Sites Down, Lessons Learned, Optimized And Upgraded To Dedicated Server

Web hosting myths and facts - Lessons learned

It is certainly not great waking up to a scary warning email from Hostgator.

I was so upset when it happened on Tuesday last week. The email was essentially telling me that the support team of Hostgator have disabled my site ( since it was causing high loading issues on the server.

I was using shared hosting and I had hosted all my sites on a Baby Plan (aff link).

My first reaction – upset!

In the same email, the support technician has recommended the following:

Try to reduce the number of active plugins on the blog. Especially the following types of plugins were highlighted in the email –

a) All related posts plugins (WordPress Related Posts, YARPP) can cause significantly high load in most cases.

b) WPRobot3 and other auto-posters can also cause high load issues, and should be disabled if they are causing issues.

c) StatPress and other wordpress statistics software should also be disabled, as these too can consume too much CPU in certain cases. Use Google Analytics instead for statistics as well as Awstats which already comes by default on your account.

d) WP Post Views is also a plugin that you’ll want to avoid as it causes significant resource usage.

This gave me some worthy information on what plugins take up too much resources.

Plus they had installed a plugin called “Profiler” which scans and tells me which which plugins take up how much resource (as shown below)

Profiler scan image


Although I wasn’t able to find this plugin in the WordPress plugin repository, an equivalent of this plugin is P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler).

In the email, the following note was also there:

“Lastly, if you’re using auto-blogging, please keep in mind that in most cases the current production version of Mysql on our shared servers will have significant delays querying databases with over 100MB of data. Future versions may not have that problem as we are always looking for ways to improve performance for our clients. You can check the sizes of your databases in your cPanel under the MySQL section.”

OK all this is useful, but I am not using any of those plugins mentioned above, neither am I using any auto-blogging software.

So I got a bit turned down with this and approached support.

Even though they were helpful, I was not happy. I was mourning about this in Facebook and a few nice pals jumped in to console me.

Thanks Kim, Chukwuka, Nile, Ileane and many others for cheering me up and giving me some valuable tips.

Database Optimization

On the second round of support discussion, I was asked to install and configure WP Super Cache plugin and optimize mysql databases, which I did religiously.

And that didn’t help.

Third round

On the third round, they found that the plugin Code Colorer was causing over 25% of the usage (however they also noted that the overall usage is twice the acceptable limit).

Here is a detailed breakdown of the plugin impact

OptinSkin – 0.0231 sec – 2.04%

WPSCMagic – 0.0314 sec – 2.76%

Advanced Most Recent Posts Mod – 0.0021 sec – 0.19%

Author hReview – 0.0233 sec – 2.05%

CodeColorer – 0.3292 sec – 28.97%

Comment Redirect by Yoast – 0.0033 sec – 0.29%

Comment Reply Notification – 0.0009 sec – 0.08%

CommentLuv Premium – 0.0977 sec – 8.59%

Contact Form 7 – 0.0576 sec – 5.07%

Contextual Related Posts – 0.0095 sec – 0.84%

Datafeedr Random Ads V2 – 0.0061 sec – 0.54%

Digg Digg – 0.0520 sec – 4.58%

Editorial Calendar – 0.0119 sec – 1.05%

Google Sitemap Generator – 0.0059 sec – 0.52%

Immediate List Building Pro – 0.0404 sec – 3.56%

Limit Login Attempts – 0.0533 sec – 4.69%

Pin Button Attraction for WordPress – 0.0148 sec – 1.30%

Quotes Collection – 0.0457 sec – 4.02%

RSS Footer – 0.0010 sec – 0.09%

ThirstyAffiliates Stats Addon – 0.0117 sec – 1.03%

ThirstyAffiliates – 0.0189 sec – 1.66%

Thumbnail For Excerpts – 0.0073 sec – 0.64%

TimThumb Vulnerability Scanner – 0.0029 sec – 0.26%

TinyMCE Advanced – 0.0083 sec – 0.73%

TOC For WordPress – 0.0023 sec – 0.21%

Tweet old post – 0.0293 sec – 2.57%

Ultimate Tinymce – 0.0574 sec – 5.05%

WordPress Popular Posts – 0.0087 sec – 0.77%

WP – 0.0389 sec – 3.42%

Wp Super Cache – 0.0243 sec – 2.14%

WP-Table Reloaded – 0.0165 sec – 1.45%

WpSmartApps Header Bar Domination – 0.0228 sec – 2.01%

Youtube Videos Widget – 0.0717 sec – 6.31%

I got rid of a bunch of plugins.

