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I've a server with ~200 wordpress websites hosted. When Google Favicon bot pays us a visit it searches all the sites indexed on our IP, that means it's requesting ~200 favicons. Most of the sites doesn't have one, so the request is passed to wordpress which has to render a 404 page. This means in a matter of seconds dozens of php processes and mysql connections (with different users), which causes a server overload.

I mitigated this by limiting the number of MySQL connection and it partially works, because the server is not crashing anymore, but when this happens it still gets overloaded and unresponsive for some time.

Given that I could either

  • create an empty favicon.ico file for every site
  • add a custom htaccess rule for favicon.ico
  • enable some caching plugin on wordpress

is there a better way of controlling this issue, which doesn't involve touching websites?

UPDATE

Indeed I understand I didn't explain very well why I posted here and not on stackexchange.

I believe the MySQL server can be more fine-tuned in order to avoid overloading the server. As said I already limited the maximum number of connections, but I was wondering what can be done on the databases side, if there's some way to queue or semaphore them, so that when there are 200 users connected and doing basic queries the server can somehow sustain them.

The server is a quad core with 8G of ram, running Ubuntu 12.04. My custom MySQL config:

[mysqld]
table_cache=1024
query_cache_size=64M
join_buffer_size=512K
tmp_table_size=64M
max_heap_table_size=64M
open_files_limit=3200
log_slow_queries = /var/log/mysql/mysql-slow.log
long_query_time = 2
innodb_buffer_pool_size=600M
innodb_thread_concurrency=8
thread_concurrency=8
max_user_connections = 15
max_connections = 80
4
+100

I usually consider things like this best to be caught as high in the stack as possible on Nginx or Apache level. Wordpess is doing it's job of serving a 404 page for a url that doesn't exist. The lower you get in the stack the harder it gets to distinguish between usual requests and this behaviour. From MySQL it's just a normal legit request from php.

I have this in many of my sites Nginx config:

location /favicon.ico {
    expires 365d;
    return 200;
}

For apache with htaccess you can put a shared favicon.ico (an empty image or something) and this should work (I didn't test this):

RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f 
RewriteCond favicon.ico 
RewriteRule .* path/to/shared/favicon.ico [L]
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