Optimizing Rails Server Performance on Dreamhost

Lately, I have been working on some SEO for my Austin Real Estate site.  Slowly but surely my traffic has been increasing so I figured it was time for me to solve some long standing issues before my site gets too busy.  It is hosted on Dreamhost and has been pretty slow.  I built the site in Rails and it was my first production site built using Rails so I figured my ignorance with developing in Rails was causing the problem.  I did a lot of reading and optimized my code and environment as much as possible and it really didn’t seem to help much.

So I came to the conclusion that it was my host.  Dreamhost has been very open about how they feel about hosting Rails on a shared server.  DHH obviously disagrees.  But recently Dreamhost started offering a solution.  They now offer dedicated virtual hosting plans.  I decided to try it.  Mine was finally set up a couple of days ago.  Well my site immediately crashed.  Awesome.  My memory usage was constantly running too high.  I bumped up my memory allowance and the site became stable again and actually ran a bit faster.  However, I still wasn’t satisfied.  So then I tried setting up a Mongrel server which Dreamhost started offering along with the virtual servers.  I wasn’t too impressed.  So what was next?  Well Dreamhost also recently started offering Passenger as a Rails hostiing option.  I disabled the Mongrel and turned on Passenger.  The memory usage immediately dropped and the site had a noticeable speed increase.  I think I finally found my answer.  This was all a very unscientific series of tests by a complete novice sysadmin but I think the site is much better off.  Time will tell.

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