How to find out what's causing ftp memory limits reached


Every month or so, I get an email from Dreamhost telling me that one or more of my users is hitting the memory limits, causing my sites to go down. (I am on a shared server)

I’m very much aware of how poorly my sites run… and how often I get 500 errors and just random downtimes and errors trying to update plugins and themes and Wordpress versions. But I’ve asked Dreamhost on a handful of occasions WHY I’m hitting my limits and I can never get a clear answer.

Since I don’t use FTP very often, there must be some process running that uses my FTP user. But I don’t know what it is. And if I could just see what processes are running – and a process that runs my memory limits immediately, that would be really helpful. But for some reason, Dreamhost can’t figure it out.

It’s not a small problem. I’ve hit my limit “12482” times. No idea what time frame that is. Per month? The number is typically that high, though.

Is there somewhere I can look? Is there a way I can word it to the helpdesk in a way that lets them know exactly what I’m looking for?

I have multiple pieces of software running. Wordpress (a few instances), Gallery2, Mediawiki, phpBB… If one of them is running wild, I just need to know which one it is so I can tweak it or turn it off.

Thanks for any guidance y’all can provide.


Do you have an exact error message or screenshot? We might be able to troubleshoot the issue, but we need more details to figure out what is happening. :slight_smile:


Other than the White Screen of Death, and just random outage messages from Jetpack, I don’t receive any error messages. When I do use FTP, I have no problems. I only encounter the WSOD if I’m updating plugins/themes/WP. And Dreamhost hasn’t provided anything other than this form email that I get once a month:

Our monitoring systems show that one (or some) of your user accounts may be making your web hosting account operate inefficiently. We noticed you’ve frequently hit the memory limits of your shared hosting plan over the last couple weeks. When this happens, our system automatically stops web processes which could be negatively impacting your server’s performance. This means your visitors may see errors or be unable to access your website at all for brief periods of time.

_These are the FTP/shell users on your account, alongside the number of times they’ve hit their memory limits: _



I just got the same email (with a different number times that the user has hit their memory limits but similarly “high” (what even is high, I have no clue?)) and I’ve gone through and done all the things the email advised that applied to my websites and I could figure out how to do. I feel like this does tend to happen when wordpress updates itself and then I go and update my themes and plugins.

I don’t get WSOD, but I do get the odd 500 error when updating plugins (particularly Jetpack, so for the most part I’ve just ditched Jetpack across the board and installed replacements for the stuff I might have used it for). I guess I’ll have to wait and see if trying the last thing on their list of suggestions that I figured out how to do, but hadn’t done before, works.

Ultimately, I don’t care. The visitor to my website that interests me is… me and I’ve not had issues accessing my own sites. What would be great is if I Dreamhost could tell me what the actual problem is, or accept a response of “I don’t care” and stop sending me the email about this once in a while! Maybe it is just is wordpress updating itself and having a funny turn while doing so! Is it just an upsell thing?


Yes, I have deactivated Jetpack from as many sites as I could. That really does take a toll on the memory and almost never updates without erroring and causing me to have to delete it and reupload it via ftp. Updating WP versions is a nightmare. It’s 50/50 on whether I make it through the whole update before it errors out… and then I have to manually update all of wordpress. What a pain.

But yeah, what is high?
What is causing it?
We need to know before we can fix it. I’m sure it’s partly to convince us to switch to VPS but sorry, that is too expensive.


You might try something like to see which plugins are taking up memory.

The shared hosting won’t have solid numbers on what “high” is; it is shared hosting. But if you are running into the limits of the shared hosting, know it isn’t an upsell tactic. Your site will likely not work on any shared hosting, it is just too big.

Fortunately, reducing plugins has a dramatic effect on most sites. I run several WordPress sites on DH shared hosting, and without more than a few plugins they run fine. :slight_smile: