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Hi, I will be soon on webfaction with one or more hosting plans because, as I can see from my personal investigation, they provide (other than competitive prices):

  1. great technical features and options
  2. great and friendly support and documentation
  3. great transparency on what they do and offer

Especially the third point is in my opinion what makes the real difference, because I have never seen a hosting provider giving so many and clear details on what happens behind the scenes, about downtimes and maintenance or migrations, proving clearly they have nothing to hide. And this is very much appreciated.

Just one curiosity remains, stirred by their statement "We put fewer people on each server than most hosting providers and as a result our servers tend to be faster and more stable": how many users are per server? I understand that a fix and unique response cannot be given, because there are many factors to consider as server capacity (processor, ram, disks) and best load balancing practices (power users, heavy intensive websites and applications). But at least a range between minimum and maximum could be given, since they put it on the first point of the Why WebFaction page.

On the web I have found a blog owner stating that he is on a WebFaction machine together with other 177 users, while his previous plan on DreamHost was shared with other 874 users (see full post here). If his method is correct, it would be enough to count rows in the password file to check how many users are on the same machine.

Or we can do some simple calculation based on RAM assigned to each user (256 MB). CentOS server without PAE kernel package can handle only up to 4 GB of RAM, but I guess they have it installed, so their servers can handle up to 64 GB of RAM. If they do a plain division (without overlapping memory usage among users) and if they do not swap main memory to the disk, this would make a maximum of around 256 users per server (4user/GB). But this maximum will rarely be reached considering that not all server will have the maximum RAM installed and some users can upgrade to 512 MB of RAM or migrate to new server in order to improve performances.

So, my guess is that on each server are located not more that 200 users and WebFaction will start considering best loading balance (and when it is the right point to close it and move to a new server) when it reaches 100 users. Am I correct?

Thanks Roberto

asked 27 Feb '12, 07:44

robertotra
5721221
accept rate: 0%

edited 27 Feb '12, 07:47


Yes, you are correct, as our most populated server has less than 150 users, while most of our newer hardware have around 110 to 130 users.

We are taking account of the numbers of the existing users on a machine, as well as its specs and average cpu load, when a new customer sign-ups or when an existing one requests a migration.

We try to keep things balanced.

permanent link

answered 27 Feb '12, 09:08

iliasr ♦♦
2.1k14
accept rate: 36%

As a follow-up on this question,

(1) is the method described in the referenced blog post ('wc -l /etc/passwd') a realistic way of estimating the number of users on a server?

(2) if so, then have the numbers gone up significantly in the two years since this question was asked? Today for my account 'wc -l /etc/passwd' says 340.

Thanks

(23 May '14, 10:08) atherton

Keep in mind that each user account can create additional SSH/SFTP users, which is why you can expect to see a larger total on our machines counting password lines, etc. The numbers Ilias mentioned are fairly accurate averages. If you submit a ticket we can advise you on further details. Hope this helps!

(23 May '14, 10:27) NickR ♦♦
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question asked: 27 Feb '12, 07:44

question was seen: 5,672 times

last updated: 23 May '14, 10:27

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