Your website is down - why you need to monitor your sites

By shane
Wed, 2011-05-25 23:26
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As I write this, one of the websites I frequent for information is currently down. It is not uncommon for a website (or the server the website is on) to have a problem. I am not sure if the site is going through planned maintenance or if this is unexpected downtime, however it reminded me of a few things.

Monitor your site

If you build or host websites, you should at minimum be monitoring their status. This is necessary to make sure that if the inevitable does happen, and there is a problem, you know about it before anyone else. There are tons of solutions out there for this problem including custom software you can install on another server or on-line services. The point is to find one that works for you, and use it for all the sites you build, manage, or deploy.

Be honest with your clients/customers/users

If you have a monitoring solution in place, you should know about any downtime before your client/customers/users do. If you have unexpected downtime, be honest with your clients/customers/users. This is especially important if your clients/customers/users rely on you for their everyday business. This may mean disclosing information about the downtime and most importantly.... an apology if necessary. Often saying "I'm Sorry" goes a long way with mending tension in a customer relationship.

Learn Something

There is almost always a learning experience with every website issue that causes downtime. This could be a better server update process, or a better testing/staging/production environment for your site. Sum it up to say, try to learn something from every downtime to try to prevent it in the future.

Conclusion

The important take away is that it's OK to make mistakes as long as you learn from them. You need to be prepared before any downtime with a good monitoring solution, you need to quickly fix any issues when the downtime happens, apologize to clients/customers/users if necessary, and make changes to help prevent it from happening again in the future.

Have anything else to add? If so, drop a line in the comments.