Digg effect

How do the shared hosting plans react to the infamous “digg effect” ? I’m looking for a valuable hosting package without having to suffer from major downtime due to a story on my website reaching the main page of digg. It’s happened twice now with my current host on a VPS plan I have, and I’ve suffered greatly. I can’t really afford going for a dedicated machine as of now so I’m curious to know if my site (configured with cache’ing and all the goodies to help prevent the effect) will suffer downtime during an influx of hits.

Have you guys experienced downtime with users due to this type of issue? Are there stories of users staying up and making it through the surge of hits?

Thanks in advance!

From watching the posts in this forum for quite a while, I think it is safest to assume that YMMV - some seem to have weathered Digg and slashdot fairly well, and others have had less success.

Hopefully, someone with a recent experience can tell us how it went for them.

As for “historical” experience, rather than me listing a bunch of links here, I suggest you just use the “search” function of the forum and enter “Digg.” I selected All Forums, and “in the last year” and got about 50 threads (some more relevant than others) :wink:


If your daily (or event hourly) visitors is not regular, don’t use (virtual) dedicated hosting.
It would be under used most of the time, and overloaded when you need it.

That’s one of the advantage of shared hosting (for most hosting company, i don’t talk especially about DH) :
They have many big servers, with many customers on it.
If one of them use 20% of this server for a moment, instead of average 1% per customer for instance, it should not impact too much performance, because almost everyone else on it will use only a few part of this server.

I never had a digg effect, and it depends of your website size, but if a VPS was just a bit tight, DH should be ok.

In all ways, use a shared hosting if you have really irregular traffic usage.

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I’d say that if you see it coming, send Digg traffic to a static HTML page, with any host.

I’ve never had to deal with it, but I’d imagine that it’s not just the traffic that takes some of these sites down, but also poor coding & database queries. Especially since there seem to be stories where it can go either way with DH.

Then again, I’m sure if you get sloppy enough with the coding, even a dedicated could be taken down.

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That’s right. In a VPS you have a limited ammount of memory (usually 128 or 256 Mb in the lower plans) so with some luck, in a shared environment at the moment of the digg your server may have a small server load, and can handle that, borrowing performance for a little while.

Just be sure that your site doesn’t span many concurrent connections, if your site uses sql.

Plain html will be more easily handled. If you could substitute that dugg page with an html version, but that isn’t always easy…

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Just to reinforce previous advice –

Making your page static HTML once it has been dug is the single best way to keep your site online throughout the traffic spike. Bandwidth is never the issue with these things – it’s Apaches choking on hundreds of concurrent connections or scripts spiking server loads to the point that it needs to be powercycled to recover.

Depending on the software you’re using, and how popular the link becomes, you can potentially bring down the Apache service your site runs on (which will just kill your site and a small handful of others) or (worst case scenario) the whole webserver. We do have people watching server status constantly, but this will mean some unspecified amount of downtime, and possibly the site being temporarily disabled and a letter sent asking you to make the site static or install a plugin like WP-cache.

I’ve personally run into a guy whose page was killing an entire server after being dugg (this is on a quad Xeon with 4 gigs of memory, mind you) that was entirely fine as soon as I made the page static.

Don’t rely on us to do this for you though, as most of the time we can’t, particularly with softwares that make heavy use of .htaccess rewrite rules. Catching your diggs/slashdots quickly by analyzing comment/log spikes will help you keep up-to-speed, too.