And so it was my first time getting into the frontpage of Yahoo, experiencing the sudden spike of traffic exceeding 60,000 users in 2 days. What a phenomenon. So much that I got a notice on my website looking like this :
I had mix reactions actually. Good in the sense of exposure, bad in the sense of forking out additional cash to buy extra bandwidth. I wasn’t really prepared for the wrath, but nevertheless it’s an eye opening experience.
Over the hours, I scoured the web for all the information I can find about preparing myself for the next StumbleUpon, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Google Plus effect. Some of the methods suggested seemed complicated but anyhow, all are useful. Anyways, here are 8 simple things that everyone should know about preparing for the next sudden increase of traffic due to social network sites.
- What’s The Host’s Reaction?
I for one, am a client of a shared hosting account. If you are like me, you don’t have much control of the situation when a spike occurs. When it happened to me, I thought that i could bring forward some of next month’s transfer limit. However, the only choice presented to me by my host was buying additional bandwidth which will only last until the end of the month. I bought it today 28th May, and will last only till 31st May.
I found out that some other hosts may even think that the spike is an attack of some sort. So it’s pretty important to find out the actions of your host. Cause once the server is down, none of the steps below will help.
- External Media Hosting
This includes images, videos and audios. All the media for all my websites are hosted externally. It helped me tremendously. I had over 60,000 visitors before I exceeded my bandwidth transfer quota of 10GB. It meant that the size of a page is about 166KB. If I had included the 8 screenshots, the total size of the page would’ve been over 500 KB, capable of serving 20,000 visitors, 3 times less, before exceeding bandwidth.
I host ALL my images in imageshack, videos in YouTube and audio files in imeem. All 3 are highly reliable media hosting sites in their respective categories. Thanks to them, I have lifted a huge burden on my server’s side by keeping page sizes as small as possible.
- WP-Cache 2
Super efficient caching plugin by Ricardo Galli. It improves pages of self hosted WordPress blogs by caching and storing them in static files, improving efficiency by skipping the process of compiling the entire PHP code and building the page from the database. Serve hundreds more for each passing second and improve performance from near a minute to millisecond. WP-Cache 2 is a huge improvement over its predecessor, WP-Cache.
- PHP Accelerators
The name says it all. As long as the application is written in PHP, you get to enjoy the performance boost. What it mainly does is
cache the compiled bytecode form of PHP scripts to avoid overheads on ALL page request of parsing and compiling source code that may never even get executed.
Depending on execution time and the percentage of source code executed, the PHP code will experience speed boosts of an average of 6X on a given request. Check out the list of PHP accelerators. The current general preferred accelerator is eAccelerator. However, you will need to ask your host about installing this. Your webhost may have already installed a PHP accelerator.
duggmirror and Mirrordot are the most famous mirrors for social networking sites like Digg and Slashdot. Both sites will mirror articles that hit the front page of both social bookmarks, keeping a copy in their servers in the event that the ‘dugg’ site goes down. For example, here’s my site’s ‘dugg’ article mirrored in duggmirror. Put the mirror link in the comments of Digg or MirrorDot, to redirect traffic in the event the site fails.
- Switch Off Plugins
Know that plugins are also files that are called by your themes to generate queries to the database to yield the information on your blog. The more plugins, the more queries to the database. Sudden increase in web traffic will last mostly around 2-3 days. Choose a few from among the list of plugins that you can live without for a few days. Once you realize an incoming surge of traffic, quickly turn a few off temporarily.
- Optimizing Apache Server
This article lists 5 steps that you can take to configure Apache for maximum performance.
- Upgrade Hosting
If frustrations still appear after executing the above steps successfully, then it’s time to move up. Take everything a step at a time. If you’re on :
- Shared hosting, try upgrading to Virtual Dedicated Hosting.
- Virtual Dedicated Hosting, try upgrading to Dedicated Hosting.
- Dedicated Hosting, try upgrading to a higher-powered dedicated server.
- High-Powered Dedicated Hosting, go for multiple Load Balanced Servers.
If it is a bandwidth transfer problem, try negotiating for an increase. If not, move over to a different provider that can feed your traffic bandwidth requirements.