struggling to enhance the speed of your website? Or do you see a sudden surge in the user bounce rate on your site? It may be an indication that images, texts, and other media files on your website are slowing it down.

Your website isn’t the first to face such an issue, nor it’ll be the last. Unfortunately, it is very common for a big website with hundreds of pages, tons of posts, and media files to lose loading and navigation speed. But you should take measures to curb the situation before it gets out of your hands.

But what can you do to restore the loading speed of your website? 

Use a compression algorithm! It improves the file transfer rate on your server, improves image delivery time, and accelerates your website’s loading and navigation speed.

Brotli is one such compression algorithm that can effectively compress files and media on your website to improve its performance. 

Keep on reading to know more about this powerful compression solution. 

What Is Brotli Compression?

But first, let’s understand what data compression is.

In simple words, compression is a process that involves encoding images, videos, audios, and possibly any other form of data to reduce their size. This encoding procedure minimizes the file size, making them consume less space while traveling from the host to the user. In return, the file transfer rate and the loading speed of your website improve.

Brotli was first developed in 2013 by Jyrki Alakuijala and Zoltán Szabadka for offline web font compression. After that, in 2015, Google released a generic version to provide lossless data compression services compatible with internet protocol.

Brotli is an open-source technology. The majority of the web browsers support it, and it outperforms the results of Gzip.    

Browsers That Support Brotli

More than 84% of the internet browsers support Brotli compression; some popular ones are

  • Edge version 15 and later
  • Firefox version 44 and later
  • Chrome version 50 and later
  • Safari version 11 and later
  • Opera version 38 and later
  • Safari & Chrome for iOS version 11 and later
  • Opera mobile version 62 and later
  • Chrome for Android version 90 and later
  • Firefox Android version 87 and later
  • Samsung internet version 5 and later

How Is Efficient Brotli Compression?

Brotli can compress files up to 11 levels against Gzip’s 9 level compression. As a result, Brotli can further reduce the size of a web page by 20% approximately. Brotli may perform slower on the default settings, but you can tweak the adjustments to achieve better compression speed and file size balance.

You must be mindful of the kind of content you are compressing to get the most out of compression settings. While level 4 has been found to be best for compressing complex content faster, level 11 allows you to compress static material at the fastest possible pace.

Brotli Support Across Different Web Servers

Brotli allows you to significantly boost your website speed without putting in a lot of work. You just need to download the Brotli algorithm and install it on your host server. 

Brotli compression is supported by default on most of the major servers and CDNs. Manual integration techniques, on the other hand, differ depending on the server OS. Brotli, on the other hand, cannot be added to a shared or restricted access hosting service. 

If you use NGINX, you can add Brotli on your web server using the Brotli extension by Google. On the other hand, Apache has a dedicated extension to add Brotli. While server software like Microsoft IIS and Node.js does not support Brotli, you can use the community module to add the Brotli algorithm.

Brotli vs. Gzip

Gzip is a well-known compression technology used by the vast majority of servers and CDNs. Brotli is new in the field and is better than Gzip in various aspects. Moreover, Brotli compresses more and faster than Gzip compression.

According to various internet sources, Brotli compression outperforms Gzip compression in several ways:

  • Brotli compresses JavaScript 14% faster than gzip
  • Brotli compresses HTML 21 % faster than gzip
  • Brotli compresses CSS 17 % percent faster than gzip

One of the reasons people are switching to Brotli is that it has 11 levels of compression, whereas Gzip only has nine levels. However, everything comes with a limitation: Brotli, on the other hand, only supports the HTTPS protocol, whereas Gzip supports both the HTTP and the HTTPS protocols. 

Gzip compresses dynamic data well, while Brotli compresses static data well.

One big drawback is that Brotli is not supported by more than 15% of all browsers, whereas all browsers support gzip. So, to enable Brotli, you must customize the web server settings. Gzip, on the other hand, is the default compression algorithm that all servers support. Plus, the servers that have Brotli enabled by default have also to keep gzip compression enabled.

Finally, when it comes to compressing non-text data, Brotli by default isn’t the best option.

Final Thoughts

Huge files can severely stall your website’s loading speed. It adversely affects the user experience and increases the visitor bounce rate. A compression solution is an effective way of improving the speed of your website and Brotli is a modern compression algorithm that even manages to beat the compression speed of gzip.

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