Be Aware Of: Your Host, WordPress Plugins, CPU Load and being banned from your own website!

Be Aware Of: Your Host, WordPress Plugins, CPU Load and being banned from your own website!

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CPU Load

This is something all bloggers and webmasters should really know about so you do not have to live through what I did – 7 days of your website(s) being offline.

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Adobe Creative Cloud Discount

This is the story behind how I was banned from my own website, Just Creative Design, and how it was brought down or ‘suspended’ by overloading my host provider’s CPU through the over use of my website and WordPress Plugins and I want to raise awareness of this, so this does not happen to you.

I will recount the story as it happened of JCD being suspended and then restored along with commentary and advice along the way.

Jan 14th – All my websites are down!

When I realised my sites were down (they went to an advertising page instead of my page) I really did not know what was wrong and in the back of my mind I thought that I had been hacked just like how David Airey was, last month, but it wasn’t because I had taken his advice and checked my Google Filters and all was clean.

After this I went pretty frantic and emailed all the people I could (my hosts, their support them, my domain name host provider and also their support team – in total 4 emails).
I received pretty instant replies (between 2mins and 4 hours) from 3 of the 4 contacts however none of these could help me and told me to contact my hosts (of which I had already done). I had to wait 1.5 days for their first reply.

Jan 15th – First Contact, 1.5 Days Later

They sent me this email (see below) on the 15th of January with a very brief and vague reason telling me why the site was down and what I had to do to rectify it – they did not tell me HOW to do it and this is where the problem was and what took up so much time.

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It has come to our attention (by the server not responding due to a high load) that your domain is in violation of our AUP/TOS by way of the following domain: was disabled for overloading server with index.php processes. had to be disabled in order for the server to work. If was not disabled, all domains on the entire server including your own domain would have remained inaccessible.

To get your site enabled, contact Emailed Removed and state your plan of action to resolve this issue and prevent it from reoccurring.

If this should happen again after the site has been enabled, the domain will need to be permanently removed in order to maintain the integrity of the server that hosts many other sites.

If you don’t know how to fix your script from using so much of the CPU, you should begin looking for a dedicated server or virtual private server.

As you can see, I really had no idea what the problem was so I went out and did a bit of research.

Jan 15th & 16th – 303 Redirection & Lots of Research

At this time I really had no idea what the problem was so I put a 303 temporary redirection on my website to point to an error message, hosted on a friends account, telling my readers that I was having some technical difficulties – doing this took 2 days for the nameservers to propagate, meaning, for 2 days I still had that annoying advertising message on my site.

Naturally after I received the email above, I wondered what it was all about, so before I replied, I set off and did a bit of research. I came to realise a small handful of people have had the same problem. The best resource and where I learned the most on CPU Load and WordPress, was on the forum of HostGator (A leading hosting company) on Blogging, WordPress and CPU Load. I would highly recommend to everyone, to read this whole article as you won’t regret it – I sure wish I knew about it before my site went down.

Research Conclusions & What You Should Know!

Nearly All Hosting Providers have rules about database usage (CPU Load).

This is something that nearly all hosting providers do not display anywhere on their site, and generally keep it quite disclosed unless specifically asked. You should ask your provider about your CPU Load limitations.

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What is CPU Load you ask?

Generally it is the amount of open maximum connections that your site can have and how much of a servers resources you may use by having all these connections used at one time. These open connections can come in a number of ways… For example, having a large spike from a social media site like Digg or by having a script or plug-in ‘go crazy’ or by having an error in your programming.

When one of these things happen you use up a lot of your host providers resources and as an example; if you use 90% of your server’s resource for over 30 seconds (a long time) your account would be suspended because this leaves no resources for the hundreds of other sites that are hosted on the same server.

WordPress Plugins are bad for CPU Load

Using too many plugins on WordPress is a very bad thing… even if you try them out then deactivate them, it still leaves bits of code in your programming which chews up bandwidth and loading speed, so the solution to this is to have a spare WordPress blog that you can test scripts and plugins out on.

Another thing I learned is that some plugins can conflict with one another and cause the script(s) to go crazy and repeat on itself and cause an enormous CPU Load on your server. This is why testing on another blog is perfect!

