Server uptime is an often neglected indicator of web hosting performance. For Internet entrepreneurs, it is important, because it can be considered as an indicator of how long your online store is open. If you have a huge business operation, a 99.99 percent uptime is often essential. Many new clients are looking for guarantees when choosing a Web hosting plan because just one hour of downtime can be quite costly. It is therefore essential for clients to review the uptime before choosing a Web host.
It is obvious that we’ll never find a Web hosting provide that can provide 100% uptime, but you should have a clear idea on how to choose a reliable Web host. These are a few things you should do:
- Your first step is to ask for the downtime schedule from the web hosting provider. Remember that one day of downtime in a month is equal to 96.6% of uptime and if the Web host promises a 99.99% uptime, the downtime should be less than five minutes in one month. Downtime is unavoidable in the web hosting industry so you should look for a clause that mentions it in the contract agreement. Downtime should be caused only by maintenance work and bug fixing, not equipment malfunction and human errors. You may also ask for the log of previous downtime. Make sure you’ll get a notification for the scheduled maintenance and server patching. However, this won’t make you immune to unexpected downtime.
- Determine whether the company is reputable and find out whether you’ll be compensated by the hosting provide for unexpected downtime. Web hosts that provide great service will be confident enough to promise high compensation.
- You should also look for a comparison review of the hosting service provider with its competitors.
- A quick research on search engine can give you hundreds of companies that publish monthly reports on their services. If you find an affordable hosting company, ask for the report of service performance and compare it with reports released by other companies. However, you should be aware that the report may simply the average on two or three months.
Suppose that you’ve done a good job choosing the right Web host, the next step to sign up for their services. Then you need to set up the nameserver, ftp accounts, email accounts and finally upload the files. If everything works smoothly, hopefully the task will be completed in a couple of days.
But if you also want to monitor the uptime of your account, you can use Hostpeek.com where you can measure the performance of your Web host easily. If your website is quite serious in nature, such as an online store, you should keep an eye on the performance of your Web host continuously. It is no longer enough to verify each day that your website is up. The only reliable way to be certain that your website is running most of the time is by using serious methods. In addition, by collecting evidences of downtime, you’ll have the opportunity of claiming a compensation, if the Web host fails to fulfill the guaranteed uptime.
The easiest and simplest way to monitor your Web host is by using Hosted Monitoring. It is a third party that will do the monitoring task for you. The monitoring is performed by telling a computer program to visit your website periodically.
However, determining the uptime of your website is not so simple. Many monitoring concentrate only on HTTP or port 80 of the website, because to allow people use your website, the HTTP must stay active.
You should be aware that your website is consisted of many features that use different communication protocols and ports, such as email, FTP, IMAP and others. If you are using server side scripts such as PHP, you need to determine whether it runs all the time. If PHP is not working in your website, your webpages will be filled with blank areas or gibberish codes.
Consequently, it isn’t enough to use tool that only check whether your website is running. Different monitoring tools are needed to determine whether your email service and file-transfer feature are still running.
A critical indicator of the uptime monitoring is the time between two tests. The higher the test frequency, the more accurate the result. However, to get an accurate test you may need to pay significantly more. If your budget is low and your website is not considered as mission-critical, a free service is better than nothing.
But if you have a busy website, the monitoring service should check your website every ten minutes our less. An advanced monitoring service is often consisted of multiple servers that work from different parts of the world, because uptime can be affected by geographical locations.
Another important feature of a monitoring service is instant notification if your website is down. The service can contact you using different communication channels such as phone, text message, email, pager, BBM, messenger, MSN, ICQ and others. Ironically choosing a monitoring service can be as hard as choosing a Web hosting provider, but most offer free trials that can help you to choose one more easily.
In fact some service even go as far as providing basic service free of charge, such as checking only the port 80 (HTTP) every 30 minutes. Websitepulse and Siteuptime are two services that provide free basic services. Websitepulse allows you to freely try a monitoring service valued at $75 for a couple of weeks.
To increase the frequency of test, you should use multiple free services, which give you the opportunity to achieve a moderate result for free. Some service, such as Pingdom, allows you to earn some money by referring other users. You can also find monitoring services that offer promotion, which allows you to get full services for free for a certain period of time. However, if you want to have more control, you can choose to install free or paid monitoring software.