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Best specs for a Database Server?

Posted on 2013-01-25
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Last Modified: 2013-02-04
I'm planning on getting a new server dedicated to my database (no site files or PHP will be used on the server).  The database is very large, around 4 GB.  My site is primarily a forum and gets 50,000+ people a day.  So I need some advice on what kind of specs I should look for with a new server.

What operating system would be best?
How much RAM?
How much CPU?
Would RAID help?
What about an SSD hard drive?

I'll most likely be getting the server customized through hostgator.
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Question by:davideo7
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Expert Comment

by:Aaron Tomosky
ID: 38821459
I've always seen MySQL run best on Linux. If you want something ready to go and scalable I'd suggest rackspace cloud servers, but it will probably work best if its on the Same LAN as your other server so they need to stay together.
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johanntagle earned 334 total points
ID: 38821744
What operating system would be best?

Linux.

How much RAM?

Assuming your tables are innodb, it's ideal to be able cache all your tables and indexes in memory.  So go for 8GB (more than enough for DB plus system processes).

How much CPU?

I wouldn't worry so much on this one.  Most of the time if a web app is eating a lot of CPU, more CPU is not the solution, application and database tuning is.  To give you an idea, I manage a 120GB database of a very busy website - CPU utilization peaks at 10% of an 8-core machine (we got that machine more for a large memory support).

Would RAID help?
What about an SSD hard drive?

Yes and Yes.

Having said that, none of these will do you any good if you do not tune your database instance.  I always point people to the following links to get them started with this:

http://www.mysqlperformanceblog.com/2006/09/29/what-to-tune-in-mysql-server-after-installation/
http://blog.codesherpas.com/on_the_path/2011/03/tuning-mysql.html
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Author Comment

by:davideo7
ID: 38838731
aarontomosky: Could you give me a reason why Linux?

johanntagle: Could you also give me a reason why I should choose Linux over windows?

Also, I heard that SSD hard drives only have a certain number of writes and they die, wouldn't the database be affected by this?

Thanks for all the info so far.
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Assisted Solution

by:johanntagle
johanntagle earned 334 total points
ID: 38838831
It's free.

Many people who have compared the performance of MySQL on the two platforms didn't notice any real difference, though in some case while the response time was the same the linux server was utilizing less CPU vs it's windows counterpart that was running on hardware with same specs (see bottom comment at http://www.webmasterworld.com/forum112/24.htm)

Also see some Windows-specific MySQL limitations at http://dev.mysql.com/doc/refman/5.5/en/limits-windows.html

Also, I believe there are more malware that exploit Windows vulnerabilities vs Linux.

Again, Linux is free.... so why spend on windows if you are not going to gain anything?  Unless, of course Windows is what you are familiar with.  If you have never touched Linux before and you are not the adventurous type, then by all means choose Windows because you need to be productive.

Re SSD - of course is a drive dies, your database is affected.  But I very much doubt that statement regarding their lifespan otherwise they won't be so popular now.
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Assisted Solution

by:Aaron Tomosky
Aaron Tomosky earned 166 total points
ID: 38839850
All I said was that MySQL runs faster on Linux. I can't explain why as I don't know enough about that sort of low level thing.

Honestly unless you want to be patching and securing your own server, why not just get a rackspace cloud server with the ram you need? Those things have ridiculous connections and I've never had a load the storage couldn't handle
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