Simple Machines Forum SOOOO Slow on Dreamhost



Okay here is the dealio…

I have three SMF forums, none of which see very much use at all. About 2, 3, or 4 weeks ago I started to get timeout errors in my internet browsers, both firefox and internet explorer.

And the sites became very unresponsive. Often times I need to click on a link a couple times before it “registers” with the server. (All non interactive sites are responsive however).

I contacted DH support who finally got back to me and told me that the problem might be caused becuase all the MySQL databases that we have have the same one user associated with them (again, our sites don’t see a lot of traffic at all, one site has 4500 users but is lucky to see 20 users sign in on a daily basis, and the other one has 938 users and might get 15 people signing in a couple times a day), so they said to make one user for each database which we did.

Specifically they told us the following:

Handler_read_rnd 13 M The number of requests to read a row
based on a fixed position. This is high if you are doing a lot of queries
that require sorting of the result. You probably have a lot of queries
that require MySQL to scan whole tables or you have joins that don’t use
keys properly.

Handler_read_rnd_next 392 M The number of requests to read the next
row in the data file. This is high if you are doing a lot of table scans.
Generally this suggests that your tables are not properly indexed or that
your queries are not written to take advantage of the indexes you have.

Both numbers should be zero. You are using the same database user for all
your databases. Its possible this is causing your table scans to be so
high. I would recommend creating a new database user for each database
and having a single user for each database as well. If this does not
improve your mysql performance then you will need to do thru an optimize
each table or look for the queries that are not every efficient.

Okay so we created a single new user for each database, but the sites still remain slow and unresponsive and those two numbers they quoted me are now up to like 50M and 1500M. So they keep rising and the sites stay slow.

They seem to indicate that we need to look for queries that are not very efficient.

Im sorry but SMF is a good forum package and used by tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of websites, and there is nobody else that has complained on the SMF site about this issue.

Now the only thing that I can recall that changed about the same time the sites started to get slow is that we did actually create one SMF full domain forum (at our domain name) and we created 12 subdomain forums, and all of them were using the same database which had about 650 tables in it. This only lasted about 3 to 5 days, and we only had 15 people sign up in that time and so most of any queries run would have been me setting up the sites.

In any event I took those 12 subdomain forums down nearly 2 weeks ago and am now just running one larger forum in it’s place (database is only about 55 tables and about 3 or 4 MB in size. So it’s small. Maybe 150 posts on that forum.

Everytime that I test the site through the DH web panel it tells me the server was under a high load (I guess I can’t really test the MySQL server through the web panel which is what I suspect is causing the slow downs.

The authors of the SMF software have told me that it’s not their software causing this issue and I need to take it up with my host which I have done on a couple occasions now. What it’s starting to feel like is that they don’t want to respond anymore and would like to sell me on a VS or dedi server which is out of the question, I just don’t get that kind of traffic for either of those.

So, what the hell am I supposed to do at this point to fix this. Theres nothing I can do to the forums software to optimize the queries, and nobody else is having this kind of trouble. It seems to me theres a problem with the Indianna server and nobody at DH knows or cares to find out about it.

The first couple times that I contacted them they told me that the server was found to be under a high load and that they found a user who’s scripts were sucking up the resources and had disabled his scripts until he can fix them or replace them. The next time I contacted them they told me they found another user also sucking down server resources with his scripts and had disabled them.

The next time I contacted them they tell me the stuff about making a new user for each database which I’ve done.

Im really rather pissed off at this point as people are complaining to me that they are getting browser network timeouts and other people that register on the sites are not getting the activation emails sent to them for 12 to 24 hours. This has gotten ridiculous already and I need some suggestions on how to deal with this.

Please give me some suggestions if any of you have any or if any of you are also on Indianna MySQL server tell me if you are having any difficulties or slowdowns with your forums if you are running them.

Even the wiki that we installed through the web panel runs like mollasses in winter. And that’s the wiki that gets installed in the one click install, so if theres optimizing to queries that need to be done, why is the wiki running so damn slow too?

Sorry, Im really frustrated and need some assistance and not feeling like Im getting it from Dreamhost at this point.

Best Regards,


I’m not sure about the technical details behind the setup, but out of curiousity could you provide the website address? At least that way other people that browse these forums can see the response times.


Are you using any mods or custom themes or anything like that with your SMF install? Sometimes it can happen where the core software itself is fine, which would explain why the SMF developers say it’s not their problem, but a mod is doing something awful to the database.

What I’d suggest doing is that you temporarily disable your existing forums, create a brand new database, and perform a default SMF install to do some load testing with. Turning off your existing forums will inconvenience your users a bit, but you can warn them ahead of time and, from the sound of things, they’re already pretty inconvenienced to begin with. From there, if everything works with the default install, you can add and test your mods one at a time until everything is fully configured.

One other thing that might be worth trying is for you to go through and rebuild the indexes on your tables.

A couple of other questions worth asking:

  1. What version of SMF are you using?
  2. What storage engine are you using for your MySQL tables?


Yeah thanks, we tried that. We put all the sites except the one standard site that has no mods into maintenance mode, then waited a day and tried the site again and it was still abysmally slow. So while this wasn’t a fresh install of SMF it was a clean SMF system.

I think the MySql server is throttling us because of those high numbers that I quoted in the original post, at least that’s the impression I get from the dreamhost support.

I’ve written to them again, about 48 hours ago and at least they acknowledged me and sent me a note saying that due to the nature of my problems it might take them more than 24 hours to respond, so now I sit and wait and see if they really look into the problem to find out what’s causing it or if they just blow me off. Theres still an open request on my account to them that’s now over 22 days old so … I guess I wait and see what they have to say or do about it.

  1. SMF 1.1.5 on one board, 1.1.4 on another and 1.1.5 on the third one.
  2. Im not sure what you mean by storage engine, I’ve done no changing around of anything so how ever the default SMF installs is what it’s using.


Why not just try a personal mysql server and up the horsepower?


Even that’s overkill for these sites that don’t get a whole lot of use. I use to host them on my own home server which was an old server, like an AMD 3500 with 2GB of RAM, and the same server ran our http, smtp, and mysql and the sites that we had running on it were seeing about 100x more than what we see now and it was no problem, we even had many many more sites hosted on it that were getting small amounts of traffice like what our sites all do now on dreamhost. I switched to dreamhost to cut some costs, not raise them.

If I have to go back to spending more money every month, I’d be better off going back to hosting the sites on our own server and having the ISP switch us back to business class service again for $89.95/month rather than have to pay dreamhost any more money for any kind of server,virtual, mysql or otherwise.

Anyway, they moved us to a new mysql server and for the first 3 days the performance was great again, now the timeouts in the browser are starting to show up again here and there, and I imagine in another 5 to 10 days it will be as bad as it was before again.


Sounds like you have your solution then…

Cheers and good luck.

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