Written by Emily Owen on 3rd October 2017

3 comments

In this quick-post we’re going back-to-basics, covering things you should check if your website is down and a summary of the administrative checks that need to be in place for website to stay online

1. Is it just you?

Many people assume that if their site is down, it’s down for everyone, when actually – it might just be you! Luckily this can be easily determined by using a site such as downforeveryoneorjustme.com

If it turns out to be only your computer, try clearing your browser cache and reloading the page, especially if you’ve just renewed or changed your DNS. Not sure what we mean by DNS? Move on to step 2.

Related blog: How to clear your cache

2. Has your DNS registration expired?

Every website on the internet needs a unique identifier, this is a string of numbers called your IP address. However, a string of numbers isn’t very memorable for humans so websites are also given a domain name, such as Liquidlight.co.uk. Like any name and address details, in order for people to find this information the relationship needs to be recorded in a directory. This is where a domain name server (DNS) comes in, much like a telephone directory or switchboard. 

There are many DNS registrars, if you’re not sure who your domain is registered with, you can find out using free a WHOIS lookup, such as www.whois.com.

You can usually choose a domain registration term of 1-10 years, with the option for automatic renewal. You can own your domain name for life, as long as you keep the registration up to date. 

Note: if you opt for automatic renewal, make sure your payment details are kept up to date and do not expire! At Liquid Light, we’ll always remind our retainer clients when their DNS is up for renewal. 

If you have made any type of DNS change recently, make sure you give the changes enough time to filter through, which could take from 6 hours to around 72. The company from which you bought your domain name may also be your DNS registrar and they may well host your site too. It’s often cost effective to use one company for all three services. Which leads us onto...

3.Is the hosting server down?

Your finished website will be made up a collection of HTML, CSS and Javascript files; these files are put online via a server – so-called because they ‘serve’ the files to the internet. Although it’s theoretically possible to do this from any computer with an internet connection, it’s unlikely that your home computer and internet setup are powerful enough to maintain this for an unlimited number of users and on a 24/7 basis.

To gain access to a more powerful setup, most people pay a web hosting company to store their files on their server and put them online.  

If you’ve eliminated steps 1 and 2, then check your hosting company’s website and social media channels for any updates to see whether there’s a known issue. A server could be overloaded due to heavy traffic or down for maintenance. If this is the case, the hosting company should provide an estimate as to when they expect everything to be up and running.

Find out who hosts your website at www.whoishostingthis.com.

Final tips:

If your site is down, remember to update customers via email or social media and assure them you’re doing everything you can to get services back online, the last thing you want is for readers to assume your site is gone for good and not come back. 

It’s best practice to save the details of your DNS and hosting services and make sure these are shared with anyone who works on your site. If your domain expires or you need to switch IP address or launch a new website, these details are essential! This is particularly important if your dedicated IT/digital person is leaving the company, we frequently hear of account details going missing when staff changes occur.

This article was posted in Client Guides, Quick Tips by Emily Owen

  • Emily Owen

    Emily Owen

    Emily is one of our Account Managers and the Studio Manager. When she's not helping clients or keeping the office snacks topped up, you'll find her playing with Poppy the sheepdog, stretching it out at yoga, or shaking it out at a dance class.

Comments

Cool article, good resources. However, I'd recommend signing up for 3rd party remote monitoring service like www.websitepulse.com or pingdom.com who will alert you when your site goes down, so you can take the necessary measures. Websitepulse can even take some action for you.
Hope I was helpful.

Simon09/10/2017 12:26

Our website went down on numerous occasions while using Rackspace and we recently migrated over to Google Cloud Hosting and just had another massive downtime that lasted quite a few hours. We were notified each time it went down as well as when it came back up. This was good to know for us, as we use Adwords and we stopped our Ads from running during the downtime. Why pay money to send folks to a 404 page ! Remember to stop your own Ads from running when your site is broken...

George22/10/2017 17:12

I was also using shared hosting for my Magento store, But, when it's about real-time fixes, we can't find the solution and wait for our developer or support guy, I have moved my website to Cloudways Google hosting, https://www.cloudways.com/en/managed-google-compute-engine.php. They have fixed the downtime and also improve loading time. Your article is worth reading and highly relevant to the audience who are looking for help in downtime issue.

Alex Morco09/03/2018 10:12

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