Forum Woes

So, we all know we've had tons of lag for way too long, and registration and password reset emails are apparently not always being sent, and now I'm getting "Service Temporarily Unavailable" messages. Believe me, it's really frustrating for us at Atlas, too, since this forum is supposed to be a service to our fans and instead is just upsetting a lot of people. So this morning I've taken the step of contacting our host and asking them to evaluate the issues and hopefully move the forum database to a new server. Whether or not they'll actually do it I don't know yet, but I'll let you know when I hear back from them. Sorry, again, for all the headaches!

So, our host tells us that our scripts are getting automatically killed by their Process Watcher script because our sites are going over the resource limits on the shared server. We can either reduce our memory usage, or else they say they'll be happy to raise our resource limits if we just pay them more. Hrmmm.

Needless to say, our next step is to figure out how to reduce our memory usage, but I can't say at this point how soon it'll happen or what effect it will have. Our webmaster is away from home on military duty for the next few weeks, though she's been able to help a bit via email. I've been doing my best in the interim, but this is likely to go beyond my abilities.

Sorry for the trouble, and thanks for your patience!

Well, I find this pretty strange.

I mean, forum activity doesn't vary much, yet, sometimes, everything's well, and suddenly, nothing works for weeks. So, ok, I'm pretty ignorant about this, but I fail to see how our memory usage could vary so much.

I find the explanation strange, too.

If what was reported on the Berklist was accurate, then the timing of the DDOS and your sites' "scripts" getting automatically killed because you're going over resource limits on the shared server is an odd coincidence.
Keep in mind, I had trouble just bringing this thread and subsequent posting (10 minutes) when I think I was the only registered user on the site, and there were 3 guests. So, I would ask for specific metrics of how the sites are going over resource limits, which specific resource limits are involved.

I just implemented a robots.txt file that requires bots to wait 10 seconds between requests. I'm accessing the forum pretty well right now, where before I set up the robots.txt I was blocked out by error messages. Dare I hope that it helped? Let me know if things suddenly got much better for you!

Looks good to me. Navigating the boards is now back to something quite reasonable. :smiley:

If this helps, then it means that the problem was that search engine bots were over-browsing our site. Our host's documentation says that "this is the sort of problem that feeds on itself; if the bot is not able to complete its search because of lack of resources, it may launch the same search over and over again." Thus the 10-second wait request in the robots.txt files would fix it by making them slow down. It will NOT keep out malicious robots, though, since they just ignore the robots.txt file.

I don't think it's related to the DDOS hacker attacks from last week ... our website is working fine now. Though I agree it is weird timing. I also don't think it has anything to do with our own users' usage, since I was on at 11:30 last night with only a couple other users and the same problems coming up (same as Jonathan.Link observed). Our attempt to optimize our databases this morning also did nothing, either.

If the robots.txt file doesn't do the trick, our next step will be either trying to identify any particular malicious bots visiting our forums and implement .htaccess blocking, or else to just start turning off our mods to see if one of them is the culprit (we just installed Tapatalk a couple months ago, for example). Let's hope we don't have to go that route!

Thanks for your patience!

Well, either this isn't the problem, or there are a bunch of malicious robots trying to mess with the site, because it doesn't appear to be working.
This behavior is consistent, in that there are times when the site works really well and feels relatively snappy and then it just stops accepting requests for 10, 20, 30 minutes.

The reprieve was short. :frowning:

It is slow-ish and I've been getting some errors this morning, although it is not quite as bad as yesterday.

FWIW, which may be nothing, it is moving snappily for me at the moment.

The last hour or so was very bad[strike], but right now it seems fine[/strike].

It comes and go. Mostly go, however, so it is very frustrating.

Feels almost like browsing on a 56k modem rather than a 10Mb fiberoptic, but so far tonight, it WORKS without anything more than being slow, rather than constantly stalling or timing out. Major improvement if this is as bad as it gets(lets hope).

I much rather have this slight sluggishness(where everything still keeps loading normally rather than halting for 30s(or more, or timing out and failing completely) here or there before then finishing rapidly) than fast access less than 5% of the time.

Tapatalk may have some issues: ... 29130.html ... 92658.html ... en-Removed (more about malware problems)

Well, strike the part about working i guess... Worked decently enough for a couple of hours, then Error 503 again.

Just wanted to let you know we're still working on it ...

In the last week we've optimized our databases, installed StopTheHacker, created a robots.txt file to impose a 10 sec wait between requests, updated our PHP version, did a page speed optimization, and disabled 2 mods (those were our most recently installed mod Tapatalk, and ForumRunner which was throwing minor errors in the forum log; our 2 other mods are an RSS mod and an advertisement mod which have run smoothly for over a year; all were up to date). Our forums version was already up to date. But our forums have continued to be inaccessible.

Our next step is to set up .htaccess to start blocking bot access to the forums. Wish us luck.

I just implemented the .htaccess. Please let me know how things are going. (The fact that I can post this message has me feeling hopeful!)

It waxes and wanes. I have had to use my F5 trick only once so far today. It is getting better, and I am ever so grateful and thankful for the effort you are putting into things.
One comment that may or may not have anything to do with anything: the banner ads up top seem to be targeted towards me. It used to be mainly gaming & sci-fi/fantasy products. Lately I have been seeing ads fro Beatport (a DJ music site) and Spring Awakenings (an upcomong EDM fest in Chicago), stuff I might be into but doesn't seem like it would be of much appeal to most other fans of this site. Right now it is displaying a Fredrick's of Hollywood ad. Don't know what to make of that.

Around 5pm ET, I was unable to access. Bad Gateway 504 error.
Right now, it's not too bad.
Just providing feedback.

From 6:30 pm CDT (when I got home from work) to about 7:45, I had no problems accessing the forums. Then I got an occasional 503 message, which got more frequent as the evening progressed, to the point where now (about 10:30 CDT), I get the message about 1/3 of the times.

Just a status update. Performance today seems better than it has been since the trouble started over three weeks ago. If you're adding addresses to .htaccess to be blocked, I'd say that it is doing it's job, but there are many more addresses to be added. However it's not the greatest. I've tried to post this message N+1 times where N will be updated below upon each attempt. Doing that this way, because another post I was making around the same time took 3 tries before it posted.