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Andrew Martin's Blog: Serving PHP session files from a RAM based disk (tmpfs) for AWS Micro Instance

Note: This article was originally published at PHPDeveloper on 7 October 2011.
PHPDeveloper

Andrew Martin has a new post to his blog looking at a technique that could be used to help minimize some of the performance issues you could see on AWS micro instances dealing with PHP session handling. His alternative is serving them from a RAM-based disk instead.

It's rare to find a web server with slow disk I/O performance, but Amazon's EC2 micro-instances are one such example. Their EBS disk subsystem access is rated "low", and this can have a detrimental effect on HTTP throughput. [...] This leaves sessions, which can be written to a redundant and fault tolerant storage system. [...] In order to speed up the disk access, a RAM-based disk can be mounted over the session directory. This has the disadvantage of being volatile - the data is lost in case of a server reboot, or the mount point being unmounted. However if tolerable, storing sessions in RAM insulates the application from poor filesystem performance.

He mentions the two types of kernels that can be used, ramfs and tmpfs, and the specifics of using a tmpfs filesystem to implement the technique (complete with command line calls to make it happen).