We have our Spring Show on Sunday and an exhibitor has just contacted us to say they can't access the schedules and entry forms.

It seems some pages are not working and are showing this error message:

e-voice.org.uk can't currently handle this request

HTTP Error 503

Other pages that can't be accesses are Membership and History.

This error message only appears if you are not logged in.  If I am logged in I can see all the pages as normal.

I don't know whether this is just an issue with some pages on our site for some reason or a wider problem?

Help would be much appreciated as all our Show info is now on-line.


Kimble and Ellesborough Horticultural Society



All seems to be working as normal now.


Posted by Joe Oldak on

I've had a look in the logs and it seems that on Friday 5th at 12:38 there was an enormous spike in traffic hitting lots of sites all at the same time. This mostly eased off after a couple of minutes but it wasn't until about 13:30 that the problem completely went away again.

The 503 errors were generated because the backend application server was overloaded.

We do have a very fast cache in front of the web server which can serve up thousands of files per second, but because all the traffic hit very suddenly and across loads of sites, the content generally wasn't in the cache so had to hit the application server.

I haven't seen similar happening on other days recently - it seems this was perhaps a directed denial of service attack, or at least some sort of web robot that had gone haywire and was requesting hundreds of pages per second!

<thinks more>

I think the cache must have remembered some of the 503 errors and was returning those for up to an hour after it occurred. This would explain why you didn't see any errors when logged in but not logged in users did, and also why the problem completely went away after one hour of the initial incident.

I'll look at the cache config to see if I can prevent this happening in the future.

Thanks for the report. Hopefully your show went well! :-)


Hi Joe

Thanks for the explanation.

Show went surpisingly well - we had an influx of visitors and some new non-member exhibitors.  I think this is largely due to our improved website which now includes all the schedules, entry forms etc and is generally more visually appealing and user-friendly.

So many thanks for your help and all the zoom sessions over the last year or so.