Website Downtime Monitoring is a useful service if you want to be informed immediately if your website goes off-line or runs into technical problems. Whether you manage one website or lots you need to know if your website goes off-line for even short periods as this affects those trying to visit your website.
Even if you only manage one website of your own, you need to monitor it especially if you are not on it regularly, otherwise the website could potentially go off-line for a long period without you even knowing.
“When a website or web service is not available online or doesn’t function well enough for end users to complete a task, the site is considered to be experiencing downtime.”
Although most websites and web services strive for zero downtime, downtime is inevitable. Even the giants like Google and Facebook experience downtime occasionally. Although technology has improved and providers have systems in place to help eliminate downtime, unforeseen circumstances still cause downtime.
What causes downtime?
Many things can cause downtime for a provider. Some causes are in the provider’s control such as scheduled maintenance, but other outages are not. Each situation is unique, but most causes fall into the following categories.
UPDATES/CODING ISSUES/EXPIRED DOMAINS AND HOSTING/SOFTWARE & PROGRAMME ISSUES
Many websites now run on content management systems like WordPress which although user friendly can often easily run into issues because of update errors or outdated settings. Things like plug ins, php coding and theme templates can all run into problems with new updates or may be running on outdated settings or configurations. When these things go wrong with your website you ideally want to know right away so that you can address any issues causing website downtime.
Sometimes websites simply go down if people are not monitoring expiry dates for renewing domain names or website hosting – in these instances monitoring your website would let you know you have missed a renewal.
As in everything, when something goes wrong the root cause typically leads to a single mistake made by an individual or a team. A seemingly benign code change affects something else that doesn’t appear during regression testing, a system is brought offline when it shouldn’t have been, or a DNS entry gets updated incorrectly are just a few examples of how humans contribute to a site’s downtime. The huge AWS outage early in 2017 is a real-life example of how something as simple as a typo can cause downtime that not only affected Amazon Web Services but also brought down many large websites.
Equipment wears out and breaks down, and new equipment fails without warning. Proper maintenance and hardware redundancy is the only way to minimize downtime due to hardware. In another Amazon example, the e-commerce giant suffered an outage that affected most of Europe back in 2010. Although it was fist suspected that hackers had brought the site down, later Amazon revealed that the downtime was due to a hardware failure at their data center.
Hackers discover clever new ways to infiltrate and disrupt businesses all the time. One common method is the Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack. The denial-of-service attacks attempt to overwhelm servers with requests. The requests come simultaneously and repeatedly from multiple locations causing an overload on the target’s web servers. The deluge of requests, in effect, block legitimate requests bring the site down. Other attacks include DNS cache poisoning where the hackers infiltrate the Domain Name System (DNS) resolver’s cache and change the IP address to one that enables them to exploit the site’s users, so in effect, the targeted website is down. Other attacks involve SSL certificates and malware.
A service we use at IMAD Scotland to monitor a number of websites at once in one place is DOWNNOTIFIER.COM
Down Notifier has free options as well as paid options for more advanced monitoring and statistics. We highly recommend the service.