And after doing this they removed the restrictions, the ticket was closed. I went to bed peacefully.

My peace didn’t last longer

I woke up and there was a new email with the same notification that my sites were taken down again. This time, the suggestion was that there is an occasional spawning of several wp-cron processes. And they directed me to a link

I did everything religiously.

The second suggestion is that WordPress Popular Posts and Quotes Collection plugins were continually making AJAX requests which run for up to several seconds each.

I got rid of WP popular posts and with Quotes collection (that I use to display testimonials in the home page and in the footer), I disabled Ajax reload.

After this the sites came back online.

The next level

I have upgraded to VPS hosting and all the file transfers and DNS transfers were done during the weekend.

Although this adds up to the running cost of the site, I have never hesitated in spending (I mean, investing) for my business.

I always go for the right internet marketing tools and never shy away from investing, coz I take my business seriously!


I wrote this post for three main reasons:

1. I got emails from many of my sincere readers that they were unable to access the site over the past few days. Guest bloggers were unable to make their submissions. I want to let everyone know what happened (although I wrote short replies to everyone, the full story is here).

2. I want blog owners to know that all “unlimited” is really not “unlimited”. Although my shared hosting plan offers unlimited disk space and bandwidth, when I am using up too much resources and CPU, I’m crossing my limit (especially since this is shared hosting and this could affect the others who are sharing the server with me). Plus I also want the blog owners to know which plugins could run them into trouble and what optimization techniques could help.

3. I want to have this post as a reference to myself, should any similar issues occur in the future.

I almost went to a point where I was thinking of switching the hosting – this was because I am one impatient blog owner who is so anxious about my sites being down. Simple.

But the whole point of Hostgator is very reasonable. They’ve been so helpful with sorting out the issues, helping me to optimize my site and also with transferring my sites to the new server. I highly recommend Hostgator to anyone!

Here are some of the useful resources for optimizing your site (got from my discussions with Hostgator support) –

(i) Tips on optimizing your blog –

(ii) Optimize WordPress installations for use on shared servers (WP Super Cache configuration)-

(iii) Replace WordPress Cron with a real Cron Job –

(iv) And if you’re using Commentluv Premium (which I highly recommend) see how you can configure WP Super Cache –

And if you found this post useful, please share it in your social circle. I’d appreciate that; thank you!

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  1. SamuelSamuel says

    Having your site down is no fun! I know what that feels!

    Thanks Jane for sharing your story and fixing your hosting problems.

    Having too many plugins isn’t good for one’s site and you have testified this through this article.

  2. George says

    Hi jane now i know all the plugins you are using. Well its nice if you move to some vps like linode as the ones at hostgator aren’t touted to be that great. And when they say unlimited its always limited.

  3. AdityaAditya says

    Hi Jane,
    I guess no body wants that their site will face such issues and they have to pay it.Instead you have chosen a wise way to pay for something which gives better services.

    Although you are having some problems but still you are recommending Hostgator that what i like the most as making negative impact just because you are having problems isn’t a smart choice.A heads up for you.

    • Jane Sheeba says

      Aditya, I didn’t have problems with Hostgator hosting. Indeed the people at Hostgator were very patient and helped me optimize various areas of my website. I have a bunch of sites (16, I think) on my hosting account. And some of those sites are busy ones. So, naturally its time to go big.

      • AdityaAditya says

        Yes but somehow there is a problem.I am not saying its from there side.After all nobody wants to shift their services as its very hectic to transfer all the stuff to some other network.

  4. SamSam says

    If you have own business then you should have your own business site on any how because this is much important for now-a-days if you have site then you can attract online customers as well for earn more money. But beside that you should know those all secrets about run your business site which are friendly with major search engines.

