It’s happened to the majority of us: you just launched a marketing campaign and went to check your sales, only to find your website blank and white! If this hasn’t happened to you yet, keep reading.
Outages in hosting can cause panic, especially if you run an e-commerce website. The loss of potential income can send you into a frenzy and keep you on hold with your hosting company for hours at a time – “The waiting is the hardest part,” as Tom Petty once said.
Downtime can also be detrimental to your reputation. According to Amazon News, 88 percent of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a negative experience. We can expect an even higher rate if the user is unable to connect to your website.
Hosting outages have no real solution; they are simply a fact of the industry. The uptime of hosting companies has improved year after year and is now better than ever, but an outage is still possible in the future.
What is the average expected uptime of a hosting company?
- Daily: 14m 24s
- Weekly: 1h 40m 48s
- Monthly: 7h 18m 17s
- Yearly: 3d 15h 39m 29s
So, why not aim for 100 percent uptime? Server maintenance is a simple solution. To keep your website running, online hosting companies and data centers must perform regular hardware maintenance and upkeep. Maintenance downtime is typically brief, and your hosting provider should notify you in advance. Aside from scheduled maintenance, hosting outages are the most common cause of website downtime. The following are the most common outages:
- Hardware Failure: Hardware failure can occur even with proper maintenance. Everything from hard drives to power supplies to motherboards eventually fails. Most hosting companies plan for this, but this type of disruption can be time-consuming to repair.
- Security or Cyber Attack: Cyberattacks or security threats can bring a server to a halt. Denial of Service, Man-in-the-middle, Drive-by attacks, and password attacks are the most common types of attacks. Most hosting companies already have security measures in place, such as Imunify AV, but in the ever-changing internet world, new server breaches are unavoidable.
- Website Traffic Overload: Overloading a server due to excessive website traffic Congratulations, you’re doing great, but you need a larger server if your website traffic is so high that it cripples your server. Most traffic spikes and overloads are caused by a DDoS attack. A denial-of-service attack is a type of cyber-attack in which the hacker attempts to overwhelm a server or network resource with requests.
How can I check if my website is actually down?
If your website fails to load, don’t panic; it could simply be a network issue. Here is a checklist of common problems you can use to determine whether your website is actually down or if there is another issue.
- The site has been cached: Clear your browser’s cache and try again. Most browsers support Shift + Refresh. If the site loads, the problem was most likely a browser or broadband connection issue.
- Please try again later. ESPN or Google are excellent resources. If other heavily trafficked sites aren’t loading, you may be dealing with an ISP problem.
- To determine whether your server is down or if there is a network problem, use the ping command. Pinging used to be a little complicated, but with free services like site24x7.com, sending a ping test is simple!
- To find out if your website is down, use a free online service such as downforeveryoneorjustme.com.
How to prepare before your site goes down:
Back up everything! It is critical to have a backup of your entire website that is not stored on your server. In the unlikely event of total data loss, this can mean the difference between having a website or not. Although most hosting companies offer backup services, performing additional manual or scheduled backups yourself can save time and money. If you use a Content Management System like WordPress, many backup plugin-based solutions will perform a full backup of your files and database. Using WP Toolkit for cPanel for WordPress management can also provide you with peace of mind due to its built-in security and backup/staging features.
Let’s breakdown the basics of hosting plans and uptime:
Shared Web Hosting: ⭑⭑
Shared hosting, as the entry-level hosting plan, has its fair share of downtime issues. As the name implies, you are sharing server space, which means you are also sharing problems. On a shared server, there could be thousands of different accounts. The sheer number of websites can put a strain on the hardware and expose it to a slew of security and resource issues.
Dedicated Hosting: ⭑⭑⭑⭑
Dedicated hosting gives you complete control over a single server, eliminating the problems associated with shared hosting plans. It is critical to understand the server’s hardware. According to a study conducted by the University of Toronto, Solid State drives fail 25% less frequently than traditional Hard Drives. The disadvantage of dedicated hosting is server administration. You will need advanced knowledge to set up the software and server unless your hosting company offers a managed dedicated server plan.
VPS Hosting: ⭑⭑⭑⭑
Virtual Private Servers are similar to dedicated physical servers, but they are software-defined, allowing for easy creation and configuration with scalability features. A virtual private server (VPS) is a true hybrid of shared hosting and dedicated server plans. You must still deal with maintenance outages, but you are less vulnerable to traffic spikes.
Cloud Hosting: ⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑
Cloud hosting makes use of multiple servers spread across a network. If one of the servers fails, your website will remain operational. For instant scalability and uptime, cloud hosting is the best option.
What should you do when your site goes down:
After determining the cause of your website’s downtime and confirming that it is a hosting issue, the first step is to check your email and spam folder to ensure you did not miss a scheduled maintenance email.
If no downtime warning was received, the next step is to visit the hosting company’s website to check for website outages. Most large-scale hosting companies now have a page on their website dedicated to system outages. If they do not provide an outage page, you should begin by submitting a support ticket to the company. Calling the company may be your first instinct because it appears to be urgent, but in 2022, most hosting companies provide faster support via email and ticket-based systems than phone support. If your website has been down for more than an hour and you have not received a response from support, it may be time to call.
Do hosting companies reimburse your company for losses due to downtime?
No, it does not. If you run a large e-commerce site and are losing money by the minute, don’t expect your hosting company to compensate you. Hosting companies, on the other hand, will give you a credit for downtime if you go through a few hoops. Hosting companies that guarantee uptime will credit you without question if the downtime exceeds the SLA.
Downtime is an inevitable part of doing business online, but by selecting the right hosting plan and taking preventative measures, you can reduce the impact of downtime on your business.