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I am almost completed on my website, its similar to facebook. I am expecting to have perhaps 500-600 people my first month. It's a LAMP Setup. the users images aren't too big (<20kb after I compress them, and its just really blogs and member searches)

Looking for some advice:

1) Should I use my 2 Dell Poweredge servers one a Mysql server, and the other the Apache server (specs: dual pentium III 800mhz, 1gb ram, Raid 5 and 2 Network cards, 130gb space) and host my site from my house until I get enough traffic to justify $100/month on co-location hosting. (I have cable internet) (Free, but typical cable bandwidth 65ms ping, 3megabits down, 0.7 megabits up)

2) Use my VPS III account at 1 & 1 (quad core amd (faster than my piii's), etc.. 1gb ram, 4gb burstable, 50gb space, can handle the traffice if needed, and never down) $60.00/month

3) Get a dedicated server with similar specs to #2, though there would be about 100gb space. $300?month.

My budget is less than $80.00 a month until I have money coming in from it.

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We ended up using Amazon AWS - they have a free tier, which allowed us to run for free for an entire year. – Mike Curry Mar 21 '12 at 12:48
up vote 6 down vote accepted

when launching a service, it is often easier to start very small until you get a good understanding of the footprint and your bottlenecks. Not knowing exactly what your app is, I'd opt for #2, and then see where it goes.

If you keep tiering in mind while building your application, there shouldn't be any big problems here. If you use a standard OS and solid build documents (how to get your app going on a new system from start to finish), you can usually migrate to a new host with ease.

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do you have any articles for tiering with lamp? – Mike Curry Jun 3 '09 at 19:59
We ended up using Amazon AWS - they have a free tier, which allowed us to run for free for an entire year. – Mike Curry Mar 21 '12 at 12:48

If you have an $80 budget and VPS III costs $60, then that looks like the best deal.

When you get $500/month, get the dedicated server.

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Don't run it from your house. In as crowded a space as "Facebook competitor/clone" is, a slow website will result in near-instant death for your site. You can't afford to lose your early adopters to a downed cable modem or 3 kb/sec transfer speeds.

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Consider something like Amazon EC2 or RackSpace's cloud offering. They offer you near total control of you application environment and the ability to grow very quickly if you need it.

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Thanks Jim, I'll take a look at this also. – Mike Curry Jun 4 '09 at 22:03
I just opened a Mosso Cloud Server account (that's RackSpace) and it's pretty slick. You pay by the hour, they offer instantaneous provisioning of virtual machines running one of almost a dozen Linux distros, they've got what amounts to one-click backup -- both manual and scheduled -- and you can clone out a new server instantly from any backup. – Ben Dunlap Jun 19 '09 at 23:09

I will go with option 2 first and later option 3 if the site got very popular..

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Never host by yourself at home. I will select option 2 as the budget is only $80.

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This is not a total scaling solution nor a 'host it this way' answer but just some thoughts I have floating around my head.

I would also look at a few things to squeeze the most out of your hosting environment getting you the best bang for $$.

  • Replace apache with nginx or other light weight http server.
  • make sure you have your webserver (nginx/apache..) to directly serve static content(images/html) and not parse everything to php.
  • page level caching with squid or varnish or other reverse proxy in front of your app ^1

^1 This one will save you huge amounts of resources as it caches entire pages and requests are not all sent to heavy php/mysql

Some advice:

  • don't scale before you need to.
  • know the limits of your current solution
  • monitor your server ( munin, snmp/cacti etc ) to help plan to grow
  • Have a plan of attack when it comes to scaling.
    • current solution is at 75% start move to next solution
    • next solution is at 75% .....
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I find Joyent cloud offers quite affordable. With cloud hosting you get reliable infrastructure and platform for growth.

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