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Thread: Service Violation - Final Notice? (Usage Issue)

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    Service Violation - Final Notice? (Usage Issue)

    Hello, all. I've seen threads similar to this but haven't really come across any information that's been helpful to me, so I figured I'd create a thread to see if someone here might be able to give me some new insight into a problem that I've been having. I'm getting increasingly frustrated over the issue, and have been unimpressed so far with the help (or lack thereof) that I've been getting.

    I've had an account with PowWeb for about five years now, without issue. Until about six months ago, I ran a small PHPBB3 forum with about 30 or so members. I also had a Wordpress blog in a sub-directory, which I stopped posting in about a year or so ago and forgot about. In the summer, I moved over to a MyBB forum (which I merged with the old one). We now only have about twenty (or so) active members. It's not a high-traffic site at all; rather, it's just a place for a small group of friends to gather and talk about their lives. The forum is closed to new activations, with privacy settings in place so that the boards are only visible to us. We have not made any changes to the forum since then.

    On January 1/12, I received an email from PowWeb that indicated that my account is consuming excessive resources on the database servers. I was basically told that my usage of database queries should be significantly reduced within three business days, or my account would be suspended as the account was not intended for such an extreme usage of queries. I received a second email at the same time, in which I was informed that four tables in particular contained the maximum number of rows which looks like spamming. I was told to clear off the junk contents of the database in order to avoid suspension of my account. The email also referred to abusing contents stored on my database. (Note: I understand that, for some reason, I'm not supposed quote support directly, so apologies if my summary sounds a bit vague. Just referring to the points that were brought up that I'm meant to address, but don't understand.)

    At that time, I logged into my account and removed any tables that had not been used in a while (that were attributed to the old forum). I removed the four tables that they had referenced specifically for the same reason.

    I've deleted any files not directly attributed to the currently active forum. This includes my old Wordpress blog, the old forum, and even a few .html files that I'd been tinkering with a while back (when I was considering expanding the site) and later forgotten about.

    In addition to deleting these files, I removed any databases I was no longer using (connected to the old blog and forum). My disk usage is sitting at 1439.38MB for my website and 13.66MB for my logs. That's it.

    I've got a robots.txt file uploaded in order to keep bots away. I do not have ads on my page, and I certainly have no 'abusing' content or 'spamming' on my site. I cannot find any indication of hacking on the site, whatsoever, or any malicious code. I've checked my usage statistics for the site and can see that I have very few monthly hits- in fact, it's down more than 50% from where it was in February of 2011. Total page views were lower in December than at any point in the previous year.

    As I said earlier, nothing has changed with my account whatsoever since July and, in fact, page views have gone down. I'm using considerably less storage space now than I ever have in the past five years, and we're at an ultimate low for active members. I even deleted inactive accounts six months ago, so I know that these people are not logging onto (or even have access to) the forum. I've logged into my MyBB admin account and verified that it's set up for caching and that the database has been optimized.

    Despite all of my efforts, I received a second email today from PowWeb, indicating that I had violated my terms of service and that they were giving me a final notice before suspending my account. This was a form letter identical to the first that I'd received, telling me that I should disable any forums or blogs that are no longer in use (I have), that I should enable caching (I have) or disabling certain plugins (I have not added any new plugins since the summer, and even then, have very few).

    I've sent an email requesting more information about what's going on because, clearly, nothing I'm doing is working at this point- but I've yet to receive a response. I cannot see what more I can reasonably do at this point, aside from deleting my forum entirely (which, really, is the only reason I created my account with PowWeb in the first place, five years ago). As far as I can see, after reading other threads in this forum and searching through MySQL, there's no way that I can view my usage myself or figure out where exactly the problem is coming from. All I have to work on is that some person at PowWeb is CLAIMING that my usage is up and, despite doing all they've asked me to do (without providing me with actual numbers or evidence to verify said usage), my account is at risk of suspension.

    So my question is: What else can I be doing right now that I haven't already done? How can I reasonably know where my usage is at, and what's causing such an 'extreme usage of queries'?

    As I'm sure you can imagine, I'm extremely frustrated at this point. I've spent hours trying to resolve this situation, having been given the absolutely bare minimum of information. I've been googling for answers, checking old threads in this forum, tinkering around in my dashboard, deleting old files, everything I can think of. So what now?

