Housekeeping, blogger style
This post has nothing to do with bees but is an answer to those folks who’ve been asking, “What’s up with your website?”
My problem began so slowly that I didn’t notice it at first. I didn’t notice I was lining up various things to do while I was waiting for the site to load. If I was answering comments, for example, every time I hit “approve” or “save” I got up and chopped vegetables or fed the chickens or split firewood. It wasn’t until I installed a timer on my site that I knew I was in trouble. It could take 180 seconds to load.
First I blamed my computer. I ran diagnostics, cleared registries, updated software, all of which made my computer run better but didn’t affect my website. I then blamed my internet connection, but that checked out as well.
Next I started tinkering with the site itself. I loaded the newest version of WordPress, I condensed photos, I disabled widgets, and I deleted as many plug-ins as possible, which means no more visitor maps, no more auto-link to Facebook and Twitter, no more slide shows, no more cute little pull-quotes, and on and on. Nothing made any difference.
Next I ran a program that looked for broken links and I fixed those. Then I ran an optimization program. This one floored me. It found and deleted 6512 drafts of already published posts. I only have 732 posts, so that comes to 8.9 drafts a piece. How could that be? Turns out that WordPress saves every one. So if I go in and fix a spelling error, it saves that entire draft forever and ever. This one step reduced my database by 35%. It also deleted unapproved comments and a bunch of spam. But did it improve my load times? Not a chance.
Next to come under fire was my hosting company, BlueHost. Their customer service is second to none, but even they didn’t catch it right away. They helped me change some code in the guts of the site (scary), and they had me connect to a CDN, which allows cached copies of my site to exist on servers all over the world. Then someone hit on it: my CPU was being throttled, sometimes as much as 3600 seconds/hour, which when you think about it, is the whole hour.
Long story short, when BlueHost asked how much traffic I was getting, I told them what my stats program told me. But it turns out that my actual traffic was much higher—too much for the shared server I was on. When you are on a shared server and you use more than your share of the CPU, you get throttled to no more than your allotment—and your site slows down. Usually this works, because you may be throttled for just a few seconds/hour and there is no noticeable delay. But in my case, I was being throttled about 80% of the time—my bee site had turned into a hog site.
Once I made the decision to upgrade my hosting plan (more money, naturally) the problem went away. The site starting loading in under one second, but I also opted for a dedicated IP address, which is causing another set of problems. Now I get an intermittent 404 notice (file not found) or this reassuring error message: “There is no website configured at this address.” As it happens, this is true because I now have a different IP address. Apparently, until old cache is totally cleared out, this notice will occasionally appear.
You would think that’s the end of it, right? But no, the biggest change is yet to come. Although I love the theme I’m now using, it’s not completely responsive. Responsive is the term used to describe how well a site adapts to various mobile devices—and mine gets only so-so marks.
The decision to change the theme was a hard one for me because I like the way the site looks and I’ve tweaked it quite a bit over the years. On the other hand, I don’t want to go completely through the animal kingdom (from bee to hog to dinosaur) so I’m going to change it . . . once I get up the nerve.
If anyone out there followed me to the end of this diatribe, I welcome any suggestions you may have for Honey Bee Suite. Is there anything you would like me to include that I haven’t? Are there things that you wish I would drop? Now is the time, because the whole thing is due for a shake out. In the meantime, thanks for reading!