Website crashing - is it Wordpress, my site, or the host?
October 10, 2012 2:12 PM   Subscribe

Wordpress site crashing throughout the day. Webhost says I need to upgrade to dedicated server... is there another option?

My site is here:

Traffic wise, I've been getting 3000 visits on average lately.

According to my webhost, my site," was hitting the peak ram (memory) setting of 512 MB 2,462,767 times in a 24 hour period. Yes, you read that right. Over 2 MILLION times... A normal website will never hit the 512 MB. Currently the memory limit is set to 1 GB, which for a shared hosting environment is extremely high. In the past 24 hours, your website has exceeded the memory limit 634,287 times..."

He blames this on Wordpress being a resource hog, and offers either deleting all my content or upgrading to a $70/month dedicated server as the options. (currently paying $10/month).

Does this sound about right?

More importantly... is there anything I can do to my site to reduce the resources used that are causing it to crash?
posted by Unsomnambulist to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you're not using caching on WordPress, look into something like WP Super Cache. It'll cache your files at static html so the database doesn't get hit a dozen or so times per page load. It should cut down on memory utilization a lot.
posted by mikesch at 2:17 PM on October 10, 2012

Maybe it would help to use one of the hosts that are recommended on the Wordpress site. Presumably they have been vetted in some way.
posted by Dansaman at 2:25 PM on October 10, 2012

I think the hosted service CloudFlare also caches.
posted by Dansaman at 2:26 PM on October 10, 2012


Thanks - I actually have that plugin installed though.

Could it possibly be a CSS file?


Shows as using the most amount of kbs in my webalyzer


Perhaps - but I've been with this host for 10 years, and using this particular site for 10. May be time for a move.
posted by Unsomnambulist at 2:26 PM on October 10, 2012

If you get 3,000 visits a day and it hit 512MB almost 2.4 million times in 24 hours, that's saying this happened almost a 1,00 times per visit!

Here's what you can do to triage.

1. Use WPSuperCache like mikesch says.
2. Make sure all your templates, plugins, and wordpress code is up to date (there are many possible bugs and exploits out there and staying up to date is critical.)
3. Get a host that understands WordPress. There are tons of them and there's no reason that your site should be doing this. Your host should be way more helpful that this.

Also, the size of your CSS is practically irrelevant to how much RAM your server uses.

I'd consider moving to to make sure everything stays at its most up to date.
posted by advicepig at 2:29 PM on October 10, 2012

Are you using the latest version of WordPress? I like W3 Total Cache as a caching plugin.

Advicepig's advice is pretty similar to what I was going to write. WP Engine looks like a nice WP focused host.
posted by backwards guitar at 2:33 PM on October 10, 2012

Check your logs for hits from web crawlers. My site only gets 100 hits a day, but a couple of months ago started getting hammered by a web crawler called 80legs. 80legs misbehaves by repeatedly downloading files from different IPs for days on end. In the end I had to block them in my robots.txt file.
posted by AndrewStephens at 2:41 PM on October 10, 2012

80legs is a pretty poorly behaved spider and if you want them to crawl at a different rate rather than just block them, you have to email them directly. Pretty lousy customer service. But honestly, even a highly active crawler shouldn't be consuming that much ram unless you have some bad code in there, especially if you are using WPSuperCache.

There are some calendar plugins that I've seen that generate ridiculous queries that don't cache well that could do it...
posted by advicepig at 2:50 PM on October 10, 2012

Pagelines is a CSS compiler that uses the Less CSS compiler -- your shared hosting can't handle it. It shouldn't need 512MB so tell your host that and see if he can find a bottleneck.

The excessive maximizations occur so often because of swapping, I'd think.
posted by michaelh at 2:56 PM on October 10, 2012

How many (and which) plugins do you have active?

WordPress by itself is incredibly unlikely to use that sort of RAM, however plugin authors are notoriously flippant when it comes to RAM usage and it's not uncommon at all for bigger plugins to suck down 128MB on their own (which is just absurd from a web dev standpoint).

If your host is offering the ultimatum, though, and is unwilling to work with you as you try to fix it, I'd move and fix it at the new place instead.
posted by toomuchpete at 2:59 PM on October 10, 2012

Okay, first thing --

The CSS file you mention: appears to be loading fine. I don't believe that's a actually a dynamic file, so not the problem.

I do see WP-Super-Cache is working - I see in the source:
<!-- Dynamic page generated in 1.049 seconds. -->
<!-- Cached page generated by WP-Super-Cache on 2012-10-10 15:08:57 -->

<!-- super cache -->
To me more than 1 second is a red flag. I have two sites with Super Cache, one of which had a huge spike in traffic from a major blogger, the page generation times are: 0.438 seconds and 0.617 seconds. I'm wondering if the way the page is built is strange somehow, or if the site has a good enough connection to the database. More, is the MySQL it's connecting to tuned well enough for this task?

But if you have a host telling you to get lost, it may be too late.

Now, looking over the code, the one thing that stands out to me as potentially troublesome is the adrotate you have going. I'm wondering if that code plays well with caching, since it's coming directly out of your plugins folder, and to me, seems like it would need to change that tracking code for each user - I know you probably live on your ads, but does the performance characteristics change with that off? I suggest testing that in off hours and see what the page generation time is.
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posted by artlung at 4:44 PM on October 10, 2012

Note from AdRotate: Manuals:"
Why do my ads not rotate when i reload the page?

In most cases you have a cache plugin active. WP-Super Cache or something similar. AdRotate uses a static ad which means the ad will also be cached. Therefor, AdRotate is not (yet?) compatible with any caching plugins.
posted by artlung at 4:59 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Check your plugins. Wordpress by itself has subpar performance but once you start adding plugins your performance will take a nose dive. Start by inactivating your least needed plugins and see if the performance improves.

Instead of using plugins for very basic functionality, e.g. a facebook/twitter plugin, see it you can't code it yourself in your theme.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 5:32 PM on October 10, 2012

It's almost certainly a rogue plugin, as others have suggested. It's not necessarily going to be easy to tell which one, though.

If you don't want to deal with this kind of nonsense, I third migrating to WPEngine. It's $30, but the peace of mind, support and performance is probably worth it if you're running a serious site. They are really, really good.
posted by tsmo at 6:33 AM on October 11, 2012

I third migrating to WPEngine. It's $30

I just took a quick look to check them out based on the recommendations in this thread.

If you are consistently going to get 3000 visits a day you might need to be on the $100 a month, or even $250 a month plan, based on their pricing page.
posted by philipy at 8:12 AM on October 11, 2012

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