Trouble viewing forum pages, "General Error"

With increasing frequency I’m having a problem–when I try to view a page on the forum (randomly, not any page in particular) I’m rewarded with a screen that says:

General Error
SQL ERROR [ mysqli ]

Out of memory (Needed 1048544 bytes) [5]

An SQL error occurred while fetching this page. Please contact the Board Administrator if this problem persists.

Is anyone else having a problem with this, or am I perhaps trying to use some incompatible browser settings (in MS Internet Explorer)? I never saw this problem until about a month ago, but now it seems to happen often. Sometimes I can’t go “back” to the previous forum page, and simply have to wait a few minutes before trying to use the forum again.

Can’t remember the exact wording, but I do get an SQL error from time to time. I doubt it’s a browser issue. (I use Opera and Firefox.)

Yes, I see this too. It’s not browser-related. Sometimes it is momentary, and sometimes it persists for a stretch of a few minutes.


I’ve also had the same problem (I don’t remember if it was exactly the same message, but it was certainly similar) a few times lately, although not very often. I use Opera on Windows.

It’s a problem with the server, and not with anyone’s browsers.


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

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 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.

Merk, we had this problem over a long time with one of our servers. It had only 256MB of RAM. The culprit were some PHP processes (introduced by phpBB) which had serious memory leaks. Once we upgraded to a newer PHP version, the problem vanished. SpamAssassin was involved but as far as I remember, not the real culprit. I can ask our admin about the details if you like.

BTW, $225/month sounds terribly overpriced to me. You could get an AMD Opteron 2x2,6 GHz, 4GB RAM, 2x400GB HD, unlimited traffic for ~$80/month. These are the current prices of the data centre one of our servers is in.

You might want to look into Postini as a front-end filtering service for your domain. Cost is $1 per user per month, which might be competitive if you only have a few addresses that receive mail.

I’ve been seeing the “General Error” a lot more lately. It’s to the point where the forums are down more often than not when I attempt to read them.

Is there anything we can do to help you provide a more stable hosting environment? I wouldn’t mind donating to the cause.

I’ve had the same thought. While I’m not prepared to make a substantial donation, there’s probably enough people that would be prepared to give something to make a difference, if that’d help.

I had the same thought as bcressey yesterday when I was seeing the same error.

Merk, another option for the spam might be to filter addresses through a gmail account – … swer=21288. I think you can forward up to 5 addresses that way, maybe that could work?

When I ran a mail server it caused me no end of trouble, and was easily responsible for 80% of my server maintenance. Since I switched my mail domains over to gmail using Google For Your Domain, I barely ever have to wrestle with my server anymore. (Ugh I sound like a shill don’t I. But it’s true.)

The problem I had was not volume of incoming spam though but just navigating the ever-increasing barriers to remote SMTP authentication and keeping my IP block out of the highly questionably administered Spam filter blacklists used by other people so that my mail would be guaranteed delivery. I never did solve the latter problem. I gave up and went with Google, whose mail server IPs have enough weight behind them to not remain on any blacklists for long even if they do get accidentally blacklisted (and they have been, because as I say, spam blacklists are not responsibly administered and there is no care taken to avoid misclassifying some small fry server – once you’re on a list you just ain’t coming off, typically, unless you’re Google etc).

I don’t know if this is relevant to the problems Merk is having but I just found that in this day and age, administering your own mail server is kind of a mug’s game. Or just outside my available troubleshooting patience, if you prefer.