Our blog saga

You probably come here to read about our family, but yesterday the big adventure centered around the status of our blog.

Yesterday morning I posted a comment in response to a commentor and I didn’t notice until later that my comment wasn’t saved.

Then early in the afternoon I published a post which instantly vanished into thin air.  There was nothing left of it, not even a draft.

I decided maybe it was a fluke and began to draft another post for later.  I saved the draft and that vanished into thin air as well.

Now I was worried.  I created a test post, which promptly vanished.  I suddenly realized that comments had been strangely absent all day.  I tried to leave a test comment and was taken to a blank screen.  My comment had disappeared too.

I told hubby that we had problems – maybe database issues.  I googled terms like “wordpress draft not saved” and “wordpress comment not saved blank screen”.  I tried variations of similar phrases and read string after string of other users’ similar problems and solutions.

Some were caused by upgrades gone wrong, but we hadn’t upgraded anything recently.  Just to be sure, I first disabled all my plugins that had upgrades available – maybe running older versions was causing conflicts?  No.

My test post vanished when I hit the publish button.  It was a cold and gloomy day in spite of the fact that May is nearly here.  The weather fit my mood.

Then I disabled all of my plugins.  This is really one of the first things to try when wordpress goes bad, but it didn’t help.  My trouble didn’t seem to be caused by any of my plugins.

My test post vanished when I hit the publish button.  I reactivated my plugins.

What is a plugin?  It’s an add-on  to provide additional features that are not included with the standard program.  Wordpress offers a bedazzling array of free plugins that will enable your blog to cook, clean and change the oil in your car.

A few threads mentioned theme problems.  Maybe we had somehow lost a crucial line of code?  I switched to a default theme and composed yet another test post.  I tried to make each test post short but interesting, in the hope that the world would actually see it.  I have to admit that my hope was waning, along with my creativity.

My new test post vanished.

Now I was really beginning to worry that we had been hacked.  After upgrades and plugins, this was the standard cause of troubles like ours.  I checked for signs that had been mentioned by other victims of website hacking: there were no users that had been added without my permission.  Our pages didn’t seem to redirect to other sites.  When I logged into the control panel, only the sitemap and one other file had been updated that day.

But that one other file was an important one.  Why was it updated today, and was this the problem?  The code in that file looked innocent enough to my very-slightly-geeky eyes.  I used google to check on one line that looked suspect, but it checked out.  Nonetheless, I decided to rule out the possibility.  I replaced the file with an older version and drafted a test post.

My test post vanished when I hit the publish button.  The clouds outside the window darkened.  I changed the file back to the current version and stifled my rising panic.

I contacted our webhost about a backup to see if we could get our files backed up from 1-2 days earlier.  If we had been hacked, this wouldn’t prevent the same thing from happening again, but it should fix the current problem.  They put in my request and told me it should be fulfilled within 3 days. Three days??? Remember what I said about rising panic?  Still rising.

I checked my other blog to see if it was having similar problems, but all was well.  The test post appeared just like it was supposed to.  If we were hacked, it was only our family blog.  This was slightly encouraging.  Wouldn’t a thief take all the valuables once he broke into the house?

Now I decided to do what I had been subconsciously avoiding and act on my initial hunch.  I hadn’t found any info about this hunch in all my google searches, and didn’t know if I would be able to spot or fix the problem even if I found myself staring right at it, but I had nothing to lose.

I logged into my webhost and had a look at my blog’s database – its brain. Yes, I cracked open the skull and had a little peek inside.  Databases are scary things and I feel geeky just saying the word, but this really wasn’t hard to do at all.

Alarm bells went off as soon as I saw its size – far over the limit!  After nearly 5 years of heavy blogging, our database size the last time I looked was still far below the limit, but yesterday it was 50% over the limit.  No wonder it wasn’t saving anything new!  But why was it so bloated?  Was a hacker using it for his own nefarious purposes?

Are your eyes glazed over yet?  Is anyone even still reading this far down?  Sorry, but this was an emotional rollercoaster for me.  It’s nearly over.

I pulled up a list of the tables inside our database and scanned down the length of the list, looking at their sizes.  About halfway down, my eyes stopped.  One item was hundreds of times bigger than any other.  This one alone was the entire allowed size of our database!  Bingo!

Right next to this item which was bloated beyond all belief was the option to either empty or entirely delete it.  The table was called wp_redirection_logs.

This table was probably connected to a plugin we use called Redirection, installed on the recommendation of a blogging guru.  I checked with my 2 go-to sources: hubby and google, in that order.  Both said it should be fine to empty the table, so I did.  One commentor on the Redirection plugin site was even complaining about the fact that this particular table in his database was incredibly bloated after running the plugin for 3 months.  I think that’s about how long we’ve used it.

I created a test post and hit the publish button.  The test post vanished.

But this time I didn’t immediately give up on this solution.  I remembered from previous database experience (oh, how geeky I am!) that database changes can take 10 minutes or more to take effect.  I waited a few minutes and tried another test post.  Still no good.

I killed a few minutes researching the Redirection plugin and exploring our settings for the plugin.  I think this plugin is the reason I could type inashoe.com granola into the address bar when I was looking for my granola post, and I automatically got sent to http://inashoe.com/2010/03/granola-homeschooler-style/.  I wasn’t ready to get rid of the plugin, but I noticed that we had the plugin set to log all of its activities indefinitely.  That sounds like a problem – the problem.  I changed some settings so that the plugin would delete any records more than 7 days old.  I think I changed something else, because I can’t find my granola post quite so easily now: I get sent to google results instead, where the granola post is the top result.  Still easy, but it’s an extra click.  I can live with this if my blog is fixed.  Is it?

I create a test post and hit the publish button. The post appears on our blog. It’s still an hour until sunset.  The clouds break and the sun shines down on our little house.

Now I can post, and we can all comment.  I missed you.  Did you miss me?

Comments

  1. Now for the REAL test: can I comment again? ;)

  2. Holy cow, what a pain! Great job figuring it out!

  3. Good job!! Now I know the “why” for all the “test post” mentions on Twitter and Facebook.

    I think you are more than a little geeky, and I consider that a compliment!

  4. I thought it was rather quiet over here. Glad you’re back! :)

  5. Technology is a wonderful thing…WHEN IT WORKS! Glad to have you back. :-)

  6. Wow…I really hope I never have problems like that, because I would be LOST!

  7. I’m glad your back. It’s amazing how little I know about computers.

  8. I am almost afraid to ask who the guru was/is…

    Yes, I was also wondering what you are up to! Glad to read that all is well in Texas :D !

    • Andrea,
      It was Yoast who recommended the plugin, but I don’t fault the plugin; the problem was a combination of our settings and the amount of traffic our blog has.

  9. Jamie,
    She told me that you emailed her yesterday, just about the time I had the problem figured out. She tried to reply but there was a typo in your email.
    Thanks for asking about us. :)

  10. Abigail G. says:

    WOW I can not believe I read all that! It is amazing on how technology works. I knew something was wrong. You’re really good at posting and keeping us updated.

  11. I missed you. Did you miss me? I even thought it was my fault.So much so, I went over to Smockity to enlist her help. Hopefully we are good to go again….

Don't just think it: say it!

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