In this episode of “Website Success,” host Chrissy Rey provides a practical guide to help business owners handle website downtime, covering everything from initial troubleshooting to effective communication with your audience. She offers valuable tips on using tools for monitoring, explains the importance of regular backups, and emphasizes the need for a proactive approach to website maintenance. Whether it’s a hosting issue, a sudden traffic surge, or a technical glitch, this episode gives you the knowledge and tools to navigate website crises with confidence and minimal stress.
Listen to the Episode
In this episode, Chrissy Rey addresses a common but critical issue for website owners: how to effectively manage website downtime. She offers insights into understanding, diagnosing, and resolving website unavailability.
- [00:00:00] Introduction to the Topic
- [00:00:32] Defining Website Downtime
- [00:01:08] Initial Steps to Diagnose Website Downtime
- [00:01:42] Checking Your Internet Connection and Other Websites
- [00:02:55] Evaluating Web Hosting Support Quality
- [00:03:13] Using Hosting Provider’s Status Page and Social Media for Updates
- [00:04:25] Contacting Tech Support with Detailed Information
- [00:05:17] Dealing with Third-Party Errors on Your Website
- [00:06:07] Troubleshooting Issues with DNS Providers
- [00:06:26] Communicating with Your Audience During Downtime
- [00:07:19] The Risks of All-in-One Services
- [00:07:45] Proactive Measures: Website Monitoring Tools and Regular Backups
- [00:08:33] Importance of Regular Software Updates and Off-Site Backups
- [00:08:46] Conclusion and Resources for Further Help
- Understanding the various causes of website downtime and the importance of identifying the root cause.
- The significance of staying calm and systematically checking for internet outages and specific network issues.
- The crucial role of responsive and helpful web hosting support in resolving downtime issues.
- The benefits of using website monitoring tools like Uptime Robot and Pingdom for immediate downtime alerts.
- The importance of regular backups, especially off-site, and keeping software up-to-date for WordPress users.
- IsItDownRightNow.com: IsItDownRightNow
- Uptime Robot: Uptime Robot
- Pingdom: Pingdom
- Kinsta Status Page: status.kinsta.com
- Website Success Academy: websitesuccessacademy.com
- Website Success Lounge on Facebook: facebook.com/groups/websitesuccesslounge
Hello, and welcome to another episode of Website Success! I’m Chrissy Rey, and today, we’re tackling crisis management during website downtime. At some point, your website is going to go down. It’s just an unfortunate reality for digital spaces. Let’s unpack how to handle it effectively.
First, let’s clarify what website downtime means. It’s when your website isn’t accessible to your audience. This could be due to a number of reasons – your hosting service might be experiencing problems, a recent update to your site could have broken something, or your website can’t handle a sudden surge in traffic. It could even be a problem on your end, so the website doesn’t load over your network or browser. Knowing the root cause of the website being down is important for a swift resolution.
When you first discover your website is down, the initial step is to stay calm. Then, check if there are other websites down. It could just be a problem with your internet! Visit a few websites, and see if any of them are also down. If everything is down, you’ll need to troubleshoot your internet connection. It could be an outage with your internet server provider, router, or something like that. Or, if you’re using your phone, it could be a mobile outage.
After you rule out a problem with your internet connection, check to see if the website is down just for you or if it’s down for everyone. You can do this by checking the website from another network. If a website is down when I visit it on my computer, I usually disconnect my phone from the WiFi and then check the website from the phone. You can also use a service like isitdownrightnow.com. If the website is only down for you, you’ll need to troubleshoot your device or network. It could be a setting on your device, such as an entry in the hosts file. It could also be that your IP address was somehow blocked by the server. That can sometimes happen if you’re using security software on the website. Get in touch with your web hosting provider, and they might be able to help you troubleshoot why the site isn’t loading for you but it is loading for other people. I will note with this, a lot of web hosting companies have horrible support, so I generally only recommend companies that I know will at least try to help clients if they run into issues like this.
Next, check to see if your hosting provider has a status page. For example, Kinsta has status.kinsta.com where they share the status of their services. If there is a known issue with their services, your hosting provider is probably already inundated with support requests, so contacting them about your website could take hours. Plus, they are probably already working on it, so there might not be anything they can do to help you directly until they address the problem for everyone. If your hosting provider doesn’t have a status page, or the status page is down, check their social media.
If you can’t find any info about a known outage with your web hosting provider, reach out to their tech support. Once again, this is where great support is critical. I have helped clients with websites hosted by many different providers, and the support experiences have been all over the place. Some providers will only do support by email. Some will provide phone or chat support, but they send you through a gauntlet of automated responses before finally putting you in a queue where it can take an hour or more to finally connect with a real person. When you do get in touch with support, be prepared to give them as many details as you can. Take screenshots of any error messages you get when trying to visit the website. Tell them about the testing you already did. They should be able to determine if the issue is with their services, the domain name, or maybe even an error on your website.
Depending on what they find, your web hosting provider might not be able to actually fix the issue. For example, if it’s an error caused by a third-party feature on your website, they probably can’t do anything about it. This sometimes happens with WordPress websites, so be especially careful about doing your software updates. I actually have a class on updating WordPress websites at websitesuccessacademy.com for this very reason. If the error is with your DNS, your web hosting provider should be able point you to the DNS provider’s support to help you troubleshoot that.
If the website is down because of an issue with the hosting provider, they should be able to fix it for you. So for example, if a database server went down or a web server went down, then they should be able to bring that back up and troubleshoot the issue to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.
Now at some point in this process, you should communicate with your audience to let them know that you know the website is down, and you’re working on getting it back up and running. You can do this by sharing the information on social media, assuming that isn’t also down, which has happened in the past! You might also want to send an email out to your mailing list to let them know about the website being down, but whether or not you do that really depends on your website. For example, if your website has important customer information that they might need to access, like appointment or order info, you might want to notify them by email. But if your website is a blog, your audience might not need an email if your website is down for a few hours. However, if the site is down for an extended period of time, an email might be in order. By the way, if your website is down because of an outage with your web hosting provider, and they are also your email service provider or the place where you store your email list, you might have a problem. That’s part of why I recommend avoiding all-in-one services that include your website, email marketing, etc… If one of them goes down, there’s a possibility they will all go down, and then you’re going to be in a bind.
To avoid future downtime, you need to be proactive. Use a website monitoring tool like Uptime Robot or Pingdom. They will notify you the moment your site goes down so you can start troubleshooting right away. If you’re using WordPress for your website, you should also make sure you’re creating regular backups. Some hosting providers automatically create backups for you, but I recommend also creating off-site backups. That way, if the issue is with the hosting provider, you can move the site somewhere else if you need to. Also, make sure you’re running software updates on a regular basis, and actually check the site after you run them to make sure nothing is broken. The off-site backups and software updates are things my company does as part of our maintenance plans, so if you have a WordPress website, and think you might need help with those, reach out to me.
In closing, remember that dealing with website downtime can be stressful, but being well-prepared makes all the difference. Equip yourself with the right tools, have a solid plan, and maintain open lines of communication. And remember, every problem has a solution.
For more resources and tips on managing your website effectively, don’t forget to websitesuccessacademy.com. And make sure you join the Website Success Lounge on Facebook for more insights and support. Thanks for listening, and I’ll see you in the next episode!