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At what point do webmasters move their sites to dedicated servers?

 1:23 am on Jun 16, 2009 (gmt 0)


My web host is pressuring me to move my site to a dedicated server. They are working with me at the moment in order to optimize my site. I would like to ask those of you who moved from regular web hosting to dedicated servers, at what point did you do it?

How many uniques per day do think would justify the pressure from web hosts to move to dedicated servers?



 3:48 am on Jun 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

I run mosty wordpress based sites. I have about 20 sites on a reseller account. My most popular site gets about 350,000 page views per month. I use WP Super Cache on this site. The others about 7,000 page views per month.

I have been with the same host for almost 2 years with no major issues. Prior to that my hosts were always nagging me about CPU.


 6:30 am on Jun 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

My highest traffic site displays around 100K static page views a day and downloads okay using an inexpensive shared hosting plan.


 7:25 am on Jun 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

When I moved to a dedicated server it was because I knew it would be cheaper than lots of individual shared sites. But dedicated servers can be quite expensive, if you shop around, there are companies doing really good deals.

A dedicated server will normally bring you much faster performance. And, you will need to check if your getting backup with it.

I already had experience with dedicated servers, so it was an obvious choice for me. Not sure if I would recommend them to inexperienced people though.


 10:22 am on Jun 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

Have a look at GWT for the average time the GoogleBot needs to download a page. That way you know if your site is too slow or not.

Since your hosting company cut you off the net without telling you beforehand, I would be looking for a new one.


 11:48 am on Jun 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

Personally, moving to a dedicated server was the best thing that ever happened to me and my site, downtime is almost non-existent now and revenue spiked almost immediately.

Why would moving to a dedicated server cause a noticeable rise in revenue? Perhaps shared hosting so slow that users lose patience? Anything else?


 12:18 pm on Jun 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

The topic I just wanted to discuss..Here, we have an entertainment blog built on wordpress. So, you must have guessed that we have quite a few pictures and plugins installed.

Over the past week, our website has been consistently suspended by our hosts(one of the top names) on the pretext that we have crossed 25% of CPU usage.

We have disabled all our plugins, hugely reduced the image sizes, and it seemingly is still causing CPU usage spikes..Our traffic is not at all huge - close to 500K uniques and 1 million pageviews per month.


 1:01 pm on Jun 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

anand84, The top names are not necessarily the best hosts.... a most of them seem to oversell a lot.

Do you use a cache plugin? Does your traffic have heavy spikes? How many images are getting served? I am guessing your one million page impressions means several million hits.


 1:38 pm on Jun 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

Why would moving to a dedicated server cause a noticeable rise in revenue?

Better server performance resulting in:
- Deeper and more rapid indexing, SEs don't like sluggish page loads either
- Customer retention instead of bailing in frustration
- More member subscriptions with more professional performance
- More ads being served which means more money, ad server was in same hosting account
- Less down time (virtually NO down time, maybe 10 hours in 5 years)

Basically, once I got off the shared server I was able to rapidly grow the site without other accounts impeding my progress, or revenue.



 2:41 pm on Jun 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

Do you use a cache plugin? Does your traffic have heavy spikes? How many images are getting served? I am guessing your one million page impressions means several million hits.

Hi Grame_p..Yes, we do use the WP-Cache plugin. Also tried with the Super cache plugin. Every article has one image, so you can pretty much say that one million pageviews would mean one million text impression and one million image impressions.


 4:04 pm on Jun 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

Sean - something else to bear in mind is that when you have a DS you are 'on your own' in terms of maintenance and support, unless of course you commission the hosting company to provide this.

Reason we are considering a DS server? Simply because the Tech Support provided by our shared server hosting company, with whom we've been with for 9 years, has become abysmal.


 8:53 pm on Jun 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

I am on shared hosting, but my provider offers some sort of "overload protection" for temporary peaks. If for some reason I cross the limits of my shared hosting package - for example because of sudden traffic increases caused by media coverage for products I offer or a programming error - my websites are automatically moved to a high performance server for a maxium of seven days. When everything returns to normal it is moved back automatically.

So it is not possible that my website is not accessible for performance reasons.

It all depends on the webhosters and the service they provide. If the service is lousy and you risk getting shut down without prior notice - you should probably get a dedicated server from the start.


