The Server is Overloaded

This has got to be my favorite type of ticket we get because it never makes any sense.  I don’t know if it’s all the “non overselling” hosts spewing servers are overloaded if you sell more than 250MB space on a $10/month hosting account or what.  But we have had an increasing number of tickets titled this where it has nothing to do with a machine being overloaded at all.  Apparently no matter what the problem is the server is overloaded is the cause.  Here are some examples of recent tickets, chats and calls I’ve seen with regards to the servers being supposedly overloaded.

  • The user is experiencing a PHP syntax error they open a ticket saying our servers are overloaded causing it and that’s the only explanation.  It has nothing to do with the missing semicolon on line 275.
  • We do not have available cPanel generated backups for users to download on the fly.  Well of course we do not we don’t use the inefficient cPanel backup system but R1Soft but the brainwashing of some forums made the user believe the lack of daily downloadable cPanel generated backups were a sign of the host overloading the server.  We keep daily backups using R1Soft with 7 days retention making the cPanel system seem inefficient in comparison
  • cPanel will not let them login this is a sure sign of servers being overloaded.  In actuality they provided the wrong login information numerous times until the system blocked them for an hour from cPanel for login failures
  • Their web site takes 15 seconds to load.  This one was a little more unclear for the user but they had a nasty query with an incorrect join on every page resulting in 3.5million rows to be generated then dropped to display 1 or 0 rows.  Even the fastest server is going to take quite a while to run that sort of query unless there are specific optimizations to handle a temporary table that is 3.5 million rows in size.
  • There are not stats links within their cPanel upon their account being created.  The actual cause was stats runs are once every 24 hours so there had not been any stats ran yet against their account
  • The users account has been suspended we must be overloading our servers.  The actual issue was they forgot to pay their bill and apparently our 5+ emails over 14 days in total about an invoice being made, invoice due and all the overdue notices were not a clue into that being the cause.
  • The users account was suspended we must be overloading our servers.  The actual cause was after sending numerous emails about a script they’re running going for 30 seconds each time and using 128MB of memory we had no choice but to disable the account.  The user did not believe that doing that sort of thing was a big issue as they believed the script ran it must be working.  Well I guess the fact that their error log was full of max execution time errors was not a clue that maybe it wasn’t doing what was intended
  • The users account was suspended.  They violated our TOS/AUP by hosting a chat script generating 500,000 page views a day and at peak doing 50 requests/sec.  Our terms are very clear about this but apparently it’s a sign of us overloading our servers.  I’d like to see any host allow users to do 50 requests/sec at peak times and be at all sustainable unless they’re charging $200/month to each user and is actually putting each on a dedicated server.

I’d just like to thank all the brainwashing from some hosts on the internet who have convinced a small amount of users no matter the problem it’s a sign of the server being overloaded.  As a result we have to explain how a PHP syntax error does not mean the server is over loaded.  Also 0.50 load average on a brand new 8 CPU system does not mean it’s overloaded no matter what xyz host says about how anything above 0.00 is bad.  It’s just what some of these hosts need to do post all over the internet to compete I understand.  It just sure is annoying posting over and over again that whatever the error is has nothing to do with the server’s system resource usage.

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6 Responses to The Server is Overloaded

  1. I love the rant – what is bad about some of these individuals is that no matter what evidence you show them they are going to believe what xyz host told them in the first place.

  2. Great post! I definitely had a good laugh! Whether you oversell your servers or not, overloading is something completely different. Seen the recent over-selling thread on WHT, everybody all thinks it is bad, while it’s not always. If you carefully monitor your servers there’s nothing wrong with it. I mean, I don’t ever fill up my accounts (I’m the cause of overselling :P).

    Anyway, users should look at themselves first, their host second 🙂 Their host is the expert, they are almost always not.

  3. Tony says:

    Unfortunately the users never think it’s on their end even if it’s not the server is overloaded as what they believe the problem is. We get tickets about how our servers are causing javascript syntax errors or html errors or whatever that is purely client side and browser rendered. Unfortunately these days web hosts encompass a lot more than just the hosting we have to help people with almost everything including programming because the user will go elsewhere otherwise.

    It happens in other area’s outside of hosting but somewhat involved. Like we use LiteSpeed but they have customers posting on their forums about mysql issues when they’re purely a web server place.

  4. Huck says:

    Does the load 8-10 even means a overloaded system on a suphp server using 8 CPU system?

  5. Tony says:

    Load is a measure of processes in queue. So basically its the number of processes running that require CPU time. So if you have 8 running that require an entire CPU each your load average would be 8. So depends on what’s in queue and whether or not the server can get through them.

  6. Hikari says:

    Really funny 😛

    I’ve even seen a case where a unique, very popular WordPress site was suspended due to overloading.

    It’s good to see that you notify us before suspended, that seems to be really rare to occur!

    If I’d to suggest, it would be good to have 2 target values, being that when some account surpasses 1st one it is warned that its site is growing and if the growth keeps going it may overload the server. And when the 2nd target is reached some action is done.

    Of course we don’t want our sites down and accounts suspended, even more when it is all of a sudden and we didn’t know about it and had no chance to fix, but it’s also not good when a site hurts other hundreds sites.

    Do you have a new server with 8 CPU?? That’s new to me! It is really very hard to overload 8 CPUs 😀 I belive that it would need a bunch of scripts to overload all of them and reflect on other innocent sites.

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