Preparing to launch! Hosting advice & projects.mefi advice sought
May 4, 2013 1:35 PM   Subscribe

My new website is nearly ready to launch and I need (1) advice about improving performance via webhost features/alternatives and (2) advice about how to build a good post on where I'll be seeking feedback.

I'm just about ready to open the doors on a new blog type website (previously). Most of my other sites have been for employers and clients who knew their audiences and had very clear requirements, and were able to fund powerful webhosting. This site is personal and my budget for now is small, and I'm not clear yet on who exactly it will appeal to, but I have a feeling it will draw a wide audience based on initial tests with a tiny, private audience.

So I have a couple of questions about hosting/performance and getting community feedback on

1. Performance - It's a Drupal 7 site that links to most of the content via views, and lives in my Dreamhost shared hosting plan (without VPS) under a user account that's not hosting any other domains. I have Boost caching enabled, so once the doors open that should help minimize sql queries. I also turned on db optimization. Am I likely to run into trouble with Dreamhost's memory cap? I know there are some options under Dreamhost such as VPS, but is that best? Or am I better off considering an alternative host? Any sage advice from Drupal 7 devs? I have a feeling it will get lots of traffic and I'd like to be proactive about ensuring a good first impression.

2. Feedback - I want to get feedback from experienced bloggers and blog readers. Where can I find some really good best practices for launching new blog type sites in general?

2a. Where can I find some best practices for projects.mefi posts? If I post there, should I just open the site up to anonymous traffic, or should I keep it locked away and provide user accounts in the thread? Opening it up to anonymous browsing will improve performance and will be simpler all around, but it will also mean that other folks will see the site before it's possibly "fully baked". I want it to be as close to perfect as possible when I launch.

Thanks in advance!
posted by christopherious to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
So, I'm in the process of moving 3 very low traffic (hits in the single digits per day) Wordpress sites off of Dreamhost. Obviously, there's a lot that's not applicable there - 3 domains running 5 apps (3 Wordpress, a Fever and a ThinkUp) under one account, and no Drupal. But ho-lee-cow did I find Dreamhost to be agonizingly slow - sometimes response would be over a second for the page to return.

Now, I never bothered with any of the optimizations - but for what I was doing, I didn't think I needed it. I've found that almost everywhere I've looked has been appreciably faster without any tweaking.

If you're concerned about it being slow because it feels slow now, then yeah, I'd say you might be facing a problem.
posted by neilbert at 4:43 PM on May 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Neilbert, yeah, I'm getting the feeling that I should move. Support has been friendly but not especially helpful about getting to the bottom of why the site has been so slow except to say that Drupal 7 is just slow under shared plans. That may be generally correct, but I'm skeptical that it's the problem in this case. I think what's going on is that as I reload dynamic content after editing the theme and content, the views-related sql queries are causing me to hit a memory cap of some kind that's imposed on shared hosting customers, resulting in a throttle. When I asked Support directly about that, they avoided the question.

Hoping to hear more stories about Drupal 7 under shared hosting plans, Dreamhost in particular. I wonder if I'm alone. This may not be an issue for end-users after I go live thanks to Cloudflare, Boost and other caching innovations, but it still makes me nervous.
posted by christopherious at 4:58 PM on May 4, 2013

I'd get away from Dreamhost, especially given their reliability track record. If you're already having trouble there now, it's only going to get worse if you get more traffic. And it's a lot easier to move the site now then to do it in total panic mode when you're blowing up on reddit and everything just went down.

I'd also look at using a CDN and a separate domain for your static assets (images, css, js, etc...). Amazon CloudFront is pretty darn cheap and many sites use it with Drupal.
posted by zachlipton at 9:52 PM on May 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Great stuff, thanks. So two things.

(1) I know it's not so cool to ask for specific host recommendations as there are SO many and it can be subjective, but is this list a decent place to start (specifically with whom I spoke earlier on Saturday)? How the hell do I evaluate these people beyond what they or other people say?

(2) How about the question I asked about above? Should I just go for it, once I feel my site will probably perform well for anon users, and just open it up to anonymous traffic during a 3-5 day window or something, and post a link in that thread for that, or should I instead hand out accounts individually in PMs after posting the project thread? My concern is getting other traffic I wasn't planning on before the site might actually deserve to be seen and crawled.

As you can probably tell, this kind of website is pretty new to me and I really really realy don't want to roll it out before I see a widish range of acceptance in at least a smallish community of folks who really really know their shit.
posted by christopherious at 4:04 AM on May 5, 2013

Projects is for stuff that is basically done, not so much for beta testing. If you're not prepared for it to be posted to the front page of Metafilter (a possible although relatively uncommon result of a Projects post,) then it's not ready to be posted to Projects.
posted by restless_nomad at 1:15 PM on May 5, 2013

Response by poster:
Projects is for stuff that is basically done, not so much for beta testing.
That's very helpful. I apologize for overlooking stated procedure that might have made it clearer. The site has probably been in a "basically done" state for a week or so now, but I'm still working on a good performance solution and I keep finding content areas to tweak. Judging from your post, I think I'll spend more time tweaking the content, even though I feel it may be beyond ready for public consumption, and of course I'll corner the performance concerns and get that in order as well. So, Projects="Ready for the public but I want your feedback early on." And if anyone has any additional recommendations for beta testing as described above, I'd love to hear about them.
posted by christopherious at 3:31 AM on May 6, 2013

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