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I'm going to be the first to admit that I'm not a server admin. :) My expertise lies in software development. Having said that, I have a cloud server instance that operates as a web server and one for database. My web server is only configured at 2GB of RAM and 80GB of storage and is getting close to its operational limits.

Stepping up to 4GB RAM / 160GB storage is about double the cost. It would be the same cost for me to get another 2GB / 80 GB server instance.

So, which is better? Getting another server and load balancing the two, or just throwing more memory/storage at the current server? Are there any technical reasons to support one versus the other?

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Can you clarify what you mean by "getting close to its operational limits"? Do you mean it's showing performance problems? Or do you just mean it's using the resources it's been given? –  David Schwartz Jan 17 '12 at 5:41
    
It's starting to get close to low hard drive space (users can upload images and there are quite a few) and the memory used is consistently hovering around 85%, a lot of it being consumed by various w3wp.exe processes. –  Scott Jan 17 '12 at 16:58
    
As an aside, I only make use of session state for a couple of non-critical functions that could easily be changed to support a load balanced scenario. –  Scott Jan 17 '12 at 17:01
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If your application is not designed to properly support multiple web servers in a farm, and maintain session state across the servers between requests, it may be simpler to amp up the existing server. Wether or not the application needs to maintain state or the complexity is dependent on the application. If availability is important, multiple servers would be a better option.

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My web server is only configured at 2GB of RAM and 80GB of storage and is getting close to its operational limits.

My phone has more.

Have ou ever considereed that putting a load balancer in front of toy level configurations is just not going to result in a sensible gain? I would not put a load balancer in front of anything that is smaller than a larger desktop computer, which goes these days to (attention) 8 full cores and 16gb to 32gb memory.

I have a cloud server instance that operates as a web server and one for database

Yeah. Those extremely low end virtual images are so nicely scaling without actually paying.

Let's get that straight - a load balancer has overhead. So, what you get is two servers with some problems (application must handle it etc.) minus the overhead for the load balancer while you can simply scale up into a non-toy area.

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Thanks for your opinions, however as Greg mentioned, high availability is a key factor in whether to load balance or not. I appreciate that this server may be less than what YOU are used to dealing with but it's worked well so far and I don't have any need to throw 16-32GB of memory, nor the resources to pay for that level of server from my provider, so it makes more sense to keep lower memory/hard drive space with a load balancer if HA is a concern. I see no reason why a web server would even NEED 32gb of memory. –  Scott Jan 17 '12 at 16:56
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