W3 Total Cache, YARPP, and mySQL: A deadly combo

Written September 18th, 2010
Categories: Articles, Blog, Scripting / Programming

Last night I got an e-mail at 2:00 am from Bluehost stating that my account was being blocked for excessive resource use.  Naturally, I was not happy because it was very late at night, I was a few beers in and couldn’t see straight, and the e-mail was totally out of the blue.  Take a look:

Dear Alejo:

Your web hosting account for **************.com has been deactivated, as of 09/18/2010. (reason: site causing performance problems)

This deactivation was due to a Terms of Service violation associated with your account. At sign-up, all users state that they have read through, understand, and agree to our terms. These terms are legal and binding.

Although your web site has been suspended, your data may still be available for up to 15 days from the date of deactivation; if you do not contact us during that 15 day period, your account and all of its files, databases, and emails may be deleted.

If you feel this deactivation was made in error, or in order to gain access to your account, please call our customer service line as soon as possible at (***) ***-4678.
Please read the following, derived from our Terms of Service agreement, for additional information regarding the matter.

Engaging in any activity that, in BlueHost.Com’s sole and absolute discretion, disrupts, interferes with, or is harmful to (or threatens to disrupt, interfere with, or be harmful to) BlueHost.Com’s services, BlueHost.Com’s business, operations, reputation, goodwill, subscribers and/or subscriber relations, or the ability of BlueHost.Com’s subscribers to effectively use BlueHost.Com’s services is prohibited.

Please review the current copy of our Terms of Service here:

Thank you,
BlueHost.Com Technical Support

I immediately called them up to get more information, and got to talk to a nice gal in tech support right away.  She looked up my account.

Yah, we’re not sure what your site is doing but you’re putting some heavy strain on that mySQL server you’re sharing.

“Absurd! My site only gets a few thousand hits per day.  There’s no way I’m dragging things down.”

Nope, it says right here.  In the last few days you’ve moved 1.9 terabytes in and out of the ****** and ******* tables.

I’ll show these dunderheads.  I logged in to my PHPMyAdmin and quickly found out that she was right.

Well this isn't good.

So a few diagnostics later, we figured out the problem.  My W3 Total Cache (W3TC) plugin was set to automatically pre-cache pages at a rate of 10 pages per minute.  Combined with a relation-intensive plug-in like the Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP) this meant that the server was hitting the database for the wp_term_relationships table hundreds of times per minute.  This created a stupid amount of database traffic.

I think you may have a point Julie at Bluehost…

The moral of the story here is that you should be really careful with what your plug-ins are doing and how they might interact with each other.  And take frequent backups- you never know when your host will drop a bombshell on you.

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