Caching out

I can’t say that it’s happened every day, but more days than not over the past week or two, this site has become unavailable. Sometimes I’ve noticed it myself, sometimes a reader has tweeted me about it. I know it’s not because of traffic, but beyond that I have no idea of the cause. I haven’t asked my web host about it because outages of half an hour or so have been common over the past several months, and the host’s support team has never been any help.

It’s possible that some of the problem is due to the WP Super Cache plugin I installed back in early spring. It is, I think, the reason the site logs show a lot of calls to wp-cron.php, which may be causing the brief outages. As I say, I really don’t know if WP Super Cache is the culprit, but I decided to remove it to test whether the site is more reliable without it.

For a brief time I had another caching plugin, W3 Total Cache, installed. Unlike the last time I tried to use it, this installation of W3 Total Cache didn’t immediately crash the blog, but some combination of its settings was making certain posts behave badly, and it kept telling me that the Apache server didn’t have ReWriting enabled, which I knew was wrong. So I removed it, too.

So now it’s running WordPress au naturel, and I’ll be looking to see if that puts a stop to the brief outages. If it does, I’ll keep running without a cache and accept the fact that a significant traffic spike could take he site down. If it doesn’t, I’ll have to start looking for a new host when my current prepaid year is up.

Update 9/12/11
This afternoon’s minor Fireballing has added a factor to the experiment that I wasn’t planning on, but it’s clear from the comments and tweets I got before then that the site is having uptime problems even without WP Super Cache. I may go back to it or test other caching systems. There are suggestions in the comments that I’ll be looking into.

Update 9/13/11
I installed the Hyper Cache plugin late last night to give it a trial. It was very easy to configure and hasn’t caused any unique problems. The site is still having periodic response problems, but they don’t seem related to any particular plugin or set of plugins.