Defining Web Hosting Reliability – If a tree falls in a forest…

January 21st, 2010 by

You may have heard the philosophical question, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it really make a sound?” I presume if no one is around, then it does not make a sound. Why? In the late 1800s a science magazine defined sound as a “vibration, transmitted to our senses through the mechanism of the ear, and recognized as sound only at our nerve centers.” They also reasoned that, “the falling of the tree or any other disturbance will produce vibration of the air. If there be no ears to hear, there will be no sound.” I can buy that.

To that end I pose this question, “If a Web site goes down and no one tries to view it, is it really down?

To help answer this question, Netcraft, a non-affiliated Internet hosting research firm, uses a similar model in determining the most reliable Web hosting companies. “From a customer’s point of view, the percentage of failed requests is more pertinent than outages on hosting companies’ own sites, as this gives a pointer to reliability of routing,” Netcraft stated. “This is why we choose to rank our table by fewest failed requests, rather than shortest periods of outage.”

WestHost is proud to be recognized by Netcraft as one of the top three most reliable web hosting companies in the world. Providing constant uptime and responsive support is our aim. Basically, we hear everything, even when no one else does.

If a Web site goes down and no one tries to view it, is it really down?

What do you think?

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Lance Weeks – Client Services & Sales

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cw sangree
# 21st February, 2010

Funny… except our sites (on a dedicated server) are down right now and have been for 8 hours today. Would have loved some regular updates via Twitter, website, etc., but nothing.

share trading strategy
# 22nd February, 2010

I like the art about uptime. My site recently went down for 24 hours because they were doing routine “maintenance”. I asked for compensation and they told me I could stick it.

# 22nd February, 2010

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it really make a sound?”

I disagree with this West Host blogger. If you leave a tape recorder at the site of the falling tree the sound of it falling will be captured. Hence, yes it does make a sound.

If a Web site goes down and no one tries to view it, is it really down?

Pose that to your clients and see what their reaction is!

I for one have had my servers go out on West Host once last week and now for the second time 2/20-22/10 and counting.

With over 40 websites hosted here and some of my clients starting to scream I for one am getting nervous. So if say 4 of your clients couldn’t get on, yes that is a low failed request rate. And if they have tried over 2 days to get on and couldn’t then what? And what about the webmaster who has to deal with all the calls to answer questions about when is it coming back on line. You answer at 8 PM MST and they are still out the next day… and then another 8 AM MST turn on time comes and goes….

I have found that 1 dissatisfied client will do more damage then the other 39 clients who don’t know that their website is down. And what if they did?

So does it matter “If a Web site goes down and no one tries to view it, is it really down?”

Oh Yes it matters. It matters to me and the ones it affects….

A stupid blog question and justification for it that should be pulled, and a rethinking of what customer service really means..

Wayne Hancock
# 22nd February, 2010

You may want to check with WestHost Customers. December may have been good but it has gone down hill in 2010.

# 23rd February, 2010

Don’t bother commenting here, opinions and facts are not allow.

Comments will be deleted.

Jake Neeley
# 24th February, 2010

We realize that you all are frustrated with the outage due to a fire suppressant accidentally triggered by an individual at the data center where your servers are housed.

Although not a mistake by any WestHost personnel or systems our team is literally working round the clock and swallowing much of the criticism regarding the outage.

WestHost has a history of delivering solid and reliable hosting platforms with top-notch support. We are not perfect by any means, and recognize areas where we need to improve, and therefore aim to please and strive to deliver real value to our clients.

Jake Neeley
# 24th February, 2010

@cw sangree we are constantly working to provide updates via our Web site (, several emails, and on Twitter. If you need something specific please DM us on Twitter and we can get it for you.

I hope you know that, although not our mistake, we will still be providing compensation for your downtime based on free month(s) of service.

We have been monitoring and realize that your site outages have been heard. We also realize that some clients may not have even know their sites are down but we still continue to ensure their service is restored.

Since we are all in an intertwined global marketplace each of us is effected when the other makes a mistake; which is not a new thing. When gas prices went up, so did food, etc. When banks went down last year, so did many other businesses.

Many companies, if not all, go through experiences that are not ideal; the real quest for any company who experiences difficulty lies upon how well they can stand back up, get on their feet, and start running. I am confident that we will be back to our usual premium service and back to the top of Netcraft’s coveted list.

Vikas Gupta
# 25th February, 2010

This post and comments made a very interesting read!

David Brugge
# 26th February, 2010

Oh the irony, the irony.

Ned Roberts
# 26th February, 2010

I hope the outage never happens again, but if it does, you will have learned some lessons about how to handle such a disaster – communicate, communicate, communicate. I’m a long time customer, not going anywhere, but I’m disappointed at the time estimates that were always too optimistic. Better to under-promise and over-deliver. I’d recommend you get alternate email addresses so you can notify people whose email won’t work in these types of events.

business facilities
# 27th February, 2010

You can get it here in the blog as well, it’s in the “web design and development” category.There are a lot of tips, guidelines and steps on how to make a good website.We will still be posting more entries to help you in establishing your online presence.

Jake Neeley
# 27th February, 2010

@Ned Thanks for the alternate email idea. I don’t know what it would take to do that but I will see if we can implement a solution like this into our system. My inkling is that if it were possible it would have already been done 🙂

Personally I encourage those signing up to use an email address independent of their hosting account, which I would estimate about 90% do. Most of our clients list their yahoo, gmail, ISP etc. as their contact email address.

If any of you would like to change your email list you can do it in your account panel (if you’re on the 4.0 platform) or through this form,

Ned Roberts
# 27th February, 2010

I never thought to use an alternate address in my contact – since my hosted account worked perfectly for 10+ years. I didn’t know until Sunday afternoon that there was a problem. What happens to all the people who emailed me in the last week – do their emails show up or did they just get a “rejected” message?

Jake Neeley
# 1st March, 2010

@Ned, most email providers will hold on to the email for about 5 days and keep trying to send it. If after that time it won’t go through it’ll bounce back to them and let them know it could not be delivered.

I don’t know of any providers that don’t delay/retry email delivery.

# 2nd April, 2010

If a tree falls in the forests, you may not hear it but any creatures of the forests around it will. 😉 And to them it may concern in some way.

Till then,