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!
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.