Problems (For the Most Part) Resolved with WordPress and DreamHost

Suffice to say you probably noticed this site was down for a few days last week (the RSS feed was down even longer). At some point Wednesday morning the process that powers this site was consuming too much processing time and started being killed by an automated DreamHost script. You can read more about the gory details and bizarre side effects, but I just wanted to post a follow-up for the next person who encounters this.

After about 8 hours of troubleshooting I was downloading all of the files and database to move to another host, when the DreamHost support rep suggested I try to run this site under a different shell username. It was a shot in the dark, but sure enough as soon as I moved it to a new user everything started working. Unbelievable.

Of course, next was the hard question: Do I spend the 5 hours to move this blog to another hose, knowing that I’ve had no trouble with DreamHost in the past couple years and that a new host is as likely to have similar issues?

I’m sure some people will post comments about how bad DreamHost is, and all the problems they experience, but every host I’ve used (4 total) has at least this many problems, and I’ve experienced more downtime at other hosts.

After much consideration I’ve decided to stay with DreamHost for now, and have upgraded to their Private Server (PS) hosting, which allows me to move a dial and increase my usage in real time so this kind of thing can be avoided in the future.

But what bothers me is that this still doesn’t explain why my blog, which was not getting any more traffic than usual on Wednesday morning, suddenly became a processor hog.

WordPress? DreamHost? I’ll probably never know…

Update: An awesome DreamHost tech support rep named Mike M. went above and beyond and figured out one of my problems was a malicious comment spammer who was hitting my site repeatedly.

After taking care of that I noticed that the wp-cache is locking the site up once every couple days. I now know how to correct it once the lock happens (clearing the cache), but I have yet to find a sustainable resolution.

For now I am disabling the plug-in and hoping I don’t wind up with a big spike in traffic before I can install another decent WordPress caching plug-in.

Start Small, Get Big
Growth Secrets for Self-Funded Startups. It'll Change Your Life.
What you get for signing up:
  • A 170-page ebook collecting my best startup articles from the past 5 years
  • Previously unpublished startup-related screencasts
  • Exclusive revenue-growing techniques I don't publish on this blog
"The ideas and information Rob provides should be required reading for anyone that wants to create a successful business on the web." ~ Jeff Lewis
Startups for the Rest of Us...
If you're trying to grow your startup you've come to the right place. I'm a serial web entrepreneur here to share what I've learned in my 11 years as a self-funded startup founder. Luckily several thousand people have decided to stick around and join the conversation.

For more on why you should read this blog, go here.


#1 Karthk Hariharan on 12.03.08 at 6:41 pm

Dreamhost is notorious for doing this. They advertise ridiculous bandwidth/disk space for the price and the way they provide it is by recycling or killing apps during peak hours. My rails-based blog app was killed constantly by their scripts.

I moved on to another host long ago. I suggest you to do the same 🙂

#2 Matt Youell on 12.04.08 at 1:28 pm

I’ve been using WebFaction for the better part of this year and they are outstanding. I don’t think they do Windows hosting, but for WordPress that doesn’t matter. And if you’re doing any kind of LAMP development they are hands-down the place to host. Hard to explain in a short comment but developer-friendly would be an insulting understatement.

#3 Rob on 12.08.08 at 10:54 am

@Matt – Thanks for the recommendation. If I wind up leaving DH WebFaction will be at the top of my list.

#4 Karl Katzke on 12.08.08 at 5:27 pm

I’m hosted over at — out of their Dallas DC. I haven’t had any downtime that I was aware of in the past year. I have my ‘own’ un-managed VPS running centos linux; maintenance is as easy as running ‘yum update’. I have a mail server, two wordpress websites using the LAMP stack, trac, subversion, several personal projects, several customer or staging/testing websites, and I don’t have to share an IP address with anyone else — for $25/mo.