During my research I also found out that some plugins use more CPU Load than others and make your website slower to load. In particular; Recent Comment Plugins, Top Commentator Plugins, some spam protection plugins and even WP-Cache use a lot of CPU Load.
Serra from HostGator comments on CPU Load and account suspension…

“Most of the suspensions I’ve seen have been the result of scripts that have gone nuts or sites that are simply too big to be on a shared account. Shared accounts are geared toward sites that see a moderate amount of traffic, with few peaks in traffic. Those with heavy database operations or traffic spikes don’t really belong in the shared environment. Basically, for $6.00 a month, you need to have a normal website. For $78.00 a month, you can go crazy, but you need to pay for the craziness with the higher fee.”

So just be careful with wordpress plugins and test them out on a spare blog first.

Jan 18th – I Reply to Host Provider & More Waiting.

After 303 redirecting and all of my research (about a days worth) I replied to my host providers stating what I would do to resolve the issue and then 1.5 days later they came back with an email saying “Your website has been enabled”. I had to change my nameservers back to their original position and then I had to ‘wait up to 3 days‘ for my website to propagate back again.

Jan 20th, 21st – “Website Enabled” but not for me.

As I said above, they emailed me saying my website had now been enabled and it was, my website was now back up and running! (yay) – But unfortunately not for me – It was not working on my own computer at all so I emailed them again asking why everyone else was getting the site and I wasn’t. They replied:

“Propagation is the process in which the nameserver information in your Registrar’s database is passed to the 13 international root nameservers and then on to millions of ISP’s, routers, and DNS cache engines all of which will update their own dns tables with the new information whenever they choose to update. As you can see propagation is not controlled by any one company. Please wait about 3 days.”

But I knew this was not the problem so I contacted them yet again and this time they said they needed my IP, and for me to do a trace route. I did what they asked and then they replied saying.

“121.210.114.XXX was blocked by firewall. It has been unblocked.”

Hey presto, I am now allowed back onto my own website! But this meant only one thing… I had just been banned from my own website.

Jan 21st – Banned From My Own Website and Why?

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So after receiving the last email, I realised that I was just banned from my own website! The reason behind me being banned is a mystery however after my research I could only bring it down to 3 things.

  • I was visiting my own website too often and was considered a spammer. (I was doing a lot of plug in testing and unfortunately I was not on a spare blog so this could be a valid reason.)
  • A plugin went crazy in conflict with another plugin and caused an over load of CPU power.
  • A social media spike (my stats don’t show this though).

As an educated guess, I believe it was a combination of the first two points but only god knows the real answer.

Anyway, now Just Creative Design are online again and I have full access to them and my emails and hopefully this ordeal is completely over.

What you should do now.

After this week long ordeal I want you to learn from my misfortunes so that this does not happen to you, so I believe you should be doing these things;

  • Contact your own host provider and ask about your CPU Load limitations.
  • Consider upgrading your hosting plan. You may need a semi dedicated server, clustered hosting or even a VPS.
  • Uninstall the plugins you don’t need and declutter your blog for faster loading times. Remember the plugins that I said cause the most CPU Load. Install caching plugins such as WP-SuperCache and WP-Widget Cache.
  • Create a secondary identical blog for you to test your scripts and plugins in.
  • If you have not already, as stated above, I highly recommend you to read this article on blogging, wordpress and CPU load.
  • Make sure you know ALL the contact details of your host provider, domain name provider, and their support teams and have them easily on hand. Ensure that all your contact details are correct in each of these places (I had a wrong email in one which delayed the process by half a day).
  • Ensure you back up your blog & database – Luckily I had been doing this automatically every day using the plugin WP-Database Backup.


Thanks everyone so much for those who have emailed / contacted me at the start and throughout this ordeal: Lauren, David, Vivien, Niyaz PK and for those , who followed my progress in the comments of these two posts.

I know some other people have tried contacting me but seeing though I had no access to my domain or emails I haven’t received everyone’s emails so sorry about that.

Anyway, hope this helps you avoid this problem in the future and if anyone has had this happen or know someone who has, I would love to hear about it.

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45 thoughts on “Be Aware Of: Your Host, WordPress Plugins, CPU Load and being banned from your own website!”

