SoccerNews.com is a high traffic WordPress site with over 600,000 unique visitors and over 2,000,000 page impressions per month. It is a content republisher and aggregator, presenting custom XML feeds for (what else?) soccer news from all over the world. The site has a very active user base, providing content in the forms of editorials and comments on news items. Advertising and sponsored referrals provide the revenue stream.
I was contacted by the publisher after responding to a plea for assistance in a WordPress.org support forum. Though the site was running on a dedicated server with 8GB RAM, it was crashing frequently under load. The developer tried implementing APC Alternative PHP Cache and W3 Total Cache, but these measures turned out to be incompatible with some of the custom PHP code and the software architecture of the Cpanel server. Haphazardly implementing randomly suggested “solutions” had actually made the problems worse, resulting in an “own goal” that brought down the server.
I did an assessment of the software, hardware and traffic load and found that there were many improvements to be made. Among the changes:
- Implemented a Stateful Packet Inspection firewall and Login Failure Daemon to block malicious IP addresses, malware servers, bad bots, content scrapers, etc. Many of the problems leading to site crashes were due to constant bad bot traffic, security probes and Denial of Service attacks. Connection Tracking in the firewall now limits the amount of resources a single legitimate IP address can monopolize, in addition to blacklisting attackers.
- This is the first step to proper web server performance in today’s Internet climate. Popular sites that do not have a solid security and load balancing strategy are subject to crippling traffic from the Internet’s millions of malicious and compromised servers and personal computers.
- Reconfigured Apache web server, PHP and MySQL to better utilize the server’s horsepower. Cpanel’s efault Apache and MySQL configurations were limiting the number of concurrent user sessions the server could handle. Changed PHP to run as FastCGI (fcgid) and recompiled Apache to better handle the needs of a high traffic WordPress site. Configured a large MySQL table and query cache based on performance and load testing.
- Suggested a scheduled, offsite backup strategy that would utilize existing resources, and eliminate the need for a 3rd-party backup solution that was causing more load issues and costing $45.00 per month.
Results? I’ll let the publisher speak to that!
The site has been as good as “flawless” since, with no downtime, and we couldn’t be happier. Everything is running smoothly and it’s a great relief knowing that we made the site faster, safer and more reliable. The site feels a lot more stable and faster. So you’ve done a great job.
— Kim Vincenzius, StarScape LLC