December 30, 2014

Four Ways to Improve CPU Usage in a Shared Web Hosting Environment


Hostway Team

yellowplugsMany companies utilize a shared Web hosting plan to better offset costs and balance server capacity, especially if they don’t need a full server or lack the technological prowess to operate or maintain one independently.

What is shared hosting?

Shared hosting simply means that your website is being housed on one large server along with many other websites; each site is separated from one another but draws on the same system resources. A good example of this is WordPress, a blogging and publishing tool in which users can create their own websites and house them on the central WordPress server. In this way, even the least tech-savvy person can create as many different domains as he or she likes and get to blogging in a matter of minutes using a shared Web hosting plan.

While we’ve mentioned some of the benefits of using a shared Web hosting plan, there can also be challenges—specifically, central processing unit (CPU) usage.

So, what is the CPU?

The CPU essentially represents the brains of the computer that is the host server; it handles all of your pertinent information and executes your programs. So, in a shared Web hosting environment, multiple servers are usually housed on multiple CPUs, which can complicate things compared to housing on a single CPU.

When multiple requests are made of the CPU simultaneously, the hardware can get overloaded. The requests will be queued and handled in turn, and each request will receive a fraction of a second processing time before the next request is handled. By queuing them in this manner, each request can be handled more quickly; however, depending on certain things such as the size of the request or how much Web traffic is occurring, processing time can slow down, which can degrade performance.

Four Ways to Improve Your CPU

No matter the cause, when you’re sharing your Web server with a number of other sites, if one user’s request is especially heavy it can cause a domino effect. This forces the entire group of users under that shared plan to suffer a loss in performance.

Your managed hosting provider may tackle this issue in one of four ways:

  1. Wait for the issue to arise before taking action: Some Web hosts may load websites onto the servers and wait for the issue to arise before taking action. In this case, you may receive an email from your hosting company informing you that your site is drawing on too much CPU power.
  2. Employ CPU throttling: This method monitors CPU usage across sites and limits the processing power each site can access. By preventing one site from monopolizing the processor, others on the server are protected from service degradation. In this case, only the “offending” site will suffer a loss of performance.
  3. Allocate CPU processing across each site uniformly: Some Web hosts will aggregate each site being run on the server and allocate CPU processing and memory limits across them equally. This method may prevent one site from impacting another but it is considered a quick fix as it doesn’t offer the flexibility to handle peak periods as easily without a loss of performance.
  4. Migrate to cloud computing: This allows a Web host to connect to multiple servers so that CPU capacity can be dynamically shared between those servers. Therefore, if a server is undergoing a spike in demand, its resources can be bolstered by the resources of an underutilized server. This leads to more stable performance across the board as loads are evened out between processors.

Not sure where to start seeking a reliable Web host? Click here to read the six things to look for when shopping for one.

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