As regular visotors may be aware, the website was down for a few days at the end of August and start of September. We are really sorry for any inconvenience this caused. The downtime was caused by increased traffic over a 48 hour period. Basically, the number of visitors suddenly doubled in the space of a couple of days and we were taking up too much of the CPU on our host’s servers.
To combat this issue we’ve had to make some changes to the site to make things a little bit more efficient. The following changes have been made:
- We’ve had to disable the comments for the time being. Our stats showed that the comments scripts were being called an average of eight times more than the homepage, and although this might be a sign of their popularity we’ve had to make the difficult decision to remove them for the sake of the website as a whole. Don’t worry if you’ve previously added a comment - these are safe, and we are currently working on a more efficient method of displaying them.
- To put more emphasis on the client side (you) rather than the server side (us), we’ve also made the map show 30 rather than 25 markers. This will mean that the page will take a little longer to load, but won’t put quite as much pressure on the server (hopefully). To be honest, this is a guess, and it might work in the opposite way - we’ll just have to keep our eyes on the stats - so if it’s down to 10 markers at the end of this week, you’ll know why! *** Amendment *** - We’ve made it 20 markers on a page. That’s because we have a large number of visitors who load up the map once and then don’t bother going any further. By making this reduction, these people mean that we’re actually putting less traffic through the server
- The Google Homepage tool was viewed more than a million times during August (seriously). This in itself has created more than a gigabyte’s worth of traffic on the server. Due to this popularity we couldn’t possibly remove this feature, so we’ve scaled it down instead - it now shows the latest 10 markers rather than the latest 20. That means that the script which generates the markers is only half the size that it would be normally, meaning that we can have more page views for less bandwidth.
- The news section doesn’t list as many items on the front page - it now shows three as opposed to five, meaning that the page isn’t quite as big.
So lets keep our fingers crossed that this fixes the site and we don’t suddenly get taken down again. If anyone can provide a (very) cheap dedicated server, we’d be delighted to hear from you.