Website down, due to 'too many connections'?

My website, went down this morning when it appeared on the Digg front page. I thought it shouldn’t be due to Digg traffic because the site has been in the Digg top ten a few times which caused way more traffic than it got now so I assumed it was a DH problem.

I mailed them but got a mail back that said it was because of too much traffic:
“There are a lot of connections being made to your apache and with the other customers that are on it the connection limit is being hit, the limit is 250 at once, you had 166 connections open… and there are about 20 other customers on this apache so its easy to hit the connection limit if their site is getting decent traffic.”

I guess it must be the other customers? Anything I could do?

Would it help a lot to reduce the amount of images and make the popular pages completely static for now?

You could always go with a dedicated server I suppose.
I mean, outside of that, there isn’t anything I can personally think of. This IS shared hosting after all, and we all face the same limitations.

Reducing the amount of pages/images I really don’t think will change anything either, as I don’t believe those create extra connections.

Well, you’d think that by reducing the amount of time it takes to generate your page you would reduce the number of open connections to your Apache server because the connections would close down more quickly.

In practice though, Apache by default keeps connections open for a configurable period of time unless it is directed by the browser to not persist connections. I thnk the default is 15 seconds and I don’t know whether DreamHost changes this default.

So, uh, yes, you’re right and there probably isn’t a practical way for you to control the number of open connections. OTOH, you could request that support up the number of connections, assuming that your site is very efficient.

BTW, I thought I had read on another thread that the max number of open connections was configurable by site.

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So I’m reading that there are 250 connections allowed on the entire machine. And that you had 166 open at time they checked. That is well over half, so the other 20 users on your server have well less than 100 connections left between them. How do you come up with that problem being the other customers?

Look into why your site has this many connections. Are you being hit a ton? Are your connections staying open longer than they should be? Yes, cutting back on graphics and such is going to help as the connection doesn’t need to download as much data.

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There is a default limit of 250 connections per apache. There are on average about 50 apaches per machine. The 250 limit is not intended to to slow down a well functioning website and the support tech should have offered to move you to your own apache with a much higher limit if your site was handling the load well. I will file an internal case for re-training of the tech. 250 simultaneous connections is pretty high, but digg can push quite a bit of traffic to a website.