12 Mar

2012

The new, lightning fast Semi dedicated servers

As you may already know, in SiteGround we’ve always been in pursuit of server tweaks, hacks and optimizations with one primary goal – deliver the fastest possible (and secure at the same time) website loading speed. We know how important it is for a website to load fast,  how frustrating it is having to wait for 15 seconds just to see a header banner image and then 10 more seconds to load the body of the website. And nowadays even search engines like Google take into account website loading speed when it comes to search results.

During the years our system operations team, the brilliant geeks who write all the beautiful system software for SiteGround, has written thousands of lines of code to help us optimize the security and speed of the hosted websites. We’ve revolutionized  how shared hosting industry works with the 1H Software, which by the way provides one of the fastest methods of running PHP nowadays. Since then, all our shared and semi-dedicated servers run and operate with 1H Software and many clients have praised us about the speed with which their websites are delivered.

Yet, we know we could do even more. So, our admin team started the year 2012 with one goal in mind – creating the fastest shared web hosting platform out there. And I think we’re almost there. Here’s in brief what’s cooking for you in our admin kitchen. I’ll be updating this as it goes on throughout the year, but the results I am about to share are already impressive…

Starting today, we will be migrating all SiteGround Semi Dedicated Servers to a new FAR MORE POWERFUL hardware. Apart from the much more powerful new 16 cores CPU upgrade (which by the way is 4 times more, since old CPUs have only 4 cores), RAM memory on new servers is increased from 4 to 16 gigabytes, which is 4 times more too. We have also put RAID 10 (the fastest RAID option) on our semi dedicated servers and chose very fast hard drives to be put into the RAID.

At this point of choosing the hardware, we ran some stress tests on the server to see how it performs. Results were impressive. This is how we tested: we installed a default WordPress script and tried to access it as many times as possible within 60 seconds with 20 concurrent connections. On a normal semi-dedicated server this test resulted in something like 2000 requests being serviced for 60 seconds. On our new server hardware setup with heavily tuned software setup and kernel,  the result was dramatically better – nearly 4000 requests came through for the same time, which means we almost doubled the loading speed of a simple WordPress site.

Although the results were more than pleasing, I wanted more. I’m known for not being easily pleased and I knew more performance could be extracted out of the hardware.  After a bit of wondering what to do, we found the right answer – we’d put the MySQL databases onto an SSD drive. I’m guessing most of you know what SSD is, but for those who don’t – it’s a remarkable piece of technology for producing flash based hard drives. So basically an SSD is a Hard Drive, but without the moving parts and tens of times faster.

So we put an SSD drive to the server, put all the files of the WordPress install onto the RAID10 array, and put the MySQL database onto the SSD drive. Then we repeated our test. And the result was.. WOW. We almost hit 7000 requests in 60 seconds. This is nearly 4 times faster than our previous semi-dedicated setup.  And to be honest with you, our previous setup was lightning fast too. We’ve taken the time to evaluate how other hosting companies perform on a test like that one and the result was rarely above 1000 requests being serviced in 60 seconds. Some did reach 1400, but most went around 500 or so.

So we’ve tested that hardware config for a bit over a month, to see if it’s worth it when it comes to reliability and we are starting to roll it out publicly. And when we’re finished with that, we will start adding some great features to it, like MEMCACHE, eAccelerator, CDN and even more. But I won’t spoil the surprise for you :)

Here you can try out our new Semi Dedicated hosting offer!

Best,

Tenko
The SiteGround Mastermind

Author: Tenko Nikolov

The SiteGround Mastermind

For the last few years Tenko Nikolov has been one of the masterminds behind the success of SiteGround. He has come up with multiple successful strategies for overcoming technical problems and has achieved real business results for SiteGround. His vision and skills have made SiteGround a leading host in terms of technology and platform reliability.

Comments (16):

  1. Oseni Adewale Paul says:

    Yhayyyyy.Things just keeps getting better with siteground. You guys sure deserve an award cus with you, your customers comes first which is quite awesome.As usual, am stuck on u guys

  2. Samuel says:

    I’m really glad to see you guys working really hard, scaling the resources on your end, so that we can handle more traffic without even paying an extra penny. Thank you Tenko! Thank you Team SG. I’m looking forward to your post where you’ll reveal the optimizations made to shared hosting.

  3. Greg says:

    How does this new service compare to your VPS offering in terms of price, performance and support? Got any URLs of sites running on the new service yet so we can Pingdom them?

