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Community Building and User Generated Content Forum

    
Best Forum Software for a Big Site?
AlwaysWorkin

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3804397 posted 4:49 pm on Dec 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

I currently run 7 phpBB2 forums and 2 of them are pretty big. Around 25-30K members and close to 1 million threads each. I have the forum well optimized and it brings A LOT of our site traffic.

In the past couple months, it has gotten flat out SLOW. I run a very large server and my resources are far from spent, it's all a MYSQL DB issue arising from phpBB.

I have read the phpBB forums for hours and hours about indexing and other options. There doesn't appear to be any obvious solution. Some mods never left BETA status, and a lot of people in my position who went to phpBB3 said the speed issues continued.

I'm well aware of the options out there, and I've spent quite a bit of time at OpenSource CMS. I have no problem paying for a solution (not open source), but I can't find any forum software that offers great SEO features AND has speed.

Anyone else been in my situation?

 

cbpayne

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3804397 posted 10:15 pm on Dec 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

vBulletin is the only way to go. There are a lot of vB forums out there with >million posts and its handles it easy,

Swanny007

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3804397 posted 12:33 am on Dec 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

Why not upgrade to version 3 and if it's still slow then convert to something else? I have a big-ish phpBB2 board, 94K members, just under 500K posts and no performance issues.

They just released version 3.0.4 yesterday and it "corrects minor issues, fixes two security bugs and also increases performance significantly". It's worth a shot.

Just a thought... if you have a lot of mods installed they could in fact be part of the performance problem. phpBB out of the box can handle a lot of traffic and posts... for me I don't like installing many mods because it makes upgrades a bit more involved. So I keep mods to a minimum and rarely have any issues related to phpBB (I run about 8 installs of phpBB, all of them version 3, the biggest one is version 2).

Swanny007

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3804397 posted 12:35 am on Dec 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

cbpayne, saying vBulletin is the best is subjective my friend. I've seen vb forums get filled with spam, run horribly slow, etc. just like phpbb and the rest.

thecoalman

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3804397 posted 4:29 am on Dec 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

First the disclaimer, I'm a moderator at phpbb.com so my opinions might be slightly biased. :P

Upgrade to phpbb3 and you'll see a significant performance increase plus you get all the added features. It was built from the ground up with performance and scalability in mind. I don't have information on the current release but doing some benchmarking back in January of 2007:

[area51.phpbb.com...]


phpBB1.4.x (vanilla) = index.php in ~0.070 seconds
phpBB2.0.0-ish (without template cache) => index.php in ~0.500 seconds
phpBB2.0.5-ish (with template cache) => index.php in ~0.250 seconds
phpBB3.0 CVS (vanilla) => index in ~0.080 seconds
phpBB3.0 CVS (with eAccelerator) => index.php in ~0.016 seconds

The current release I would assume is faster. I'm getting about .05 on most pages with eaccelerator installed on a live forum and that's with default eaccelerator configuration. Of course server specs, load etc are all going to be variables and the numbers from the phpBB post are from a server not under load but the point is it's lightning fast compared to phpbb2, I don't know how it compares to VB but it would be very interesting to see a real comparison.

for me I don't like installing many mods because it makes upgrades a bit more involved.

phpbb has an aoutoupdate feature specifically made for handling boards with modifications. I have not used it myself but from the forum reports I gather it works quite nicely.

My upgrade path is quite simple and effective. I have a folder locally that contains all the files I have modified. I download the "Changed files only" when an update comes out. With Winmerge I open each file in my local folder and compare it to the new ones. Since my local copy contains very few files this takes very little time to go through them

Since all my modifications are well commented it's very easy to see exactly what I need to merge. I merge the changes into my local copy, this way I can keep my merged files separate. Copy the updated modified files into the "changed files" from phpbb overwriting the stock ones. Test locally and if all goes well upload to the server.

JS_Harris

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3804397 posted 11:48 am on Jan 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

NONE of the options are ideal right out of the box, all of them need some attention to code. That's a design problem when creating generic forum software in general, not a reflection of any of the available choices.

