How To: Posting up pictures on a forum thread

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Re: How To: Posting up pictures on a forum thread

Postby Dieselman » Thu Jul 06, 2017 6:16 am

Maybe they do load eventually, but I'm not going to wait 5 minutes for a post to open. I have fast broadband, and it does it on mutiple devices (Mac and Windows) and locations.

The situation will only get worse as the number of posts and stored pictures grows. When a thread is being built the forum software has the search the storage for the information to put in the thread, that takes time, especially for attachments.
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Re: How To: Posting up pictures on a forum thread

Postby White Exec » Thu Jul 06, 2017 6:30 am

Agreed, and same here.
Hopefully, something that Ciaran could look at.
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Re: How To: Posting up pictures on a forum thread

Postby Dieselman » Thu Jul 06, 2017 6:48 am

The best solution is guaranteed, internet hosting, it's fast and relaible, but who wants to pay?

What photobucket have done is the modern mantra of immature business leaders in the IT world, suddenly apply charges and make things difficult for users.
I have an issue with Ebay blocking contact between sellers and prospective buyers. They did this supposedly to increase sales traffic and commission, but in reality, it means buyers just aren't buying as they can't get information on products.

What they have forgotten is that there will always be another way. I have started using a different web based host, which if anything is faster than Photobucket.
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Re: How To: Posting up pictures on a forum thread

Postby xantia_v6 » Thu Jul 06, 2017 6:57 am

Dieselman wrote:The best solution is guaranteed, internet hosting, it's fast and relaible, but who wants to pay?

A commercial VPS with more than enough storage and bandwidth to host a forum like this costs less than £20 per month, which I think would be collectively affordable. The performance benefit is tangible.

On the FCF (and BXC) we have rescued the 20,000 historic photobucket images which we will host ourselves.
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Re: How To: Posting up pictures on a forum thread

Postby djg » Thu Jul 06, 2017 8:02 am

Dieselman wrote:The situation will only get worse as the number of posts and stored pictures grows. When a thread is being built the forum software has the search the storage for the information to put in the thread, that takes time, especially for attachments.

No, that doesn't take time (I don't mean no time at all but nothing that you should be aware of). I checked the page source now. The problem is that pictures are not served directly by the host but all requests go to the forum software first that delivers them one by one. In this scenario, instead of your browser simply asking the host for the picture, more than one at the same time and getting them in parallel, without any further co-operation from the forum software, each and every one is read by the PHP code, sent to you in smaller chunks, limited by available resources, then the same happens for the second picture, then the third, and so on. The speed is usually limited by the forum host resources rather than the bandwidth at your end.

There are two reasons I can think of for this setup: first (the primary reason for sure), to implement access control. Access control might be twofold here. It can make it impossible to read the site without logging in (either blocking the whole thread or only the attachments). It can also prohibit outside linking (exactly what PB does now but unlike with PB, there are much more limited resources here and the primary purpose is not hosting for somebody else, so it makes sense here). We should also remember that this kind of prohibition means the pictures will never turn up on a Google search, which might or might not be desirable, it's up to you to decide. But at any rate, prohibiting linking from the outside can be done easily at the host level (it can be done routinely on Apache and Nginx that I know, but I seem to recall we're on a Microsoft server here, something I wouldn't touch that with a ten-foot pole :-) so I don't know what the possibilities are but it would really surprise me if there was no way), without the slightest performance hit for the site itself.

The second reason, probably nothing more than an added service, is the "viewed times" counter which, I'm sure, we'd be glad to see go if this is the price to pay.

I don't know phpBB on the inside (I have rather poor opinion of the software, actually, I once built a forum to help people escape from phpBB :-) ) but I don't think this setup couldn't be changed.
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Re: How To: Posting up pictures on a forum thread

Postby xantia_v6 » Thu Jul 06, 2017 9:33 am

I have some familiarity with the insides of phpBB and I agree that the attachments system seems to be over-complicated, but I think that a lot of the complexity is in aid of having very tight security on what is served to users, to prevent any chance of the hosted content being a vector for malware. I am not sure that Google is blocked from indexing the images, I should check that.

I don't however understand how this site serves attachments so slowly compared to other phpBB sites. My initial guess is that the server for site has very limited uplink bandwidth. Running on a Microsoft platform is probably not doing any favours either.
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Re: How To: Posting up pictures on a forum thread

Postby Ciaran » Thu Jul 06, 2017 12:11 pm

Hi guys,

In a nutshell, as some of you have correctly mentioned, the slowness of attachment display from the site is because the server is currently on a connection with a relatively poor upstream speed.
This is less than ideal but unfortunately I had to move it at short notice due to various circumstances, and it was the best that could be done in the timeframe.

It is planned to move it again over the next 2 months to somewhere with substantially improved upstream, which should eliminate these delays. If that plan doesn't come to fruition then I'll be looking at hosting it online on a commercial VPS somewhere.

That aside, beyond the upstream issues, it actually runs very well from a performance point of view, although I'll be renewing the hardware anyway as a matter of course. I have the PHP engine very well tuned on this and several other Microsoft IIS environments and it really does run like lightening, that combined with output stream compression and gzipping of content mean that rarely do the website and database processes hit more than 10% CPU usage, even at peak times, and thats on older hardware, so it should run very nicely indeed on the new machine, once we get the bandwidth sorted.

It was originally planned to do all this several months ago but unfortunately life got somewhat in the way. Apologies though for the hassle, I know its a total pain waiting on the attachments to display, does my head in to be frank.

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Re: How To: Posting up pictures on a forum thread

Postby Ciaran » Thu Jul 06, 2017 12:26 pm

BTW you're also correct about why attached content is permission controlled by the forum software, its firstly to secure the access, i.e there are certain pictures and documents hosted on this site that we don't want accessible to just anyone, and certainly not in public searches, for various reasons, legal amongst them. The other issue is content scraping, and remote use of our bandwidth and resources. By that I mean there are bots which go around trawling websites and making a copy of their content, for their own use. The difficulty with that is that this process consumes our sites bandwidth and server resources, whilst being of absolutely no benefit to our site and its users. Attachment retrieval is an expensive process in server terms, especially with our currently limited upstream bandwidth. IMO those limited resources should be prioritised and directed towards serving our members, rather than consuming CPU and bandwidth serving content to third party copy bots and other external systems which, give no return benefit to our site.
Its for this reason that certain content such as attachments is restricted and only available to registered users with a logged in account. Basically, if you want to use our community's resources, sign up and contribute. Most genuine users will end up posting a question anyway, so signing up an account is a given.
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Re: How To: Posting up pictures on a forum thread

Postby White Exec » Thu Jul 06, 2017 2:46 pm

It's reassuring that the cause of the issue (slow attachment viewing) is known, and sortable.
I'm really grateful to site admins like Ciaran, and Mike (xantia_v6) on FCF, for their considerable skill and time in keeping the sites usefully operational. It's quite above my pay grade, all too easy to take for granted. Nothing stands still for very long, with PB's sudden shift just being the latest spanner to be thrown. John is right, of course, that more of us should have seen it coming.

I just want to say real thanks to our IT crew.
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Re: How To: Posting up pictures on a forum thread

Postby Pshemsky » Tue Jul 11, 2017 11:50 am

White Exec wrote:I'm really grateful to site admins like Ciaran, and Mike (xantia_v6) on FCF, for their considerable skill and time in keeping the sites usefully operational.
I just want to say real thanks to our IT crew.

Totally agreed with above. Specially when we all short of free time. Just wondering if there's any chance to use google drive (to share photos directly in posts on forum) instead of PB ?
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