May 24, 2010

How Is Web Hosting Uptime Measured?


Hostway Team

By Simon Wright

From a consumer’s perspective, there’s nothing more frustrating than going to a Web site and finding that it is down, either due to a scheduled outage or due to a technical fault. However, such occurrences are even more galling for the business owner of the Web site. Not only do they miss out on that potential purchase but their consumer may choose to go to a rival to have their need fulfilled. This is why assurances around Web site uptime often feature prominently when a small business is choosing a Web hosting provider.

What Is Meant by Web Site Uptime?

Unlike some Web site related terminology, this descriptor is refreshingly simple. As you’d expect, Web site uptime simply measures the amount of time that a Web site is up and running and available for usage. To take a basic example, let’s say that a site has to be taken offline for an hour every day for site maintenance. That would mean that the site is available for 23 hours out of every 24, giving an uptime of 95.83%.

The time that the site is unavailable is called downtime and is often broken down into downtime caused by the need for scheduled maintenance and downtime caused by unexpected faults.

What Is a Good Uptime Figure?

Businesses understandably don’t want to have any downtime on their Web sites and an uptime of 100% will usually be the goal. However, there is usually an appreciation that there may be times when some downtime is unavoidable. Given this, businesses often look for web hosting companies that can demonstrate very high uptime levels (i.e. c. 99.99%) over a sustained period of time.

It is also important to delve into what caused any downtime. If it was just part of an agreed 15 minute maintenance outage at 3am then that’s more acceptable than an outage at peak hours that was caused by difficulties coping with usage volumes!

How to Safeguard Your Company’s Uptime:

It’s all very well to see that a hosting company has a good historical uptime record. However, you will be more concerned with ensuring that their future performance remains acceptable. To this end, it’s worth agreeing Service Level Agreements (SLAs) which may include financial compensation if the hosting company are not are to meet the contractually agreed uptime levels.

Monitoring Ongoing Uptime Performance:

As well as recording the number of customers visiting your Web site and the number of online purchases made, your suite of MI reports should also detail the site’s uptime performance. This is often measured on a monthly and weekly basis although it may also be possible to specify other frequencies depending on the importance to your business.

About the Author

Simon Wright works as mobile delivery manager for Royal Bank of Scotland and has extensive experience across ecommerce and mcommerce including the launch and promotion of Web sites.

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