Example: no forum software can know what you planned on naming your site before you actually name it so all of the software defaults to "fetching" your title from your user input files. You can reduce the load on your database by digging into the code and "hard coding" some things... like the title on the index page etc.

It's much easier to keep the generic code but it will never run as efficiently as a hard coded version. If you're comfortable with code, dig in is my best advice, especially with phpbb.

For starters move all signatures, links, images etc to member only so that non members and bots don't drain the resources. You can even add the "post" and "reply" buttons to member only if you are comfortable altering your template. Less is more in this case.

wheel

WebmasterWorld Senior Member wheel us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3804397 posted 5:04 pm on Jan 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

The general solution to 'slow phpBB' is to switch to vbulletin. You'll notice that's what most of the big boards use. vbulletin will work way faster than phpBB right out of the box. In other words, simply switching to vbulletin will likely cure all your problems. It's done so for me in the past (after having identical problems to yours).

In short, switching to vbulletin from phpBB is the standard solution to the problem phpBB has of being slow once the site gets busy.

janharders

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3804397 posted 5:39 pm on Jan 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

if mysql is the bottleneck, why not start there and optimize? I'm sure there are great websites (I know there are quiet a few books) telling you how to go about it. that may just help you not having to change anything unless you want to. 'cause even if you did, who says you won't run into the same bottleneck with the next software?

AlwaysWorkin

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3804397 posted 7:19 pm on Jan 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thanks for all the responses. I do have a couple questions and comments.

For a couple of you that commented on phpbb3 and performance, would you recommend indexing by Fulltext mysql or Fulltext native (active)? I'm sure there's a ton of documentation on it (been busy over new years and haven't gotten to it yet). Just thought I'd get another opinion.

if mysql is the bottleneck, why not start there and optimize? I'm sure there are great websites (I know there are quiet a few books) telling you how to go about it. that may just help you not having to change anything unless you want to. 'cause even if you did, who says you won't run into the same bottleneck with the next software?

The main issue is the way phpbb2 is coded and how some tables get really big in size and there's a lot of calls to it. I only have a couple of mods installed and I've already stripped a lot of things like avatars, sigs, etc. out of the site to "guests". So I'd assume I removed some larger loading issues, but it's just dragging.

janharders

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3804397 posted 7:47 pm on Jan 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

I'm not really into phpbb (I've got small ones running and there's no speed-problem because of the size), but I've seen xtcommerce (oscommerce-clone) run smoothly with 3000 products and totally kill mysql with 100.000 products. In that case I was able to identify the parts that really sucked and fix them, in another case where the application could not be changed, we got quite a bit of speed back by tweaking mysql (query caching is often under-used, in a couple of cases a few indexes the developer didn't feel the need to set really gave it a new adrenaline injection).
there's tons of things that you could do on the mysql-side and it's a good thing to do, even if you switch scripts, so if you've got a few hours to spare, I recommend you take a look.

thecoalman

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3804397 posted 6:23 am on Jan 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

The general solution to 'slow phpBB' is to switch to vbulletin. You'll notice that's what most of the big boards use.

Is that in regards to phpBB2 or phpBB3? Apples and oranges.

would you recommend indexing by Fulltext mysql or Fulltext native

Fulltext MySql will only use about 1/10 the table space as the native and will reindex in 1/10 the time too. However I don't know if you're moving from really slow queries becsue of large search index tables to other issues... Not my area of expertise.

One of the developers has a side project going implementing the sphinx search engine which is another open source project. It may or may not make it into future official releases. It's only beta at this point.

[phpbb.com...]

rogerd

WebmasterWorld Administrator rogerd us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3804397 posted 1:28 pm on Jan 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

I've found vBulletin to be solid even in very busy forums. I've never had a problem caused by the software itself. My sole complaint is that it can be kind of resource intensive if you get busy. I had to move from a single dedicated server to a rack with a load balancer and multiple high-end servers to handle a few thousand simultaneous users. A tight script like the one that runs this forum (not commercially available, unfortunately) could almost certainly handle the same load with one good server. Then again, I don't mind throwing hardware at a problem if overall the system is stable and provides the right user experience.

