A few months ago, it seemed like every two or three hours, my main site, Taking Your Camera on the Road, would go down. Eventually, with the help of my fabulous WordPress friends, we discovered that my host server changed their database monitoring security method to prevent abuse by putting a limit on the number of hits a database could handle within one hour. This extremely low limit backfired with the high traffic my site gets. Database access would be shut down when the security limit was triggered and stay down for an hour before resuming. It was on and off and on and off and on and off.
Another time, my site was down for six hours after a fire in a power relay station in California took out not only a huge chunk of electricity around southern California, shutting down not only my main site, but their offsite mirror backup server as well. They learned not to put their backup server in the same electrical grid, moving it out of state.
Having your website or blog go down isn’t limited to me. It happens to everyone at one time or another. That’s why backing up your blog and database regularly is so important. Your website might snap back, error free, from the crunch, or it could be gone forever. You can’t know what the end result will be, so make sure you back things up regularly.
In this two part series, we’ll look at how to determine when your blog or website is down, monitoring methods, and then in Part Two, how to fix some of the problems that may have broke your blog.
How do you know when your website or blog is down?
It usually happens like this. A friend emails you that they can’t get access to your blog. You freak and type in the URL to find that, indeed, you can’t get access either. You don’t know how long its been down or why. And sometimes, you don’t even know what to do about it.
Having your blog go down is painful. If you are counting on your blog or website to bring in revenue from ads or products, publicity for your business, or attention in general, then every minute that it is down can add up to lost income and interest. If a search engines comes to call and your site is down, will they return later? What if you just told a huge group of people about your site only to check in and find it down? Then what? Even if you aren’t relying upon your blog for income, having your website crash or go down is very frustrating.
Do not assume you can rely upon your host server to fix things for you. For the most part, they won’t. If it is a global problem, server crash, or something effecting the whole, then they will respond. When problems are associated directly with your website content, code, database, or programming, host servers will usually not work with you. I’ve been begging my host server to change or remove this new database access limit as it consistently closes down my site, and each time they blame me. I blame them. No one does anything about it. My patience is wearing very thin, as you can imagine.
So let’s look at ways of monitoring your website or blog and then explore your options for fixing the problem(s).
Monitoring Your Website or Blog
There are three ways to monitor your website or blog to find out if it is indeed still working as it should.
- Rely upon others to keep you informed.
- Check it frequently yourself.
- Work with a website watcher or web page change detection service.
Relying upon others and checking it yourself all the time is time consuming, but also unreliable. After all, you have to sleep, as do your friends. Well, at least some of the time.
A website watcher or web page change detection service, usually called “site monitoring services”, are good tools to help you keep track the status of your website. Some inform you by email, while other paid services may even call you or text message via your cell phone. Some report that the site is down, and nothing more. Others report if the site has been down, how long it’s been down, and when it went back up, if it did. The more sophisticated the service, the more you will have to pay.
The problem with these services is that, for the most part, they rely upon email to contact you. If your email is through your website, and the site is down, then you will not get that email. Your contact email for such services needs to be with an independent email account, and you have to remember to check it frequently.
But what if you are away from email or the Internet? I travel extensively and have spent time in places where WIFI and Internet connections are not just not available, they are unheard of. A cell phone connection for my laptop would be great, but a couple weeks ago I spent four days looking for a cell signal for two different cell services. Nothing.
The more expensive and sophisticated services will call you if there is a problem with your site. If your work and income is linked to your website or blog, then investing in these services is probably a wise investment. Still, you have to be able to be reached by phone.
Look at your lifestyle, your work schedule, and how much you are willing to pay in order to monitor your website or blog, and put that into the equation for making your site monitoring choices.
Here are some example resources, reviews, and information on site monitoring services:
- Steven Bell’s Keeping Up Website – Web Page Change Detection Services
- Watch That Page
- Library Journal – Do I Detect a Change
- Infominder Website Tracking
- Change Detection – Website Administrator Tool
- Website Watcher
- Change Detect
- Check and Get
- Right Web Monitor
- Track Engine
- Site Up
Next: Fixing Your Broken Blog
In the second part of this two part series, I’ll explore how to fix some of the problems that may have broken your blog.
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