Despite many web hosts boasting a 99.9% uptime guarantee, if you are in the business of owning or operating a website (or many websites) then you know well that there is inevitably going to be downtime.
While many of the top tier web hosts will try to limit this downtime and schedule maintenance for low traffic hours of the night, it is still something that you’re going to run into eventually.
Depending on how your business is setup, downtime can halt sales and lower confidence with your customers.
That is why it’s essential to have a plan when you notice your website is down.
Identify the Source
Before you can take proper action to resolve the issue, you need to figure out exactly where this problem originated.
What were you doing when the website went down?
It’s important to identify when your website was last working properly. For example, if you were editing configuration files and the problem happened right after you saved those changes, then there’s a good chance that the configuration changes caused the website to go down.
If you’re just waking up and notice the website is down, and it was working the night before, you need to check with your hosting provider.
If, for any reason, you forgot to pay your bill, then that would cause your website to go down until you contact your hosting provider and get the account straightened out.
If there was unplanned maintenance or a problem with the servers, the web host will also have this information.
If your website was found to have violated the web host’s terms of service agreement, this could also cause your website to go down until you contacted the provider and resolve the issue.
If the website is down due to a hosting issue as mentioned above, then they should be able to take everything from there and get everything back online.
If it’s not, though, then you need to begin trying to narrow down what exactly you were doing when the website went down and try to reverse any changes that were made. This can often be configuration changes within cPanel, within the WordPress admin panel or anywhere else you would have front-end access.
At this point, if you’re unable to retrace your steps and figure out where you went wrong, you might want to reach out to your hosting provider and see if they have any automated backups of your website on file you could use to restore it to an earlier state.
Many hosting providers do not automatically create backups, and you typically will have to request it or set it up through a control panel like cPanel. It’s still worth a shot though.
Prevent Your Website from Going Down Again
In terms of making sure you never have to worry about your website going down again, there’s only one word to sum it up: redundancy.
You have to have multiple backups at all times just in case situations like this happen.
If you are using WordPress as a content management system, there are plugins you can download (Duplicator, for example) that are able to make an exact copy of your WordPress site and compact it in a RAR file for you.
Once you have saved the duplicated copy of your website, go ahead and upload it to multiple sources.
Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, and Dropbox all offer free plans for cloud storage and all of them are extremely well known and reliable in the cloud storage industry.
Once you’ve got the RAR file upload to AT LEAST 3 different places, you can begin to feel a little peace of mind that you have things backed up effectively.
You are still going to want to make backups on a regular basis, weekly or daily is recommended, to make sure the most up-to-date information is backed up.
So overall, the very first thing you should do when you notice your website is down is:
Reach out to your hosting provider. Make sure there aren’t any billing issues, outages or service interruptions, miscommunications, etc. Nine times out of ten the hosting provider will be able to tell you exactly what’s going on and when everything will be back online.
If your hosting provider doesn’t have any information for you, then begin retracing your steps for when you accessed the website most recently.
If all else fails, access the backups that you have and setup the website again. If you’re following a regular routine of making backups, then you’re never going to lose more than three or four days of updates in the process.
Remember, when it’s an issue with your hosting provider, it’s something you cannot control. So keep the ball in your court by having backups available that you can take to ANY other hosting provider if the problems become persistent.