Deploying Rails Applications to Production Servers

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Ruby on Rails is a popular web development framework known for its simplicity, flexibility, and convention over configuration approach. Once you've built your Rails application, the next step is to deploy it to a production server so that it can be accessed by your users. In this article, we will explore the process of deploying Rails applications to production servers.


Before you begin the deployment process, make sure you have the following prerequisites in place:

  1. A production server - This can be a virtual machine, a physical server, or a cloud-based service like AWS, Heroku, or DigitalOcean.
  2. A domain name - You will need a registered domain name that you can associate with your application.
  3. Capistrano gem - Capistrano is a popular deployment tool for Rails applications. Make sure you have the Capistrano gem installed on your development machine.

Step 1: Prepare your Application

Before deploying your Rails application, ensure that it is ready for production use.

  1. Set up a production database - Modify your config/database.yml file to include the credentials for your production database.
  2. Set secret keys and tokens - Configure your application with secure secret keys and tokens for features like session management and API access. Store them as environment variables or use a tool like dotenv.
  3. Optimize assets - Compile and compress your application's static assets using a gem like uglifier and configure your production environment for asset caching.

Step 2: Configure your Production Server

Once your application is ready, it's time to configure your production server to host your Rails application.

  1. Install necessary dependencies - Ensure that your server has the required software dependencies, such as Ruby, Node.js, and a database server like PostgreSQL or MySQL.
  2. Set up a web server - Configure your web server (e.g., Nginx or Apache) to serve your Rails application. Set up virtual hosts and configure the necessary proxy settings.
  3. Prepare your server for your Rails application - Create a user account to run your Rails application, set up the necessary directory structure, and configure permissions accordingly.
  4. Install and configure a process manager - Tools like systemd, init.d, or Puma can be used to start and manage your Rails application as a background process.

Step 3: Automate Deployment with Capistrano

Capistrano simplifies the deployment process by automating various tasks.

  1. Set up Capistrano - Install the Capistrano gem by including it in your project's Gemfile and running bundle install.
  2. Create deployment configuration - Generate the Capistrano configuration files by running cap install in your project's root directory. Customize the configuration to match your server setup.
  3. Configure deployment settings - Modify the config/deploy.rb file with details like server IP, repository URL, branch name, and deployment path.
  4. Set up SSH keys - Ensure that your server's SSH keys are properly configured to allow Capistrano to connect without requiring a password.
  5. Deploy your application - Run cap production deploy to deploy your application to the production server. Capistrano will handle tasks like code cloning, asset precompilation, and restarting the server.

Step 4: DNS Configuration

To make your Rails application accessible to the world, you need to configure your DNS settings appropriately.

  1. Associate your domain name - Update your domain's DNS settings to associate it with the IP address of your production server.
  2. Configure subdomains - If your Rails application uses subdomains, configure wildcard DNS records to direct all subdomains to your production server.
  3. Enable SSL/TLS - Obtain an SSL/TLS certificate from a certificate authority (CA) like Let's Encrypt and configure your web server to use HTTPS for secure communication.

Step 5: Monitoring and Maintenance

Once your Rails application is in production, it's crucial to monitor its health and performance.

  1. Set up monitoring tools - Use tools like New Relic, Datadog, or Nagios to monitor your server's performance, track exceptions, and detect potential issues.
  2. Implement log management - Configure logging to capture important events and errors for debugging purposes.
  3. Regularly update your application - Keep your application up-to-date with security patches and feature enhancements by regularly updating your codebase.
  4. Implement a backup strategy - Set up regular backups of your application data and configuration to prevent data loss in case of unexpected events.

Following these steps and best practices will help you deploy your Ruby on Rails application to production servers with confidence. Remember to thoroughly test your application before deploying and perform a trial deployment on a staging environment to catch any potential issues. Happy deploying!


Deploying Rails applications to production servers is a crucial step in making your application available to users. With the right configuration, deployment tools, and monitoring strategies, you can ensure a smooth deployment process and a reliable production environment.

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