What Does That Website Uptime That You’ve Been Promised Really Mean?

Over the past few months we’ve published a few posts about finding the right hosting service. We’ve explained that there really is a big difference between an uptime rate of 95 percent and a rate of 99.9 percent. We’ve talked about bandwidth and web host accountability. Now it’s time to tell you what to make of that uptime number you’ve been promised and how to decide whether or not you’re actually with the company that can provide you with the best service.

When Web Hosts Boast Uptime Stats

Let’s assume you’re with a web host that boasts an uptime rate of 99.9 percent. That’s a real good number, isn’t it? It might not be when you start digging into the truth.

The real question is whether or not the uptime being promised is the uptime they are actually delivering and whether or not there are performance issues that aren’t accounted for in that percentage they so proudly claim.

The only way to know for sure whether or not the uptime you’re being provided is really the uptime that is being advertised is to use website monitoring services. We’ve gone over the importance of monitoring services in the past, but one of the biggest benefits of website monitoring is that it allows you to know for sure whether or not your web host is actually delivering on their promise of consistent uptime. If not, you need to start looking elsewhere for your website hosting needs.

Not All Uptime is Created Equal

There’s another thing you need to take into consideration and that is the fact that not all uptime is created equal. Let’s say a site boasts 99.9 percent website uptime. That means you only have .01 percent of downtime. The question is, when is that downtime occurring? Is it in one block over the course of a year or is it intermittently throughout the year?

If the site is down for less than 15 minutes a week it’s probably not going to cause a crisis – especially if that downtime is scheduled during hours that your site doesn’t conduct much business. On the other hand, if that downtime occurs in one solid block over the course of a year that means your site will be down for a period of nine hours. What if those 9 hours happens to be during peak season when your customers need your site most? And those numbers only gets worse as the uptime percentages go down.

As you can see, the percentages that are boasted by the hosting companies don’t mean much unless you know how those numbers are calculated and when the downtime is going to occur.

What Can You Do?

First and foremost, don’t take the percentages that you see posted on your hosting company’s website at face value. They probably don’t include scheduled downtime in that percentage. In fact, chances are that the company has done everything they can to play with the numbers to be able to boast an uptime rate that is as attractive as possible.

Second, make sure you have a monitoring service in place. Chances are your web host doesn’t want you to know when they are having problems, but a monitoring service makes that their mission. At Alertra we want our customers to know when their sites go down and we want them to know immediately. The key is to find out what’s going on and take measures to communicate with your customers and get your site back up and running as quickly as possible.

Don’t get us wrong – uptime is definitely important. Just keep in mind that those uptime promises that you see promoted by hosting companies aren’t always everything they’re cracked up to be (even if the uptime is “guaranteed”). When it comes to the uptime of your site, it’s up to you to make sure you have it under control. You can’t assume your web host does just because they boast a great uptime rate on their home page.