I'm kind of clueless when it comes to the hardware end of things. I have a dedicated server from rackspace that runs me about $200 a month.

I host about 15 sites or so (mostly brochure-ware/PHP stuff) and this setup has served me well for the last few years, but lately it's been bogged down a bit (recently started developing/hosting a few Ruby on Rails and Merb apps with a few more on the way).

Should this setup be acceptable by upgrading the RAM, or is it a relic that I should upgrade (if so, to what)?

Here's my current setup

  • FreeBSD
  • Transfer-Based-Bandwidth: 30GB
  • Hard Drive: 20 GB EIDE
  • Hard Drive: 80 GB EIDE
  • Memory: 512 MB DDR RAM
  • Processor: Single AMD Athlon XP 2000+ 1.67 GHz
  • two people want to close, but no one has commented. Closers: why do you want to close? – Jay Bazuzi Jan 1 '09 at 23:06
  • would be quite interested to know what was 'offensive' about my answer too. – frankodwyer Jan 2 '09 at 1:00

11 Answers 11


A five-year-old CPU and 512 MB of memory seems very old given how much you're paying.

I don't know how strenuous your workload is, but I would at least go for a 64-bit dual-core machine with 1 or 2 GB of memory. Current Ruby implementations are known to be slow, especially the canonical Matz's Ruby Implementation (MRI), so a fast CPU is a priority.

Also, as Eran Galperin says, replacing the hard drives should also be a priority as the ones you have are likely near failure.

You might be able to keep the OS and the data on the hard drive, but it might be worth buying a whole new system instead.

  • 1
    Yeah, it's expensive, but then again we're talking Rack$pace here. I'm moving a client from them to a ServerBeach machine and we're cutting their monthly by 60%+. Rack$pace is supposed to have this great customer service, but the few times I've had to deal with them my reaction was, 'Meh.' – Peter Rowell Jun 3 '09 at 23:10

My server is soooo old.


It's so old that I went to BestBuy and bought a desktop for $500 that's twice as fast.

  • …and 50 times as spacious. – Spoike Jan 1 '09 at 23:47
  • so what? a server don't need to be fast, it has to be solid. part of it is solid performance, which again, doesn't imply that it's fast. – Javier Jun 3 '09 at 22:33
  • 1
    +1 for making me laugh... – Aaron Jun 4 '09 at 10:21

For rails, Joyent have some nice deals and very fast virtual machines in a similar price range.

It's solaris, which is a bit of a pain for me (more familiar with linux), but it is very fast for rails.

  • abuse of the system - using an answer as a means to spam some advertising for Joyent. – gbjbaanb Jan 2 '09 at 12:59
  • 5
    rubbish. First, I don't work for Joyent (I am a customer). Second, the question clearly calls for spec vs price - difficult to answer without mentioning spec and price. Third, by that logic the answer up there with 4 votes is 'spam' for the planet. – frankodwyer Jan 2 '09 at 17:42
  • i have rolled back the edit which added the pricing and spec info because of the ludicrous 'offensive' votes. – frankodwyer Jan 6 '09 at 22:03
  • I believe the pricing and specs should be on topic with the question. And I don't feel that a referral link would necessarily be out of the question, if it's labeled as such. I don't know how the community feels though. – Joshua Nurczyk Jun 3 '09 at 21:19
  • I don't think there is anything wrong with recommending something you have had good experience with, including prices and links. Maybe we ought to put a disclaimer that we don't work for the company concerned when making a recommendation. – gareth_bowles Jun 3 '09 at 22:21

One thing with dedicated servers is that they start you out with crappy hardware... And then they let you for it for as long as it lives. That's how they maintain their profits.

Your box is about right for 2002.

I'm currently an iWeb customer for my vanity server... And 69$/month gets me "700GB of bandwidth" (if I can actually use that much with a 10Mb/s throttling) and better specs in all respects (only 1GB ram however).

Talk to your rackspace rep and get them to update you to something more like what they offer new customers. If they won't do that... Migrate elsewhere.

  • 700 gigabytes / 10 Mbps = 6.63703704 days – Fahad Sadah Oct 22 '10 at 16:28

I'd consider asking rackspace if you could get moved to a more recent server of equal price. I shouldn't think they're still selling servers of that low spec for that high price.


I'd call them on it. They've paid for that machine and the bandwidth and the support many times over considering how long you've been with them. Ask them for a new machine for free. You may be surprised.


This is not the fastest machine by today's standards, but you could hang with it a little longer with some simple upgrades.

Upgrading the RAM would be first priority, since it is one of the most limited resources in a shared environment (and you have very little). After that, getting a fast hard drive to replace your ancient 20GB one (and possibly also the 80GB HD, since it should be pretty old too) would offer you much better throughput and lower latency which is critical for IO intensive operations.

Quite likely the older hard-drives are near the end of their lifespan and are operating at much less then their optimal speeds (which wasn't too spectacular to begin with).

I believe with those two relatively cheap upgrades you can go on for another year or two if you're hosting only small sites.

I should mention though that I have a dedicated box on the planet with about triple the horse power that your machine has, and it costs only 180$ a month so consider your options.


You should definitely upgrade the Hard Drives, the problem is not so much storage space as speed and stability, as older Hard Drives are not only slower, but are more prone to failures, especially your 20GB one, which I assume is pretty old. Consider upgrading to SATA drives, for faster speeds.

The RAM is rather low, especially if you're starting to run newer technologies on it, consider upgrading to DDR2.

Most (at least all the commonly used) server apps now support dual core and 64-bit, consider upgrading your CPU.

However, since prices have dropped recently, it might be more economical to just recycle it and bring in a new (blazing-fast) server.


$200 for that? I don;t think you should upgrade - I think you should downgrade. Entry level servers are significantly cheaper than that, and yet have much more power.

But then you said Rackspace, and the cost becomes clear... have you tried asking them for a quote for their new entry-level servers? As long as its not too expensive, you can take that offer and move all your apps to it, upgrading the OS at the same time. You might have to pretend to be a new customer.

I've just loked at their website, and the 'worst' server they offer is a 1212 Opteron, 1Gb RAM and 250 SATA HDD.

  • even more now that slicehost is part of rackspace. they ofer far better bang/buck ratios. just less handholding, but after years of running it, you shouldn't need that. – Javier Jun 3 '09 at 22:35

I think the main point is not how old the server is but whether or not it does what you want. If it's starting to "bog down" then try and find out where and ensure you give yourself plenty of headroom in that direction when you do upgrade.


Sorry but that one deserves to go to the recycle bin. Help the economy and invest, say, $400 for something much better than that...

But seriously, your hardware may be reaching its useful life, mainly your disk drives. If you run a business with it, you should consider upgrading.

  • help the environment and buy it some more ram! – gbjbaanb Jan 2 '09 at 0:14

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