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Getting worse
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8 May 2012
7.37am
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Joe
Pepperland
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Forum Posts: 4390
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31 March 2008
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Here's as much as I understand:

WordPress is a database-driven content management system, using MySQL and PHP. If that means nothing to you, the rest might not either.

One of the tables in the database is called wp_options (WordPress options). It's supposed to be quite a small table which contains various basic settings for link structures, email address and so on. In its ideal state it's quite a small entry - just a few KB in size. However, some plugins cache information there as entries called transients. The idea is that the transient data gets overwritten and uopdated when the process is next used, which is quite an efficient way to operate.

However, one or more of my plugins is creating unique transients, which might look something like transient_timeout_dsaoklg43598ueorkgjh4309834rtf - the latter bit being a unique identifier. Crucially, because it's unique it'll never be overwritten, because no plugin will ever use it. So the entries pile up, to the extent that yesterday I had a 5.1 gigabyte table which should only have been 180 kilobytes.

wp_options gets referred to every time a new (non-cached) page is requested, but if it's too big it'll end up trying to run masses of processes and run out of memory. That's why I used to get those Gateway Timeout errors, and why yesterday things kept slowing down or crashing. So the impetus is to keep it as lean as possible. 

Now, what I need to do is work out which plugin is creating these unique entries, and ditch it. I don't think there's an easy way to do this beyond looking at the database size, disabling some plugins, then seeing if it creeps up again. If it doesn't rise I've probably found the culprit. It's quite a painful process but IF I'm able to finally find out where the problem lies this site should run like a dream. I've done enough testing and optimising elsewhere over the past weeks/months to trim all the fat. I just haven't been able to isolate the actual problem!

In the meantime, I've got an automated script purging the entries, but I think it runs only once a day. Probably just about enough to keep things in check, but not a final fix.

Finally, the plugins do various things on the site, from the crumbtrail ("You are here:") to the stats reporting, the top ten most popular pages, the maps, related links and so on. Most of them are very useful but there's normally an alternative. I'd rather have a fully working site than one which tries to do everything but crashes all the time.

Worst-case scenario, this forum is creating the rogue database entries. At some point I'll have to disable it to see, though I will give warning before. I don't *think* it's the forum though.

I hope all that made sense.

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