Handling 18.5 Janets of Web Traffic

The Drudge Retort was hammered yesterday, serving 10 gigabytes of traffic as thousands of people looked for exit polls and early election returns.

The unit of measurement for traffic here is Janet Jackson's right breast, the exposure of which maxed out the shared SDSL connection on my old server. For seventeen straight hours, it served 144 kilobytes per second of traffic (1 Janet) to people on a fruitless search for celebrity mammary.

Since that time, I have moved to dedicated server hosting with ServerMatrix. Yesterday between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. EST, traffic hit a high of 2.61 megabytes per second.

That's 18.5 Janets, so by that metric the move to ServerMatrix has been successful, especially at the $59 monthly rate I'm paying (plus a $299 setup fee). I could serve 10 gigabytes a day in traffic for the rest of the month without running excess bandwidth charges, which begin at 1,200 gigabytes.

However, the software running my sites failed to handle the traffic. Users compared the performance of my hand-coded MySQL/PHP software to a 14.4K AOL dialup line circa 1997, and I spent the afternoon turning off template rendering in Movable Type 3.11 to keep the Drudge Retort online. The only software that could handle all those Janets without breaking down or dropping to glacial speed was Apache 2.0.46.

Clearly, I'm not being smart about caching dynamic database content so that most Web requests can be served statically by Apache. I'm going to work towards this goal in my LAMP software, Movable Type, and Manila.

I don't want to be caught unprepared on Nov. 4, 2008, when Howard Stern runs against Pat Robertson.


I've used Servermatrix before to host PC games that use large amounts of bandwidth. They have the best ping times and use the most stable systems I've ever seen.

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