WordPress Hosting for High Traffic Sites

Wordpress Hosting for High Traffic Sites
WordPress is a good choice of platform to host a high-traffic website or blog because it was designed to be able to handle large amounts of traffic from the start. However, you will need to make sure your web server, caching system, and file sizes are actually able to handle high traffic volume. WordPress can handle only as much traffic as can be supported by the hardware it runs on and the two main obstacles to handling large volumes of traffic are processor limitations and network limitations. The processor limitations show up when a website’s traffic puts high demands on a server’s processor power and memory resources. The WordPress application depends on MySQL to store data for producing output and each request that WordPress makes to MySQL for data creates additional loads on the server. Although WordPress is optimized to reduce the number of different actions required to perform its functions, the plug-ins or themes you use in the WordPress installation can also affect in the reliance on MySQL.

When traffic to a site is extremely high, the number of simultaneous connections to the database put a big load on the server and some connections may not go through and will result in the “connection timed out” display on a visitor’s browser. Because WordPress is a web-server-neutral application, it can run on several different platforms, including Apache and Linux, but any server that fully supports PHP and MySQL can get the job done. As PHP interprets the WordPress code, it can also affect your server’s performance when it creates a new version of the PHP program for every PHP file that a visitor requests. This means you need to be aware of the demands traffic puts on your server. Network limitations become a factor when a server’s connection to the Internet is too slow to serve up the pages you want as fast as you like. Because your server’s network provider connects to their internal network with an Ethernet adapter at a specific designated speed (usually 10Mb/s, 100Mb/s, or 1Gb/s) the server cannot transferring files any faster than that speed. Actually, a server cannot really even transfer files at the maximum rate specified by the adapter because the server is constantly sending and receiving routing information and only part of the full bandwidth is actually available for transferring files.   Because your network provider has limited bandwidth that must be shared, your network provider’s capabilities will limit transfer speeds more than the server’s network adapter.

Some network providers also offer the ability to handle bursts of data that can temporarily exceed pre-set transfer speed limits in instances when demand is the highest. The bandwidth of a connection is important to high-traffic sites because if just one dozen people hit a site at the same time, and that rate is sustained over time, a site would need at least a 15Mb/s connection to keep up. The bandwidth of the connection is important to any high-traffic website because an adapter with a maximum speed of just 10Mb/s could be overwhelmed by just one dozen sustained visitors.   You don’t have to receive 100,000 hits a day to cause problems either.  If your visitors concentrate access to a particular time of day or automated spam tries to access your system multiple times, it could result in many dropped requests. A 100Mb/s connection could handle very high rates of simultaneous traffic, but most network providers won’t offer that level of speed without extra fees, and most current shared hosting plans like WordPress don’t offer it at all. Most hosting services provide a fixed amount of overall transfer and if your account goes over the limit, you will get charged for the extra data transferred. The general rule is that the higher the transfer limit is, the more your hosting plan will cost. There are hosting services that do offer unlimited data transfer plans, but they will obviously cost a lot more, although maybe not as much as paying for transfer overages on a high-traffic site.

One way to optimize the performance of your high traffic website and avoid extra transfer charges is to use a Content Delivery Network in conjunction with your site that will help you avoid expensive overages and the bandwidth limitations imposed by some of the more popular hosting providers. In the end, your server is only as capable as your network provider is, and if your provider cannot provide the bandwidth you need, you have two options. You can try to negotiate a better price for increased bandwidth, or you can simply find a different provider that does provide the resources your high traffic site requires.

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