Dealing with the UK #riotcleanup surge

During the hours following the recent rioting & looting that has affected London, Birmingham & other, major UK cities, a fantastic clean-up operation has been spawned by the British public, by utilising the power of Twitter combined with the hash tag of #riotcleanup.

Over-night many websites were spawned to help co-ordinate the ‘riotcleanup’ efforts. One of these was, hosted here at It is clear now that the owner could not have predicted how popular the website would become after the deluge of tweets referencing it, including mentions from celebrities Simon Pegg and Rufus Hound.

Unfortunately, the entry-level website hosting account chosen by the owner was quickly over-whelmed by the number of visitors to the site.

Despite our Professional hosting package offering great value for money for small-to-medium sized websites, the sheer weight of the British public accessing one website at a time was effectively a denial of service against the other domains shared on that server; many hundreds of our customers were effectively left without hosting services.

As soon as it was identified that the Professional hosting server could not contend with the load of requests (in addition to its other duties) we were forced to suspend the website, pending communication with the owner.

No sooner than a few seconds later, we began receiving a lot of stern e-mails, tweets and even a few phone calls from third parties (not our customer), demanding that we reinstate the domain’s hosting. Persons contacting us were informed that we were doing our best to contact the customer in question, so that we may arrange a stronger hosting solution that would allow to stay online.

Our customer eventually returned our calls, quite unaware of the scale of popularity that his website had achieved and together with our Dedicated Account Manager, Mike, a solution was agreed to provide one of our High-End Dedicated Servers gratis, in exchange for a small logo & link back to the website.

In less than an hour after this conversation, the Engineering team had a High End Dedicated Server installed, updated and configured to run the website. Cached DNS queries were taken-care of by a few lines of mod_rewrite code on the original shared hosting server and the site was effectively live again.

Immediately, the website had 50,000 hits within a minute. 1.5 million hits in 2 hours. The peak of outbound network traffic from this server was at 32.4Mbit/sec. And what’s more, the server itself still had plenty of resources to contend with such an enormous swell in visitor traffic: a great success.

Whilst it’s been a very busy morning in the office, we are all proud to be supporting the #riotcleanup movement and every person involved now and in the future. Despite any of the issues within the UK, it’s fantastic to see such a large community effort from the British public and we are very happy to be contributing a small part to these efforts.


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