Re: Web site file structure

Subject: Re: Web site file structure
From: "Steven J. Owens" <puff -at- netcom -dot- com>
To: barbara -at- group -dot- com
Date: Wed, 8 Dec 1999 12:45:19 -0800 (PST)

Barbara Stuhlemmer writes:

> Can anyone provide some insight in to the best way to configure the
> file structure of a web site?

Performance impact is almost entirely dependent on myriad factors
besides file size (web server, operating system, whether you use a
database or not, etc). File size is so trivial as to be negligible
compared to anything else.

Caveat: In extreme cases there could be some impact, for example,
if you have 10,000 entries it's not a good idea to put them in 10,000
individual files. The file system still has to keep track of those
10,000 files and look them up in a fairly "dumb" file table. It's
better to put them in a database, which will have all sorts of
optimizations and caching.

> We currently have a lot of small files in a few large directories.
> The concern is that the file structure may inhibit the performance
> of the server and reduce the usability of the web site.

Likewise, file structure is pretty much irrelevant to web user
usability. It's best to focus on what kind of work you do with the
documents and structure the system with an eye towards making yourself
as productive as possible.

> Is there an industry standard (if it's like anything else in our
> business, I highly doubt it) or guide to best performance?
> Suggested reading, web sites or other reference material
> appreciated.

It greatly depends on your circumstances and needs. One resource
I suggest you read is Phil Greenspun's latest book, which you can find
an online copy of at He leans towards using databases,
and in cases where you really are concerned with performance, advises
that you simply get enough RAM in your server to keep the entire
database in-memory. For the most part I agree with him, though as I
just said, it all depends on what you're doin gand what you have.

Steven J. Owens
puff -at- netcom -dot- com

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