BlueHost Strangles Site with CPU Throttling

First, a big “sorry” to everyone using the site!

Over the past few days the site has been loading very slowly. It isn’t my fault – it’s a new feature the web host (BlueHost) has introduced… Read on to learn more. It wasn’t until I found the BlueHost & HostMonster User Alert: CPU Throttling article on another blog that I had my suspicions confirmed. There’s a reasonably detailed explanation of the feature in that posting, but suffice to say, BlueHost have introduced CPU Throttling. No, it isn’t a way to strangle (kill) a CPU, it’s a way to strangle a site’s (this site’s) use of the host’s CPU.

BlueHost Strangling of this site with CPU Throttling
BlueHost Strangling of this site with CPU Throttling

And yes, sometimes this CPU Throttling (strangling) kills the site! :angry: Some of you may have had this error message when BlueHost have “killed” the site with their throttling:

Service Temporarily Unavailable
The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to maintenance downtime or capacity problems. Please try again later.

Does it say “capacity problems”? What it means is, because we have strangled your CPU usage your site won’t work, didn’t we tell you?

It’s clear to me that this is a ploy by BlueHost to drive more sales of higher CPU accounts. There is nothing in this for their customers; just the host! When I first experienced this, knowing that nothing had changed on this site and therefore that the change must be at the host’s end, the support people didn’t even admit that they had changed their setup. They said it was the site that was at fault! Clearly not the case; they have changed their config, they have not advertised it, and they are now trying to force my hand by stealth! Poor, very poor service! When I bought this service under a specific set of Terms & Conditions I expected it to stay like that. Not one day to suddenly, without warning, get [glossary “severely restrict the efficiency or effectiveness”]ham-strung[/glossary]!!!

14 thoughts on “BlueHost Strangles Site with CPU Throttling”

  1. Gosh Pete, I hope you thought about the fact that the site gets such a high Google Pagerank before you posted this. :good: A critical article high up in Google search wouldn’t be good for BlueHost’s sales. 😳

  2. Can you change easily to a different web host, or is that impossible ❓ ❓ . If they have changed the terms of the agreement, can we have the next blog rendevouz at their office, armed with sledge hammers and chain-saws?? 👿 👿

    1. The host is US based so we don’t need to feel restricted to such mundane items as chainsaws and sledgehammers 😆

      Pete: Thanks for the explanation, I freely admit to finding the impossibly slow service a bit frustrating. I have copies of all my articles and pictures in the event that there should be a problem if you decide to transfer to another host.

  3. I’m a bit incredulous. I’m a customer who has looked into this as well, and from what I understand, even when you’re “strangled” you’re guaranteed 33% of a processor at a minimum. For a shared hosting service that’s pretty generous, if that’s not enough to run your site, then I’d say it’s time to either get off of $5/mo web hosting or take a good hard look at your code. I had a few things that I fixed, and I think perhaps there were a few bugs in their system that they’ve since worked out.

    You might want to ask them exactly how much CPU your stuff is using, or SSH in and look yourself rather than deflecting the blame. From what I understand, a user has to monopolize an entire CPU for awhile before their system kicks in and says ‘hold on there, let others have a chance’.

    A lot of “load and go” software, especially PHP stuff like wordpress and its plethora of poorly written plugins, is notoriously inefficient and cpu hungry. They’ll churn and grind on the CPU just to spit out a few dynamic elements. My guess is that beforehand, 5% of the users were monopolizing 90% of the CPU and ‘strangling’ everyone else. Now bluehost is ‘strangling’ those 5% (as opposed to the alternative of telling them to find another web host) and allowing the rest to breathe. Naturally, the 5% are going to complain.

    It can’t be easy to make sure everyone gets their fair share on such a system, especially when plenty of people are trying to get by on cheap hosting when they require dedicated resources.

    1. I’m simply looking at the facts Morgan…

      • BlueHost did not advertise this change.
      • When this “feature” was rolled out it had a massive impact on my site; making it almost impossible to use!
      • In an e-mail to me Matt Heaton has defended the “feature” along exactly the same lines as you. (odd that?)
      • Matt Heaton offered over two weeks ago to provide some support about what might be causing the problems. This would be nice to have, yet, I’ve heard nothing back from him despite repeating my request for support.
      • I have not changed any of the code that runs my site. Yet the service seems to have returned to some level of acceptability. (odd that?)
      • One of BlueHost’s selling points is that they offer a WordPress automated install; it’s not much of a selling point to add that if you do use this software your site will be strangled!
      • You mention, “perhaps there were a few bugs in [BlueHost’s] system“. How do you know that? Where has it been published? Perhaps this explains the facts above; I haven’t changed anything, yet the service seems to have returned to some level of satisfactory response.
      • This isn’t about deflecting blame – it’s about me, the CUSTOMER, asking why I wasn’t told, why I wasn’t supported , etc. The service PROVIDER, regardless of cost of that service, must have some responsibility.

