Keeping Your Web Host Honest
12 Dec 2019
All good web hosts provide their customers with a Service Level Agreement (SLA). SLAs often include an uptime guarantee where the hosting provider agrees to compensate the customer if the specified uptime is not met.
However, we've never known a host to voluntarily compensate their customers - in reality it's up to the customer to ask for compensation.
Here's a case study of just such a situation: Ryan at Big Toe Web Design describes using Downtime Monkey's monitor stats to provide evidence for their web host...
Downtimes During The Night
"I wake up on Sunday morning and turn on my phone. Immediately a bunch of text messages come through from Downtime Monkey informing me that there have been multiple sites down during the night.
This is a more abrupt start to the day than I had planned but the texts also let me know that all our sites are currently up and running. This takes the urgency out of the situation immediately and I can enjoy a fairly relaxed breakfast before dealing with the situation.
When I look into the overnight stats this is what I see:
What's The Problem
The stats tell me several things...
1) There was a considerable amount of downtime through the night: 87.997% uptime means almost 3 hours of downtime in the last 24 hours!
2) The response times show several peaks when the site's response time maxed out - this suggests that the reason for the downtimes was that the sites were not responding at all.
3) The downtime logs confirm this with an http code of 0 - i.e. no response.
4) All the sites that went down are on the same server. This, along with the intermittent and repeated nature of the downtimes leads me to believe that the server has been overloaded.
5) The long term stats for the site are not great. There have been a few problems with this server in the past and a 99.728% uptime average over nearly a year shows possible long-term problems.
Contact The Hosting Provider
It's worth adding some context at this stage...
The hosting is via a shared server but it isn't cheap. There are fixed limits on the number of sites and the bandwidth used by each customer. We use several other servers with this provider and none have had similar problems.
The hosting provider is generally reliable with a knowledgeable support team that you reach within a couple of minutes. The SLA agreement guarantees 99.9% uptime over 30 days.
The sites that we host on this server are generally for local businesses and organisations. They don't provide critical infrastructure such as APIs or round the clock services - if they did this would be a catastrophe. Luckily it's less serious, but we still want to deliver good uptime so I sent a quick email to the hosting provider.
Here is the correspondence...
"There has been a lot of intermittent downtime over the last few days and especially overnight with all sites on the xxxxxxxx server.
I think that there may be an underlying problem (maybe not enough resources for the server load long term) as there are a lot of downtimes with this server in general (none of the other shared servers that I have accounts with have this problem).
Also - I have a 99.9% uptime guarantee and you can see from the attachment the 30 day average is only 98.979% uptime - also the 90 day stats are low too and 24 hours is below 90%! So can you apply a month free hosting to this account.
I'd really appreciate if you managed to fix the underlying problem long term. Thanks for your help."
The only part that was possibly a little cheeky was that I asked for a month's free hosting when the SLA agreement states a week's free hosting will be provided. However, a few incidents have taught me that the first request is often seen as the start of a negotiation :) Here is the reply...
"I am sorry for the caused inconvenience!
We are facing some ongoing issues with our platform and i would like to provide you with 2 weeks of free hosting towards your package as compensation for the troubles caused. We are working with top priority to restore optimal service.
Let me know if you agree."
Problem Fixed & Compensation
We received 2 weeks free hosting and more importantly the underlying problem was fixed quickly. Here are the same website's stats 10 days later - you can see that uptime is above 99.9%."
If you've used Downtime Monkey to inform a hosting provider of downtime or to enforce an SLA we'd love to hear about it! If it's a good case we'll include it in our blog with a link to your website. Login, go to the support page and complete the feedback form to tell us your story.