Need advice on server specs
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I understand that running CBOX on a shared server is probably not going to work very well because, as the FAQ explains: “You will probably not want to run CBOX on a low-resource, shared host if you plan to have a large membership or intend to run a multi-site installation. Performance may be disappointing. A more robust host is probably more appropriate.”
So my question — which is a question a hosting company asked me — is this: “What are the specs that you would need? In terms of hardware, processor, RAM, HDD etc?”
Would the $15 VPS option as described on this page be robust enough for a multisite installation with “only” a few hundred users?
(I can’t afford the $99 a month option, but if I could, would *that* be robust enough?)
This is all very difficult to estimate, especially when comparing against the intentionally opaque specs provided by shared hosting vendors. That Dreamhost page seems to imply that $15/month is the base price with a very low RAM/CPU allowance. I would not have any confidence in running CBox for a few hundred users on that base plan.
Even though you can’t afford it—but since you asked—I think a better $99/month option would be WPEngine, as noted in this thread:
I’m not sure any hosting plan priced below that is likely to provide enough horsepower for several hundred reasonably active users. As you scale in CBox, the server resource that will quickly become scarce is CPU, as PHP is asked to churn out more and more pages to more and more visitors. That also happens to be the resource that is typically most dear to shared hosts. If you start sopping up all available CPU, your site will hit a wall and your host will insist that you move to a more expensive plan.
It might be possible to do something cheaper if you are able to trade significant time and expertise for it. Something like a 1GB Linode at $40/month could be workable with some aggressive back-end tuning, but there’s no guarantee and, eventually, you’d still outgrow it. Happy to talk further and point you to some resources if you’re determined to go this route.
Thank you, Chris, for a thoughtful and detailed answer. Looking ahead, I’m hoping to convince my university to embrace CBOX and budget in enough money to cover the kind of hosting that $99/month buys you.
I don’t think I/we will find it worthwhile to go with a $40/month option that requires more time and expertise to optimize and maintain.
Much obliged to you!
In addition to thinking about server capacity, there is also the issue of systems administration and the difference between managed and unmanaged hosting. Do you have your own sys admin or will you need such services to be part of your hosting plan?
Just FYI, I’m experimenting now with a CBOX install on Amazon EC2 cloud hosting, which provides unmanaged hosting at variable costs (my institution is providing sys admin services). We’re still tinkering with the setup and haven’t yet put the site out into the wild, but once it gets going, I might be able to give you some more detailed information on what kind of setup has been working in that scenario and how much it costs per month.
That would be very helpful, Matt. Thank you. I’m hoping to get a similar arrangement set up at my university.
I just took some time to write up my recommendations for hosting here: https://commonsinabox.org/groups/help-support/forum/topic/cache-and-server-suggestions/
Definitely email firstname.lastname@example.org or utilize their live chat and see what they can set you up with. I setup my opensource projects and online communities that need power, customer service and room to grow on The Temple Host because I know I’ll get a blazing fast site with a pricetag under $99/mo.
Alternatively, when I have clients (nonprofits) without IT staff or webmasters who likely have no idea how to use FTP, I set them up on WP Engine where their WordPress site has a better chance of staying secure and backed up regardless of staff turnover.
I’ve had horrible experience with Dreamhost but I’ve talked to others who haven’t…