Disk space and Parallel Processing Units

In the context of the changes to the web hosting service packages coming in April, two figures will strike the more observant user, indicating an increase in resources. While disk space may seem familiar to the not IT-savvy, the number of Parallel Processing Units may not. Let’s take a closer look at both.

First of all let’s be clear that neither directly answers the question “How many visitors can I have on my site?” or “Can I put an e-shop on my server?”. In fact, there is no direct answer to these questions, but we will try to provide a little bit of a gut feeling with this blog post to help the user get a better understanding of these questions.

When choosing a web hosting service for your new portal, website or e-shop, the above questions will certainly be relevant. However, if the choice has already been made and the existing web traffic is increasing and the user needs more resources, then in most cases the resources and volumes will already be increased to match the number of customers.

But how do you take the first step, or where do you start?

Disk space

In a nutshell, disk space describes how much data your web hosting service can hold/can store.

Focusing on the matter in more detail, we can see that it covers several parts

– Files (the same files you have on your web server)
– Databases (MySQL data and indexes)
– Email (emails and attachments in your mailbox)
– Backups

Technically, there are different ways of placing data in web hosting. There is even a common model where emails, databases, backups and files are all located on the same web server, which means that if you do not update your version of the content management application, or use a broken plugin, the content of your emails (or those of your company’s employees) will be automatically accessed, or worse, even their backups.

At Zone, the rule of thumb so far has been that all data must be isolated!

Files are stored on a web server.
Databases are on a separate database server.
– The contents of email inboxes reside in a separate email cluster.
Backups not only reside on a separate server, but also in a separate data centre, which ensures, for example, that data can be restored if the data centre should burn down.

When analysing the question “how much space does something take?” one might think that everything is obvious. However, a more technical user might immediately ask further questions: how is the backup capacity calculated if backups are made on a daily basis and kept for two weeks.

For example, does a 10GB file on a web server mean a total backup of 140GB? The simple answer to this question is of course “no”, because backups are made incrementally, which means that if the file has not changed in the meantime, it will only take up as much space as the file itself takes up on the web server.

However, the situation becomes more complicated if there has been a change in the file, meaning that it is no longer the same file and the backup will therefore be a full copy of the changed file. In general, such situations do not occur very often, but large log files should definitely be noted as problematic areas. If the size of a log file can be counted in gigabytes and a little bit is written to it every day, it will be counted as a new file and can quickly eat up the remaining disk space. In such situation, you should critically review your web application and configure the log files to rotate.

For more common frameworks such as laravel and symfony, a simple configuration of the application is sufficient. The web server and PHP logs generated by Zone are already automatically rotated.

Unlike files, databases are backed up as full dumps, which prevents a situation where the file system is corrupted and the database can no longer be read as a result. This means that a 100MB database will take up 1400MB in a 14 day backup. However, since web server databases are not designed to hold huge amounts of data, in this case this should not be a problem.

Zone Helpdesk is more than happy to help you identify large unnecessary files in order to reduce disk space.

Parallel Processing Units

In short, a Parallel Processing Unit indicates the number of requests that can be made to your web server at the same time.

As a metaphor, a good example is public transport, where 50 people can fit on a bus. Once one person has been picked up, the next one gets on board. So only 50 passengers can be served at a time. How many people are carried in one ’round trip’ depends on how many bus stops a passenger passes, and therefore it is not possible to say exactly that a bus will carry 50 people in one round trip.

To be more specific, parallel processing units include all the requests that are made from your website visitor’s browser to the web server. For example, the 250 in the first plan says that 250 requests can occur at the same time. All requests go under this heading. The primary request is for the web page, followed by requests for style files, images and javascript files.

For a more technical description, let’s take the example of a web with twenty images, two CSS style files and two files on the front page. This means that a visitor will make 1+20+2+2=25 requests to the web server at the same time. The front page of the web can therefore be loaded simultaneously by 10 clients for 250 parallel units of work.

“But does this mean that 10 customers can visit my website?”, you ask. Again, the answer is “no”.

If the web page code is fast, the images are optimised to be small enough for the web, and the css/javascript is minimised, the page will load quickly – say 0.2 seconds. In this situation, a web page can be loaded by 10 clients in 0.2 seconds. However, if the web page is not optimised – for example, images go through PHP every time they are queried, where they are resized through code, and thousands of MySQL queries are made on the front page of the web, then the page may also take several seconds to load. This, in turn, means that the same number of visitors will take longer to load, and the rest of the visitors will therefore have to wait in line.

In other words, the better the website, the less server resources it uses and the smaller plan it requires.

Finally, you deserve nice things! Subscribe to our newsletter in the “account settings” tab in My Zone to receive them. We often send newsletter subscribers discounts you won’t find elsewhere.