 12:11 am on Jun 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

anand84, 500K uniques is too much for any server-side scripting on a shared hosting. I bet you are averaging a page every 2-3 seconds. CHeck your page load time, if it's above that then you are killing your host.

We got up to 10K unique users per day on our cheap shared hosting when they started shutting us down almost daily. Moving to their semi-dedicated solution turned out to be just as unstable. So we moved to a dedicated box, and I am glad we did.

As far as "you are on your own" - if you have that many visitors, you should be able to afford managed hosting if you can't handle it yourself.


 1:02 am on Jun 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

Better server performance

In other words, the issue is server performance, not whether the server is dedicated or shared?

Also, it's worth remembering that the server is just piece of the puzzle. Bandwidth matters, too.

too much information

 6:16 am on Jun 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

One thing you might need to work on no matter what host you are on is making your site more efficient. Is your site entirely database driven? If so is it really necessary?

I had a wordpress site that was killing the server with inefficient processes so I went with a dedicated SQL server temporarily and wrote my own blog system that works on flat files. (Not as difficult as it sounds with PHP) Then I was able to drop the SQL server entirely and the site is MUCH faster with the flat files.

The basis behind my method is a simple template file and each post is a single file organized by folders with the variables stored in the single files. So when a page is loaded it includes the template file for layout and the variables define the content.

Sure I have thousands of small PHP files on the server now but it is much easier to move my site or back it up without dealing with a large database, and it loads very very fast.

I'm not saying you have to do what I did but maybe there is some optimization you should consider no matter what host you are on.


 3:17 pm on Jun 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thank you all for the great input. I researched much of what was said here including VPS but deep down I know it'll be temporary.

Caching my site turned into a nightmare, it somehow messed up some of my CMS files and I couldn't get any help, not even from my web host. That kind of angered me because they recommended the plugin in the first place. So I got rid of it but managed to keep the server cpu somewhat down by taking out everything in my website that wasn't essential to its running.

The information that I understood from the experience shared here is that I could change web hosts to better shared hosting. The thing is my web host is actually highly regarded by online PC magazines – great reviews and my hosting plan is the middle of the pack variety (premium).

My goal now is to hold on until the end of summer and then move to a dedicated server by the Fall. I think this is inevitable considering the potential.

The biggest concern or actually my biggest fear is my ignorance of severs. The last thing I need is to pay additional monthly fees to someone to maintain a server for me. So I'll invest some time and money this summer and sign up for some courses that will help me in this department.


 5:08 pm on Jun 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

@adamxcl What software did you use to create your site?


 5:12 pm on Jun 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

Your problem is using WordPress. It doesn't perform well even with wp-cache or super cache beyond a point because:
1. Spam comments directly hit the database and any popular site gets tons of these
2. A post or even a single comment can invalidates the whole cache (in wp cache, most likely for super cache too), which makes it ineffective

You can try switching to InnoDB, use tons of optimization suggestions on the web which are effectively up to a point.


 7:45 pm on Jun 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

The thing is my web host is actually highly regarded by online PC magazines – great reviews and my hosting plan is the middle of the pack variety (premium).

Those magazines accept paid ads. Try switching to one of the hosts some of the more experienced people who hang out here recommend.


 12:03 pm on Jun 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

I thought I could hold off my decision until the end of summer. This was wishful thinking because my web host sent me an email informing me to seek resolution asap to my 'high resource usage asap'. They have also given me a 1 week deadline due to the 'severity.'

I know there are basically 3 groups on this thread. A group that advocates moving to a better shared hosting, another group that recommends VPS and a third group that is all for a dedicated server.

For the sake of resolution and to help get out of this mess in the immediate term. I have decided to go with the medium solution (VPS) because I am not too confident with another shared hosting account as my traffic will further increase.

I also do not have the means yet to move to a dedicated server. I only began monetizing my site last month.

“Baby step” is what I have in mind. I expect my site to reach these stats within 6-8 months:

CMS: Wordpress
Unique Visitors: Could reach 200K month
Page Views: 800,000+
Concurrent Visitors: 50+
Bandwith: 300-400 GB

Is the following VPS configuration enough to sustain the above traffic stats if I do reach them:

Memory Quota: 256MB
Burstable Memory Quota: 1GB (short-term for spikes)
RAID 5 Fault Tolerant Disk Space – 40GB
Monthly Transfer: 500GB

This would be a perfect 'baby step' for me if it could work for me.