  1. Wow, what a hassle indeed.

    I do believe that 50% of it comes down to your hosting company. Over the years I’ve been involved with some absolutely horrible companies, and it wasn’t until last year that I actually found one that was brilliant.

    When my blog started to actually generate some traffic and I was going crazy with plugins on WP (ah, the early days), I received a little email from them indicating that my site was “overreaching the performance of the server” I was currently on and they were in the process of moving me to a new one. They also mentioned that I shouldn’t see an interruption in service and if there were any issues after the move to let them know so that they could fix whatever didn’t transfer properly.

    I received the same email again for a client of mine who generates quite a bit of traffic, and now the site is as fast as ever.

    I think the biggest challenge is indeed the scripts used. I’m pretty good at things web-related, yet I’d have to sit down for a bit to figure out the server load for the “subscribe to comments” script and all the others… The average person doesn’t even know how to login to the backend of their hosting service so how would they ever know what load they are causing?

    It’s a tricky thing to find a hosting company who will actually work with you when things go amok on either side.

    Glad to see you’re back up and running!

    P.S.the whole vague email thing reminded me of my ordeal with LinkedIn over a profile picture.. *shudder*.

    William Tully’s last blog post..Gerry McGovern: Great Websites Do, Not Say

  2. Hi Vivien,

    I was looking into plugins to help with social media traffic, and came across the WP Super Cache one. Have you used it at all?

    It works almost exactly like the WP Cache plugin, but if there are any pages receiving a lot of visitors, the plugin will create an .html version of it, and direct everyone there, rather than have them view the .php page (which uses more resources).

    I’ve not seen anyone mention it however, so can’t say if it’s a goodun.

    David Airey’s last blog post..How to deter thieves from stealing your images and server bandwidth

  3. YAY!! Glad everything is back up, Jacob, and thank you for sharing your experience and learning with us. You said at the end that you are automatically backing up your blog on a daily basis. How? I usually go in to my c-panel every two weeks and do it myself, but I would like to do it more often. Sounds like you have a plugin that does it.

    I never realized that just disabling a plugin will still leave problem scripts running. Thanks for pointing that out! And a second blog is a good idea. I need to set one up to test my redesign on (when I get to that stage). Did you set it up on the same account as a sub-domain? That’s what I was thinking on doing.

    LaurenMarie – Creative Curio’s last blog post..The Creative Process: Wire Frames and Experiments

  4. @David
    Yes It was a hassle, and I haven’t had any real major issues until now either. I am not sure what plug-ins exactly that caused the problem but I disabled most of them to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. The ones I disabled were top commenters, wp-cache, counterize (stats program), easy admin access, popular posts (now I have a static version much alike yours but I also believe the problem could lay in the just the fact I have tried so many plugins. Something I will be using a spare account for next time.
    I havn’t used the super cache one but when I was researching I read about a lot of people have had major conflicts with wp-cache and similar programs (Supercache or eAccelerator).

    Thanks for the email regarding my other website ( not working, it has been fixed now, something went wrong in the .htaccess file.
    I have been with my hosting company ( for 4 years now and they have been great the whole time up until now. Another quality host would have moved my site to a dedicated server so I did not experience any down time while we would sort it out. Thats the difference between prices though, you get cheap, you receive cheap.
    It is also a relief to hear another person that has had the same problem as me. So how much server load does that subscribe to comments plugin generate?

    Read the comment I wrote to David re the plugins. I believe I will leave off most of the plugins for now just to make sure everything runs smoothly for a while, I can’t risk another ordeal like that again. I may bring back the top commentators soon because they are the most valued ppl on my site 🙂

    “I’ve contacted my host that day and asked to let me know if I’m overusing the allowed bandwidth because my post got on Digg’s front page, but I got a reply from them, that I still had 45 Gb out of 50 Gb/month transfer limit left.”

