cc licensed ( BY ND ) flickr photo shared by Lori Greig

Ye old CogDogBlog seems to be teeter-tottering long; I am seeing a lot of 404s and Internal Server Error 500s, and the error logs are rife with unhelpful details like “premature end of script headers”. My last round of tweaks aimed at memory shortages has not helped, and it seems time for a round fo straw grabbing.

What i think I know is that PHP is running out of memory before it can finish executing a big request, hence the death by early script headers. The next step of sleeve rolling up involves putting the blog on the hoist and banging the wrench on a few pipes underneath.

I’ve already stripped my plugins down to a core set, and zapped a side bar external javascript widget.

I have a choice:

  • Try to identify a RAM sucking plugin. This would mean activating the TPC! Memory Usage plugin. Like the old OS 9 days on the Mac of identifying a bad extension, I would have to disable one plugin at a time, reload a page, and see what effect the lack of a plugin has on the RAM needs. This seems as fun as dental surgery.
  • Put the blame on the theme. It’s possible something in my theme is going wonky, and it just might be the jquery stuff that creates the blog top slideshow of flickr images. I could do a quick switch to the TwentyTen theme, and see the memory impact (the test might be quick). Re-doing a new theme might be fun…

If there is something else I ought to be poking around in, please let me know.

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. I don’t have any suggestions, but I gotta say your OS 9 comment really took me back, going through all the extensions. There were some things 9 did better, too, even now (saving back to where you got a file was one, though I wouldn’t go back to extension checking).

  2. could just switch to TwentyTen for a quick test… Stock theme should be relatively decent, performance-wise.

    do you have a copy of Conflict Catcher or RamDoubler handy? They’d totally solve this.

      1. Not finding much in the plugin swappage. I deactivated all but the memory one, and it dropped to about 19 MB, none of them are peaking abnormally. I left off a few admin ones and am up to about 23.8 Mb.

        So is it my crappy Dreamhost VPS? I’m running it at 559 MB, and I am seeing peaks only at 200, and mostly it runs less than 100 Mb.

        /me shrugs

        1. dunno if memory makes a big difference – my blog takes 43MB to load the dashboard (using WordPress System Health plugin). I use WP-Supercache, so all non-logged in folks get served static files without having to light up PHP or MySQL, so that helps quite a bit.

          1. I’m paranoid about running WP_Supercache, thinking someone might miss the latest comments if they’re being served up static pages.

          2. WordPress desperately needs a static file caching plugin installed if you have any traffic at all – it’s insane to dynamically render the page for every view. With proper config, WP-Supercache should behave well enough. There are other caching plugins to try, too. They prevent loading any PHP or data for 99% of pageviews, helping mitigate memory freakouts and cpu peggage…

  3. I have the exact same problems on my blog, and the truth of the matter is that it may not be anything that you’re doing at all!

    If you have a shared hosting plan (which many of us have due to the cheapy cheap nature of those plans), then it could very well be that you just happen to be on a very heavily used server, where lots of folks are running intensive PHP or other scripts and eating up all the memory. You could ask to be moved to a different server to see if that helps.

    1. That’s not this issue- I have a VPS (which I know does have issues as will with shared), but the tell tale is that while this blog goes belly up, my other WordPress domains, hosted in the same space, are fine– there is something funky going on in the dog house.

      1. I’ve been following threads like this on ( I’ve tried modifying my wp-config file with little success, but just today I blew away from .htaccess file because it was being funky, and recreated it, we’ll see if that improves.

        Whatever you discover, PLEASE share, because it’s apparently becoming a BIG problem in the WordPress community, no matter what your memory limit.

        1. Dreamhost tech support was not helpul- they sent me to the links for WordPress optimization that I told them I had used. My site is running in about 25 MB of RAM, which is not much for WP3- i have cut back on a lot of plugins. They told me that there is an apache process kill thing which kicks in when my site is using too much CPU. I guess I just have to allocate more RAM from my VPS.

  4. D’Arcy- I like what caching does- I was using W3 Total Cache, but I found a weird situation that I am not sure is the cause- my server would hang, and the ONLY way to free it was to edit the database- I would edit the wp-meta-data row for the active plugins, and replace it with content that had one less plugin (that sounds bizarre) but it would un freeze my site.

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