Back in late March you may have noticed that this blog was shut down. In fact the entire Softduit site was down for several hours.
We never entirely isolated the issue, but basically there were 2 things going on that could be identified:

  1. WordPress 2.1, the software that runs this Maven Mapper’s Information, was leaking bandwidth severely – leaving a call open when something created ‘persistent connections’. Persistent Connections are not always bad, but they are dangerous when not used correctly.
  2. I had a meta tag plugin (Autometa) that was creating an error that was not visible on the blog but creating significant havoc with my host.

When this happened, I was a bit frantic. I didn’t know a persistent connectin from a hole in my head. My host shut my site down, much to my dismay. Thinking that there might be something like a denial of service attack going on, but there was not.

Right away, I got rid of the Autometa (bye bye). It may or may not have been a big portion of the problem, but for troubleshooting reasons it was in the way and had to go.

The thing is that persistent connections are not always bad, but it was a bit beyond me to identify the good from the bad in this case.

Here is some of the information they gave me:

System administration has noted that your account appears to be using persistent connections in some of the software used on your site. Persistent connections are by and large not necessary for most software to function, and they can cause issues with your account.

To explain a bit further, persistent connections are one method PHP scripts may use to open a connection to a MySql database. Using persistent connecting is only useful in an environment with a high overhead in connecting to the MySql database itself – in your case the connection (and ‘cost’ in resources) is negligible compared to using persistent connections as all of your queries are executed immediately.

The persistent connections in this case are simply sitting idle consuming memory and may bring your site close to the predefined limits set for accounts in the shared hosting environment. If you have a database intensive site, this could make the site appear sluggish or appear to be down while the initial queries time out (this can take up to 300 seconds, depending on several factors).

You will need to review your code and see where these persistent connections are coming from, as spikes in traffic could cause your site to appear to be unavailable to your visitors.

Plus

I had to suspend your site due to the very high load that it was taking on. There were multiple IP addresses connecting to it over and over again. Some of the IP’s had over 80 connections each.

Here is what I learned.

  1. After you install a plugin, check your error logs. Just because it seems to be working doesn’t mean that it really is.
  2. The jury is still out on some things about WordPress 2.1 that haven’t been documented well by the community yet, so pay attention to your bandwidth and be careful.

Note for all people new to hosting their blog on their own domain. – Be Careful!

It is likely that you have a hosting plan that allows a certain amount of bandwidth per month. If you go over that bandwidth a couple things are likely to happen:

  1. Your host might shut your site down.
  2. You might get an overage charge (like going over your minutes on your cell phone bill – very very scary if it happens and you are not prepared)

We are all used to getting typically hundreds to thousands of hits per day, but if your site goes into the millions of hits per day or hour you better make sure you have a good solid way of monetizing that traffic or else you are going to be in trouble.

Adsense May Not solve the Problem

You might think that Adsense will earn a tremendous amount if you see a spike in traffic (ergo you write the golden article that captures the attention of the world and that CPM number makes you rich!)

Wrong! 🙂

Google will sometimesshut down your Adsense account because they think there might be fraud going on (Google is like that ~unpredictable) . They like to see nice constant (expected/predicted) growth in your traffic. If you jump from 100 hits per day to several million hits in an hour (and your server doesn’t crash), Google may nix your account and not pay you your earnings blaming it on fraud.

Now you have a bandwidth issue, commonly referred to as a Big Fat Bill and you have no Adsense revenue and no Adsense Account. Its kind of like getting your right hand chopped off, having salt rubbed in the wound while someone slaps you in the face repeatedly with your own hand.

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