Daily Paul moves to a VPS

In Drupal, Grassroots Political Activism and the Ron Paul Campaign I mentioned the site Daily Paul. Michael Nystrom, who runs the site, was seeing serious performance problems as the site became more popular. This is Michael's first site with Drupal, but he had made all the right moves: using throttle.module, turning on caching and CSS optimization, and even upgrading to a faster hosting plan.

I contacted Michael and we began going through various scenarios. Was the slowdown consistent? No. Were ping times consistent? Yes. What about the MySQL configuration? And so on. It turns out that Michael's host (Dreamhost) did not have the query cache turned on in MySQL, and refused to turn it on. That meant that every query for every noncached page had to be tediously run by the database server. When the server got busy, Michael's site suffered, badly, though the server that ran Apache and PHP was idling.

Since I had recently gotten a VPS from Rimuhosting but had not set it up yet, we used it as a testbed for Michael's site. Last weekend we switched DNS and the new site began to pick up traffic. After paring down Apache, tweaking PHP, and tuning MySQL, the speed increase was clear. Last night Ron Paul participated in a debate in Florida which drew traffic to the site, up to 30-40 simultaneous users. Load average on the server was about 0.50. The two big wins were (1) having MySQL on the same server and (2) enabling query caching.

Last night I handed the VPS off to Michael with the help of the good folks at Rimuhosting. It's just a little VPS, but it sure made a big difference.

Note: of course, a VPS has a serious downside: it must be maintained.