Category Archives: Blog

Cost of WordPress blog running on Google AppEngine

Having recently migrated all of my blog/site content to Google AppEngine away from my prior $10/month hosting I was curious about what the monthly cost of running the site would be. My blog went live on AppEngine on Nov 13th and with the default instance settings was running ~$2.00/day at roughly 50-55 instance hours the vast majority of which is servicing requests from crawlers.

Tuning Google AppEngine, For Cost

Idle Instances

As mentioned above I started with the default settings and the first significant change was to set Idle Instance Max to 1 as running multiple instances chews through the free 28 hours at an xN multiplier rate. This change alone had a significant impact on reducing overall instance hours though clearly impacts the performance of my blog. I’ve tested the performance and for a blog I feel it’s suitable so I’m comfortable leaving things at this level for awhile.
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WordPress on Google AppEngine and Migrating from BlogEngine.NET

In 2004 I started blogging on my own domain using discountasp.net as they offered a competitive hosting package based on Microsoft technology. Fast forward nearly a decade and I haven’t used Microsoft technology for nearly 5 years and maintaining my Blogengine.NET blog had become an increasing challenge. Upgrades were very difficult and I found myself stuck on a tweaked version that couldn’t have easily be upgraded. Recently, Google added support for PHP on Google Appengine and posted steps to get WordPress running so I applied for and got early access and I’ve been slowing migrating all of my content.
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WordPress running on Google AppEngine

After several months of slowly migrating all of my blog content and testing Google’s WordPress support on AppEngine I’ve finally pulled the trigger on moving my blog from BlogEngine.NET hosted on discountASP.NET to AppEngine.
w00t!
As time permits I’ll post details here regarding caveats I ran into (some of which I’m still wrangling). At any rate, I’m glad to be off of .NET and have learned a lot about some new parts of Google’s Cloud Infrastructure.

Improving Site Performance

I run BlogEngine.NET and recently logged into Google WebMaster Tools and was a little surprised to read the following paragraph and see the related chart:

Performance overview

On average, pages in your site take 6.8 seconds to load (updated on Apr 4, 2010). This is slower than 82% of sites. These estimates are of low accuracy (fewer than 100 data points). The chart below shows how your site’s average page load time has changed over the last few months. For your reference, it also shows the 20th percentile value across all sites, separating slow and fast load times.

Chart

Yikes! Not. Good.

As you can see I was able to make some quick changes in March that helped but clearly I’m far from being in the sweet spot.

What I Did

Using Google’s Page Speed and Yahoo’s YSlow I started chipping away at the issues. I started on the JavaScript side and added this combine, compress and minify HttpHandler which turned out to be quite easy. Next, I applied Ken Silverman’s pngout utility (warning: his background will hurt your eyes) to my images and minified and combined several CSS files as well as set default images sizes.

Updated April 11, 2010 I’ve turned off Gravatar because it’s too damn slow particularly for pages with lots of comments. That page used to take 10 seconds to load now it’s just a few seconds.

Migrating to IIS7

Over the weekend I took the plunge and used the Migration tool on my discountASP.NET (which btw, I highly recommend) account and moved to IIS7. You can read about how that went here but for the most part things were pretty seamless although my site was down for 16 hours or so. After the migration I setup the MS IIS Manager for remote administration allowing me to set cache expiration headers for lots standard images.

The net result, starting at 78/100…

Page Speed Score 88/100

And from a “C” to an “A” on the YSlow report card:

YSlow performance score

At this point, it’s going to be a few more days before Google’s WebMaster Tools re-executes its performance tests but I’m hoping for some dramatically improved results.

What’s your verdict? How’d I do?

[Update April 13, 2010] This chart from Google WebMaster Tools of download times is starting to show the improvements I’ve made:

image

Switch from dasBlog to BlogEngine.NET

I finally pulled the trigger on switching to BlogEngine.NET. I tweaked it a bit to maintain all of my old blog post links and probably lost a few links here and there but the switch is made. I’m going to run with this for a few days and see how I like it.

Please let me know if you notice anything weird. Btw, if you see any $g(…) macros those were previously Google search links under dasblog which aren’t supported here.

One of the major things I hope this will resolve is the issue of dasBlog losing comments.

[Updated: Nov 24, 2009] I’ve since added the macro functionality found in dasBlog to BlogEngine.NET so the above problem has been resolved.