One often overlooked and undervalued aspect of running a website is the idea of uptime monitoring. Whether you’re running small tech blog or a Fortune 500 company, if your site is down that means people can’t reach you; and that’s can spell trouble. If you’re selling something on your website, you’re losing money and customers when it’s down, and that’s not a good thing.
Even if you aren’t selling a product on your site, customers still aren’t able to reach you and that’s a bad thing for your brand, especially if you’re a tech company or you operate in the tech space. The good news is that there are a number of free and paid tools that you can use to get nearly immediate notification of when your site is down. We won’t cover those in this post, but instead will be breaking down an evaluating these services one-by-one at later time. At this point, all you need to know is that these options are available.
There are number of things that can cause your site to go down, and some of these aren’t always obvious. One of the most common problems is a server-side connectivity issue where there’s a problem with your web host. DNS problems are also another common cause of a website going dark. Less frequently, you might have an issue with the software on your site such as WordPress or whatever CMS system you’re using. In addition to these server-side and network problems, you might find that if your site gets hacked that the attack causes errors and puts your site down that way.
When a website is frequently down, you may want to consider taking a closer look at your Service Level Agreement, or SLA. This is what defines the relationship between your and your web host in terms of what they need to offer you for uptime. Typical numbers hover around 99%, but this can vary depending upon a number of factors. Once you know what your web host should be held to, you may want to invest in some type of SLA Management solution so you can track how often your site is up vs down. Lots of different companies have software that you can try out, and then usually use on a purchase a subscription to a service that you feel meets your needs.
The bottom line here is that no matter what happens, you need to know when these problems occur so that you can remedy them. Everyone tends to focus on the idea of hosting being the most important consideration, and yes, it is important, but the best hosting in the world isn’t going to do you much good if your site is down because of a DNS error or cyber attack. In fact, your site can even get attacked without anyone gaining access to it. In what’s called a denial of service attack (DDOS), a hacker can send a large amount of visitors to your site in a very short amount of time, effectively overloading and overwhelming your hosting provider, which causes the site to temporarily be taken down.
Many of these problems are unavoidable, and if you’ve been running a website for any length of time, you’ve probably encountered some of them already. What’s important is that when these problems DO happen, you’re aware of them and able to respond quickly and effectively.