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Optimizing vBulletin

VBulletin has for long been the best forum creation software on the Internet. Apart from ensuring that you host your vBulletin website on an efficient hosting service, you must make sure that the default settings are altered appropriately for avoiding any performance related issues once the forum starts swelling up with large number of members, over a period of time. Let’s take you over some effective methods for optimizing your vBulletin website.

Move the profile pictures, avatars and attachments to the file system
VBulletin stores the profile pictures, avatars and attachments to the MySQL database by default. This puts a lot of pressure on the vBulletin database, especially with more and more members joining the community. The ideal way of dealing with this problem is moving all those entities to the file system. You can create separate folders for their storage, such as {vBulletin}/profilepics, {vBulletin}/avatars and {vBulletin}/attachments. Thereafter, access the Admin Control Panel (ACP) and make changes to the storage location for each one of them, changing the default storage location to the respective folders created by you.

Use the memory cache
Using the memory cache is one of the most common methods of enhancing the web applications’ performances these days. You need to first configure the server with memcache, followed by selection of the best option at admincp > vBET cache > memory cache.

Move the CSS to file system
As is the case with profile pictures, avatars and attachments, vBulletin stores the CSS to the MySQL database too. And hence it may be a good idea to move that to the file system as well. This can be done by creation of a specific folder for it, and checking the ‘Store CSS Stylesheets as Files?’ option in AdminCP > vBulletin Options > Style and Language Options.

Check the settings for gzip in Apache
Gzip can be used for compressing the response data that travels from the web site to the web browser. Doing so can have a significant positive impact on the transfer times and reduce the bandwidth usage too. This can be achieved at the PHP application or web server layer. In case your web server already has it enabled, you must disable the GZIP HTML output via ‘vBulletin Options’ > ‘Cookies and HTTP Header Options’ in vBulletin. This method can compress the response data by as much as two times.

Clear the cache
Many a times changes made to the website may not become instantly visible on the front end. This can happen because of caching of the vBulletin installation. Try clearing the cache in such cases and the changes may become visible all of a sudden! You can clear the cache for your vBulletin website by navigating to the ‘Maintenance’ option located on the left hand side menu. Simply press ‘Clear System Cache’ and you’re done!

Use the Diagnostics Tool
You can use the vBulletin diagnostics tool for checking the PHP settings on your web server and determining if there is anything that is causing problems in certain features of your website. For instance, you can try the system emails or try uploading something to your website. vBulletin Diagnostics tool can be accessed by clicking the ‘Maintenance’ option located in the left hand side menu and then clicking on the ‘Diagnostics’.

Repair or optimize tables
Making regular changes to your website over a period of time can lead to plenty of leftover data in some of the tables on your back-end database. Although this is not a major issue, it can lead to bloating up of your database with time. Hence, it’s always better to run the database optimization tool on a regular basis. Furthermore, you can also repair the tables if one or more of them gets crashed due to some reason. The repairing or optimization of tables can be done via the ‘Repair/Optimize Tables’ under the ‘Maintenance’ option on the left hand side.