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Apr 26, 2010

Given recent traffic surges, you may experience slow page loads, delays in updates and periodic white pages on the site today. Our engineers are working full steam to resolve these problems. We apologize for these very frustrating issues.

For those of you who have been Care2 members for years, you've seen this movie before.  The cause is that as we grow, certain systems on our site experience traffic jams. We'll then fix that bottleneck and traffic will flow smoothly for a period... until it reaches a new higher traffic level, and a different bottleneck will appear, causing another traffic jam. 

So while we've made huge improvements to our system over the years, there's always a future bottleneck lurking somewhere down the road. Unfortunately, this is a painful reality for most fast growing sites with limited engineering resources.  We do what we can to predict and remove bottlenecks we see down the road, but given the complexity of our system and the small size of our engineering team, we're not always able to stop the problems before they happen.

The good news is these slow downs are caused by more people using Care2 than ever.  We should have a solution to this current bottleneck in the next day or two... and are working on a major system upgrade over the next few months that should create even more headroom for future growth.

Bottom line, keeping the site speedy is our top priority, and things should return to normal relatively soon. We are painfully aware of how frustrating these issues are to all of you and, again, apologize for the inconvenience.


[update 1:45pm PT]

Just as I was posting the above, our engineering team decided it was best to take the live site offline so that the databases could catch up... which meant that for the past several hours no updates were being pushed to the site (including my post above).

So, not only were things looking odd, but we couldn't even let you all know what was going on... not good.  Fun day.

Just about everything should now be catching up, though you will likely experience a few areas of latency perhaps some other oddness around the site for the remainder of the day.  No data has been lost, so any updates you made during our earlier problems will be saved.

Site performance will be our prime focus until we believe the situation is entirely back to the high quality level you expect and deserve.

Again, my apologies for all of this.  We will make this right.








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Posted: Apr 26, 2010 11:15am
Mar 18, 2010

As you've no doubt noticed, we are having significant latency problems on the site today. Posts, comments and Butterfly Credits may take hours to appear.

Our engineers are doing all they can to diagnose the problem (which arose after a large spike in traffic yesterday).  These issues are very complex to diagnose, and when we fix one bottleneck, it often simply creates another bottleneck downstream.

We hope to have this resolved shortly and sincerely apologize for the mess.

Update: March 18

The Latency problem has been resolved for the time being. We  have a large scale effort under way over the next several weeks to prevent this from happening again, but realistically may continue to see periodic episodes involving latency for some time to come.  The good news is it's a sign of lots and lots of website traffic, the bad news is we know it's confusing and frustrating for all. We're doing our best to eliminate this issue and apologize for any frustration it may cause.
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Posted: Mar 18, 2010 7:07am
Jun 12, 2008

At the risk of provoking the database gods, here's a quick progress report on our site performance.   While we're not totally out of the woods yet, the past two days have been good.  Site speed throughout the site has been as fast if not faster than before our "going green" data center upgrade / move.

In fact, here's a chart by a third-party remote monitoring service showing the download time for the Care2 homepage:

Care2 homepage load time

As you can see prior to our data center move, from May 12-15th, the homepage averaged around 1.8 seconds to download. On May 16/17th we had a simplified "read-only" version of the site during the move which was slightly speedier than normal. Then, after the move things started to slow down (for the period May 18th - June 4th).  At that point, we fixed the main cause of the slowdown and had a fast couple of days, when I posted my ill-timed "Site Speed - Fast" blog post. On the night of this past Sunday, June 8th, we had a round of new problems that caused very slow performance for Monday the 9th.  However, as of Tue, June 10th we are now at a faster performance level than before the move.  Finally - Yeah!  It's been a fun past few weeks...

There are still some issues we're dealing with, and we've got a few reports of some latency issues cropping up now and then, but we're keeping a close eye on the situation.

Again, thank you all for your patience throughout this very trying time.    Making the world a better place should be enjoyable - so we won't stop working on this until the site speed is consistently fast!

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Posted: Jun 12, 2008 5:43pm
Jun 8, 2008
Good news! 

After the "green" upgrade to our data center three weekends ago you may have noticed the site has actually been a bit slower than normal. 

While we installed powerful new (energy efficient) high-end servers, an elusive configuration issue was impacting results, slowing everything down a bit.

As of Friday, June 6th, I'm pleased to report the issue has been resolved and the site is now faster than ever. (As measured both internally, and by a 3rd party service from various points around the globe).
   Our engineers have been trying to track down this issue day and night since the upgrade, so it's great to have finally resolved this.

We're also in the process of a major site-wide bug-bash, so over the next few weeks you should notice a number of those frustrating issues cleared up.

Thank you for your patience!
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Posted: Jun 8, 2008 8:21am
Apr 9, 2008

I originally posted this in a group discussion, but I think it's of widespread interest, so I'm reposting it here:

We take the issue of speed *very* seriously around here. We all spend far too much time online to deal with slow pages, so we spend a lot of time and resources to make the site as fast as possible.  As everyone around the Care2 office knows, I’m an absolute stickler when it comes to speed issues.  Slow pages are a big pet peeve of mine.  In fact, there’s not a single page on the site today, that I know of, that is consistently slow for me. In fact, everything is very fast (vast majority of pages load in less than a second, and the slowest loads in just under 2 seconds).

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t slow pages for some of you.  Here’s why:

There are a lot of factors that go into the perception of "speed". Some of these include:

  • how fast our servers are to get the data / pages /images sent
  • how long it takes the data to reach you (which may or may not have anything to do with things we control)
  • how long it takes for your browser to interpret the data it receives to display as a pretty webpage

That's not a complete list, but these are the usual areas we try to monitor and optimize.

Over the past several years we've taken a number of steps to speed things up:

  • contracted with a 3rd party service that stores images locally around the world so the distance between your computer and the images is as short as possible
  • reduced the number of database lookups on most pages (ie made the pages so they are created faster on our servers)
  • created asynchronous pages (basically, parts of the page will load fast, and the parts that load slow should load after the page is already displayed on your screen)
  • added lots and lots of very fast high end servers, networking equipment, etc.
  • increased the amount of bandwidth in our co-location facility (basically we can send and receive a ton of information fast!)
  • upgraded the software running our systems (including a big upgrade this past Tue night)
  • Increased the number of QA (Quality Assurance) testers and the variety of tests they run (e.g. testing for various browser and system configurations)
  • Developed automated monitoring systems to detect slow pages
  • and a lot of other things...

Things we can't control for, but are often the culprits in slow browsing experiences:

  • a slow connection (such as dial-up)
  • slowness in the Internet between our main facility in northern California and you (though things like images are now served local to you, so those shouldn't ever be an issue for this reason)
  • slow computer processor / hardware
  • interferences from other software (such as faulty firewalls, or security software or lots of other types of software...)
  • viruses on your system
  • too many programs / browser windows etc open on your system
  • non-standard browsers (over 70% of our site visitors use Internet Explorer, so the latest version of IE is generally your best bet for a fast browsing experience) 

Bottom line, none of this guarantees that Care2 will be speedy for you, but it *should* be speedy for the vast majority of you the vast majority of the time.

If there are certain pages you are consistently finding slow, please report these via our help form (not here).   It’s important to use our help form because it allows us to best track reports, and it also sends us basic information about the version of browser you are using which is very important for helping us track down performance issues.

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Posted: Apr 9, 2008 9:39pm


Content and comments expressed here are the opinions of Care2 users and not necessarily that of or its affiliates.


Randy Paynter
, 1
Hillsborough, CA, USA
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