What is best for a forum in terms of server hardware?

Butteroll

New member
I personally would like to know what is best for a forum based website when it comes to hardware, specifically for xenforo.

I thought about it, and it seems that internet bandwidth is very important for a forum, but I don't know. Would a VPS world as opposed to a dedicated server suffice? Could a VPS suffice if the given website is not that big? And if not, what is best to look for when going over dedicated servers? Is the location of the server from the destination audience's area/country/continent that important or is a 1Gb connection for example enough?
 

WSWD

Well-known member
Bandwidth is almost never the issue, nor is it very important, unless your forum is sharing a lot of files, images, etc.

RAM is usually the limitation when it comes to any website, not just forums. Disk I/O is very important as well, which is why most people these days go with SSD drives.

A VPS could most definitely suffice, depending on how big your forum is. Unless you run a very large forum, you will most likely not need a dedicated server.

Is the location of the server from the destination audience's area/country/continent that important or is a 1Gb connection for example enough?
I'd say 99% of the forums in existence will not use more than 10mbps over a month. But since most servers are 1+ Gbps these days anyway, you're going to get that speed regardless. But I assure you, there is no way running a forum that you are ever going to saturate that port, or anything close.

A lot of people are going to disagree with me over server location. Generally speaking, yes, you should always try to locate your server where the majority of your target audience is, if you aren't going to use a CDN or CloudFlare or such. This is especially true if you have a lot of images or large file downloads.

That said, I live just outside of Los Angeles, about 70 miles or so. The trip to my datacenter in Los Angeles is about 20ms. The trip to the datacenter I use in Johannesburg, South Africa is about 225ms, so a 205ms difference. The purists will sit here all day long and tell you how horrible that is, and they'll spend tons of money on CDNs and such to shave a few milliseconds off of the times. 205ms? That's about the average blink of an eye. Sure, it's going to be a little slower, but is it going to be that much slower? Not really.
 

MySiteGuy

Formerly ftsservice
The 205ms extra time shouldn't make a difference except maybe on some cellular connections which already tend to have higher round trip times. If the server is using HTTP/2, then it generally won't make a difference even on cellular connections if the phone's browser supports HTTP/2.
 

Kintaro

Well-known member
I personally would like to know what is best for a forum based website when it comes to hardware, specifically for xenforo.

I thought about it, and it seems that internet bandwidth is very important for a forum, but I don't know. Would a VPS world as opposed to a dedicated server suffice? Could a VPS suffice if the given website is not that big? And if not, what is best to look for when going over dedicated servers? Is the location of the server from the destination audience's area/country/continent that important or is a 1Gb connection for example enough?
how many posts?
how many concurrent users?
how many daily visitors?
how many uploaded media?
how many...
 

jeffatrackaid

New member
There's no easy way to answer this without the input that Kintaro asked for -- and even then server setups vary so much that it is difficult to make recommendations.

My recommendation is that you make sure you can easily scale-up/down as needed. The ability to scale resources varies considerably between providers. In some cases, full migrations are needed while in others a quick reboot is needed. Make sure you can scale and then you can worry less about the size of the system. Disk IO is very important for databases, so look for SSD or similarly powered systems.

There is no reason a VPS or Cloud hosting solution cannot run a fast forum -- even a large one -- provided you set it up correctly.

I would avoid budget VPS services that run on RAID systems using SATA. In my experience, most companies using that approach are doing so to get high density and performance is not reliable.
 

Overscan

Member
I recommend you use nginx rather than Apache as the memory footprint is much smaller - I changed over and it was very easy. Writing rewrite rules for my old SMF links proved simple in nginx. If you need enhanced search you'll need to budget 768mb or more for Elasticsearch alone.

I'm building my migrated SMF - Xenforo forum on a DigitalOcean VPS ("droplet"). They have easy upgrade /downgrade on memory/cpu with a short amount of downtime, so I'm doing my migration testing with a relatively low spec droplet, saving money, and then can upgrade if it proves necessary after I go live. All my forum data is on a separate block storage device, which has higher data reliability than the droplet storage itself. My Droplet was configured using Ansible, so if I ever lose the droplet, I can spin up a new one, autoconfigure it with Ansible, and then mount my storage to it. If I want to upgrade OS major version, I build a new droplet with the new OS, configure with Ansible, detach the block storage from the old droplet, then attach it to the new droplet.

Seems to work for me so far.
 
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