The Flow

Composing and Cogitating

Reflections and tips on tech, websites, the economy, investing, and other insights that come my way

Website Update Delays - Where Are My Changes?!

Website Update Delays - Where Are My Changes?!

Are you finding that code changes to your website can take up to five minutes to go live? Do you suspect that your web pages are being automatically cached somewhere between your webhost's service and your device but DNSFlush isn't resolving the problem? Are the delays in reflecting code changes consistent over an extended period of time (days) and probably not attributable to temporary CPU throttling[1]? Your website may be permanently cached with a five minute (or more) delay set by your webhost!

I crashed into this problem while developing a Joomla! website on Bluehost[2]. I was using a responsive template that required a great deal of customization to the CSS and PHP code. I had been working on the changes for about a week when suddenly, I found that any code change would take about five minutes to be reflected on the live site. I tried all the usual solutions – ipconfig /dnsflush, clearing my browser cache, calling my ISP (they promised they weren't caching my site). Finally, after a second call to Bluehost, I was told that one of my other sites had been throttled a week earlier due to excessive activity. Once the throttle was activated, ALL the websites on my account were being cached. My only solution was to upgrade to a more expensive "cloud" service. Angry? You bet! 

Digging further into the issue with a very pleasant and knowledgeable Bluehost senior tech, we found that the excessive activity had been - 

  1. directed at the website's administrative login page (hackers), 
  2. on a day that I couldn't/wouldn't have accessed the website (I was flying from D.C. to Bozeman), and 
  3. the source of the activity was IP addresses in the Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan!

This was not my fault! Even so, Blue host has set its systems to automatically cache all websites on an account that has sufficient activity to warrant a throttle and the cache cannot (will not) be turned off. The tech also told me that Hostmonster, Justhost, Fastdomain, Hostgator and many other webhosts are running the same protocols.

My options were to (a) sign-up with another webhost and transfer my websites (a huge time and effort expense) or (b) upgrade to Bluehost's "Cloud" service for a few additional dollars a month. With this service, I would be able to control the caching on each of my domains. As irritated as I was about being penalized for the actions of third world hackers, the choice was simple – upgrade to the Cloud service. Immediately after authorizing the upgrade, I also blocked the IP addresses for Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan.

It appears that my web traffic has returned to its typical dribble. Just to ensure that my sites aren't targeted by hackers in Turkey, India, Singapore, etc., I'm going to install JSecure, which provides one-click country blocking and secures the Joomla! administrative page.The developer, Joomla Service Provider, has a similar product for Wordpress websites.

If you have additional information on the throttle-to-cache issue, I encourage your comments. I may be misinformed regarding which webhosts employ this protocol and will be happy to update the list of webhosts that automatically cache websites.

[1] CPU Throttling - Process of temporarily reducing CPU usage to avoid processor overheating and damage.  (Source:  Webhosting Secrets Revealed)

[2] Bluehost is probably not the only webhost with this policy.  I'm not picking on them.  Please read on.  

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Thursday, 21 September 2017