  5. akhilendra says

    CodeColorer looks like the real culprit, i too had gone through same when one of my vbulletin forum running on shared hosting blasted last year. when i contacted my host, they informed me about the limits on concurrent connections to database which was kind of news to me at that time. WordPress is far better than vbulletin when it comes to resource consumption but plugins have got their downside and it is one of that. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  6. Shalu Sharma says

    Brilliant post Jane about the issues one can have when using a lot of resources. I too use Hostgator and if the site grows as big where I have to transfer the site to a VPS hosting, will they do it for you or do you have to do it yourself?

  7. JamesW says

    Thank you for this post, I went through it carefully and I must say that I learned a lot.
    I’m happy that your website is back online and that you manged to fix the issues with the related post plugin.
    What are your opinions on your new hosting, is price affordable and what is the speed of the site now?

    thanks for sharing

  8. DiTesco says

    Hi Jane. This post was very useful indeed and believe it or not, this weekend I did some cleaning up of my own and replaced “YARP” with nRelate. Since nRelated works on a third party server, it not only freed up resources, it made my site load about a half a second faster. Not a lot, but a bit here and there and they add up. I had this problem before, but using CloudFlare has helped a lot, and although I know CF is a bit buggy sometimes, it is a great “affordable” alternative. Good to know you are up and running smoothly. Wise investment and something that I will have to seriously consider in the very near future.

    • Jane Sheeba says

      Anything that frees up resources on our end is much welcome Fran :) But what if their server has a downtime or something like that? Will our site won’t be affected in that case?

      Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Dominique says

    I have had that before and my blog is only a small one as compared to yours. I am still on shared hosting and refuse to move to VPS as I don’t see the need for that additional cost. I managed to get a shared hosting which doesn’t oversell and later push you to go on VPS.. most of the time overstuffing of domains on a server is causig this problem.

    • Jane Sheeba says

      Indeed Dominique :) I actually put so many sites on my baby plan and overloaded it. But I really have to coz I have a bunch of my own sites + niche sites + a few client sites.

  10. Mairaj PirzadaMairaj Pirzada says

    I understand the feeling one could have when his/her suite/blog doesn’t respond! I know, how badly it feels. I saw your problems’ status over at Facebook, and could easily feel how you’re feeling right the time. It’s very bad incident, I know.

    I got very happy with the victory, and got more excited by knowing how HostGator could help anytime. Thanks for sharing it.

  11. Ameenah says

    Wow, what a hassle you had to go through the past few days! I think it’s both helpful and thoughtful to share your story with your readers – there is no mystery about why the blog was down, and it’s an opportunity to turn a struggle into a learning experience.

    On the bright side, your traffic surge also show just how successful your blog is!

    Our website is brand new and extremely small, but this info is useful for the future. Thanks for a great post!

    • Jane Sheeba says

      Thanks Ameenah, yes I want to record my good and bad experiences so that they can be useful to the others as well as to me (in case I encounter any similar problems in future :))

  12. Paul LeePaul Lee says

    It’s a very important concept to understand, this idea that unlimited is not truly unlimited. There are physical limitations to what can and cannot go onto a website, and it’s helpful to see a breakdown of how plug-ins and add-ons are adding to this total. I imagine this process was a bit of a hassle, but the knowledge gained is worth the cost, I think, both for you and for all of us who can put this information to good use.

  13. Roberta Budvietas says

    Had the same problem but lacked the great friends. Got the site up by disabling a bunch of plugins but will review the site today thanks to your great information. Interesting, we never had this problem until we moved to Hostgator

  14. Shawn Hessinger says

    Hi Jane,
    Helpful post for anyone who does hosting with a third party provider. The fact is that if readers can’t get to your site or if it loads too slowly, the best content in the world won’t help. This means taking the precautions necessary with your Web hosting company to make sure you have the needed bandwidth and responding quickly when trouble with plugins arises.

  15. TopeTope says

    I can imagine just how annoying and irritating it is to have all these issues and each time you think its getting better, you turn out to be wrong. Thanks for the heads up though….at least I know what to do when such issues arises because I am on the baby plan as well

  16. JessieJessie says

    Hi Jane,
    I think this can happen to any blog/ website which is hosted on third party service provider. I did not knew that adding these plugins on blog can hamper the website’s service to such an extend. This post will certainly help us a lot to avoid such problem in near future!

