Is Your Web Host Throttling Your Blog?

If your blog is experiencing a slowdown, it could be because your host has throttled it. Here’s my story.

I’d noticed that it was taking a little bit longer to access my blog. I had also noticed that my weekly WebCEO report showed that my site was woefully slow. I had a look in my WordPress dashboard and decided I needed more help, so I opened a support ticket with my host – Bluehost.

My host then said: “I see that your website is using too much in CPU resources for our shared hosting environment.” I was shocked. My site is hardly Problogger or Mashable. It’s just a writing blog with a decent, though not exorbitant, amount of traffic. So what had changed? The Bluehost tech support guys talked me through some of the options.

Reducing CPU Load

Speed Test1. The first suggestions was to reduce running processes which I should have been able to find in Cpanel via a button under the CPU throttling section. I opened it and found nothing running. Zero. Zilch.

2. The next suggestion was to disable plug-ins in WordPress. I’d already done that some time back and had pared down to the essentials, but I logged into my dashboard and checked that I didn’t have anything particularly intensive enabled. I disabled a couple I had recently installed just in case. Everything was up to date, too, which removed another possible flag.

3. The next step was to check for slow mySQL queries. Here are the instructions Bluehost provided:

Log into your cpanel.

# Click on phpMyAdmin.

# On the left will be a list of your databases. Select the one you want to repair/optimize.

# This will load all of the tables in your database into the right side. At the bottom of this list, there is a link called “Check All”. Click that.

# Just to the right of the check all link there is a drop down menu that says “With Selected.” Click on that, and choose “repair”.

# You should get a page that will list all the tables, with “OK” listed next to them. When this is done, look up to the top of the page, and click on the “Structure” tab.

# This will take you back to the page you saw on step 4.

# Click “Check All” again, and then choose “Optimize” in the drop down menu.

I completed that and checked back next day to see what difference it had made. It had reduced the amount of throttling but my site was still being slowed down for nearly 3 hours in every 24 – not good enough.

Other Options

As it turned out, I’d exhausted the tech support options and Bluehost suggested that either I get professional help or get a VPS or dedicated hosting from another host. With more than a year to run on my current hosting contract, I’m not ready to do that yet, so I did some more digging around and found that someone else had experienced the same problem.

Finding Help

CravingTech’s post on his problems told me that I needed to look and see if my theme could be the problem. Perhaps — the thumbnail script and JQuery as well certain images are responsible for many of the excessive hits. I also read the follow-up post where he talked about his move to HostGator and the one about reducing WordPress CPU usage, which provide some useful starting points for cutting CPU load.

Where does that leave me? Since I’m not going to change hosting just yet, I need to see if the problem lies within the theme – or somewhere else. In the meantime, my site is still being throttled. Have you experienced a similar problem with shared hosting? How did you solve it?

(Photo: San Diego Shooter)

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