How to Check if a Site Is Down

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Recently, I had an agonizing interval of more than two days with sites down. But how to check if a site is down? There are several things to know. Read what I have learned.

Just as an introduction, this was about 4 sites, and the crisis happened last weekend. The sites were up and down all the time, the picture below shows the situation, the red sections are the intervals when the sites were down. When they were up, they were so slow that they were useless.

Sites down intervals as recorded by a monitor.
Sites down intervals as recorded by a monitor.

In some situations I had 503 errors. In one period, one of the sites disappeared from the list at the hosting place where normally my sites show.

On Monday and Tuesday, when I was checking my traffic in Google Analytics, it was obvious that I had drop in traffic in all the affected sites. So the crisis was real, there could be no doubt about it.

However, my another 2 sites at the same hosting were working fine all the time. I knew they had many servers, and it was obvious that the problem was server-related. Clearly, my sites were not all on the same server. You will realize this also from the rest of the text.

But first thing first – is website down or not?

Actually, the answer may surprise you. Here is what I mean, speaking from my own bad experience. In some situations, I would check and realize that I cannot open my site on the Internet. I would even use some online tools to check what they detect. So they would confirm the site was down.

Then I get in touch with my hosting support, and this is the beginning of an annoying conversation that lasted more than two days. The main point is: they say all is fine with my site, they just checked and it is up and running.

I check again from my side and realize it is not. So I complain again and insist that they do something about it, etc.

Now, who is right? The answer is: both sides may be correct, the site may be down for me and at the same time it may be up for them. Why this is so? This is because they usually see the site from a different location.

The bottom line is that when you realize your site is down, you are probably right, but it does not necessarily mean it is down for the rest of the world. So you may be concerned because you lose money, and this is likely so, but the situation may be less bad than you think.

How to see if a site is down?

Here are the ways I used:

  1. I would try manually to see the site on the Internet, and it would not be there.
  2. I have links to some online tools where I put the site’s url and these tools tell me if the site is really down or this is just on my side. But this information may not always be completely correct, more below.
  3. Being desperate, by the end of the first day of crisis, I found an online up-time robot tool, and I added URL’s of my sites there. So the sites were monitored. This was a free tool, and it would check sites every 5 minutes, within an interval of half a minute. It was showing sites interrupted all the time, you have seen the picture above.
  4. My level of desperation grew the day after, so I found yet another up-time robot and tried to compare. I am not giving names of the robots because this is not about promotion or anything similar. If you need such a tool, let me know in the comment box below.

So how to be sure that a site is really down? What I have learned

Here are the main conclusions:

1. If you see 503 error, it is pretty sure that the site is as dead as dodo.

2. As mentioned above, the site may be down for me, but it may be up for some parts of the world. This is why the tool to which I put the URL to check the site’s status remotely, may show only a part of the picture. The site may be down from that particular location, and this may be the same what you see from your side.

However, one of the robots was showing the site’s status on many different locations over the globe. This was the best overview I could have. So indeed, for some of its checking points the site was showing down, but it was up for some other locations.

3. Robots may be unreliable. One robot was showing me that the site was down when it was not. I could see manually it was up, and also it was up for the other robot. 

How to solve the problem if the site is indeed down?

Hosting platforms usually have multiple servers. So ask them to move the site(s) to another server. This is what I did, so they moved my 4 sites. It seems it worked, and this is how my latest crisis ended, they moved them and told me to give them some time. According to what they said, it may take 12 to 72 hours for the DNS propagation over the Internet.

Perhaps no need to stress too much about it, unless this is a serious situation similar to what I had.

You can always move your site to a different hosting. But this is a drastic step and a bit risky when you have large and fully developed sites. My 4 sites had more than 2400 posts in total, so I really was not in a mood to move them elsewhere.

So I hope you find this text useful and you now know a bit more of how to see if a site is down. Remember again the main point, do not panic, the site may be down for you but not necessarily also for the bigger part of the world.

You might want to check in the category WordPress for various issues related to this site creating platform. Read also how to earn on the Internet in the Online Business category. Thank you for reading. Let me know if you have questions or comments. There is a comment box below.

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