Five things to do when your website goes down

By: IT Donut contributor

Date: 11 May 2015

Error – website not found{{}}Has your website ever crashed? When it happens (and it happens to every website, at some point), it's a crisis because you can't do any online business. So, here's what to do when your website goes down

If you've planned ahead and set up website monitoring, you should get notified quickly if your site goes down. Alternatively, you might notice yourself or get a message from a potential customer. But no matter how you find out, it's important to ask these five questions.

Is it down for everyone?

Let's eliminate the obvious first. Make sure you own internet connection is ok.

See if you can get onto Google, the BBC, or another popular website. You can also use a service like Down for everyone, or just me? to be sure that your website is actually down.

What have we changed recently?

Have you recently changed or updated your website?

If your web browser seems to load something but displays a blank page (rather than showing 'waiting' or 'connecting'), it could be an issue with your coding or website software.

See if you can roll back to an earlier version of the site. Does this fix it?

Can we spot the problem?

If you've got a little technical knowledge, you might be able to identify the problem yourself. If not, skip this one!

Open up Command Prompt on Windows or Terminal on Mac and send a ping to your website address to pinpoint any server issues.

If you get a response like 'unknown host' then there's likely to be a problem with your website domain. If the message says 'timed out' then it's more likely to be a problem with your server or network.

Who do we call?

It's probably time to call your IT people. Make sure you keep their direct numbers handy for occasions like this.

Hopefully, you'll have a good relationship with the people who build and manage your website. A quick phone call should reassure you that things will be fixed in no time.

Who else should we tell?

By this stage, you've probably realised you're facing a website issue that isn't going to be solved in a few minutes. But you still don't need to worry. Instead, start communicating.

If you have social media accounts for your business, use them! Customers understand that technical problems happen, and will be more patient if they know you're working to fix things.

If your website or online app is particularly critical to your customers, you can also provide more detailed updates via a service like StatusPage.io.

Copyright © Nick Pinson is director at iWeb Solutions.

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