When your website is down, your online profits are more than likely to follow its lead. So-called "downtime" typically occurs when your website hosting server becomes unavailable, making it impossible for anyone to access your website – which is not only frustrating, but potentially devastating for your online business. Downtime in business Web hosting can be divided into two categories:
- Planned: Sometimes Web hosting service downtime is necessary. Your Web hosting company may be installing updates or performing hardware maintenance – two necessities that can actually help you avoid much more dangerous unplanned downtime.
- Unplanned: Emergency website hosting situations such as security breaches, hardware and software failures, and administrator errors often cause lengthy downtime that can cost businesses thousands of dollars, if not more.
Downtime can also occur when the server is running, but there are problems with your website's application that are preventing it from going live. In order to minimize downtime to the furthest extent, there are some key things to look for when choosing a Web hosting company.
Web Hosting Uptime Guarantees
When a Web hosting provider says it offers a 99.99% uptime guarantee, you don't just have to take their word for it – check into their history. A simple search for a particular Web hosting company will likely provide a virtual "background check" that may include customer reviews and even Web hosting service awards. And, most importantly, you can choose a Web hosting service provider that backs up their uptime claims with a money-back guarantee.
Be sure to ask what's included in the uptime – occasionally a business Web hosting company may mislead customers by counting time spent working on server upgrades as uptime.
Who's watching your website? Look for a Web hosting company that offers a monitoring service that checks your website at regular intervals and notifies you when a problem arises. After all, even if the server is up 99.99% of the time, it's not a guarantee that your website will be – only daily scanning can give you that precise information.
Some customers feel more comfortable having a third party monitor their Web hosting service. Depending on the depth of your monitoring needs, you may be able to choose a free plan or pay a small fee for a more thorough plan. Common features of website monitoring plans include uptime reports, online status pages and failure alerts.
When a customer tries to visit your website during a period of planned Web hosting downtime, one of two things can happen: they can encounter an error message that tells them your site is not currently available, or they can encounter a user-friendly message that explains to them that your site is being updated in order to serve them better. While neither outcome may seem ideal, the latter is certainly less damaging to your traffic and your brand. It's important to ask your potential Web hosting company if they use maintenance windows, as well as user-friendly messaging to minimize downtime's negative impact.
The simple fact is that there is no way to completely avoid Web hosting service downtime. But if you're serious about your business Web hosting, pay attention to the details when choosing a Web hosting company. With the right Web hosting uptime guarantee and a monitoring service if needed, you can minimize that downtime and keep your website up and running right along with your profits.