WPTavern Is Back – I Think

After what seems like a week of technology hell dealing with webhosting companies, I think things have started to calm down with a working solution. Right now, WPTavern is being hosted through HostGator after my first host, AnHosting told me there was nothing they could do to stop a Distributed DOS attack from happening to WPTavern.com. After AnHosting, I picked up and moved to WPWebhost but soon after I uploaded my plugin files, at least six of them failed to function properly. I was not in the mood to diagnose the problem as well as the issues I had with email so I moved to HostGator where I also had email issues but I think domain propagation had something to do with email. However, I also think the lack of clear instructions which don’t work on the Cpanel Email account setup page are also to blame.

Also with HostGator, I have no idea what was causing the problem and neither does the tech support but at random times on different files, WPTavern.com would hang. Whether it was a CSS file, an image, or something else, these files would cause the loading of the site to stop for extended periods of time. Today, I wiped out the install of WordPress and installed a fresh copy. I then imported the SQL database and installed all of my plugins from scratch. I’ve also installed WP-Super Cache as well as getting rid of two images that were almost 100K in size while also fixing a call to an image that produced a 404 error. I’m happy to report that so far today, the site and the forum have been loading faster than I’ve ever seen it after spending two years with AnHosting.

If you are browsing the site or forum today, please tell me in the comments how fast the site is loading for you or if you notice the site hanging.


25 responses to “WPTavern Is Back – I Think”

  1. Great. Congratulations on setting up everything successfully. I will suggest you to install W3 Total Cache. It is much better that wp super cache.

  2. If you have anymore issues and need to move to another host, I’d recommend A Small Orange or Media Temple. MT has it’s issues, but support is worth the price and service.

  3. Good to see you back up Jeff.

    Shared hosting is intrinsically dodgy, I don’t think there is any model whereby you can expect proper support – they simply throw thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of customers onto the same server and hope for the best.

    It might be worth considering a VPS, not so much for the extra capacity (although, with a forum, you may actually need it) but more for the support. You would be running your own virtual server, with your own WHM/CPanel, so, it is much easier to track down problems, plus your hosting company has a better incentive to give you real support because you are paying them real money.

    Shared hosting is really just for low-level websites, no matter what fancy terms they use in the advertising or feature lists. Their whole business model is based upon overselling. If you are investing more than an hour of your time into your website everyday, it is probably worth making the jump to VPS or a small server.

  4. I feel your pain. I’ve had that too and I am on HostGator as well. Personally, I think it may be a plug-in causing the issue, but I haven’t been able to pinpoint anything. One thing that I did that you may want to consider is to keep track with a traffic report. I use the traffic report feature from WebCEO. I get a weekly email about my site speed. Not sure what I did to change it, but my rating has improved in the last few weeks. Good luck!

  5. One good thing about Hostgator is that they don’t over sell their servers like some others providers. I have a reseller account and there are 170 sites on my server. When I used GoDaddy they had over 2000 sites hosted on the same server.

  6. I thought I’d recommend looking into using Google Apps For Your Domain for e-mail. Here’s the link to the standard (read: free) version: Standard Google Apps.

    It’s hosting independent, so if you move in the future, you can just make sure the dns at the new server has the mail pointing to google’s servers, and you should be good to go, with no loss of data. Plus it uses the gmail engine, which is pretty great and flexible. Here’s info on setting up google apps with HostGator.

  7. Glad you got it sorted out. DNS can be a PITA. HostGator can migrate you to one of their VPS should you need it. donnacha is right on in regards to the overselling that takes place on shared accounts. It is an industry practice not a rarity.

  8. Good to see you back! Hopefully everything is solved on your side as well! Switching hosts can be a pain, so I can’t imagine how frustating it can be to have to it in emergency. Did you actually plan to make the switch before the attacks?

  9. So the DDoS attacks and what they were caused by on your previous host are still unsolved? That would leave me dissatisfied.

    But good to see you back up!

  10. Site is working great. I love HostGator. Live chat is a must and it makes their support incredible.

    Agreed on the suggestion to move to Google Apps for email. Also host your domain with someone like GoDaddy. That way any time you change hosts the only place you’ll need to make a change is at GoDaddy and its instant.

  11. Good to see you back.

    Now, my experience since you’re back online.

    The site is loading for me but this evening (Chicago) I occasionally get the delayed loading of the site and it was typically a random CSS file like:

    I’ve been flipping between forum and WP sides and into and out of posts and categories. There was no pattern indicating when it would hang. I got a few instances of the site hanging about half and hour ago but now the response is prompt and as I expect.

    Let’s hope it stays that way :)

  12. I was a little worried. I used to play in a band, and for a time it seemed that we were last band to play in a few joints that closed down for good after we played — I wondered if that bad luck got passed on to you.

    Anyway, I will likely be looking for a new host too as I recently got notice that they are going out of business and are transferring all their services to another company. I smell disaster on the horizon, and I was thinking of going to another host of my own choosing.

