If you’ve read this already on Facebook, my apologies but I did want this to become part of the ‘official’ record on my blog. It also explains why I disappeared from this blog in the middle of a 30 day blogging challenge.
About three weeks ago, I said out loud to Derrick ‘I just wish I could go 24 hours without checking my email and nothing bad would happen to me.’
Last Thursday, the server where the Breaking Even website/email (and many clients) are stored online completely crapped out and needed to be replaced. This happened sometime around 9 am EST. A time everyone was bound to notice.
Sorry everyone. My powers to influence God/the universe are even beyond my own understanding. I got my requested day off from email but not in the way I expected.
This server is on a very secure server farm in the Midwest. Most of the time (ie the last five years I have been with Svaha) all was well. Like you, I picture the server to be somehow cow-shaped and eating grass.
Then in the internet equivalent of a freak accident, an air conditioner keeping everything cool broke unexpectedly. That meant the server had to be replaced, old data moved, and any corrupted data needed to be restored for hundreds of people also sharing the server.
Because Svaha’s website has also been down, they have been posting updates to Twitter https://twitter.com/svahacom and Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/SvahaLLC
Is this typical?
Now I have been with this web host for over five years and nothing like this has ever happened.
Do server outages happen? Yes to every web host, even to Google.
The difference? They have dedicated IT teams numbering in the hundreds or thousands and all backup servers and other helpful equipment you can think of.
Is there any server that will promise your website 100% uptime?
No. If your uptime is 99.9% (what many web hosts promise) what portion of the year does that translate to?
365 days x 24 hours = 8760 hours
99.9% of that time = 8751.24 hours
0.1% possible downtime = 8.76 hours
(Thanks to Michael Johnson for correcting my initially wrong math!)
Could I have my website on my own server?
Yes you could. Any computer connected to the internet can be set up as a web server. You could have a server in your basement or your office. Some organizations do this.
You can also have what’s called a dedicated server, which means you have your own server you share with no one else. This is located in the same kind of place Svaha’s servers are.
But can your server overheat? Be hacked? This can happen to any server in any environment. It is less likely to happen in the secure, climate controlled environment of a server farm and more likely to happen in your closet in my opinion. This is why I host with Svaha and not a computer in my office.
If something happens to where the server is, you are in the same trouble we were in for about 72 hours (and some additional small issues regular people aren’t noticing but are still being fixed). You are less likely to have trouble, but that’s not to say it will never happen.
What are my options if I want my website online all the time?
You could pay for two hosting accounts at two different web hosts and then when something went down, you could change the DNS from the primary to the secondary server. Then you’d still have some downtime as the change propagated, which can take up to 24 hours.
No matter what, you are relying on a webhost and/or a backup that will take time to restore. You’ll just be paying twice as much as you do for your current hosting… and still have some downtime anyway.
What can be learned?
We can learn that the world doesn’t end when we don’t check our email. And that web hosts do things like backups and restores so we don’t need our own IT team to get our website back online if there is ever a problem. Many of you pay Svaha less than $100/year for being our go-to people.
While this was a crappy situation, I appreciate that Svaha dealt with it in a timely manner (they have hundreds of clients).
I have also learned that even if my internet only world, there is plenty of work I can do that doesn’t involve my website or email. For example, I got a ton of research done yesterday that I was able to approach in a very focused way without constantly responding to email.
Will this happen again?
It is highly unlikely this will happen again for a very long time.
Will I switch web hosts?
It’s kind of like when you go into a hospital and get amazing care. Yes, something crappy happened but you can’t blame the doctors. You are just grateful you have smart, competent, and genuinely caring people helping you out. Did Svaha crash the server? No. Did they fix the problem and try to keep in good communication? Yes.
(Full disclosure: I am a Svaha partner. But even if I wasn’t, I’d stay right where I am. )
I recently had a client with another hosting company (rhymes with FoPaddy). Their website was offline for two weeks. After spending an hour on the phone with customer service, they told me I couldn’t have automated backup software on their site, something that’s part of our standard install. They also told me the site was ‘very big’. It has 25 pages and only five installed plugins in WordPress. *eye roll* (To give you an idea of how ridiculous this is, the website you are on right now has 900+ pages and about 30 plugins on it including an automated backup.) We moved the site over Svaha and poof, it was online no problem.
In other words, I like to ask myself who will stay up all night installing a new server? Who will call a client back who they charge $5 a month to help get their email configured? I know who.
So to those of you who missed me (and missed your website/email), I apologize again for this outage. But going through this has made me confident in the Svaha team that hosts websites for us and our clients.