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When looking for a reliable web hosting company, there can be a lot of confusing and unfamiliar terminology involved. While it’s easy to gloss over some of these strange terms, features such as “uptime” can be critical to the success of your website and a major factor in your decision making process. Put simply, uptime is the amount of time that visitors will actually be able to view your website. It is mirrored with downtime, which is the amount of time that the servers will be inaccessible.
Those just venturing into the world of web hosting may be inclined to wonder why uptime and downtime even exists–after all, shouldn’t a website always be up? But servers are machines, and like any machine they don’t have 100% reliability. Hardware and software malfunctions can and do happen in any system. But, it’s not all about errors. Scheduled maintenance can also occur, and depending on the redundancy of the system, this can cause some downtime. Shared hosting can be even more challenging, as problems with other websites can interfere with your own.
Uptime is generally described in terms of a percentage. Many web hosts boast 99.99% uptime guarantees. An uptime guarantee is an extremely important feature. Most web hosts will refund you the costs of your hosting for the month if the downtime is more than the amount that they guarantee. A high uptime percentage is critical for consistent website access.
A reputable web hosting company will be able to tell you how they calculated their uptime, and this is a question that you should ask before choosing your provider. A host will generally say they have something along the lines of 99.99% uptime, however without further inquiry it may not be apparent what time period they used, and how recently they tested their server. If the 99.99% uptime was calculated two years ago over a week, it is not as valid as a 99.99% uptime calculation taken over the last year.
Furthermore, it’s important to be skeptical and to look into what clients are saying and general online reviews. There is very little quality control in web hosting, and there is no way to know whether the figures being produced by the web host are accurate ones.
After you have chosen your web hosting provider you should still keep uptime in mind. If your website goes down, putting in a support ticket immediately is the best way to get it back up and let them know about the problem. It also provides a paper trail in the event that your website starts going down frequently, and allows you to get a credit if the uptime guarantee is broken.