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What is the best way to isolate sites on Web server?

I am wondering what is the best way to isolate sites on a Web server. We have many Web servers as we are a hosting company. Specifically, we are having problems on servers that host 1500+ domains. What happens is that ASP fails and Frontpage ability to log in also failes. When we isolated all sites to high process, the machine runs out of RAM. (It has 4 GB of physical RAM.) But if we have all sites set as medium or low, the machine does not have excessive CPU/RAM usage but eventually will fail after around 2-6 hours ASP with a new application failed error message when ASP dies. A net stop w3svc or using IIS Reset will fix the problem temporarily.

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While Microsoft does have tools to help tune Web servers for massive amounts of users, it sounds like you're already familiar with them. You're doing the right thing by isolating Web sites from each other. I would also assume that if you have 4 GB of RAM configured, you're using Windows 2000 Advanced Server and have it configured to take advantage of the maximum 3 GB of RAM. However, IIS is simply not built for this type of environment--it's tuned for smaller amounts of RAM.

I would strongly recommend changing your systems architecture. Generally, it is much more cost effective to deploy multiple, smaller, cheaper Web servers. Start configuring hardware with two-processor Web servers with 1 GB of RAM. Purchase as many of these as necessary to accommodate your user base.

Also, look forward to .Net Server and IIS 6.0. IIS 6.0 includes features that greatly improve the reliability of Web servers operated in your type of environment.

This was first published in October 2001

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