How Reddit and Hacker News Took Down My Blog, and How I Got It Back Up | DomainInvesting.com
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How Reddit and Hacker News Took Down My Blog, and How I Got It Back Up

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When I was writing my article about NameCheap out ranking Go Daddy in Google for the key term “domain name,” I knew it would draw significant interest from NameCheap’s enthusiastic customers, but I had no idea how much traffic that would mean. As soon as I saw a few vote ups on Hacker News, I knew my blog was going to be hit with a sh*tload of traffic.

On a typical day where I write one to three articles, my blog draws anywhere from 1,500 to 2,500 visitors, give our take. Shortly after posting the NameCheap article, my blog was receiving dozens of visits a minute. In addition to the Hacker News vote ups, the article was voted up in the technology section of Reddit, which drew even more visits.

By late afternoon, my blog’s server (a VPS from Liquid Web with just one site) was struggling to keep up and had severe lag. When my server went down, I contacted Liquid Web to see if there was something they could do. Luckily, they have 24/7 support, and they were able to help me. Technical support staff explained that with the Smart VPS I had, I could re-size my server, allowing it to function smoothly despite the surge in traffic. They immediately re-sized the server for me, and within 30 minutes, it was back up and running without any problems or lag.

The nicest thing about the Smart VPS was that I could downgrade as soon as the traffic subsided, allowing me to pay only a pro-rated amount based on the amount of time at the upgraded level.

One other thing I learned from this experience is that if I expect to receive an onslaught of traffic to my blog, I can proactively re-size the server in advance, to avoid any downtime during a huge traffic spike. I really appreciate Liquid Web’s support and assistance, and I am glad I am using the Smart VPS.


About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and his company earns revenue from domain names. Elliot is President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has sold seven figures worth of domain names in the last five years. Elliot is the publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Read this blog's disclaimer for information about the publisher, comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts.

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Comments (18)

    Puranjay

    Elliot, I would love to see a graph or chart of the traffic spike. I had one article hit the first page of Hacker News on one of my blogs once. I got around 10,000 visitors on the first day, 8,000 the following day, and dozens of inbound links.

    Hacker News has to be the best tech community on the internet. The discussions there are always insightful and intelligent.

    April 23rd, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Richard Saperstein

    I’ve been on there lately talking a lot about expired domain names and making money with them. I’m glad to see you’re getting noticed and the article you posted got attention.

    The domain industry is still in it’s infancy and for Reddit to notice is a good thing.

    Also, what Puranjay said is correct. You will get trolls every once in a while but other than that he’s dead on.

    Keep up the great work!

    April 23rd, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Scott

    ^^ Agree with Puranjay… a screenshot of your Google analytics during that time period would be cool :)

    April 23rd, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Darryl

    Good going.

    April 23rd, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    DomainShane

    This is why I use MediaTemple. I am not a shill I promise. My old blog received 80,000 to 150,000 A DAY when it was number one story on digg and reddit. I used to get this a few times and a few times hit a million visits a month. Media Temple held firm and had overflow just in case of these spikes. Things have changed a little bit and I’ve heard they are not as strong as they used to be. I don’t have that kind of traffic anymore but your host should always take care of you, regardless of traffic pattern. And Elliot, glad to hear you got some good traffic. I remember the old days when I would just stare at the screen looking at the crazy numbers coming through. I always had trouble monetizing social media traffic but it wasn’t about the money at the time. And social media traffic hates ads anyway.

    April 23rd, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Elliot Silver

    The one downside to LW is that it can take a bit of downtime to to re-size the server. The lesson for me is that the night before a big story (if I am afforded the time to wait), I will re-size it and be ready for the additional traffic.

    April 23rd, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Puranjay

    @Elliot

    The problem is that some stories just pick up steam when you least expect it. You can’t really plan ahead for all of them.

    I’d much rather spend an extra few bucks on hosting than greet my visitors with a broken site during traffic spikes.

    April 23rd, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Elliot Silver

    @ Puranjay

    The plan that got me through it is much more expensive. Why pay thousands of dollars extra per year for the once or twice it’s an issue? The server kept up for a while and then crapped out after 15k or so visits. Not too shabby.

    April 23rd, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    rathead

    i’m already on reddit…. i need to get a blog. even if i only got a million vistors i could put up an ad and then when people clicked on it… that would be money in my pocket. even if it was only two people a month… after six months i could buy a snickers bar. i try to stay away from sugar but i love snickers bars. i am not an employee of M&M mars and they have not paid me to make this post.

    April 23rd, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    Elliot Silver

    @ rathead

    Agreed.

    April 23rd, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    Samit

    Rich people’s problems. :p

    Congrats Elliot, always great to have recognition from the likes of Reddit / HackerNews – even if it must have created some heartburn during the downtime.

    Pretty interesting ‘daily billing’ that LW offers, never seen at any other host, even we do upgrades / downgrades only monthly at best.

    April 23rd, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    Secure Hosting

    Elliot,

    30 minutes of downtime to resize your VPS server?

    Normally this takes 2-3 minutes, tops, to change the resource pool and stop/start the VPS (if required).

    Yes, it’s a good idea to plan in advance next time, though.

    - Richard

    April 23rd, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    paul

    Elliot,

    Can u share url for ‘hacker news’ you referred to above, as when i went to ‘hackernews.com’ it didnt look at all what i expected, and another google of ‘hacker news’ gave me an rss feed to ycombinator, also not what i expected

    tx

    keep up the great blog

    April 23rd, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    MicroSourcing

    It sounds like Smart VPS has great customer service. Businesses stand to lose a lot of traffic and profit when their online sites crash, and so it’s important for domain hosts to address these kinds of problems efficiently.

    April 24th, 2012 at 4:49 am

    ron s

    I must have missed it…..who won the $100 ?

    April 24th, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Poor Uncle

    It would be a better solution if they can re-size your server automatically.

    April 25th, 2012 at 3:24 am

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