Web Host Uptime (& Downtime)


If you’re running or planning to set up mission-critical sites (such as an ecommerce site), one of key issues that you also need to consider (aside from security) when looking for a web host is uptime (or downtime). You’ve probably heard a lot about this, but if you haven’t, here’s some information to help you.

What is uptime? Uptime, put simply in the context of web hosting, is the time during which your site is fully operational (viewable and usable). Downtime, conversely, is the time during which it’s not, and these figures are usually given in percentages. HostingHelp offers some more definitions of uptime for your enlightenment.

How relevant is uptime and downtime for ecommerce sites? Highly relevant because downtime could translate to lost revenues, and in this highly competitive world, it could very well mean your business’ survival.

Therefore, it is critical that you choose a web host that has a high uptime guarantee (the higher, the better). An uptime guarantee of 99.5-99.99% is realistic and considered to be very good in most cases.

So how do you go about making sure that the host you do choose offers the best deal? I found good advice from the article HostSearch – Good Times, Bad Times: Uptime, Downtime, Runtime Errors, to wit:

  • Research your (potential) host’s uptime record and READ the fine print of their uptime guarantee (if they have, which you find in their Service Level Agreements).
  • Ask about your host(-to-be)’s disaster plans, redundancy and backups.
  • Re-check and make sure you get an uptime guarantee before signing and how reliable they are when it comes to refunding for and crediting downtimes.

Once you’ve found your host, it is essential that you also monitor your site’s uptimes and downtimes to ensure you get what you pay for and also to see if they’re living up to their promise (so you can change hosts if they aren’t). How? WHReviews.com’s ‘Monitoring Server Uptime’ offers some great information, including software and services to monitor uptimes.

No time to read through them? Here’s a summary:

  • Finding 100% (or 99.99%) uptime is not easy nor is it cheap
  • Focus on quality of service and not on quantity. Don’t just look for hosts that offer you a refund for downtimes, instead, look for ones that actually live up to their ‘uptime guarantee’
  • Look for providers with good hardware (as it goes to redundancy)
  • SLAs and ‘uptime guarantees’ could just be marketing ploys
  • Third party uptime measures are valuable resources
  • Forums, although good sources of information, may not necessarily be ‘accurate,’ particularly when it comes to host recommendations
  • To prevent downtimes, find providers that offer hosting on two separate machines and whose servers have automatic switchable mechanisms