For the last few years, I’ve been renting a virtual server from 5 Quid Hosts. I use this to host two sites with moderate traffic (Discover Society and Sociological Imagination) as well as a series of much smaller sites with negligible traffic. The performance started to diminish around a year ago and it’s been getting progressively worse. The extremely responsive technical support provide the same response each time I e-mail to say that a website is offline. The situation is becoming ridiculous and I need to overcome my inertia. I’ve been unable to access sociologicalimagination.org for days and all the technical support tell me is that I should install a profiler plug in so I can diagnose what the problem is.

At present I’m paying £35 a month, as well as subscription to Max CDN in order to try to improve performance. I regularly find myself responding to ad hoc problems with the sites, trying to diagnose issues that I don’t really understand and generally having surprisingly large amounts of time and energy taken up by this. It’s becoming immensely tedious and I’m not sure what to do about it. Discover Society will (eventually) move on to its own server. I’m not really sure what to do with the Campaign for the Public University site or the other smaller sites.

The main issue is Sociological Imagination though. Until the recent imposition of the stupid ‘new’ wordpress let me newly appreciative of controlling your own installation, it struck me that my wordpress.com installation of this blog was the only hosting experience I’ve had that was entirely unproblematic. Is there a way to move a privately hosted wordpress site back to wordpress.com?  Would this be a bad idea? Alternatively, could anyone recommend private hosts that, to put it bluntly, aren’t shit? Is there any way to move wordpress sites across en masse from one server to another or would I have to do this one by one? 

My dilemma at the moment is that I’m paying £40+ a month for a service that is appreciably worse than what I get for $99 a year via public WordPress. Even if I had to move all the sites (as well as the two big ones, at least three others can’t be dispensed with) across to wordpress.com it would seem appealing at the moment. In essence, I want to be able to forget about the mechanics of hosting a blog and just get on with blogging.

Unfortunately it seems the new version of WordPress has an irritating tendency to miss scheduled posts. This won’t be an issue for many blogs but if you schedule a lot of posts in advance then it can be very irritating – I just found that sociologicalimagination.org hasn’t published a new post since Friday despite there being lots in the schedule. Fortunately, this plugin seems to be a solution to the problem.

Screen Shot 2014-07-13 at 12.10.11For the last few weeks the CPU usage for Sociological Imagination’s server had been running at 100%. Having had this experience before, I was assiduously avoiding any unnecessary memory intensive plug ins and keeping everything regularly updated. Given that the site was starting to crash on a regular basis, I investigated further and found near continual traffic coming from China, trawling through comments and old pages on a second-by-second basis. Unsure of what else to do, I tried country blocking China. The CPU usage almost immediately fell down to its usual level of 10%-30%.

I just tried removing the country block and it immediately went back up to 100% (I took the screenshot a moment ago) with the same questionable traffic showing up. It’s now gone back to about 36% but I’m tempted to reimpose the country block given that it seemed to entirely solve the problem last time. This seems utterly absurd though. Does anyone have suggestions for alternative strategies to protect the site? Weirdly, it doesn’t seem to be happening on any of the other sites I manage (all hosted on the same virtual server) but perhaps this is just a matter of time.