  17. Vivek | wordpress themesVivek | wordpress themes says

    I would personally suggest you to move with wpengine. They are costly but they are famous. They will pay you even if your site is down ( because of them ) for even 10 minutes. They will also give you dedicated ip, free cdn ( netdna the company which own maxcdn ) for free, and even cleanup your website from malwares and hackers ( they use integrity check from sucuri )..

    The best part is, they create and modify wordpress plugins themselves and you don’t need to use any caching plugin, since they do this work for you. And their are lot more. I am not their affiliate, but just wanted to share it with you, since your site is really heavily traffic ed.

  18. Kulwant Nagi says

    The problem you shared here means that PBS is growing at good pace which is a good news for readers also. Your experience will help us to keep in mind that how we can tackle this if we have such issue in future.

    I loved your approach that you were very good to troubleshoot the problem with analyzing the database, plugin load etc.

    I would love to see the post dedicated to VPS only, that how this is important for any website.

  19. BhushanBhushan says

    I have not facing that type of something but it is all clear here that it will be very sad but thanks for sharing this I will not have this when on changing.

  20. Ganesh Maharjan says

    Till now I haven’t faced this type of problem, may be I use few plugins and traffic is also low in my blog. I know that how the site owner feels when their site goes down.
    Thanks for sharing this issue with us.

  21. RobertRobert says

    I remember the day my blog was down due to over using CPU. It was a nightmare and I couldn’t sleep since the blogging was huge part of my life. I walked through the whole process as you stated above too :) and everything was fine then.

    I think your post is a helpful resource for people who aren’t aware of overusing their “unlimited” Bandwidth.

  22. Muhammad Mahdi says

    Fantastic Article Jane …

    Thank you for coming forward and sharing your real-life experience as blogger and as a business owner.
    I received so many valuable insights form this post.

    1 – Things happen… so control your emotionalism.
    Entrepreneurs must have an “level-head” and get straight to the issue.
    Spending time in frustration does not help anything.

    2 – Entrepreneurs HAVE NOT LIMITATIONS.
    We see each “challenge” as an opportunity, sent by the universe, to test our determination to achieve a favorable resolution.
    We never say “I’ve done all I can do” .
    If we don’t have the answer, we find someone else that does have the answer and leverage their knowledgebase.

    3 – Entrepreneurs use their current challenges to find out what areas of our thought process and our execution of a plan … are weak … and need to be “revised”.
    There is always more blessings in the challenge than what we see at first glance.

    4 – Entrepreneurs have “thick skin” .
    Jane had several problems within her site that caused the site to be shut down.
    Having repeated hardships can not only affect your morale, but also your finances.
    Having the spiritual resolve to NEVER TAKE “NO” AS AN ANSWER … led Jane to upgrade the process entirely… to safeguard from future frustration.

    Jane Sheebah … this is one GREAT ARTICLE …

    Thank you for lighting the path ahead of us, so that our steps are safe.


  23. FabrizioFabrizio says

    Hey Jane what a heart ache that must have been, glad you sorted it though. With the recent events that I’ve been facing with CPU usage, I’m seriously now looking at moving over to a VPS, something I have zero knowledge about but will get there somehow. Thanks for sharing your story, this will certainly help anyone one else facing similar dilemmas.

  24. SamSam says

    When this kind of problem is raise it cost too much for site owner because it’s put very odd impact to visitors. So these are the nice source to save your time as well as your customers and new readers.

  25. MikeMike says

    Hi Jane,

    If your blog is down then i guess every one feels hectic and it seems that you have learned a good lesson from this experiment. I have been blogging from many years and It seems that i need to buy VPS for large traffic.
    I have been using a lot of plugins but once i came to know that the plugin’s reduce the speed of blog, I just deleted them 😀

    Thank you for such an awesome post.


    • Jane Sheeba says

      Vicky, if you’re just starting out, you will do well with the shared hosting. When your traffic and activity outgrows shared hosting, you will need to move to VPS (or dedicated). Until then, you should be doing fine with shared plan.

  26. Aly M. says

    Jane – I had a HORRIBLE experience with Hostgator due to some of the same issues and one of my sites went down when I experienced a tiny bit more traffic, except where you got a fabulous tech, I didn\’t. There were two techs that wound up crossing stilettos with me that week and it wasn\’t pretty. That day, I took some client sites offline, moved them to Bluehost and, since I already have my current site on HG, it will be there for the time being but the others will be moved to BlueHost. Long and short of it was based on those two horrible techs who really shouldn\’t be at HG. I was with them for years and it goes to show that if your company has horrible customer service, even one experience can sour a long-time customer. I\’m glad you had a good experience tho :) Maybe HG will learn.

