Having a website go down is the kind of thing that sends most people into a blind panic. There could be any number of reasons, so where do you start? How do you fix the problem if you don’t know what it is in the first place? And is your site really down if sometimes you can access it and sometimes you can’t?
In this article we will explain some of the common reasons a site is declared as “down” (even if it doesn’t always seem like it) and hopefully alleviate some of the worries you have.
If your website is declared as down, there are two main umbrella terms for the problem. The first is known as a “hard down”. This is usually the case when every single person who tries to access your site cannot see anything at all. This is more of a physical problem and can be caused by a hardware fault, such as a CPU burn-out or a memory failure. There could also be problems with your software or your host’s servers. This is unfortunately a more serious problem, but we will be happy to investigate and sort the issue out for you.
The second explanation of why your site might be down is known as a “soft down”. This is a common problem and is often the case when some people can view your website but others can’t. This is also probably the problem if KeepUsUp can see your site but can’t load the pages. This is less of a drastic problem than a hard down.
This intermittent outage of your site is due to the web server not responding to all users. That is, it’s not sending them your website information when they ask for it. It helps if you think of a server like a waiter in a restaurant. You can see him working and he is doing his best to take all the orders, but it is really busy and it isn’t possible for him to get to everyone. Some people are naturally going to be left waiting.
Usually this is not something to panic about. Spikes in your web traffic can sometimes cause a server to be overloaded with requests and result in a soft down for some users for a short period. This should correct itself once the number of people accessing your site at once dies down.
The problem may also be that your web server is not keeping up with the amount of resources being demanded by your website.
When it comes to soft downs, KeepUsUp is designed to help you find out whether what you’re experiencing is temporary or more long-term. As part of our diagnostic process we access your site from several different locations, using different computers, and then compare the results together. In order for your website to be considered as down, we have to get back two consecutive access failures from different locations. This means the chances of an incorrect diagnosis are very small. If you’ve received a message telling you that your site is down, this unfortunately means we have probably had five or six consecutive failures from different locations. This would suggest that there is a more serious and long-term issue, which we will be perfectly happy to help you resolve.