Do you have website downtime? Do you know when your website is down and unavailable to your customers and potential customers?
Did you answer No, or I don’t know?
You probably do, but your not likely sitting at your computer staring at your website and clicking refresh every minute to make sure your website is up.
If your website is important to the growth of your business, then it is important that you are aware of any downtime and how long that downtime last.
Every minute your site is down, is a minute you could be losing business.
Not convinced this is important?
Let’s look at just one simple example.
Imagine you have an online store, it’s the primary source of revenue for the business and your site goes down in the middle of the day. Even if it’s only for 1 or 2 minutes, you just lost money and new customers.
If that downtime takes place during a shopping spree while one or twenty people were trying to order from your site, not only did you lose money, but you’ve also lost trust. Those people are less likely to try again.
It’s too risky, they have no idea what just happened and if it’s safe to shop on your site.
What is Website Downtime?
Downtime is not just something you can blame on your web host. Your site could fail due to failed updates, bad plugins, bad settings, bad coding, and even bad decisions (buying hosting based on price).
Downtime can be identified with several different error messages or scenarios.
Some of the most common errors might be, 404 Not Found, 502 Bad Gateway, 520 Timeout, 500 Server Error, etc…
There are however, other situations that will cause downtime like the famous white screen of death that will not be detected by a monitoring service.
In either of these situations, an actual error message or a white screen, your website visitors will not be able to access your website.
And that is the definition of downtime I know every serious business owner understands!
What Causes Downtime?
That is a loaded questions because it could be a wide range of things. Caused by an even wider range of variables.
However, the most common issues for website downtime would be a result of two main categories.
- Scripting or Coding
- Server Issues
The white screen of death for example, would be a scripting/coding issue 99.9% of the time. It’s usually the cause of plugin, theme, or bad update.
Any of the number errors, 404, 502, 520, 500 could be a result of coding or scripting, but with a combination of the server (hosting account).
Let me explain that a bit.
Your hosting account, if you’re in a shared environment, has a limited amount of resources. If you have coding or scripting issue, especially with a WordPress site, you’re going to quickly reach your resource limits and cause website downtime.
In most cases, when you get a 502 Bad Gateway error there could very likely be something wrong with the server and you should call your hosting provider.
How to Monitor Your Websites Downtime
They both check for the same issues and provide email (in some cases text) notifications in the event that there is ever any downtime.
Because the reports shows what type of downtime, I am able to trouble shoot the issue a bit better.
While I’d love to see 100% uptime on my and all my clients sites, I know that isn’t likely to happen. And if I ever get a report that is at 100%, I’m suspicious. There are too many variables with different hosting providers and WordPress plugins/themes, to expect 100% uptime.
So the purpose of monitoring is not to get to 100%, but to know when there is downtime and the cause of the website downtime so that you can get the site back up now, but also to prevent it from happening again in the future.
Website Down? What to do Next…
Let’s say you’ve taken my advice and got yourself setup with a monitoring service, you get your first email or text about the site being down, now what?
- Check the site to be sure it’s really down.
- Check your monitoring reports to see what the error is.
- Start troubleshooting common practices for that specific error.
However, if you have a developer on call, just send them a text or forward them the email.
If they’re good at their job, they have probably already started working on the situation and will respond with as much once they receive your message.
In my opinion, for most business/website owners, the best practice would be to have website downtime monitoring notifications sent to you and your developer or maintenance provider.
It’s something you as the website owner should be aware of, but better to have an expert on call to resolve the problem.