Sep 102008
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This fourth installment of my Wonderful WordPress Wednesday series was inspired by an event that occured right here at Philaahzophy earlier this week. One of my stories, Still Think Google’s PageRank Means Something, became so popular on StumbleUpon that not only did my blog go offline, but the web hosting server that holds it crashed in its entirety!  Obviously this was not good for anyone – my readers (because they couldn’t find the information they sought, me (because no one could read my pearls of wisdom 😉 ), my web hosting company (since they had to deal with it on their end), and even the other webmasters whose websites are hosted on the same server (and their readers).

I just happening to be watching the traffic influx live with my stats tool, Clicky and saw more than 100 visitors StumbleUpon my post in less than 60 seconds.  Then a complete and instant lack of activity.  Obviously this wasn’t natural, so I headed for my WordPress admin panel to see what the problem was and received an error stating that “a database connection could not be made.”  Of course, my next step was to contact my web host (Top Hosting Center), who were unaware of the problem.  Luckily, everything was back up and running within 10 minutes.  Unfortunately, the site was down too long to maintain the momentum that had been building.

Still, I was left pondering what I could do to avoid such a situation in the future.  Afterall, the goal of most bloggers is to have as many readers as possible.  How is that going to happen when the site crashes when too many people visit?  Obviously it’s not.  However, my love of WordPress letf me assured that someone out there had come up with a solution for me.  I was not disappointed.

Late last year Donncha O Caoimh, developed a WordPress plugin called WP Super Cache, which branched off from Ricardo Galli Granada’s WP-Cache 2.  According to Donncha-

WP Super Cache is a static caching plugin for WordPress. It generates html files that are served directly by Apache without processing comparatively heavy PHP scripts. By using this plugin you will speed up your WordPress blog significantly.


WP-Cache 2 caches the pages of your WordPress blog and delivers them without accessing the database. Unfortunately it still means loading the PHP engine to serve the cached files.

WP Super Cache gets around that. When it is installed, html files are generated and they are served without ever invoking a single line of PHP. How fast can your site serve graphic files? That’s (almost) as fast it will be able to serve these cached files.

Since the problem with my server was accessing the database, it seems that either caching plugin would be a solution.  However, I went with Super Cache because my host is obviously on the weak side so the less stress I can put on it the better for all involved.  If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you’ve probably heard of The Squid List, from Laughing Squid.  If you haven’t, it’s a hugely popular event listing and social site.  Well, returning to the official plugin page we find-

Scott Beale uses WP Super Cache on Laughing Squid. He posted about his experiences using the cache during a traffic spike when a posts made it onto the Digg frontpage twice, on to Slashdot, and received major media exposure. Here is his traffic graph for that time. Over 200,000 page views in one day. Could your server handle that?
WP Super Cache traffic spike

I can’t imagine a spike much larger than that, so if WP Super Cache kept Laughing Squid online, don’t you think it can handle your blog?  WP Super Cache does come with a few caveats though-

  • You should have mod mime, mod rewrite and fancy permalinks enabled.
  • Some sites have problems serving compressed html files and need extra configuration.
  • Some of the more dynamic aspects of your site’s template won’t refresh quite as quickly.
  • Don’t expect a cheap hosting plan to survive a major traffic spike, even if it is cached!

WP Super Cache is also more difficult to install than many plugins.  But, please, don’t let that keep you away from it!  We’re all hunting for that flood of traffic, spend the time now to ensure you’re ready for it when it comes.  The included readme file is extensive, there’s a support forum available, and if you have any problems with installation feel free to post them here in the comments section.  I’m certainly no guru myself, so if I can get this bad boy installed than so can you.  After all, the whole purpose of this series is to help people show their WordPress blogs a little love.

I had intended to share with y’all a step-by-step walk thru of how I installed WP Super Cache and dealt with the few sticking points that occured, but (as usual) this post is already getting long. If there is interest, or I get a lot of requests for installation assistance I may still do so in the future. Until then, what are you waiting for? Head over to the WP Super Cache site right now and get this baby installed before the hordes come acrashin’ at your front gate.  Then come on back and share with others how much better you feel about your blog becoming an overnight sensation by leaving a comment.  Already have it installed?  Then please drop a comment below to encourage thosewho may be put off by the techie aspects of the install.

Part of the Wonderful WordPress Wednesdays Series - Previous in series        Next in series

  One Response to “Popularity Protection For Your WordPress Blog”

  1. Popularity Protection For Your WordPress Blog | Philaahzophy…

    Last week StumbleUpon brought my web server to its knees. Never again!…

  2. Very good article, thank you!

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