Have you ever gone to a website and wondered why it was down? 80% of website owners have experienced some form of interrupted hosting uptime over the past three years.
Thing is – hosting uptime plays a crucial role in your website’s success.
What is Hosting Uptime and How is it Calculated?
Hosting uptime is a metric that measures the percentage of time your website is available to visitors. Although you can calculate it in minutes, hours, or days, most web hosting providers show it as a percentage.
The most straightforward calculation is to take the hosting server’s time available and divide that by a specific period. The general formula to calculate hosting uptime as a percentage is;
Hosting uptime = (Time the hosting server is available / Total time) x 100.
For example, if your hosting server is available for 59 minutes out of one hour, your uptime will be (59 / 60) x 100 = 98.333%.
What Affects Hosting Uptime?
Many things can affect your website’s uptime, including;
1. Server hardware
When a server is overloaded with requests and does not have enough resources to handle them all simultaneously, it may crash or slow down. Choosing a host with reliable servers with sufficient processing power is essential to maintain website availability.
Kinsta, for example, relies on Google Cloud infrastructure to provide customers. Cloud infrastructure offers excellent reliability thanks to redundancy in multiple areas. If something fails, an alternate clicks into place seamlessly.
Software packages can play a significant role in website accessibility. Some are more susceptible than others when dealing with high numbers of simultaneous connections. Others may have more security flaws that lead to downtime from malicious acts.
Many often miss application versions that need checking after hosting migrations. The new and old hosts may have mismatching versions, potentially resulting in website downtime.
3. Server configuration settings
Poorly configured (or misconfigured) web servers can lead to erratic behavior. These build up over time and can cause downtime under specific conditions. The problem with server configurations is the difference in handling between various web hosting plan types.
For example, when comparing VPS to shared hosting, the former is generally user-configured. Since not many website owners are technical experts, it can easily lead to server misconfigurations.
Why is Uptime Important?
Hosting uptime is often oversimplified as an ‘unavailable website’. However, it is the potential consequences that website owners should carefully consider.
There are many ways hosting uptime can affect your business, employees, or customers. When you’re running a website, the last thing you want is your visitors to feel disconnected from what keeps them coming back.
Potential consequences from hosting downtime include;
Loss of sales or potential leads
You may miss out on potential leads or sales if your site is down. Take, for example, the case of an eCommerce site that receives 1,000 unique visitors each hour. If that site experiences a loss of 5% in hosting uptime, it may lose 5% of those visitors. That translates into 1,120 potential lost sales per day!
Naturally, this calculation is simplified, but the general idea is that you will likely suffer some direct financial impact from any loss of hosting uptime.
Risk of reputational damage
Uptime is also a significant factor in your website’s reputation. Negative opinions may form if visitors can’t use what they want from you at any particular moment because there’s something wrong with the website.
This negative brand impact can quickly spread through word of mouth, forums, and media outlets. Reputation is also much easier to lose than recover.
Because of uptime’s significant impact on a website or business, Bitcatcha monitors the long-term uptime performance for all web hosts we review. We maintain test websites on those service providers and deploy UptimeRobot for minute-to-minute reliability monitoring.
For details on our reviewing process and the parameters we set on our uptime tracker, read our explanation of how we review web hosts.
Tips to Maximize Hosting Uptime
Once you get your site up and running, it’s essential to take steps to ensure that your uptime is as high as possible. Here are some helpful tips:
1. Choose a reliable web host
The most vital consideration in uptime assurance is to ensure you’re using a reliable web host. Not all service providers offer the same level of quality. For example, a great hosting provider like DreamHost provides a 100% uptime guarantee. That means they assure you that if your website experiences downtime, it won’t be through any fault in their hosting systems.
2. Improve website security
Many websites experience downtime due to malicious acts. While it’s impossible to guard against these completely, you can mitigate risk by improving your website security. Start by updating plugins regularly and keeping abreast of new vulnerabilities in your web applications.
Some web hosts also offer more security features than others, so choosing a secure web host should be a fundamental part of your plan.
3. Enable caching
Caching helps your website operate more efficiently, allowing it to handle visitor load better. Caches can also help with service outages since the site can still deliver some pages. This “backup” improves your reputation with users and search engines who value fast loading times and a consistent experience.
4. Consider better hosting plans
Consider upgrading to a VPS hosting plan if you’re currently using shared hosting. VPS plans get dedicated resources and fewer users per server, allowing for much greater reliability. While shared hosting is cheap, many web hosts often overcrowd their shared hosting servers.
Head to our guide on the differences between VPS and shared hosting for more details.
5. Use a Content Delivery Network
If you want to improve reliability further, consider using a Content Delivery Network (CDN). These services can help in many ways, like reducing load times, improving security, or even including free SSL features (SSL certificate prices can vary greatly, so there’s a big bonus here).
There are many CDNs available, but most web hosts can work fine with Cloudflare‘s free CDN plan. That means you can improve hosting uptime at virtually no cost for a bit of work.
Understanding Uptime Guarantees
We’ve covered maximizing uptime in detail, mainly due to the weakness of uptime guarantees. Technically, most uptime guarantees sound great. The web host assures customers of X% uptime. It will offer compensation if it breaches that condition.
However, there are two vital caveats to this “guarantee.”
- Most web hosts will only compensate customers in hosting credits
- Most web hosts pay based on the value of your web hosting plan
A straightforward calculation is taking downtime as a percentage and multiplying it by the monthly value of your web hosting. For example,
If your website downtime is 5% and your web hosting plan costs $3/mo, your compensation is 15 cents.
Some web hosts will apply a multiplication factor, but most will not offer compensation more significant than the value of your web hosting plan. To understand your specific uptime guarantee, you must check your web host’s Service Level Agreement (SLA).
While many web hosts like to tout an uptime guarantee, the returns from that are nowhere near enough to compensate you for reputational damage, the potential loss in sales, and other adverse effects of a service outage.
In Conclusion – Uptime Matters!
Hosting uptime is a vital topic everyone should consider when looking for a web host. It’s important to understand that many factors can affect your site’s performance, and you need to consider all (or most) of them when choosing your web hosting provider.
Remember, reputation, once lost, is challenging to recover. Failing to assure visitors of a reliable service could easily spell the end of your budding web endeavors.