Improvements to VPS reporting

Scalable Virtual Private Servers from DreamHost are a great way to ensure that you’re never paying more or than you need for your hosting.

You might want more power than shared hosting can provide, but may not really need the resources and cost associated with a dedicated server. With a VPS from DreamHost you can scale your hosting’s available memory allocation in real time and immediately see how those changes affect the bottom line.

And how do you know how much memory you actually need?

Whelp, we provide all VPS customers with memory usage graphs to show exactly what your site’s been up to.

This is what they looked like:
So helpful!  Or is it?

Pretty great, right? We think so. Or we used to, anyway. Turns out they weren’t exactly helpful in the way that you really needed them to be.

We were giving you a single data point to explain your memory usage – what’s known as the resident set size. While that data is useful, the RSS represents just a portion of your overall memory usage – it’s really not enough data to make informed decisions about resource allocation.

Our new graphs look like this:

Fixed!

We’re now showing memory usage trends across your RSS (“Actual Memory”), memory used by your disk cache (“Cached Memory”), and the sum of both RSS and disk cache (“Total Memory”). That Total Memory line is really a much better indicator of where you’ll need to be.

Please note that applications can reclaim memory from cache until their RSS hits the memory limit that you’ve specified – much like any other Linux system.

We capture snapshots of your VPS metrics every 15 minutes. We’re working hard to increase the interval at which we sample data, and some progress on that particular enhancement is already in the works.

We’ve also revamped some code that will adjust and tune Apache and Nginx configurations appropriately based on your specified memory allocation. These modifications should help to improve memory management somewhat to reduce the likelihood of out-of-memory conditions. The end result is that any sudden spikes in memory usage should now occur much less frequently and be handled a bit more gracefully when they do.

We still have more plans for making our VPS reporting even better, but we wanted to get these improvements out the door to make sure our VPS customers had the best data available as quickly as possible.

We hope this helps!