Planning for High Traffic

Over the last year there has been a lot of growth in services such as Groupon, which are able to drive a high amount of traffic to a single site during a short period of time for a very small cost. Whilst this is great for business you do have to consider if the site is able to handle the traffic which you are about to send it. To best prepare for the a high amount of traffic you have a few choices;

Option 1 – Tune The Existing LAMP Stack

The first option is to tune the existing environment, this maybe difficult if your server runs several web sites as any changes you make will likely have an effect system wide, though this may not necessarily be a bad thing. A lot of server owners will never change any of the default configuration of the core LAMP stack services such as Apache, PHP or MySQL.

While for a lot of people that will be fine, with a few simple changes you should be able to make the server respond a lot quicker. Changes to the memory allocations, maximum number of connections, timeouts and tweaks to the various caching options for all the services to better tune the service to your hardware configuration, and also the code running on your server can make all the difference. Installation of further caching services such a MemCache and APC can further improve things, as can moving directories for sessions to a memory based partition.

Option 2 – Make Changes to The Code

The second option depends on what you have used to produce your websites, as it means making changes that can be made at the code level. Plugins, modules and site functionality can all be reviewed and updated – or even in some cases be removed or replaced to increase performance. A lot of modern CMS’s such as WordPress, Drupal and Joomla all have powerful caching built in alone with third party modules to add to the in-built functions.

As well as dynamic content you can also look at static content – do you really need to serve files from your server? Places like Google provide external mirrors of popular JavaScript libraries which can be used free of charge. You could also move all of you static content across to a CDN such Amazons S3 service, this will allow your server to get on with processing page requests rather than serving the images, CSS and JavaScript which goes to make the page.

Option 3 – Add More Resources

The most commonly chosen option is to increase the available resources, if you are running on a virtual server then you could ask your host to increase the RAM and CPU allocations. If you have a dedicated server and are planning more promotions then it will be worth investing in additional RAM.

Option 4 – Move The Site to Its Own Hosting

The final option is to move the site to it’s own temporary hosting for the duration of the high traffic period, this could either be a physical or virtual server on a short term contract, or moving it to a scalable hosting provider such as Amazon Web Services. With this option there are not only the costs of the additional hosting you need to consider, but you will also need to factor in the time taken to configure the new solution, move the site across, test and make live. Also you will need to build in some time to move the data back to your existing hosting once the campaign has finished.

Options 1 and 2 are also both something which you could you look at putting in place at improving site performance, as the speed at which a site loads no has a direct effect on your Google rankings.

These simple questions are a good starting point for the planning process and will help you avoid ‘server choke’ and the subsequent loss of additional business:-

  • What is the total of additional visitors are you expecting?
  • How many additional visitors can your server deal with?
  • How many simultaneous visitors can your server deal with?
  • Over what period do you expect additional visitors?
  • Is your current server infrastructure up to the task?
  • Does your current hosting provider offer you the flexibility you need for campaigns like this?

ForLinux offers flexible solutions, for the period you require, backed by expert level support, where you need it, when you need it. Call us on to discuss how we can help you make the most of your opportunities. Alternatively, complete our contact form at and we will call you.

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