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My primary interest is in gathering information about the technology used behind public facing websites. Much of the information I read arbitrarily differentiates between high-traffic vs the unstated non-high-traffic websites. This troubles me because I don't have a good grasp of how much traffic is high-traffic.

Can anyone help me with this, is there a good rule of thumb?

Please don't tell me it depends ;)

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closed as not a real question by Shane Madden, Iain, Holocryptic, Chris S, jscott Jun 28 '11 at 16:19

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Well, it does depend... it depends on who's writing the document you're reading. You really have to ask them what they mean by high vs. "non-high" traffic. There is no technical definition of this term--and the meaning of the term is likely to change over time. – Flimzy Jun 28 '11 at 16:13
It would be extremely helpful if you gave a specific reason for closing the question. I find it arrogant. – Jack Jun 28 '11 at 17:00
I didn't vote to close your question, but the reason is given in the closed notice: "It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form." I think my comment above, and the three answers give plenty of other clues as well: Your question is essentially un-answerable. It's far too subjective, vague, and broad. I don't think it's arrogant at all. Perhaps you could re-ask, with a SPECIFIC question. – Flimzy Jun 28 '11 at 17:13
@Flimzy: My previous comment was not directed at you, but at those who closed it. I appreciate the comment you previously wrote. – Jack Jun 28 '11 at 17:35
up vote 6 down vote accepted

It Depends
No, seriously - there is no straight cut-and-dry answer for this question.

Constantly transferring multiple gigabytes every minute? That's high-traffic.

Constantly handling several million requests per second? That's high-traffic.

A perfume retailer's site that gets one request a day... except the week before Mother's Day and St. Valentine's Day? That's high-traffic, even if the average over the year is decidedly low-traffic.

The best definition I can give you is that "High Traffic" is the point at which:

  1. You start to worry about bandwidth limitations
  2. You start to worry about your infrastructure (hardware/software/network) keeping up with the load.
  3. You know that an outage will cause enough noise that it will be a problem (customers notice and complain)
    (this one is also the beginning of the definition for "Business Critical"…)
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@vorataq7: Thank you for answering, this helps. – Jack Jun 28 '11 at 17:05

Oh boy, somebody is using fancy words.

Your question has more buzz words then the actual context, and yes it depends what you are serving.

High traffic for a file hosting site might be measured in outgoing bandwidth, high traffic for a regular web site might be measured in requests/p seconds, etc.

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Seriously, I cannot find a single buzz word in my question. I'm convinced you're confusing two questions, mine and another. – Jack Jun 28 '11 at 17:02

Quantcast keeps track of the traffic received by a large fraction of the sites on the internet. The top 100 sites listing should give you a good ballpark estimate of the amount of traffic that these sites receive.

Note: in the interest of full disclosure, I work for Quantcast, but this particular resource is relevant to this question.

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Thank you, this helps. – Jack Jun 28 '11 at 17:06

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