Hostgator, a major web hosting service, went to down on October 29, 2014. GoDaddy another web hosting major, saw its servers go down for hours on April 18, 2015, and then again on July 29, 2015.
While these services sorted out their problems, the millions of small businesses that used these services to host their websites turned inaccessible, as well. To businesses that depend entirely on having their websites stay up to stay in business, such outages can reflect poorly on their competence; customers rarely know that it isn’t their fault.
The question is, what does a small business owner do to protect against loss of sales and reputation?
It’s important to assign responsibility
Websites can sometimes go down for reasons that have nothing to do with the hosting service. The problem could be an outage that only affects your neighborhood, for instance. Trying services such as DNS Sniffer and Pingdom can help you determine if your website is available elsewhere. If the problem does involve widespread outage of access to your website, you should call customer service at your hosting provider.
Be proactive about talking to your customers
Your first thought should be to protect your reputation. If your site is down, you want to quickly contact all your customers through every channel available to you — social media, email, text messages or anything else — to explain the problem, and to communicate that you are on it.
Keep track of how often problems occur
Service disruptions can be about far more than complete shutdowns. Disruptions can also include speed-of-access problems that last days without rectification. It’s important to constantly check your website for responsiveness and reliable function. If you often sense poor speed, you should consider migrating to another service.
It can also make sense to move if you need services that your current provider doesn’t offer. You could want more space at a competitive price, or a better server. Many hosting services, for instance, force customers to accept shared server plans, rather than offering them exclusive servers. Others run ancient machines, rather than cutting-edge IBM AS400 servers. Email spam control and the ability to offer locally hosted websites to international clients can be possible sticking points, as well. It makes sense to move for any one of these reasons.
Migrating could solve other problems, as well
If you’re considering migrating, you should talk to customer service at your current hosting provider to see how responsive they are. If they don’t seem proactive and motivated, this alone should be reason to move. You cannot risk your business with a provider who is less than serious about your success.
How exactly do you move?
While you do have your choice of literally thousands of hosting services, you need to remember that they are not all independent businesses. Most hosting services are simple resellers — they sign up with a larger hosting service for permission to resell their product, and do so under their own name for a commission. You need to find a service that offers excellent technology, pricing, customer service and reputation, and also make sure that they aren’t the same people that you are currently with, only under a different name.
The process of migrating, by itself, can be somewhat complex at some hosts. With others, you only need to sign up with a new provider, and have the move done automatically and painlessly. When you wake up the following morning, you’ll find that they’ve moved everything — the website, the transaction servers, email servers, analytics tools and so on.
Business hosting is a highly competitive field; you can expect top-notch service for your business at affordable rates. There is never a need to put up with service that is anything short of stellar.
Kimberly Banks works in E-Commerce. She understands the frustrations of online disruptions in a digital age and likes to offer her views online. Kimberley is a frequent writer on a number of relevant websites.