    When you say this, it is not about bandwidth you are worrying about, it is the CPU Load that you receive from so many visitors. Many hosts give you all this hype about bandwidth (ie. however it is impossible to use that much bandwidth in that small time due to cpu load, so it is just a marketing gimmick.
    I believe we got banned from our own sites for too many page visits, because the backend of wordpress uses a lot of page visits 🙂

    I was using WP-Cache for a while but I have disabled it now because of what people have been saying about it. I still have it installed however just incase of some spike. Regarding the database backup I have a plugin that sends it to my email and goes automatically into its own folder so I never have to worry about it. I use a plugin called WordPress Database Backup which I have set to send daily to my email. I backup my whole server each week by using my websites cpanel.
    I would recommend setting the 2nd one up for testing your new blog. Did you know you can have a fresh install and just import your MySQL database (in your mysql admin panel) and everything (except images and plugins) will be there (posts and all). I didn’t set it up as a subdomain, just another folder inside my host.

    Thanks to everyone 🙂

  5. Phew, glad it’s all over for you now, Jacob. Congratulations on getting your site back!
    So, in the end what you did is removed Recent Comments and Top Commentator plugin?
    It is strange however, ’cause I’ve seen many blogs are using those two plugins (not sure though if they also use wp-cache). I’m using only Top Commentator plugin, and so far had no problems with it. I’ve heard about WP-Cache being bad though. I tried to install it once when my post was dugg and I was getting thousands of visitors every hour, but it didn’t work, plus my server had survived the attack with nor problem. I’ve contacted my host that day and asked to let me know if I’m overusing the allowed bandwidth because my post got on Digg’s front page, but I got a reply from them, that I still had 45 Gb out of 50 Gb/month transfer limit left.

    Re: banned from your own domain. That happened to me as well, a month ago. I couldn’t access my blog from home via my own wireless. I could access it from any other connections but mine. My host told me to contact my ISP, my ISP said that the host should resolve the issues. In the end my ISP gave me a proxy address to use to access my site, and that worked. However, I still couldn’t receive my emails @ inspirationbit, the POP3 wasn’t working for me. A few days later everything has magically resolved on its own – I no longer need a proxy to access my site or emails. Go figure….

    Anyway, glad you’re back. Look forward to your future articles here.

    inspirationbit’s last blog post..Social Media Mega Project

  6. This is a great article…really complete and useful guide to this kind of problem…I, too have encounter problem with my blog…it is not as big as yours but still, it gave me trouble to settle it…I learned my lesson…back-up everything…

    nimrodjo’s last blog post..10 Steps To Decrease Windows Shutdown Time

  7. Hi Niyaz,
    Thanks, I hope you enoyed your vacation. Where did you go?
    Yes, I have heard about the vuneralbility of WordPress. It is a shame.
    Hmm hosting on your computer, I would need a spare one for that.

  8. Great to have you back in full swing Jacob.
    I was on a vacation for 2 weeks. Good to know that you have solved the issue.
    You have done an exellent job of writing this detailed article.

    Regarding the 2nd blog, I host it in my own computer. It is faster to work with and it does not use up bandwidth and disk space in the server. Another advantage is that it is more secure. For example, I write my drafts in the local blog, and publish it to the main one. So there will be no drafts in the public server. I am sure you have heard about the vulnaraility in wordpress that exposes your drafts to hackers(It is fixed in the new version though)

    Niyaz PK’s last blog post..Be Your Own Antivirus – 1: Preventing Malwares

  9. Hi Dexter, Welcome to the blog, I always like getting new commenters, you will find this site very useful and you will make new friends if you comment regularly.
    Regarding the 2nd blog, you would make the folder where you install your new wordpress theme blocked by search engines by editing your robots.txt file. Give it a quick google.
    What experience did you have in December?

  10. Your welcome. I believe it had something to do with my hosting however it has happened to other people as well, it is a rare thing though, something a plugin caused I believe. Glad your happy with GoDaddy 🙂

  11. Thanks for the info. We sure will try to keep watching. But don’t you think it’s someting also with your hosting? MAybe they just don’t have a good inclusions of their services. I don’t have a problem with godaddy.

  12. Hi Omega,
    That shouldn’t be a problem changing domains, you just need to know the details (ie. name servers) which you should have on file or you can get by logging into your old hosts. That is all you need to change hosts and domains I believe. Good luck with it.