      So Morgan, why are you such a champion of BlueHost’s service? I guess you are either a zealot or an affiliate of some kind… Why not, as customers, call them to account?

    2. That’s not how it works: as one can see in the cpu throttle diagram, there ALWAYS seems to be a maximum. And that also is my experience, no matter what weekday or hour of day or night I’m working; the throttle always steps in on some of my extensive drupal admin pages.

      Recent months and even recent weeks, the problem has become even worse! Bluehost hasn’t finished it’s policy of cashing in and even continues to sell more accounts on a server and bringing resources of individual accounts back. Of-course one must also realize that customers on average are using more and more complex scripts.

      There is now a very recent new maximum of database tables and MB’s. A year ago they started to have a maximum of files per client; this is 50.000 what is too little if one has a few extensive cms installations. But you can go to 100.000 (now, they will change soon?) without your account being blocked. Only they don’t make a backup anymore! Thanks very much my dear friend Bluehost.

  4. Maybe you should explain why you utilize so many resources and how it impacts other customers. Unless you are on a dedicated server then you should be regulated in such a way. The reason nobody does it is because it is so hard to regulate.

    There are more abusers/customers who are selfish *read yourself* and complain because that they want more than they are paying for.

    1. Hey Joe, thanks for your contribution; how long have you been a fan-boy?

      Honestly, how naive can you be, “read yourself”? I understand the principle of throttling, what irks me (if you read what I’ve written) is that there was no advertising of the new feature at all. Simply the service in one moment was fine and then the next it was strangled! That’s crap customer service. Then, to add insult – and when I got really mad – the support guys simply said nothing of throttling and helped no a dot. I ended up e-mailing Matt Heaton – he actually explained some stuff and offered to help diagnose where I should look to address any problems. Over a month later and I still haven’t heard back from Matt despite sending additional follow up e-mails.

      Now, if your idea Joe of good customer service is no communication before, during, and after I think you are in a minority!

    2. I never had problems UNTIL Bluehost started throttling, so there was no problem before, but they clearly made a problem.

      Logics: If it was due to extensive use of resources, then I would have had problems in the past when others use extensive CPU (too).

  5. Thanks Pete for nice article.

    My current host warned me about excessive CPU usage and i was looking for a better host who can support well wordpress site, and repeated visited Bluehost to check their service in this regard.

    Now little confused. It would have been better it your dont mine in telling your approximate traffic, just want to know at what level this create problem.

    Thanks Pete.

  6. I DESPISE Bluehost. They have frequent downtimes and I just found out that my account has been throttled for the past 24 hours. Why? Well, I guess because my website is getting more visits lately. I spoke to their shitty customer service and they told me the problem is with my website, they say they don’t know what it is but “maybe” something is taking too much CPU time. I then said, “Oh maybe because my website has been getting more visits lately?” To which he reply, “No, that rarely happens.” The only thing I changed on my website since its inception – 3 years ago – were upgrades to WordPress and the freaking LOGO, which by the way is smaller in file size then the prior. They are f’ing thieves and I’m moving to some other host.

    1. ah, yes, wordpress, some addons use a lot cpu resources! Every CMS especially with extra modules or addons, can use a lot of cpu. Just using simple scripts like html and stripping down cms installations until they have the most basic functionality, will do it. The rets you have to do on your own pc/laptop: foto&video editing is out of the question to do that on Bluehost. Use your own spellcheck instead the one on your website. Use your own editor and then upload, instead of an editor on your website, etc. etc.
      For sure you then will have a nice working website with Bluehost! It even then can have similar visitors at the same moments, although I fear the connection might drop again if this accidently gets near 10 at the same time.

  7. It costs me hundreds of hours extra working on an extensive drupal install with many modules; so many errors, slow and sometimes loss of data and destruction of an installation due to that.

    Bluehost is out of the market and now only serves for customers who just want one or a few very low traffic websites. In that they are doing a good job, period.

    My contract ends this year, so of-course I never ever will take Bluehost. They are just cashing in by VERY OFTEN changing their contract conditions, without the existing contracted customers approval. This is a bad company to behave like that.

    Yes they WERE one of the best, but now the ARE one of the WORST, especially for that price, as you have that connection speed for half of their price. Still don’t know where to go, another webhoster, VPS or dedicated. Except for getting my old hosting resources back, I like some additional power for new projects.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *