I’ve been using the web statistics package, Mint, for almost a year now. I love it! It tells me exactly what I want to know about my visitors, in an easy to view manner. But, lately I’ve started wondering if Mint is the best package to use, with WordPress (my blogging software), on a shared-server hosting package.
If you’ve been here before, you probably read about my recent trouble with my (former) host, and excessive php processing. In that instance, my trouble was definitely related to the amount of traffic that came flooding into my site, but I suspected that the use of Mint was also a factor.
Shortly after I had my trouble with my host, I had the good fortune to attend WordCamp, an all-day WordPress conference. While there, I had an opportunity to speak with several knowledgeable people, including the WordPress.com server administrator, Barry Abrahamson. Unfortunately, Barry kind of confirmed my suspicions. Barry told me that in his tests, he noticed that Mint can add a noticeable load on the server.
Barry didn’t suggest that I stop using Mint all-together, but he did suggest that if I ever end up on digg.com again, and traffic starts flooding in, I should deactivate Mint immediately. It may make the difference between the site staying up, or going down.
A typical shared server hosting package has a limited amount of server resources. You often don’t have a lot of control over how those resources are allocated. WordPress, by itself, has a fair amount of database interaction, and therefore requires a certain amount of php processing power to run the site. Anything you add to your site, that requires php processing / database interaction will contribute to the server load. Depending on what other factors are involved, like how much traffic does your site get, how many comments are left (including spam), what other software are you running, what plugins are you using, etc… adding Mint may be just enough to push you over the edge.
As an alternative to Mint, Barry suggested I look at Google Analytics. If you’re unfamiliar with Analytics, it’s a free service from Google, that offers many of the same stats that Mint offers. From a functional standpoint, the biggest difference between Mint and Analytics is Mint does all of its stats tracking / processing on YOUR server… where as all the processing for Analytics is done on Google’s server. Using Analytics can have a dramatic reduction of your site’s server load.
I signed up for an Analytics account a couple of days ago to test it. It’s OK, but I would have to say that I prefer Mint… it’s much easier to use, and it has a few features that Analytics doesn’t have, like an rss feed for your recent referrers. I also noticed that Analytics isn’t real-time. The stats it shows you are at least a few hours behind. This may be a problem if you’re using your stats to track things like a sudden increase in traffic, because you may not see it until it’s too late.
Analytics may have its shortcomings, but if it means the difference between your site staying up or going down, it may be worth the reduced functionality. After all, stats don’t mean much if your site is down.
Now, I’m not trying to talk anyone out of using Mint. Under many site / server configurations it will work just fine. But, when your site is hosted on a shared server, and you’re using software like WordPress, you may want to think twice about using Mint. You should consider all the factors. If you are already using Mint with WordPress, on a shared server, and you are having trouble with your site, try turning Mint off and see if that helps.
Related Posts: WordPress, comment spam, and php processing