Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from

Forum Moderators: open

Message Too Old, No Replies

What to look for in server hardware

2:23 pm on Feb 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

5+ Year Member

joined:June 15, 2008
votes: 0

I'm about to lease my first dedicated server for a database driven website:

I know things like bandwidth allotment and hard drive space means, but how do things like CPU speed, RAM, and Front Side bus speeds actually affect my website? I know the bigger and faster is better, but how do these things actually affect my site? And what's a good baseline?

This is what I'm looking at:

Operating System: FreeBSD 6.2
Processor: Core 2 Duo E4400 (2GHz)
Front Side Bus: 800MHz
Memory: 1 GB DDR2 ECC 667
Hard Drive: 120 GB
Traffic: 1000 GB

3:21 pm on Feb 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member kaled is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

joined:Mar 2, 2003
votes: 0

I don't really follow hardware developments closely, but that spec seems old. I'm not sure 120GB drives are currently in production and memory is so cheap that 2GB should be a minimum.

Having said that, your spec may well be more than adequate and if the price is right, it may be a good deal. You should also consider other factors such as reliability and backup procedures, etc. not to mention contract length i.e. do they want 12 months up front.


3:56 pm on Feb 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

joined:June 17, 2002
votes: 6

That spec is on the low side but of course it depends on a) what you are using now, b) what is your future capacity.

RAM is dirt cheap these days. It works out about £10 / $10 a gigabyte to purchase outright. But beware of webhosters ripping off customers by charging £10 / $10 A MONTH for a 1Gb upgrade.

I would recommend at least 2Gb in there. If you are serving loads of content then 4 would be better.

It is always best to have two hard drives. You can either use both in a raid array for either speed or reliability (mirroring) but IMO the best use of two disks is to use one for the O/S and serving the data, and the other for ancillary stuff like daily backups, log files. This will give much better performance as the disk does not have to fight between running the o/s, reading data and logging.

For a small single site I would expect a spec like this:

Entry Level ~ £50 per month
Intel Core2Duo E4600 2.4Ghz

Medium Level ~ £75
DualCore Xeon X3065 2.33Ghz

High Level ~ £100
QuadCore Xeon X3360 2.88Ghz
2 x 250GB SATA HDD

There are much higher spec machines than this but these are good starting points for a first dedicated server.

5:20 pm on Feb 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

Preferred Member

10+ Year Member

joined:Dec 30, 2002
votes: 0

What should be important depends a lot on how your website is architected and used.

What traffic level do you have, and what sort of load does your application and type of traffic generate?

As an example, a website with 10k pageviews a day where each visitor is randomly pulling 10 records out of a 20GB database for each page view, is much different from a mostly static site with 100k page views per day.

Speaking from experience, are there places in your website where implementing some caching at key points could drop your system load by 90%?

The right server for you really depends on your site. With more details, you can get a much more informed response.