  13. thank you Jacob for such a good post, i didn’t know that could happen, what a pain…good thing you resolved the problem! I am faced with a different problem now – i need to move the domain, but the owner of my hosting died and the domain expires in a couple of months.

    Omega’s last blog post..Paper power – the papercraft toys!

  14. WTF!!! my site went berserk and hitting 105% CPU load.. mama ma miya.. my provider is kicking my ass! huhuh..

  15. Hehe, yes it was a huge post. I actually just re read it all again – oh the pain, I can’t believe I went through all of that. Glad it was early in my blogging days and not now.

  16. Thanks man that was some good reading>I’ll be back,also great work on the blog overall got me interested in quite a few things on here Thanks

    John’s last blog post..Wow I woke up with a BLOGOVER

  17. Hey Jacob… WOW

    I feel now that my email and hosting issues back in January, although extremely frustrating, were minor compared to what you went through.

    Your research and the information you have shared here, without a doubt, will help many. You have brought up numerous things I am sure many bloggers have never considered, including myself.

    Thank you for taking the time to thoroughly document this unfortunate situation and for sharing this information.

    Jennifer Wilson – Agent Solutionss last blog post..Top 10 Things a Real Estate Virtual Assistant Can Do For You

  18. Being someone who works for a Hosting Provider I can say that you are not alone in having this happen to you. And you most certainly won’t be the last. Most hosting providers have easy access to their AUP or T&C Documents, and I would say that any hosting provider that doesn’t have a clause that says they can shutdown/ban your site if it’s causing issues on a shared server is opening them selves up to loose many customers. It’s a much better solution to “piss-off” one customer who’s site is causing an issue than to loose many because of that site causing an issue.

    Whilst I found some of your explanations of details annoyingly not exactly accurate, and your article a little biased towards you being hard done by by your hosting provider (Which in a sense you were by their delayed response in getting back to you), I still found it provided enough information for Jo Public to understand what was going on, and at least be able to know where to start. Well Done.

  19. If you are having trouble getting on a restricted site at school, just log off of your profile and return to the page that will allow you to log back in. Then go to the box bello the password box and click the drop down arrow. Then select another system to log onto. Do not change your username or password. This will give you administrator access.

  20. Very nice information. Check out my blog, I just posted a great blog about the 36 Best WordPress plugins for 2009.

  21. Hi nice post, i read your blog from time to time but i was wondering something. I also run a blog on a similar topic, but i get 1,000’s of spam comments and emails every day does that happen to you.. Any ideas to stop it? I currently have commenting disabled but i want to turn it back on.. Thanks!

  22. Very interesting.

    We could have a way to see how much resources our sites load, and which actions take most resources.

    My host said they are more open to high loads as higher is the plan.

  23. Hello, This is my first time, thanks for this post. I had the same issue, matter of fact I still do have it. However, I always emailed my Host Provider, and they re-activated my account for me 3 times. Funny thing, they said they will do it for a last time, or else I’ll need to Upgrade my Service with them. It is a real pain though and very expensive to do. Bad thing, I install so many plugins on My Site as well. After reading your post, I’ll uninstall the ones that I don’t need, thanks for the tips! Anyway, my question to you: is there a way to clear my Website CPU cache or something? I hope I got your answer on time before my Website got suspended again. Thanks man…

  24. Hi Jacob, thanks for your quick response.

    I deleted most of my plugins, specially the ones you mentioned in your post. I’ll take things easy this time, and I’m gonna set up another blog to test “WP Cache”.

    Thanks for the tips about “Database Backup”, Last Night after reading your post I saved up my whole site on both my HardDrive, and Flash Drive. 4 GB of files and folders, can’t you believe it? Thanks God I have FTP to do that for me, it took me the whole night still…

    I’ll go ahead and install “WordPress Database Backup” instead, hopefully I can get some sleep after that. Keep your post coming! Thanks man:

  25. I just like the valuable information you provide on your articles. I’ll bookmark your blog and test again right here frequently. I am fairly certain I will be informed lots of new stuff right here! Best of luck for the following!

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  27. This is something that I am coming across for the first time. I just cant fathom the agony who must have felt on being locked out from your own site. Thanks for the headsup and the detailed post. Will take the steps detailed to see that it doesn’t happen for my home automation Chennai website.

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