How to host a busy forum with 20,000 unique daily visitors in shared hosting for $29.

Logician

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Logician submitted a new Article:

How to host a busy forum with 20,000 unique daily visitors in shared hosting for $29.

How to host a busy forum with 20.000 unique daily visitors in shared hosting for $29.99


Okay it sounds implausible I know, but it CAN be possible if you know what to do. I know its possible, because I do it with one my own boards. :)

It is true that this is really very hard to achieve. If you have 20.000 daily unique visitors, it means you have a pretty large board with a lot of content, a huge DB size, a lot of members, high bandwidth consumption and all these forces you to host your site in a dedicated server. I know that even the sites that has half or even quarter of this traffic are on dedicated server with $100-500 USD monthly fee. So how can that be possible?

First you should know what forces a site to be on a dedicated server. In other words when does your hosting company ask you to leave their shared (=cheap) hosting service and says it is about time for you to jump into a dedicated (=expensive) server. There are 3 factors that hosting companies care and monitor to decide on this:
  1. Your bandwidth consumption.
  2. The space your site takes in the server
  3. The CPU process your site devour. (That is, how much your site makes the server busy)
Each hosting company can have a different policy and method to decide when your site should leave their shared hosting. Most puts certain restrictions or limits on the server/hostage package and checks if your site goes over them. Some other reviews your site manually and decides according to different custom criteria they have.

But the bottom line and most crucial point is that: If you manage to reduce your bandwidth consumption, the server space you take and CPU time you consume, your site will not have a bad effect on their server so they'll not ask you to leave their shared hosting package regardless of how many daily visitors you have. So the question lies how can you reduce your site's bandwidth consumption, server space and CPU usage with a heavy traffic forum based site. Let's review each item one by one:

1- REDUCING YOUR BANDWIDTH CONSUMPTION:

Bandwidth is the number of data your visitors transfer each time they visit your site. When a visitor loads a web page in your site, every data (images, downloaded files, texts) that is in that web page (and also in your server) costs you bandwidth. The more visitors you have, naturally, the more bandwidth you consume. Likewise the longer and more...

Read more about this article here...
 
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Jura

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Wait. I never knew they have $30 shared hosting?
 

Logician

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Jan 1, 2004
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Shared hosting prices change in every hosting company and also according to packages.

One of the packages in my host is 4 Gb. server space, 90 Gb Monthly transfer (bandwidth), unlimited mysql db and it is $29.99 monthly.

Of course they also have a 750 Mb space, 25 Gb. transfer package for $8.99 but obviously this wouldn't apply to anybody who is interested in this article, would it? :) If you have a forum based community with 20.000 daily unique visitors, you could only consider bigger shared hosting packages, if not dedicated at all. (as described in the article) ;)
 

64North

geospatially inclined
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May 31, 2006
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missing detail?

I am surprised, very surprised actually, that the imho only real limitation on shared servers is the dedicated (or shared as it is) memory that is available.
Even small boards often hit the memory ceiling quite quickly. Too bad this article completely fails to make any note of that, I would have expected more from a well known VB expert. :(
 

Logician

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Jan 1, 2004
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Even small boards often hit the memory ceiling quite quickly.
Most hosting companies put tens/hundreds of shared hosting accounts into a one VERY powerful server. Today's standarts for this server is usually Dual / quad core processors 4 (or more) GB of ram with SCSI Harddrive. Since the server is very powerful, it can easily deal with LOTs of sites especially if they are not database driven.

My hosting company does not put a memory ceiling/per account to this server. I have been with 3 more hosting companies before that and they didn't have such a restriction either. And although I work with lots of clients, frankly speaking I haven't run into any hosting company that put such a restriction to the shared hosting account. Memory limits per account is usually a part of VPS (Virtual private server) hosting solutions, not shared hosting solutions. So if you are having such a problem with your hosting company in your shared hosting package, maybe you should consider switching.

Please note that my account (and article) was about shared hosting packages, not VPS and it also depends on a real life example (ie my own site that is powered on vbulletin) so not fictitious.
 

64North

geospatially inclined
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The issue isn't the ceiling of the account per se, I would be surprised if the host were to actually run a single instance on the entire hardware. It's far more likely that the hosting companies use virtualization technology to partition the server hardware, and thus less RAM is available.

Be that as it may, the true problem is that if and when a client, any client, on the shared system is hogging the resources, things go south for everyone else on the server. The ceiling is the actual physical limiation as to how much RAM is available to all accounts on the shared hosting system.

In my specific case my host, Liquidweb btw, had informed me that unless I switch to a VPS, they will simply have to discontinue my account since it has resulted in pages being inaccessible to other clients (clients who reply on database access of course, i.e. blogs, etc.).

If you are still running that site on the same service provider, you could have a look to see how much memory it takes up. Alternatively you could just have a look at any site you have admin access to and compare their load to that 20k users site by extrapolation.

I since passed my site on and do currently not have access to check the memory load out, but the above did in fact happen to me, and I did switch to a VPS2 at Liquidweb to have enough memory to deal with my concurrent users (150-200 concurrent users on the site I had).

Looking at the official vBulletin board mySQL server optimization is always a hot topic, and for good reason.

Now, I am not saying that you weren't running that site on shared hosting. However, I am saying that memory load is a real issue, and needs to be duly considered as such because the worst thing that can happen is that the site slows down, or creates out of memory mySQL errors.
 

Roloreaper

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Apr 10, 2007
Messages
25
$30 way to expensive for just a forum!

Hi For 7$ per month You Can Host a Very large forum without any hassels..... Well... As long as its a PHP / Apache Based Forum....

Try Host With www.Sevage.Net

There Hosting is perfect for a Large board. AS it gives enormous bandwidth and Harddrive space for a good Cost.....:idea:
 

§€NTiN€L

Grype Solutions
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Another amazing web host is 1and1.com. It's dirt cheap for the speed and space you get.
 

Shanetim

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Mar 25, 2007
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I pay $45 AUS a year for my hosting:

  • 250GB bandwidth monthly
  • 5GB storage
  • 20 MySQL databases
  • 100 e-mail accounts

Very, very cheap. I will also take into account what Logician has posted. Thank you for such a useful post.


- Shane.
 

gogoblender

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Feb 20, 2006
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I've just bookmarked this thread logician. I love the kinds of questions you ask, and the kind of answers you come up with regarding strategies. And even if I don't or never have a forum that has 20 k uniques a day, what I learned from this thread has delighted me.

Thank you for the masterful insights

:)

gogo
 

Logician

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Jan 1, 2004
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Here is an update from the real life example I gave in the article: 4 months after I wrote this article, our board's daily unique visitor count hit to 30.000 and after this point we moved to a dedicated server (finally). :)

But I'm still behind the strategies I stressed in the article. They allowed us to host this site in shared hosting for years with 15.000-25.000 daily unique visitors so it works. :)
 

cpvr

Tazmanian Master
Joined
Sep 17, 2005
Messages
8,246
Here is an update from the real life example I gave in the article: 4 months after I wrote this article, our board's daily unique visitor count hit to 30.000 and after this point we moved to a dedicated server (finally). :)

But I'm still behind the strategies I stressed in the article. They allowed us to host this site in shared hosting for years with 15.000-25.000 daily unique visitors so it works. :)
Congratulations - and excellent article. :)
I find it easier to use a shared hosting provider - until you feel that your site is ready to upgrade.
 
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