What should I do if my website goes down?

There’s nothing worse than having a customer call you and tell you they’re trying to put an order through your website and it’s either not working properly or is entirely down.  The first thing that comes to many people’s minds is ‘how many other customers have I lost?’ quickly followed by ‘how long has my website been down?’. 

Before you panic and call your web developer, hosting company or the person in the know about your website, it’s worth doing a few checks to find out a few things. 

Often when a website goes down, it’s a temporary glitch that simply waiting 15-30 mins will fix – other times there are larger issues at play that need to be fixed. 

Let’s explore a checklist of things to determine what to do when your website goes down. 

Is it just your website, or is it the whole server?

The first thing we want to establish is if the problem is isolated to just your website or if it’s a server-wide issue. Often if a hosting company has an issue with a server, other websites on that server will also be down.  

How to tell if other websites on your server are down

If your website is on shared hosting (which is a majority of websites), you can tell which other websites reside on the same server as you by conducting a reverse IP lookup. 

One of the easiest ways to do this is to use the Reverse IP Domain Check tool. Simply plug your website address into the search field, and this tool will tell you several other websites that reside on the same server as your website. 

If you can access those other websites, the server is working, and the problem is likely isolated. If, however, the other websites on your server aren’t navigable, then it’s worth contacting the hosting company to find out what’s going on, as it’s likely a server-wide issue.

Check your connection

Often when a website is ‘down’, it’s a connection issue with your internet. One of the easiest ways to test if this might be the issue is to disconnect your smartphone from any Wifi connections (effectively making it run on 3, 4, or 5G) and try to navigate to your website. 

If you can access your website on your phone but not your computer, it’s a connection issue at your end. If you restart your router or wait 15-30 minutes, these types of problems typically fix themselves. 

Ping your website from another country

Sometimes when websites go down it’s only locally, which means that people in Australia may not be able to access your website, but everyone else can. A way to test this is to use the Pingdom Website Speed Test tool. Whilst this is predominantly a speed testing tool, it’s also great for testing the status of your website from other countries. 

Simply add your website URL to the URL field and choose a country from which to ‘ping’ your website.

Note: pinging a website is essentially trying to visit it with a bot to see if it is accessible. 

Checklist of things to do when your website is down

So here’s an essential checklist to go through if you think your website might be down to help you narrow down who you might need to call. 

  1. Clear your browser's cache and try accessing the website again.
  2. Access the website on your phone via 3, 4 or 5G.
  3. Ping your website using https://tools.pingdom.com/.
  4. Check to see if other websites are up and running on your server.

If you take these steps and your website is STILL down, then it’s time to call your web developer or hosting company to see if there’s something weird going on.