Your probbably looking at a high end shared hosting/low end VPS package - maybe even a dedicated server depending on CPU requirements.
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I'm running exactly what you said as far as forums.
I have two forums; one phpbb (small forum) and one vBulletin (huge forum).
The phpbb forum has around 800 members but the vBulletin has around 25,000 members who upload/download images for free (thus my bandwidth hits around 800-900gigs per month). Up to any one time, the vBulletin can have around 140 users on at the same time.
The machine I have and which runs good most of the time is...
If you are running 1-3 forums (vBulletin, phpBB, etc) with approx 30-60 members on each forum logged on at one time.
they're not a big forum then. You will be fine with shared hosting accounts, dont need to go with VPS or dedicated servers. Just to check with your potential provider carefully. Dont go with overselling providers, that's very important
I would reccomend not going with a shared hosting plan. Almost every provider has a term within their acceptable use policy that states an account can use __ amount of the CPU. Most forums eat up a lot of CPU usage and the hosting provider will end up kicking you off.
that's why I suggest not go to overselling providers. Most of them limit very low CPU usage.
btw, 30 - 60 users online at the same time is not a big number. We have some customers running vBulletin forums with 400 - 500 members online all the times (day and night). They are still fine on shared environment, of course with good hardware
lolz... you are saying I lie? Remember 500 members online at the same time is not the same meaning with 500 requests at the same time. In fact, I have limited maximum mysql connections at 750 on dual cpu dual-core Opterons with 4GB RAM and RAID, it's never reached, and the serverload is around 0.8 - 1.5. it's good huh Get one, optimize it then you can see what I am saying
Sure, you should be able to do this on a shared server. But, it will depend on how full that shared server is, and how busy it is beside the forums. I would think that any reliable host, that does not overload thier servers, and manages them well, would have no issue with this.
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Thanks for the discussion. I really appreciate your input. What I'm worried about is not the load but the number of simultaneous database connections. I've been kicked off a few servers that had low limits. These are some limits at shared servers hosts I've been with:
Pair Networks: 25
gate2vn> I'm surprised you allow so many simultaneous connections on your shared servers. How well does that work? How many clients do you have on one server?
amagab: that's the total connections For each account, we have limited at 100. It's more than enough I believe. We can use that cause we use high-end servers, not Celeron, or P4. The numbers of customers on each server depends on how busy they are, cannot say exactly