A client asked me…

Q.) See the website outage report below. Is this normal? Or bad?

Example of website monitoring report

A.) Unfortunately it’s not uncommon.

In this example, there were two long outages, and a handful of brief ones throughout the month. This particular client is using Network Solutions shared hosting service. In my experience, even the more expensive web hosting I’ve used ends up with occasional connectivity problems.

I had set up a Pingdom account to attempt to “ping” that web site every 5 minutes from a random location around the world. If it isn’t successful for more than 10 minutes it sends an alert message. It’s easy to assume the cheap shared web hosting was the problem. However that is not always the sole issue. Shared hosting can be slow, especially if all the other websites hosted on the same server are draining server resources. But Complex Content Management Systems or overuse of CMS plugins/extensions and widgets can also slow down the web site responsiveness.

You have to think about it this way, there are many failure points along the way:

  • The digital path between:
    • The user’s device and their Internet access.
    • The Internet access point and the domain name server. (Name servers translates the domain name to a IP address.)
    • The name server to the web hosting server.
  • The web hosting server.

There are numerous reasons — technical and human error — that cause problems:

  • Hardware failures.
  • Software problems, errors, bugs, conflicts.
  • An accidental technical problem introduced on the website server. (e.g., A typo in the server .htaccess file could prevent the site from loading any pages)
  • Massive bad behavior like a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack.

So yeah, it’s frustrating. Consider using a website monitoring solution that can give you a sense over time whether it’s getting worse and if it may be time to look for a new web host.

The question I’m asked constantly is: “what is a good, affordable web hosting service?” I usually opt for more higher end solutions (VPS and above) and everywhere I’ve had problems eventually. I pay hundreds per month to host my clients and still nothing I’ve found is perfect. So sorry, I can’t suggest/endorse any cheaper solutions.

I hope that’s helpful.