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Reliable hosting for BuddyPress installations?

  • Susan Braiden


    I have been a DreamHost customer for years, and generally a happy one. Back in April I upgraded to their DreamPress service, paying significantly more money each month in order to properly manage my self-hosted WordPress/BuddyPress web site. (I am always running with the most up-to-date version of both WordPress and BuddyPress/Commons-in-a-Box).

    This has been completely in vain, as DreamPress gets it’s speed from Varnish, a front end cache that sits between your server and your visitors, and like pretty much every cache tool in the universe, if you’re a logged in user, you don’t get a cached page. Since forums and membership driven sites pretty much live by having users be logged in, you’re never going to get the same level of speed as other sites will on DreamPress.

    This is actually a gross understatement. From the moment I did testing with only 1 member, it’s been abysmal. The response time on ANY page/link can range from 10-20 seconds, even with virtually all of the plug-ins disabled.

    I’ve asked at DreamHost’s own support forums if there is ANY service they offer on which a BuddyPress installation of WordPress works (do I need to look at VPS? a dedicated server? someone other than DreamHost?) but to no avail. I have never received a reply on this, so it appears to be time to spend my money elsewhere.

    There seem to be a lot of people that DO make BuddyPress work, and scalable. For those of you who are doing this successfully, where are you hosting your installation?

    I would be very grateful for any advice folks might be able to offer so I can determine next steps.

    Many thanks,

Viewing 6 replies - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)

  • Henry Wright


    Hi @sbraiden

    The response time on ANY page/link can range from 10-20 seconds, even with virtually all of the plug-ins disabled.

    A standard WordPress-BuddyPress install, running on the most basic hardware with little web traffic would respond far quicker than this so there is definitely a problem. Sometimes (although not always) the problem can be elsewhere (not your host). I’ve seen some badly-written themes cause page load times to lag and the same goes for certain plugins. I think the first step for you to take (before you go through the upheaval of changing hosting company) is to determine the exact cause of the problem. If you’re definitely sure it’s the host, then definitely make the switch. From a personal point of view, I’ve had problems with 1&1 in the past so switched host and have never been happier.

    Susan Braiden


    Hi, Henry. Thanks a bunch for your response. I’ve been trying to work through this for several months, and the lead developer on my ISP’s DreamPress installation has said straight up that BuddyPress does NOT work on DreamPress for the reasons I mentioned in my initial post. The Varnish caching is not meant to support a membership site.

    (And I have had the same experience you had with 1&1. I left them for DreamHost years ago and am really glad I did. That’s what makes this currently hitch kind of sad. DreamHost has generally been really good with support.)

    Thanks again, and best wishes!

    Susan Braiden


    By the way, I’m using the Commons-in-a-Box default Infinity theme, so this shouldn’t be a case of a badly written theme. I’ve tried to stick with the recommendations out of the box to get things stable.

    Thanks again,

    Henry Wright


    I may be wrong but I think there’s two separate issues here.

    1. Response time is slow which results in pages taking 10 – 20 seconds to load.

    Why exactly are response times slow? Which resources are bogging things down? You mention that Varnish caching doesn’t work on a membership site but what is causing your site to be slow to begin with?

    2. Users don’t benefit from the Varnish acceleration if they’re logged in.

    To the best of my knowledge, you can cache content for logged-in users when using Varnish. I’ve never tried to, and am no expert when it comes to using Varnish, but take a look at this article

    I’m aware you don’t want to cache stuff like the activity feed but perhaps you could cache content selectively.

    Dave Lozier


    @sbraiden – I recently helped migrate a site off of wpengine because of performance issues and the price wpengine wanted for more horse power under the hood. Their next level of service was going to cost $3200 a month. I suggested and was also amused by the fact that wpengine runs on top of linode.

    The page generation times for wordpress/buddypress/bbpress along with various plugins (gravity forms, buddypress xprofile custom fields type, gravity forms upload rules, gravity forms wysiwyg, gd bbpress toolbox, cloudflare…) was not good. It is still not where we want it either, unfortunately.

    The site is quite active, pushing 30,000 members and over 1.3+ million rows in the posts table. On average the page generation times are about 1.5 seconds for logged in users. Adding a new bbpress topic/reply can time out sometimes though. (still on the list to track down and fix)

    We utilize Cloudflare out front for a CDN and their threat/spam protection. Their service is free but if you need more page rules to balance out caching the pro service level is $20 a month.

    On linode we have a node balancer in front of two 4 core app server nodes. The app server nodes each connect directly to their own 8 core database nodes in a master master setup. This will be changing down the road once the database indexes are trimmed down with some denormalization. The cost for the node balancer, two 4 core and two 8 core nodes is $260 a month but that’s also allowing for some room to grow, capacity wise.

    Server software is a combination of nginx, apache (threaded), php-fpm, glusterfs (upload directory only), memcache, zend opcode cache and mariadb. Nginx is the web server in front of apache which serves up static files from the glusterfs file system. Nginx is caching the static content being served up by apache along with full page caching (fastcgi) for anonymous visitors. Cloud flare is also caching the static content and to date we aren’t having any performance issues with IO and glusterfs.

    I hope this helps. It can be done but it takes some effort (and money) to do so.



    @sbraiden – I had similar 24 second page load times, and tried to get advice for enqueing, dergistering, and compacting the multiple and overlapping java and css all these plugins attached to buddypress are mixing in on top of the themes stuff.

    Y Slow gives my BP site with basic plugins an “F” – WP professionals shrug it off – meh.

    (more one all that here: )

    I have a sneaky suspicion however that my load times were an issue for me when logged in, and perhaps being logged in as an admin, I THINK that the (stupid) wpmudev dashboard plugin was slowing down my page load speed dramatically more than anything else. It was strange that after I complained of my long page loads, that 2 days later wpmudev had an update for their dashboard thing, and then my page load time went to like 3 seconds. – Coincidence, maybe, nothing definitive. – Everyone else said the pages loaded fine – so maybe it was just an admin thing – or maybe my ghostery blocking gravatar loads or something.

    ANYHOW – in regards to hosting, I have a small buddypress site running fine on a shared server with amerinoc. I have one that is fairly busy running fine on a dedicated server at certified hosting.

    I personally think that most important thing for a WP based site to perform well is blocking all the bad bots.

    I have found that blocking all the naver and badu spiders (And most others) with a robots/txt file has decreased the sql over load (at peak times) on my servers by more than 80%.

    I found that hosting a few wp sites on a shared server or dedicated could cause problems not just with spiders crawling pages too much too fast for indexing, but also all the attempting account creations / account brute force logins – even if they are blocked with something like sucuri or limit login attempts – every time they tried to login – they were using up server resources to load the login page, then hit the database to check credentials.

    I also suggest using a pwd auth like explained here:

    locking down the login with a double thing like that is fine for most WP installs, and a private family / friends BP site should be fine – when the bots can’t login through the first thing there is no need for wordpress to load a bunch of php / css files and pull from SQL a bunch of times just to give a bot a failed login – It becomes a problem for general open to the public buddypress comms I guess.

    Now I set all my non-BP sites to use the double auth, I block all search engine bots aside from the top three selectively with robots.txt – and now just about any server can run fine with wp / bp – especially if some attention is paid to plugin overhead, wp-cacheing tools.

    I have my fingers crossed the new bp-mediapress (sp? and Beta!) plugin thing will decrease the plugin overhead of rtmedia and offer a better alternative for pics and stuff.

    Same random thoughts – I’m not an expert so take my 2 cents with a grain of salt or two..

Viewing 6 replies - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
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