What is a Server Hangup in WordPress?

Imagine being in the middle of a successful marketing campaign, and your website suddenly starts spitting Server Hangup errors to your visitors. Every minute of downtime can have devastating effects on an online project, but ecommerce businesses seem to take the biggest hits. 

In today’s Scala guide, we are going to learn more about server hangups in WordPress – what they mean, what causes them, and what can we do about it?

What is a Server Hangup?

In a smoothly working setup, there is constant communication between the user’s computer and the server that hosts the site they’re trying to view. Let’s say you want to open a new web page. When you type its URL, your computer sends a request to the hosting server. The latter retrieves the content that needs to load and sends it back to your browser. The entire process shouldn’t take more than a few seconds, even faster with small-scale projects.

That’s the ideal scenario, but not always the case. 

Sometimes the web server cannot retrieve the requested information by the client. Their computer will send numerous more requests in an attempt to connect, but if they are still unable to get the data – the user will receive a Server Hangup Error.

The term “hangup” describes the process of a hosting server becoming unresponsive and unable to function as intended

What Causes Server Hangups in WordPress?

WordPress is no different than any other online application – it requires some system resources (CPU, RAM, disk space) to run properly, and every page visitor also consumes from the available server power. 

So what can cause your website to return a Server Hangup error? Here are a few common reasons:

  • Network Issues – it all starts in the datacenters, so it’s not impossible a network problem is disrupting the connection with your server. Luckily, most hosting providers offer System Check tools to check if their services should be up and running. Additionally, you can find numerous free third-party checkers online that can test the availability of your WordPress website from multiple locations.
  • Not Enough Resources – the most common culprit for server hangups. Be it an unexpected surge of traffic or your website gradually consuming more system resources – running out of CPU or RAM can easily bring a WP website down. Any scheduled task, like a cron job or server maintenance, can also lead to resource exhaustion and unwanted error messages.
  • Hardware Failure – while it’s absolutely possible for a disk drive or another hardware element to fail, such cases are actually rarely the cause of a server hangup. Administrators can often see such risks long before they become a real problem and replace certain parts without any downtimes. The only exception here are hard disk drives which can stop working unexpectedly, but even then – a well-prepared host will react swiftly and efficiently. 
  • Backups – we often emphasize the importance of data backups but rarely mention some of the underlying risks of this otherwise great security practice. You can find a lot of useful backup scripts, but you also have to consider they drain your CPU and RAM. When you schedule a tool to archive your data a few times a day – you also increase your chances of a server hangup during peak traffic. That’s why it’s always a good idea to run automated backups at times when your WordPress project has the fewest visitors. 
  • Configuration Errors – even the most experienced developers can sometimes make mistakes, especially if they operate everything via SSH. A single missed quotation mark or an erroneous command can cause misconfiguration to the entire server and its subsequent hangup. This rings especially true when tinkering with the system files. 
  • Upload Limits – a common cause of WordPress server hangups during plugin and theme installation. Some add-ons contain very large files, and not all hosts will allow you to freely move them around. Raising the file upload limit is often enough to overcome such issues, and you can even ask your provider to do it if you’re on a managed server plan.

Now that we know what causes hangups in WordPress let’s see how we can fix the error.

Server Hangup Troubleshooting

One of the first troubleshooting tips for server hangups is to see if this is a one-time issue or a recurring problem. For example, if you experience downtimes during specific times every day, it might be a case of a cron job or backup script you’re running, in which case you can just stop it altogether. Or, if you notice that you are close to reaching your RAM limits – adding more system resources might be the only way.

Don’t forget to check your error logs. They are often a great source of insights about possible server problems – the exact time they occurred and even the reason for the failure. Apps also come with error logs so you can determine if WordPress itself is causing an issue

Whatever the reason for the hangup, your quickest and most efficient solution is to restart the server. It doesn’t matter if you need to stop a certain script or add more resources – there is no reason to keep your visitors waiting in the meantime. 

If you need more assistance with server hangups in WordPress – contact the ScalaHosting Support Team, and we will gladly help you out.

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Rado
Author

Working in the web hosting industry for over 13 years, Rado has inevitably got some insight into the industry. A digital marketer by education, Rado is always putting himself in the client's shoes, trying to see what's best for THEM first. A man of the fine detail, you can often find him spending 10+ minutes wondering over a missing comma or slightly skewed design.

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