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.
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.
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: justcreativedesign.com
justcreativedesign.com was disabled for overloading server with index.php processes.
justcreativedesign.com had to be disabled in order for the server to work. If justcreativedesign.com 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.
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?
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.
- Full Steam Ahead
- Creative News 14th January
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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