If you are running a high traffic site, there are some things you can do to improve the performance of the software and make sure it stays performing well. We'll discuss those items in this file.
Disable Search Engine, Quick List, and Random Link
Yes, these are nice features to provide to your users, but they are all resource intensive. The search and quick list are the worst offenders, so those should be the first you disable. All you need to do is remove the search.php and quick.php files from your server, and remove links to them on your pages. This will allow more of the server's resources to be dedicated to processing incoming and outoing hits.
Don't Use image.php
Again, this is a nice feature to provide your members, but it does use considerable server resources. Remember, every time a surfer accesses one of your member sites, the image.php script will run. This means that even if you only have 10 members, but each of those 10 members gets 1000 visitors per day to their site, the image.php script has to run 10,000 times each day.
Clear the IP Log Often
One thing that can take a lot of time to process is the IP logs. If you are logging all IP addresses, it is highly recommended that you clean them at least once every 24 hours. This is done automatically, either through rankem.cgi or clean.cgi, depending on if you are using cron or not.
Use Cron if it is Available
If you have cron available on your server, using it can help to reduce the server load. If the hit tracking script doesn't always have to check the time, it will be more efficient. If you understand how to setup cron, it is highly recommended that you use it.
Keep track of your members. Delete accounts that are no longer participating. It takes time to process accounts even if they aren't sending hits, so it will benefit you to remove inactive accounts.
If you never look at these, disable them. If you do use them, be sure to clear them every few days. You should try to keep them under 5 megs in size.
Gateway Page HTML
If you generate a customized gateway page, keep your HTML to a minimum. The more HTML that the script has to write, the slower it is. Only put the items that are essential on that page. If you add a lot of extras in your HTML, it can slow the software down.
If You Are Using Cheat Protection, Use Cookie Tracking
Checking cookies is much faster than checking IP addresses, so you should use it. If the software determines that a surfer has already clicked through for an account by looking at the cookies, it doesn't even have to check the IP logs and this reduces the processing time.
If You Don't Care About Cheating
Yes, there are some top list administrators who don't care about cheaters. If that is you, disable all of the cheat protection features. This will improve the performance of rankem.cgi and allow you to track more hits per day using fewer resources.
Look Into Zend Accelerator
Find out if it may be possible to have Zend Accelerator added to your server. This is a product avaialble from the same people who created PHP and it will increase the performance of PHP scripts from 2-4 times. You don't have to make any changes to AutoRank PHP in order to use it with Zend Accelerator. More information on Zend Accelerator can be found at the Zend website.
Look Into Splitting the Load
With AutoRank PHP it is possible to split the load between two servers. One server will handle all of the web requests, and the other will be dedicated to the mySQL database. If you already have one dedicated/colocated server, see if adding a second one to handle mySQL is within your budget.