No website owner wants their websites to go offline. When a website goes down, the owner loses money; whether it be through lost sales or a drop in banner ad sales and affiliate commissions. Therefore, it is important to choose a web host that has good uptime.
Ignore Your Host's Uptime Guarantee
Every web hosting company in the world gives a guarantee about the amount of uptime they offer. Some promise 99.9% uptime, some promise 99.99%, whilst others promise that their servers will be online 100% of the time.
At first glance, there doesn't to be a big difference between 99.9% and 99.99% uptime. When you take a step back and work out the math, it does actually make a big difference. There are 525949 minutes in a year.
This results in the following downtime:
- 99% – This equates to 5259.49 minutes of downtime per year and just over 438 minutes per month. That's a whopping 7.3 hours per month.
- 99.9% – This equates to 525.95 minutes of downtime per year and nearly 44 minutes per month.
- 99.99% – This equates to 52.59 minutes of downtime per year and just over 4 minutes per month.
As you can see above, there is a difference of around 40 minutes in downtime between 99.9% and 99.99% uptime guarantees. You should always take these guarantees with a pinch of salt as the actual uptime a hosting company has is sometimes very different. A great service for checking the uptime of a hosting company is Hyperspin. They monitor the uptime of all major hosting company. According to them, any web host with uptime more than 99.5% is considered a reliable webhost.
Be aware that few companies will compensate you for small amounts of downtime. For example, if your website is down for twenty minutes, don't expect your web hosting company to do anything other than apologise. When a web host has experienced major problems and seen all their servers going down for hours or days, they might give you a discount on your next bill or even a month free; particularly if they are concerned you are going to move to another company.
Monitor Your Website's Uptime
You need to know when your website is offline. Downtime does not always occur when you are viewing your website. It is not uncommon for websites to be offline in the middle of the night.
The most practical way of monitoring your website is with a website uptime monitoring service. These services will check the status of your website at defined intervals e.g. every five minutes. If your website or server goes down, the monitoring service will alert you. Most monitoring services offer free website monitoring with email and RSS updates. Premium plans normally include other alert methods including mobile app, SMS and telephone calls.
One of the most popular monitoring services is Pingdom. Their basic plan costs $6.96 per month and allows you to track one website URL. A more affordable solution is Uptime Robot. Their free service allows you set up 50 monitors with five minute intervals.
For a complete list of website uptime monitors, please refer to my Website Uptime Monitoring resource page.