What to do when your website goes down

What To Do When Your Website Goes Down?

You are in your office, the company website is down and you are losing out in terms of web presence as a company, what should you do? Well, the options and steps to getting your site back online is a delicate and time consuming task. You have to follow a set of steps to ensure the servers are back to optimum function. Here is a step by step guide to ensure you remove your site from obscurity and restore it to the online community and valued customers.
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Step 1. Is your website really down?

The first step on what to do when your website goes down is to check whether the website has actually gone down. This might seem like a rhetorical part but is actually necessary in determining what went wrong. If a customer is reporting that your website is down chances are that the problem might be with the internet connection on his computer as opposed to your website.

Visit your site yourself, and hold down Shift and Refresh to ensure you are not viewing a cached version (hold down Shift while reloading the webpage). If the website is up to date and is displaying content, then the trouble is probably with your customer’s computer. If after the troubleshooting step it turns out that the website is still down then the problem might lie with the servers in your company premises or your internet connection might have gone down. To check this out, try to visit a robust website, such as Google (which will tell you for sure if it is your internet connection that has a problem). The other alternative troubleshooting step might be to call a colleague to try Down for Everyone or Just Me, which will ascertain if your site is down just for you or for everyone. if this turns out negative results then you know that you have a problem on your hands. A web monitoring and supervisory service like Pingdom website monitoring can save you from taking all the above steps and tell you if your website is operational or not.

Step 2. Launch your backup server

If something goes drastically wrong with your website or server, you need to ensure you have backups of your site. If your host site does not give you such an option, you should develop a backup system in house so that your data is protected and you have options in times of emergency. It is recommended you create another version of your site that is hosted elsewhere that you can use as an emergency back-up site. It might not necessarily have full functionality, but can be a purely static website that you can redirect traffic to if your main site is down. Your hosting company should set up a temporary domain name redirect to transfer traffic while you are restoring normal service. This makes sure you do not lose visibility and customer traffic during downtime or emergency site or server breakdown.

Step 3. Diagnose the website issues

A website can go down due to a variety of reasons. You have to figure out what the exact problem is. Have you made any changes to the web servers and their software recently? Or It might be also be a programming error? To check if it is a programming error, visit the site and confirm from the status bar at the bottom of your web browser. If you see ‘Done’ or ‘Loaded,’ as opposed to “Waiting…” or “Connecting…,” then you know that the server and its software are not the problem, the programming has the error i.e. the programming has a misconfiguration. You now have to check the Apache error log for clues.

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Domain Errors

You might also have a problem with your domain name. This might result as a result of a problem with the domain name server settings or the domain name might have expired. Either way, you can use Who.is to ascertain your domain registration details, alternatively you can run the whois command from your Mac or Linux computer. It will confirm to you whether and when the domain name expired.

Server Configuration Errors

It might also be a problem with the server configuration. You need, to confirm from your server’s documentation or manual to make sure the server has a control panel, such as Plesk or cPanel. If it has, it will still be working well and will tell you what is the problem is and offer to correct the situation for you (in Plesk environment, click Server then Service Management). To log in and run commands on your server, you will require the administrative username and password combined with the root password, as given by your host. For shared hosting environments, an FTP username and password will do.

On Linux and Mac, the command to run is SSH, which stands for “secure shell” and which permits you to connect securely to and run commands on your server. You are required to provide your administrative username after -1, which denotes “login”.

For windows, you download a Windows SSH client like Putty. Install it and open it and type your website as host name.

If ssh failed to connect, then it is probably blocked by a firewall or turned off on the server. If it said permission denied, then you have most likely have mistyped the username or password. If it immediately said connection to (your website) closed, then you are trying to log in with a username that is not allowed to run commands; make sure you’re logging in as the administrative user and not an FTP user. You can tinker with the server configuration to determine what went wrong.

Website Host Errors

You might also consider the possibility that the problem lies with your website host, you should then contact them to make sure the problem is not from their end.
You can implement a few fixes yourself if you have the expertise but you can also call an experienced IT team to deal with your issue.

So What To Do When Your Website Goes Down?

This troubleshooting guide is not exhaustive but will definitely set you on the right path to finding the problem. The solving of this problem might require some technical knowledge in networking and computing which you can easily apply. If you need help getting your website back online, don’t hesitate to contact us. We are available to help diagnose and repair website outages on a multitude of different hosts.

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