Should you change web hosts if they have an outage?

The answer to this question is complicated. It depends on what the cause of the outage was and how your web host responded to the outage. The reason for the outage maybe beyond the control of your web host. While some outage maybe because of unexpected network upgrade issues, faulty routers, faulty switches, another client getting DDoS, fiber getting cut, a web host’s upstream provider experiencing an issue, and human error, are examples of some causes of outages.

First, if you experience an outage. You have to inquire with your web host why there was an outage in the first place. Make sure other customers of the web host have noticed the outage also and its not just only you. Check out Twitter and different web hosting forums to see if anyone else is experiencing issues with your web hosting provider. If it is only your connection to the web host that is experiencing an outage, then this is more of network routing issue. You should work with your web host to resolve this network routing issue.

Second, if you searched Twitter and different web hosting forums and are sure your web host is suffering an outage. You should check to see if their main site is up, if the main site is up, look for a blog or link to status page that will indicate what their network status is. If your web host has a Twitter account depending on the scope of the outage and if they want to share the outage information on Twitter, you may or may not get any word of an outage from your web host’s Twitter account. Look for a blog or network status update page. Most of the time a web host will share updates with their blog or network status page.

Third, if your web host is not reporting any outage on their Twitter account and you can’t access their homepage, blog, or network status page. You should wait it out until the outage is over to figure out what just happen. You can’t really do much at this point anyway. After the outage is over thou you should already have a backup copy of your website or make one immediately if you haven’t already. You don’t want to be stuck on a sinking ship when it is burning do you?

Fourth, contact your web host and access their blog/network status update page and figure out what happen. If the cause of the outage was beyond their control and it is the first outage and it didn’t last long, you can probably let it slide. If the scope of the outage was devastating to you then you need to put in place a backup mirror of your website or another redundancy setup incase your main web host goes down again. You should at this point decide if you want to maintain your relationship with your existing web host or get a new one.

Review what information your web host has provided as the reason for the outage. Research the issue if you are not technical and decide if the outage caused major issues for you or not. If it didn’t cause any major issues with you then you can maintain the relationship with your web host. If your web host offers a service level agreement (SLA), look into whether or not you will be getting any credit for the downtime. With most web hosting providers you will have to inquire about the SLA after an outage to get credit.

If the outage was a major horror show and your web host has been experiencing a lot of outages, or provided an excuse that you can’t accept then you probably should start looking for a new web host. Remember, if you decide to change web hosts that you will have to plan it out so to not result in downtime for your website.