Thank you so much for all the information while writing to us... It made it so easy to look things up and gauge your usage history & server needs. Normally it’s a bit like pulling teeth, so this was just wonderful! :) Thanks!!!
From what I have gathered, it looks like your current host is actually right on the money. I have to congratulate you on your popularity — you have a big, busy board! That’s just super. There are a lot of people on the internet who wish they had that kind of traffic. ;)
To begin, your site is definitely too big for the shared environment. You’re peaking out at 4.8 dynamic hits/month with about 50 users online at any given time. Our V500 is designed to take about 1/3 to 1/2 of that, at the very most. Users are usually upgraded to a VPS or Dedicated plan before they even reach those upper limits. A site the size of yours would be very hard on a shared server and would degrade server performance for everyone, because it simply needs a large chunk of CPU to run.
You mentioned not being able to afford the VPS1500, but unfortunately your site would not even begin to run on a package that small. With 4.8 million hits/month, the minimum VPS that would have ample resources to run your forums would be the VPS8000. (See “Selecting a VPS for your Site” at http://www.venturesonline.com/hosting/vps-features.html
When we start talking that level of expense, my natural inclination is to get the client off a finite-resource server like the VPS plans (where you only get a slice of CPU and RAM) and put them on a dedicated server. A dedicated server will offer your site 100% of the CPU, 100% of the RAM, etc. etc. -- a dedicated server will do awesome things for you, and allow your site to grow without being hindered by shared overhead.
Since you’re on a budget :) I would bypass the regular dedicated line and point you to the Dedicated Specials we have on tap at the moment. You can review them at http://www.venturesonline.com/hosting/specials.php
I would recommend nothing less than 512 MB of RAM... This is something we can upgrade for you on any of the specials. An additional 256MB chip is $20 set-up and $35/month, and will really speed things up for you. If 512 isn’t enough, we can always put another 256 or 512 in there — the servers are quite configurable that way.
I know you’d like to stay in the shared environment, since it’s very affordable, however the shared environment is designed for small sites that never see even a sliver of the traffic you have. :) Your popularity is wonderful, but it does bring a cost at some point... Unfortunately, you seem to have reached that point. I hope that we’ll be able to help you out as you consider your options.
Please do let us know if you have any further questions.