Possible to run 130x WP sites on a single server?

I’m sure this has been asked before, but what’s the largest number of WordPress sites you’ve had on a single VPS?

I have a potential client wanting to migrate 130 WordPress sites to me and I’m wondering if placing all of these on a single VPS is possible? They are all local business sites, so low local traffic (local plumbers, builders, etc, and a sprinkling of small eCommerce stores).

They are currently on AWS and have to manually manage everything server-related, and they mainly want to wash their hands of ongoing server management and move to something easier & less expensive if possible.

I’m also open to using another provider if necessary, for example, a server from liquidweb.com (just a random example of a possible option B).

I would appreciate your opinion :slight_smile:

My setup
I wouldn’t put everything on the same server. If you did that, you would be sharing the same hard drives between all of the applications, and that could end up being a big bottleneck. What I do is I have a few smaller servers. I will put 3 - 5 smaller sites on the 1GB Digital Ocean servers, and 3 - 5 sites for the clients that pay more on the 4GB Digital Ocean servers. With that system I’m barely able to handle all of the sites on the 1GB servers, but I have more than enough resources to handle all of the sites on the 4GB servers without any noticeable slowdown. Sometimes I’ll use an 8GB server too.

But I like having smaller servers. If you want to use some somewhat bigger servers, you can, but like I said, at some point you’re going to run into issues with sharing the same hard drive between all of the servers.

Some notes on scaling:
The Cloudways control panel will provide graphs of how much resources all of your servers are utilizing (CPU usage, RAM, disk reads, disk writes, bandwith, DB connections, etc.), and you can use that info to properly scale your servers. If you use AWS or GCE you will be able to scale up and down the CPU, RAM, and disk size separately. The other providers have set levels for all of these resources, and you can only scale them up and not down. Scaling is super easy. After selecting what changes you want to make, the server will restart using your new settings.

Actually answering your question
If you really wanted to put everything on the same server, I would use AWS or GCE as those providers put the database on a separate server from your other applications, and then from there you can keep scaling up the RAM and CPU as needed you migrate websites to the server. If the current company is using a single AWS server, then it would be absolutely possible to go this route, but you do run into many problems when using a big server. It would become slightly more difficult to narrow down which websites are hogging all of your resources as graphs of the server’s resource utilization wouldn’t be that useful anymore (there are still some statistics your can try to go off of). Some tasks such as upgrading PHP require backing up the server before you can perform them. I don’t know if creating a staging site still requires waiting for a server-level backup to be created first, but if it does, then this is a big reason to not use large servers. If one of the websites where hacked and started running a crypto mining software, the hackers could bring all of your websites to a crawl. Cloudways doesn’t have a way of limiting how many resources a website can use (although each individual connection does have a customizable limit on how much RAM it is allowed to use). If your server’s resources get maxed out and services start misbehaving the auto-heal system or a manual restart from you becomes a much bigger deal. And once again, I’m pretty sure all of the websites would be sharing the same hard drive.

For everyone else
I would be very interested in hearing what size servers everyone else is using.

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Don’t you hit the RAM roof with only 1G? With 2G I tend to get under 1G at times.

Most my sites are fully custom, and not very taxing, but I believe I have a comparable number (~5) of Wordpress sites on that account.

All of the websites that have fully custom WordPress themes have chosen to be on our high performance plan. Those who are on our low performance plan are mostly small charities and individuals who are just trying to get started with their own company.

Here is the RAM usage on one of my low performance servers that has 4 websites on it.

I currently run 30 sites similar to what you describe as small business sites with generally low, non-logged in traffic on a 4 gig vultr server for $44 per month.

Nearly all of those sites use cloud flare for DNS, so they receive the benefit of approximately 30 to 50% fewer requests in general. I also use w3 total cache, configured as recommended by cloudways.

Based on my system resource graphs, I would feel comfortable hosting as many as 50 or 60 total sites of similar usage.

If your client is going to transfer you all the sites, I would get two 4 gig servers and split your sites between then 60/40ish, putting all your e-commerce sites on the less-populated server.

If I had it to do again, I would go with digital ocean over vultr, simply because they provide more bandwidth and are $2 cheaper per month – that’s close to 5% savings…

Total cost for 2 servers < $85/mo. Total income: at least $125/mo. I’m not sure of your market, but I’d shoot for $10-$15/mo/site as a wholesale rate. Remember, this isn’t GoDaddy shared hosting at $4/mo. The stack provided by Cloudways is on par with the plans offered by WP Engine and I refer my clients to their pricing page when discussing hosting costs.

I also recommend using updraft plus to schedule off-site backups to Amazon S3 or similar. The cost is close to zero and it offers a lot of flexibility on top of the daily backups available through the cloudways panel.

You can bulk manage (including plug in, theme, and core updates) for a network of WordPress sites using a tool called Main WP which has a free plugin that works great and some paid add-ons that make your life easier.

You can use main WP also to install and configure updraft for offsite backups across your entire network.

These services of core and plug-in maintenance as well as off-site backups are additional services you could offer at your hosting client. The services are fundamentally no cost to you, but if you could tack on 25 to 30% extra for the value add, that’s a great opportunity.

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Thanks all for your input, very appreciated!