Navigating a Web Traffic Jam

If you’ve tried to view ericvb.com recently, you may have been met with various error messages at various times instead of my actual website. Terms like “ACCOUNT SUSPENDED” or “500 Server error” and “Error establishing a database connection” have been appearing all too often.

Turns out I have a couple of blog posts that have become fairly popular, and I thought it’d be interesting to share the story of how my site has had to go from “just a hobby” to something a little more enterprise grade.

Houston, we have a problem
I received an email from my hosting provider stating my account had been suspended due to resource abuse. I then tried to navigate to my site, and I only see “This account has been suspended” instead of my site content. A few emails back and forth with support, and they re-enabled my account to give me a chance to try mitigate the performance issues. I updated plugins and themes to latest versions, enabled some caching and security plugins, and finally even signed up for CloudFlare which has a really nice free content delivery service (more on this later).

Things smoothed out for awhile, but soon my resource usage began to climb again. CPU and RAM utilization were just crushing the server; and since I was on a shared server configuration, my site was making other people’s stuff perform poorly. I had reviewed analytics data and found basically 2 of my posts were the culprits. One on setting up tabbed ssh for Windows, and another on getting started with the ELK stack for syslogging. I tried unpublishing those posts for awhile but I still ended up getting suspended 3 separate times. Finally, I had make the decision to move my website to a dedicated server.

The migration to a dedicated server was really pretty easy. Even fun! MySQL is a great database and was easy to backup/restore, and the rest was just copying files. In the end, my website is better secured thanks to the iThemes security plugin, as well CloudFlare’s front end capabilities.

I really can’t say enough about how happy I am with CloudFlare. It provides caching, content optimization, and security features. Their free offering is very capable, and obviously the paid subscriptions give you more features.

Overall, this entire experience has been a great learning opportunity. Topics I’ve never even thought about such as content delivery, web caching, and WordPess security are now a focus of mine with this website, and hopefully it results in a better experience for anyone who visits…