I’m a big fan of Pligg, so I’m glad to announce that the local installation at http://websitebuilding.biz/shared/ is back online after going missing for about thirteen months.
Why was it gone so long? Well, I had gotten pretty lazy. While I was trying to learn more about installing and running various utilities on a remote LAMP server, I realized I was already making good money and that I could be out enjoying that fact instead of staring at a black and white command line. The forum got tossed off to its own domain name and the /shared/ folder just kind of sat on my hard drive.
Saving your large Pligg databases in a 9.x to 1.x upgrade
Well, enough things eventually went wrong that I am finally scrambling to get that ancient to-do list done. One of my Pligg sites is doing quite well now, but the downside to that fact was that the 650 MB SQL database and level of daily posting was starting to be a bit of a drain on my VPS resources. Even worse, performance had slowed to a crawl that made administration and spam cleaning efforts almost impossible.
Eventually, indexing and pagerank started to suffer.
One reason for the slow performance was a known inefficiency in the older version of Pligg: 9.9.5. I had tried running the upgrade utility, but my SQL and web servers would always crash when I sent the request to restructure the 650MB database’s tables. That is, after all, a whole lot of information to re-write on a webserver.
Installing a local WAMP
So the next step was to create a server environment that could use my desktop’s relatively high resources. That VPS had about 500 megs of RAM, so I figured the operation would be a breeze on my 4 gigs.
WAMP Server is actually pretty easy to set up, so if you don’t have it yet you should definitely grab a copy to run your big commands, access backups, and test new code & design locally. Once you install the software, you can access your own faux-server by pointing a browser at localhost or 127.0.0.1 and you can run mysql commands from your windows command line with the mysql.exe file.
Once I got the database loaded and started the upgrade locally, I was actually surprised to find it using up a whole gig of memory and about 30-40% of my CPUs resources for a good fifteen minutes. The database came back a little smaller, and once it was installed on my live/production LAMP server with the latest version of Pligg, it was loading pages in a fraction of the time it used to take. Well, it was. It is starting to get slow again already so this might not be a long-term solution.
The benefit of Pligg
With all the spam, upgrade, and resource issues, it can be hard to keep sight of the benefit of running a Pligg site. Well, what you do get out of the deal is a whole lot of unique content – and if you can keep on on subject and relevant it might actually deliver some good backlinks for your sites and the sites being submitted. On average, users seem more likely to link to their pligg posts than they are to blog comments or forum posts. In short, you exchange some server time and maintenance work for unique content and some back links, and there’s a lot you can do with that even if the advertising potential is a little low.