Qualitative Comparison Characterization between Shared and Dedicated Plans

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The following is a question put to tech support in interest of fleshing out the qualitative performance differences between shared and dedicated hosting. The summary sales sheet has numbers and does not really speak to the actual observed differences in performance. Therefore this question. (because we're all working towards being jammed with traffic!)

Multipart Question to Support regarding comparison of Shared versus Dedicated servers

  1. For instance I am on shared plan now. How many domains do you typically allow to go on a single server before you start to worry that things will get jammed.
  2. Is the dedicated server of the same horsepower as a shared plan server?
  3. Assuming a standard webpage size of something. I can guess at 100 kb... what kind of load can it bear up reasonably under? Meaning page delay of less than 5 seconds?

If these questions do not come at it from the right angle feel free to put it another way. They were just to illustrate what I am getting at.

In the end I want to know approximately how many unique users could reasonably hit the server per day without it grinding to a halt.

BTW: I know you have to have some general rules of thumb for setting up server traffic as my shared plan seems to work pretty well at current levels.

Answer

  1. Domains are not what we go by for determining how loaded a server is. Instead, the automated systems we have in place know to not deploy new customers on servers that exceed around 1000 user accounts. Please don't let this rather large number sway you. For the most part, an account is typically a person's blog and personal site. Nothing too high in the required resources department. Granted, we do have some customers that run reselling operations with their hosting space, and their statistics get logged too. Some servers only have between 500-750 accounts, and this can be attributed to a few customers hosted on the server that have a large collection of sites under their account.
  2. The dedicated servers are rather capable machines, but in comparison to the latest batch of shared servers we've deployed, there is a valid performance difference. With dedicated servers, you get a 2.8GHz Dual Core Athlon with 3GB of DDR RAM. This is a very powerful CPU, and because it's only going to be used by a single individual for their own projects and operations, fits the bill perfectly. With our shared servers, because we know it has to serve a much larger customer base, those machines are typically Dual Opteron's or Dual Xeon's equipped with 4GB of RAM. So, to answer your question, shared servers typically have more horsepower, because they need it.
  3. If you're wondering about how much any one server can take, in terms of workload, this is a tricky one to answer. Based on what you described (a 100kb web page), there really shouldn't be any conceivable way to have that page slow down a server. As was mentioned in question #2, the servers have plenty of CPU power and memory. So, here, the other factor is the net connection the server has. Each server is equipped with a 100mbps unsaturated connection. We do our best to make sure no one customer is using the entire 100mbps port, but short/temporary spikes are completely fine. If you experience any kind of slowdown where a page of that size is taking longer than five seconds to load, you should let us know! Results like that don't sound normal, and so we'd take a look into the matter and get it resolved for you.

What it comes down to is this: If you have a really high traffic web site, and it somehow is making one of our servers spontaneously explode in a firestorm, then the odds are extremely good we'll try and workout some type of arrangement where you can get your own less populated server, if you were to upgrade to a higher plan. Please keep in mind, this is on a case by case basis, but we're flexible people.


An performance example of a high traffic site on a dedicated hosting plan

Can you give me the domain name of a domain hosted by DreamHost with the following characteristics?

  • 1) dedicated hosting plan
  • 2) very high traffic levels -- preferably the highest traffic level handled on a single dedicated hosting computer
  • 3) is a dynamic MySQL database based website.

With this name I can then go forth and:

  • a) bring it up on a browser and see how it performs
  • b) check the alexa ratings and any other publicly available statistics.

Reply:We host the website for the band Smash Mouth which generates a huge amount of traffic.

Notes

  • The shared and dedicated both have the same 100mbps connection.
  • The servers can keep up with a with a 100mbps connection.
  • It appears that although you get a dedicated server to run your scripts you do NOT get a dedicated MySQL server.

Per tech support:The server should manage. There may be limitations as the servers are pretty standard Linux servers, but I've seen the servers take everything that folks have thrown at them. Several of our current dedicated customers run rather popular video podcasts from their servers and I haven't heard any more than an occasional peep out of them - but that's when we're having much larger network issues.


Date last updated=11-20-06