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How do I deal with large attachments?

I support an R5 Domino Cluster on Windows 2000 servers, which has a large internet web site. Most of the domino documents on the site have large file attachments that can be downloaded by people who access the site. The files average from 5 to 8 meg, but there are also files that go much larger. What is the best method to make these file attachments available for downloading; ftp or just leave the file attachment on the domino document? Is there any white paper that recommends how to configure the domino server for a web site with large file downloads or other place on the web that I can access?

I'm sorry, I don't know of any resources that have information available on the issue that you raise here. I can give you some general thoughts on the problem though:

  • I am pretty sure that server performance will be better with the file attachments moved to disk and then downloaded using FTP. A dedicated FTP server will deliver files faster (the response time from click to the beginning of download - not the actual bytes per second).
  • I am also sure that a dedicated FTP server will be able to handle more concurrent download sessions without a performance loss - compared to a Domino server.
  • Attachments are stored inside the database. Accessing them there of course will be more CPU intensive than accessing them through a dedicated FTP server.
  • When an attachment is attached to a document, the Notes user has the option to let the client do a compression to the file. Selecting not to do the compression will save the server some work when delivering it to a web user.
  • What is your need? If files won't be downloaded very often, I wouldn't bother trying to fix a problem that really is not there. Domino handles quite a lot of concurrent web users with a good performance. If the server is only streaming a few files to web users at the same time, I don't think that the performance loss from having the files in the database is measurable.
  • If you do experience that your Domino based site has performance problems you should look at how the applications have been coded before looking at file downloads. Any database based application will have bad performance when they haven't been coded properly.
This was last published in January 2003

Dig Deeper on Domino Resources - Part 6

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