The server doesn’t have enough memory, and an unrelated process keeps killing everything else.
I used to lease a dedicated server. But it was about $225 a month, and with the decline in subscriptions to my online game, it wasn’t an out-of-pocket expense I wanted to keep. So I moved to a VPS (Virtual Private Server) with an offshoot of the same company that previously hosted the dedicated server. This offshoot, though, proved to be a nightmare. I had numerous problems with them, including three server crashes (which many of you may still remember). So a few months ago I shopped around for similarly-priced VPS packages elsewhere, and chose Spry.com.
At first, everything seemed good. Allowed transfer/bandwidth is fine. Plenty of hard drive space for my needs. And even though it’s a VPS (not a dedicated server, where I’d actually have the entire machine to myself), it seemed to perform well enough. But something I didn’t pay enough attention to is that it only has 512 MB of RAM. I’m not sure if that’s fully allocated to me, or if it’s 512 MB shared among all the VPS containers on the same machine. Either way, it’s not NEARLY enough.
The culprit is a process called SpamAssassin. It’s what I’ve used in the past, and without it, I’d be bombarded with Spam. I’ve had my prowler-pro.com email address for around a decade, and at this point, I’m probably on every spammer list imaginable. SpamAssassin is written in Perl, but unfortunately, it’s a memory hog. I’ve tried to optimize it, change settings, etc, but to no avail. If the incoming traffic was lighter, there probably wouldn’t be a problem. But there are thousands of messages – more than 99% spam – coming in daily, and the work SA does to keep up seems to be too much.
The process keeps dying. If it’s down for even an hour, I can expect a couple hundred spam emails. When I don’t catch it for a day, I can expect a few thousand. So I try to keep it running. But this, as far as I can tell, is pretty much destroying everything else, including the memory available to the rest of the site, like, oh, say, MySQL (the database that drives the forum, my games, etc).
So, it’s probably time for me to see about upgrading. With this VPS, I might just be able to upgrade and have them move the whole thing over to different hardware. I haven’t checked into any of that yet.
Alternately, I can dump my primary email address, make up something else, and probably solve the problem for quite a while. And that’s something I’m also considering. One way or another, I’ll make sure things get taken care of so the site’s reliability is back to normal soon.