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Making the Most of Uptime

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Web Hosting Geek

You may have noticed that most web hosting providers boast either a 99 or 99.9% uptime guarantee, a percentage that refers to how often the service will be up and running.  As a customer, these numbers look very impressive as they are not that short of perfection.  However, after learning more about these calculations, you may think twice when encountering a seemingly respectable uptime guarantee.

What is Covered in the Guarantee?

In most cases, the uptime a web host refers to only covers the servers and not the network.  When it comes to network issues and general maintenance, downtime is something that can heavily outweigh the advertised uptime guarantee.  This is why some customers running mission-critical operations look for SLAs (service level agreements) that compensate you in one way or another if downtime exceeds the agreement.  Unfortunately, several of the leading hosting providers usually do not make such an offer available.  The situation becomes even more complex when considering the potential downtime you could experience during the course of a year.  When doing so, the near perfect 99% doesn’t look so attractive.

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Let’s work with a few examples.  A 98% uptime means that over a 12-month period, your website could be down for 175 hours and 19 minutes, which translates to about a week.  99% isn’t much better as your site could be unavailable for approximately 87 hours and 39 minutes over a one year period.  This is still a lot of time for someone running a busy website.  Most providers try to uphold the 99.9% uptime guarantee because it translate into the most reliable.  This is far more respectable as it means that you will only endure about 8 hours and 46 minutes of downtime over a 12 month period.  Sadly, downtime usually exceeds this number by far.  Even worst, many customers are in a no-win situation, forced to suffer from unavailability without being compensated for the excessive downtime.

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Recognizing a Respectable Uptime

The best way to approach the perplexing issue of uptime is to select a hosting provider with a good reputation in the industry.  Downtime is unavoidable but it is much better when dealing with a company that will not try to manipulate the numbers and do all they can to ensure the highest availability.  Look for a host that provides good support so if something does happen, you can get in touch and find out how and when the service will be restored.

As far as the uptime guarantee goes, it is something you should look into if you are truly concerned about the availability of your site.  Read the fine print, do some investigating and if possible, choose a company that bases their uptime percentage over a monthly period.  If the calculations are made over a year, you could have a difficult time getting accurate credits for any downtime incurred.  Most reputable hosting providers take various measures to ensure reliability but things do happen.  When they do, you want a host that provides a fair playing ground with a guarantee that has your best interests in mind.


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