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Are You Prepared For A Web Hosting Outage?

What do you do when your web hosting provider has an outage that you are unaware of? Well since this just happen to me today I'm still thinking about how I can prevent this in the future (failover). Affordable hosting does not include me getting my own dedicated web server. Free webhosting would be nice but we all know nothing is actually "free".

I tried a live chat with the support desk and didn't receive a chat response but I did get an email which stated that my website loaded fine. They even sent me a screenshot of my website to show that it launched with no issue.

It is very disconcerting for a newbie like myself (over 1 year in the game) to experience hosting downtime that is totally out of my control.

Here is how I found out, I logged into Google this morning to check my indexed pages and Adsence earnings. While in the webmaster tools under sitemaps I noticed that no pages where indexed, then I looked at the dashboard and all sites needed to be verified... [reason: server timeout.]  

Prolonged website downtime for me means that the hundreds of articles I've posted with links back to my home page and pages within my website will not work. 

This could lead to me having to resubmit the articles after the website comes back up. So far I've not received any emails from article directories stating that my links don't work so I'll keep my fingers crossed.

I tried to bring up my URL and it timed out, I tried to log into my hostís control panel and it timed out. So I did a Google search on the hosts control panel IP and found a hit on WebHostingTalk.com and somebody said the host had been down for 6 hours.

I checked the hostís forum and didn't find anything regarding the outage. I also checked their support update blog and the last entry dated 2/27/08 was regarding their phone support outage. Nothing on the page indicated they had an server or router outage.

So, I kept refreshing the Control Panel URL and it started to load, then I opened a separate tab (in IE 7) and the home page for one of my sites came up.

I went over to Google and revivified my websites (I already had the meta tag on the homepages so it was a simple process).

Although I am a Network and Systems Admin by trade I don't have any experience with web servers or hosting (which is why I outsource). But what I do know is that if this was a server outage then failover to another server is doable (clustering) according to precisioneffect.com/features/.

 I'm willing to bet if this occurred as a result of a router failure there may not be a failover option. I sent a reply to my hosts support this morning to see if they have any logs that an outage occurred.

For the record, I have been very happy with the service I receive from my hosting provider although Iíve found others who have not been so happy. I currently run 4 websites so maybe I havenít out grown them yet.  

I suggest to anyone running an Online Business using a hosting provider to carefully go over their failover options in case of an outage, read their forums and support pages so you know when scheduled maintenance or anything else may affect you.

Also, shop around and compare companies to your needs and maybe get references of others who outsource and run a similar number of websites with email accounts.

All of the Internet Search Engine Marketing in the world can't save you from a hosting outage.

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