It all started shortly after my family’s beloved cat passed away. Mimi was such an amazing kitty that I wrote a blog post about her called 10 Life Lessons From a Small Gray Cat.
Writing the post was kind of therapeutic for me, and reading it afterward provided comfort to my older (11-year-old) daughter and me. I was stunned when the post started drawing thousands of readers within the first couple of days.
Despite being written in the final days of 2015, my Mimi post made the top 10 list of most popular posts of the entire year. As the Mimi post drew scads of readers, I started seeing intermittent error messages when I tried to access my blog. I wish I’d written down the error messages at the time, but I recall that they seemed to indicate issues with the site having more traffic than it could handle, a.k.a., capacity problems.
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Since the Mimi post catapulted me over the suggested monthly page views of my hosting plan, I upgraded my hosting plan with GoDaddy, hoping this would fix the issue. Soon, I started seeing a different error message.
504 Service Unavailable
The error message I kept seeing was:
Service Unavailable The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to maintenance downtime or capacity problems. Please try again later.
I researched this error message extensively and found that it’s almost always caused by a flaky plug-in. GoDaddy’s support also suggested a plug-in was to blame and that I should try disabling all of my plug-ins and then re-enabling them one at a time. All of my plug-ins were already updated to their most current versions available.
Disabling all of my plug-ins was not an option. I rely on them too much. Disabling all of my plug-ins would have essentially taken down my blog or at least made it look completely different.
I started changing plug-in settings, then I slowly disabled plug-ins here and there to see if disabling a plug-in made any difference. No setting changes helped, and no plug-in disabling did anything, either.
I took a break from dealing with this problem and did some housekeeping on my blog, such as deleting expired ads from the Advanced Ads plug-in. Lo and behold, the Service Unavailable problem vanished. I did some further testing and found that having an expired ad on a page produced this message. This means that when a page pulled an expired ad from the rotation, it would throw a Service Unavailable message instead of loading.
What’s really weird is that I would get the Service Unavailable message sometimes even when trying to access the WordPress Admin area. It didn’t just happen when I was browsing my blog’s pages. I’m not sure why that would be the case since the admin area doesn’t attempt to load rotating ads.
Nowadays, the only time I might see a Service Unavailable error is if I don’t regularly delete all of the expired ads in the Advanced Ads plug-in. I can’t find a setting that’ll purge old ads automatically.
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How About You?
Have you encountered a really perplexing problem with your blog that you couldn’t figure out? How did you end up resolving it? What hosting provider do you use? Are you happy with it? Why or why not?
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