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Thread: The entire story on our site's performence, where it's headed and everything else

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  1. #1
    Administrator Boss-Hog's Avatar
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    The entire story on our site's performence, where it's headed and everything else

    Because of all the problems we've had for approximately the past year, we've been looking in to changing hosts for the past few weeks. I went to vBulletin's website and noticed that they had a separate forum set up for discussion of which hosts their clients use, reviews of the hosts, etc. After looking into the matter, I noticed that http://www.venturesonline.com had excellent reviews across the board and nearly everyone said they were as reliable as can be. With that in mind, I talked to GIK about it and we agreed to look into switching to them, if a plan could be found that accomodated our price range. I sent out an email to them that included our visitor statistics and the like and about an hour later, I got the following email back from one of their staff members:

    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.
    I was understandably discouraged after reading all this. Basically, this tells me that the host we have probably isn't the problem but the real problem is the sheer amount of traffic the site gets. Unfortunately, this is only going to get worse once the season starts. Now, as you can probably figure out, there's no way that we can viably afford to pay the $130 monthly fee (and that's before any memory upgrades) that VenturesOnline is suggesting...not at least without introducing a boatload of advertising and I'm not even sure that would cover the costs. When you start talking about expenses that high, I don't think donations are going to cover it. I greatly appreciate the money that everyone's given us to help us pay our expenses to this point but unfortunately this site has clearly outgrown where it used to be - in the $20/month price range. Our current host has told me before that our site actually costs them more to host than they actually make off of it and I can believe that. They have basically told me that we will need to switch to one of their private servers - while that's a bit more affordable than VenturesOnline, we're still talking $80 a month. Details of that plan can be found here.

    At this point, I'm not really sure what we're going to do, to be honest with you. I do know that we are going to need to switch to some plan that can accomodate the traffic the site gets or else we'll soon be forced to pay a lot of money for excessive bandwith. I don't want to have to set a limit to the amount of people who can view the site at one time. (as I currently have done, just to keep it running) Basically, the only real solution is to switch to a private or dedicated server and since GIK and I don't make any money off the site, there's no way that's a possibility, as is. If you have any suggestions about how we can raise the necessary money to cover costs and keep the site going, I'm all ears. Thanks.

    Boss

  2. #2
    Administrator Boss-Hog's Avatar
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    Just got back from Lexington, so if you're wondering why I haven't responded to this thread/your PMs, that's why. Anyway, thanks for all the suggestions...we'll be reviewing them all. Personally, I don't much like the idea of a banner system just because I hate the damn things. By the way, I didn't want to give anyone the impression that the site was in serious jeopardy of shutting down - I just wanted to emphasize that our bills are about to go way, way up. If people are really willing to contribute enough to keep our site running efficiently on a dedicated server, then I sincerely thank you people and say let's do it.

  3. #3
    Administrator GIK's Avatar
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    Originally posted by 01Red Blooded American
    Just one more thing to think about. I know a board that when it gets more traffic than it can handle, it only lets members who have donated into the board for that time only.

    For example: The Reds trade Castro for Colon. One of the mods/administators "turns a switch" and those that are paying/donated customer could only go to the site at that time. All others are diverted to a page where they could donate (via paypal) for entry into the board during peak traffic periods.
    Me thinks I like this idea the best. :evilgrin:

  4. #4
    Administrator GIK's Avatar
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    Originally posted by westofyou
    What would it cost to have someone host the box at their home off a DSL or T1 line?

    Or is that just out of the question?
    I've thought of this woy and mentioned it to Boss, but we both agree neither of us have the experience to handle it. I have cable and was thinking about it earlier, but I'm not sure the hardware could even handle such a load.

    We really need some ideas, everyone. $80+/mo is a drastic jump (400%).

  5. #5
    Administrator GIK's Avatar
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    Good responses, everyone.

    I will work on some more ideas and then hopefully we can get something presented ASAP.

    A paypal link at the top of the board (with the $ figure that is in it) along with possible banner advertising at top sounds like the best route to me. Hey, you could even make your own banner ad and advertise whatever you'd like (within reason).

    Here's just an example of possible monetary breakdowns:
    http://www.myfordfocus.com/sponsorship.htm

  6. #6
    Administrator GIK's Avatar
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    Thanks for all of the input, everyone.

    I do not wish to turn RedsZone into a pay site. While that may help us bandwith wise, I see it only killing its purpose.

    I also don't want to always keep asking for help from all of you. I am flattered with so many responses of Reds fans who wish to keep us running. It's amazing.

    Advertising/Sponsorship is something I would like to look into. Possibly a rotating banner above the forum (no pop-ups). That is just an idea, but I've seen many larger sites go this route for revenue (focaljet.com | vwvortex.com).

    I am behind RZ 100%. I'm out of school for the moment taking a breather from grad school and working full time at Ford SVT. The site won't die from lack of effort.

    All of you have been there for us in the past and I know you'll be there in the future. I just want to make sure the effort is organized an planned correctly so we don't revisit this issue each year.

  7. #7
    Administrator GIK's Avatar
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    ***Off Topic***

    Johnny...give him a little bit of a break...some kids don't work in school and that's it. My parents wouldn't allow me to have a job during the year so I could concentrate only on my studies (undergrad only). He's a Reds fan...love him no matter what.

    ***Back to Topic***

  8. #8
    Administrator GIK's Avatar
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    Geo, et. al.

    If we decide to start taking donations I will let you all know ASAP.

    I did like the idea of maybe putting a PayPal link on the message board...what do you all think?

  9. #9
    Administrator GIK's Avatar
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    Does anyone have ideas on how to stabilize the chat room? Different software, etc?

  10. #10
    Administrator GIK's Avatar
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    We should have a resolution shortly.

  11. #11
    Administrator GIK's Avatar
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    Re: Dedicated Server

    Originally posted by redlegz
    Boss,

    While I don't post too often I do frequent this site an awful lot.

    Anyway I have a friend who has a website on a dedicated server and he said he would be willing to try adding Redszone.com to his server and then split the cost with you. If this is something you might be interested in PM me and I'll put you in contact with him.
    Shoot me a PM, redlegz. Any and all suggestions are welcome.

  12. #12
    Administrator GIK's Avatar
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    I have also asked a couple other admins of some sites our size or larger with similar or greater traffic for their advice. Hopefully we'll have a good solution in place shortly.

  13. #13
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    Originally posted by KYRedsFan
    I've been getting more and more server is full errors.
    Me too and today when I finally connected there were only 8 other people here. Made me wonder about the server to busy message.

    I vote for a couple "drive" months and also leaving the door open for donations year round. You know what they say - keep it simple...
    Will trade this space for a #1 starter.

  14. #14
    Dunnilicious creek14's Avatar
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    Originally posted by SpringfieldFan
    Otherwise she must spring for two months hosting. :evilgrin:
    I could do that...as long as Boss and GIK change the name of the site to creekzone. :smokin:
    Will trade this space for a #1 starter.

  15. #15
    Dunnilicious creek14's Avatar
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    Originally posted by GAC
    tax refund
    Will trade this space for a #1 starter.


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