It would be nearly impossible to have 100% uptime all the time for most websites. Even big sites experience outages and glitches from time to time. Sites like Google, Facebook, and Twitter are not immune.
If you look into web hosting most companies like Hostgator will boast a 99.9% uptime guarantee. A few years back it was more like a 99.5% uptime guarantee. I guess tacking on another 0.4% looks a little better, and once one of them did this the others followed.
Percentages always sound better than minutes or hours too. For example, 99.9% uptime (0.1% downtime) would be approximately 1.44 minutes per day of downtime, which doesn’t sound like much. That is also roughly 0.72 hours per month, or 8.8 hours per year of downtime give or take a little. Would you rather see 0.1% or 8.8 hours of downtime per year?
Most people probably wouldn’t even notice small outages. If you are a website owner and you do notice some downtime there is a good possibility that you are not falling within the uptime guarantee.
Now proving that to your host might be another story. I have been using paid hosting for around 15+ years, and during this time I have used a number of different hosts. I will tell you that the quality of service does vary considerably from one to the next.
Some hosts are really good about compensating for downtime. They might give you a month or several months of free hosting to keep you. Others are very quick to blame an outage on a network or other issue not covered in their uptime guarantee. Whether that is truly the case or not you really don’t know. It almost seems like some could be weaseling out of compensating customers, but if they wanted to keep them and avoid bad reviews you would think it would be a small price to pay.
How to Tell How Much Uptime/Downtime Your Website Has?
There are quite a few services out there that you can use to monitor your website’s uptime/downtime. The one I use is Pingdom, which is free to monitor one website. One of the major pluses besides being free is it also allows you to monitor your site in one minute intervals. For the best accuracy one minute checks is about as good as it gets. Five minute checks are acceptable, but the accuracy rate drops a bit. Anything over five minute checking intervals should be avoided.
Do You Know How Much Downtime Your Site Has?
Honestly, I wouldn’t have a clue what kind of downtime my website has if it weren’t for monitoring tools like Pingdom. I would assume that I would have some, but I would have no idea just how much.
I have been hosting with the same company for over 5 years now. My account has been on the same server the entire time. Back in October to December ish 2012 the server started having problems. During this time I did experience noticeable downtime.
Here is a screenshot from December 2012
As you can see the uptime was 96.22% or 3.78% of downtime. December has 31 days so that comes to almost 28 hours of downtime. Yikes!
This went on for at least 3 months and possibly more. I was becoming extremely irritated and annoyed. I complained to my host on numerous occasions. As I said I had been with this company for over 5 years, and they have been great up until this point. I wasn’t ready to give up and bolt on them, but I would eventually if things didn’t improve.
Then, in early January I got an email from my host informing me that they were retiring the server and moving me to a brand new much more powerful one.
I now have 100% uptime for the month of February 2013, which is much more like it.
Screenshot on new server February 2013
If I hadn’t been using Pingdom I really wouldn’t have known about all the downtime. Your host may have a 99.9% uptime guarantee, but they may not be meeting it. I am fine with a little downtime in a given month, but when it gets up around 3-5+ hours then that doesn’t sit well with me.
So if you don’t monitor your website you might think about doing so. You might be surprised by the results. If you do make sure you use a service that has one to five minute checks for the best accuracy.