On the plus side, vBulletin has just about every feature you could want, either built-in or as a plugin. The admin panel is pretty amazing.

I haven't played with phpBB3 yet, I hope to give it a try soon.

AlwaysWorkin

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3804397 posted 2:21 pm on Jan 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

One of the developers has a side project going implementing the sphinx search engine which is another open source project. It may or may not make it into future official releases. It's only beta at this point.

[phpbb.com...]

I remember reading about this...thanks for the reminder. I may have to give that a try on my test board. Thanks

AlwaysWorkin

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3804397 posted 6:19 pm on Mar 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

Well I thought I'd chime in.

After a couple months of working and testing the new phpBB3 - I'm afraid to inform that the site is as slow as ever, even worse then phpBB2.

After a 28 hour upgrade (24 of it was the search index), it's a beast and I'm extremely frustrated. What a waste.

Anyone have any suggestions of things to try for phpbb3?

Swanny007

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3804397 posted 4:54 am on Mar 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

Have you asked these questions on the official phpbb forums since the upgrade to 3? They'll probably be more helpful than us :-)

How many concurrent users are we talking about? What is the server setup (software, hardware config, etc)? Is it slow just at peak times or all the time? etc.

AlwaysWorkin

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3804397 posted 3:33 pm on Mar 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

I get better information here than I do at phpBB. Plus you have to put your URL on their forum to get help...I don't want any unnecessary attention to my forum from that community.

It turned out to be that a mod, "Recent Topics", was the issue...I've never seen a mod take that much resources.

[edited by: AlwaysWorkin at 3:37 pm (utc) on Mar. 4, 2009]

Swanny007

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3804397 posted 5:30 pm on Mar 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

That's why I don't use mods anymore. I ran into problems with a mod, it ran one extra mysql query for each post. It looked pretty but it wound up consuming a lot of server resources. I almost had to switch to a dedicated server for a lot more money. I just disabled that mod and saved some money ;-)

I'm glad you got it figured out. I use a "Recent Topics" script on my sites home page and it works great, it's a basic script that directly accesses the phpbb database without using sessions, etc.

thecoalman

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3804397 posted 11:21 am on Mar 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

Plus you have to put your URL on their forum to get help..

You don't have to post a URL however that is quite helpful especially when dealing with people that really have no clue e.g "Help, my page is broke". Providing you can give all the necessary information to diagnose a problem you don't have to list it. Matter of fact if it's an adult oriented site or other type of site in a grey area don't post it because it will be removed.

As far as the slow mod, mod's released on phpbb.com that have been validated are checked for security vulnerabilities and that they meet the coding guidelines. They aren't checked for performance but a mod validator may suggest changes.

AlwaysWorkin

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3804397 posted 3:54 pm on Mar 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

thecoalman, I'm speaking from experience and I'm not one of those that goes to phpbb saying my page is broke, someone help me.

When I have asked questions in the past providing great detail, the first reply is usually asking for the URL. If I don't provide it, the thread dies.

I'm not hear to complain about phpbb, I was merely responding to swanny's question.

thecoalman

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3804397 posted 3:34 am on Mar 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

Well I'm a moderator there, we're always trying to improve. If you want to sticky me a link to the support request I'll take a look at it and forward your concerns to the team. Matter of fact I'll go bring it up now and maybe we could come up with a solution for people in your situation.

As I said though sometimes its just easier to ask for a link as opposed to trying to get the information from the user going back forth. It's like pulling teeth sometimes. :P

AlwaysWorkin

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3804397 posted 7:18 pm on Mar 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thanks - I had a feeling you were a mod. :-)

I'm just not comfortable on the phpBB forum posting my URL as I don't want any unneeded attention to my site (been hacked in the past...obviously paranoid).

Thanks again

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