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Needing to migrate to new server - what specs?


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I run a mid-large size UK-based forum which looks like it might need to move from its current dedicated server - a five year old 8-core i7 server with 16Gb RAM, 2x240Gb HDD - to something new within the next few weeks for reasons outside of our immediate control.  We're running 3.4 but about to update to 4.1.

The current set up has run smoothly for the last 3-4 years, but issues around getting physical access to update the OS to enable us to run 4.1 mean it may now be time to move on.  We have around 1000-1200 users active in any hour, usually 250-500 in any 15mins. There's a decent size database of 8m posts dating back to 2003.   And we serve around 1.5m topic views a month.

The current server was effectively gifted to us in 2010, which meant that - at the time - the priority was "will it work?" rather than really understanding the technical ins and outs of the spec we might actually need to manage the board going forward.  Its run pretty much without any glitches since then.  And tech support has been generally on a goodwill basis, enabling us to get by without ever having to get on top of what we were doing.

The challenge we have is knowing what we might need to buy or rent going forward.  The good news for us is that we have a large enough community to mean that we may now be in a position to pay for hosting.  The issue is knowing what we need to purchase/rent this time around.  Does anyone have any ideas around what we should be looking at in terms of scale/capacity?  

Cloud based offers look appealing financially, but I really have no idea what scale of product we need to rent and sales teams I've spoken too have usually been a bit vague about why I should choose the variety of offers they are pitching in the £150-200 a month space - is  8x Xeon Cores  8Gb  DDR3 RAM  160Gb  SSD RAID10 Storage  6000GB  Bandwidth  - in the right ballpark?  Or is it way too much/too little?

Dedicated server space looks scarily expensive - £500 a month for equivalent capacity to the VPS options.  But several sales guys have tried to push us in that direction, saying stuff like "you can't beat the power of raw metal", without really helping explain why this might or might not be a great idea for us.

Is anyone able to pitch in with their thoughts on the criteria we should be setting ourselves in terms of technical specs and pricing when we look at our options going forward?


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the best way to know what you need is to check how much you are currently using and go from there.

But tips that I am able to give you are the following:
-Going with a dedicated server is better than a VPS because VPS resources are shared.
-Go with SSDs instead of HDDs as it will increase speed alot
-Idk how big your site is so cannot really tell you how much space, best is to check how much you are currently using and add ~70GB free space for future
-I've found out that 8GB RAM is enough for most hosting but if you prefer you can go with 16GB, I just don't like to pay for something that I won't be using (again you should check how much you use atm)
-dedicated servers are more expensive because the resources a dedicated not like a VPS where the resources are shared as mentioned above

RAID, it really depends on your needs. I will be explaining RAID1 and RAID10, you should use one of them.
RAID1 works with 2SSDs/HDDs or more, where all drives have the same data, it is also called mirroring.
So if one of the drives fail, you have the other drives to automatically replace them without any downtime. With that being said, if you for example delete a very important directory by accident on one drive, it will be deleted on the others too so you should still take backups and a RAID array can also fail just like a single drive can.

RAID10 is a mix of RAID1 and RAID0, it needs 4drives:

"Merges" two drives to speed up things, not really good at explaining this one. But one thing worth noting is; if one of the drives fail, it will corrupt your data.

So RAID10 uses two RAID0 arrays and mirrors them. (I hope you understand)
More info; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAID

So, in short, RAID1 is for safety only and RAID10 is for safety and speed.

If you need further help/info, feel free to PM me here or at my site (signature). You can also add us on skype (name is on my site).

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