I host my PHP website on shared hosting.

It's worked well for a year.

All of a sudden last week it started to randomly drop images, sometimes does not load the CSS file, and often gets 503 errors.

My provider says it is "too much traffic".

But since this has started to happen, traffic has gone down considerably of course, and it is still happening, that "heavy traffic" is the cause I find a bit illogical since if it is caused by heavy traffic, less traffic would solve the problem.

Here are 16 screenshots showing this random image dropping from the site throughout the day. http://tanguay.info/web/external/tinfoLoadingErrors.jpg (450K .jpg)

I've copied my site to another Apache/PHP server and it loads fine every time.

For those of you with experience hosting Apache/PHP site:

  • what would you consider to be likely causes of random image dropping, etc.?
  • what kinds of things can I ask my provider to check?
  • what kinds of things could I check to find the cause of this problem (e.g. log files, create a test site of some kind, etc.)
  • Edward did you ever resolve this? I'm experiencing the exact same thing. – jeerose Apr 8 '11 at 19:09

Can you paste in what the Apache logs say in one instance where an image is not displayed? The first thing I'd like to know is if Apache itself sees the image-dropping as a problem.

As for the 503...

HTTP 503 is the standard HTTP error which just means Service Unavailable as you probably already know; It could be that a program (required program) has not started on the web-server, or has otherwise crashed.

This one should make a clear entry in the logs of the error of what exactly went wrong - because the web server is obviously sending the 503.

I think the 503 should be easier to troubleshoot than the first (missing images) problem, and may leak more info to solve the first problem too.

Good luck!


This sounds like a "MaxClients" issue. If apache(most likely the webserver you're running) receives more simultaneous connections than it is configured to handle I BELIEVE(not %100 sure) it will return a 503 error (service unavailable) to any additional clients that attempt to connect.

This is an apache configuration and most likely not something you have control over since you are using shared hosting. Unfortunately you'll probably need to upgrade your hosting solution to VPS (virtual private server). This will give you access to your apache configuration files and therefore the ability to increase the "MaxClients" setting.

I would bring this up to your hosting provider. They should be able to confirm whether or not this is in fact the problem and if a VPS would be an adequate solution.


It looks like your shared host is overloaded. Because you are sharing this machine with other users, the page load your site puts on the server may be the straw that breaks the camels back.

My advice would be to setup an external monitoring service, like Pingdom. Gather some data for a week and then present it to your web host. If they can't resolve the issue, move hosts.


I am getting that error to - can see it in fire bug. Missing image or javascript or css file - one or all sometime a full 503 blank page. I am on gdiddy, It could be a problem with heavy indexing on googles behalf, they get pretty aggresive sometimes reading your files, they could easily use up all your connections by themselves. - shameless plug !_! link text


I stumbled upon this thread after looking around for others experiencing what I was. Your post was EXACTLY what I was struggling with. My server techs found the issue and it hasn't returned, in case this is helpful for anyone else here's the response I got from tech support:

I think I have discovered a possible reason for the 503 errors. It is possibly due to a denial of service mitigation module. If you are connecting repeatedly in a short period of time, it could mistake you for an attacker.

He's referring to a module installed on the Apache server. I was refreshing so much during development that the server mistook me for an attacker.

Hopefully this helps someone. Cheers, Jason

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