So, pharaohweb.com went dark for a day – offline, account suspended by my host for “abuse.” What happened, you ask? I’ll tell you.
For months now, I’ve been frustrated with the spotty MySQL performance I get with my hosting package. Sometimes it slows to a crawl, sometimes it shuts down my connections to the databases throwing a “max queries exceeded” error, leaving my database-reliant pages dead in the water until the ban resets. I’ve sent numerous mails to my host’s technical support about these recurring issues, and things always seem to return to normal before too long. Recently, however, my databases were down again after nearly a 24hr period of extreme slowness and delayed reaction. So, I sent the following mail to technical support on March 8th:
The databases on my site have been down (not working) a lot over the past three days, and when they are up and running they seem very slow and unresponsive. Can you help explain what the issue is? I’m pretty sure I’m not overusing the max connections, but the performance is bad and the fact that I can’t get to any of my database-reliant pages is unacceptable. I chatted w/an online rep, and they advised I mail support.
Hope to hear from you soon. Thanks.
I got no reply for days.
Then, on the morning of the 13th, a friend IM’d me to say that, while trying to leave a comment on my blog, the site slowed to a crawl and began tossing “zero size reply” errors (timeouts). I pulled up the site to check, and sure enough I also got a timeout error. I immediately intiated an online chat with the technical support from the hosting company, and decided to check for a reply to my original issue while waiting in the queue for an online agent. Turns out, there was a reply to my original issue above, which had come in around 11am that morning (the exact time my buddy IM’d me to tell me the site was dying):
Thank you for contacting technical support.
The mysql server was running slow as a few users on the server were using more than their fair share of database resources. The issue has been resolved and the database should now be accessible. Please feel free to contact us if you have any further questions.
Hmmm… that’s interesting. But, I’m sure glad they got those nasty bandwidth hogs taken care of.
In the meantime, I have to leave for lunch, so I put on my bluetooth headset and dial up technical support, leaving the still-waiting online chat to rot. Fifteen minutes later I’m at home, still on hold. I decide to check my gmail again, and lo and behold I have an e-mail from firstname.lastname@example.org a subject of “Account Suspended for pharaohweb.com,” it reads:
This email is regarding your account for the domain pharaohweb.com. The account was temporarily suspended because of a violation.
The service team understands the impact that a suspension can have and does not take it lightly. For a suspension to occur there has to be a clear indication of intentional abuse or a direct and immediate threat to the overall performance, stability, or security of the host server.
The following reason has been given for the suspension: Your account has been suspended for causing a high load to the mysql server which caused many customers to be unable to access their websites. Please contact email@example.com for information on reinstating the account.
The service department can inform you of what needs to be done to unsuspend the account.
Guess who the nasty bandwidth hog was? Uh-huh, it was me. Guess who was one of the “many customers” who were “unable to access their websites?” Uh-huh, also me. As I’m reading the mail, I’m finally connected to a technical support rep. I give him the rundown, and he says he can’t help, that the only way to deal with a suspended account is via e-mail to the abuse department. Grand. What’s worse, the abuse department can take anywhere from 24-48hrs to respond. Basically, I’m out of luck for up to 48hrs. Even worse, my site wasn’t simply taken offline, my account was de-activated. I couldn’t FTP, couldn’t login to my control panel, couldn’t access any of my data. Nothing to do but sit and wait.
Turns out they graciously turned my account back on about 24hrs later, with a warning that I had been banned for excessive traffic and a snippet of the MySQL logs showing an inordinate amount of activity from a WordPress plugin called BAStats. They advised me to review my code to ensure such activity wouldn’t happen again. I addressed this in part by disabling the BAStats plugin (which looked to be the major offender), and also by making the database user a random choice between of the five users I have defined for the WordPress database. By randomly choosing which user accesses the database, I hope to cut down on the too-many-connections-per-user issue. So, here’s hoping things around here will be a little faster for the trouble, and that I won’t get banned again for being so awesomely popular.
Anyway, nerd-stuff over… and aren’t you glad I’m back on the air?
Stumbled on a website called IUsedToBelieve.com today, where people post things they once took for truth when they were kids. I got a kick reading some of these things, and really enjoyed the “most common” beliefs feature, as I, too, thought some of the things on that page were reality. For instance, the childhood belief that factories make clouds – I was all over that one. Some other good ones I read included these:
I used to think that vanilla was the absence of chocolate, not its own flavor.
As a child I was totally floored by the fact that my dad owned a monkey wrench. We had never had any monkeys that needed to be taken apart and I could never figure out which part of a monkey it would fit on even if we had.
I wanted to grow up and become a marine biologist, which seemed to me the perfect combination of studying nature and shooting people.
And, although I searched and searched, I couldn’t find a single sole on the site willing to admit that they had the same childhood understanding/belief about dying as me: I used to believe that I had actually probably died several times, but that “Heaven” was just an extension of your current life. I.e., you really do “die” in your old life, but you pick up seamlessly in your new life and every single aspect is the same. It’s a sort of parallel universe thing. I used to imagine that the the people in my old life (where I was now dead and gone) were grieving me terribly. I figured I had likely died many times, and began thinking about mundane things like a spill on my bicycle or a near-accident when riding with dad as times when I’d died in my old life, and began a new one. This didn’t bother me, as I figured everyone and everything in my new life was an exact copy of things in my old life – so I wasn’t “losing” anything by dying. I just felt sad for the people in my old life who had to deal with me dying.