  2. #2
    Former Spam Filter (EU) IanS's Avatar
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    Send customer support a list of actions you've taken since the first e-mail and ask for specific figures since then on usage.

    Temporarily disable all access once you've received this. If after a few days you get a further notice, then you'll know it's not your doing. Point out that you're doing this to see if the 'problem' persists. Obviously it can't persist if the site is suspended by you before they do the suspension.

    Check that you have the latest versions of the software (BB) and the latest patches. Disable any mods that you've installed.

    Oh, and make a backup NOW! as once you're locked out, that's it!
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  3. #3
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    In addition to deleting these files, I removed any databases I was no longer using (connected to the old blog and forum).
    I think I located your account and ticket, though I can't go in to details in an open forum. However, contrary to your comment, I am still seeing databases other than the MyBB one active in the My SQL section of the control panel. Some of these databases appear quite large (100,000+ records), and if they are not being actively used, I'd recommend deleting them through the control panel.

    If those are the ones responsible for the database load, that should then rectify the issue. I'd suggest updating the ticket with the names of the databases you have deleted.

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    Well this is fun - I just had the same message giving me 3 days to take action or else my account will be locked

    Since getting hacked in the last month I have taken down all my Wordpress sites (and reloaded one in the last 7 days) so there should only be 1 database in use, and to my knowledge with little traffic.

    I have also moved 4 sites (3 with almost no traffic) to another host, so my traffic ought to be very low in the last week.

    Off to check, but other than the size of the databases, which has not grown in the last month, the only usage on the account should be FTP downloads where I have taken backups.

    Having been with POWWEB for over 10 years this is not too pleasing. I wonder if they are reducing tolerances on accounts, and my usage ought to be pretty minimal compared with many, or if this warning could even be erroneous.

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    Former Spam Filter (EU) IanS's Avatar
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    Checking with support would seem to be your only viable option here. Try the online chat as it is still early morning in the US and shouldn't be too busy. They may even be able to tell you which database. Have you moved/deleted the unused ones?
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  6. #6
    poddys's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IanS View Post
    Checking with support would seem to be your only viable option here. Try the online chat as it is still early morning in the US and shouldn't be too busy. They may even be able to tell you which database. Have you moved/deleted the unused ones?
    Thanks Ian, you are always on the ball

    I just deleted the ones I do not use and got backups of the ones I do, although only 1 is currently in use until I can re-install Wordpress on 2 more sites, which will make 3 in use. Currently those 2 sites just have a static html file for a home page and nothing else.

    My traffic has halved in February over what it was in January, and in the last few days it's half of what it was at the start of the month, according to Webalizer. I can't see database access stats though.

    Hopefully support can give me a better insight into what the problem is, and my sites are back up again thankfully, seems the plug was pulled earlier this morning.

    Appreciate your help. I updated the ticket and am waiting for a response.
    Tony

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    Seems the violation is due to comments on my one active blog which contain sexual terms and links to porn sites.

    However, these comments are all held in a spam queue (by the Wordpress Akismet plugin) and will automatically deleted after 30 days. Other than that it might be the number of comments, but not much I can do apart from delete old comments, which is part of the blog history.

    The spam comments are removed, hopefully that resolves things.

  8. #8
    Former Spam Filter (EU) IanS's Avatar
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    Can you set the plug-in to delete quicker than 30days - maybe as quickly as 1 or 2 days?
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    There is no option to do that Ian. I agree it might be nice to have, especially if the spam builds up. Since these comments are never approved, they do exist in the database, but their links to porn sites etc are never visible.

    Adding a Captcha definitely helps reduce the spam. It's instantly noticeable if you remove that for even an hour, since you can see a sudden flood of junk comments.

    Think I just need to keep a better eye on it for now.

