You’ve got a VPS server, now what?

If you can’t be bothered to read the whole thing, READ THE BOLD BITS, it still makes sense.

When you get a new VPS everything feels nice.  You’ve got your own server, without the Dedicated server price tag, however all is not quite as it seems.

A key thing to remember; A low end VPS does NOT have the same amount of resources available.

The first thing you will want to do with your server is setup everything, this may include, assuming for web hosting;

  • Control Panel
  • Web server & PHP / Python etc
  • E-mail with Anti-virus/Spam detection
  • DNS
  • Database Server
  • Log file processing

Be careful when doing this.  You are likely getting a VPS because your website is now getting enough traffic, or you are hosting enough sites that shared hosting just doesn’t cut it.  By adding all of those services you are eating into valuable resources.

If your VPS is for your website, its for your website, not the extras, consider the following;

Control Panel

After your initial setup there probably isn’t much need for a control panel. Where possible, disable it. Virtualmin/Webmin/Usermin for example runs as its own perl process and while not very much it still uses memory that most of the time you don’t need. You can always login to the machine and enable it again via SSH.

E-mail

Consider using Google Apps. You can offload all of your E-mail, the virus checking & spam checking to someone else. Gmail is a huge platform and most of you know the features offered by this. Google Apps allows all of that on your own domain name. There is 7gb of storage per account, for free. If you need more, or feel like offering google some money, its £33 per account, per year (at the moment)

DNS

Many server providers, like linode, have DNS servers that are free for you to use. Utilize them. BIND, on this very server, is utilising over 100mb of memory.

Log file processing

Webalizer and AWStats are both common log file processing tools. Do you really need them though? In some instances, yes, in most…no. Use Google Analytics (or something similar).  If you get a lot of traffic, processing millions of lines takes minutes to hours, during which time your website will be sluggish. A slow website really kills the user experience. If you really want/need something like AWStats, install it on your own computer & process the log files manually.

Web Server & Database Server

As this is your web server you can’t do much about the overhead of a web server or database server (unless your running 2 VPS’s). What you can do is limit what is running. The default installation of Apache on Debian includes a lot of modules you will probably never use. Disable extensions that you don’t need.

Or….you can get a bigger VPS or multiple VPS for all of your services.

Remember: the faster your server runs, the faster your website runs, the happier your users are, the happier google is, the happier you are…….well hopefully.

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Dansette