PHP Error 503

At least once a week, any DreamHost site of mine that runs WordPress loads with error 503:

Service Temporarily Unavailable
The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to maintenance downtime or capacity problems. Please try again later.

These are low-trafficked sites with daily hits in the double digits. I have tried installing a cache plugin, disabling all plugins, and deleting all plugins, all to no avail. I don’t know what the problem could be, or if it’s on my end or DreamHost’s. Any thoughts? I am running WordPress 2.7.1 and PHP 5.2.6.

It’s most likely an overloaded server. Next time you get that message, log into your shell account and type ‘uptime’ to get the load averages. They should be below 5.

-Scott

Scott,

Thanks for the suggestion. This is the output I got from an uptime command:

07:16:53 up 6 days, 12:41, 9 users, load average: 291.82, 246.10, 233.07

Definitely not below 5! I wonder what’s causing it? Sites I run that don’t use WordPress are able to load during these times, but I feel like I’ve done everything I can think of to pinpoint it as the culprit.

-Ken

Thanks! Last time I brought this issue to their attention, I didn’t have quite as many details. I hope we can pin it down this time.

Support tells me that “Our admin team has tracked down the root of the problem, which is apparently related to I/O handling”. They’re working on it. Phew!