    Do you have some advice on what I should do?

  13. @donnacha | WordSkill – Shared hosting is fine for 90-95% of websites out there. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Yeah some hosts get it wrong. However many play it straight… We don’t oversell, and we never will.

  14. @strebel – I agree that shared hosting is fine for 90-95% of websites, probably even 99% of them, because it simply isn’t important that they remain up all the time.

    If, however, you are investing a lot of time into your site, are working towards it becoming your main business and are trying to build a community around what you do, uptime becomes far more important and, sadly, the extent to which you become a target for hackers increases. Probably far less than 1% of websites fit into that category, but WPTavern certainly does. The value of Jeff’s time (and, indeed, the time of all the commenters and posters in the forum) dwarfs the cost a VPS or small server.

    A lot of businesses overspend ridiculously, getting a server long before they actually need one. In Jeff’s case, however, I think there is a danger that he will underestimate the damage that occasional outages will inflict upon the momentum he is trying to create. I know that it has not been easy to monetize the Tavern, it certainly is not yet anything near to justifying the time and effort that he pours into it, and that is why the temptation to remain with shared hosting, to simply cross his fingers and hope for the best, is no doubt strong.

    What I am saying, however, is that shared hosting, no matter how well-liked the company, no matter how perfectly it works for an army of amateur bloggers with a completely different set of circumstances than Jeff, is simply not going to be a good fit for the Tavern as it grows, that the attempted DDoS attacks and other related bullshit is going to increase, not diminish. Growing pains.

  15. @donnacha | WordSkill – I tend to agree with donnacha. Even if current traffic doesn’t really necessitate a VPS, future growth will. I think that planning for a move to a VPS from a reliable provider in the next few months would probably be beneficial, if only because it can provide assurance that the site will be more responsive and offer a better experience for the current community, not to mention future members.

    I think that Jeff’s biggest hang-up with going with a VPS (and certainly with going to a really scalable option like Slicehost) is the unmanaged aspect. I can completely understand that, but I should note that there are a lot of good hosts that while they don’t offer a fully-managed VPS, it’s managed enough — meaning that you get CPanel or Plesk already installed and can then download one-click installers and whatnot — even if there is some more manual configuration stuff, some hosts do a good job of kind of trending that line between fully managed (and thus, maybe out of Jeff’s current budget) and barebones like Slicehost.

  16. Well, one of the good things about HostGator is if they turn out to be a decent host, upgrading and moving the site to a VPS they offer would be pretty easy. WPTavern.com is surely not within the realms of overloading the resources on a shared hosting account just yet. It’s not like I’m running TechCrunch or Mashable. This site only receives maybe 50,000 pageviews a month which is nothing. I don’t like going the VPS route unless it’s managed and if it’s managed, that means it’s expensive.

    I just want the site to be online and functional so I can write and publish content. I don’t want to use my time to manage servers or even stuff dealing with a shared hosting account.

  17. Here are my two cents. This site is too slow. Add w3-cache with page level caching and you are good to go.

    If you want to move ->
    Go with Media Temple GS and get the $20 per month Mysql container. $40 per month and it is very fast. Scales all day, and you can move your DB to faster platform with more money.

    Also, use WP tuner to find your long queries and remove them, or use the built in Transient API to store the results. You have to be careful with the Transient API though because if you have a very high traffic site, a short cache time and a long query, you can create a loop/race condition where the cache never gets made right.

    What out for stuff like tag clouds, related posts, most comments as they can require a lot of query time and really eat up your server.

    I have learned a lot by trial and fire lately about High performance wp latetly moving a site with 5M page views from blogger to WP. WP can handle it, but you have to look at each query and make sure it is necessary. Page level caching with apache redirect (w3-cache enhanced) will take all the load off your server. We are hosting this site at Rackspace cloud sites and using maxCDN and love both. MaxCDN is dead simple to set up with w3-cache.. Total hosting cost about $300 per month to do a TB or so of transfer.

    With your traffic and number of comments, you should be fine on Media temple and let it grow with you.

    One more comment and I will get off my soap box. Why don’t you have a nice big 250 x 300 google image ad on your site (or two) in the sidebar. With 50K page views, you should be able to make about $100 per month. That is enough to pay for some great hosting.

  18. RE: Hostogator: I have several WP sites at Hostgator and had a problem with “Press This” not working correctly on Hostgator WP installations, espcially the “insert image” feature.

    Hostagotor responded with this: “the issue was the bookmarklet setting off mod_security, and I was correct. Mod_security checks HTTP requests inbound to the server for certain patterns that may be or have been used in website exploits and will block the request if it recognizes a pattern. Some of these patterns will be picked up by false positives, which was the case here. I have whitelisted the rule that was being triggered for the three domains you mentioned(it has to be whitelisted on a per-domain basis):”

    If anyone needs to contact Hostgator with the same problem here’s the ticket number to reference: CKR-13209767


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