Runaway PHP processes on WP5.4.1

Hi there

I have set up a web site for a client which has over the past couple of months been giving us massive problems. It all started off well, but recently the site has become unmanageable. The biggest problem that I’m seeing is that, on logging into the wp-admin portal in Chrome, I’m seeing the PHP processes on my host run away.

I moved the web site from HostPapa to a VPS because they were reporting performance issues with the site but couldn’t give me sufficient detail to debug it. Now that I have it on a VPS, I can see that when I log into the wp-admin portal and navigate, the server spins up hundreds of php7.2-cgi processes, utilising all RAM and swap (and generating load averages of 78 and above!) before the kernel OOMkill’s the processes and everything starts to calm down.

During this period of chaos, I find that Pages that were published get duplicated and revert to draft.

This morning I tried disabling all plugins, but it made no difference. I tried switching the theme from Divi back to Twenty Twelve, but again no difference.

Really struggling with where to look next to debug this. The Network tab of the Chrome developer tools console doesn’t show hundreds of connections being fired off, so it’s almost like something is running away on the server all by itself. However other than the processes being PHP related, I have no idea what’s going on.

Any and all help gratefully received!


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