    • Jane Sheeba says

      Aly sure thing. None of the webhosting services (or any other service for that matter) can be relied upon 100%. I too sometimes stumble upon some technical staff on live chat who don’t get my question at all. But yes, I’m so happy so far with their service and support!

      In all this chaos I tried Bluehost. They don’t seem to have dedicated or other plans. Theirs are all shared plan plus they don’t offer any kind of transfer services even if I am willing to pay for them! That turned me off totally. Coz site transfer is really a PITA process.

  27. Nirave says

    As I said in my email to you, as great as HostGator are, I’ve found their support to be limited when it comes to really technical WordPress related issues. Went from shared hosting to dedicated server inside one month and still had issues.

    Moved away to WPEngine and couldn’t be happier. They deal with WordPress only – nothing else, not even email and their support is full of WordPress experts. Over 6 months I had numerous issues, outages, slow downs, downtime and crashes with HostGator. With WPEngine it’s all configured beautifully and the best thing is that they offer a security guarantee and scan your install periodically to ensure there isn’t a rogue plugin on board.

    With HG I had issues with pages not found (due to a heavily tweaked .htaccess), I had issues with Google connecting to the site and I had issues with just about everything I could possibly imagine, including being hacked TWICE. Moving to WPEngine was the best move I EVER made.

    Just my two cents…

    • Jane Sheeba says

      Nirave thanks so much for your suggestion. Yes, no web hosting service can be 100% relied upon. So far I’m doing good with Hostgator. But that doesn’t mean it will be so for years to come :) I’ll keep your suggestion in mind!

  28. Gaurang JoshiGaurang Joshi says

    Hey Jane,

    I couldn’t believe you were hosting your sites on shared one #kidding.
    Well this was a great move to shift your blog to VPS. Hope PBS will work fine on VPS.

    Keep Rocking.,,!

  29. Jason Mathes says

    I recently had to transfer my site from a custom VPS to Hostgator (shared). It was relatively painless to get it transferred though! Thanks for the warnings – I’ll need to keep an eye on the plugin performance as traffic starts to go up!

  30. LuisLuis says

    Thanks for sharing your problem and it’s solution, Jane. Just a little earlier today I read another post related to this. The problem for that person was that their traffic was actually too high. I couldn’t believe there could be negative results from high traffic, but what I pulled away from that blog was to carefully read the Terms & Providers of your host and be prepared for the possibility of down time.

  31. Shalu Sharma says

    This is exactly what has happened to me. After installing cache plugin and removing a bunch of plugins, they removed the restrictions. I was not happy at all with Hostgator I am afraid. I am one angry Indian lady at the moment.

    I had a look at the list of your plugins, you were using a lot of plugins but then you have to optimise it for the site to do well. I am glad you you sorted your hosting and moved to a dedicated one.

  32. Matt says

    Thanks for sharing your experience Jane. My site is also under hostgator shared hosting. There are times that I received such emails. I remove YARP because according to them it uses so much resources. After doing so I seldom receive such email.

    Same with you I like hostgator since their agents are very much helpful. They can also provide on-the-spot solution to their customers problem. Same here, I also recommend hostgator. :-)

  33. john moralesjohn morales says

    this is not true ..i like reading your blog but this about host gator being a good service i dont agree with. i have had this exact problem with them numerous times with many account and always the best way to solve this is jumping ship to go daddy. i have transferred sites with the same plugins and same size to other hosting providers from host gator and about half the time the problem has been host gator bad server limits and quality.

    • Jane Sheeba says

      What is not true here John? I just said what has happened to me. What worked for me need not work for you and vice versa. Not everyone likes Hostgator and not everyone likes GoDaddy! There’s no “one-size-fits-all” kinda solution to any problem!

      Thanks for stopping by.

  34. Jignesh RathodJignesh Rathod says

    I have so many problems/errors with my current hosting and you don’t know how helpful this post has been to me. Thank you so much. Now it’s time to move to HostGator!

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