Do you guys think that VPS configuration is good for the short term?



 12:12 pm on Jun 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

We just moved to a Virtual dedicated server offered by a popular host. Costs two day's labour, but I think it's worth it considering I get to keep the site live for the rest of the month.


 12:20 pm on Jun 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

Hi Anand84,

Would you mind sharing your VPS configuration and your Traffic stats, it would allow me to know if the VPS config I posted above is adequate or not.



 6:05 pm on Jun 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

Unique Visitors: Could reach 200K month

Given, Wordpress is an inefficient, hulking, bloated monster but even Wordpress should be able to handle 200k/month uniques on shared hosting.

And shared hosting is exactly what a VPS is btw.

It sounds like you should probably hire a professional to look at your backend (ahem) because as it is you're going to end up spending far too much money on hardware in the future. Much more money than you would spend to have someone solve your script issues.

To give you an example, I have one site running at the moment that serves about 4 million requests per day on a single server using a backend that needs to do all of the following for every request:

- Contact anywhere from 5 to 10 external websites and download large amounts of data from each of them (in parallel).
- Parse said data byte by byte.
- Do extensive checking on the individual the request is coming from (more database queries).
- Load settings from database.
- Load user info from database.
- Load templates (more database queries).
- Format everything for output (requiring multiple pass line by line processing).
- And quite a lot more...

This is far more work than Wordpress technically has to do. The point being that some of the numbers you see in this thread are very misleading.

Millions of page views per DAY (not month) on a single server are not only possible but should be expected provided you're running efficient software.


 11:13 pm on Jun 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

Hi IanKelley,

What you wrote is very impressive. I am convinced that I will require professional maintenance to optimize my site from time to time. In the meantime I pulled the trigger on moving my site to a fully managed VPS with 512MB/Dual CPU. Hopefully this will hold me for a while or at least until the Fall.



 12:02 am on Jun 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

"At what point do webmasters move their sites to dedicated servers?"

Depends on what kind of website it is... dynamic/static and if dynamic, how optimized it is...

Example: I have a dynamic website with lots of database connections (Facebook-style scripts) on every page.
- A month: 300k uniques - 5 mill page loads (yes, my site is crazy sticky) - traffic is in few Terabytes...
For that I have a dedicated server - quad Xeons, 4Gb mem - and a separate mysql database server - 2 quad-core, 8Gb mem. All scripts are custom made and all queries are optimized to the bone - I spend hours a day dissecting mysql-slow query logs...

My believe anything anything out of the box (Blogging/Forum or similar) will have some "bugs" (inefficient queries) that cache or other "speed up", built-in methods won't fix... so sooner or later you would need to optimize and/or upgrade hardware... I prefer the "optimize" option first


 2:44 pm on Jun 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

A further reason for going dedicated is Google's recent push for speed in page loading see [webmasterworld.com...]


 11:03 am on Jul 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

Hey guys, I found out the bottleneck. It's been over a week since I moved from shared hosting to a VPS with 512MB Ram and Dual Xeon Cpu. The transfer went very smoothly without any loss in traffic nor any negative effect in SERPs. Actually the initial 24hrs my site reached an all time high at the time with a little under 7000 unique visitors. I probably could have reached 8500 but my host took me down yet again for about 2-3hrs during my peak hours.

That was a huge disappointment because all day there was no problem whatsoever. My site running on VPS was noticeably quicker, and was zipping along. So after that point (site going down) I went all out and spent an entire week systematically optimizing my site.

I did this by Googling “how to reduce server load.” Each and every action I took helped, but the the server load wasn't tamed until the media was fully optimized. I took it a step further by transferring the media on the most popular pages to a CDN.

So in conclusion, perhaps a shared hosting would have sufficed if I used a CDN then, but the speed under VPS is pretty great. The combination is working out for me. This combination looks like it will save me money. Next step is root access, I fell in love with VPS, I could only imagine how it would feel like to have my own “box.”

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