Site Monitoring: Shared vs Dedicated Hosts
One thing about running servers is they’ll drive you insane with worry, unless you’ve set up a system to notify you if anything is amiss. I’ve been using the beta of site24x7 to monitor chartpart, and it’s a nice service. The service can check your site at 15 minute intervals. It can trigger an email to you on downtime, of course, but also when response time crosses certain thresholds, or content changes by a certain % (I’m not certain the last type is working correctly yet).
Here is an interesting chart I grabbed today from site24x7, showing response time of chartpart.com over the last week.
You can clearly see my switch a few days ago from a shared host (textdrive $12/mo) to a dedicated server (aplus $50/mo). The best case response time is similar, but the worst case on the shared host can be quite bad when other users of the same box are generating loads.
Another related change that happed at the same time: on the shared host I was running the rails app under lighttpd. In setting up the dedicated server, I switched to the hot new thang: apache mod_proxy_balancer + mongrel.
Shared hosts are great for prototyping a new site, but either a VPS/VM (with dedicated resources) or dedicated host is essential for production deployment.
The response time graph is now a thing of beauty, and I can sleep better knowing I’ll get alerted if it goes south on me. And I have nice graphs to quickly get a sense of historical performance, if anything changes.