Blog-Site Performance Issues
Yesterday’s blog-entries-announcement newsletter, which went out late morning EST to both HTML and Text edition subscribers, taught me something important: My current web server arrangement is not going to stand up to the first hour after the newsletter is mailed each month.
Many of you wrote to me to tell me you either got error messages or had to wait minutes for individual blog stories to load in your browsers. Some of you just assumed that this was the normal experience at Scot’s Blog, and that is just not the case. Most of the time it’s pretty snappy.
The problem boils down to this: WordPress (and all other blog packages I’ve inspected) use a database to store the stories in. Many of them, including WordPress, use MySQL. My forums also uses a separate MySQL database. The two databases are on the same server. And the arrival of the blog newsletter quickly maxed out the number of simultaneous connections that my webhost has limited my MySQL service to. So people either got “database connection” errors or just waited and waited for the server’s time to free up. The forums also experienced interruptions and slow page loads.
An hour or two later, the problem had disappeared as the initial rush for the newsletter slowed down to a steady stream.
Clearly, I have to separate the forums database from the blog database. Those two can’t co-exist on the same server with a shared limitation on concurrent connections. The only way I can do that, however, is to change the domain name of either the forums or the blog.
Then I have two choices: Either I purchase a new, separate account at the existing webhost or I move either the blog or the forums to a new webhost.
I just wanted to announce to all who experienced problems yesterday that I am actively working on this issue as a top priority. I can’t promise it will be fixed by the next issue of the newsletter — but if not, it will be explained in the next issue of the newsletter. And this will be resolved.
Update on December 8: Please see this addendum in the form of a comment to this blog post. I’ve added caching software to WordPress, which may solve or at least alleviate some of the problem.
Update on December 15: The MySQL databases for the Scot’s Newsletter Forums and Scot’s Newsletter Blog have been reconfigured so that they will have separate maximum concurrent connections. The change was easy to configure, once my Webhost explained it to me, and it didn’t cost anything.
With these two changes — the cache and separation of concurrent connections — I think we’re ready to give this another go with the next newsletter. If we continue to have performance and time-out problems during the two hours following the initial sending of the newsletter, I will look for another webhost — a solution that won’t happen as quickly as these changes did. But what’s the point of having newsletter notification if the server can’t hold up to the demand? That isn’t acceptable.