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Thread: Couldn't Get on the Forums Earlier?

  1. #11
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    Hmmm I couldn't get on for 30 mins

    EDIT: Well to tell the truth, I was on the main page with the different sections and was refreshing the page to see if there were any knew posts but it took ages to load and then told me it couldn't connect to the website, I spent 30 mins trying it was annoying.

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    It went down just as I was posting a new thread. Luckily I've learned from experience to copy any long post before clicking the submit button.

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    ^ Same here!

  4. #14
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    Machine had simply swapped out due to too many simultaneous hits.
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  5. #15
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    Same thing again.

    There are at times too many simultaneous hits during peak time.

    To explain the problem in layman's terms: Every hit and page served uses a certain amount of memory. If too many people request a page (or an image) within exactly the same second or two, the RAM will be fully used and the server will have to write the additional processes for the excess users onto the hard disk. Eventually, they will be read into memory again, processed and the page will be served. These proceedings prevent that the web server crashes.

    The problem is that the disk is about a 100,000 times slower than the RAM (disk access times are measured in milliseconds while memory access times are measured in nanoseconds; between "milli-" and "nano-", there is still "micro"), and each forum request takes a few dozens of megabytes of RAM, because the pages which are finally served are actually dynamically created by PHP and because vBulletin is a highly complex and resource-intensive software. You can imagine each page which will be served as a little program in memory which reads the necessary data from the database and embeds them into a pretty style, so that the output looks nice.

    So writing these instances to the disk and then, eventually, reading them again to process them and to serve the actual page takes quite a long time. By this I mean seconds. That might not seem much, but in these few seconds some dozens of users more might have requested pages and because the RAM is already full, they ... right, these processes are written to the harddisk, too. Meanwhile, the people who initially requested pages got tired of waiting and clicked again on the link or refreshed, in the hope the page will be served this time. Of course, it won't. By clicking on the link again, your previous request will still clog up the server's memory for a minute or two, but the browser doesn't care about or wait for the reply anymore. And your new request will now be served last. A process will be created which is waiting to be written to disk. Once it has been written to disk, it is waiting until all the other people's requests have been served, so that it can be read into memory again. While this happens, hundreds of more people tried to access the server, everybody else who is already waiting clicked on the link again, too, and you might have refreshed for the tenth time.

    This causes a situation out of which the server will never be able to liberate itself again. Simply because this memory-to-disk and disk-to-memory swapping takes far too long, and ever new requests are coming in. The forum will stay unreachable until someone informs the administration which kills the web server, gives the machine a few minutes to eliminate its swap file, and restarts the forum again.

    So how can this unpleasant situation be avoided?

    1. If we had the funds, the easy solution from "Web Server Optimization for Dummies" would be to rent more memory.

    2. But since we don't have them, we'll have to set up the server in a way that it will never begin to swap (short of a DDoS attack), not even during peak times.

    Actually, we are doing this already, since the machine first started swapping out. The underlying principle is quite simple: The trick is to allow no more simultaneous processes to be created than there is available memory.

    That makes a lot of sense and sounds quite easy but it, unfortunately, takes a bit of trial and error. In the most extreme case, we could tell the server: "Never serve more than 5 pages at the same time." Then the machine will surely never begin to swap, but if there are 50 members and 1,000 guests online, only five of them could get a page at the same time. The other requests would be queued, before the processes are created. Only once there are less than five processes, another process for the next user will be spawned. This would have two consequences: Firstly, 95+% of the available memory will remain unused at all times, and people would have to wait a long time until a page appears whenever they click on a link.

    So the idea is to allow as many simultaneous processes as possible to use the available memory, but never as many to use a single byte more. Unfortunately, the processes don't have a fixed size. The size varies depending on the type of page which is requested and that quite a bit. As the server swapped again today, it seems we still allowed too many simultaneous processes, so I reduced the permissible number again somewhat.

    Eventually, we should reach a situation where the server never swaps, not even during the peak hours of the most busy days. Whenever there are more requests than allowed processes, the server will begin to react somewhat sluggish, however. This will pose a problem on the medium run, as the forum grows further, but for the time being, we should be totally fine for at least 22 hours out of 24 in a day.

    And no, we have not been hacked and there was no DDoS attack either. I hope these lines increased the understanding of everyone what's actually going on at the moment.
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  6. #16
    Senior Member velvet's Avatar
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    Forum down again. It was already all Easter days (friday evening to sunday morning) and now last night again (clearly visible in the today's posts list, nothing happened within the last 9 hours, and not much within the ~3 hours before that either).

    When this happens for half an hour or an hour, it wouldnt be that annoying, but its often down for days and no one seems really to care or to notice. It's especially annoying because it seems to happen on weekends more often than on other days.

    I understand what you're saying there Thorburn, but this isnt really the explanation for hours or even days of downtime.
    Ein Leben ist nichts, deine Sprosse sind alles
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  7. #17
    Senior Member Austin's Avatar
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    Nationalists afford way too much to ragtag antifa types... antifa has no power at all, they cannot even protect MLK on the net....


    antifa jobless 17 year olds get credit for more power outages and technical hick-ups by nationalists than anything they actually do, which would account for 0.01% of anything to begin with

  8. #18
    Senior Member theiamania's Avatar
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    I managed to get on about 3 hours ago when it was down and I noticed there were 9 members and 313 guests. So I guess a lot of hits off search engines.
    "The order of castes, the supreme, the dominant law, is merely the sanction of a natural order, a natural lawfulness of the first rank, over which no arbitrariness, no “modern idea” has any power."

  9. #19
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    Earlier today and last night I was able to log onto Skadi using internet explorer, but not firefox. I got on, but I was not able to do anything though. Right now I'm using firefox, but Skadi is still running pretty slow for me.

  10. #20
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    I could only log in to Skadi very occasionally for the better part of the last 24 hours (at present, the time/date here is 12.20 p.m. 2 May 2011). And when I did log on and clicked on a thread all I got was a timeout message, so I was effectively locked out. I just hope it doesn't go down again.

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