Surviving a freak wave

Author and fellow Movable Type user Charles Stross recently survived a massive surge of load on his server. He describes the experience here.He gets regularly Slashdotted and listed on Redit, so surges of load are nothing new. However, what happened to him was an order of magnitude stronger then that. And he has some helpful tips on surviving that kind of freak wave.

The first lesson of which is, Static HTML.

My choice of Movable Type was clinched by the fact that it can use static HTML for its pages and doesn't require a DB hit for every page load the way WordPress does. Such pages can scale f-a-r longer than their dynamic brethren.

The second lesson, no or minimal graphics.

Bandwidth and connection-duration will both be better handled by serving small files. I have one image, and it is 1.18KB in size.

The third lesson, even basic machines can handle a Slashdotting these days.

Less important for me since I'm currently using shared hosting rather than dedicated hosting, but the point is taken.

The fourth lesson, design your site for a single order of magnitude wave, and plan for a 2nd order of magnitude.

This is why I've minimized dynamic content as much as I can. I don't even live-publish comments, that's done every couple of minutes just to save load in the case of a major wave. Since I'm on shared hosting I'll hit maximums well before a dedicated site like Stross' would, so I need to load-shed a lot sooner. As it happens, a slashdotting WOULD be a 2nd order wave for me. If it started happening regularly, I'd have to change hosting.

That said, if I was blogging from the cloud (i.e. Blogger, I wouldn't have to worry about any of this. But then, this is a sysadmin blog.


To quote Vince Vaughn in "The Wedding Crashers"; "Erroneous!"

WordPress comes with caching. Also, there are numerous caching plugins that work better than the very simple default caching. Either of which completely handle the potential Slashdotting issue. Honest. I'm on shared hosting and get plenty of traffic, though, I have to admit, not as much as I used to get when I was blogging every day. I actually had an ISP threaten to close my account based on the traffic I was getting to my MT blog, but I've had no issues at all since moving to WP.

Just sayin'. =)

Uh, also? WordPress would have totally caught the spam comment that popped in after yours on this post. You may want to revisit your anti-spam solution and tune it up a bit. You may find some more spam comments that have slipped through.

To clarify, though, most of my issues with MT were when I'd publish something or update the archives, which used to happen every time I published something. I had so many posts that the server would come to its knees rebuilding everything, which was the way MT *used* to do things. They may have changed that scheme now. Not sure.
Personally, I'd be worried about the future of MT since SixApart has been bought out by another, larger company, even though they spun it on their company blog as a "merger". I hope they keep up their development of their blogging products!