Performance Problems – an Update – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Performance Problems – an Update

As I’m sure you are all aware the site has been suffering from poor performance for a long time. Evohosting, the previous hosting company, recommended that I switch to a Virtual Private Server (VPS) provided by Daily Internet, their parent company. I decided instead to move the site to a VPS from SmartHosting over the weekend of 27th/28th February. Uploading the site took up most of Sunday 28th and over the next few days the resources available to the site were increased from 1 cpu core and 1gb of memory to 3 cpu cores and 5gb.

This seemed to have solved most of the problems, but two new ones arose – some users were unable to access the site and others found that the answers were no longer hidden. The technical staff at SmartHosting were unable to throw any light on these problems other than to point out that it was a DNS problem and some nameservers, like those maintained by Google, had no problems with recognising the site and others persisted in denying its existence. I put the site on to CloudFlare, a content delivery network which acts as a reverse proxy for websites, purely so that I could change the site’s nameservers and “force” the various nameservers around the world to update their records. This had an unexpected benefit in that the spoilers covering the answers worked again.

But all was not a bed of roses, and every now and then the site went into meltdown and the cpu usage, which should be in the range 0-3, would rocket to 50-60 and beyond. Each time this happened I would struggle to get into the admin dashboard and frantically deactivate plugins until the site returned to normality. Last Saturday I turned my attention to the innocuous looking plugin that provided the list of contributors and how many posts they had contributed. What if it has to scan the entire database each time someone displayed a page? I deactivated the plugin, which I then discovered was flagged as untested on the current version of WordPress. This seems to have solved the problem. I have replaced it with a different plugin which does not show the number of posts from each contributor and is only available on the Google Search pages.

Unfortunately, a few other facilities have also been permanently withdrawn. Each time I reactivated the plugin that provides the animated emoticons, the cpu usage increased so it had to go. The Polldaddy plugin that provided the ratings was also withdrawn after some users reported errors when adding comments.

If you are still having problems please let me know in a comment, and likewise if you were having problems and they are now resolved I’d also like to know.

Thanks for your patience during what has been a very trying few months.


34 comments on “Performance Problems – an Update

  1. Hi BD,
    Yes -as of last night (Sunday) I’ve been able to get directly onto the site rather than using the proxy, for the first time in a couple of weeks. I use Windows 7 & Internet Explorer if that’s of any help to you!
    Such a shame about the emoticons – I think a great many of us were very fond of them, but we’ll obviously be happy enough simply to have the site up and running again. Maybe you’ll find another way to bring back the little fellas in the future.
    Many, many thanks for all your hard work, I hope it goes without saying that it is very much appreciated.

  2. I never have and never will use emoticons I never have and never will understand those who do unless they are eight

    1. Well said Miffypops. :-)

      I think I said in on the main site but I now longer have to post via kproxy. Running really smoothly on Windows 10/Chrome.

      Oh and thank you again for all the effort you have put in.

      1. As the saying goes, “One man’s meat is another man’s poison.” If you like emoticons, enjoy, if you don’t, don’t.

  3. I for one will not miss the emoticons.
    Thanks for all the intense hard work and long hours.

  4. We can do without the emoticons. But what would we do without the site? Thank you so much BD for all your hard work. You cannot begin to imagine what this means to many of us.

  5. 🎇 Congratulations BD 🎆
    Hope my fireworks don’t send the site into a frenzy.

  6. ‘Extremely grateful emoticon’.
    As Hanni said somewhere, you can just use words, and the range of emoticons is much greater.

    I don’t think we’ve been the ones showing all the patience – many thanks for all your efforts.

  7. Thank you for all your efforts and indeed for the site itself. I don’t contribute but I love reading all the comments, and of course getting help or explanations when all else has failed. Am so glad it seems to be sorted. Phew!

    1. Welcome to the blog, Ruth. Now that you’ve introduced yourself I hope that we’ll find you commenting on the puzzles.

  8. Dave, you have gone above and beyond for all of us and we are more than grateful. The site is not just informative, it’s like the neighborhood local, where we can hang out for a friendly chat. My concern is that all of these moves are costing you money. I’d be more than happy to chip in to an upkeep fund any time.

    My only problem, and it’s a small one, is not being able to get e-mail notifications of follow-up comments. I find that very useful. I see provision is back and checked it off, but nothing happened. Do I need to do more than just check the box?

