How SiteGround handles traffic spikes (what if your blog post goes viral)

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Why a host should keep an eye on the traffic spikes

Only quite expensive cloud solutions (like the one I recommend from LiquidWeb) can handle traffic spikes and traffic limits automatically.

And as regards non-scalable infrastructure (e.g. shared hosting with even unlimited plan or VPS), its resources are not automatically scalable. It means that any decent hosting (especially shared hosting) must handle situations when resource usage may exceed some limits. Hosting must do it in order to guarantee a proper work for all shared hosting clients allocated on the same server.

Otherwise all these clients will experience now and then performance issues which means slow loading of websites, failure of backing up websites etc. For example, it can happen if one client abuse server resources making others suffer from crazy slowness of their websites.

When your popular blog post becomes a threat to others

What if your post a blog post gets viral? You start getting a lot of traffic and it increases the server load drastically. Technically, it means that you may abuse server resources.

And in order to prevent such situations and keep all clients happy, SiteGround has explicit limits of visits on its shared hosting plans. If you exceed these limits you have an option to upgrade your plan on which more resources are allocated for you.

Can SiteGround turn off my website if it gets tons of traffic overnight?

Some potential clients are worried what happens if they exceed the traffic limits. They are afraid that SiteGround will turn off their websites. And of course this is undesirable especially exactly when your blog post gets hot.

In fact SiteGround does the following:

  1. When you exceed your visits limit, you get email notifications and your limits are automatically increased. It gives you time to make appropriate actions, for example upgrade your plan. Your website is NOT turned off and continues functioning fine.
  2. If you have not contacted SiteGround support to upgrade your plan and you exceed the increased limits the second time, then access to your website is blocked. This will be done to save the performance of the websites of other clients on the same server as you.

Here’s a screenshot and the transcript of my chat with SiteGround support about this question:

how siteground handles traffic spekes

Michael: Hi, I’ve heard that on your shared plans if a website gets a traffic spike over some limits (e.g. a blog post goes viral), you block the website. Can you please confirm it or officially refute it?

Kaloyan G.: Hello Michael, glad to have you here, I hope, that you are doing great today
Kaloyan G.: I can see your question
Kaloyan G.: Allow me to explain
Kaloyan G.: We do limit the websites, that are using above the fair share of server resources, we do this after we notify the client 2 times. You don’t want to have your website down because some other person is using all of the server resources, right?

Michael: I understand in general how shared hosting works. But I just wanted to know how you handle if such things happen. Knowing that you notify a client two times is a good thing. Do you mean that “2 times” mean two traffic spikes or the two notifications in a row? If the latter, then how much time a client will have to upgrade their account (or buy new resources if it’s possible) before the website is blocked?

Kaloyan G.: Let’s take the StartUp for example
Kaloyan G.: It can handle up to 10.000 unique visitors per month
Kaloyan G.: We allow you to increase the visitors number to 12.000 before we limit the access to your website and we also recommend you to upgrade to a higher plan, that is more suitable

Michael: okay, thanks a lot. Say I exceeded 10K visits. You send me a notification to upgrade. But my traffic still goes up. if its goes up within 10 minutes and exceeds 12K the website is automatically blocked. Is it correct? (just trying to understand how it works)

Kaloyan G.: Yes, if you the numbers keep growing the StartUp plan won’t be able to handle the traffic and the only solution is to upgrade. We offer different plans for different types of websites, so that you can benefit most of the price

Michael: Yes, thank you. I know that for autoscaling you offer Cloud hosting. Many thanks for your answers!

Looking after abusing server resources is a must for a good hosting company that cares of its quality of services.

You don’t want to experience severe slowdowns of your website if someone else got a viral blog post, don’t you? That’s why such procedure is used by SiteGround.

Of course, such approach requires you to do some actions fast, you need to contact SiteGround support before it’s too late. And sometimes it may be not convenient. But this is done for the sake of high performance of the websites in a shared hosting environment.

Can SiteGround handle the drastic increase of your traffic any other way?

Yes, the boom of your traffic can be handled automatically. SiteGround can do it in its cloud solution which is called Cloud Hosting. But this service is not a shared hosting but a scalable fully managed VPS.

The bottom line

So, you don’t need to be afraid that SiteGround will block your website if it overnight gets tons of traffic. But you need to be ready to contact its support and let them know that you are ready to upgrade your plan.

In fact, any other hosting (even unlimited) when you exceed some resource limits does the same thing. SiteGround just makes it more serious than most other hosts.

P.S.: I wish you have as many viral blog posts as possible! And hopefully your host will not put you back! And if you consider finding an alternatives to SiteGround, I suggest looking at my article devoted specifically to this issue.

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