A webmaster’s worst nightmare: you type in the URL of your website and instead of being greeted with the familiar view of your website, you stare at a blank screen with a frowning face from your browser. Your website is down, but what do you do about it?
First of all, you need to check if your website is down only for you (which may mean you’re experiencing a problem with your own internet connection) or if it’s down for everyone. Call some friends and ask them to check. If it does turn out to be a universal problem, then you need to find out why.
Here are our top 5 reasons your website could be experiencing downtime:
- Your Hosting Provider
The first question is, is your hosting provider having an issue with their servers? If so, what are they doing about it. If they are having a problem with one of their servers that affects your website, they will do their best to get them back up and running. Depending on your business, such a disruption might be unacceptable and perhaps you should consider moving from a shared server to a dedicated one instead.
Another reason for downtime could be that your hosting provider is carrying out server maintenance work. However, this should have been scheduled in advance and you should have been notified about it and its duration.
If in doubt, there is one method to determine exactly where the problem lies: you can ask a developer or tech assistant to run a trace route test. This examines all possible connections to your domain through the various routes the request for access to your website could take, and will identify where the connection breaks down.
- DDoS Attack
A DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack is still server related but it is out of the control of the hosting provider. A DDoS attack basically is a massive flood of traffic or bandwidth overload, which is so large that the network of servers can’t handle it and break down. It is almost impossible to stop as it comes from several sources, which can’t be stopped by simply blocking one IP address.
If your hosting company is under such an attack, this is certainly unfortunate, and their support service should keep you informed in a calm and methodical way. Companies who try to get rid of you or refuse to tell you the truth are not the partners for a dependable business relationship.
- Website Code Error
A simple reason why your website is down could also be that your developer has recently made some changes to the code which includes an error. This can completely paralyze your site, stopping it from loading altogether. Double check with anyone who has permission to access your website backend.
- DNS Changes
If your domain name registration lies in a different company from where you host your website, a change in the DNS could be the reason why your website isn’t working. The DNS is like a navigation command, telling the domain where it is going to be used. For example, if your domain “mybusiness.co.uk” is registered at company X and you are hosting your website at company Y, the DNS will tell “mybusiness.co.uk” that it is going to be used at company Y and how to get there. If these directional commands have been altered, your domain might be lost in cyberspace. Once you have changed the DNS, please remember it can take up to a few days before the changes take effect.
- Viral Traffic
And now to the good news which can unfortunately come in the form of a massive glitch: your website suddenly has enormous volumes of traffic! This might happen overnight, and if it does then your shared hosting servers or single dedicated server might not be able to cope. This is when you will need some serious expansion. Here you can choose whether to have your own servers or go for a managed server solution, depending on your technical knowhow and time availability.
In general, to avoid unnecessary interruption to your website uptime, take some time to investigate the available hosting providers and what they offer. Often making a good choice in hosting company will save you a lot of headache and give you a seamless experience.