Tag Archives: Downtime

Server Downtime

To all of our customers,

Server reliability is our top priority.

As a website owner/operator, your first requirement is that your website is available to your visitors as much of the time as possible. We understand that. We need our websites to be up and available as often as possible too.

Over the past couple of months, we have received a number of emails from client’s whose websites have been ‘down’ for a period. These periods of downtime, though fairly short, can be frustrating and disconcerting and we want to do everything we can to reassure you that we are working to deliver the best possible server performance for you.

The downtime falls into one of five categories:

  1. Scheduled Downtime. This is time that the server is down for scheduled maintenance/upgrades. We have not had any periods of scheduled maintenance recently and will notify you in advance if we do.
  2. Nightly Backups. Every night, between 1am and 5am Pacific time, we run an R1Soft Backup of the entire server. This backup enables us to rebuild the server should a serious error occur. It appears that, as the backup runs, it locks the files it is currently backing up to ensure that they are backed up correctly. This can result in 10-15 minutes of downtime per domain. We are working to minimize this downtime while still maintaining complete backups that can be reliably restored from.
  3. Resource Draining. The physical resources of the server are shared between all of the domains using that server. If one or other domain is compromised or the owner runs a script which severely drains the available resources, any or all of the websites can appear ‘down’. Generally, this type of downtime simply necessitates a server reboot or a restart of one or other pieces of software. This is the most common cause of downtime and is a symptom of sharing a server with other websites. Downtime due to resource drains is generally limited to fifteen minutes or less.
  4. Hardware Failure. The most problematic cause of server downtime is hardware failure. Although we use the best possible hardware in our servers, nothing is perfect and something will inevitably break eventually. In this eventuality, the technicians will try to replace the faulty component but, if that is not possible, will replace the server with a new one and restore from the latest R1Soft backup. The process can take anything from a few minutes for a component replacement to several hours if a restore is needed.
  5. Site Issues. Frequently, customer’s websites are down not because of a server issue but because of an issue with the individual website itself. While we try to help with these issues, we cannot fix every problem and cannot devote an extended amount of time to troubleshooting client site issues.

Most of the ‘website down’ emails we have received lately have been due to either the nightly backup running or a resource drain issue.

While the actual percentage of the time that our servers are up and running is very high, we understand the frustration that comes from having your website unavailable at different times so we are currently working on the best solution to minimize these issues.

Hopefully within the next few weeks we will be announcing a plan for how to deliver even better server performance than we are now giving.

Sincerely,

Peter Pollock