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Author Topic: phplist for mailing lists to solve CPU overload - experiences  (Read 4976 times)


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This post is about phplist, an open source mailing list software that we started using this week to handle the newsletters.

license: open source - accepts donations (we have made a donation on behalf of
feature list:

Screenshot - 001 , 04_16_AM , Mar 18 2006.png

PHPlist is a double opt-in newsletter manager. It is written in PHP and uses an SQL database for storing the information. PHPlist is software that runs on a server.
PHPlist is designed to assist you to stay in touch with your audience, without flooding them with information they don't want. PHPlist is an essential tool for anyone who is serious about creating, capturing and maintaining an offline audience, and will help you increase traffic to your website.

in case you haven't been following the issue, we have been going through hell sending out the newsletters.  basically our server (which is a dedicated dual pentium server which should be able to handle this stuff with ease) has its cpu load go through the roof and become unusable when sending out lots of email at once.  it really *shouldn't* be so hard to send out 20,000 emails over the course of a day when we send out the newsletter, but no one at the server hosting company can figure out how to do it. exim, the mailer daemon used on the server is inexcusably bad at handling lots of emails.

ps. managing a server has been pure hell - if there are some good experienced linux server admins who want to help out, send me an email.  i would give my right arm for someone who knows how to optimize apahche, mysql, dns stuff, mailing program, etc.

anyway, after trying a wide variety of solutions, i decided to give phplist a try.  getting the program installed and setup was quite smooth.
and it is able to import a large list of email addresses that the forum can produce, and add them to a mailing list, which is absolutely essential for using it for this purpose (excellent feature!).

the newsletter can then be sent out to this list at a specified rate, slow enough (1 every 3 seconds currently) so as not to overload the server.  it's slow but it seems to be finally working.  and phplist has a nice queue system so that even if the web browser closes or server crashes, we can continue where we left off with ease.  very nice.

it's not a perfect program - the options could be better explained and organized perhaps (the batch/queue size options are bit strange, seeming to combine send rate with pause-between batch sending rate), and the program could use some better feedback while it is actually working.  and my biggest gripe is that it needs a better mechanism for handling mailings that are in the progress of being sent out (like being able to get a list of people it's been sent to thus far, putting mailing on hold, etc. otherwise it's nearly impossible to correct a problem and resend to just the remaining users).

BUT, on the other hand, it does seem to have mostly solved our cpu load problem, so it gets a big thumbs up for that.  It also has some nice features that let people sign up manually to the list, or subscribe themselves by following a link in their email, which is easier for some people than having to go to the forum profile page if they've forgotten their login info.

so in all, if you need a complete mailing list solution for your website, or if you have a forum which needs to send out thousands of emails and kills your server when it uses its built in mailing routines, i would definitely advise taking a look at phplist (and of course send them a donation if you do so that they can keep improving it).

you can always find a link to all of the software we currently use on the site here:
« Last Edit: March 18, 2006, 06:40 AM by mouser »