Many of our clients are surprised when they find out how long their site was unable to serve their visitors during the previous month. In this post I’d like to show you how to measure the uptime of your site and give you a few tips that can help you if you’re not happy with the results.

The expected availability factor of modern nuclear power plants is 90 percent. Which means that they should be able to produce electricity 90 percent of the time.

From websites, we expect a much higher availability. We want them to serve our visitors all of the time without interruptions.

Although 100% uptime is not a realistic expectation as every server needs maintenance from time to time, there are several hosting service providers who can guarantee that your site’s availability will be above 99 percent at the least.

But even if your site is hosted on one of them, the site could still be unreachable for more than 7.5 hours in a month.

During this period your visitors won’t be able to spend money in your webshop or subscribe to your services. And, if your website is down for a longer period of time it might also encourage them to look for answers or solutions with your competitors.

What is an acceptable downtime?

It depends.

Of course, there are downtime values which are obviously terrible.

If your uptime value was 95 percent in a month it means that your site was down for 36.5 hours, which is one and a half days.

I don’t think any business owner who depends financially on a website’s performance would find this acceptable.

On the other hand, achieving an uptime value higher than 99 percent could be difficult or costly.

I believe the best approach is to first measure the uptime values of your site and your competitor sites. Once you are aware of these metrics you should aim for a number which is higher than what your rivals are able to achieve.

You can easily monitor the uptime and downtime values of your owned and competitor sites with our monitoring tool. Just click here, if you’d like to give it a try.

There’s one thing I advise you to pay attention to when setting up the monitored domains. Besides the home page of a site, you should also keep track of the availability of its most important subpages.

Errors that affect only the subpages can occur just as often as the ones that make a whole site go down. And they could be just as damaging especially if they make your cart your most important category pages or your subscription fields unavailable.

The most frequent cause of downtimes

Eighty percent of the websites that we monitor slows down at dawn when their server is creating backup copies. Some of them become unavailable at this time.

Even though it is a preventable error, creating backup copies with high priority is one of the most common causes of unavailability.

You can easily avoid this problem if you give a lower priority for the backup copies.

Your copies are going to be completed at a slower pace in this case, but at least they won’t affect your site’s performance.

Another frequent reason for downtime is a programming error within the Content Management System. Most of these issues affect only the availability of the subpages.

You can read more about CMS errors and the ways you can prevent them in this post.

If the percentages in our uptime report are an unpleasant surprise for you, you should look at these two areas; the backup copies and the CMS first.

Of course, a website can go down because of countless other reasons as well, some of which you won’t be able to prevent. But if you prepare for these issues in advance and eliminate as many error possibilities as you can, you can minimize the damages unavailability could cause to your business.