Many people assume that their website automatically remains up and running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This is usually the case with reputable web hosting organisations that have staff monitoring the services they provide around the clock. However, if you’re hosting your site with a small organisation that only provides support during limited hours, the onus is on you to ensure your website is running every minute of the day.
As an example, let us relate what happened earlier today – this Saturday morning – which is outside of traditional business hours.
As a complimentary service to all those that advertise accommodation on the Travel Victoria website, we provide a monitoring service that checks each day at 6am to see if an accommodation provider’s own website is up and running. If there are any issues, we are emailed a report for further investigation.
This morning, our monitoring service alerted us to 6 accommodation provider websites which were not up and running. As it turned out, all were hosted with the same organisation in the regional Victorian city of Ballarat which we won’t name to protect the privacy of themselves and their clients. That organisation provides website design for small businesses and they also offer web hosting on web servers they manage themselves. It sounds like this business provides an ideal combination of services – a one stop shop. However, when you realise that web design is the delivery of an end product, and web hosting is a hands-on 24/7 service, then those two operations are incompatible with a business operating from 9am to 5pm weekdays and not on weekends or during holiday periods.
We sent out notices to our 6 clients about their web services being down. We couldn’t email them as all were using email services tied to their off-line web hosting services, so notices were sent out via SMS and FAX.
At round 12 noon, web services to our clients were restored.
The important point here is that if wasn’t for the complimentary monitoring service that we at Travel Victoria provide, some of our clients wouldn’t have been aware that their website and email services were not working from 6am this morning as they had no other website monitoring in place.
All this illustrates the importance of having some sort of website monitoring.
If you’re with a large, reputable website hosting company that operates every hour of the day and every day of the year, they will usually be quickly on top of any general and widespread downtime with their clients’ websites unless it relates to the specific configuration or traffic flow to your own website. But if you’re with a smaller organisation that does not operate around the clock, particularly one whose primary service is something other than web hosting, then it is wise to have some third party website monitoring in place.
There are many organisations that specialise in monitoring of websites. We only do it for our clients for free, and only a simple once a morning check in order to detect extended periods of downtime. One example of a more fully-featured service is UptimeRobot - they can check your website every 5 minutes. Their service is free and they’ll notify you by email if your site goes down. There are more upmarket monitoring services that can do quite in-depth checks of your website’s status and they can even send you alerts directly via SMS if you prefer.
Your clients or customers expect your website to be up and running every minute of the day. But your web hosting provider may not be monitoring it 24 hours a day. Therefore, it’s recommended you have a third party monitoring service looking over your site, alerting you promptly when something goes wrong.