Psst… Your Site is Down

Your website is vital to reach clients and potential clients. Clients expect to get to your website at all hours of the day. It is the one part of your business that absolutely can’t go to sleep. That is why the reliability of your website is one of the major factors of having an online site.  But how do you know if your site is really up? You could login every 5 minutes of the day and check the site by simply refreshing your browser… all day long… even while you sleep. {insanity yes!}

… or…

Get a program to watch it for you!

Yes it is possible.  There are FREE sites out there that you can use to track your performance.  If your site is down for any reason, they will email you when it went down and when it comes back.

Here are a few that I’ve used in the past:

How do they work?

All of the different programs run on a similar idea:

  • you setup an account with an email that they will use to send reports to
  • you tell them the URL(s) you want them to watch
  • they look at THAT page and only THAT page to test if they can reach it
  • they repeat that testing every set interval (anywhere from every 5 minutes to 15 minutes usually)
  • if they can’t reach your site, they will email you and continue trying until they can again
  • they record their findings and present you with some “tracker” to see how you did over time

That’s it!  Now you don’t need to be the one sitting there clicking your website over and over again to make sure it’s up and running.  There are, however, some limitations

Limitations

As great as these programs are, they are still programs.  As my father says, “Computers are dumb devices.  They only do what you tell them to do.”  so with that, there are limitations to such devices:

  • Most programs will ONLY test the page you send them to (normally the first page of your website).  It won’t test if other pages are working.
  • Most programs are just testing they can get to your site, not if the content on it makes sense.  So if you get attacked by a hacker and content is changed, it won’t tell you that
  • Depending on the interval, the timing of the gaps could be just long enough that the site could go down between the intervals and never register
  • Generally the program is run out of a set number of computers in one location; so you can’t tell if there’s an outage of your website to certain regions only (which can happen if a DNS server goes down somewhere affecting how those users find your domain name).

With that being said, there’s a piece of mind to know that at least there is something monitoring your site for you and you can trace how well and how long you’re up.

My Site Keeps Going Down.  What Do I Do?

If you’re getting a lot of emails from your site, it’s a good indication that you’ve got an issue.  There could be a several sources to those issues and investigating each will help you ensure your site remains as active as possible. First off, you need to understand that as much as we would want it no website is up 100% of the time.  I don’t care how reliable your provider is, no one can give you 100% uptime. That’s because there are times when your provider needs to perform maintenance on the server, do critical changes, or a variety of other functions that you’re paying them for.  So don’t expect 100%. Now, let’s start with when you should start worrying. If you’re seeing emails daily or even weekly from the monitors, I’d start to worry.  Most providers today promise around 99.9% uptime.  That means you should only see your site go down 1 or 2 times a full year.  Anything more than that and you need to investigate what’s going on.

Step 1:  Check if really down

As I mentioned, there are limitations to the monitoring programs.  Sometimes it reports a “false negative” of being down.  One quick way to check that is if you have your phone or are near a computer try to access your site.  If you can, then it might be the monitoring program or an outage in only certain areas.

Step 2: Check trends

See if there are days or times where your site keeps going down. It could be an indication that perhaps something is happening repeatedly that is causing your site to go down.  Perhaps there is some maintenance that your provider is running that takes the site down.  Or perhaps another user is draining the system of resources and causing your site to go down. Either way, present that data to your provider and have them check into it at those specific times to see what might be happening on their end.

Step 3:  Consider moving

If things just aren’t improving, you may need to consider moving your website.  Website moves are always stressful.  You don’t know if what you’re going to is better.  You worry you might have left something behind.  There’s chances for corruption or issues bringing the site back online. There’s chances that things may not work like they used to.  The files are all physically in different places so you may need to adjust or change code. With all those worries, most skilled web developers and providers can do this sort of move within a day and make sure everything is sorted out and functioning.

At most, it would take a week to work through all the functionality and ensure everything is working correctly. This little bit of stress far outweighs the stress of worrying if your website is even up and online for clients and potential clients to find.

If you’re reaching that point and need help, drop me a line at caroline@creeksidecs.com or leave a comment below and I can walk you through any part of these instructions.


2 thoughts on “Psst… Your Site is Down

  1. Olivier

    Well, I’ve been using Port Monitor for a while (because the free checks every minute) and if you setup your monitors correctly its a great tool. Just use the content change option, so you can test if the correct text renders in the page and if it changes (because a hacker for example) you will be notified. And if you use Port Monitor + Pushover emergency notifications, you won’t miss a notification (sends notifications every 30 seconds till you acknowledge them).

    Reply

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