    • Hristo says:

      Currently, the Semi-dedicated solution is the one service we have built with speed as its most important characteristics. Thus a default Semi-dedicated account is faster than a default account on a VPS server. Our Semi-dedicated servers utilize the fastest SSD hard disks we have and more RAM memory than the VPS ones. On the other hand our VPS servers allow much more customizations and installation of additional services like Memcache and Varnish that can turn the tables in favor of the VPS server.

      Whether you will chose our super fast Semi-dedicated solution or a VPS server depends on your particular preferences and needs. If you prefer to have more customization options and resources reserved only for you, the VPS account is better. On the other hand if you need a more standard configuration and great speed – the Semi-dedicated solution is perfect for you. Note that both services come with free Advanced support which will guarantee that you will receive the best possible assistance from our Support team.

  4. Ludwig von Mises says:

    I am a happy SiteGround semi-dedicated customer. I have various Joomla! sites with heavy DB-intensive components. Everything works great and the support is wonderful. I was thinking of migrating to a dedicated server in another country (to have my sites close to my users) but now I will definitely think twice now.

    Keep it up.

    • Franklin Maletsky says:

      Just a piece of advise.

      Joomla will soon make your database big.

      Be careful not to exceed the database limitations that siteground has set. It is in the tiny print of your contract. They are very strict in its enforcement.

      It is not 20gb, 30gb, or 40gb. That is only for other files.

      Your database is allowed less than 10% the total alloted for your other files.

      FYI only.
      Good luck.

  5. Lisa Packard says:

    What is the cost for the Semi Dedicated hosting?

  6. Nikki says:

    Great! I love siteground and will try this new offer for sure! Thanks!

  7. Reico @ Affordable Website Design says:

    Yes, after a few rough years hosting with you guys, things are really turning around at SiteGround. I look forward to the server upgrades and faster load times. SiteGround rocks!

  8. Priatm @ Online Jobs says:

    This is the first time, I came across your site through Google. All my sites are either hosted on GoDaddy or Hostgator.
    What features can I expect from your company. What are the charges for VPS hosting?

    • Hristo says:

      Hello,

      You can get detailed information on our Cloud VPS hosting on this page. If you have more questions, feel free to contact our Sales and my colleagues will help you further.

  9. Franklin Maletsky says:

    My website is database driven. I saw the 20gb disc space advertising and was excited. My database at that time was less than 1gb

    Now it has been almost a year and my database exceeded the 1gb limit and siteground just shut me down.

    The 20gb does not refer to database. It is only for other files like images.

    So if you have a database driven site, this is not for you.

    • Hristo says:

      Hello Franklin,

      I am sorry for the inconvenience the big database has caused. Although our semi-dedicated servers have fewer sites hosted on them, their resources are still shared in nature and our administrators have to make sure that no accounts endanger the performance of the other websites. And a database of 2.7 GB and constantly growing can cause a serious performance risk.

      I have conducted a detailed investigation of your case. I believe that the reason your database has grown so disproportionate is probably due to the fact you use some kind of MediaWiki plugin to add information in the section “World News” to each one of your articles. I don’t have access to your admin panel but as far as I can see you get a number of news probably from different RSS feeds and add them at the bottom of ALL your articles. Each time a new piece is added to the World news to an article a new revision of the whole article is stored in the database. In your case all your articles seem to be stored at least once a day. Basically, you add to your database your entire site information over and over again every day. This is the reason why you have such an enormous database.

      I cannot tell more without having full access to your website but I am quite positive that this is the main reason for your issues. I would advise you, if this plugin is not mandatory for your site to remove it as well with the revisions it has generated. For more information on how to delete the unwanted revision from your history, check the article below. It has all the information you’ll need to bring your database size to normal proportions:

      http://kb.linuxvirtualserver.org/wiki/Purge_spam_revisions_from_mediawiki_database_permanently

  10. Dan says:

    This is great. I have to ask, why aren’t you overselling like most shared hosts? What about you as a company and your history has kept you off that path? I only know a few other hosts that have done the same thing.

    • Hristo says:

      Hi Dan,

      Thank you for your good words. We believe that one of the fundamental principles for each business that wants to be successful is to provide a service with a long term quality. Attracting the customers with a great offer is the first important step. Unfortunately, it tempts many providers to promise what they cannot deliver. Keeping the customer satisfied once you were chosen is a whole different story. We aim to always provide what we have promised.

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