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You Will Not Believe What Made My Site Crash

In March I switched to from a shared server to VPS with Hostgator. I started out at level 3, but found it wasn’t enough for my site so I had to move up to a level 5. All was fine and dandy and everything was running smoothly up until yesterday morning around 10 am EST. I got a Pingdom alert in my inbox saying my site was down and yup it was. I called my host and they checked into it and then it started working again. Well, it didn’t last long. I was up and down all day yesterday and for some of today and had no idea what the issue was.

You Will Not Believe What Made My Site Crash

My host said that I got 11,000 visitors yesterday and this morning 64,000 visitors! I KNEW that was not right! I have never ever gotten that many people all at once and why all of the sudden? Something wasn’t right. They informed me that at that level of traffic I would need to move to a Dedicated Server ($200+/month). I’ll admit I broke down and cried. I was beyond frustrated because I knew something was happening and felt helpless to fix it myself. I don’t understand all the techie stuff that well.

I’m a retainer client with Desperately Seeking WordPress for their monthly upkeep services. I emailed Cathy and told her everything showing her all my email exchanges with Hostgator so she could make sense of it. She called me at home and reassured me that she would figure out what was going on. I cannot thank her enough for putting me at ease and I knew I was in good hands.

Cathy talked with the Tech Support at Hostgator on the phone. She said they actually phoned her to discuss my site which was awesome of them to do! Cathy called me again a few hours ago and told me that they found the problem and fixed it and you will NOT believe what it was. It’s crazy actually and I cannot believe I didn’t know about this. I have a lot to learn!

It wasn’t a hacker or malicious pinging or anything crazy like that. It was really simple! They looked over my error logs from yesterday and found one file on my site got over 100K hits. The file? My button. Yep the grab button on my sidebars.

Cathy explained that a popular site must have grabbed my button yesterday and added it to their site. Their traffic overloaded my server and caused me to keep crashing. Why this happened was partly my fault because I didn’t know any better. I had saved the picture to my server and when people grabbed the button, the image was still hosted on my site so it was taking up my resources. It’s a big no no apparently! Whenever I grab buttons from people I always host them on my own site so I don’t take up their resources. It’s called “hotlinking”.

She said there’s a few ways you can still have grab buttons. One way is to open a free Photobucket account and host your images for your button grab boxes there. However, she mentioned that if a popular site grabs your button, their traffic will shut down your Photobucket account and all that will be displayed is the Photobucket image. Another way is what I have done for now, it just add the pictures to my sidebar and then if you want my button, you can upload it to your server or your own Photobucket account.

So the lesson here is to change your grab button boxes so that your image IS NOT hosted on your server. I’m telling everyone this to save them the headache and stress of going through what I just did.

If you have my button, it won’t work because they deactivated all hotlinking from my site. You can either host it on your site or email me and I’ll give you the code from Photobucket to use.

Thanks everyone for their patience with my site these past couple of days. I want to say a HUGE thank you to Cathy at Desperately Seeking WordPress. She is AMAZING- I love her to pieces!! If you ever need technical support, please contact her. I’ll be a loyal client forever!

Stacie Vaughan

Stacie is the mom of two girls and lives in Ontario, Canada. She enjoys cooking/baking, photography, reading, DIY and is fueled by lots of coffee!

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