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Vanilla Forums suitable for very large community?

edited May 2011 in Vanilla 2.0 - 2.8

I'm in the process of setting up a community forum for a site that will garner a very large userbase over the coming years. Due to this I figured I was locked into one of the bigger forum softwares, i.e. vBulletin / phpBB / SMF / etc.

Really, though, the simplicity and awesomeness of Vanilla is what would really work best. I'm just wondering how well it scales to hundreds of thousands of members? Can anyone point me to the bigger(est?) Vanilla forums out there? What is performance like when under a constant load?



  • LincLinc Detroit Admin
    It's designed to scale and perform under high load. You'd need someone like @Todd to fill you in on specifics of performance.
  • I run a forum with ~6k users. Vanilla has some performance issues, specifically moderation tools like deleting posts can take a while, loading users profile pages can take ~5s, search is absolutely terrible for finding relevant information when you have 200k comments, search won't let you filter to search only topics, or bodies etc, that's a huge drawback because people can't easily search to find old threads before posting new ones.
    I'm running it on a linode machine and it tends to eat up 60-70% of CPU during prime time usage.
  • There's some improvements in version
    I hope you can test for example the search functionality with that version.

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  • Nothing has changed for search functionality from a user perspective in it still gives no fine grained options.
  • I've tried to search some things here and I second what Gillingham says...
  • Yeah hopefully we see some major search improvements soon.
  • lucluc ✭✭
    Try the solr plugin.
  • MarkMark Vanilla Staff
    edited June 2011
    If your biggest problems are search, there are plugins available to use true search services (like the solr one @luc mentioned). You can't expect MySQL to handle searches well at all, let alone under heavy load.

    Our entire hosting business at is based on being able to handle massive communities. The software can handle a massive amount of traffic, but it needs to be tweaked just like any other piece of software. If you are serious about handling heavy load with a Vanilla forum, you are probably in a position where you should also be making a lot of money with your forum. If you are having load problems, but aren't making money, I suggest you get in touch with our sales team at sales [at] to see how we can help you deal with your scaling problems and making money with your community.
  • judgejjudgej
    edited June 2011
    > You can't expect MySQL to handle searches well at all

    If they are indexed correctly, then yes, you can expect MySQL to support decent searches. That's not to say the aren't better and more specialised indexing and search engines.

    And by "indexed correctly", I mean a structured index such as like uses.
  • When you say users, do you mean registered forum users or uniques? I have about 10K Absolute Unique Visitors per month.

    Is that big or average?
  • ToddTodd Chief Product Officer Vanilla Staff
    Here is a line from sphider's source code:
    "SELECT link_id from ".$mysql_table_prefix."links where fulltxt like '% $searchword%'";
    There is no way a like query is going to performant on a site with a lot of content. It also uses MyISAM tables which is really not recommended unless you nee the fulltext indexing.

    Big sites need a dedicated search engine and some form of caching. That's the reality of the web.
  • MarkMark Vanilla Staff
    @Horton - We get many multiples of that number of unique visitors here on this forum every month, and we've done no special optimizations for speed on this installation. I'd say that 10k UVs per month is very low and easily handled by a default Vanilla 2 install.
  • I hate to hear i am small but am happy to hear the database is not stressed
  • LincLinc Detroit Admin
    @Horton 10K is quite respectable :) We're simply talking in terms of what the software is built to handle of course.
  • This thread piqued my interest and now I have the best idea ever for a vanilla plugin... :)

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  • And here it is...

    @Todd @Mark Search is now scalable thanks to our new search overlords.

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