  10. #10
    Former Spam Filter (EU) IanS's Avatar
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    It seems, for a while at least, you're going to be manually clearing them out! I would suggest contacting the developers and ask about the addition of the ability to set how long things remain in the spam queue before auto-deletion.
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    does it mean that if i include a forum in my account, and the user, not me, posts a message with xxx urls, or post spam in the messages, powweb will search for the content of the databases and because of whatever the users, not me, have posted, they will start with all this? furthermore, i am implementing my own 'bulletin board' (not exactly, but close), which requires additional functionality compared to a common bb, but i have seen sources from, for example, phpbb.. and as the one i am making, when they delete a post, it does not get really deleted, but marked as deleted, which i plenty justify since is better to keep track for security reasons.. so it means it will remain in the database, even if is not visible by all people.. so how do we do.. do we have to search for all the messages that do not comply with the arbitrary filter from powweb, which seems to be looking at the contents of the databases? do we have access to that filter to see if our tables comply with parameters? what happens if a post by an arbitrary user, who can be anyone in the world with internet access does not comply.. instead of marking it as deleted do we have to compromise the integrity of the application, since it is not just to delete the file from the table (even tough for the public, it appears as deleted), since it also includes counters (for the user, for the topic, for the forum etc)..?

  12. #12
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    It's really a question of volume. One or two spam messages won't get you flagged, but a very large database table where the majority of the contents are spammy links causes problems for everyone because of the high system overheads that generates.

    If you're implementing your own bulletin board, it should be easy to physically delete an entry from the database when it's deleted, and that would seem the best course, from a variety of perspectives.

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    Mod.. with bite.. Croc Hunter's Avatar
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    A spike in spam activity last week is emerging on some of the leading antispam service providers this week. Spamcop Akismet type RBL's are great but they add to bandwidth and response times. An Australian team infiltrated the largest Romainian spam network at the same time last week but I cannot draw any paralells there. I prefer to take a pro-active approach and stop them at the gate. Wordpress and phpBB (as they were mentioned) can do it stand alone if you just know a few tricks. My problem is genuine traffic breaking Powweb limits.
    Croc Hunter MSC :

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    That's a rather different problem, but it does happen and is largely inevitable. Our systems are designed for small-to-medium sites, and it's quite possible for a site to grow so large in terms of traffic that the load it puts on our servers is simply too much, because it has a negative impact for other customers.

    It's important to remember we offer a shared hosting environment, and allowing one account to use more than its fair share of resources would be doing the rest of our customers a disservice. So we sometimes - and it affects only a tiny fraction of our tens of thousands of customers - have to take action to protect them. Needs of the many, etc.

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    Mod.. with bite.. Croc Hunter's Avatar
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    I totally understand Jim, wasn't complaining, its a good thing. A streamlined site breaking shared hosting limits means its popular, moving from small-medium into large. It was just a footnote to the guys CMS problems.
    Croc Hunter MSC :

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    I got the same problem.

    First a message about some spammer porn link in a saved database backup, that isn't used, from 5 years ago. That I deleted completely, then I added a word filter for adult words in the new database (despite of if they have double meanings and make it harder to communicate). At the same time they accused me of consuming too much database resources (which is beyond my understanding). No figures, so it's pretty arbitrary. Now I shut everything down completely. People can't access any MySQL-features at all.

    And what do I see when I try to access my disabled webste parts? 404- of course, but not just that. I get "ads" - a mockup webpage is displayed ! Is this a serious company or what?

    I'm _not_ going to contact support to ask about any of this, I don't have time and I had enough long time ago already. If they shut my forum site down (again) I just move to another non-US provider that values its customers at a tenth of the price. I stay just because of the minimal action required of me to maintain status quo. I don't feel good for helping pay US wars, abuses of international law and human rights anyway.

  17. #17
    Former Spam Filter (EU) IanS's Avatar
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    You can control the 404 page ads - they're default position and have been for some time now, you need to opt out of this in OPS.
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  18. #18

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    I have had similar problems with maximum database connections in the past mainly when I was running a large article directory. I found out later that a script was spamming my site with automated submissions. Check your website stats and see if any of your pages, images or files have an unusually large amount of hits.

    While I do think that Powweb (and other shared hosting providers) have unrealistic MySQL database limits for their advertised "unlimited hosting plans", it does only cost a few bucks a month.

    Basically what it comes down to is... shared hosting is perfect for static sites, personal blogs and other small database-driven sites. If you run a database and plan on getting millions of visitors then you will need a dedicated hosting solution without the limitations.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by aysisme View Post
    Basically what it comes down to is... shared hosting is perfect for static sites, personal blogs and other small database-driven sites. If you run a database and plan on getting millions of visitors then you will need a dedicated hosting solution without the limitations.
    ^^^^^^^
    This. I often find myself dealing with customers who have unrealistic expectations of what the shared hosting environment will handle. No, you probably will not be able to "run Facebook" on your 30-cents a day hosting plan...

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