Today I got the phone call I always hate to get from clients. It was Stephanie O’Dea telling me her site was down. Whenever someone reports a site outage or hacking I drop everything and get on it immediately. In this case her web site had been replaced with a message saying her account had been suspended.
I immediately got in touch with the support team for her hosting company. These are the times when learn if you made a wise hosting decision, because no one wants to be left hanging when their site is down. I got in touch with a representative right away as I always have with Quality Host Online, which is why they’re one of my preferred hosting companies. It turns out they’d shut down the account because a script had sent a flurry of emails all at once. They assumed someone had hacked the account and was sending out spam.
I had a clue they didn’t though. Stephanie was particularly stressed because she’d just tweeted a link to a giveaway she was hosting on the site. You entered by posting a comment. WordPress automatically sends Stephanie an email notification when someone comments. Stephanie has a large Internet following, so hundreds of people were commenting at once, causing the blogging software to send 400+ emails in a matter of minutes. The hosting company assumed this was spam and shut down the site.
I explained what was going on and got Quality Host Online to turn the site back on, after which I immediately logged into WordPress and turned off the email notifications under Settings -> Discussion. Problem solved, all within 45 minutes.
The site crash was both good and bad. Bad because the site went down, obviously. But it was good to know that the hosting company monitors security issues like this and will be sure to shut down the site quickly if it ever does get hacked. You want to be alerted to a security breech as soon as it happens so you can minimize the damage. I’m glad to know Quality Host Online is on top of that. Now I also know to tell a client to turn of email notifications if they expect a flurry of comments to be submitted all at once.