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3rd of November, 2011

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This article will only touch on things you can do to the vBulletin software in order to reduce the server load on your server without sacrificing some of the features you love about vBulletin. Please note this is just my personal preference on how I have my vBulletin software configured.

Site in question: Mustang Evolution
vBulletin Version: 3.6 Beta 3

First let me show how I have some of the default settings:
  1. vBulletin Options -> Search Type (Drop Down Under vBulletin Options): If you have MySQL 4.0.x you can use this option to greatly reduce server load when a search query is used on your server.
  2. vBulletin Options -> General Settings -> Use Forum Jump Menu: I have this setting turned off. If you have a large forum this will cause the server to work harder as it was to Generate the Forum Jump and then display it on the page. The Forum Jump consists of alot of html which makes the page larger which increases bandwidth usage and finally increases the code to content ratio (Search Engines may or may not take Code To Content ration into consideration when ranking a page. They do like smaller pages however). 95% of the users will not even realize it is gone. Atleast this is the case on my site.
  3. vBulletin Options -> General Settings -> Disable AJAX Features: Make sure that this is set to allow all AJAX Features. Ajax helps reduce server load by not reloading a page where AJAX is used. (Quick Reply for instance)
  4. vBulletin Options -> Cookies and HTTP Header Options -> GZIP HTML Output: I have this turned off because my server handles this through my httpd.conf file via mod_deflate. If you are not sure whether or not you have this enabled on your server you may test it using this website: GZIP Test It will tell you if you have it enabled or not and if you do it will show you how much the page was compressed. My main page: Mustang Web Site uncompressed is 31,460 bytes and compressed 8,774 bytes. Make sure the Compression Level is never set higher than 1.
  5. vBulletin Options -> Cookies and HTTP Header Options -> Remove Redirection Message Pages: I have this set to Yes. Not only do I find them incredibly annoying but they cause an unneeded page load.
  6. vBulletin Options -> Cookies and HTTP Header Options -> Add No-Cache HTTP Headers: Make sure this is set to No.
  7. vBulletin Options -> Server Settings and Optimization Options -> Cached Posts Lifespan: I have this set to 10 days. Once you turn this on I recommend rebuilding your Cache Posts via Maintenance -> Update Counters
  8. vBulletin Options -> Server Settings and Optimization Options -> Update Thread Views Immediately: Set this to No. With this set at No the Thread Views will automatically update via Cron every 1 hour by default. If you wish to change this you can do so by editing the Scheduled Task for Thread Views to a different time. Mine is set to update thread views every 15 minutes.
  9. vBulletin Options -> Server Settings and Optimization Options -> Update Attachment Views Immediately: I have this set to No as well. I just use the default cron to update these.
  10. vBulletin Options -> Style & Language Settings -> Store CSS Stylesheets as Files?: Set this to yes. Make sure that you change the permission of the /clientscript/vbulletin_css/ folder to 777. This greatly reduces the page size and the code to content ration as well as not requiring the web server to spit out all that code on every page load.
  11. vBulletin Options -> User Listing & Profile Viewing -> Show Last Post on Profile Page: This is very server intensive. Set this to No.
  12. vBulletin Options -> Message Posting and Editing Options -> Quick Reply: Not only does this make posting faster which leads to more posts being made this also uses ajax which means you do not have to load another page to make a post. I use this hack: Smilies in QR and QE To even further reduce the need to click the Post Newreply Button. I have Quick Reply set to: Yes, Click Not Required.
  13. vBulletin Options -> Message Posting and Editing Options -> Quick Edit: Turn this on to reduce the need for a new page reload when someone simply wants to edit a post.
  14. vBulletin Options -> Message Searching Options -> Minimum Time Between Searches: I have mine set to 5. I recommend setting some kind of small time limit to reduce any chance of abuse or attempt to use the search engine to bring your site to a crawl.
  15. * vBulletin Options -> Forums Home Page Options -> Display Logged in Users?: I have mine set to Yes, Alphabetical listing to members only. What this does is show your members Alphabetically if you are logged in and random if logged out. This helps reduce server load by limiting the amount of people that use the Alphabetical sort since it causes additional server power to performn this sort.
  16. * vBulletin Options -> Forum Display Options -> Show Users Browsing Forums: I have this option set to Yes, Random Listing to all visitors I do not care how they are sorted on Forum Display.
  17. vBulletin Options -> Forum Display Options -> Maximum Displayed Threads Before Page Split: I have this set to 20. I would not go much higher than this. The higher you go the more resources it takes to generate those extra threads to show and the bigger your page gets. Note: Changing this will change the amount of Forumdisplay pages that are generate overall which will result in a reindex by search engines.
  18. * vBulletin Options -> Thread Display Options -> Show Users Browsing Threads: I have this set to Yes, Random Listing to all visitors for the same reason I gave for Forumdisplay pages.
  19. vBulletin Options -> Thread Display Options -> Check Thread Rating: I have this set to no. Thread Ratings are rarely used on my forum so I don't need it to tell the user whether or not they have rated the thread and what their rating was.
  20. * vB_Datastore_Filecache: You may use the file system to cache your Datastore and improve performance. To do this Open your config.php file in your includes folder and find:
    PHP Code:
    // $config['Datastore']['class'] = 'vB_Datastore_Filecache'; 
    and simply remove the two
    PHP Code:
    // 
    before
    PHP Code:
    $config['Datastore']['class'] = 'vB_Datastore_Filecache'
    to enable Filesystem caching of your datastore. Make sure that you have /includes/datastore/datastore_cache.php set to 777 so that it may write to the file.

That is all the Default Options in vBulletin that I recommend looking into. Feel free to ask questions if you need further explanation on any of them.

Now let us look at some hacks that I find useful in reducing the server load and increasing site speed:
  1. Plugin Based Template Hack: This is a GREAT hack that I have been using for sometime now. I have not run into any issues with this hack. This hack is even further complimented with APC caching.
  2. Microstats - load times, server loads, queries, uncached templates: This hack does nothing to improve performance but it offers an excellent way to determine your server load times, server load and any uncached templates you have.
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