  9. I had that discussion with BD and he said that if he were to accept outside financial help, it would be like admitting defeat. A true gentleman.
    It appears that a few macaroons and chocolates will suffice.

  10. OK – I’m going to be the first to admit that I will miss the “little faces” but that’s probably because I’m the one who’s had cause to use them the most. The blushing face, for when I’ve done or said something even more stupid than usual, and the little chap who rolls up his eyes so charmingly for when I’ve really annoyed myself for being so dim. However, all this is a small price to pay for having everything working like clockwork again as it has done since I first found this brilliant ‘place’ about six years ago.
    Three roses to BD, a little heart, a thumbs up and a great big smile – well, that’s what the emoticons would be doing . . .

    1. Second all you said, Kath, and with knobs on. I didn’t use the emoticons a lot, but they were useful, however, I am perfectly willing to sacrifice them to keep the blog. What would we do without our daily socializing?

    2. Emoticons are strictly unnecessary. So are facial expressions. You can write “*winking face*” just as you could in conversation say “wink” instead of doing it.

      Edit: I’m glad the edit functionality is back! *face with an expression*

    3. You can still use some emoticons by the look of it – so long as you know the codes
      So : followed by ) should give you a smile – these are standard internet stuff.
      It’s just the “fancy” emoticons that have vanished

      PS I’m still eight as well – as I lurve emoticons

  11. Don’t we just love technology.. 😊 We all love Dave and his efforts. God bless him and all who sail in him, and death to predictive text…. Or’ protected sex’ as they would have it…. Who has been on my tablet, I wonder….. Thanks for the blog and the support, i shall wear it always…. 😊

  12. Thanks for the update, BD. And of course for everything. Everybody whose opinion counts is very grateful indeed for all the hard work you’ve put in here. Instead of an emoticon rose, how about I gift you better communication about when I’ve agreed to fill in for someone so you actually know what’s happening on your own blog?

    1. It’ll all be fine, Kitty – a little rose in the absence of the little faces!
      I do hope that your ‘gifting’ BD the better communication about who’s doing what and when is predictive text and should have been ‘giving’.

  13. When you speak computer-speak, Dave, I’ve no idea what you’re saying. It sounds like hard homework. I hope you realise just how grateful we are that you put in the hard yards on our behalf. Stupid face. Of course you do.

  14. I have lost warning emails and the site no longer recognises me I feel unloved but I could not resist popping in to say the Most Ginormous thank you to BD who has changed so many people’s lives by getting and keeping this fabulous blog up and running. My life would definitely be the poorer.

  15. I’m a daily visitor and would like to add my most grateful thanks to Bid Dave for the obvious hard work (and it seems blood, sweat and tears) he’s put in over the last few weeks.

    I’ve been one of the lucky ones and haven’t had too much of a problem, but I know what a trial it has been.

    Please be assured Dave, although some of us might not stick our head above the parapet too often, we are here and very, very grateful

  16. I am delighted to report that I can access the blog at work (via IE) any time I want and it remembers me and my account login and everything.

    Thanks BD – you are a star.

  17. Thank you BD for all your hard work – the trials and tribulations of system testing.
    You do an amazing job and I’m surprised you still have any hair at all. I’d have pulled all mine out by now.
    Site is now working pretty quickly on my Microsoft Surface Pro using Windows 10 on Firefox, Edge and Chrome!

    PS I remember system testing all too well – when I was Change Control Manager for a well-known bank I officially got invoked as their “idiot user” at one point as I used to be able to “break” the new Online Banking system releases within about 5 minutes of them going live.

  18. BD, you’re everything and more all the above commentators said about you .Thank you for all your hard work. I can’t believe how bereft I felt when I couldn’t access the blog. However ,everything seems to be back to normal now on my I-pad. So many thanks once again .👍

  19. Well done Dave. I had been trying in vain to access the site on Thursday and Friday, but could only manage it through a VPN proxy, and that wouldn’t display the answers!
    I couldn’t decide whether my service provider (T-mobile) was blocking the whole host service – but I usually get a message if that is the case. I did have a hunch that it might have been a DNS propagation problem.
    Well, I’m glad you have resolved most of the problems. Many thanks for all your hard work,

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